October 31, 2006

So, Now He's Apologized

As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.

I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.

It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops.

So, there it is.

Now we can pick apart his apology for a week or so. Half of his detractors will go on and criticize the original statement as if he never apologized, and half will criticize the apology. So we can ignore real problems until after the election.

My prediction: the people calling loudest for an apology didn’t actually want one, they just wanted another reason to rake him over the coals. They will not appreciate the apology, because they don’t want to let Kerry off any hooks. People who were actually hurt by the comments and might appreciate the apology will be treated to more bile, rather than perhaps a discussion of this country’s problems.

Maybe I’m wrong. My feeling is that once they get their hooks into you, conservative media doesn’t care if you apologize. Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see.

Posted by James at 4:56 PM | Comments (2)

They're Taking The Brunt

Kerry apparently botched a joke about the president and it’s being twisted and cast as an attack against the troops. According to the Kerry team, this is what Kerry meant to say”

“I can’t overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.” - Senator John Kerry

Apparently, its a joke he’s told before. Unfortunately, as Kerry puts it, he botched the joke, making it sound (to many people) like individuals are sent to Iraq for not studying hard enough. And the Republicans are salivating at the chance to change the national discussion away from the failures of the president and congress and on to an imaginary attack on the troops.

Does anyone in their right mind think Kerry would attack the troops? I mean, seriously?

In any case, Kerry is standing behind his sentiments. And why shouldn’t he? Kerry is correct that we ended up with an incurious president that dragged us into a war in Iraq as a result of being soft on facts, details, strategy and diligence.

But Kerry stumbled at a rally, the Republicans had a well-timed question planted in front of Tony Snow just to plaster (and misrepresent) his misstep in front of the whole nation.

This botched joke has raised another issue. We’ve all suffered under the bad policies of this president. But I believe it to be the case that the people who have taken the brunt of the suffering under this administration are the people in the armed forces on whom we rely to defend our country.

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to criticise a man for attacking the troops exactly at the time he is criticising the president for making poor use of our troops?

The Republicans are drooling at the prospect that voters will not figure out the answer to that question.

Posted by James at 4:39 PM | Comments (19)

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Posted by James at 2:56 PM

October 30, 2006

McCoy Tyner at the Zeiterion

McCoy Tyner at the ZeiterionB.O.B, Patti and I went to see the McCoy Tyner Septet perform at the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford on Friday. We caught dinner at Freestones first, including the biggest baked potato I’d ever seen in my life which accompanied Patti’s meal.

The show was excellent. I especially enjoyed their performance of “Angelina.”

Tyner himself was brilliant on the piano. I actually wasn’t aware (before B.O.B. and Patti told me) that Tyner was hired by John Coltrane after Coltrane left Miles Davis. This is how Tyner became part of one of the greatest jazz quartets in history. I enjoy jazz but have not spent much time studying it. Hey, one can only learn so much in 39 years.

Not to take anything away from the other wonderful performers, but I have to say that the highlight for me was the dynamic bass playing of Charnett Moffett. His energy on the bass was infectious. It was mesmerizing to watch him slap at those bass strings. Tyner has gathered some pretty impressive talent for this septet.

Posted by James at 11:45 AM | Comments (2)

The Rumors Are True

The rumors are true, so I may as well admit it. I turn 39 years old today. In other words, I am starting my 40th year on this planet.

Thanks to all of you for hanging with me on this journey. To all my detractors: I don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon. Raise a glass at my advanced age but through clean living and craftiness, I plan on sticking around for at least another 60 years. So get used to me. On the negative side, rather than mellow with age, I have decided to get more curmudgeonly. Apologies in advance. But I do love you all, so thanks for putting up with me.

Posted by James at 10:17 AM | Comments (9)

Would You Rather? Perform

Would you rather:

  • Sing a capella, alone on stage, a song not of your choosing or
  • Dance alone on stage

Go to it!

Posted by James at 10:16 AM | Comments (13)

Halloween Sounds and Stuff

Looking for something to spice up your trick-or-treating on Halloween night? Here are some links I;’ve recently found which might help.

Haunted Mansion Source Loops

These are actual music used in the Disney Haunted Mansion, set on loops in various parts of the mansion. The Haunted Mansion is my favorite attraction at WDW, so these are very nostalgic bits of music. Especially the foyer organ.

Scar Stuff - Classic Halloween Sounds

Are you prepared to overdose on classic Halloween creepy sounds? The Scar Stuff website has half a million for you to download. If you hung around haunted houses in your youth, like I did, many of these loop tracks will sound familiar. They’ve been used for years and years by people looking to set a spooky scene. For pure sounds, I recommend the venerable “Spooky Sounds” records, and the Voodoo Drums if you’re planning some Voodoo.

While you’re at it, check out eHow’s guide to spooking out your unearthly visitors.

Halloween is tomorrow. Best be prepared.

Posted by James at 9:05 AM

Spooky Mix

I made a mix for Halloween. It’s not a scary mix, and the music is not actually Halloween themes, per se. Rather, this is music that either has a mortality or macabre theme to it, or it’s music that has a depressed or chilling quality to it.

Here’s the list:

JPB Spooky Mix ‘06

Dead Can Dance
Anywhere Out Of The World
Echo and the Bunnymen
Killing Moon
Gary Jules
Mad World
Beautiful Freak
The Jim Carroll Band
People Who Died
Naked Eyes
Always Something There To Remind Me
The Cranberries
I Still Do
Moon Over Bourbon Street
How To Disappear Completely
Howard Shore
Gollum’s Song (Performed By Emiliana Torrini)
New Order
Paper Tiger
Depeche Mode
Blasphemous Rumors
Nick Kershaw
Wouldn’t It Be Good
The Alloy Orchestra
Nosferatu—The Vampire’s Waltz
Dead Can Dance
Carnival Is Over

BTW - I’m not sure how “Always Something There to Remind Me” crept into the list. I think I was thinking of “Jeopardy” by Greg Kihn band. Because of the video, which features a climax including a giant worm reminiscent of the one summoned by reading De Vermis Mysteriis in Stephen King’s short story Jerusalem’s Lot. I think because of the wedding theme which also appears in the Naked Eyes video, I sometimes get the two songs confused. I like the Always Something There to Remind Me as a song better. But the cheesy video for Jeopardy is compelling. And you gotta love the Weird Al Parody, I Lost on Jeopardy.

A couple of these songs are somewhat depressing, because part of the purpose of the mix is to be a bit of a chilling downer. But more depressing by far is trying to discuss music on my weblog. For the last year or so, I’ve looked into different ways to post a playlist and easily share with you at least a snippet of each song so that (if you’d never heard it) you’d get an idea of each. The closest I came was in uploading iTunes “iMix” lists, which allows me to make an iTunes playlist that you all can see. Then you’d be able to see the songs together in the iTunes store and hear a snippet of each. The two down sides that eventually made this impractical was 1) It required you all to have iTunes, and I know some people don’t like that. And 2) iTunes has a limited catalog, so I would upload 15 songs and it would cut out 10 of them. Pathetic.

To discuss music, it has to be a shared experience. But it’s not legal to share that experience online. If you were here, it would be perfectly legal for me to play a song I own, but let you hear it, too. However, if I’m discussing a song with you over a distance, even if I’ve bought the CD, we can’t both listen to that CD. Again, iTunes comes close to this by allowing me to share my music with other people over a local network (they can listen but not copy). There’s no technical reason why they ought not to allow the same thing over the internet — allowing you to connect to my machine just to play my playlist. But, sadly, they do not allow you to do this.

The recording industry does graciously allow me to list the title and artist of the song here on my blog. Fun!

In any case, we will soldier on.

Do you have a song or songs that give you the chills, or tickle the Halloweeny part of your brain? If so, please tell me about them in the comments.

Posted by James at 8:11 AM | Comments (4)

October 28, 2006

Holiday Season Starts Early This Year

Don’t you hate it when stores start putting up decorations for Christmas when Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet! Horrible!

A number of people all over the blogosphere are already complaining about the early appearance of Christmas-themed consumerism before Hallowe’en is even here. Before Hallowe’en? What are they thinking?

Zing! - Watch as this seemingly lighthearted gripe blog post goes all political on your arse.

The I.R.S. usually suspends tax enforcement around the holiday season. Forget the War on Christmas, this is the holiday season’s War on Taxes. But this year is different. This year, the I.R.S commissioner has decided that we need to extend the holiday reprieve by suspending tax enforcement in the period up to the November election in certain parts of the country.

That’s right. The administration doesn’t want to enforce the tax laws in the run-up to the election. Tax Commissioner Everson explains the move as “traditional,” an explanation that left 4 former tax commissioners scratching their heads. Santa suits on election day? Hang the mistletoe over the ballot box? Egg Nog in the voting booth?

Whether or not this is a crass political move, it’s at the very least an attempt to extend and dilute the holiday season yet further. I leave you to your lamentations about untimely Christmas intrusions, already in progress.

Posted by James at 9:39 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2006

Mesmerizing Shotgun

  1. whitney music box var. 0 - chromatic - 48 tines

    A mesmerizing combination of visuals and sound, as we see what happens when dots hit the scale at different points, as part of a spinning spiral. Do primes sound different from non-primes? What happens if you hand crank it? Fun and diverting.

  2. How to prank a Telemarketer - Tom Mabe

    A funny conversation between a man and his telemarketer.

  3. Gabbly - gabbly.com

    It's a web-based way to chat with a bunch of people at once. Slap it onto your website, and suddenly all the people viewing your site can talk to each other.

  4. The Human Clock? - A Clock Photo for Every Minute of the Day

    Here's a neat way to pass the time.

  5. Qooqle Video Clippers!

    Get your goofy Japanese video fix at this site which rates... er, goofy Japanese videos.

  6. Draw Play Game

    Draw your way through each level as you help the mummy reach the flag.

  7. Hair Loss Ad

    The newest, yet oldest, answer to hair loss.

  8. The tree in the forest - award-winning photo

    This picture, taken from the air shows something that looks like a giant oak tree, but it's a pattern caused by man-made and natural forces.

  9. Pixel Blaster

    Neat little game in which you fly around and shoot things. Cheap therapy.

    to flash game
  10. Chasers - Trojan Horse

    Who would fall for a Trojan Horse today?

  11. Sledgeweb's Lost ... Stuff

    "LOST" investigations. Find out what's what from hyper-critical and hyper-observant fans.

  12. Halo-Creepy guy at work

    Someone used Halo to dramatize a Dane Cook stand-up routine. Hilarity ensues.

Posted by James at 1:00 PM

The Massachusetts Ballot: Question 2

The Massachusetts Ballot: Question 2: “Cross-endorsement”

For reference, here again is the web page with voter information on the Massachusetts ballot questions.

The gist of question 2 is this:

The proposed law would provide that if a candidate were nominated by more than one party or political designation, instead of the candidate’s name being printed on the ballot once, with the candidate allowed to choose the order in which the party or political designation names appear after the candidate’s name, the candidate’s name would appear multiple times, once for each nomination received.

In other words, if a candidate can get nominated by multiple political parties, the candidate would be allowed to appear multiple times on the ballot - once for each party.

So, I could be a Republican and a Libertarian and a member of the “Best Candidate Party” (If I were able to secure those nominations) and this would give me the privilege of appearing 3 times vs. the other candidate’s one time. Votes for all three of those categories would be combined, and the combined vote would be the candidate’s total. Same as if I were, say a Democrat, plus a Green Rainbow candidate, plus a Green party (somehow).

Proponents say this gives the voter more power, because you can “send a message” to the candidate by voting in a particular slot. This would supposedly keep them aware of why you voted for them. It’s an attempt to shift power away from the two major parties.

My Opinion

I am voting No on Question 2.

I agree with the notion that more competition is good, and that voters should have plenty of power. But this proposal seems to me to increase confusion, not competition. If there are people out there who think they can gain support by complicating the ballot, I think they need to put their thinking caps on and go back to the drawing board. Haven’t we already learned our lesson about confusing ballots? coughFlorida 2000cough

I want candidates to work hard telling us what their ideas are for leadership, and they should have an idea of what their strong points are before they get on the ballot.

The new law would also allow you to vote multiple times for the same candidate, and this would not invalidate the ballot. The candidate still is supposed to only get one vote, so the ballot reader software has to be modified to get that right. More complexity in an a system we already have concerns about. As a designer of systems, I like to see simpler systems that are harder to fail. This new system seems not just complex, but needlessly complex.

I welcome and encourage an opposing opinion here, but this question really struck me as odd. Maybe someone could explain to me how what I see as a more confusing ballot would change elections for the better.
Posted by James at 9:57 AM | Comments (10)

October 26, 2006

The Massachusetts Ballot: Question 1

The Massachusetts Ballot: Question 1 - Wine Sales

I missed the last governor’s candidate debate tonight (just plain spaced it out, and I hadn’t DVR’ed it). My debate coverage is marginal at best, anyhow. Let’s look at ballot questions. This post is about Question 1.

You can read the state voter information page on all the ballot questions here.

Question 1 is about changing state law to allow more grocery stores to sell wine.

I have always been a little confused by Mass. state law regarding this issue, because it seemed to me that there already were liquor stores selling wine, but now and again I’d hear people saying that grocery stores were not allowed to sell wine in Massachusetts.

That’s technically correct in one sense, but not entirely true. It’s possible for a grocery store to sell wine in MA, it’s just that the current laws are very restrictive. They must get a full liquor license. Such licenses are limited in number by town and also limited by individual — only three licenses per owner across the state. So, technically, grocery stores can’t sell alcohol. By getting a liquor license, they’ve basically become a liquor store as well as a grocery. Semantics! But, essentially, groceries are restricted from selling wine by state law.

The new law proposes to allow groceries to sell wine (and it appears to be wine only, not beer or liquor) with some restrictions.
The licensing authorities in any city or town of up to 5000 residents could issue up to 5 licenses for food stores to sell wine. In cities or towns of over 5000 residents, one additional license could be issued for each additional 5000 residents (or fraction of 5000).
This means that a market without a regular liquor license could now fairly easily get a wine license if they just wanted to sell wine.

My Opinion

I’m voting yes on Question 1, to allow groceries to sell wine.

(see comments) Right on the face of it, I’m always suspicious of too-restrictive laws and I feel that they have to justify their existence. So, easing restrictions is my default position, and I look to the opposition to convince me. Their arguments, in this case, are not compelling. And I find some of them insulting as well. Reading the “Vote No on Question 1” blog left me feeling like state wine consumers were being characterized as winos looking to binge on cheap “Chuck a buck.” That turned me right off.

But it’s their reasoning I don’t find convincing. They want me to worry that this is about a foreign corporation who is just looking for more profits. I don’t care who stands to benefit from a change if the current laws can’t be reasonably defended. The point is, will allowing wine sales in groceries be a good thing or a bad thing? Besides, it makes perfect sense why current license-holders would oppose the issuing of more licenses. It dilutes their near monopoly. As a consumer, why should I want to preserve their monopoly?

If you read the opposition’s Q&A, it’s tough to find an actual argument in there, but it seems to come down to “people will drink more” (including kids) and that it will cost taxpayers more money to police the new wine stores.

Most underage drinkers get their alcohol from legal adults, not from stores. Other states allow wine sales in markets and they’re not seeing the problems that the anti-Q1 folks threaten.

I’m not much of a wine drinker, mainly because I don’t make a special trip for it. I’m one of those people who will more likely buy wine when I’m buying food. Why? Because I either buy it for cooking or I buy it to drink with dinner I’m preparing. The last time I bought wine, I bought it at Auclair’s in Somerset, a grocery store, because I wanted it to go with my dinner. I go to a liquor store when I need liquor; wine is a different animal.

Treating wine like liquor is already wrong-headed. This question is about either doing what other states are already doing, or preserving a restrictive set of laws. The current laws don’t keep someone from alcoholism and don’t keep alcohol out of the hands of minors, they just make it tougher to see wine as a part of your grocery list.

As I explained to my daughters, strange laws result in strange workarounds. Like “cooking wine” found in groceries. These are pretty bad wines with salt added to make them undrinkable, skirting the laws. When you use them in a recipe, you reduce the salt you would otherwise add. That’s silly.

The current restrictions make no sense to me. I’ll vote “Yes.”

Fun Facts:

  • There are, apparently, 14 completely dry towns in Massachusetts
  • Wine health benefits have been found in scientific studies, but not to a degree that makes doctors comfortable about recommending wine consumption. There is a fear that already heavy drinkers would increase their drinking, since people tend to operate under the flawed “more is better” medical model.
  • Wine has some antibacterial properties that can protect people from intestinal pathogens, and can also act on the digestive system similar to the way Pepto Bismal works. Thus it’s reputation as a digestive aid.
  • A standard bottle of wine is .75 liters. At double the volume, a 1.5 liter bottle of wine is called a “magnum.” A 15 liter bottle is called a “Nebuchadnezzar” and contains the equivalent of 20 standard bottles.
  • There is at least one winery in each of the United States of America, but Turkey has twice as much vineyard acreage as the USA.
Posted by James at 9:17 AM | Comments (69)

October 25, 2006

Contact Me

If you don’t run AIM or similar chat client, but you want to contact me quickly, now you can, if I’m online.

That widget is connected to my chat client. You can type a message and I’ll get it immediately and be able to respond (if I’m not away from my desk). You don’t need a chat account or anything, you can just start typing. (I think you need Shockwave or Flash installed)

This widget is permanently located on the “** Contact Me **” page (the link is over there in the left sidebar).

I started using Meebo recently as a chat client because it’s lightweight. I don’t have to install anything on my machines and it makes things easier.

Posted by James at 3:44 PM

October 24, 2006

Dartmouth Hurting, But What Is a Cut?

Keri mentions on her blog that Dartmouth is feeling the pinch in its budget crisis (following from state-level cuts and bad decisions by the voters which we discussed here earlier)

Perhaps Dartmouth will make students pay for buses and extracurricular activities. The “adult” voters of Dartmouth (many of whom had access to taxpayer-funded school programs when they were growing up) are going to force the school into a situation where it has to eliminate programs or make parents pay for them on top of the taxes they pay.

It’s pretty sad. No doubt the same taxpayers who don’t want to pay for other people’s children to go to school will rail against teen delinquency when teens with nothing to do find something to do.

In any case, a commenter on Keri’s post took her to task in referring to local aid as having been “slashed” by Romney. This anonymous voice listed the last few allocations of aid to Fall River. The dollar values had slightly increased (barely, one might say) over the last few years — that can’t be slashing, right?

But the reality of dollars is that $1.00 today is not the same as $1.00 in the year 2001. To quote the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center:

The appropriations proposed in this budget, however, leave in place a significant portion of the cuts enacted during the state’s fiscal crisis. Compared to FY 2001, after adjusting for inflation, this budget provides 10 percent less in unrestricted local aid, 19 percent less funding for higher education, 22 percent less funding for public health, and 17 less for environmental affairs.

When you consider the reality — the actual spending power of the money allocated — local aid is not only under-funded but it is lower than what it was in previous years. That is a cut, or slash, or whatever you want to call it.

If you are used to buying a box of Mac and Cheese for $1, and the amount of macaroni in the box drops from 10 ounces to 9 ounces, would you consider that a cut? One could argue that you’re still getting a box of Mac and Cheese for your $1 bill.

And, in fact, that is exactly the argument being made when someone says that a level-funded program has not been cut, yet the value of a dollar has changed.

Posted by James at 2:52 PM | Comments (2)

Happy Birthday Chuck!

I just wanted to wish my buddy Chuck over at Unbecoming Levity a big “Happy Birthday!”

It gives me a chance to plug his weblog and tell him how great it is to have known him all these years.

Posted by James at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

Would You Rather?

Would you rather:

  • Spend the day at work with a searing headache so bad you can’t concentrate
  • Spend the day at home so nauseated you can’t look at food
Posted by James at 8:08 AM | Comments (10)

October 22, 2006

Butler's On TV

Following up on a recent discussion that mentioned Butlers Colonial Donuts.

The Phantom Gourmet made the Butler’s “Long John” (essentially a version of the berliner) the “Dish Worth Driving To.” Check out the Phantom’s review.

Also in that discussion, Leddy’s Bakery.

Posted by James at 12:02 PM

October 20, 2006

Intrusion Shotgun

Without going into details, crackers and hackers have made my week a near-complete disaster. Glad to see this week coming to an end.
  1. 101 Cookbooks - Pizza Dough

    I haven't tred this recipe yet, but I love the idea that you could prepare it in advance and get a nice, easy-to-work-with crust for use the next day, or up to three days later. That really rocks.

  2. PDF Pad

    Print your own calendars and graph paper with this handy online paper thing generator.

  3. Halloween Photography Tips

    Prepare the prefect shots of the upcoming creepy holiday. Record your nightmare before Christmas. Most of these tips apply to non-Halloween situations as well, so a useful link all around.

  4. Give me back my GOOGLE?

    Google results wihtout all of the annoying affiliate links.

  5. HansoExposed 9/8 70 Fragments - Complete

    The complete HansoExposed video. If "Hanso" doesn't mean anything to you, you can skip this video. Otherwise, it's got possibly important information.

  6. Religious Right Propaganda Posters

    Posters promoting what's right!

  7. Scranton Party (Don't Stop)

    Ain't not party like a Scranton Party 'cause a Scranton Party don't stop!

Posted by James at 1:38 PM | Comments (1)

You and James Read the News

You and James must be a little bit crazy, because you and James are about to read the news. But go ahead. Knock yourself out.

N.Korea said not planning more nuke tests

Not only that, but:

Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported.

Jeepers, folks. Sorry about the nuke! This doesn't really give me the warm fuzzies. You know, it baffles me listening to some conservative radio on North Korea. I think I caught a snipped of the Laura Inghram show the other day and Laura and a guest were shaking their heads at the Bush Administration's handling of North Korea (the sanctions) but what got me was that their alternative seemed to be to bomb North Korea. No talk of how things have gotten worse as we've moved from Clinton engagement to Bush containment. Just bomb them, Cheney-style.

Massachusetts state funds will be scarce in coming years

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (a non-partisan and business-backed nonprofit research group -- see here ) says that MA has already spent the surplus and that at the current rate, the state is headed for a rather large budget gap:

...projected cost of projects to improve roads, build schools and maintain town infrastructures are expected to exceed the state's surplus by $840 million in 2008. In 2012, the state is expected to be $3.3 billion short of its budget needs.
And that's with the cuts the Romney administration has made to local aid.

People who are still screaming for the tax rollback are living in cloud cuckoo land. Somehow, they think that if the populace votes on the tax rate, the books will magically balance themselves. Meanwhile, Healey's supporters are trying to scare people into believing the Deval Patrick is the root of all tax increases. Guess what folks, you're already on that road if the MTF's report is even close to right. No matter who the governor is. The question is, what do we do about it, not how can we dodge the question and tar the other candidate.

JD Hayworth Continues His Christ-Killer Outreach Program

OK, this one is coming from Wonkette rather than the news. A spokesperson for Representative JD Hayworth (R-AZ) appeared at a synagogue in his stead, possibly so he could avoid answering some sensitive questions about past support of anti-Semitic ideas. But his surrogates...

[...]repeatedly lectured the audience at Temple Beth Israel in Scottsdale and proclaimed that Hayworth ?is a more observant Jew? than those present.

Hayworth isn't Jewish.It actually gets worse than that, but I'll let you read it.

Bush Campaigns For Two Endangered Republicans

Another way to look at it is that the only Republicans who seem to want Bush to campaign for them are some folks with serious PR issues. These are issues so bad that the president's low approval rating is actually a boost and not a detriment.

But maybe it's an indication of how bad things have gotten for the president when he makes time in his ostensibly busy schedule to make sure that George Allen (riding high off his "macaca" comment) and Don Sherwood (perhaps not your average family values Republican) keep their seats.

Obligatory lame press secretary dodge:

Press Secretary Tony Snow says Bush has no qualms about helping either candidate.

As to Sherwood, Snow says Bush believes "we're all sinners" who deserve forgiveness.
Ok, granted. But we don't all deserve to represent the people. If these people don't get re-elected, I'm sure McDonalds has an opening. And I forgive them.


Also in the news:

Posted by James at 9:51 AM | Comments (8)

October 19, 2006

I Used To Dislike Starbucks

But Maggie just brought me a pumpkin latte at work.

Holy crap. There’s probably half a million calories in it, but it’s good. Very good.

Apparently the Target that they built here in Dartmouth has a Starbucks in it.

I am going to be wired for the rest of the day on this caffeine.

Posted by James at 10:42 AM | Comments (7)

Quick Math Question

I have a question. This isn’t a trick, this isn’t meant to be clever. I just want to know your answer.

Would you please list for me the first few multiples of three.


Posted by James at 12:55 AM | Comments (29)

October 17, 2006

Pom Redux

Open!Remember my pomegranate “how to” Flickr photoset from last year? Of course you do — silly question.

Well, what’s more exciting than a pomegranate tutorial?

A dramatic pomegranate tutorial MOVIE with way awesome music!!!!

Check out the aforementioned exciting video at my shared video page on trackingshot.com.

After you’ve done that, you can upload your own photos and make your own movies. Be sure to share the links here in the comments, especially if you can make me laugh.

Posted by James at 8:41 PM | Comments (14)

October 16, 2006

A "You Ruined the Surprise" Party

I’m not really a big fan of surprise parties, and neither is my wife. There are a number of reasons for this, among them that part of the fun of a party is the anticipation. The stress of a party is usually getting things prepared and the house cleaned. So if I were throwing a party for Maggie and the location was somewhere other than home and all the details were taken care of, I think that would be zero stress and she’d probably want to know in advance.


An idea occurred to me which I will likely never use, and now that I’m about to tell all of you the idea I really would not be able to use it. But maybe one of you could use it if you are devious, or know someone devious. Of course, neither I nor any of my friends are the least bit devious.

If you knew someone who didn’t like surprise parties (or even if they do), but liked mind games, you could throw them a “You Ruined The Surprise” party. Here’s how it works. You would contact all of their friends and tell them all that you’re throwing a surprise party for X. Tell them X is already a bit suspicious, so you have to keep this extra-secret. Tell them not to bring any presents, that their participation in the party is the present. Er, you might say something a little less suspicious than that. Just tell them to show up.

Then, you tell X, your deviously-inclined party-recipient, that you’re throwing a party and you tell X who has been invited. You give them all the details. What happens next is up to them and how creative and devious they are. They now know a “secret.” All the people they know best are supposed to keep them from finding out. X can needle people for information. X can subtly ask them what they’re doing on the appointed day. X can play them against each other. Whatever floats X’s boat.

The great thing is, since they’re just pretending not to know about the party, they can try to break each friend separately. If a friend cracks, they can just say “It’s OK. Don’t tell anyone you let the cat out of the bag and I’ll pretend to be surprised.” Then they move on to the next friend.

See, I told you it was devious. But if your friends are devious and understanding (and forgiving) you can all have a laugh about it at the party.

Of course, now if someone tells you they’re having a surprise party, maybe it’s a “You Ruined the Surprise” party. The great thing is that, if you’re invited to a “surprise party” then you won’t know the difference!

Posted by James at 10:32 PM

Would You Rather: Sleep

It’s Monday! Would You Rather?

Would you rather:

  • Fall asleep in a movie theater during a film you were looking forward to or
  • Fall asleep in the waiting room for a doctor/dentist appointment and have to be woken up by the receptionist
Posted by James at 9:02 AM | Comments (12)

Musictown Festival Parade and PYO Disappointment

Into the Pumpkin Patch


On Saturday we made sure we got up early because the kids wanted to go apple picking and our time this fall has already been too filled up to accommodate any. Since we’re usually late-risers, the best way to make time is to get up early. While Maggie was off on her own early morning adventure shopping yard sales in Barrington, RI, the girls and I took off for East Bridgewater and C.N. Smith’s apple farm for some P.Y.O apples.

We were greeted at the farm by ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, roosters, sheep, goats, and a sign that read “All Picked Out.” Oops. Too late in the season. Last year we’d gone out on Columbus Day weekend. Next year we’re going to have to remember to mark the calendar and go picking in September, despite how busy September is.

As M and K had “gobble-gobble” conversations with the turkey and bleated back at the other farm animals, I called the other two supposed PYO places in the area and got their answering machines, one which told me they don’t do PYO. So we changed tack and decided to go for a “Pumpkin Ride” at 4 Town Farm in Seekonk.

This is a ride in a tractor out to a very small corn maze (more like a corn path). Once you make it through to the other side, there’s a seeded “pumpkin patch” where the kids can pick a large or small pumpkin of their own to take home. Basically, you pay for the pumpkin and they throw in the ride and the maze. We did it a couple of years ago, and the kids enjoy it. For a full-blown corn maze, you have to go to the one on Route 6 in Swansea that we visited with the Seggelins last year. But come prepared with maze-solving expertise. D&D-ers have a distinct advantage. You can get lost in one of those.

So, the morning was not a loss. In the afternoon we had a family birthday party, and when we got home Maggie continued her work restoring the front porch while I harvested most of our herb garden. Details for a later post, perhaps.

Elected Officials


Sunday we had breakfast with my parents, to which I brought my pumpkin muffins, and then it was off to the Musictown parade, Somerset’s yearly festival.

For the set of all my Musictown Parade pictures, and a convenient slide show, visit my Musictown Festival Parade set at Flickr. (If you’re a Flickr contact of mine and we’ve set each other as “friends” you’ll see the entire set. Just let me know if you are a friend and I haven’t set you as “friend” yet.)

Jerry Remy was the Grand Marshal this year, and as usual the whole town was out for the festivities.

It’s a small town. Just walking up and down a small part of the parade route I ran into people I went to high school with and K’s homeroom teacher. Although, when it comes to people, they tend to see me before I see them; I am preoccupied with my own thoughts or whatever misadventure I am involved with. Like a horse with blinders on. Jim B, a former schoolmate, called out to me “Hey, Pat!” (“Patrick” being my middle name and the one that my parents and everyone before college tended to use to refer to me) and startled me while I was deciding where to stand for a good view of the festivities.

Maggie, her mom and both the girls were in the parade with the Girl Scouts. We had a small emergency before the parade that separated K and myself from her troop, and I ended up having to hike K across a field only to find an 8 foot fence between us and her destination. I lifted K over the fence with the help of another scout leader on the other side.

Moving around in an automobile is not optimal in Somerset on the day of the parade. I got lucky that I found a spot where I could park near the parade route and extricate myself quickly to get to the girls when the parade was over. I am not revealing my secret spot.

I found out later that Maggie ran into another high school acquaintance who saw me lifting K over the fence (I am a spectacle). This was a girl that I had a crush on for the longest time in high school, but in high school I was too wracked by anxiety to ever do anything about it. Of course, Maggie told her she was my high school crush. After 20 years, you’d think there was an expiration date on some information.

The parade was a lot of fun. I especially get a kick out of the Shriners in their little cars. They zoom around in toy-sized cars with puppets that interact with the crowd. One of the Shriners with a brown bear puppet really cracked me up. And later, about a half hour after the parade was over, I saw him driving his toy car back home on another street. His puppet was still waving to people and making friends.

I guess if you’re a fun-loving sort, the parade doesn’t actually have to end.

Posted by James at 8:00 AM | Comments (13)

Punkin Accomplished

Pumpkin Muffins 2Made the Williams Sonoma Pumpkin Bread recipe in muffin form. It was a complete success.


  • Over-fill 12 muffin tins instead of using the Williams Sonoma pumpkin pans. Over filling ensures nice big muffins. Compare the picture here with the one of my previous batch. Gotta over-fill.
  • Bake at 350 degrees instead of 325 degrees
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (mine went for 35 minutes) until muffins spring back when poked gently.
  • Use an extra teaspoon of baking powder
  • Do as little mixing as possible once the dry and wet ingredients are together. In muffin-making, over-mixing is the devil!

This time, the frosting was both maple and pumpkin flavored. I followed their suggestion of adding pumpkin puree to the frosting, and also substituted a third of the sugar with maple butter. Also, I slightly over-toasted the walnuts; Maggie says they’d be better if they were less toasted. Or “burnt” as she calls it.

I’m thinking that increasing the butter slightly and cooking for slightly less time might make them even more moist, but that experiment will be for another day.

Posted by James at 7:31 AM | Comments (2)

October 13, 2006

Limitatious Shotgun

Women: Know your limits!

Patti sent this to me. It's an important public service film. Women, be careful in social situations not to exceed your limits!

Disney says "non" to Mouse orgy

Disney is upset about the supposed "orgy" video on the internets.

Mouse "Orgy" Video

This is the offending video. Actually, pretty darn lame.

taskbar shuffle

Rearrange your running processes on the taskbar. Cool! I often have too many things running and it's nice to be able to organize them a bit.


Chat online with the Mark Foley Bot. Responses taken from actual Mark Foley messages.


Little guy just wants some veggies. This is not his day.
to animation fun funny

Posted by James at 12:46 PM | Comments (9)

Mocking Christians

Following up on the last post about the Democratic Party and liberal moral values, I thought it was a good time to take a look at how deep the trumpeted values of the current administration run.

The title of this post comes from David Kuo, former #2 man in Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiative. Here’s the quote from his book Tempting Faith:

[The White House] was mocking the millions of faithful Christians who had put their trust and hope in the President and his administration.

Bush, with his promises to evangelicals, gave me a bit of a scare when he was elected. After all, I have strong feelings about religion and its uses. I feel that religious belief is a personal choice and that there are dangers that come with mixing religion and politics.

I thought that we’d get two things out of the Bush administration once he was in office.

  1. Wrong, although sincere, changes in the government that would seek to incorporate Christian doctrine into the making of law (such as decisions based on dogma rather than facts or science).
  2. Use of religion to consolidate political power for the Republicans, who would slowly increase their focus on thing #1 which would feed a stronger grip on political power. Repeat as necessary.

I was not correct in my forecast.

I have been surprised, recently, and even before the Republican leadership’s page predator cover-up scandal, to hear that “evangelicals might be sitting this election out.” The reason? They are disappointed in Bush not following through on their expectations of his presidency.

This surprised me because I have sat through the creation of the National Day of Prayer, the creation of an office specifically for so-called “faith-based initiatives,” stem cell restrictions right out of the gate, and the appointment of (apparently) more socially conservative judges. Some socially moderate Republicans I spoke to, after a few beers, would also admit to worry about these indicators and trends.

Meanwhile, some in Bush’s base were apparently feeling out in the cold. Why? The flaw in my prediction seemed clear. I was right on #2 — the use of religion to shore up power — but wrong on an aspect of #1 — the sincerity and following through.

Keith Olberman reports on the revelations within Kuo’s book (see the video). The picture he paints is one of cynical use of the sincerely religious. Kuo left the White House after coming to his conclusions about the lack of sincerity on the part of the administration.

I wasn’t completely wrong on #1. Instead of a conspiracy to merge religion and government we got money spent and wasted on initiatives that went nowhere, and socially conservative bones thrown when there was enough political capital to spend. Also, we got what was essentially a subsidization of the re-election of Republicans. If I were a practicing Christian, I’m sure I would be especially outraged at this. Never mind the hyped up “culture war” that is inflated like an ominous parade float every time votes are needed — a practice which has probably damaged moderate Christianity more than it’s annoyed me. It’s (literally) adding insult to injury to find out that after the hugs and conference calls, Christians and prominent social conservatives were derided.

People who might otherwise be disinclined to trust a politician wanted desperately to hear that, after the hated Clenis, there was a God President in office, one who spoke their code phrases and would deliver them a more Christian nation. They were ready to believe, and they were good at it.

Watch Olberman’s report for more information. The book itself doesn’t come out until Monday.

Posted by James at 12:11 AM

October 12, 2006

Economic Moral Values

The economy is growing. Hear the oohing and ahhing when the Dow hit a record? That’s the Republican national leaders getting a tingly sensation in their loins (money beats out underage pages any day).

Meanwhile, economic inequality is growing. Wages are stalled; in fact the median household earnings are lower than in 1999 while costs are greater. Robert Reich refers to the issue as “fairness” in his commentary.

Economic inequality is a moral value. Are we supposed to celebrate CEOs negotiating 8 figure compensation while wages stagnate? Are we supposed to sit and continue to listen to people who tell us they are our moral superiors because of their chosen faith and “get out the vote” election-year issues, and continue to define the playing field based on a perception of morality that serves their narrow political interests?

Arianna Huffington hit the nail on the head when she wrote, in her memo to Democrats:

If the Democratic Party is not about bringing focus and urgency to the creation of a more fair, just — and, yes, moral — society, it might as well cease to exist. FDR gave expression to the moral principle that should be animating Democrats when he said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Isn’t this the exact opposite of the immoral credo that animates Bush Republicans?

She then quotes from Barak Obama’s Democratic Convention speech:

Alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga: a belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the South Side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. . . . It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. ‘E pluribus unum.’ Out of many, one.

I am not a registered Democrat. But it seems to me that this is what Democrats should be talking about. Drop as much political stuff as possible for politicians and lead, for goodness sake. I could get behind that kind of leadership, and could even join a party for a change.

If you want to pop the champagne corks at the Dow (please, look away from the NASDAQ, which BTW, appears a little lackluster by comparison) then by all means stare at your stock options.


Still thankful for your Republican leadership’s hand in the Dow numbers? Then you might also be interested what Gene Sperling wrote for Bloomberg.com today about the market’s meagre 9% annualized growth since 2003:

That’s less than half of the 20 percent annualized gain for the market in the comparable time period following the 1993 budget of Bill Clinton’s administration.

Yet, I don’t seem to recall many conservative pundits attributing President Clinton’s tax policies as the sole or even partial cause of the stock market’s dramatic surge of the 1990s. Indeed, think of how Clinton would have been vilified by right- wing pundits had the stock market failed to rise in real terms during such a 4 1/2-year period under his watch.

Most importantly, a 2005 study by the Federal Reserve found that the 2003 tax cuts had nothing to do with the Dow’s 25 percent increase that year. The Fed study found that equities unaffected by the tax cuts — such as real-estate investment trusts and European stock markets — rose proportionately with the Dow during the weeks in which the tax reductions were announced and passed.

Those champagne bubbles do sting the nose, don’t they?

Posted by James at 8:15 PM | Comments (1)

Bully Under Fire

Rui recently sent out a note that the game he was working on for Rockstar Vancouver, the controversial Bully, has been cleared for release. It’ll be on shelves for October 17.

Kudos to Rui! It’s great to see a longtime friend and kid from Fall River making good.

But I guess not everyone agrees on how good. The reports on this game are extremely positive from gamer magazine articles I’ve read. But along with the positive buzz, there is also controversy. The game is set in a boarding school and involves bullying, which is enough to set some people off.

In particular, some people in Florida are up in arms. The GamePolitics blog reports that a judge in Florida’s Third District Court has demanded that the company hand over the game for review within 24 hours. Someone has filed a lawsuit against the game company in an attempt to restrict the game’s release in Florida.

This is big news. A game has never been reviewed for release before. I don’t know much about the contents of the game, but I imagine this means more attention for Bully and probably more interest.

But what of the content? Is Bully harmful? It’s rather hard to say as nobody’s really had much of a chance to play it. I can say, I’m more interested than ever.

Posted by James at 2:47 PM | Comments (3)

Yankee's Plane Crashes in Manhattan

Yankees Pitcher Corey Lidle died tragically yesterday when his plane crashed into a Manhattan high rise. My condolences to his family, and the families of the other people who died in the crash.

Lidle was on board, and possibly piloting when the plane went down. The plane was an “ultrasafe” model owned by the Yankees pitcher.

President Bush has reacted quickly, drawing up plans to attack the Boston Red Sox.

Posted by James at 6:47 AM

October 11, 2006

I A Gry

I wish I had come up with this comic. Because I agree completely.

Posted by James at 4:36 PM | Comments (3)

Koopman's Belief Is Loopy

If I locate a Muslim and say he’s loopy, does that mean I’m calling all Muslims loopy? I guess it partly depends on what aspect of this person I’m relying on to make the determination of “loopiness.” If I say he’s loopy because Islam is loopy, then obviously I’m insulting his religion.

Here is an interesting specific case of loopiness, disingenuity and political posturing.

Lawmaker fires back at governor‘s comments on age of Earth

A Republican state lawmaker is criticizing Gov. Brian Schweitzer for comments he made to a newspaper here about the lawmaker‘s belief that the planet is not millions of years old. Rep. Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, called Schweitzer‘s statement ”incredibly bigoted.”

What Schweitzer said was that “he needs support from a state Legislature that will help move Montana‘s agenda forward, ”not people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”

Koopman called that insulting, and I would agree that it is an insult, because it is dismissive of people who believe the Earth is a few thousand years young.

However, Koopman calls the attitude “bigoted” and this is where he has crossed over into loopyland. He wants people to think Schweitzer’s attitude is driven by bigotry towards Christians, which is a perception that would not sit well with Christians, I’m sure. And that may result in people deciding not to vote for Schweitzer.

But Koopman also says:

Koopman said his belief in the Earth’s age is not based on his faith, but on his scientific investigations.

Let’s take a look at this. First, an admission: Personally, I believe “Young Earth” beliefs are loopy. Some people believe in a young Earth because of their religion, and I find that unfortunate that they can’t reconcile their religion with the scientific evidence, but I don’t begrudge them their loopy beliefs. I feel it has to be pointed out that this is a loopy belief, though, because there are important consequences to ignoring reality, and the best approximation we have to a representation of reality. I don’t see this as bigotry because no matter what race, religion, political stripe or hairstyle you call your own, I still think the belief is loopy. If you told me you were a white, male, atheist, liberal and you also told me you could float in the air using the power of your mind, I’m going to tell you that’s loopy. No bigotry necessary. And I would want you representing me in government.

This guy claims that finding an idea harmful makes you a bigot. Implying he is anti-Christian. However, he wants to have this issue both ways because he says he’s arrived at the conclusion scientifically, not through faith. Whoops, sorry. You can’t claim bigotry if we’ve taken religion out of the picture. No matter whether or not other people believe this idea because of religion, you have admitted that there is a path to this belief that is non-religious. You have to give the other person the benefit of the doubt that they’ve arrived at this conclusion of loopiness without taking religion into account.

Of course, logic has little to do with this. Koopman is hoping to strike an emotional chord with citizens who are sensitive to having their beliefs challenged, or people who don’t share the belief but are worried that Schweitzer is some sort of anti-Christian bigot.

Newsflash, Koopman: You can be a Christian and believe the Earth is older than a few thousand years. It is insulting to the intelligence of countless Christians to lump them all together and attribut to them this loopy belief for your political purposes. It is you, Koopman, not your opponent who are attacking Christianity.

Posted by James at 3:35 PM

Have You Had Enough? Swing To This.

Ricki Lee Jones and some of the folks from Squirrel Nut Zippers have gotten together and recorded a campaign song for the upcoming election. It’s called “Have You Had Enough?”

Download MP3

It’s sung to the tune of “Put A Lid On It” — one of my favorite songs on the Squirrel Nut Zippers album entitled Hot. Check it out if you’re voting for change.

Via Crooks and Liars. More info at DownWithTyranny!

Jazzy, spicy, protest-licious. It’s worth a listen this morning.

Posted by James at 8:09 AM

October 10, 2006

Would You Rather: Spinning Wheels

Tuesday is “on a Monday schedule” here at the university, because of Columbus Day (which I hope you all enjoyed). So “Would You Rather” is happenin’ today instead of yesterday. Whee!

This “Would You Rather” is work-related.

Would You Rather

  • Spend all day in a boring meeting, during which you must seem interested
  • Spend all day doing semi-pointless busywork

Choose wisely!

Posted by James at 1:36 PM | Comments (12)

More Pumpkin Muffin News

MuffinsMaggie reminded me that she’d bought me a Pumpkin Pecan quickbread mix from Williams Sonoma. Since I love pumpkin muffins, I baked some up.

They were pretty damn yummy. I can’t take much credit, since they’re from a mix, but they are almost as good as the Dunkin Donut version. Now I’m really interested in making these from scratch.

I can’t find the Williams Sonoma mix offered online, but it’s in a striped Pumpkin-colored bag if you happen to wander into the Williams Sonoma in the Providence Place Mall. Maybe they’re not offering it nationally this year, and the stores are just trying to go through last year’s stock (which was marked as being good through 2007, according to the bag I had.)

Williams Sonoma have a recipe on their site which may or may not be the same as the mix. It sounds promising, but I haven’t tried it yet. To modify for muffins, I’d bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. And use pecans instead of walnuts.

My maple version of the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup maple butter (which is just concentrated maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix them all together until smooth. It’s far more frosting than you need, in my opinion, if you’re making muffins. YMMV. If you don’t have maple butter, you might try using maple syrup (you’ll have to adjust the sugar, because maple syrup has less sugar in it per weight and volume than maple butter. Maybe use some sort of natural maple flavor concentrate.)

Posted by James at 11:01 AM | Comments (6)


Hey, nobody reminded me to switch my avatar to the pumpkin. It’s autumn, people!

I know it’s warm outside, but it’s fall, dammit. I have the pictures to prove it.

Autumn By the Mill Stream

Posted by James at 12:17 AM | Comments (7)

October 8, 2006

Prototype Dunkin

Prototype DDRyan was a hero last week.

On a day when I hadn’t had breakfast, he got to work before I did and placed a bag of goodies on my desk. He’d visited the prototype Dunkin Donuts in the wee hours and brought back plunder.

The prototype Dunkin Donuts is a store where they’re trying out new products and a new look in preparation to going national. I haven’t been there myself, which is why I was psyched to hear firsthand news of the place and get to try some of the treats. The place is in Pawtucket, RI.

Ryan chose to gift me with a pumpkin muffin (my all-time favorite DD muffin) and a maple-wrapped sausage thing.

The pumpkin muffin was delicious. It was slightly larger and prettier than the pumpkin muffins at my local DD store(s) but it had the same delicious moist flavor.

The other sandwich thing was a breakfast sausage wrapped in a maple-flavored pastry. I have to say, it tastes better than it sounds. There’s not a ton of sausage in there, just enough. The aroma is very strongly maple, and the pastry had a consistency halfway between a pancake and a scone. Not bad!

Thanks, Ryan! Now I have to check out this place to experience the Dunkin Donuts of the future.

Posted by James at 9:58 PM | Comments (14)

It's About Keeping Power

The American people have been shocked by Republican Mark Foley’s predatory behavior in systematically trolling underage congressional pages. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as much of a problem if the Republican leadership had held up their responsibility, paid attention to warnings, bothered to look into the rumors or even done something once they were more directly notified that something wrong was going on.

On ABC’s “this week with George Stephanopoulos” Rep. Rahm Emanuel made an analogy to another institution into which we entrust our young people: a school. And the analogy is apt. If a teacher had been sending these messages to students, and using them as his stalking ground for fresh sexual partners, and the principal and others in the administration had been made aware of the situation, they’d all be out on their asses. (His analogy, my wording)

But this leadership in the Republican party has transitioned to one interested only in consolidating and holding power. They quickly dispatched with Foley (as if the voters would have kept him) and tried to ignore the larger problem. Foley is not the problem, but a symptom. Foley is not the only predatory adult in the world, he’s just the one that the Republicans begged to run so that they could hold on to that seat, well after they knew of his proclivities. He’s the one they put in a leadership role — chairperson on the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. The problem is the reason that Foley was allowed to stay so long. If today’s Republican has to choose between doing the right thing and doing something dishonest to strengthen re-election chances, the choice will be for re-election.

That’s why I laugh at Republican insistence that they got rid of Foley immediately. Rep Putnam on “this week” stuck to that talking point for dear life. “Foley was gone within hours of the scandal!” if you parse that, what you’ll understand is that they dumped Foley within hours of them losing control of the story because it got out on ABC. Not that they did anything about it once it was known to the leadership.

BTW, Putnam was on the show because Republican Tom Reynolds chickened out of the show and sent Rep. Putnam in his stead. Reynolds is the NRCC chief who crammed his last press conference with children; a prudent thing to do when you’re about to answer questions about a sexual predator, don’t you think?

When I say the American people were outraged, I exclude the Republican leadership. Even now, there is a lack of outrage evident, seeing Putnam sitting there and downplaying the matter to “odd emails.” As Cokie Roberts puts it, there should be unbridled outrage. The outrage in some Republicans is quite bridled.

George Will noted that the Republicans are out of touch, even with their own base:

These guys get up every morning and say ‘what can we do to offend the base today?’

It’s easy to offend people when you’ve been selling people fear, telling them that you are the ones who really care about them and all the time it’s your own hold on power that is the focus of your every decision.

Time Magazine has it right: “Every revolution begins with the power of an idea and ends when the only idea left is power.” Power has corrupted the Republicans. A lack of balance has unbalanced them. They came intending to change Washington and instead Washington has changed them.

It’s not a secret, and it’s not anything you have to be a genius to see. In fact, Speaker Hastert comes right out and admits where the focus is, on conservative talk radio. From the Time article:

“If I fold up my tent and leave,” Dennis Hastert told her, “then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we’d have no ability to fight back and get our message out.” That may have been the most damning admission yet in the unfolding scandal surrounding Florida Congressman Mark Foley: Holding on to power has become not just the means but also the end for the onetime reformers who unseated the calcified Democratic majority that had ruled the House for 40 years.

The outrage is not with Foley. The interest is not with taking responsibility. The day of personal responsibility is over for modern Republicans. The outrage is in anything that goes against their main interest of holding political power. And now it’s our responsibility to do what we can to correct that situation.

Posted by James at 7:02 PM | Comments (4)

October 6, 2006

Gold Tooth Shotgun

Here are your links for the week. It's fun!

  1. Media Convert - free and on line - convert and split sound, ringtones, images, docs

    Free online conversion from one file format to another. Pick what you want it converted TO and just find the file on your hard drive. Handy!

  2. Car Winterizing: Inside and Out

    Some tips for getting your car ready for winter. Hey, it's autumn; this is the time ot start getting ready!

  3. Tip 18 (Chain Pod)

    Do you use a point-and-shoot camera that doesn't have image stabilization? Look at the tip for a "Chain pod" in this "Cool Tools" post. I am definitely going to make one of these dead-simple portable stabilization helpers.

  4. Elevator Floor Illusion

    Someone doesn't want to to get too comfortable in this elevator.

  5. YouTube - White and Nerdy

    Oh man. Mike had this in his linkblog. It's Weird Al's new video "White and Nerdy." Hitting close to home.

  6. ExploreNewEngland.com - Fall foliage - Travel

    Check out when the peak foliage hits your area, or other areas you like to visit. Don't live in New England? Then this will help you plan what weekend you're going to visit.

  7. Welcome to Haunted Newport!

    On the run-up to Halloween, here are some fun, spooky things to do in Newport. It's a community-wide celebration of creepiness. I want to do some of these things for my birthday!

  8. Darfur Scorecard

    What is the record of your representatives on policy toward Darfur?

Posted by James at 12:51 PM | Comments (9)

Folier Than Thou

I haven’t had anything specific to post about Mark Foley and the Republican leadership sexual predator cover up. Sure, there are a lot of things I could have posted about, bus so much of it seems to have been covered elsewhere.

I guess, at the very least, and since the week is almost over, I’ll say something: there are some pretty messed-up supporters of the Republican party out there, and some admirable ones, too. While the Republican leadership consistently puts politics above everything else (notifying “the authorities” of the Foley emails meant notifying the re-election committee. Grown men hiding behind borrowed children so they don’t have to answer pointed questions at a press conference. Blame-shifting to the media and to Democrats) at least some Republicans have called for a house cleaning in the leadership. Kudos to them. To the rest, I just hope the election catches up with you.

There is little need to harp on this issue much, although there is a need not to allow it to be swept under the rug that the leadership enabled Mark Foley. Every hour that the leadership and Republican supporters blame-shift, refuse to deal, and come up with wild conspiracy theories is another bunch of voters they have lost.. their .voters who will stay at home in November.

The larger story is, of course, that cover-up and not Foley himself. Foley’s part in it is sad, and they need to protect young pages from predatory adults, whether they be gay or straight. It seems that people agree Foley’s communications to various-aged pages lasciviously abused his authority and possibly broke the law. He quickly tried to go down the list of excuses to see if one would catch. I’m alcoholic. No sympathy? I’m gay. No sympathy? I was molested. No sympathy? By a clergyman. Still nothing?

Next up: the alien abduction excuse. That one works every time.

While Foley searches for the next excuse, Hastert hangs on for dear life, after being Enabler of the House. Please, please, please, please don’t resign, Denny Hastert. You have become an important symbol of the political ego of your party.

Anyhow, here are a number of Foley-related links that will either amuse or annoy:

The Republican leadership is the leadership of your country. They control pretty much everything right now. And they’ve made a complete mess of it. Time after time. But often the issues were complex and did not resonate with voters. The shit has hit the fan now in a way that everyone understands. The Republicans don’t care about you; they don’t care about your kids. They care about consolidating power. We need balance back in our government.

Posted by James at 9:24 AM

October 5, 2006

Maggie's Birthday!

It’s Maggie’s birthday. I wasn’t sure she wanted me to post about it, but I figure it’s safe because she doesn’t read my blog.

She’s been sickish. I had a dentist appointment today, so I came home from work and took her to the Westport antiques place so she could look at maps and stuff. Then we got sushi at Lee’s Market. (Lee’s is the best market around! It’s like a mini supermarket Disneyland.)

Then I had to get back home and, er, work some more. OK, not the most exciting B-day for her (with my not-day-off), but we’ll open presents later. And it beats sitting alone in a car and eating hot wings, which has been the highlight of my birthday for the last two years.

I’d cook, but her having been sick puts a damper on that. Yeah, I express my love with food.

Well, Happy Birthday Maggie. I love you, and at least I arranged for a new episode of The Office — right on your birthday!

Posted by James at 4:09 PM | Comments (8)

Fortune Cookie Housecleaning

I was looking through the pantry today and found some old fortune cookies. I was considering giving them to M for her lunch snack, but worried that they were stale.

So I opened one of them to taste it. It wasn’t as crunchy as it ought to have been, though it tasted fine. Then I read the fortune.

Cleaning up the past will always clear up the future!

So I threw them all away.

Lucky numbers 17, 28, 39, 24, 16, 25

Posted by James at 8:52 AM | Comments (13)

October 4, 2006

Governor's Debate No. 2

We watched the second governor's debate last night, and there was a lot less to make fun of.

Christy Mihos continued his attacks on Kerry Healy, but it was far less disruptive. For the most part, the candidates kept to their podiums and their time, though there was some hard work to be done keeping pretty much everybody within the time limits.

Healy came off much better in this debate than the last one. I have a feeling that she might well have swayed some lukewarm Republicans last night with her focus on the tax rollback even though Mihos stole some of her thunder by pointing out she's not the only candidate who supports this rollback. Healy framed the issue as one of arrogance on the part of the candidates -- arrogance that the voters voted to roll the tax back but the Democratic legislature hasn't allowed it.

I, of course, don't agree with the point. I think the reason you have representative government is so that they can make the hard decisions about funding, not put the tax rate in the hands of the people. It's fundamentally wrong-headed, and I agree with Deval Patrick's and Grace Ross' points about the burden shifting to property taxes and that it's hurting people.

That said, the point Healy makes might resonate with Republicans and other fiscally conservative citizens, so it's points to her on that. I would have been surprised if she hadn't staged some sort of recovery from the last debate; she couldn't have done worse. And clearly she found some points to hammer that she thinks will win her points. I think they may as well, but it depends on how far she can distance herself from the taste of Romney. And, frankly, even after having Jane Swift in office, I have to wonder if there isn't some sexism playing against her.

I heard a conservative voter say she'd recruit Romney to run again if she could. Excuse me? There's someone out there who wants another term of Where-In-The-World-Is-Governor-Romney in office? Recruiting Romney for another term in office is like picking a deadbeat dad to adopt someone else's child. People, he never really was about Massachusetts. Wake up and smell the Utah.

I don't think Deval Patrick helped himself too much last night, beyond looking gubernatorial, looking like he cares, and having good ideas. "Gee - that's all?" Yes, I know that's plenty, and the front runner doesn't have to help himself much. He just doesn't have to screw up. And even in the case where he didn't really answer the moderator's question in detail (the one about Springfield's financial situation) he looked at least halfway decent answering it, until Grace Ross gave a much more detailed answer. It was a successful debate for Patrick, if he was trying to continue to look and act like a governor. Confidence plays well with voters.

It seemed to me that Healy also got lucky with a question about fears that having a Democratic governor would eliminate some sort of check on the government. I think the question was a gimmie to her, but the other candidates did well to neutralize it. You have to other non-Democrats on stage, and Deval is convincing as a government outsider.

Boy these debates are fun!

I have to admit that Ross is far more informative than pretty much any of the other candidates on stage. She was relaxed and articulate. I think she contributes a lot to a discussion on the issues, and politically she makes it harder to cast Patrick as a far outside lefty. Mihos, in this slightly more controlled debate version, is still acting at a thorn in the Lt. Governor's side, calling her on this administration's failings in keeping businesses and jobs in the state.

Who won the debate? I could go the sappy route and say "the people of the Commonwealth won, because we got a better discussion of the issues from the candidates!" Healy did much better, but that's just by contrast from the last debate. Nobody took a header into a ditch this time. We saw a little heat from Patrick in his disapproval with Healy's promises as he highlighted that the current administration has had their crack at them. Healy closed by distancing herself subtly from Romney (to paraphrase: "none of us here have been governor before"). I think this debate may have helped Healy more than the others. Again, mostly by contrast with the last debate disaster. You might call her the winner. But there are multiple prizes to be awarded. Ross gets the "articulating her message" award. Patrick gets the "You can picture me as governor" award. Mihos gets the "Stirring it up" award. Healy gets the "A little desperation goes a long way" award.

On the issues, of course, I'm still with Deval Patrick. I think he's got a more reasoned plan for tax rollback, focusing on property taxes and getting aid out to the communities. The communities of the Commonwealth are hurting from the years of cuts they've suffered. That alone would be enough to get Patrick my vote.
Posted by James at 9:20 AM | Comments (3)

...Because the Pope Hotline Was Busy

Turns out that guy I mentioned yesterday who hijacked the plane was not a Muslim, but a Christian.

A Turkish Airlines jet was hijacked Tuesday by at least one unarmed Turkish man, apparently a convert to Christianity who wanted to communicate with Pope Benedict XVI, Turkish and Italian officials said. […]

Turkish officials had originally reported as many as four hijackers, acting in protest of the pope’s planned trip to Turkey in November, amid anger among Muslims after the pope cited a quotation calling Islam “evil and inhuman” and linking the religion to violence in a speech last month.

Binali Yildirim, the Turkish transport minister, said that “there was no verified information that the hijacking was related to the pope visit,” The Associated Press reported.

By late Tuesday evening, Turkish and Italian officials said they believed that Mr. Ekinci was the only hijacker. He asked for political asylum during the hijacking, Italian officials said.

Figures, I slow down posting and I end up posting a nearly completely bogus story. OK Christians, time to get out and paint some mosques for your willingness to pin this one on the Muslims. Winky, winky.

Posted by James at 8:12 AM

October 3, 2006

Muslims vs. the Pope

I consider organized religion to be, for the most part, pretty damn silly. But I respect other’s desire to be involved with them. To each his own.

However, this violent bullcrap has to stop.

Not touching what the Pope said exactly, people feel he associated Islam with violence.

It would be refreshing if you heard that, as a protest against the Pope, Muslims swarmed the streets and retaliated by painting a fence at a Catholic church and picking up litter around it.

That’s how you make your point that you’re not violent, and how you make your opponent look silly. Not by hijacking a plane. That just makes him look right.

Come on people.

Posted by James at 1:57 PM | Comments (7)

Blueberry Bog

Blueberry BogWondering what to do with blueberry vodka (Stoli Blueberi) I formulated the following concoction which I call “Blueberry Bog.” Yes, I know they grow on a bush and not in a bog. But after a few of these, you won’t care.

Blueberry Bog

  • 1/4 cup simple syrup (or 1.25 oz sugar plus just under 1/4 cup of water, heated until sugar dissolves)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or, better, 1 Tbsp lime juice + enough lemon juice to equal 1/4 cup)
  • 2 shots (3 oz.) Stoli Blueberi
  • 1/2 oz.Blue Curacao
  • 1 scant ounce of orgeat cordial syrup

Shake over ice (if the syrup was hot, shake over 5 cubes. If it wasn’t, shake over crushed ice)

Strain into a glass. It should be about 8 to 10 ounces. If it’s not, dilute with water to 10 oz.

Since I don’t mind ice in my drink and I like to drink it slowly, I leave a couple of ice cubes in mine. You can do what you like. But don’t get too bogged down, there’s 3 oz of vodka hiding in this sneaky sour lemon-blueberry drink.

Bonus: Stolichnaya is happy to provide you with their own recipes.

Posted by James at 1:25 AM | Comments (3)

October 2, 2006

Would You Rather: Job

If it’s Monday, It’s “Would You Rather” day. And I’m not talking about Dan Rather.

Today’s question. You must choose.

Would You Rather have a rather have a really cool job that pays so little you’re barely making a living, and you can’t tell anyone about how cool it is.


Would You Rather have a job that pays you well above what you need to maintain your lifestyle, and the work sucks, but everyone else thinks it’s a great job.

Posted by James at 8:01 AM | Comments (18)