Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 8:23 pm

An economics question

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 8:23 pm

Someone who isn’t a wild-eyed raving lefty please help me out here.

I understand that wage growth has to be tied to productivity growth or else we run the risk of inflation. But when productivity is growing, why aren’t workers sharing in the benefits, in the form of higher wages?

With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers. …

… even though overall growth has been healthy for much of the last five years.

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity – the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards – has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960′s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.

At the very top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to keep average income and consumer spending rising.

Now, I know what the lefty take is on this:

This is one of my favorite movie scenes. It’s from the 1991 film “Grand Canyon” where the car of the character played by Kevin Kline breaks down in a crime-ridden neighborhood in L.A. The tow truck, driven by Simon (Danny Glover) arrives, but not before they’re visited by the neighborhood gang members, one of whom draws a gun. Simon asks the head Gangbanger to just let them go:

    Gangbanger: I’m gonna grant you that favor, and I’m gonna expect you to remember it if we ever meet again. But tell me this, are you asking me as a sign of respect, or are you asking because I’ve got the gun?

    Simon: Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this. I mean, maybe you don’t know that yet. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without having to ask you if I can. That dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you ripping him off. Everything is supposed to be different than it is.

    Gangbanger: So what’s your answer?

    Simon: You ain’t got the gun, we ain’t having this conversation.

    Gangbanger: That’s what I thought, no gun, no respect. That’s why I always got the gun.

Now, suppose Simon is the employer and the Gangbanger is the employee, and then replace the word “gun” with the word “union.”

Is that the only answer to my question?

Listen up

Filed under: Podcast — Lex @ 8:19 am

My first real podcast.

My biopic

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:13 am
QuizGalaxy.com!
Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Sounds about right. Nick Cage would star, of course.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 9:40 pm

Finally, a big win in the War on Terror

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 9:40 pm

You might still have to pour out your coffee, but you can now carry up to 4 oz. of “personal lubricant” aboard airplane flights.

Sunday, August 27, 2006 10:54 am

Apparently, TBS already has gotten the word

Filed under: Religion — Lex @ 10:54 am

From commenter Dover Bitch at Digby’s place:

Yesterday, they said life begins with conception.

Today, they say life begins with intercourse.

Tomorrow, they will tell us life begins with dinner and a movie.

Apparently, TBS already has gotten the word.

Small world

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 10:47 am

By chance, I stumbled upon an article in Harper’s about the possible negative effects of the widely used pesticide atrazine on certain types of frogs. The question is important because the reproductive systems of frogs and humans, believe it or not, work in a lot of the same ways.

Atrazine is made by the chemical company Syngenta, which has a facility here in Greensboro.

The article focuses on a Berkeley researcher named Tyrone Hayes. As it happens, when I was out at Berkeley attending a multimedia seminar in March 2005, my small group was assigned to create a multimedia feature on Hayes and his work. You can see it here. My biggest role in creating this presentation was shooting the bulk of the video, although I also edited in some of the voiceovers.

I don’t know who’s right in the scientific debate. This is more of an it’s-a-small-world post.


America’s real enemies

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:42 am

Chris Clarke at Creek Running North exposes them for you.

Saturday, August 26, 2006 1:10 pm

Short takes

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 1:10 pm

Stuff I’ve been meaning to blog about but just haven’t gotten around to …

• • •

A letter from a trained soldier to our enemies … and our leaders.

• • •

This guy’s a waiter, but his blog is about waiting tables like Die Hard is about Christmas.

• • •

First there was Blog on the Run. Now there’s a blogger on the run. (Hat tip: Herb)

• • •

Must-see TV: Ann Coulter gets beaten up by a girl.

• • •

The New York Times on Pluto’s demotion: “Under the new rules, a planet must meet three criteria: it must orbit the Sun, it must be big enough for gravity to squash it into a round ball, and it must have cleared other things out of the way in its orbital neighborhood. The last of these criteria knocks out Pluto and Xena, which orbit among the icy wrecks of the Kuiper Belt, and Ceres, which is in the asteroid belt.”

To which my e-acquaintance Brian Bowling of the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh adds in an e-mail to the NICAR-L listserv: “Parents all over the world have to be laughing about the ‘scientific’ criteria that knocked Pluto out of planet status — he didn’t pick up his room.”

• • •

I’m not surprised that 68% of female cadets at The Citadel report having been sexually harassed. No, what surprises me is that 17% of male cadets reported it.

• • •

And, finally, You Might Be a War Criminal If … a man who has prosecuted actual Nazi war criminals calls you one. But,
as “Rmj, Street Credentialed” observes: “Responsibility is so pre-9/11. Or will be, if [the administration] can get the War Crimes Act amended.”

Friday, August 25, 2006 8:21 am

Mashup

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:21 am

If you mash up Warren Zevon and Samuel L. Jackson, what do you get?

Now I’m hiding in Honduras
And I’m in a lot of pain
Send lawyers, guns and money
The snakes are on the plane!

Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Please don’t forget to tip your waitresses.

Thursday, August 24, 2006 8:11 am

Hey, now, he’s a rock star

Filed under: Fun,Hooper,Podcast — Lex @ 8:11 am

The first podcast, I guess you could say, in Blog on the Run’s 4 1/2-year history: Hooper singing his version of Smashmouth’s “All Star,” which he refers to as “The ‘Shrek’ Song.”

Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 9:39 pm

Pilgrim’s Patriot’s Progress

The Washington Post columnist and psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer coined the term “Bush Derangement Syndrome” a couple of years ago to describe people whose opposition to the president he thought substantively baseless and therefore irrational. (He was not, however, suggesting that this was an actual mental illness.) The term has become very popular, primarily among online Bush supporters, some of whom really do think of BDS as a mental illness.

But as much as the national media sometimes try to make opponents of the administration in general and liberal bloggers in particular look deranged (and more on that below), what’s actually going on in the minds of some Bush opponents — liberals, moderates, and even a few old-school conservatives — is a little more complicated, and a lot healthier, than Krauthammer and his ilk believe.

As it happens, several blogs have touched on this issue in the past few days. Here’s Ezra Klein on how he became a political “radical”:

What I found, and what drove me to change, was that my imputation of good intentions and willingness to trust official information were creating a profound analytical deficiency where, time and again, my observations and predictions would be proven wrong because I’d chosen to believe that I wasn’t being lied to (emphasis added). It wasn’t that my rage bubbled and broiled till, with one ear-shattering roar, I became an aggressive partisan, it’s that I had a metric upon which to judge myself — the eventual accuracy of my arguments and assumptions. And by actually paying attention to those results, I found I had to repeatedly recalibrate my cynicism and partisanship.

Ezra also notes posts in a similar vein in recent days by Josh Marshall, Steve at The Carpetbagger Report and Kevin Drum on the same subject.

Marshall, responding to an e-mail from a reader who had noted that during the past few years the tone of Josh’s site, TalkingPointsMemo.com, had grown harsher, had this to say:

The president twice took the presidency with a divided electorate — first a minority president, then a 51% president. And he proceeded to govern as though he had a mandate to completely remake it, often in what appeared to be profoundly destructive ways geared to short-term political benefit and intended to consolidate power. The folks who’ve made efforts toward bipartisan compromise have again and again, in this era, been played for chumps.

(And I think it’s important to point out that this trend began well before 9/11; for example, the administration pretended to cooperate with Sen. Edward Kennedy on No Child Left Behind, only to knife him in the back when it came time to put money where its rhetoric was.)

Marshall continues:

… in this all-or-nothing crisis the country has been passing through, I think it’s made sense to line up with those who say, No. … That leads to a certain loss of nuance sometimes in commentary and a loss in the variegation of our politics generally. As a writer, [I] often [find this] less satisfying.

But I cannot see looking back on all this, the threat the country is under, and saying, I stood aloof.

Steve at The Carpetbagger Report, after reading Marshall, had this to say:

When I started [my] site, I made a conscious decision to strike a “moderate” tone. The writers I enjoy most — people like Josh and Kevin Drum — can deliver devastating political critiques, but do so in even-tempered, always-fair, always-intellectually-honest ways. It’s a style I’ve tried to emulate, and will continue to do so. But like Josh, given the political environment, I find it impossible to take a detached, impartial look at the landscape and maintain a stoic temperament. …

On the one hand, when current events spiral out of control, and I see one side of the political divide as responsible, there’s no point in pretending otherwise. On the other hand, I could try to maintain some kind of dishonest neutrality in the hopes of maintaining moderate street cred, but if political rivals will perceive this as timidity to be exploited, there’s no motivation to carry on a bi-partisan charade.

Finally, Kevin Drum, having read Marshall, adds this key point, which ties into the earlier point I made about national-media coverage of anti-Bush bloggers, particularly before the recent Connecticut senatorial primary:

And just recently I’ve been thinking about what a genuinely profound story this is, one that the mainstream media ought to be more interested in. Instead of writing incessantly about “angry bloggers,” they ought to be asking why so many mild-mannered moderate liberals have become so radicalized during George Bush’s tenure. It deserves attention beyond the level of cliches and slogans.

Yes. Yes, it does. But I suspect that it won’t get that attention, not least because I see almost no evidence that the most influential journalists in the national media have a clue what those bloggers are saying. It has become almost a badge of honor for such journalists and pundits, if they admit to reading blogs at all, to say that they’ve read Kos and that “those people” are nuts. (Forget the fact that “those people” number in the hundreds, if not thousands, and run the gamut from radical socialist to old-school conservative.) You seldom see any indication that they’re reading such prominent (and relatively moderate) bloggers as these three, and that’s particularly odd inasmuch as Marshall, a journalist as well as an academic, breaks news from time to time and has been a pioneer in citizen journalism — the trend in American newspapers.

I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, but being more up on this than most national journalists, I’ve decided to hazard an educated guess.

I think a lot of people had deep misgivings about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore, right from then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s opening proviso that the ruling shouldn’t be viewed as any kind of precedent — for what is Supreme Court jurisprudence but the study of precedent? (Of course, the journalistic revelations that Bush in fact lost Florida, and therefore the election, in 2000 were still months away, and Greg Palast’s disclosure that the election had been stolen by Jeb Bush’s administration farther away still.) But I think most people figured, well, I’m not a lawyer, and if there’s really a problem with this, those who are lawyers will do something. Right?

Besides, we Americans have tended to come together after elections and at least try to work together on common problems for a while. So, despite some evidence to the contrary from the GOP-controlled Congress’ behavior during the Clinton administration, I think a lot of Americans quite understandably gave Bush the benefit of the doubt when he took office. For example, I was skeptical of his “faith-based initiative” for social services, coming as it did from a candidate who had sucked up to the right-wing Christian vote. As a religion reporter I had spent enough time around their leaders to view them with the deepest possible skepticism. But I was familiar with the work of John DiIulio, the man Bush named to head the program, and believed that his picking DiIulio indicated that he was serious about the program. (Not so much, as we learned from the article that enshrined “Mayberry Machiavellis” in the Political Lexicography Hall of Fame.)

A lot of people who hoped for good things from Bush’s administration got some letdowns in 2001. His limits on federally funded stem-cell research angered a lot of patients and their families, for example; on the eve of 9/11, Gallup found his approval rating to be just 51%. Still, even those who were questioning his competence continued to believe that he at least meant well. For example, a lot of people thought Bush’s tax-cut plan was irresponsible. But they felt they couldn’t prove it, and besides, Alan Greenspan said it was OK, so ….

And when we began talking about invading Iraq in the fall of 2002, I’m sure most Americans thought: Surely, we wouldn’t actually invade another country without a damned good reason. Right? And having no intelligence sources of their own, all they could do was hope that our government knew what it was doing, even as some people who knew what they were doing insisted that it did not.

But as they say, hope is not a plan.

The erosion began not just because there were no weapons of mass destruction found immediately in Iraq — I’d figured that would be a crapshoot, at best, for months — but because, as the months dragged on, the administration didn’t even act as if it cared. Moreover, signs that the occupation was being mismanaged were clear from the beginning — remember Rumsfeld’s blithe assertion that “Freedom is untidy”? — and as the Iraq situation deteriorated, so did the president’s support.

Other factors were peeling off support, too. For some, it was the administration’s dishonesty about Manhattan’s air quality after 9/11 (and the larger issue of the politicization of science, which carried over into such issues as global warming.) For others, it was deficit spending. For many others, it was torture — part of what we’d fought against in World War II, Korea and Vietnam — particularly as it became clear that the torture wasn’t just limited to a few isolated incidents at Abu Ghraib but was, in fact, policy set at the highest levels of our government.

But for a lot of people and for a long time, the focus remained on one or two issues rather than the big picture. That started to change in 2003, and this Oct. 29, 2003, post from Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum, back in Kevin’s “Calpundit” days, will probably help you understand why:

Earlier this week I had lunch with my mother. We got to talking about politics and she asked, “What’s happened to the Republican party? They used to just be the party of rich people.”

That’s actually a penetrating question, and I want to try and answer it. In fact, I mainly want to try and answer it for conservatives who wonder why liberals treat them like lepers.

The Republican party, of course, still is the party of rich people, but if that’s all it was then liberals like me would simply treat it as an ordinary opposition party to be fought civilly and compromised with when necessary. But it’s become much more than that over the past couple of decades. It has become completely unhinged. Try this on for size:

    Republicans won’t rest until abortion is completely outlawed, Social Security is abolished, the welfare state is completely rolled back, the book of Genesis is taught in science classes, and the federal income tax is abolished.

When I occasionally repeat (milder) versions of this here, my conservative commenters think I’m nuts. “Every party has a few wingnuts,” they say. “These guys don’t have any real influence.”

And the thing is, I think they’re telling the truth. With a couple of exceptions, I think the kind of conservatives who visit here don’t believe this. It’s absurd. It’s a caricature.

But the problem is that I’m not sure they realize what their party is becoming. The heart and soul of Republican grass roots activism can be found pretty easily: it’s in Texas. The New Model radical right took over the Texas Republican party a decade ago and elected George Bush governor. They have since taken over the entire state and propelled one of their own to the presidency and another to leadership of the House of Representatives. They bring a messianic fervor to their task, and after successfully taking over the second biggest state in the union their sights are now set on the entire country. This is not a fringe group. It is the biggest, most active, most energetic, and most determined segment of the Republican party today.

Kevin goes on to say that if you want to know what these folks stand for, you can look at the Texas GOP platform to find out. So he does, constructing a table in which he posts selected excerpts and then translates each excerpt into plain English. It’s a tad simplified but basically fair … and very jarring.

After posting the table, Kevin writes:

These are not the words of sane people. This is not “reform,” this is not “common sense,” and this is not “restraining government growth.” This is plain and simple madness and the people behind it have real influence.

Precisely.

Most people who oppose, or even question, most of that agenda are not deranged, either in the clinical sense or in the BDS sense suggested by Bush supporters. It isn’t about the person, and to a great extent it’s not even about the policies.

What is is about is the fact that the changes desired by the people who lead and control the GOP threaten to destroy some basic freedoms we have long taken for granted — and that threat has only grown with the disclosure by The New York Times last December of the government’s illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens. If those freedoms are destroyed, so, for all intents and purposes, is what we think of as America.

It’s easy for people who don’t pay close attention — i.e., most Americans — to think that what has gone on under this administration is just partisan politics as usual AND that both parties are equally guilty. It is also very easy for most Americans, having heard the radical right scream during the 1990s about “jackbooted government thugs” and black helicopters, to presume that this is more of the same, just coming from the Left this time.

In fact, however, many things that have gone on under this administration are NOT just politics as usual: They are actual, demonstrable assaults on our basic freedoms, not just the kind of suspicion and paranoia that was batted around during the Clinton years.

And both parties aren’t equal in this regard. Only one party is trying to destroy democracy, the rule of law and the very fabric of our system of politics and government: the Republicans. From lying about WMDs in Iraq to torturing prisoners, from suppressing voter registration to suppressing scientific findings because they’re politically inconvenient, from propagandizing their own citizens to buying votes on the House floor, that’s what the top, at least, of the Republican Party in America is doing today. You can say a lot of true and unflattering things about the Democrats, but right now “They’re trying to destroy the country!” isn’t one of them.

This is where Bush Derangement Syndrome comes in.

On Jan. 29, 2003, the writer and blogger Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote in the comments of her blog, “I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.” The phrase resonated with so many people that she’s selling t-shirts and tote bags imprinted with it.

That resentment is what so many conservatives and national media types are mistaking for Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Many Americans are angry about what this administration has done, and threatens to do yet, to this country. But here’s an important qualification: They’re not just angry over policy differences, even though some of those differences (e.g., torture, warrantless wiretapping) are pretty damned important. They are angry because the Republican Party is trying to destroy the very underpinnings of our democracy. They are angrier still that it is turning the United States into that which the United States has fought wars to oppose. And they are angriest of all because they believe that the only way to fully grasp what our government is doing in this day and age is to presume corruption and bad faith on the part of the highest leaders of our country.

And you know what? I can see where they’re coming from. I was around and old enough to be paying attention during Watergate. Watergate was bad, make no mistake. But this is much, much worse.

So that anger that Hayden expresses resonates with many, many Americans. (The e-mailer who prompted the Josh Marshall post I linked to above said of the change in Marshall’s tone, “I really am angry about the loss of a worldview and approach that I valued.” But he also made clear he blamed Bush, not Marshall.) It comes to underlie what they think and how they express it, and it is perhaps more visible in the blogosphere than anywhere else. And yet it is too often taken by Bush supporters, and, less understandably and less forgivably, by the national media, as mere personal animosity toward Bush, perhaps leavened with routine differences on policy — in other words, “politics as usual.”

It is not. It is the righteous anger of Americans who love America, who see quite clearly how the government is turning America into what this country once spent blood and treasure to fight and who, for a variety of reasons, are almost powerless to do anything about it.

Bush supporters dismiss such Americans as victims of Bush Derangement Syndrome. In fact, in clear defiance of unimpeachable poll numbers, they dismiss them as “radicals.”

But for many Americans, the real radicals are the people running the government now. For them, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s ruling this past week in the NSA warrantless-wiretapping case, stacked atop the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, only adds judicial imprimatur to what they have increasingly, and resentfully, come to realize: Our country is in the hands of those who would destroy what is greatest about it.

And, finally, they believe that if you doubt that claim after all that America has seen during the past six years, then you, my friend, are the one who’s deranged.

Now you can agree or disagree as you see fit. But you owe them the courtesy of engaging them on their terms instead of calling them silly-assed names.

Monday, August 21, 2006 9:28 pm

Charity can be complicated …

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 9:28 pm

… and, for The Waiter, morally ambiguous.

Joe Rosenthal died Sunday at age 94

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 9:26 pm

You may not know his name.

But you know his work.

“Serpentes on a Shippe! (spoylerez)”

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:04 am

The medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer takes in the newest theatrical diversion:

Withinne the hulle of the shipe he had privilye yputte manye a caske fulle of serpentes and wormes and foul addres, and therto he put aboute the boate a philtre ycleped Far-Amoun by the Arabes, the which maketh serpentes to freke the helle oute and starte juste bitinge eny oon thei see. … And syn thei had brethede depe of the Far-Amoun, thei were wood as if thei weren on cracke.

Now that is a movie I would pay to see.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:17 pm

Braveheart, my …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:17 pm

Actor Denis Leary, learning during a guest announcing stint that the Red Sox’ first baseman is Jewish, goes off on Mel Gibson and, later in the clip, shouts out to the New Orleans Fire Department. Pretty amusing.

A movie I’d pay good money to see

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 4:54 pm

Here. (via Angry Pregnant Lawyer)

Friday, August 18, 2006 9:53 pm

Well, it was an open-ended question

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 9:53 pm

Daddy: Did you have fun in school today, buddy?

Hooper: Yes! Yes, I did! I had the Most! Fun! Ever!

Daddy: What did you do?

Hooper (thoughtfully): Hmm. I’ll have to think about that.

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 5:37 pm

“Young Man” — Drapels
“Country Pie” — Bob Dylan
“Talk Dirty to Me” — Poison
“Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” — Four Tops
“Stay Close to Me” — Flat Duo Jets
“Something So Strong” — Crowded House
“(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” — Blue Oyster Cult
“Moondance” — Van Morrison
“Class War (1977)” — Dils
“Hold On (I’m a-Comin’)” — Sam & Dave

lagniappe: “I’m Cramped” — Cramps

Tigerin’ up

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 6:26 am

Victoria’s soccer team, the Tigers, held its first practice of the fall season Wednesday. Now that they’ve moved up into the under-9s, there’ll be nine players on a team (up from eight) with six playing at a time (up from five). The team has lost two members, including one of its better shooters, but gained three, two of whom are girls Victoria spent four years in day care with, so she’s pretty happy about that (although, with most schools not yet reopened, both were on vacation with their families this week and missed the practice). The third new girl is new to town but has played plenty of soccer before, and her mom says she loves to shoot, so we may be OK on that front.

Coach put the girls through some pretty high-energy ball-handling drills and also had them doing some wind sprints and jogging, which is the first sustained attention he has paid in practice to general conditioning. V. would have been fine if Hooper hadn’t drunk all her water when she wasn’t looking.

As she was getting into the car after practice, V. somehow managed to slam the car door on her left arm above the elbow, leaving a bad bruise on the top of her upper arm and a REALLY bad bruise on the underside, over her triceps. She was in a good deal of pain, but she was able to lift a ketchup bottle later with that arm so I’m pretty sure nothing’s broken. We kept a bunch of ice on it and she reported having slept well yesterday morning.

The first game isn’t until after Labor Day.

More politics …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:23 am


… but at least it’s the funny kind.

Friday, August 11, 2006 9:36 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 9:36 pm

“Restless” — Cobras
“The Only Time” — Nine Inch Nails
“Long Live the Night” — Joan Jett
“I’m No Angel” — Gregg Allman
“Policeman (in My Neighbor’s Yard)” — Pressure Boys
“Cuts Like a Knife” — Bryan Adams
“Wake Up (Next to You)” — Graham Parker
“I Can’t Stop (No, No, No)” — Solomon Burke
“Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” — Carla Thomas
“Want You Bad” — Offspring

lagniappe: “A Change Is Gonna Come” — Sam Cooke

Thursday, August 10, 2006 10:05 pm

FDNY under new ownership. But I bet the NY Times won’t write about it.

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:05 pm

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon has observed that there is a phenomenon in which once a man has sex with a woman, he then feels as if he owns her, body and soul, and has not just the right but almost the obligation to control every aspect of her life. (I think I’ve got that right. Amanda, please feel free to set me straight if I’ve misstated your observation.) She has developed a convenient shorthand for this philosophy: “Poke-and-own.” But being a technologist as well as a researcher, she is looking into applications of the philosophy in areas other than sex.

Et voila! Having walked up to a fire truck with her index finger extended, Amanda Marcotte is now the proud new owner of the New York Fire Department. I hope she enjoys it. She certain appears excited; she says her first action as the new owner will be to order poles reinstalled in all fire stations because … well, I’ll let her tell you. (NSFW — language)

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 10:18 pm

Earthquakes can help you gain (or lose) weight

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 10:18 pm

Just not much either way.

Smiling through tears

Filed under: Hooper,Victoria — Lex @ 8:17 am

Today is Hooper’s first day of kindergarten. He’ll be joining Victoria, who’s starting third grade, at the same school. As he left the house, new red backpack on his back, I told him to have a wonderful day. He turned around, flashed a thumbs-up, smiled, and said, “Got it!” before marching on to the minivan.

But that wasn’t why I was tearing up.

I was tearing up because my daughter was wearing a pair of these.

Friday, August 4, 2006 3:52 pm

Ouch

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 3:52 pm

I’ve been taking the opportunity this week to continue restoring my pre-”Reloaded” archives. They’re supposed to import automatically from either Blogger or HTML files, but, sadly, that’s not true. I’m having to manually copy and paste each entry, manually restore the original date and time, and then (if I remember) manually assign a category.

It sucks. And it’s made worse by the fact that apparently four years ago I felt obliged to have an opinion on everything.

Signs of the Apocalypse, cont.

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 12:56 pm

Televangelist Pat Robertson now says he thinks global warming is a problem and must be addressed.

The week that has been

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 10:08 am

With the kids scheduled to head back to school on Tuesday, I took this week off from work to spend some time with them … and quite a busy week it has been. They’ve had play dates. We’ve played backyard soccer, baseball and lacrosse (with butterfly nets — great for catching, but for throwing, um, not so much). We’ve been to the pool. We’ve been to the children’s museum and the Natural Science Center. We’ve gone to see “The Ant Bully.”

But — on their own initiative — they spent two mornings this week, along with the girls from up the street, canvassing the neighborhood for canned-food donations for Greensboro Urban Ministry. The five of them gathered close to 75 pounds of food over two hot, muggy mornings. The girls prepared a simple spiel to be recited whenever a door opened. But one of the neighbors called me the evening of the first day to tell me that when the kids had called on him, before any of the girls could open her mouth, Hooper loudly announced, with no additional explanation, “You need to give us food!”

Friday random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 9:43 am

“When I Look at the World” — U2
“Pete” (live) — Pressure Boys
“Symphony No. 9″ — Beethoven (BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda)
“Bad” — U2
“Long Time Comin’” — Bruce Springsteen
“Jungle Drums” — Flat Duo Jets
“Head Like a Hole” — Nine Inch Nails
“Afternoon Tea” — Kinks
“Gotta Get Away” — The Offspring
“Don’t Worry, Baby” — Beach Boys

lagniappe: “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” — Cramps

Thursday, August 3, 2006 4:50 pm

Snark under any other name

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 4:50 pm

Conservative blogger Patterico, known in real life as LA County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Frey (no, this is not news) has “outed” the formerly pseudonymous liberal blogger TBogg as (surprisingly) Tom Boggioni, although it’s not like TBogg was ever all that far in. I figured out his name a while back from hints in the blog, although I had no purpose or motivation to do anything with that information.

The scary ramifications of a government official outing a blogger aside, the case is a reminder that I’m blessed to be working somewhere where what I blog isn’t, aside from some very narrow exceptions, held against me and where I’m not only permitted but also expected to blog under my own name. It’s a blessing much of the rest of the blogging world does not share, and I do not take it for granted.

If you blog anonymously or pseudonymously, you need to ask yourself what would happen if your closest family and friends, or your employer, stumbled on your blog and found out you were the author. Because it’s entirely possible that they will, particularly if you ever write anything that makes them angry. Sure, there are certain things you can do to minimize the risk (like not ever leaving comments anywhere, although commenting is a good way to build traffic at your own blog, or not blogging about anything personal, although personal posts are often the best written), but the know-how to track people down is out there and for good or ill, it’s not that closely held anymore.

That said, it doesn’t look like having been outed is going to do TBogg any harm. That’s good. Political humor is hard, but he makes it look easy.

UPDATE: Poor T-Rex. All he wants is a little revenge, but the better angels of his side of the blogosphere thwart him at every turn:

So, I wandered over to Sadly, No!, where I found a heated discussion with A Certain Right-Wing Blogger Who Shall Remain Nameless about his habit of maliciously “outing” the identities of liberal bloggers. Now, when I say a heated discussion, I mean that BradRocket put up a post examining multiple contradictory statements by Said Rightard Creep and hey, presto!, the very scum-bucket himself showed up in the comments. … They just can’t resist, can they? It’s like catnip to them.

Well, just on a lark, I plugged the guy’s real name into Google and his home state and some fellow with the same name popped up, so I slipped it into the comments section with a note, “You suppose this is him?”

Seconds later, my comment had disappeared. Then I got an email from Brad.

Brad: FOR F—- SAKE, TREX!! COULD YOU PLEASE NOT DO THAT??!!

I wrote him back.

Rex: That’s not really him, is it?

To which Brad replied: Yeah, that’s him! How much trouble are you trying to get us into here? This is NOT a war of attrition!

Rex: Oh, s—! Sorry!

And then I got an eeeeeeeeeevil idea. Why not post Mr. Nasty’s name and number to the gay section of Craigslist L.A. and sign him up for some assignations with some reeeeeeeal scary leathermen? But, of course, I didn’t, cos, you know, [we're] “above” all that. …

Dammit. Nobody ever lets me have any fun.

Man, do I know the feeling.

UPDATE: Hooboy, I bet they’re feelin’ the love in the Frey household tonight:

For what it’s worth, my political leanings are far to the left of my husband’s. When we vote, we almost always cancel each other out. I don’t think that should matter, but I wanted to say it so that no one writes me off as another right-wing nutcase.

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