Friday, February 27, 2009

Free Music, Good Cause, You Listen

You Made Me Sign You

I know Manny Ramirez wants millions of dollars for millions of years. That said, I'm not surprised the Dodgers were pissed he turned down a two-year deal that meant $25 mil for year one and a player option for year two at $20 mil that would have meant Ramirez could be crippled, not play, and make $20 mil.

So there's emotion on both sides, but that's a big part of any contract negotiation.

I'm not sure why that has to invade news stories about the situation, though. All the LA Times columnists have spilled plenty of ink on the topic, of course, but in today's paper reporter (i.e. he's the guy who's supposed to be striving for objectivity) Dylan Hernandez wrote the following, trying to show a history of bad blood between the Dodgers and mega-agent Scott Boras:

The Dodgers included a similar provision in the contract of another Boras client, J.D. Drew, who unexpectedly opted out of a five-year, $55-million deal at the end of the 2006 season, forcing the Dodgers to overpay Juan Pierre to fill his position. [emphasis mine]

Huh? Did Boras hold Ned Colletti's hand while he signed the 5 year, $44 million boondoggle with Pierre? The Dodgers also signed Luis Gonzalez that off-season, for a mere one year, $7 mil contract. That added him to what should have been an outfield of Andre Either and Matt Kemp. Except neither of those players were sprinkled with veteran leadership dust, so Colletti had to turn elsewhere. Kemp got only 292 ABs that season, despite hitting .342/.373/.521 as a 22-year-old. And now Colletti's saddled with Pierre, one of those embodiments of the old adage "you can't steal first base." But please, Hernandez, don't blame the Dodgers' over-reacting to losing Drew on Boras. Yes, everyone hates Boras as he's extremely talented at getting his clients incredible contracts even when owners are bidding against only themselves. But as much as he's supposed to be a bad guy, we can tell the truth, can't we?

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Fear and Loathing in INOTBB

Who would have guessed?


February Goes Out Lick a Nigel

For Dog Blog Friday: Nigel says, "Help! There's a tongue on my schnozz!"


Friday Random Ten

Air "Mayfair Song" Pocket Symphony
Martin Newell (with Andy Partridge) "The Green-Gold Girl of Summer" The Greatest Living Englishman
Lucinda Williams "Rolling Along" Happy Woman Blues
Talking Heads "Take Me to the River" The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads
Guided by Voices "Indian Was an Angel" King Shit and the Golden Boys
Talking Heads "Drugs (Electricity)" The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads
Jim Jackson "Old Dog Blue" Anthology of American Folk Music
Concertgebouw "Symphony No. 1, Op. 13- IV Allegro con fuoco" Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 1, Op. 13
New Age Steppers "Fade Away" Post Punk CD 1--Rough Trade Shops
Bruce Cockburn "Cry of a Tiny Babe" Nothing but a Burning Light

Tralala "Bonus Track" Is That the Tralala

Some rather abrupt switches there, no? But two cuts from one of the better live albums.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Red on Red

Tuesday is going to be a very good day. But why wait? NPR's got Middle Cyclone right now.

Possibly NSFW, as you'll find it hard to W it's so captivating. And look out for those misting up moments--god that end of "This Tornado Loves You" is moving.

Update (5:00 pm): And Case's bandmate A.C. Newman is in Santa Barbara tomorrow night at SOhO, so be sure to check that out, too. For something silly edging into sublime, here's his recent cover of "Take On Me"--why, yes, that "Take On Me." No pencil animation video and bad '80s hair, at least.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taken to Cask

Evidently there's tone deaf and then there's Bernard Rosenson. For last night I received an email which says the following:

Join us for fabulous wine tasting at Wine Cask of Calabasas - every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
4 - 7 pm
This week: (February 26th, 27th, 28th)
"Titans of Santa Barbara" Part I
Ojai Vineyard
The wines of Jim Clendenon
The wines of Fred Brander

Look, you don't close up a shop/restaurant that's been part of a town's community for over 40 years without warning, then not even mention that you've done so or make any public statement about the closing, and then keep using your email list like nothing's happened. First, you owe your customers some explanation. And it's not that I feel entitled to something since I've been thrilled to be able to be a Wine Cask shopper for years. I'm on record as calling the annual wine futures program "Christmas, Opening Day, and the world’s best President’s Day Sale wrapped up into one for lovers of the grape." Just from a business standpoint you need to explain, for why should anyone trust you at this point? I received an email from the Wine Cask mere days before they closed without warning trying to convince me to attend upcoming events at the now totally vacated Santa Barbara location.

Second, Wine Cask of Calabasas? For non-Santa Barbarans, that would be like someone starting a Rainbow Room of Poughkeepsie or an Old Bookbinder's of Camden or a Berghoff of Moline or a Locke Ober of Worcester (yeah, I know, two of those places don't really exist right now, but the world is poorer for it).

Third, if you're going to push tastings featuring the "Titans of Santa Barbara" (what, no Titans of Calabasas?), spell the titan's names correctly. That's Clendenen. After all, it's not like Jim Clendenen and his Au Bon Climat wines helped put Santa Barbara on the wine map in the first place.

When you run something like a wine shop, even more important than your inventory is your smarts. People need to know you know something, that you care about the wine, that you drink the wine, that you chat with the winemakers. If we want to buy wine from a business, there's always Von's.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Green Asks My Valley Girl

OMG, could you, like, believe the moment when Obama was giving his speech tonight and the camera cut away to John McCain? It was so like McCain was Jen Aniston and Obama was Angelina Jolie and like having Brad Pitt is being President?


If Karl Rove Was on Steroids--Could We Jail Him Now?

The other day I had to point out the similarities between Alex Rodriguez and George W. Bush. Today we have to look at the similarities between Greg Anderson and Karl Rove. For those of you trying to avoid the nitty-gritty of the story, Anderson is Barry Bonds' personal trainer, the one who refused to cooperate with prosecutors who consider him, according to ESPN, "a vital witness for the government as it tries to prove Bonds lied to a grand jury investigating steroid use by athletes."

Anderson has already spent a year in prison for refusing to testify. Because, as we all know, if Barry Bonds lied to a grand jury, the very foundations of our society might crumble if he is not brought to justice.

Meanwhile there's Karl Rove, who yesterday was supposed to appear before the House Judiciary committee to testify about the US Attorney firings. He said he wouldn't and didn't. He is not in jail.

It's good to live in a country where the priorities are so clear.


Monday, February 23, 2009

His Machinations and his Palindromes

It's not every day I would recommend that you pay money to see a man play with himself, but today's that day: Everyone ought to see Andrew Bird live. And while he does tour with a band, as he did at a great concert at Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre on February 18, a good two-thirds of the fascination is watching him build wonderful walls of sound all by himself. Part of that is he's so skilled in so many things, from violin to glockenspiel, vocals to whistling, with the almost ordinary guitar throw in. The other part is his magnificent manipulation of pedal loops, so as he sets a phrase going, he can leave it going, altering its pace or pitch, and then play over that, too. Before you know it there are bowed parts, plucked parts, and then his woolly whistling, which often adds a theremin feel to a number.

For Bird's music is about tone and texture as much as anything, mood music in which the moods shift like sun and shadow over a beautiful landscape that never seems quite welcoming. There's an element of danger to his music, as mild as it is: it's an anything-could-happen quality that's both magical and a bit anxiety-provoking. It's why he's not mere pap or picturesque prettiness.

The lyrics help there, too, of course. He asks us, cheerfully, to envision the fiery crash. And while songs rarely deign to hang a narrative, they tend to hit like lines pulled from books from the same shelf of a library, impressionistic near neighbors from something dusty and printed and nearly obsolete. Sort of like us. So might as well enjoy the weird music playing as we sift through the plasticities, or as that song's calling out for a sing-along chorus goes:

we'll fight, we'll fight
we'll fight for your music halls
and dying cities

they'll fight, they'll fight
for your neural walls
and plasticities
and precious territory

Here he is doing "Anonanimal" from the very show we were at, plus introducing it by referring to the show when we saw him the first time (we are special):

Or go hear a whole concert from this tour on NPR.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Glitz, Glamor, and Gallons of Beer

3:32 pm

INOTBB has done it before and now is doing it again--the anticipation, the excitement, the clever quips that no longer make sense once the moment is gone thrills of Oscar live blogging! In honor of triple threat Hugh Jackman emceeing, we might even sing the Michigan fight song. (ba-dum-bum) So stay tuned throughout the day and if nothing else learn if I get funnier the more of the growlers we drink. (Yes, this live blogging has been brought to you by Hollister Brewing!)(So, Eric, do I get some free beer now?)

5:07 pm
You know it just hit me--Frank Langella Dracula. Frank Langella Nixon.

Just had to say that.

5:29 pm
If I have to endure a whole night of Jack in the Box commercials, particularly the ongoing saga of his hospital stay, I might end the evening out breaking people's antenna if they have those stupid Jack balls on them.

5:48 pm
Good thing Amy Adams didn't win, as she was crying just from the nomination spiel. And we weren't sure if it was Goldie Hawn's dress or face that didn't fit.

6:12 pm
Dustin Lance Black. Great job. Odd that through all the silliness, someone can just pull off something real.

6:30 pm
So I was wondering, why can't someone invent a movie day after pill, so if you see something that stinks, you can just make it go away?

6:41 pm
I am watchig the Oscars with someone who doesn't know who Jessica Biel is. I'm going to claim that's refreshing.

8:08 pm
Post pizza, so sorry for the break.

I have now seen Zac Efron for more minutes than I had ever hoped to see him in my childless life.

8:22 pm
So we have a discussion about Heidi Klum v Kloom. Most of us know she's German. One person says--how do you know this? And we ask, what cave are you living in? And I say it's not the batcave as you'd be able to look things up on its computer. Then we devolve into a discussion about Plato's cave. So clearly we need more beer.

9:02 pm
Miss me? Well, that ended as much as expected, which is ok I guess. But who was that guy at the end who popped out? Some host or something?

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Mook the Knife*

For Dog Blog Friday: You know, you can't be too comfortable.

*Look in the background of the photo and the title might make sense.


Friday Random Ten

Syd Straw "Love, and the Lack of It" War and Peace
Franz Ferdinand "Evil and a Heathen" You Could Have It So Much Better
Superchunk "Night of Chill Blue" Incidental Music 1991-1995
Ian Hunter "One More Time" Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo
Wilco "Radio Cure" Kicking Television: Live in Chicago
Cadallaca "June -n- July" Introducing
Negativland "Tevye's Dream" Knitting on the Roof: Modern Interpretations of the Classic Musical "Fiddler on the Roof"
XTC "The Ugly Underneath" Nonsuch
Ryuichi Sakamoto "The Gate" Playing the Orchestra
Buckwheat Zydeco "Hey Joe" The Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20-Year Party

Luna "Rollercoaster" Slide ep

As first lines go, it's hard to beat: "She dreamed of a life every day of her life." And this list might never get better than that first song.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

This Job Has Me Going in Circles (Glenn or Glenn-Dem?)

Friday marks the 47th anniversary of John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the earth (in a spaceship, that is). Sure, Soviets had done it before, but given the USSR doesn't even exist anymore, all the Space Race records are now ours. Our perhaps they should be theirs, since space is nothingness, which is more like a country that doesn't exist. It's way too easy for one's brain to hurt when you consider the cosmos. That's why it's better just to drink cosmos. But to drink cosmos you need vodka, so the darn Russkies win again. And with that we've completed one orbit, even without burning up our pun-shield.


The Tweet Bird of Their Youth

Sure, dump on A-Rod for the flimsy "I was young. I was stupid," argument. As the Pinstriped Bible's Steven Goldman says, "Nor does the 'youthful indiscretion' thread ring true, given that the guy was 25 when he started. Whatever maturity issues the guy was facing, it's pretty clear he had a fully developed sense of right and wrong or he wouldn't have tried to hide what he was doing."

But he was just a baseball player. I'm still wondering where the outrage, where the ramrod stiff morality the press has adopted over A-Rod, was in, oh, 2000. Here's some of a New York Times article that goes on to excuse the subject (he's even won the love of his wife back, something A-Rod can't say...heck, he can't even stay with Madonna):

It was a sedate cocktail party on a summer evening when the wild man of the ____ clan wobbled up to an old friend of his parents, a prim, well-dressed matron who had recently turned 50, her hair pulled tightly back from her forehead in the most severe way.

______ had enjoyed a few too many drinks, and his family members knew enough to watch him nervously.

''So,'' he asked her, by way of conversation, ''what's sex like after 50, anyway?''

It was a vintage ____ moment, recounted by friends, the kind of incident that made young ____'s buddies laugh and cringe at the same time. He could be hilarious company, but also often outrageous and childish. Some acquaintances were offended by what they saw as Mr. ____'s arrogance and immaturity, by his penchant for drinking too much and thinking too little. Even his wife, _____, wanted him to grow up.

''_____ was acting like a little kid'' in those days, recalled Mel Turner, a fellow Republican activist in West Texas in the 1970's and 80's. ''He was an immature rich-kid brat.''

Not everyone is that harsh, and many of his friends welcomed the ''bombastic ____kin,'' as they called him, as a breath of fresh air. But the upshot was that as he approached 40, an age when Al Gore was already a senator running for president, ________ was just a heavy-drinking, fun-loving oilman struggling to control his temper, salvage his business and hold on to his marriage.

Kind of amazing he "grew up" by stopping drinking but being no less arrogant, immature, or losing that penchant for thinking too little. Even more amazing is he ran this country (into the ground) for eight years.

So maybe we cut Rodriguez some slack?


Diet for a Small Blog

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I missed a day. Sorry. Busy actually working, and then going to LA to have a tasty meal (duck and jalapeno sausage, fine fries, and an Old Rasputin on tap) and then seeing Loney, Dear and Andrew Bird at the Orpheum. More on that (I hope) later.

But for now, here's Loney, Dear, since I assume most of you don't know them. Plus it's dogs acting like they're human. Always winning, if you ask me.

And if you want my words, or even better, my words prompting smarter words from somebody else, go read my interview with Frances Moore Lappe.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Power Is the Ultimate A-rod-isiac

Need proof why sports writers (save Nate Silver, who's really a math geek at heart who follows the numbers wherever they lead) should stay out of politics? Saturday in the LA Times sports editor Bill Dwyre wrote a column about how hard it is to be Joe Torre right now, with the steroid scandal back in the news thanks to the A-Rod confession. And Dwyre wrote this:

At the beginning of the week, the Dodgers' manager could have reasonably assumed he would be addressing the media here, on this day before spring training, about Manny Ramirez . . . or his recently released book on his years with the Yankees . . . or his pitching rotation.

Not this time. There were bigger fish to fry. Overviews sought. Philosophies established. Damage control begun.

Badly needed was a sense of the future, of the mood on the inside and expectations of the mood on the outside. This occasion needed more Henry Kissinger than Tom Lasorda.

So a war criminal will help more than someone who knows baseball?* One more reason I hope newspapers never go out of business--it hurts less to bang one's head on the paper than it does to bang one's head on a computer monitor.

*And I'm not implying Lasorda knows baseball, either. After all, I'd point to his failures with Ramon Martinez's right arm if Ramon could still lift it. But at least Cambodia and Laos have no problems with him.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Singer and Not the Song

So for Valentine's Day Amy and I, after a fine dinner we cook, go to see Philip Glass and Patti Smith in a tribute to Allen Ginsberg, as there's nothing more romantic than maxi-minimalism meets punk meets beat. It's wonderful, if not quite as synergistic as I hoped--for one example, Glass, while sitting at his piano and almost mouthing the choruses, refuses to play the Roy Bittan parts (at least I assume they're Bittan parts or Richard Sohl was channeling him) on the encore of "Because the Night."

To come up with a quick post after a day off from real work to do a full day's of freelance, I go visit the YouTube friend figuring something worth posting is there, and instead find this weirdness. So enjoy:


Friday, February 13, 2009

See, I Really Do Only Have 4 Readers

I'm 3,411,146!

I didn't even know there were over 3.4 million blogs. (Numbers "courtesy" Alexa.)


We're Not Wide but the Frame Needs to Be

For Dog Blog Friday: The beach parade continues.


Friday Random Ten

Blackgirl "Bathtub" Procedure
Coleman Hawkins & Ben Webster "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" Anything Goes: The Cole Porter Songbook Instrumentals
Steve Earle "I Thought You Should Know" The Revolution Starts Now
R.E.M. "Burning Down" Dead Letter Office
Tom Waits "Lucky Day" The Black Rider
X-Ray Spex "I Can't Do Anything" Germfree Adolescents
The Pogues "Dirty Old Town" Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash
World Domination Enterprises "Asbestos Lead Asbestos" Rough Trade Shops: Post Punk Vol 1
K. McCarty "Going Down" Dead Dog's Eyeball
Suzanne Vega/Bill Frisell/Wayne Horvitz/Syd Straw "Medley 2: Stay Awake/Little Wooden Head/Blue Shadows on the Trail" Stay Awake--Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films

Rossy "I Fought the Law" A World Out of Time--Madagascar

Well, there's another cover I forgot.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

That Old Time Rock and Scroll

According to the "this date in history" calendar I use, which seems to be about as trustworthy as a cabinet secretary doing his taxes, Friday is the day 54 years ago that Israel acquired 4 of the 7 Dead Sea Scrolls. Luckily, they didn't get all 7 on a Friday the 13th, or there'd be another Jason Vorhees movie. [murmured comments from off blog] Oh, ok, damn. Speaking of disappointments, if you're ever in Khirbet Qumran, while the name Dead Sea Rolls is clever, the baked goods aren't worth your shekels. The story goes the scrolls were found when a goatherd threw a rock into one of the caves, seeking a lost goat. (I know nothing gets my goat like tossing a rock in its direction.) He heard a jar breaking, and hoping he had stumbled into a cellar for a microbrewery he wandered in and the rest is history--literally. As you probably know, the scrolls were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, mostly on parchment. What you probably don't know is while it is believed some were written on papyrus, the papyrus was written in Aramaic and therefore mistranslated. So some were written on platypus. If that joke doesn't fly, I'll remove it from your bill.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mea Blogga

"When I arrived in Blogistan in 2004, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," INOTBB told ESPN's Peter Gammons in an exclusive interview in an undisclosed location in Oxnard, CA.

"Back then, [blogging] was a different culture," INOTBB said. "It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest bloggers of all time.

"I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful."

In his first prime-time news conference, President Barack Obama called INOTBB's admission "depressing" news.

"And if you're a fan of blogs no one reads, I think it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree," Obama said. "And it's unfortunate, because I think there were a lot of bloggers who played it straight. Except for Jonah Goldberg, who was no doubt high on donut fumes."

INOTBB later added (as it's so hard to add earlier): "I was stupid for three years. I was very, very stupid" and said: "The more honest we can all be, the quicker we can get blogging [back] to where it needs to be. Particularly those of us on the left need to start forming that circular firing squad. And even if he's not on the left, let's put Joe Torre in the center first. A-Fraud that, Joe.

"When you take this gorilla and this monkey off your back, you realize that honesty is the only way," INOTBB said. "Plus, with a gorilla and a monkey, you can start a small zoo. Everyone likes to see gorillas. I'm finally beginning to grow up. I'm pretty tired of being stupid and selfish, you know, about myself. I'm really hoping I can be selfish about someone else for a change. And with my money, I think I can buy someone to be selfish for."

INOTBB also told ESPN's Gammons of his 2007 interview with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes, when he denied ever using steroids, that "at the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS? I could have been truthful with Jon Stewart, but then said it was all ironic. But he never had me on. At the least my interview with Couric was better than Sarah Palin's. I mean, I've never said I know James Wolcott because I can see a link to him from my blog."

INOTBB also criticized Sports Illustrated for never putting him in the blogger swimsuit issue. INOTBB also said Selena Roberts, one of SI's reporters who covered the story, stalked him. He also accused Roberts of trying to break into his home last week while his two greyhounds were sleeping. Sports Illustrated released a statement, saying it "stands by the story and the professional manner in which it was reported. We tried sitting by the story, but we looked silly. Selena Roberts is a distinguished journalist and her reporting in this case led to INOTBB's admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs. That the drugs didn't enhance his perfomance isn't SI's fault."

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Set the Way-Back Machine for 2006, Please

This from TPM:

If Joe Lieberman decides to run for a fifth term in 2012, a new Quinnipiac poll suggests that it may be a lost cause.

The new poll tests Lieberman as an independent against Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The numbers: Blumenthal 58%, Lieberman 30%. Yikes.

Lieberman's active campaigning against the Democratic Party last year hasn't won him too many friends back home. Democrats go for Blumenthal by 83%-9%, and independents are for Blumenthal 55%-29%. Lieberman is the de facto Republican nominee in this match, and with GOP voters he scores 67%-23% over Blumenthal.

Thanks for the 20/20 hindsight, Connecticut idiots.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Fondness Makes the Absence Longer

Just a programming note--things might be light here for a couple of weeks. Too much work at the second job (turning phoners with Anthony Bourdain and Frances Moore Lappe and an in-person with Paul Prudhomme into actual articles, plus other writing and editing), and then three freelance jobs, two of which are due 2/19. (One even features a contract.)

Then there's the real job, where I have to boil down pages of data that isn't quite equivalent and make it look exciting presented on a 5x7 card that I have to design, too. That's just one task.

So, you won't be hearing much from me unless I need to blow bloggy steam.

But I do need to point this out, who's coming to Santa Barbara itself pre-Coachella but Los Campesinos! at Velvet Jones on April 16. I have to think they're going to play here b/c they know one of their biggest fans lives here.

Here they are acoustic:

And here they are all out doing a song that sums it all up, doesn't it--"We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed":

See you there.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday Random Ten

The Pogues "London Girl" Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
The Scene Is Now "Room of Wicker" The Oliy Years (1983-1993)
Elvis Costello & The Attractions "You Little Fool" (alternate version) Imperial Bedroom
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra "Divertimento in F Major 1 Allegro" Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Serenata, Divertimenti
Eleventh Dream Day "Ground Point Zero" Stalled Parade
The Blind Boys of Alabama "Lord Will Make a Way" I Brought Him with Me
Feist "The Water" The Reminder
Donald Joyce "Satyagraha (Act III--Conclusion)" Glass Organ Works
Pavement "No More Kings" Wowee Zowee--Sordid Sentinels Edition
Alex Chilton "Downtown" Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits

Elliott Smith "Can't Make a Sound" Figure 8

Inspirational verse:
We're going to run our things our own way
We're going to run our things our own way
Going run into the ground


When Greyhounds Were Taller and Lived Near the Water

For Dog Blog Friday: Nothing like a peaceful morning at the beach.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Next New Orleans?

Whatever you think about it, the Stimulus Bill could accomplish some really good things. But now it seems some "moderate" Senators are doing their best to ruin even that, if a TPM report can be believed. And it probably can, as they even have a copy of the document being used on Capitol Hill.

I'm going to ignore the cuts to education, since education always gets cut, and clearly making people smarter doesn't help the economy any. All you need is the smarts of a Joe the Plumber to be a national party advisor on the economy, after all. The part that really stood out to me is the complete 0% funding of the intended $50 mil for the California Bay-Delta Restoration Act. This might not sound like something folks in Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon should care about, but it is. Here's a tiny bit of an article from the July 2007 issue of Science Magazine:

But the smelt is only the delta's most immediate concern. Several other fish species native to the delta are also in steep decline, also battered by loss of habitat, pollution, and competition from hundreds of invasive species. Rising sea levels prompted by climate change threaten to push salt water from San Francisco Bay much farther inland, possibly even overwhelming the southern delta region where fresh water is drawn for people and irrigation. Finally, the delta is home to a labyrinth of 1770 kilometers of earthen levees designed to channel the delta's water on its way to the bay. Those levees, some 130 years old, sit near six seismic faults that crisscross the region, and it's widely feared that a major quake could produce catastrophic levee failures that would wipe out water supplies for tens of millions of people.

Catastrophic levee failures. That could never happen in America.

So it's like this, it's worth chopping a mere $50 mil of a $700+ billion bill while possibly risking a disaster as terrible as the one in New Orleans we still haven't recovered from?


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Michael Steele's Unreal New Deal

Here's hoping that UC Chancellor Yudof isn't listening to the new RNC Chair Michael Steele. Cause if he is, I'm out of a job. Then again, Yudof is, too. For here's what Steele said to Wolf Blitzer yesterday on CNN (h/t Crooks & Liars):

BLITZER: But if there's an economic recovery and there are jobs created...

STEELE: Are you taking into account inflation?
And, first off, the government doesn't create jobs. Let's get this notion out of our heads that the government create jobs. Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.

Small business owners do, small enterprises do, not the government. When that government contract runs out, that job goes away. That's what we're talking about here. And those two to four million jobs that are projected won't happen. Trust me.

Of course Blitzer did trust him, not bothering to ask him to explain what those people in the post office are doing, or who those people coming through the national parks in nifty uniforms are. He didn't ask who teaches most of the children in this country. He didn't suggest the people living in the Tennessee Valley might be lacking the authority they need.

For the press isn't right or left, it's stupid at this point. Gregory House couldn't bring it back from brain death even if he made 13 give it mouth-to-mouth.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Between Barack and a Hard Place

Busy busy today, so only have time to point and nod. Two fine articles up at The Nation that makes me even more convinced Obama's built a Cabinet crawling with termites. First, there's one about Judd Gregg, who is nominated for Commerce, but:

President Obama's new candidate to run the Commerce Department voted in favor of abolishing the agency as a member of the Budget Committee and on the Senate floor in 1995.

Almost as good as John Bolton at the UN.

Then there's the demise of Daschle, which evidently rhymes with bashful. He always seemed too much the DC insider for my tastes, but this article really lays it all out, including a passage like this one that makes me wonder WTF Obama was thinking:

When he ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 2004, the Daschle campaign appealed to South Dakota voters with television ads that featured a picture of the Democratic leader hugging the Republican president and a headline that read: "Daschle: Time to Unite Behind Troops, Bush."


Monday, February 02, 2009

Paging Joe S-Torre to Re-write

I've liked what David Ulin has done with the book review section at the incredibly shrinking LA Times and I'm a fan of his The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Faultline between Reason and Faith, as if you're going to get poetic about anything, it's that huge acreage can go mushy. But there is a reason that a man of letters shouldn't write a review of a baseball book. This Sunday he wrote about the new Joe Torre blab-all The Eddie Stanky Years, un, I mean The Yankee Years, and more than tell us anything about the book he lets us know that his own love of story is how he wants to read baseball.

Here's the passage where he begins to suggest a drive for narrative is more important to him than a drive for clarity:

[Torre's] terrific on the day-to-day dynamics of the Yankees, the way the selfless, win-at-all-costs culture of the championship teams dissipated with the departure of Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez after the 2001 season, leaving a void filled by selfish superstars.

Such a trend began with the 2001 signing of Jason Giambi -- a move Torre opposed in writing, so he couldn't be held responsible if it didn't work out -- and it's personified by the contradictory figure of Rodriguez, perhaps the most talented and least endearing superstar in American sports, an insecure stat machine utterly unable to hit when it counts.

I'm no huge A-Rod fan, as for all his immense skill, he does seem joyless--give me a Jose Reyes any day. But this bit about Rodriguez being unable to hit when it counts is a bit of a myth (just ask Madonna, ba-dum-bump). Seriously, lifetime he's hit .274/.403/.486 with two outs and RISP, which is down from his usual performance, but still damn good and you have to assume if there's any time a pitcher is going to bear down, it's in that situation. His OPS in innings 7-9 lifetime is .911 (his career OPS is .968). Yes, he's stunk as a Yankee in the playoffs, but the whole team has stunk. Think back to Barry Bonds' brilliant (perhaps chemically assisted) 2002 postseason. Now recall who won the World Championship that year. One monster bat does not a winner make.

Ulin then goes on to write/quote:

"There's a certain free fall you have to go through," Torre says, "when you commit yourself without a guarantee that it's always going to be good. There's a sort of trust, a trust and commitment thing that has to allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to be embarrassed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And sometimes players aren't willing to do that."

That's the key to Jeter, who has always done anything to help the team.

Except surrender shortstop when the Yankees signed Rodriguez, although Rodriguez was known as a far better fielder. Of course, the Yanks never even thought of asking the Captain move, as he was Jeter, the guy with 4 rings in his first 4 years. Seems everyone reads the game through its grand stories, and it was Jeter who made that Jeremy Giambi play against the A's that one year, which somehow made questions about his fielding impossible (and let's not bring up Tim McCarver's worship of the man).

But this really isn't about A-Rod or even Jeter, it's about perpetuating a myth that men of character beat men of talent, and that the talented who fail to win are characterless. Brosius is one of the patron saints of this view, as he was seen as the scrappy heart of the late '90s Yankee dynasty. But if we look at his stats, we find this: postseason .245/.278/.418, career .257/.323/.422. So he was a better hitter when the chips weren't on the line, after all, despite what Torre, Verducci, and Ulin want to remember, or reconstruct. For there's this:

Compare this with what Torre and Verducci cite as "the quintessential championship Yankees at-bat": O'Neill's 10-pitch walk in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 2000 World Series against the Mets. The Yankees were down to their last two outs, but O'Neill refused to give in, working the count, fouling off pitches, driven by a "desperation to win."

Ulin is self-admittedly a Yankee fan, so he reads the moment through pinstriped glasses. As a Mets fan, I see it through a different frame--goddam Armando F-ing Benitez, the man driven by a desperation to blow all crucial games. But my wanting to knight Benitez a choke artist is just another story we tell ourselves trying to make sense of what, after all, is a game, where the random is truly the 10th player on the field. Let's assume Benitez gets one more strike past O'Neill. The Mets win the first game of the World Series. But do they win the Series itself? If they don't even after winning the first game, does anyone remember this at bat? The Mets playoff run that year opened with a win against the Giants, a game in which Benitez gave up a tying 3-run shot to J.T. Snow. But they won the game in extras--Benitez even got the win after that. That's baseball.

Sure, writing isn't as much fun, and our memories aren't as satisfying, if we have to shrug our shoulders and say, "Meh, it could go any way." but it could--except for Pirates fans, as your team is going to keep stinking for awhile.

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