Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Trying to beat the traffic?

Matt Yglesias asks a mighty good question:

But if that's all correct, then why did Katrina send him scrambling back to DC? Cutting a vacation short due to a crisis situation makes sense, of course, only if you aren't, in fact, able to do your job properly from your vacation home. That, in turn, would make perfect sense if before Katrina the country was just in an autopilot sort of situation but that was hardly the case. Instead, we were in the midst of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the former country in particular was at a rather key political juncture. Staying in Texas throughout that is fine if the job can be done from Texas. But if it can, why come back now?

A new plan anyone?

Driving home for lunch today - which, by the by, will be the last time I do that for a while - and I noticed that gas has already jumped up to $3 a gallon in Athens. Heck, we even postponed our staff meeting so folks could run out and fill up their cars before any potential shortages or price spikes. Seeing that most analysts are predicting gas prices to reach $4 a gallon (putting me filling up my Honda Accord at more than $50), the wife and I have decided to carpool for the time being.

All of this has me thinking ... why doesn't some automobile manufacturer decide to push ahead with new technology (or honed hybrid technology) designed to make gasoline/fuel-powered cars obsolete? Granted it would take considerable amounts of capital to launch a project of this size, but seeing how oil is a finite resource and that prices won't really go down all that much anyway, doesn't this make sense?

Arguably, our dependence on foreign crude oil - aside from the obvious environmental consequences - is a bad thing. Right now we ship lots of money over to countries featuring a significant population of people who want to kill us. So apart from the fact that we are dependent on other economies for a very vital good, the revenues from said good are, at least partially, funding terrorist organizations dedicated to waging war against America.

It would seem to me the good capitalist instinct would be to develop a means of powering cars - and engines of all sorts - here in the U.S., thus bringing money to our innovators and workers, and not financing madrassas in the Middle East.

How you can help

The tragedy in the Gulf Region is almost too staggering to comprehend. As flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans, let us all keep the people affected by this storm in our prayers. If you'd like to help out, please visit one of these web sites:

American Red Cross

United Methodist Committee for Relief

The Salvation Army

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chest thumpin'

Matt Yglesias, as usual in my book, gets it right when it comes to the reality of the power of the liberal blogosphere. He pretty much says 'not so much.'

My main critique of the netroots would be that I sense a large degree of willingness to elevate shrill rhetoric over actual policy. Dick Gephardt, having done more than any other member of the Democratic Party to land the country in Iraq, was able to recapture the hearts of many bloggers by calling Bush a "miserable failure."

It warmed my heart to hear that line, too, just as I thrilled to Hackett's Bush-bashing. But I'd much rather live with a moderate tone and an an anti-war policy than live with the reverse. Liberals need to be clear about what our priorities are.

Yglesias cites the example of Paul Hackett, the wonderboy of Daily Kos and other liberal bloggers. That, in reality, Hackett's criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy was mostly words and that, contrary to what many liberal bloggers believed, he was actually more in tune with the oft-bashed moderates of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton by saying 'we really can't just leave right now, things would get worse and not better.'

My problem with some elements of the liberal blogosphere is their self-inflated sense of ego and importance. Granted, the netroots has come a mighty long way and has done wondrous things (the fundraising efforts for Hackett were staggering and sites like Daily Kos deserve praise), but they seem to take it a tad too far. I've seen more than one post from places like Daily Kos implying the reason Hackett faired so well was solely because of the blogosphere's support, when I would argue it was the candidate and his positions that connected with the voters.

I'm with Yglesias on his rationale - demanding ideological purity and harsh rhetoric isn't the best course of action when it comes to fielding the best candidates across the country.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Audience participation

If you could attend one of the following two games, which one would you choose?

Oct. 15 - Southern Cal at Notre Dame

Nov. 2 - Tennessee at Notre Dame

We're taking votes here, and I have a hunch I know what the answer is gonna be.

Angry American(s)

99X had a very entertaining segment this morning where they discussed how much country music singers love war. That is, how it always seems that country singers release overly cheesy and uber-jingoistic songs during a time of war. Toby Keith was the top example for this, and Toucher proceded to show how shallow the lyrics were by composing his own song within five minutes (that was quite funny).

Now I've got absolutely no problem with country stars penning songs like 'Angry American' because, at the end of the day, they're trying to make a buck. And their targeted audience typically eats up stuff like that, so more power to 'em. Personally, I agree with the vast majority of the 99X crew (only Wally 'liked' those kinds of songs) - the music sucks not because we hate America, but rather because the music simply sucks.

Quite to the contrary, I happen to love America. And there are plenty of patriotic songs out there I do truly enjoy such as classics like 'God Bless America', 'America the Beautiful' and 'Star Spangled Banner.' Some of the songs that emerged from the 1940s during World War II were quite catchy, and songs like 'Born in the USA' and 'R.O.C.K. in the USA' are good as well.

Nor am I a pacifist. I have backed the overwhelming majority of American military conflicts/wars in my time, including Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, the conversation quickly turned to 'protest' songs, and I think much of those suck as well. In fact, the ones that have popped up as a result of the War In Iraq are pretty hideous (though 'Mosh' by Eminem is excellent). But musical tastes are a matter of opinion, so while some folks may enjoy System of a Down, I do not.

The bottom line is folks want to make money, and folks target audiences so they can make money. I believe that people like Toby Keith or System of a Down really do hold on to the opinions they profess in their music, but they're also smart enough to create music that will sell.

And that's America baby.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Atta boy

After spending the past hour furiously clicking 'update' on my web browser, I am relieved to find out that Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship.

Phil Mickelson didn't mind having to work overtime on Monday. Not when it meant he got to hold the Wanamaker Trophy after putting in about an hour of work.

Mickelson, who led by a stroke on Sunday when the PGA Championship was delayed on Sunday, birdied 18 on Monday to win his second major by that same margin.

Two years, two major titles ... about time for my man Phil. Maybe the Red Sox really do have a chance at repeating.

Worthy protests

Right off the bat, let me say this about Cindy Sheehan - she is a brave woman who had a brave son. And, as a grieving mother who has become increasingly disillusioned with not only the War in Iraq, but also with the president she supported twice, she has every right to make her voice be heard.

And the method she has chosen is absolutely brilliant. Seriously, this woman needs to run a public relations firm. She trekked down to Crawford, Texas, and camped out in front of President Bush's ranch while he's on vacation. She did it right in front of the White House press corps ... a press corps that is hot, restless and bored as it waits for the leader of the free world to end his vacation. Day in and day out, Sheehan is the story in Crawford. Her plight is on the news every night and in the papers every morning. She has taken non-violent peaceful protests up a notch, and done more for the anti-war movement in this country than any demonstrator in New York or San Francisco or Chicago could have ever done.

Furthermore, the smear attack conducted on this peaceful, humble (and conservative) woman by those on the right is absolutely disgusting. To say she's attempting to profit from the death of her son is a disgrace and shows just how desperate and despicable some folks are.

Sheehan has put a personal face on this war, and struck a chord across the nation. People of all sorts - liberal and conservative - have driven to Crawford to be a part of the movement she has created. That is a wonderful thing, and it is bringing the necessary attention to personal losses faced by so many families in the country. She has gotten to meet with several members of the president's staff, spoken to national and international press and gotten her message out to the masses.

But she hasn't met with the president ... and she won't.

This makes many people unhappy, particularly some of my friends on the left side of the aisle and practically all of the liberal commentators and bloggers. It doesn't bother me. My friends may be unhappy, but it isn't feasible to expect this woman - one who has an obvious and completely understandable beef wtih the president - to be given the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one with President Bush.

To expect the president to meet with her might be a beautiful notion, but it's ill-advised for a variety of reasons. The president - be it a poor one who is disliked or an excellent one who is beloved - can not, and should not, but expected to meet with whoever shows up at his or her door. To allow Sheehan the opportunity to meet with Bush would open the floodgates to a host of other individuals clamoring to vent their frustrations with our current leader ... and seeing how more than 50 percent of the nation is unhappy with his style of leadership, this could be quite a long line.

Our nation allows us plenty of avenues to express our discontent - or satisfaction - with our leadership. Sheehan, aside from her desire to meet with the president, is utilizing several of those opportunities. She has used the media and is in the midst of staging a powerful, yet solemn protest at the gates of the most powerful person in the world.

It would be nice if every person could have 10 minutes with the president, but in a nation as large as ours and complex as ours, it just isn't feasible. We must accept the other existing avenues as the best course of actions to let our voice be heard. We must use the pen and the ballot box as the ways of letting our leaders know just how we feel about the issues that mean the most to us.

What all too many are missing as they claim the president is scared to meet with Sheehan is the wonders being done by her mere presence. She is building a groundwell of support from across the political spectrum that may very well be the absolute turning point in the attitudes of this nation toward this conflict.

The eloquent genius of the Civil Rights Movement was not who they got to meet with, but rather what they brought attention to. For Martin Luther King Jr. to have a sit-down chat with George Wallace would have accomplished little, but King's advocation of non-violent resistance to the cruel and inhumane treatment of African-Americans in the American South did wonders for the advancement of equality. It put a human face on the suffering, and automatically put those who wanted to preserve the status quo on the wrong side.

And that's what Sheehan should be striving for her. To meet with the president would only cheapen her experience.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Atomic bombs and humanitarian war

Matthew Yglesias writes up one of the most interesting and honest pieces on the decision to use the atomic bombs to end World War II, and their context in today's world. Go check it out.

It's very hard to see what moral principle could condemn the means by which Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed that wouldn't also condemn earlier actions (Dresden, Tokyo) that had the same object -- wholesale devastation of civilian populations -- albeit accomplished by cruder methods. Ultimately, the question of whether we should condemn the strategic bombing writ large or not strikes me as an issue that's almost too momentous to resolve. Truman, FDR, and Churchill lived in what was, despite Grand Theft Auto, an almost unimaginably more brutal era than our own. A time when the "good" side in a war could be composed of a global empire and a apartheid quasi-democracy working in alliance with Joseph Stalin. And they really were the good side, because the enemy was just that bad. And not just almost absolutely malign, but (unlike, say, your latter-day sub-Saharan genocidaires) genuinely threatening and capable. So what to say about it all?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Say what?

Over at Xon's blog, we've been offering random movie quotes, and it's been quite entertaining. So, with no obvious meme out there in the past few weeks, I've taken it upon myself to offer up a handful of my favorite movie quotes and/or exchanges. And why don't Eponymous, Russ, Amber and Charles offer up their own.

And so it begins ...

A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinking Jack and Coke all morning. She can make you feel high full of the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gait of a beautiful girl. In her smile, in her soul, the way she makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be okay. The supermodels, Willy? That's all they are. Bottled promise. Scenes from a brand new day. Hope dancing in stiletto heels.
— Beautiful Girls

Stand up Scout, your father's passing.
— To Kill A Mockingbird

Ben Affleck: "What, you're the director now?"
Matt Damon: "Hey, shove it, 'Bounce' boy. Let's remember who talked who into doin this shit in the first place. I mean, talking me into 'Dogma' is one thing, but this is ..."
Ben Affleck: "Look, you know, I'm sorry I dragged you away from whatever gay serial killers who ride horses and like to play golf touchy feely picture you're gonna do this week."
Matt Damon: "I take it you haven't seen 'Forces of Nature'."
Ben Affleck: "You're like a child. What do I keep telling you? You gotta do the safe picture, then you do the art picture. Then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture 'cause your friend says you owe him. (both look at the camera) Then sometimes you gotta go back to the well."
Matt Damon: "Yeah, and sometimes you do 'Reindeer Games'."
Ben Affleck: "See, that's just mean."
— Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Sound clip.

Give 'em hell 54!
— Glory

Ron: "What cologne are you gonna go with? London Gentlemen, or-- wait. No, no, no. Hold on. Blackbeard's Delight."
Brian: "No, she gets a special cologne. It's called Sex Panther by Odeon. It's illegal in nine countries. Yep, it's made with bits of real panther. So you know it's good."
Ron: "It's quite pungent."
Brian: "Oh yeah."
Ron: "Ooh, it's a formidable scent. It stings the nostrils. In a good way."
Brian: "Yeah."
Ron: "Brian, I'm gonna be honest with you. That smells like pure gasoline."
— Anchorman

Sound clip.

Believe me, Delmar, a woman is the most fiendish instrument of torture ever devised to bedevil the days of man.
— O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Sound clip.

Let me see if I got this. The third story on the news tonight was that someone I didn't know thirteen years ago when I wasn't president participated in a demonstration where no laws were being broken in protest of something that so many people were against, it doesn't exist anymore. Just out of curiosity, what was the fourth story?
— The American President

Quick Roundup (Part Deux)

Hillary comes back from vacation next week, so I'll only two days of doing this, but here is your poor man's Hobbyhorse:

• If you ever wanted proof the Athens-Clarke County Commission was obsessed with the triviality of our community, Carl Jordan is more than happy to step to the plate in the name of 'potty parity.'

Commissioner Carl Jordan, who now frequents downtown establishments since the commission passed a ban on indoor smoking, noticed another problem at a restaurant recently: long lines for the ladies' restrooms.

Jordan is calling for a new county law that would make businesses build twice as many women's toilets as men's. The standard one-to-one ratio is an inconvenience for both genders, he said.

"If you're with a woman and she says 'I'll be back in 10 minutes,' well, I'll be back in one minute," Jordan said Thursday.

Listen, I'm a Democrat. I believe in the power of government to be an agent of change, justice, reform and general good in the world. But some things are just silly, and this is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard of in my life. There isn't always a government solution to a real-world problem, and bathroom waiting time is something the market should be allowed to sort out. I know this commission is all for the 'Nanny State' type of government, but the sheer fact this is even up for discussion is lunacy.

Just imagine the logistics of this thing - where in the world are some of these downtown businesses supposed to put these extra toilets? Lots of places downtown are pretty cramped as it is. The cost of renovations necessary to come into compliance with this ordinance would be staggering, and potentially force some businesses to close up shop. And those that didn't would be losing space they could use to seat customers or stock their shelves.

So let's be clear here about the agenda of this commission (particularly Jordan) .... pointing lights upward to limit 'light pollution (check), restricting signage in downtown Athens (check), enacting a cruising ban which commissioners admit doesn't do much (check), and now considering to mandate the doubling the number of women's toilets in all Athens businesses (check).

However ... seriously addressing affordable housing (nope), finding a way to reduce the near 30 percent poverty rate in Athens (nope), developing a plan for a historic designation for downtown in a timely fashion (nope ... three-plus years and counting ... though we do have, oh joy, another moratorium in sight), developing a better and more efficient to handle road renovations and constructions (nope), and actually developing a smart growth plan rather than talk about developing one (nope).

Is it 2006 yet? I'd like to have my government back please.

• Woo-hoo! Georgia football loves thugs! This Kearney kid shouldn't be anywhere near Sanford Stadium, and it sorely disappoints me Richt is letting even practice while the investigation goes on.

• This is true.

• Matt Chastain's letter to the idea refuting the 'Bush lied' argument is full of its own half-truths. He cites President Clinton in 1998 on the eve of his ordering of bombing of strategic sites in Iraq designed to disrupt Saddam's WMD search. And, as it turns out, Clinton's actions then - according to both the U.N. inspectors and the independent U.S. inspectors sent in by President Bush following Saddam's fall - ultimately were the straw that broke the WMDs back. Those precision air strikes destroyed what, if any, stockpiles Iraq had left and were a primary reason Saddam opted to not work to make more WMDs.

And Chastain's logic is still faulty. Simply because some Democrats said that Saddam had weapons means it's OK we went to war? The guilt-by-association argument is weak, at best. If anything, many Democrats and a handful of Republicans at least recognized that after the discovery of no WMDs (and no links of Saddam to al-Qaida) that perhaps this wasn't the best course of action ... that perhaps our intelligence was faulty.

I, for one, don't think Bush lied. Guy saw some crappy intelligence and decided to invade. I didn't agree with his prescription to remedy the problem, and I do think he had made up his mind to go to war very early in the process, but for Chastain to attempt to derail a 'Bush lied' argument by merely saying 'well, some guys on your (presumed) side agreed' is foolish. It implies the letter's author is automatically agreeing with everything the Democrats did in the run-up to war.

• Bob Novak gets suspended by CNN. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: My friend ATL's Finest helps a brotha out by reminding me that I forgot to mention the naked pitchfork wielding dude who assaulted an 81-year-old man. If I got home and there was a naked pitchfork wielding dude in my yard, I'd just let him be. Call the cops? Sure. But attempt to address the situation myself? Not likely.

Of course, nude farming could lead to some sort of awful rash methinks.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


This is an incredible breakthrough in cancer research. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around it, but it could be huge for cancer treatment.

The scientists placed a solution of carbon nanotubes -- synthetic rods that are only half the width of a DNA molecule -- under an infrared laser beam. The laser beam heated the carbon nanotube solution to about 158 degrees Fahrenheit within two minutes.

When nanotubes were placed inside cells and radiated by the laser beam, the cells were quickly destroyed by the heat. However, cells that did not contain any nanotubes were not affected by the laser beam.

Read the article. It's fascinating.

A quick roundup

As folks may or may not know, Hillary is on vacation this week, so your daily doses of the Hobbyhorse are severely lacking. Surely I cannot replace the beloved Hobbyhorse, but there are a couple of interesting tidbits in the news today ...

• Georgia linebacker Tavarus Kearney was cleared of academic dishonesty, but still faces charges of disorderly conduct for assaulting a T.A. His mom, V-103 personality Wanda Smith is overjoyed because her boy ain't no cheater. Whether or not he's a thug is still up for debate.

Listen, you attack a teacher ... you shouldn't play football. This is one of the few times I'm sorely disappointed in Mark Richt. He should be suspended until the hearing, and then a decision made from that point.

• The Athens-Clarke County Commission passed an interim mass grading ordinance earlier this week. The ordinance bans mass grading for single-family housing developments, but not for the development of apartments or shopping centers. Now, mass grading is not a good thing for a variety of reasons, but this is an unusual ordinance that is typical of what this commission does - pass some imperfect, uber-restrictive ordinance as an 'interim' fix until a clearer one can come into focus.

Of course, the development crowd - as usual - waited until the very end to actually get interested in this whole thing. And Sean Hogan's logic is quite faulty:

"You're never going to see any affordable housing," local infill developer Sean Hogan said. "There's no way. It's no longer feasible economically to do it the way it used to be done."

Because those houses you're currently building cost under $100,000? Last time I checked, the houses built in mass graded neighborhoods cost $180,000 and up more often than not. It's not a lack of housing which drives the cost up in Athens, but a finite amount of land in the smallest geographical county in the state. Affordable housing will come into existence when the community decides they want affordable housing, and when developers aren't concerned with making a quick buck, but with building a development which has mixed-use and mixed-income possibilities.

And in a careful political hedging of bets, mayoral candidates Tom Chasteen and States McCarter urge for postponement, but ultimately vote for the interim ordinance.

Does anyone work for ACTION anymore?

• This is from yesterday, but I really enjoyed Richard Palermo's letter bashing Dick Yarbrough. Yarbrough's a hack who's convinced people outside of the South are from a different planet. Look, I love the South and I can't think of a place I'd rather be, but disparaging other regions of the country is just assanine.

That and I don't care to read about Yarbrough's open letters to his grandkids. I don't think they do either.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I'm rich!

For Russ, as I promised ...

Here's a link to a page which features video from one of my favorite skits from Chapelle's Show.