Monday, February 28, 2011

The Real End of an Era


Last living US WWI vet dies in West Virginia at age 110.

Both of my grandfathers served in The War to End All Wars—one in France—so I'm finding this story somewhat interesting this morning.

Requiescat in pace.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

On Wisconsin


Needless to say, I'm loving what's going on in Madison. The latest is that Wisconsin
Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs has announced that those protesters still in the building will be able to stay the night.
What's most encouraging is that
Tubbs also commended the behavior and cooperation of protesters, saying that there had been no arrests made today. At the last time he checked, on Friday, Tubbs said there had only been about a dozen minor arrests in total over the past two weeks.
Thus, the police can't say that they were provoked by any foolish inducement.

I'm sure that a lot has changed in the last forty plus years in how law enforcement officials react to an occupation like this, and that's a good thing. And even though both protesters and law enforcement personnel may have changed their ways, I still can't help but feel a certain nostalgia in all of this.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Two Americas


As much of a bastard as John Edwards turned out to be, at least he got one thing right.
“Today ... there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life. One America -- middle-class America - whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America - narrow-interest America - whose every wish is Washington's command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a President.”
And now we see this phenomenon continuing as
Earlier this week, Gallup released a poll showing that six in ten Americans said they oppose plans to roll back collective bargaining rights for public unions in their own states. As Greg Sargent noted today, only one income bracket within that poll -- those making more than $90,000 per year -- favors that idea.

In fact, the more money people make, the more likely they are to support eliminating collective bargaining, according to the poll.
At least there's been a reaction to this disparity, and I'm pleased that the middle class has finally woken up to realize how it's being screwed. God knows it slept through the first eight years of the century while the foundation was being laid for the anti-labor, anti-middle class sentiment we're currently seeing from elected leaders.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Shame. Shame. Shame."


Democracy in America: It has come to this.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out of the frying pan


Let's just say I'm glad I'm not an Indiana Republican and had to make this hideous senatorial choice.

Mourdock appears to want to be all things to all people, as he
is clear on one thing: he is not running as a tea party candidate. While he welcomes the support of tea party groups and says he expects them to coalesce around his campaign, he recognizes the limitations of being defined as a tea party candidate.
At the same time, it's impossible to root for Richard Lugar in this since he'll be eighty freakin' years old by the time the 2012 election occurs. Even Republicans in Indiana must be able to see when nominal public service becomes self-indulgence.

Same old same old


Not surprisingly, the idiotic policies of Wisconsin's governor have led to similar reactions in other states—including Connecticut. Fortunately, the Constitution's State's new governor isn't trying to destroy public education—and with it the middle class—as is his Badger State counterpart.

In the midst of this teacher bashing another education story has come to light: Hartford's search for a new Superintendent of Schools, which has turned into the type of inane episode that the Insurance City is so well known for. Everybody looks bad in this, from the Board itself to the mayor. It just goes to show that Hartford will always be a second class city as long as it has such moronic leaders.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This is hilarious


Oh, those crazy Spaniards.

Apple, cont'd.


I've spoken before about the astonishing turnaround Apple has had in the past few years, and the fact that rumors abound whenever it's about to release something new just shows how dominant it's become in the tech market.

And many happy returns to Steve Jobs as he turns 56 tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The other shoe falls


I really hate to be a denizen in the state where this occurred, but
The NCAA committee on infractions has finally levied its sanctions against UConn, the most serious of which is a temporary separation of coach and program.

Jim Calhoun will be suspended for the first three Big East games of the 2011-12 season after the NCAA found him guilty of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance and failing to monitor the program in areas of phone calls, text messages and inducements provided by a booster ...

UConn had already admitted that the basketball staff made impermissible phone calls to recruits and improperly distributed game tickets to high school and AAU coaches. UConn also agreed with the NCAA allegation that the university failed to monitor benefits and assistance provided by an agent to a basketball recruit.

But in separate responses, Calhoun and the university said there is no evidence to support the claim that Calhoun failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA disagrees, stating, "Based on the scope and nature of the violations, the committee found the head coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance and failed to monitor the program regarding phone calls, text messages and inducements provided by the booster."
I think the punishment probably fits the crime, but I'm still struck by how St. Jim tried so hard to demonstrate his integrity when not a lot was apparent in this episode.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blood in the streets?


I've been out of the loop for a week, but the Wisconsin situation could be the seminal event in the ultimate unraveling of the American middle class.

The plutocrats have had no problem in giving billions of dollars to undeserving fellow plutocrats, but when it comes to providing some protection in retaining a living wage for the middle class, the Tea Partiers and their ilk will have none of it.

I've sung the refrain of blood in the streets before, but this time it sure does look like the barricades have been manned in Madison.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today's Question (and answer)


Can one get through a metal detector at St. Lucia's Hewanorra International Airport with a Swiss Army knife in his pocket?


(It's good to be back in the good old US of A.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011



As one who's eaten at least a million pretzels in his life, I take a certain interest in "one of Slashfood's biggest taste tests to date."

Alas, I'm pretty disappointed with the results: Four of the twelve winners are Bachman products—a line I've stopped buying. The judges put a couple Utz products in the lower half of the list, and they're certainly deserving.

I'm surprised nothing from Herr's made the list. Moreover, it doesn't surprise me at all that Frito-Lay's hideous Rold Gold line is nowhere to be found in the list. Given its products' pervasiveness, its competitors would be in trouble if the Dallas company had any idea what a pretzel was supposed to taste like.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Smoke and mirrors


For all the talk about deficit reduction and whatever other nonsense the Washingtonians are spewing these days, the fact remains that
[b]oth the White House and Republicans are only tackling domestic nondefense discretionary spending—a mere 10 percent of the federal budget.

"That is the ultimate irony here and the biggest frustration for any of us who watch the budget very closely," [blogger Stan] Collender says. "The truth is, though, that they're talking about cutting a very, very small part from a very small part of the budget.

"Until people start talking about Social Security, Medicare, agricultural price supports and revenues, this deficit's going to be high for a while."
While Collender includes revenue (i.e., higher taxes) in his list, he's still only partly right as he fails to include defense in the catalogue.

The Iraq and Afghanistan "wars" have cost the US $6 trillion thus far. (And the latter incursion suffers from a hideous strategy to boot!) If legislators were really interested in reducing costs and didn't have a hidden agenda in all of this, they might be able to see where cuts should and could easily be made.

Unfortunately, very few such legislators are around these days.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pat Egan


I saw this kid score 43 in the old Charter Oak Basketball Conference one night last decade, but it was always clear that his athletic future was in baseball.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that
Egan relies heavily on a low-90s sinker. He induces a ton of ground balls, pounds the strike zone, and ... also has a slider and a changeup.
Good luck to him. I'll be watching.

Quote of the Day


A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.
— Dr. Johnson as quoted by James Boswell
I can't help thinking of this as I note that BO
will propose cutting $2.5 billion from a program that provides heating assistance to poor people in his fiscal 2012 budget, a source familiar with the budget process said on Wednesday.
In the midst of this incredibly cold and snowy winter, this is already becoming a public relations nightmare.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

This is astonishing


Edsall deserves to leave if he's going to keep this guy from this high school on the bench.

h/t Chill.

Academically Adrift?


I heard this story on the way in today, and while it doesn't necessarily surprise me, it's still pretty sad.
Richard Arum, a co-author of [Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses] and a professor of sociology at New York University, tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep that the fact that more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years at a university was cause for concern ...

At every university, however, there are students who defy the trend of a decline in hours spent studying — and who do improve their writing and thinking skills. The study found this to occur more frequently at more selective colleges and universities, where students learn slightly more and have slightly higher academic standards.
I suppose the latter phenomenon will probably occur at places like Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth, but when I'm watching a basketball game and look at students from places like Mississippi State, I can't help but think that they're wasting their time and their parents' money.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A wanted man


A planned trip by [former president George W.] Bush to speak at the Switzerland-based United Israel Appeal later this week has been canceled after several human rights groups called for Swiss authorities to arrest Bush and investigate him for authorizing torture. Bush has traveled widely since leaving office, but not to Europe, where there is a strong tradition of international prosecutions.

The Swiss group and Bush's spokesman claim that it was threats of protest, not of legal action, that prompted the cancellation.
Golly. First it was goodbye to politcs, and now it's goodbye to Europe. Perhaps he can clear some more brush to take up his time.

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001


An extension for this horrible piece of legislation will come up for a vote any day now, and while
some rank-and-file Republicans are signaling they will resist efforts later this year to make the law permanent,
it's pretty clear that the hideously misnamed law will continue intact for another few months at least.

John Chait explains the Tea Party's enabling role in all this.

UPDATE — At least some people seem to be paying attention, although my own representative missed the boat.

Monday, February 07, 2011

This really bums me out


My sister, who's in health care, apprised me of this over the weekend, and by God, it's unfortunately true:
Narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and the need for constant attention, has been eliminated from the upcoming manual of mental disorders ...
I've known too many people—most of them in educational administration—who suffered from some type of psychological abnormality, and NPD seemed to fit them to a tee.

I don't know how I'll be able to describe such awful behaviors when I no longer have the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to back me up.

Erica Hill


I assume everyone who follows this blog knows that Erica Hill is a former student of mine, and the fact "that she was cheeky and seemed to have a sense of humor” can no doubt be attributed to the experiences she had in her ninth grade English class.

I'm just sayin'.

Getting what they paid for


In its apparently never-ending attempt to make its premier event as meretricious as possible, the National Football League secured one Christina Aguilera to sing the nation's anthem at yesterday's Super Bowl®.

The results were about as one would expect.

Cripes. Give me the freakin' microphone: I'll take care of the duty, and it won't take me three minutes to do it, either.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Quote of the Day


Just as you cannot be sorta pregnant, you cannot kinda support democracy, and only
when it does what you want. That's not "supporting democracy"; that's imperialism.
David Sirota on the US's response to the doings in Egypt
Once again, there's an undercurrent of American exceptionalism in all of this. I.e., revolution was fine for the US, but God forbid other nations try it.

Thursday, February 03, 2011



Steve Benen gets bent out of shape on the resurrection of this antebellum concept, but I don't see a lot of difference between nitwits in Idaho and Arizona "nullifying federal measures [they don't] like" and the moronic "signing statements" of Gorgeous George's administration.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Quote of the Day


"What's been happening, first in Lebanon and then in Tunisia and now in Egypt and who
knows further afield, suggests that new forces have been unleashed and
we have no idea where they might lead [emphasis added] and what
new dynamics they might create."
— veteran Middle East correspondent Thanassis Cambanis on future possibilities
It certainly seems possible that we ain't seen nothing yet, but we can take solace that BO is right on top of things.

Glenn Greenwald


Best wishes for a speedy recovery to one of the great harpooners on the Web.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tipping their hands


I've been amused a couple times today by people actually coming out and saying what's on their minds. First, it was a simpleton over at CNBC admitting that the US must support dictators to keep cheap oil flowing, and then it was Republicans owning up to their strategy of starving the beast of Obamacare.

It must be the snow.