Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Separate And Equal

Physically separated bike lanes are very cool and successful...

(via GGW)

60 ??!!

The big news of the day is that Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Ezra Klein (where I caught the news) has some thoughts about whether Specter's anti-EFCA stance forced the move.

Specter's full statement is available here, interestingly his website makes no mention of the switch. The WaPo has some standard commentary as well.

In the statement Specter promises not to become a party-line voter for the Democrats, so it will remain to be seen how much of an impact his party switch will actually have on the Hill.

Now if Norm Coleman would stop crying and drawing out the process in Minnesota, a Senator worth being excited about would finally be coming to DC and the Democratic Caucus would hold 60 seats. At least psychologically that will be pretty cool.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Explaining The Links

Apparently the reason that I link to Ezra Klein's blog is that I want to be a bloggy blogger.

This is more or less true but, I'd like to be known as a web curator who's installations are worthwhile and informative and keep you interested.

(I swear Jason Kottke has talked about his blog in terms of web curation but searches turned up empty.)

The World Of Acoustic Hip Hop Covers

I fell down a very deep rabbit hole this morning after Ezra Klein posted this video of a rather rotund heavily bearded and very Caucasian dude (Mat Wettle of Obadiah Parker) playing an acoustic cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya":

(A different video with better audio of the same exists, but is not embedable)

That led to this M.I.A cover...

Which subsequently led me to Marie Digby elegantly covering Rhianna's "Umbrella"...

A little bit of searching on You Tube turned up a couple of more nuggets. The Scared Dinosaurs doing Soulja Boy's "Crank That" (this one might be my favorite):

And One Republic sponsoring a You Tube acoustic cover contest for their song "Apolgize":

At this point I knew it was time to desperately extricate myself before I disappeared completely into the You Tubes. But not before looking for one of the earliest hip hop acoustic covers to go big time, Dynamite Hack taking on "Boys in the Hood". Surprisingly the only thing interesting I could find was a video made out of scenes from one of the more recent Grand Theft Auto games which appears to contain the track...

It's also worth noting that this is a popular genre, at least online, and that several of these videos have well over 1 million views (one of them has been watched more than 12.5 million times)

Fact Checking The Washington Post

Just one day after (still fairly) new Ombudsman Andrew Alexander talked up the Washington Posts renewed efforts to clear the looming backlog of corrections that he had earlier highlighted (and without noting, it should be added, the needed corrections for George Will) the Post ran a front page article that could stand a lot of correcting.

Instead of doing it myself though you should turn to Dean Baker, who has already more than adequately done the job:

Washington Post Runs Front Page Editorial Against Obama's Tax Increase on the Wealthy

There is no other way to describe an article with the subhead "Under Obama Plan, Some Entrepreneurs' Bills Would Soar." The piece centers on an extremely atypical small business owner who claims that her taxes would increase by more than 19 percent under President Obama's tax proposals...
Make sure to read the whole thing, particularly if you saw the WaPo piece this morning.

Yes, These Are Your Elected Officials

From Alex Koppelman in Salon's War Room comes this latest addition to the hit list...

On Friday, Barton was back at it, challenging former Vice President Al Gore, who appeared at a House subcommittee hearing to discuss legislation intended to help slow the progress of warming. And in the process, he showed that he's not exactly a whiz when it comes to understanding metaphors either.

Responding to comments and a question from the congressman, Gore said, "I believe that it's important to look at the sources of the science that we rely on. With all due respect, I believe that you have relied on people you have trusted, who have given you bad information. I don't blame the investors who trusted Bernie Madoff. But he gave them bad information and..."

It was at this point that Barton cut Gore off to interject, "I've never talked to Bernie Madoff."

Here's video. Wow, Barton is a real piece of work...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poor Shep Smith

Mired in the sea of morass and propaganda that is Fox News, Shep Smith occasionally just can't take it any longer and blurts out something that makes sense...

(don't crank the volume up if an f-bomb is going to be a problem)

(va PA)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Much has been made of the so-called torture memos before and since their release earlier this week.

A lot was already known about their contents and the authors of the memos. A few particularly striking things have emerged over the past few days though. Chief among them reporting from McClatchy based on the memos and the new Levin Report that has uncovered the insistence of the Bush administration that Al-Qaida suspects who were not indicating a link to Iraq during interregations be tortured until they did reveal this (non-existant) link. Wow.

Also coming to light is the fact that not everyone in the Bush administration was eagerly pushing for torture, but when concerns were raised they were brushed aside and deleted. Philip Zelikow, at the time a senior aide to Secretary of State Condelezza Rice, wrote this week in Foreign Policy of his attempts to question the legality and usefulness of encouraging the use of torture in interrogations...

At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.
Here he is being interviewed by Rachel Maddow:

(via PA)

Suffice it to say very bad things were being done, and in our name as Americans. We need to get to the bootom of this and we need to hold people responsible for their actions.

Yet Another Reason To Love Vermont

You can get REAL syrup on your pancakes at IHOP...

So when the land of piping-hot pancakes and fresh maple syrup became the 50th state to welcome an IHOP last month, the franchise owners sought permission to depart from the chain’s standard fare. The IHOP here is the only one of about 1,400 in the United States, Canada and Mexico to serve real maple syrup.

“You can’t open up a Vermont pancake shop without Vermont maple syrup,” said Sam Handy Jr., who is the restaurant’s general manager and whose family owns the franchise.
(via Kottke)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Read This Now - Dispatches From Afghanistan

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
Specialist Robert Soto ran for cover last week as his platoon was ambushed in Afghanistan. Across the river, two comrades crouched behind a rock.

I was already planning on recommending the excellent piece on the front page of today's NY Times from C.J. Chivers and on mentioning that the Korangal Valley is a particularly bad spot that Tom Ricks has been referencing of late.

Now Ricks has highly recommended not only today's piece about being caught in an ambush and Friday's piece on staging an earlier ambush but anything that Chivers has to say about Afghanistan.

So, needless to say, hurry off and read Chivers' reporting. The photos that Tyler Hicks supplied are incredible as well.

While you're at it check out Ricks' call for closing the service academies from this Sunday's Washington Post. It's an interesting and informative take...

Badass Biking

No two ways about it that's what we have here in a crazy video just released by UK based Inspired Bicycles featuring rider Danny MacAskill in Edinburgh.

I've seen a couple of demos at bike expos before but nothing quite like this. There's probably plenty of other folks out there riding like this and plety of videos if you go looking though.

Interesting aside, the video is available in HQ on YouTube and not available in HD on Vimeo. A bit odd since this seems to be right up Vimeo's alley. It seems (this may be way too much extrapolation however) that YouTube's move to offer higher quality (and HD) uploading is paying off.

(via GL)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Two trivial but important things that I'm worried about missing if print newspapers do disappear completely are the crossword (NYT please) and the comics, particularly on Sunday. For the most part I turn to the funnies for a laugh and a little escape from the world that sometimes seems to be crashing down around us these days.

Sometimes though the comics take on today's issues and do so brilliantly. Today Rat took a swing at explaining the sub-prime loan crisis and its repercussions...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Contemplation Of Twitter

I don't twitter, and I'm not planning on it (although you never know what'll happen) but it certainly is a phenomenon these days and one that seems to be at least pushing ubiquity in the online political world.

Right off the bat the most useful twitter site I've seen so far is the Muck Rack, an aggregation of all the journalists currently on twitter (primarily from major news outlets), the page has a nice break down by outlet as well and if you know someone who they're missing, they'll add them. You can use the page like a big rss reader which seems quite useful for monitoring the press and keeping an eye on breaking news these days.

Since we're starting with what I like about twitter the single coolest application of the service that I've heard about is a London group that has outfitted bakeries so that they can effortlessly send out twitter alerts when fresh baked goods are coming out of the oven.

The coolest after the fact twitter usage is this awesome interactive map of twitter topics during the superbowl.

On the political front here are a couple of interesting takes on the current twitter rage (I'm sure there are more out there, let me know if I missed something really good)...

Ezra Klein on why Congress twitters but doesn't blog

e.politics tackles the metaphysics of twitter and looks into its use, tool or strategy?

Lets take a video interlude and let current explain twitter (warning extreme satire alert):

(via EK)

But seriously even Roland Hedley has jumped, perhaps too forcefully, on the bandwagon.

Which does beg the question as too the difficulty in knowing for sure exactly who it is you're following on twitter. The Real Shaq is indeed the real Shaq.

Ezra Klein and Farhad Manjoo have both offered takes on whether you need to join twitter or risk being left behind and looked at the public / private issues that surround all of our online social interaction these days.

In a sign that twitter is indeed huge, one of its founders was on Oprah this week. This probably means that twitter will only get bigger.

As such Slate is on the lookout for the next big thing...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who Doesn't Love Jenga?

And who hasn't spent hours shooting rubber bands at things? Ok, maybe not recently but at some earlier point in your life you did. Now imagine combing these two excellent pursuits and then taking them to 11...

via (GL)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are?

On the White House lawn of course...

(via WHW)

and who isn't looking forward to this...

Not Your Average Celebrity

Then again, I suppose that being a celebrity negates being average on principle. Either way it appears to be young female celebrity day here and we'll follow up the satire from the previous post with an instruction to go read Scarlett Johansson's piece at HuffPo on diet and exercise and how it worries / scares / frustrates her that the tabloid media continues to push the physical image of celebrities upon us and often urges crash dieting.

It's a thoughtful, righteously indignant screed and you should check it out...

Since dedicating myself to getting into "superhero shape," several articles regarding my weight have been brought to my attention. Claims have been made that I've been on a strict workout routine regulated by co-stars, whipped into shape by trainers I've never met, eating sprouted grains I can't pronounce and ultimately losing 14 pounds off my 5'3" frame. Losing 14 pounds out of necessity in order to live a healthier life is a huge victory. I'm a petite person to begin with, so the idea of my losing this amount of weight is utter lunacy. If I were to lose 14 pounds, I'd have to part with both arms. And a foot. I'm frustrated with the irresponsibility of tabloid media who sell the public ideas about what we should look like and how we should get there.
(via EK)

Lindsay Lohan Is Alone

At least according to the tabloid rumors and her new eHarmony ad...

(via bloggasm)

The Right Wing Loves Tea-Bagging

I was going to leave this one all alone, it just didn't seem worthy of a response or comment, and then a friend sent me the Countdown's take...

Seems others at MSNBC have been enjoying this meme, here's Rachel Maddow's take...

Read This Now - Straightening Out The Income Tax

Given that it is once again tax season much has been of late, as usual, of our tax code and it's inadequacies perceived and real alike.

Former Bush flack Ari Fleischer took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal with the hackneyed argument that the rich bear too much of our tax burden and that it isn't fair.

Ezra Klein has a nice succinct wrap up on this one (follow the link for a graph)...

When you look at percentage of total tax liabilities, the rich do in fact bear a heavier burden. But it's because they have so much more money. They are not bearing a heavier burden as a percentage of their incomes. They're bearing it in relation to everyone else's incomes. Indeed, it's only because the sheer levels of income inequality in this country are frankly unintuitive that Fleischer can even write this sort of dreck. People hear that the top 20 percent pay almost 70 percent of the country's income taxes and nod their head. That's unfair! But it mainly seems unfair because people don't know the top 20 percent accounts for almost 60 percent of the national income.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who Has Sympathy For Wall Street Crooks?

These guys do, or at least they'll fake some if you pay them to help you learn how to survive prison.

No Joke, the first tag line you'll see is: Going From The Exchange Floor To The Prison Yard?

It sure looks like the real deal, they even offer testimonials...

(via TPM)

Quip Of The Day

Couldn't resist this one from Entertainment Weekly on Sarah Palin's erstwhile soon to be son in law...

Levi Johnston tells Tyra he and Bristol Palin practiced safe sex ''every time...most of the time'' Interestingly, that's the same answer John McCain gave when asked if he vetted his VP picks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Luck With That

Apparently not everyone is psyched about the Obama's new organic garden on the south lawn. Last month big agri-business chemical firm lobbyists wrote to Michelle Obama to voice their displeasure in the lack of chemical use in the garden.

Yeah, good luck with that.

(via TP)


Credo Action has a petition going in support of the organic White House garden.

Holy Royal Rumble

The Catholics and Presbyterians are at each others' (metaphorical) throats in the Denver ex-urbs.

The back and forth on the church message boards across the street from each other is ridiculously awesome, and it mostly concerns whether dogs can go to heaven...

(via BD)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Progress Continues, Rights Returned

It's been a busy week or two on the marriage rights front, last week the Iowa Supreme Court ok'd gay marriage and this week the Vermont Legislature overrode the Governor's veto and legislated equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

In the Nation's Capital a preliminary vote on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states passed unanimously and the possibility of bringing same sex marriage rights legislation up this year has again been a hot topic in the District. Not to be outdone, New York Governor David Paterson announced that he would send a gay marriage bill to the State Legislature this year.

Over at Five Thirty Eight Nate Silver did his number crunching thing and ran out a model showing when the various states would vote to overturn a gay marriage ban (a bit of a double negative that it seems).

Dictionaries, including The American Heritage, Black's Law, Webster's, and the OED, have also gotten in on the act with the definition of marriage including same sex couples in their latest editions. Which may actually have legal implications since waving the dictionary around in court has been a favored tactic of same sex marriage opponents.

At least we're moving in the right direction again.

Roger Ebert Gives Bill O'Reilly Two Thumbs Down

Turns out Roger Ebert does more than just review movies. He recently took to his blog in response to Bill O'Reilly putting Ebert's paper, The Chicago Sun-Times, in his hall of shame and calling for an advertising boycott.

Apparently O'Reilly is upset because the Sun Times dropped his syndicated column, which according to Ebert elicited fewer complaints than the paper's decision to drop the comic strip Nancy.

Ebert finishes with a flourish...

That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn't choose a mad dog. My recommendation: The admirable Charles Krauthammer.

Bill, I am concerned that you have been losing touch with reality recently. Did you really say you are more powerful than any politician?

That reminds me of the famous story about Squeaky the Chicago Mouse. It seems that Squeaky was floating on his back along the Chicago River one day. Approaching the Michigan Avenue lift bridge, he called out: Raise the bridge! I have an erection!
(via TPM)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Obama In Iraq

President Obama made an unannounced (it might have been a surprise to us but it isn't exactly as though he said hey why don't we just put Air Force One down for a couple of hours in Baghdad on the way home) visit to Iraq after leaving Turkey.

MSNBC has the early video of Obama greeting soldiers...

A little different then the reaction to Bush bringing them a fake turkey, eh?

(via JW)

Monday, April 6, 2009


While 8.5% unemployment sounds plenty bad enough that number fails to tell the whole story as it only accounts for people currently looking for work and unable to find employment.

According to a recent article from Bloomberg the more appropriate number is 15.6% which also counts people who have given up looking for work and those who have found part-time employment but are still seeking full-time positions.

The newest unemployment numbers are frightening no matter how you parse them, and they are without a doubt now officially the worst ever seen post WWII.

Here is the latest side by side comparison from Justin Fox:
(graph via EK, article via TP)

It's Music...

I think. At the very least it's very creative. Kutiman, nee Ophir Kutiel, a twenty-something Israeli semi-musician has a web album of sorts out known as the Thru-You project. Basically he's mixed together lots of YouTube samples to create actual songs or tracks, depending on how you want to calssify them. It's a good listen and interesting viewing as well.

Thru-You project page.

Kutiman interview with Sasha Frere-Jones.

(via SFJ)

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Last Thing We Need

The last thing we need to do after eight years of ill-advised Bush Administration fiscal policies is throw the rich another tax cut. Yet here we are with a couple of Senators (Lincoln and Kyl, Republicans both) proposing that we reduce the estate tax that only effects the richest of the rich as is.

Both the Washington Post...

At a time of soaring deficits and growing needs, the Senate is weighing whether the wealthiest of wealthy Americans should get a tax break worth some $250 billion over 10 years. The Senate today could take up an amendment to the budget resolution proposed by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that would shield the first $10 million of estates from taxation and lower to 35 percent the tax on amounts beyond that. This would have been outrageous even before the current economic and fiscal mess. Now it is outrageous and nonsensical.
And New York Times...
With all the serious work before Congress, it is a colossal waste of time to have to rebut the false claims and warped premises of ardent estate-tax cutters. Ms. Lincoln’s and Mr. Kyl’s colleagues in the Senate should make short work of it and move on to urgent matters.
Editorialized against the idea quite scathingly earlier this week.

The WaPo mentioned it but Ezra Klein rammed home the hypocrisy that is brewing here as concerns charitable giving...

One other point on the effort to radically defang the estate tax. March saw a sort of strange argument over an Obama administration proposal to fund universal health care by lowering the tax exemption the rich could seek on itemized deductions from 35 percent to 28 percent. Huge furor. Max Baucus and Charlie Rangel quickly disavowed the plan. This, they said, just wasn't the time to harm charitable giving. Even the small slice of charitable giving that's really about the tax break.

Repealing the estate tax would also harm charitable giving -- and in the same way. It would make it less advantageous as a matter of taxation. In fact, it would do it rather more violence than anything the Obama administration was considering...

...That's a 10 percent change in the rate, which eagle-eyed readers will recognize as a larger change than the seven percent envisioned by Obama. A Congress which rejected a seven percent change in the tax treatment of charitable deductions so poor people could see the doctor would have to be out of its mind to entertain a 10 percent disincentive so rich people could keep more of their money.
Yes, these are your Republican Senators.

Progress In Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning ruled unanimously in everyone's right to be married.

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.
I feel quite strongly about this issue and I'll keep it as simple as possible: You either believe in the founding principle of the United States of America that all men (and women) are created equal and therefore can marry however they choose or you don't. So if you don't believe in civil marriage as a civil right then you don't believe in America either.

This seems an appropriate moment to finally embed this video...

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Presenting The BAAAA-Studs

You've probably seen at least a bit of a working dog competition somewhere on tv (between Nat. Geo., Animal Planet, Discovery etc how could you not have) but none of those dogs or handlers have anything on these guys.

This has to be about the most awesome thing I've ever seen, seriously.

(via kottke)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Don't Waste Water

Seriously don't do it, those people are cheering the dude who stops the running toilet not the toilet. Plus the sound from a running toilet will drive you nuts (and or make you have to pee)...

(via facebook)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Read This Now - Be Glad You Don't Live In South Carolina

Several Republican Governors have made noises about turning down Federal Stimulus funds, and for a while there was quite a bit of discussion over how to get past the ideologues who clearly do not have their constituents best interests at heart.

By and large we've moved on to other news stories, except for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who is still tromping around proclaiming that he won't take the Federal money to fix the schools in SC, schools in a state that would be embarrassing in most developing countries let alone America.

Joan Walsh cuts right to the chase with a scathing take down at Salon. Referencing Ty'sheoma Bethea, Obama's guest at the not quite State of the Union, Walsh lays into Sanford:

Sanford cares about one set of kids, and it's clear whose they are. The GOP's Southern Strategy is alive and well, even if it's only working in a handful of states. Too bad Ty'sheoma is unfortunate enough to live in one of them.

Clearly, the irresponsible teen should have had the sense to be born somewhere else, and preferably in a different color skin. Next time she'll know better.

I Think SkyNet Is Here...

Either that or we're a step closer to the Matrix.

Google's at it again this year and once again it's a doozy. They've released the first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity in to the wild as it were.

About, Homepage, Tech Specs

"All your personal world wide Website belong to CADIE" Yes, yes they probably do.

Enjoy, although I'm still waiting to hear about when I get to go to Mars.


I just noticed that CADIE will also respond to all of your emails for you if you turn on gmail autopilot today, very nice.