David Bartsow has an excellent piece in today's New York Times on Gen. McCaffrey, a well-known retired general, tv talking head, and former Drug Czar, detailing McCaffrey's tendency to advocate policies - to both the media and the military - that would benefit him personally, without any disclosure of his personal stake in those policies. This is all too common, and a problem endemic to media coverage of many political debates.
McCaffrey's response is a huffy non-response. He apparently thinks his word should be golden because he was a soldier and there are other members of the service in his family, because he admires Gates and Petraeus and clashed with Rumsfeld. How any of that is a relevant response to the improprieties he is accused of ... well, none of it's relevant.
Apparently he is. And apparently he will be Cleveland's starting QB next week since this week, for the second week in a row, the Browns lost their QB to injury.
If the BCS is going to produce results as messed up as sending Oklahoma to the Big 12 title game, well, I'm in favor of making it look even sillier. And the aftermath of a Missouri win would be fun to watch.
Poor Boise State. It looks like they are on track to play in the Humanitarian Bowl in exotic ... Boise. A perfect season, a conference championship, and a win over the #2 team in the Pac-10 - Oregon (and yes, poor Oregon State) - and they won't even get to go anywhere; as I presume the remaining at-large slots in the BCS will go to Ohio State and the second-highest ranked team in the Big 12. Sadly I don't expect memories of their exciting victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiest Bowl will be enough to get them another trip to Arizaona.
Being a good sport I went to see Twilight last night. Given Ryan's words about its look, and what I'd heard about the author of the original text, I entered with low expectations. Nonetheless, nothing could have prepared me for just how awful it is. Of course serious film types might go into lengthy tirades on its shoddy construction. Technically it has some serious flaws, which must drive film types up the wall when they consider that something so poorly carried out will make hundreds of millions of dollars. But the real problem is the script. Bella is a both a bore and menace, and if there are actually tens of thousands of people in the country who consider to be a heroine I weep for our species.
The basic problem is that while this might be a film that involves vampires, this movie is basically the anti-Buffy. What is Bella? She's weak and needy and obsessive and seemingly devoid of any interesting characteristic whatsoever. Co-dependent is far too light a description of what she is. Hearing that she might be forced to be apart from her man quite literally drives her into hysteria. She has no interest in existing without him. She can only exist through him. And what kind of man is it that she feels she must cling to? Why, one who tells her to her face that he wants to kill her. Did I mention that she wants death? That she seems to equate sex and death? And that the only reasons we see for her liking him are that he's hot, comes from a rich family, is mean to her, and ignores her?
One could say she's a mess in need of serious treatment from that alone - and yet that doesn't even get into the horrible things she does to the man she supposedly loves. Her very presence torments him. She pushes him to do the one thing in all the known universe he is determined not to do. And she pressures him to kill the person he's loved most in his life (why he'd love this weak-willed sicko is beyond me, but I'm guessing she must smell great, and vampires being vampires ...). She is grotesque in every possible fashion, and has no redeeming characteristics I can see beyond the fact that she loves her family.
I'm not going to spend time discussing Twilight's oppressively-gendered world, where women aren't athletic, love shiny dresses, are uncoordinated (which comes in handy as an explanation for when they end up in the hospital after they have a fight with their big glowering freepy boyfriend - of course they fell down the stairs and went through a window) and apparently aren't supposed to drive if there's a man around to do it for them. I'm sure term papers have already been written on it.
Bella is repugnant, and apart from her father all the other humans are there to perform some stock role (the prom scene is down-right embarrassing as the other students each get their single moment in frame), so it's no surprise that the vampires are the most interesting part of the movie. And actually, if this had been a movie about the Cullen family I'd probably have enjoyed it quite a bit. They definitely have stories worth a movie. Of course some of them, as the book no doubt requires, were quite easy on the eyes (I'm thinking of Edward and Jasper and that guy from Can't Hardly Wait). And I think Robert Pattinson does a perfectly nice job as Edward. So if a movie gets made that is more about those characters I'll happily go see it. Actually I'd be quite enthusiastic about it. But if there's another Bella movie ... ummm, I think I'll skip that.
This time it was Muxtape.
Don't know if you ever used it, but it was essentially mixtapes on the internet that people would put up. It was really cool. And it was a great way to find new - or rediscover old - bands. The coolest thing about it was the way it showed how people's minds worked when assembling a mix. And of course, even though the major labels were trying to get their greedy filthy hands all over it, the RIAA couldn't wait and shut it down.
Most days are "buy nothing" days for me. I make my lunch. I don't buy gas except maybe once a month. I don't shop for clothes except like once a year, maybe twice. So making Black Friday into a solidarity against shopping day is easy. Except that today I needed something from the local hardware/home improvement giant, and it was something that couldn't wait until tomorrow (unless I wanted to be a complete lazy fucker). So I decided to head out and pick up a couple of paint rollers and the $20 electric heater I've been meaning to get for my mini greenhouse now that the weather was starting to get below freezing. Given the whole Black Friday thing, and that the home improvement store shares a parking lot with a Michaels and a Pier 1, I was afraid that my simple errand would turn into a drawn out battle for parking followed by endless line waiting. What was good for me if a bad signal for the economy was that I could park right up front, and I got in and out in less than five minutes. Leaving plenty of time left for actual painting. Dammit.
This one is going to sting, as the Panthers went ahead in the game's final minute.
It strikes me as a fine way to use the Vice President-elect. Actually focusing him on that, in tandem with putting Senator Clinton and Gen. Jones on Israeli deals with the Syrians and Palestinians, could do a great deal of good.
None of us are from where we are, and this year travel to the south (where our relatives reside) is out for various reasons. So, the three of us will be having Thanksgiving together this afternoon, for which I could not be more thankful to have such a wonderful blogfamily. To our friends, loved ones, lurkers... wherever you are, I hope that your day will be spent with those you love and over glorious feasts (whether they include jello salad or not).
Dan Callahan's negative review may bring you back to Earth. From this review, the script sounds like a painful mess.
And no matter how good he may be (Callahan suggests he has next to nothing to do), I'm still annoyed at Brolin's casting. He's way too old. Does Hollywood suddenly lack actors in their late 20's? Who knew?
A strong argument. Plus, hey, it's often fun to see someone land a blow on Jeff Rosen - especially when he's defending separate but equal.
Binky and I finally caught the latest Bond today. I give it a big thumbs up. The franchise is in good shape as far as I'm concerned.
Texas beat Oklahoma. That's all you need to know.
Nick Paumgarten ended this week's "Tables for Two" (in the new Food issue of The New Yorker) with this delicious description:
The popular side dish of roasted potatoes is like a daydream about donuts, with Pecorino shavings in place of powdered sugar.
I could go for some of those right now.
As previously mentioned, I go to movies with Armand, and concerts with Baltar. It's our thing. Or one of our things.
Armand and I also debate the merits of Tilda Swinton and Adrien Brody, but that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, we go to a lot of concerts, and I take a lot of pictures at the concerts. Having played in multiple bands in my earlier years, and attended lots of concerts, I have some hearing damage, and always (always!) wear plugs. Plus, being a geek, I keep track of setlists.
To both facilitate plugged communication and remember the order of the songs, I carry a small pad of paper, a large Sharpie, and a black Bic. These things live in my small camera bag, the one that can kind of masquerade as a purse, and that has velcro compartments that can sort of hide the fact that I am entering a venue with (gasp!) detachable lenses (which are, apparently, some kind of badness in the eyes of theaters if not bands). What happens with relative frequency is that between the last show and the next, I manage to upload the shots to Flickr, but don't clean out the bag, and then just dump everything on my desk, repack and go. The detritus usually includes gum/cough drop wrappers, empty film canisters/boxes, stray pieces of paper from the pad, and maps of the last town (if it was a road trip).
This evening I was tidying my desk an consolidating all the photography paraphernalia, and picked up a piece of paper from an April show in Pittsburgh, on which I had scribbled a note to Baltar as we waited for Lucero to come on and listened to the warm up band:
Goddam that Andy Summers was a helluva guitarist.
I know we're not so old that we've seen it all before, but sometimes, in IMS-land, it sure as hell does feel like it.
So reports Andrea Mitchell. I'd say that's a very solid pair of picks.
Since I was just commenting on the student government president, I suppose I should link to this.
John Dingell had been the top Democrat on Energy and Commerce since 1981, long before several dear friends of mine were born. Next Congress though he'll be without that gavel - he's lost it to Henry Waxman. Let the fight for Waxman's old committee commence!
So if the rumors are right, Sen. Clinton will be Secretary of State, Eric Holder will be Attorney General, and Peter Orszag will be Budget Director. Of course we already know Rahm-bo will be Chief of Staff and Greg Craig will be Counsel. It's looking like we will have a government headed by veterans of DC (and the Clinton administration).
UPDATE: And Tom Daschle will head HHS.
Ugh. I wish Harry Reid didn't remind me of Kevin Bacon getting initiated in Animal House (I apologize for that visual).
It's the fattest, unhealthiest city in America. Undoubtedly it faced stiff competition from certain locales in Louisiana and Mississippi.
(Ryan, no doubt Ben is deeply displeased.)
This time it's Fort Worth (not a surprise). They will join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
One more sign that Sen. Clinton may very well be the next Secretary of State. I'd think that Bill Clinton's ties may well be the only thing standing between her and the job.
Newsweek covers the burning question - is Obama the anti-Christ?
A VLCC? Apparently it's their biggest target ever.
If there's an award out there for SGA president who is the quickest to kiss ass in the service of his own future, Parsons should run away with it. First he was the loving toadie of Mike Garrison and Steve Goodwin. Then he practically tried to meld into the Clintons during last May's primary. And now he's getting press for an attempt to keep tuition down - an attempt with so little substance behind it that the BOG president says she's never heard of it.
There are some very fine students in SGA who do some valuable things. But Parsons continues to come across as someone who puts the greatest value on advancing his own future career in the state. Now he could prove me wrong and actually accomplish something on this. But until he does, this looks more like self-promotion than serving the students' interests.
Congratulations to Vanderbilt (bowl eligible), Oregon State, Rutgers (4 straight wins), and Florida, who gave Steve Spurrier the biggest defeat (by margin of victory) in his coaching career. "You're so lame" awards go out to the ranked teams in the ACC. North Carolina, Florida State, and Wake Forest all lost yesterday. Every team in the conference now has at least 3 losses, and all but Maryland and Miami have at least 3 losses in intra-conference play. Doesn't anyone want a conference championship and a trip to a BCS bowl?
Today Michigan lost to Northwestern. Northwestern won, pushing the long-time Big 10 power's record down to 3-8. Yes, 8 losses. Never before in the 129-year history of Michigan football has their team lost 8 games in the regular season. Now, under Rich Rod, they have. And given that they still have to play #11 Ohio State, Rich Rod might take them down to 3-9.
I haven't had a signal at my house all day.
Possible motives behind this press story/possibility, via Sullivan, are that a) it's a way for Obama to contain the damage the Clintons could otherwise inflict, or b) it's a way for Sen. Clinton to bloody and block two men who didn't endorse her in the primaries, Gov. Richardson and Sen. Kerry.
Of course it is also possible that Sen. Obama simply thinks Sen. Clinton would do a good job at State.
He is smart. Very smart. But the idea that not wanting to be a vice presidential nominee is a brilliant political move is freakin' nuts. Jack Kemp, Joe Lieberman, Lloyd Bentsen, John Edwards - none of these men were hurt by running on a ticket that didn't win the White House. Instead in every case it increased their profile. And of course if lightning had struck they'd have had the inside track to the presidency (well, maybe not Bentsen given his age, but otherwise ...). Jindal's team is spinning here, and for whatever conservatives at The Atlantic are buying the spin.
Now if he didn't want to be vetted because he didn't want others in the party to know his darkest secrets - now that is smart. But that's not the argument at hand.
Yet another Apatow and friends film that I find to be "eh" entertainment. That crowd has hit on real situations and feelings occasionally. Superbad, far and away the best of their films, hit true feelings and relationships in ways both funny and poignant. But it's telling that the one time their writing has worked (well, you can throw in some of their tv stuff too as another time it's sometimes worked) they were writing about male teenagers and grown men who yearned to be teenagers once again. Because if if doesn't relate to questions and life issues that are of primary importance to a 16 year old boy, these guys seem poorly able to relate to the topic.
That said, this movie does have a number of things going for it. Much of the cast is strong and appealing, when given the chance. Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell do nice work with what they are given. But once again (this time the script was written by actor Jason Segel, probably best known for being, along with Willow, one of the bits of dead weight on How I Met Your Mother) this crowd has written a script where the women are presented as goals or plot devices, not real characters. That Kunis is charming with the thinner than thin character she is given is a testament to her skill. Bell is great in the one real scene she is given (where she allowed to point out that Segel's lead is a tiresome bore who was holding her back for years and who never appreciated her - things that are quite true, and so one wonders who such a character was made the center of a movie), but mostly her job is to scowl or look jealous. Jack McBrayer, Maria Thayer, and Paul Rudd are as funny as you would expect, but they aren't on screen for long. Sadly the lead, Segel, you see all the time. Mostly doing things that these guys thing are hilarious - standing around naked! crying like a girl! singing zany songs!- but which are really usually sophmoric.
All that said, I'd still give the film a C+ and I didn't mind sitting through it. And it's mostly because of Russell Brand. He is hilarious as Sarah Marshall's (Bell) rock star boyfriend. I can't say enough good things about him. It's one of the best performances I've seen all year. Maybe not in an Oscar-worthy way, but he's great and pretty much single-handedly saves the movie from from being too disappointing.
Ezra Klein considers a number of interrelated questions tied to how voters make their choices.
I realize that financial news has dropped off most people's radar screens these days, but the crisis continues to roll through our markets (and most everyones).
Today's news comes via a discussion on naked capitalism on the (continuing) AIG bailout. And make no mistake, it is a bailout. I won't quote the whole thing (as they say, go and read it), but the government is making AIG a sweet deal for no reason (or, at least, no reason a bunch of good economists can figure out).
But the worst is that not only was the initial AIG de facto bankruptcy a case of looting, the government has now decided to aid and abet AIG management in further looting. What pro-taxpayer purpose is there in the improvement of terms above? None. As we pointed out, there were only a couple of reasons for easing up on AIG, and they could have been provided for with minor changes that would not leave the taxpayer materially worse off. Instead, major concessions have been made to AIG, all to the detriment of the taxpayer. AIG management now has job security for five years (and AIG top brass is very well paid) and better odds of salvaging something for themselves when the five years are up thanks to the government giving them an unwarranted subsidy.
The bottom line is that the US Treasury Department has renegotiated the original deal the to benefit of AIG twice at this point (and the original deal was pretty sweet for AIG), and hasn't offered a good reason to Congress/the taxpayers as to why this was a good idea.
I may be idealistic, I may be libertarian, and I may not fully understand modern capitalism, but I fail to see how a system that doesn't actually punish people who make poor economic/financial decisions (and, conversely, reward those that make good decisions) can work over the long term. I mean, the whole point of capitalism is that there are winners and losers; if we change the rules so there can't be any losers (or, more accurately, the losers are just those that can't lobby the government effectively), then it isn't capitalism anymore, and I don't know what we have. Or how long it will last.
As they say, read the whole thing. It's not long, but worth the four minutes.
A post for all who have ever lived through or watched a friend go through the tenure process: Kitty gets tenure. The perfect search committee write-up, complete with redacted letter of reference in the comments, here.
And I know she's in the other kind of science from us, but FSP is always a great read, particularly if you are interested in the journey of women to senior levels of academia.
Is in my chest, having migrated from my sinuses.
And what is worse, perhaps, is that when I think "the crud is in my chest," for some reason, I hear it as if sung to that awful Tom Green song about him rubbing his butt on people. Perhaps it is time to lay off the Robitussin.
Al Kamen runs down the history of it since the days of JFK, and notes that if Obama only names one or two Republicans he may be accused of simply behaving like his (supposedly more partisan) predecessors.
Btw, that post on the King of Bhutan also features a list of the world's youngest and oldest leaders. You can see how many world rulers were born after your birth.
In the last day and a half the Republican Whip, Republican Conference Chair, and Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman have all announced that they are giving up their jobs. No doubt some of them feared they'd be tossed out if they sought to keep their positions. Republican Leader Boehner wants to hold on to his position. But he may have a fight on his hands.
UPDATE: Ryan won't run. So it's looking more and more like the top 3 Republican posts will go uncontested and the Republican leadership team will be headed by Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence (hard right, hard righter, and hard rightest).
Remember back in 2004 when Politics1 noted several members of Congress had bizarre ties to the Moonies - including taking part in ceremonies where some of them were crowned? Rep. Davis (D-IL) was one of those members. I understand the push to name another African-American to that Senate seat, but there are a lot of other African-American possibilities (Valarie Jarrett, Donne Trotter, Jesse Jackson Jr and Roland Burris among them) who don't have such questionable associations (to put it as politely as possible).
Sure the governor wants it and Republicans just lost control of the state Senate for the first time in decades - that doesn't mean the legislature is interested in making it a priority.
UPDATE: 4 Democratic senators are working to block a vote on gay marriage in the state Senate - the new "Gang of Four".
I hadn't watched The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy in years, until last night. Overall, I still found it to be a pleasant diversion, if not as good as I remembered (some of the plot points are too cliche to be believed, and some of the casting of straight guys as gay guys doesn't really work). Some people I had completely forgotten about. Whatever happened to Andrew Keegan (who's good here) and Michael Bergin? And who knew Zach Braff got work before Scrubs? Some people were as nice to see as ever (John Mahoney, Justin Theroux, Dean Cain, Jennifer Coolidge). And some people who I saw, for a scene or a second, were surprisingly familiar. There's Buffy's Owen (aka Carmen's big brother)! And Lindsey from Angel! And Buffy's Ben (poor Ben)! The number of people you could spot from Whedon's world almost became a game in itself as the movie went on.
UPDATE: And having watched some of the deleted scenes I can not believe they cut the John Mahoney/Andrew Keegan "pretty good/good" scene. That was well played, truly wise, would've been key to Keegan's character, and was far more thoughtful than some of the rest of the movie.
Alaska and Arizona, naturally, and Obama's Appalachian problem is well-known - but Arkansas and Oklahoma really stand out.
Carl Cameron is completely untrustworthy. That was certainly made apparent by his coverage of Kerry-Bush in 2004. But even knowing that, seeing him admit to this is remarkable. FoxNews must protect its masters at all costs, apparently - even if that means turning the White House into a combination of Being There and a Focus on the Family convention.
So by now everyone knows about the electoral crack of FiveThirtyEight and their scary accurate predictions. Through their site I also found excellent early vote stats. But I've also gotta throw some poli sci geek love to The Monkey Cage for this plot of voter turnout. They even cite the APSR!
The amount of money Mamma Mia! is making continues to surprise. It's on track to become the #1 film ever in the UK (not controling for inflation).
Shouldn't Monty Burns be presiding over this, at a remote castle?
Feel free to use this as a thread to comment on the outcomes of yesterday's election.
My initial take? Oooooooooo-BAMA! That was a superbly well-run campaign, a clear and substantial victory, and I'm looking forward to him taking office in two and a half months. He'll come in with a much more Democratic Senate, and with big Democratic gains in the House - it'll be a new day in Washington.
Downsides of down the ballot? Let's see - What the hell is wrong with Alaskans? I'd like to pass along a big screw you to the voters in Arkansas, Florida, Arizona and California for various ballot measures passed in those states. And how in the hell was Michele Bachmann reelected? Aren't Minnesotans supposed to be solid and reasonable folk?
We're doing it. And I'm not going to jinx anything by saying what it's looking like, but hot motherfucking damn!
Here's a list of state law about your ability to leave work to vote.
Exercise your rights, people. Have a good voting day.
Looking for something to take your mind off politics before 7pm tomorrow night? John Foote's put together his list of the 10 best directors working in the English language (so people like Pedro Almodovar aren't eligible). That's a very tough cut to make. How do you get it down to 10? And presumably "working" implies still making top-level work. And if they are not still among the best, I presume they should be excluded (sorry Woody Allen).
Reserving the right to change my list as more names occur to me my list would include: Ang Lee, Roman Polanski, David Lynch, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, Marc Forster (yes, I know many people disagree, but I really like him), Stephen Frears, Paul Greengrass, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and Michel Gondry. Whoops, that's 11. Well, fine, make a list of 10 or 11 if you feel like playing the game.
I'm no expert on Berlin's economy, but you'd have to think this isn't a positive for it.
It opened as the first passenger airport in 1923 and became the largest and most modern airport in the world after the current structure was built between 1936 and 1941, during Nazi rule. In its 85 years of service, it hosted everything from the Beatles to round-the-clock airlifts during the Berlin Blockade.
I spent a lot of last weekend grading dozens of papers on the future of US foreign policy. But when not doing that, I was watching the second seaon of 30 Rock. All in all, I don't think it was as strong a season as the show's first year. That said, it's still better than the vast majority of other tv shows, comedies or not. Alec Baldwin continues to steal the show, but the whole ensemble is quite good.
Highlights? "Cougars" is fun. Liz Lemon dates a 20 year old, Frank is gay for him (and only him), and Jenna has some fall-on-the-floor line readings about how sad she is that more people don't know about cougars. "Succession" is superb - Liz goes corporate (and corporate drunk), all Devin Banks (Will Arnett) episodes are good episodes ("Jack Gets In the Game" is another highlight of the season), the GE board is a funny joke, the show is filled with references to Amadeus, and Dr. Spaceman is always funny. And "MILF Island" is great, playing on many tropes of "Survivor" and similar shows. And really, how is "MILF Island" (20 MILFs, 50 8th grade boys, no rules) not a real show? It seems only a matter of time (the writing for the fake show was hilarious).