Monday, March 31, 2008

This May Be One I Have to Jump On

In the inbox: "Get VIP access to Chico DeBarge!"

My life as a media person just has all kinds of perks.

Hey, Doodle

After filling a napkin with abstract snowmen while stuck on hold, I had this great idea to write a tome on doodling and what it reveals about you. People love that shit--like handwriting analysis! Like psychoanalysis!

Of course, this has all been covered. Entertaining, nonetheless. No snowmen, though.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Upon Further Thought, I Kind of Like This

I thought this was a bit too . . . surgical scrubs or something, but it's growing on me. Shout if you want me to make one just for you.

Your News In Studies

Just looking at the Apple logo makes you more creative. That's just, um, just . . . wait, let me flip the laptop around so I can get a look at the . . . transmundane.

And, wow, this is just a stunning turn of scientific research that will serve to puff up the less-than-Adonis-like dudes: study shows women happier with ugly men! Bonus points to the author of the article on the study for dropping evolutionary psych piffle on what each gender has "evolved" to select in mates. For example, stated as fact, men are "programmed" to look for "youth, health, and attractiveness."

Next, we'll no doubt hear more studies proving how women are genetically programmed to prefer men who have scads of cash.

I Expect It Was Ever Thus for Our Ancestors on the Veldt

It's amazing what some sunshine will do for a mood. I'm all inspired to tidy, paint, and make things pretty. I bought some new plants, repotted others (including catnip, which is like really good dope for certain furry sorts, although it's kind of hard on the plants with all the face-smooshing in the leaves). I am trying to start some strawberry seeds in the window.

I also got some proper needles to use on stretch fabric for my sewing machine. Next pattern, here I come. Which reminds me, if anyone has interest/use for this pattern, sizes 16-24 (keeping in mind that I'm like an 8/10), let me know. That's what I love about this whole sewing experience: it's constant learning! Who knew that every packet didn't contain the entire universe of sizes?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Guess This Was Inevitable

We're starting to see why puppies and kittens have understandably better pr:
Knut the polar bear has turned from a cuddly cub into a publicity-addicted psycho, one of his keepers claimed yesterday.

Markus Roebke said Berlin Zoo's celebrity animal was obsessed with the limelight and howled with rage when denied an audience.

"Knut must go and the sooner the better," he said, insisting that the bear should be sent to an animal park where he received less attention.

Insert your tacky Hillary Clinton joke here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Dare You to Subject Yourself to This

I didn't think this was possible, but the Weather Girls have been profaned.

Probably the Easter Bunny Could Use GPS

In response to receiving an auntly offering of gifts through the mail for the Easter holiday, a tot inquires: "How did you get it?"

It is unfortunate that the Easter Bunny was so disoriented as to have delivered goodies so far afield of their intended recipients. He should do better in future.

Not That I Don't Adore My Lofty Perch as Facilitator of the Flying Pants Seats

I'm finding this intriguing, particularly as it ties in the historical component of clothing expression. My Investigative subtype did a little happy dance.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Still Waiting

1. More cat vomit. Here's hoping the meal and meds I just got her to eat don't come urping back up onto my hardwood, old or new.

2. Performance-review self-evaluations due this week, the writing of which is accompanied by simmering hostility caused by contemplating the past year and issues thereof.

3. Snow, which at least has mostly melted.

Look at That, My NPR Irritation Extends Beyond Cokie Roberts

Summary of this morning's incisive NPR coverage on the nation's Easter services "discussion on race," as sparked by Obama's speech regarding Rev. Wright (I highly recommend, by the way, seeing Wright's sermons in totality on youtube. The post-9/11 one, in particular, was taken absurdly out of context. Shocking, I know.):

1. Interviewed subjects: all members of black churches, as white people have no race and require no discussion on same.

2. Quoted person declaring incendiary language in black churches unnecessary because "we're not oppressed anymore"? Check.

3. Interview with pastor whose welcoming embrace of Louis Farakkhan is noted by NPR interviewer? Check.

4. Noting of origins of the fiery preaching of the black church in the "Black Power movement"? Check.

5. Inane political discussion by Juan Williams (yes, that guy from Fox News), who notes:

a) For the love of God, Obama needs to reassure white people!

b) The speech didn't really work to reassure those white people. Clinton and Obama are tied now, as evidenced by viewing polls from February versus polls taken this week.
This metric neatly ellides the relevant time frame for measuring whether said speech actually worked (e.g., a ten-point recovery from last week to this week). Alas, he might have talked about what people actually, you know, told pollsters about what they thought of said speech, but that would be less fun and less narrative-reinforcing.

c) Hillary is up 15 points in Pennsylvania! He's not closing the gap! White people, the humanity of the unreassured white people!
Of course, she's always polled a wide lead there, because the demographics favor her (older, working class). In any event, we'll see where it is in a month.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Apart from Everything Else, What Would Not Make Me Support Clinton in the Primaries

A ten-e-mail-a-day "media" spam deluge. They found me. What's up with that?

Happy Good Friday

I hope people are not working today. Happily, I have a half day, to be followed up by lunchtime pear martinis (singular, in my case). Randomly queued music for this holiday weekend:

1. orange blossom special, johnny cash
2. broken hearted hoover fixer sucker guy, glen hansard
3. across the antheap, xtc
4. crestfallen, pernice brothers
5. the scarlet tide, elvis costello and the imposters
6. germany to germany, ratatat
7. the wait, the pretenders
8. outro with bees, neko case
9. i am a poseur, x-ray spex
10. i melt with you, nouvelle vague

My ipod cleverly reflects the rut I'm in! I think I fell asleep there for a second.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Working Toward the Equilibrium

I'm going to try very hard not to think about what it says about our country, and where we are on race relations, if this Wright nonsense ends up killing Obama's candidacy.

Also: kittens in baskets, polar bear cubs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'll Regret This When I Get the Endless Answering-Machine Message

A friend of mine enjoys answering-machine bombing people round about Easter every year with an appropriately themed rap. This year, writer's block seems to have descended, because I've been enlisted to brainstorm. Although, frankly, I support something a bit more transcendent than last year's offering, the theme to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ("In West Bethlehem, born and raised . . ."), my base of knowledge of rap artists is limited. Suggestions?

This Just In

The 1969 installment of the Motown singles, featuring such greats as the Supremes, the Temptations, the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, the Isley Brothers . . . and Soupy Sales.

A Note to "Worried in Michigan," aka "Mom"

It looks like that revote in Michigan is not likely to happen, because of concerns about . . . the source of funding.

The Cranky Curmudgeon Is Still in the House

Received today: an e-mail plea from a colleague to join a march today to protest the war in Iraq.

A thought: Perhaps the time spent on a march no one will hear about, in a city about which the president couldn't give a shit because it will never, ever vote Republican might be put to better use campaigning, phone banking for one's preferred candidate, or generally participating in this crazy experiment we call democracy? I hear an election's coming up.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Waiting for the Weather to Change

It probably doesn't help that I'm reading stuff like this. Apart from the fact that it's making me despair about the state of the world and the way that people are forced to live, it's a gripping view of life in poverty without hope. Folks are, if nothing else, very rational.

At work, we also saw a video for this organization, who do the good work of providing micro-loans to Haiti's rural poor. Very moving, again, but I think I need to spend less time reading the news and more time looking at pictures of kittens in baskets or polar bear cubs in baskets.

Because of the Xenophobic Fears Some Have of the "Other"

Instead of pulling together and recognizing our unifying qualities of cuteness, we're splitting apart into our separate camps and fearing those who are "different."

I suppose I am complicit in caving to these irrational feelings, but I cannot carry the responsibility for society.

When will it end?

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Think We All Need This

Oh My.

I was worried that I didn't have quite enough separate things to be worried about. Happily, here's something else to keep me up nights, vis-a-vis the Bear Stearns bailout:

The response of the Fed to this run has been radical and in the form of the extension of the lender of last resort support to non bank financial institutions. Specifically, the new $200 bn term facility allows primary dealers – many of which are non banks – to swap their toxic mortgage backed securities for US Treasuries; second, the Fed provided emergency support to Bear Stearns and following the purchase of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan, is now providing a $30 bn plus support to JPMorgan to help the rescue of Bear Stearns; finally, now the Fed is allowing primary dealers to access the Fed discount window at the same terms as banks.

This is the most radical change and expansions of Fed powers and functions since the Great Depression: essentially the Fed now can lend unlimited amounts to non bank highly leveraged institutions that it does not regulate. The Fed is treating this run on the shadow financial system as a liquidity run but the Fed has no idea of whether such institutions are insolvent. As JPMorgan paid only about $200 million for Bear Stearns – and only after the Fed promised a $30 billlion loan – this was a clear case where this non bank financial institution was insolvent.

The Fed has no idea of which other primary dealers may be insolvent as it does not supervise and regulate those primary dealers that are not banks. But it is treating this crisis – the most severe financial crisis in the US since the Great Depression – as if it was purely a liquidity crisis. By lending massive amounts to potentially insolvent institutions that it does not supervise or regulate and that may be insolvent the Fed is taking serious financial risks and seriously exacerbate moral hazard distortions. Here you have highly leveraged non bank financial institutions that made reckless investments and lending, had extremely poor risk management and altogether disregarded liquidity risks; some may be insolvent but now the Fed is providing them with a blank check for unlimited amounts. This is a most radical action and a signal of how severe the crisis of the banking system and non-bank shadow financial system is. This is the worst US financial crisis since the Great Depression and the Fed is treating it as if it was only a liquidity crisis. But this is not just a liquidity crisis; it is rather a credit and insolvency crisis. And it is not the job of the Fed to bail out insolvent non bank financial institutions. If a bail out should occur this is a fiscal policy action that should be decided by Congress after the relevant equity holders have been wiped out and senior management fired without golden parachutes and huge severance packages.

Where's a green beer when you need one?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Strategy, Cont.

See? It's floating around already.

Also, via a Clinton campaign e-mail (annotated in an amusing manner by the Obama campaign), more demographic dicing, slicing, and benchmarking.

Okay, I'll stop. I can stop now, you know. Really. Besides, I have better things to do the rest of the weekend:

I'm not sure about the dress, though. Is it too much?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Does Barry Have the Hair?

Yes, he does. Can he hit those high notes? Yes, yes he can.

I Have My Doubts Whether Space Really Is the Place

I foresee another long day of proofreading for me. Hope your day (and weekend, for that matter) promises more excitement than mine. Ye olde soundtrack to start my day:

1. wasted, black flag
2. chinese rock, the ramones
3. as long as i got you, laura lee
4. the enders, the buddyrevelles (i regret to report that i must purge due to lack of interest)
5. silence, pj harvey
6. out of my head and back in my bed, loretta lynn
7. dirt, the stooges
8. say goodnight to the lady, pernice brothers
9. all for swinging you around, the new pornographers
10. dying, xtc

On a completely unrelated note, what does it mean that every commercial, television show, movie, and pledge drive I see or hear these days features music I recognize and likely own? Is it an alarming uptick of artists selling out? Is a reflection of my hopelessly mainstream tastes?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Here's the Strategy, Summed Up. In Case You Were Wondering

From a purely amoral strategic perspective, this seems to be the state of affairs vis-a-vis this endless endless Democratic primary. Obama: growing his support across demographic groups. He can't afford to alienate any groups because he still has a shot at increasing support across the board. Clinton, on the other hand, is trying not erode the support she has while trying to peel away Obama's support by going negative. She has obviously made the calculation that she has lost the African-American vote; therefore, she gains nothing--electorally and immediately, anyway--by sowing good will with them. She can, however, appeal to the working-class white vote and work to increase their skepticism/fear/distrust of Obama. It turns out, he's black!

Then of course, there's the fact that by pretty much any metric you choose to measure by--delegates, popular vote, national polls, potential red-state coattail effects--Obama comes out on top. Desperate times, and all that.

With all of this in mind, let me encapsulate the likely order of events between now and (dear lord, can it be that far away??) April 22, when the next primary happens in Pennsylvania.

1. At least one more interminable, inanely moderated debate.
2. More surrogates pointing out how black/non-Christian/scary/Other Obama is as well as reminding good folks of the evils of affirmative action (I hear Ferrarro's still touring the circuit). Said surrogates will be repudiated, eventually. Obama's campaign will try to balance on the line between smartly responding, overreacting, and sounding like one of those minorities always with the complaining and pointing fingers about racism, so that it gets to the point where everybody's so PC, you can't say anything anymore...
3. The nation will beg for mercy for it to end already.
4. There will be scary ads.
5. Pennsylvania will vote, Clinton will win by a relatively large margin courtesy of her hardcore base of support among working-class whites and women. She may even drive up her proportion of the white vote relative to what she did in Ohio, particularly among younger people.

After the dust settles, the math will not change significantly, but the Clinton argument will be that Obama is unelectable in the general election. The sad sad reason will be that he cannot capture enough of the white vote, he's the "black" candidate, our society is still too racist, etc. etc. Wedge wedge wedge.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Did We Mention He's a Black Man? Sorry. We Won't Talk About His Blackness

On the heels of Geraldine Ferraro's trenchant views on the American racial landscape, a secret (funny) look at the Clinton campaign strategy.

On a serious note, and in a similar vein, I hope that Archie Bunker isn't still alive and well in 2008. Yikes. Wedge wedge wedge. We are all Republicans now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Experiencing Campaign Fatigue?

Weary of contemplating yet another sex scandal? (A tip for pols in future: if you're doing something unsavory and/or illegal, assume someone will find out about it. You're welcome. Consulting fees apply.)

Other things to ponder:

Mary Ann busted for pot possession.

This--part embracing-her-inner-sex-kitten post-makeover Olivia Newton-John in Grease, part Laura Ashley pillowcase meets April Cornell explosion--shows that Chloe Sevigny perhaps should stick to the Mormon prairie skirt aesthetic and should not have her own clothing line.

Similarly, Iggy Pop: greasy hair, yet highlights.

I Guess I Should Have Taken It as an Omen when Laura K, Her Boyfriend BB King, and I Crashed in That Elevator

Woke up from really weird dreams this morning, only to follow them with one of my more sucky commutes: waiting 45 minutes on a frozen streetcorner for a bus that I could see (goddamnit!) several blocks down. Then the heat wasn't working on the train, on which I was wedged in my seat by a large person who took three-quarters of the available space. Adjacent to me was a person who had her mp3 player turned so loud, it could be heard many rows away. Needless to say, I couldn't hear my iPod or tune out her crappy music to read. Finally, the Dunkin' Donuts, where I went for my salvation cup of coffee, was playing Journey. I'm sitting with three sweaters on, and I still can't warm up. It has not been a good morning.

And we wonder why more people don't take mass transit.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kenny Loggins: Sweet Rocker

Yacht Rock, the next episode.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Is He 'Avin' a Laugh?

I liked season 1 quite a lot, but season 2 of Extras made me laugh so hard, I nearly spewed mead out my nose.

A Bellwether for Fall?

Democrats take former House speaker Dennis Hastert's seat in a special election. The traditionally very Republican district voted for Bush 55-44 in 2004. A sign of things to come? Or more of a rejection of his challenger, Jim Oberweis (who, despite his fine ice cream, is somewhat of a right-wing wack job)?

Saturday, March 8, 2008


The top of this pattern was really easy and quick to make.

However, it is ugly.

George W. Bush Library Designs, Revealed

The Chronicle of Higher Education runs a contest for readers to submit designs of the GWB presidential library:

We thought that Chronicle readers would have their own ideas about how that building should be designed, and we invited people to send in designs on the backs of envelopes. About 120 people sent in sketches that were good, bad, serious, humorous, abstract, or really angry. Their designs took the form of toilets, bunkers, crosses, and W's, some crudely drawn and some very elegant. A sampling of those designs is displayed on these pages.

We invite readers to take a look at some of the designs we have posted here and to vote for the best one. You can scroll through the designs and choose the one you like the most, then go to the Forum poll and vote (Forums require a free chronicle account.) So as not to prejudice the voting, we will not fully identify contributors until the voting ends.

If you felt your vote didn't count in 2000, it will certainly count here. The winning designer will get an iPod Touch. Hail to the chief.

E.g., this fine entry, which I like, particularly the "We Don't Toture" Torture Viewing Theater:


Doesn't it seem like it might be a problem to not see what's in here or here before we choose a candidate? I get that no one of the Democratic persuasion wants to take a nostalgic tour of 90s (mostly hyped up or fabricated) scandals, but it might be helpful to know the full bill of goods before we commit, no?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Post-Fridge Drama Friday

You've all been on pins and needles, haven't you, to hear the outcome of our petty office-minion power struggles? The fridge was defrosted, without incident or drama of any sort, last Friday. It was almost a collaborative affair. I was a little disappointed, because I was ready to take a stand for the carrots. But even evil takes a day off, as I've come to learn.

Spin some random music, if you're inclined, to usher out your week. To wit:

1. lounge act, nirvana
2. yoshimi battles the pink robots pt. 1, flaming lips
3. heretics, andrew bird
4. identity, x-ray spex
5. pull shapes, the pipettes
6. not ready to love, rufus wainwright
7. love me till the sun shines, the kinks
8. yr mangled heart, the gossip
9. let’s go crazy, prince
10. planet claire, the b-52’s

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Imagine this product roll out in time for the fall election.

Ice Maker Report

I have one now, suitable for parties. I'm pleased to report that the cat loves it: we spend quality time every damn day fighting over my ice-water glass. I usually lose.

The Carnivore's Dilemma

To chew or not to chew, that is the question.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another Reason I Need to Not Follow Politics So Obsessively

No matter how many folks send me writeups on the delegate math, this kind of thing makes me think Clinton's not going quietly into that good night.

Obama's Typeface Designers Weigh In

Friends, it's all about the details:
Hillary's snooze of a serif might have come off a heart-healthy cereal box, or a mildly embarrassing over-the-counter ointment; if you're feeling generous you might associate it with a Board of Ed circular, or an obscure academic journal. But Senator McCain's typeface is positively mystifying: after three decades signifying a very down-market notion of luxe, this particular sans serif has settled into being the font of choice for the hygiene aisle.

Fun Factoids

I'm finally reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, in which I have learned the following, among many interesting things:

1. One in three children in the United States eats fast food every day
2. Chicken mcnuggets contain, in addition to a flammable carcinogen, a form of butane that a single gram of "can cause 'nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.'"

Monday, March 3, 2008

And This Kind of Stuff Makes Me Nutty

I know this drives it for some women, and a part of me can definitely see it. All else being equal, certainly, it would be lovely to have a woman president. Same deal with having an African-American president.

But, honestly, I really don't think that one chooses a solid candidate capable of appealing to a wide variety of voters based on "who deserves" it more (Bob Dole comes to mind), nor do I think fighting over which traditionally marginalized group has it worse accomplishes anything. On that score, my hero Katha Pollitt puts it best again:
"Even if it were true that white women were more oppressed than black men" -- as Steinem suggested -- "that still doesn't mean you should vote for Hillary Clinton," Pollitt said. "It might mean you should fight for better enforcement of anti-sex-discrimination rules, but it doesn't mean you should vote for the candidate most likely to wage a war. "

And when both candidates have 100 percent ratings from NARAL, we're splitting pretty fine hairs on who's "best" for women.

Finally, while I understand this at some level,
[Billie Jean] King, the pioneering women's professional tennis player, was dismayed about Clinton's vulnerable candidacy. "I see my whole life going down the drain," Roberts recounted King saying. "A cute young guy comes in and sweeps away all the hard work that the older woman has done."

It makes me think we're projecting all sorts of expectations and interpretations not at all based on reality.

The Neverending Primary Continues

Clinton is rebounding in the polls in both Texas and Ohio. Looks like the kitchen sink may be doing the trick for her, along with the NAFTA absurdity and perhaps the red phone ad.

On that last, I've seen lots of discussion over what, exactly the positive argument was for Clinton (which her advisors had some trouble coming up with themselves when pressed), what national security crisis prepared her for being the person answering the White House phone at 3 am. I'd argue that the point wasn't to sell Clinton, per se, at all. Rather, it was to sow unease and fear and to drive people back to the safe and known quantity, the Clinton brand. Add in the subtle questions being raised by the "is he or is he not a Muslim" meme going around (with pictures!), and you create some reasons for doubt and fear of the unknown. I've already expounded on how I feel about these tactics, but I don't think, particularly for Democrats, that the answer to winning, or long-term accomplishment of anything positive, is to play every Republican game, as defined by Karl Rove and company.

Predictions? I say Clinton takes Ohio by at least 10 points. I think they'll break pretty close to even in Texas because I think early voting was running pretty heavily in his favor (this Ohio weather is going to be a complicating factor for turnout there, though). I further predict that it's enough to turn some talk of "momentum" in Clinton's direction, regardless of her odds of recouping her delegate deficit. That would of course help her in matchup polls, as well as in persuading superdelegates.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Aha! Success (More or Less)

Here are the results of pattern foray number 2 (tank top sold separately). The piece's life as a minidress was short, as I feel I have matured past excessive minidress action.

Next up, since I have more material: something with sleeves. Oooh. I know you can't wait.

When I Read Ridiculousness

Like this, for example, my response is always to wonder, if said chick really believes that women are stupid and/or inferior, she might just choose to remove herself from the pages of the Washington Post, leaving it for those less cognitively challenged. But in case you think I exaggerate her point, let me provide her conclusion:
So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.

Did I mention this was in the Washington Freakin' Post?

Once Obama Has Sufficiently Denounced, Rejected, Objected to, etc.

Perhaps we might similarly ask John McCain some teensy questions about this guy, whose support McCain has been embracing as a key component of his religious Right outreach and wooing:
A March 7, 1996, article (accessed via the Nexis database) in the San Antonio Express-News reported that Hagee was going to "meet with black religious leaders privately at an unspecified future date to discuss comments he made in his newsletter about a 'slave sale,' an East Side minister said Wednesday." The Express-News reported:

Hagee, pastor of the 16,000-member Cornerstone Church, last week had announced a "slave sale" to raise funds for high school seniors in his church bulletin, "The Cluster."

The item was introduced with the sentence "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone" and ended with "Make plans to come and go home with a slave."

A July 27, 2006, Wall Street Journal article about Hagee noted the incident:

To help students seeking odd jobs, his church newsletter, The Cluster, advertised a "slave" sale. "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone," it said. "Make plans to come and go home with a slave." Mr. Hagee apologized but, in a radio interview, protested about pressure to be "politically correct" and joked that perhaps his pet dog should be called a "canine American."

Har har har! People are so sensitive about this whole people-as-property thing! Next thing you know, some uptight losers are going to get all bent out of shape over Holocaust jokes.

The article details some of his other, predictable, colorful comments and views.