Blog Home: Home


Simplified cuisine for a change

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey - After another year of small-plates dining and cutting edge ingredients in Seattle, it's good to get back for a few days of the simple, homespun fare of South Jersey Italian restaurants.

No pomegranate aioli here. The menus feature simply prepared seafood and basic red sauces - the peasant cuisine of southern Italy. Most places have at least one dish that is known as "Joe's Favorite" or similar.


Hopefully not the first Seattle beer appearance in NYC

NEW YORK, New York - I smuggled some beers from Seattle's Baron Brewing to the East Coast to give away as gifts.

I better give them as gifts, because I suspect it'd be illegal to drink them in Mike Bloomberg's NYC - there's no calorie count on the label. Mayor Mike would probably make these beers illegal because there's no warning about the dangers of smoking on them.


I'm developing a Howard Hughes eccentricity

NEW YORK, New York - Howard Hughes had many quirks and eccentricities (I should know), and I may to some extent be picking up a quirk similar to one of his.

In 1973 Hughes, who had lived almost completely insulated from the outside world since the late 1950s, decided to personally test-fly some airplanes that he was considering for purchase. When he got in the cockpit, the first thing he did was remove his shirt and drop his pants. Why? He simply had fallen out of the habit of wearing clothes. In fact, his aides had to go to the store to buy the billionaire the pants and slacks that he shed in the cockpit - Hughes literally did not own any clothes besides a couple bathrobes.

Hughes made several flights over the next two months and seemed to be coming out of his long isolation, but unfortunately the Mormon Mafia broke his hip he fell and broke his hip in the bathroom and he never flew an airplane (or even walked) for the rest of his life.

How do I figure into this? My telecommuting job is also getting me out of the habit of wearing clothes. I work most of the day in some boxer briefs and a t-shirt or undershirt, throwing on some sweatpants or jogging pants if I go out for espresso or groceries or even to a restaurant. I can easily go a week or two without putting on real pants. When I do show up at the office (like this week), I have to wear jeans and sneakers and by the end of each day my legs are sore and/or puffy and my feet hurt.

It may be time to upgrade to total seclusion.


Sirius XM having ABBA novena for the holidays

SEATTLE, Washington - If you're getting someone a Sirius XM radio for the holidays, you may want to give it to them RIGHT NOW, because they're reprising their ABBA channel for a nine-day run concluding December 20.

Who doesn't think of ABBA at holiday time? God Helg!


Zombie-company welfare machines

SEATTLE, Washington - Many people seem to be forgetting (or never got around to learning, or refuse to accept) the purpose of a business - it is to provide goods or services to consumers or other businesses. The fact that many businesses employ people is merely incidental - it is not the reason for the existence of any business.

But tell that to the bailout cheerleaders. It's not helping matters that everyone's personal savior was just elected President. One group of eagerly expectant beneficiaries of the Messianic Powers is the employees of Republic Windows and Doors, an Ohio manufacturer that's been in the news because the workers occupied the plant after the company ceased operations. The workers want accumulated pay and benefits that they say they've been stiffed on.

RW&D is selling the line that they closed quickly because Bank of America pulled their line of credit, making a Big Bad Bank the bogeyman:

The BofA said that the cancellation was routine business practice, caused by Republic's cash flow problem in the wake of declining sales in the nation's housing construction downturn.

"When a company faces such a dire situation, its lender is not empowered to direct the company's management how to manage its affairs and what obligations should be paid," declared the North Carolina-based BofA in a statement. "Such decisions belong to the management and owners of the company."

The BofA's antiseptic statement reflected the kind of cold-blooded market fundamentalism that has led a growing number of Americans to demand more government regulation of big business.
Amazing. By most accounts we have a glut of housing in this country right now (brought on by one bad government policy after another, a topic for another time). There damn fucking well better be housing-related companies like RW&D scaling back or going out of business. BofA is doing the right thing, noting this trend and not supplying credit to ready-to-fail companies like RW&D.

But to the author of the story above, not throwing credit at failing companies is "cold-blooded market fundamentalism".

So, assuming BofA kept this failing company afloat even though there's not enough demand for their product - who would buy the product? Why, Barack Obama himself, more or less:
"The workers want Bank of America to keep the plant open and the workers employed," said UE President Carl Rosen. "There is always a demand for windows and doors. But with Barack Obama's stimulus proposal, there will be even greater demand for the products made by Republic's workers. It doesn't make sense to close this plant when the need is so obvious."
Amazing. The government should just keep artificially stimulating housing demand, because dammit, we have some people here making windows. We'd be better off paying these people to dig useless holes in the ground, as that would at least free up the raw materials of windows and doors to be put to better use.

Alternatively, we should just order every company in America to make windows and doors - after all, according to Mr Rosen there is "always a demand for windows and doors."

At least Barney Frank is shameless enough to openly and explicitly admit that companies should be turned into taxpayer-funded zombie-company welfare dispensers even if they don't provide a competitive product. As far as I can recall, Frank is the only politician I've ever praised by name (for his work on marijuana and online gambling), but even then I noted that I'd find his overall record and worldview distasteful if I looked into it. Frank appeared on 60 Minutes and cheerily discussed his zombie-company theories:
"No. We’re not propping up companies. That’s your mistake," [Frank] tells Stahl, who had asked him about taxpayer money going to prop up companies that had made bad decisions. "We’re propping up individuals. The world doesn't consist of companies. The world is people. The country is people."

When Stahl points out that Frank is then talking about welfare, he responds, "Yeah, I’m for welfare. You’re not? Are you for letting people starve?"

Some argued that bankruptcy was the way for Detroit to work out its troubles and reformulate their businesses. Frank is against that as well because it also hurts the individual. "There's only one thing you can do in bankruptcy: break your word, break your deals," says Frank. "It allows you to say to the small businesses who have been catering lunches for you...the workers, 'Sorry, we’re not paying you,'" he tells Stahl.
And lest someone think that I'm snugly insulated from the problems of the auto companies and thus can heartlessly advocate bankruptcy for the Big 3: I happen to work at a company that is very sensitive to the fortunes of the auto industry, a company that many analysts think will go bankrupt if the auto industry continues to struggle. I'm still 100% against any bailout. The auto industry does not exist to provide a job for me.

(links from Drudge Report and Reason Hit & Run)

Being dead, living in Brooklyn - what's the difference?

SEATTLE, Washington - A correction that ran in Newsday:

In an article published yesterday about autism, some editions reported incorrectly that Vito "Billy" Albanese Jr. died at an out-of-state residential facility. Albanese is living in Brooklyn with his father.

found at Regret the Error


Atlantic City political circus getting national attention

SEATTLE, Washington - The most recent Atlantic City corruption sentences are so noteworthy, they got front-page treatment on the Drudge Report and a mention on KJR's Groz with Gas earlier this week.

A hooker and a Baptist minister having sex in a seedy motel room, where a camera was hidden in a clock radio. A videotape delivered to a radio talk show host by someone wearing oversized glasses, a fake beard and surgical gloves.

Even by the flamboyant corruption standards set by Atlantic City's government over the decades, this was one for the books.

Former City Council President Craig Callaway was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for his role in setting up council rival Eugene Robinson with a prostitute in a motel room and secretly videotaping the encounter.
Some of the details of Callaway's nefarious plot:
In 2006, [Callaway] rented two rooms at the Bayview Motel, a nondescript lodging outside Atlantic City.

According to an FBI agent's court testimony in June, co-defendant Floyd Tally placed a camera hidden in a clock radio inside one of the rooms. A video recorder was set up in the adjacent room.

The agent said Callaway and his brothers, Ronald and David, paid a prostitute between $150 and $200 to lure Robinson to the motel and perform a sex act on him.


Prosecutors say Callaway and the others confronted Robinson with the tape and told him it would be released to the media if he didn't resign.
The article mentioned some of the spectacular recent history of Atlantic City politicians:
As recently as 2006, one third of the nine council members were either in prison or on their way. One incumbent councilman is awaiting trial next year for his role in the Callaway sex video case.

In 1989 and 1990, four council members and the mayor were indicted in a bribery case. Only one councilman and the mayor, James Usry, were convicted.
The mayor before Usry, Michael Matthews, was a good childhood friend of my father before growing up, becoming mayor, and being sent to the federal hoosegow for 15 years after pleading guilty to extortion.

Craig Callaway also made headlines in 2002 when, at a city Democratic Committee meeting, his brother Jihad (yes, Jihad Callaway) pulled a knife on a supporter of one of Mr Callaway's opponents.


Minnesota Vikings coach meatgazing in the locker room

SEATTLE, Washington - Ah, the sanctity of the locker room - cameras aren't supposed to be there to capture a coach checking out his players' cranks. Fox's post-game show, after nearly 15 years, finally became interesting as they *accidentally* broadcast some frontal nudity of tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. You would think that coach Brad Childress (the bald guy) has been in enough locker rooms that he would not be caught blatantly meatgazing like this.

The guy that looks like Dennis Farina is Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.

You can click through to Deadspin for uncensored pics and analysis.

UPDATE: Dan Patrick interviewed Shiancoe about the "exposure". There's an audio link on that page. Shiancoe, of course, has a relaxed attitude about the whole incident.


Jim Rome Audio Soundbites

SEATTLE, Washington - Assorted mp3 files (don't get scared clicking through to, it's fine)

Donald Trump destroys Rosie O'Donnell

Bill Parcells "Jap Plays"

Larry Robinson prima donnas "whining little babies"

Larry Brown's crank "right in my face"

Tony Gwynn discussing Ricky Henderson's cleats

Tom Tolbert's "Dr Boudreau" story (or is it Boudreaux?)

Tonya Harding 911 Call

Jim in Fall River on Andy Pettitte - the "eyes of a goat"

Vinnie Mac

Steve Elkington on the Whizzinator - the "rubber donger"

Steve Elkington on Tommy Smothers

Steve Elkington on Colin Montgomerie

Steve Elkington shoots deer through door

Steve Elkington's John Daly story

Steve Elkington's Vegas story - "we see cat"


Prost! West Seattle

SEATTLE, Washington - No need to go to shit neighborhoods like the Herpes Triangle to get some German bierhaus satisfaction. Seattle's teutonic overlords have opened Prost! on California Ave.

I wandered on in and got myself an Erdinger Dunkel Weisse and a bockwurst and it was just like I was transported to Germany. Or at least, transported to Phinney Ridge, where I wanted to buy a house a few years back but I couldn't afford any of them.


Got a basketball jones, Seattle?

SEATTLE, Washington - Mike Gastineau has started a new "Basketball Jones" segment on his show on 950 KJR that he begins by playing the eponymous Cheech & Chong song from the 1970s.

Having a basketball jones, Seattle? I know I'm not.

And here's the pioneering "Basketball Jones" cartoon, featuring way-way-way over the top racial stereotypes, a guy flying to the basket with no pants on, and brief appearances from the Beatles and Richard Nixon:

UPDATE: When watching it, a guy appears at the 2:03 mark and I said to myself, "hey that looks like Chris Schenkel", who was a broadcaster that I only remember from bowling broadcasts in the early 1990s. Turns out, it is him and the singer says his name but it is nearly indecipherable. I wonder if on some unconscious level I heard Schenkel's garbled name or if I really did just recognize him on looks.


Validation of an old political joke of mine

SEATTLE, Washington - At various times over the last decade or so, I've joked that for the portion of the population that consistently votes with one of the two major parties, the smartest 25% and the dumbest 25% vote Democrat, and the 50% in the middle vote Republican.

We have a small and highly flawed validation of this distribution at the Secular Right blog. The author took scores from a test and mapped the respondents into four categories (Secular Right, Secular Left, Religious Right, Religious Left). As it happened, the Secular Left came out the smartest and the Religious Left came out the dumbest.

It's a simple exercise and there are a gazillion flaws, including its use of a ten-question vocabulary test as a measure of IQ. Of course, it also assumes a simple bipolar ideological spectrum that most libertarians (and other people actually thinking for themselves) would dismiss as inadequate, but our whole national political dialogue makes this error.

Still, it was mildly interesting that the results matched my lighthearted observation.

Only in the South could someone get their name like this

SEATTLE, Washington - In honor of the University of Washington's ongoing search for a new football coach, I note that Clemson University has named interim coach Dabo Swinney as their full-time coach going forward. Clemson is the kind of place where getting your first name like this is an advantage:

Interim coach Dabo Swinney will become Clemson's permanent coach, according to a school official close to the football program.
William Christopher Swinney was born in Birmingham, Ala., and got his nickname because an older brother had trouble pronouncing "that boy."


Some notes on new Snoqualmie Casino

SEATTLE, Washington - I saw a few months ago when driving to golf at Mount Si that they were enhancing the little traffic intersection that leads to the casino. It's done - and it's a roundabout. A little traffic circle. Is this Washington in 2008 or New Jersey in 1935? I can't believe a new traffic circle has entered the world.

Only in the hills: I parked in the above-ground garage, drove up a few levels, parked, and took the elevator down. Mistake: The casino is on the top floor of the above-ground garage. The whole place seems to be a single big room with all the restaurants and shops on the perimeter i.e. there's no hallways or side areas.

I was there the day after Thanksgiving and it was not as busy as I was expecting. (The day after X-giving is a brutally busy day in Atlantic City casinos.) There were quite a few dead spread blackjack games and only two craps tables open.

I started with roulette. They made me buy nickels on a $10 game, which is odd. But good - I hit on the first two spins. On the third spin, the amateur dealer screwed up and actually hit me with the ball. Eventually we got the ball back on the wheel and I missed the third spin so I colored up with $400 profit and walked away before I got injured.

I wasn't hungry (day after X-giving) but for the sake of journalism I tried the (barely adequate for its price) $14.95 lunch buffet.

A spot finally opened on a craps table after lunch. I was looking for a weak craps dealer that I could confuse and manipulate but they all seemed competent enough for moderate action. I wanted to shoot but the shooter before me got hot and I decided to color out with $155 profit at craps without even touching the dice. There was a classic grumpy Don't bettor standing right next to the dealer (where they always stand) getting killed - the kind of bitterman who, in defiance of all mathematics, is betting the Don't Come and if a 6 or 8 rolls he tells the dealer to "just leave it."

The big new-casino goof of the night was this: When I cashed out my $855 in chips, the cashier paid me and said "congratulations". Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong! I've gambled in the best casinos in this country and many of the dumps, and I've never been "congratulated" by the cashier. She has no way of knowing if I'm up $300 or down $5000 or whatever. That needs to stop. I didn't make a scene but sooner or later some crusty guy who's down a lot of money will blow up upon hearing that.

Overall the place seems fine - it's somewhat smaller than the Muckleshoot or Tulalip but I think its proximity to Mount Si golf will have me rolling the bones. Its poker room only has ten tables, you're better off at the Muckleshoot for poker.

P.S. their website (not linked here) is overwrought, you apparently scroll it by moving your mouse above or below the browser window and the music sounds like casino promotional tunes from fifteen years ago.


Football lock of the week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 7-5

I need some Friday action:
This week's pick: Boise St. (-21) vs. Fresno St.

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: Wow, 61-10 Boise. Being a sensitive and compassionate person, I could barely watch the second half.

My season is done! That makes me 8-5 (61.5%) this year and 27-13-1 (67.5%) over 3 years.


10 years ago this weekend - my first dose of Seattle misery

SEATTLE, Washington - In November 1998 I was living in Boise and decided to come to Seattle for the first time, to visit a friend in Redmond. I started the seven-hour drive early Thanksgiving morning, my first journey into the Pacific time zone.

Our first order of business was to find a place to eat Thanksgiving dinner. He was a vegetarian, not much more familiar with the area than I was, and the young internet of 1998 was not very helpful. We ended up at the Black Angus on 156th in Bellevue, where he ate a potato and I had a full meal. (Nowadays, I know that the way to find a bunch of open restaurants on Thanksgiving is to head to the International District).

The next day I started exploring Seattle. If you've been around you probably remember that day - a bus plunged off the Aurora Bridge after the driver was assaulted and shot. I drove across the bridge for the first time less than an hour before the incident.

My first-ever dinner in Seattle proper was at Cactus in Madison Park. I remember clawing around on the young internet for a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, and getting the primitive old 1998 internet maps to find the place.

Anyway, by early 2000 I decided Seattle would be a better place to live than Boise, and here I am.


Ribs from OK Corral West Seattle

SEATTLE, Washington - Alright I already snapped a picture of the catfish but all anyone cares about is the BBQ, so here are the ribs. I really ought to clean up the styrofoam a bit before snapping these.

The ribs have a very smoke-dominant flavor, so that has to be how you roll for you to like 'em. I roll like that, not all people roll like that. It's a decent amount of food for $13 - four big meaty ribs and the other stuff.

Otis seems to like the ribs - he was wolfing one down like it was the first rib he had tasted in his life, exclaiming "man, this is good!"

Again there's a big parking lot right behind this building - I can walk there but it might seem a daunting affair for many drivers without knowing there's parking.


A great idea from Obama? Oh... wait... nope

SEATTLE, Washington - It looked for a minute like Barack Obama had stopped preening for the cameras and cooking up ill-conceived "jobs" and "stimulus" plans long enough to have a genuinely great idea - getting rid of Daylight Saving Time. So read the headline on a BoingBoing post - "Obama might get rid of daylight saving time".

The BoingBoing story links to this Green Daily story, headlined "Obama Looks to Axe Daylight Time -- NYT Explains Why".

Problem is, when you read the New York Times op-ed, it doesn't say that Obama proposed or endorsed anything. It simply says that getting rid of DST might save energy, and Obama has endorsed reduced energy/resource consumption.

There's so many things to note here. One, it's been evident for years now that DST is not saving energy, and shifting DST might have made things worse. Count on the New York Times to get to this news years after everyone else.

Second, seeing people automatically and uncritically attributing this to the Man from Change is not surprising.

Third, note the great Green Daily double-whammy headline that invokes both Obama and the New York Times - the two great pillars of our civilization. I can imagine the twinkle in the eye of the typical Green Daily reader as they read that headline. Hey, Green Daily, the sun rose today - perhaps you can run a headline on how the New York Times reported that the sun rose, and how Barack Obama was in favor of the sun rising.


Football lock of the week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 7-4

This week's pick: Stanford (+8.5) @ Cal

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE oops - Cal wins 37-16. Record: 7-5


OK Corral BBQ in West Seattle

SEATTLE, Washington - I stopped by the new OK Corral location on Fauntleroy about 2pm this afternoon, chatted up Otis a bit and got the fried catfish dinner. Good crispy catfish.

I think that I (like others) am a bit nervous about the prospects for Otis's success in this location (odd Fauntleroy spot, not West Seattle per se). There's a big parking lot in back.

Why is it that business always start somewhere else and then eventually come to West Seattle? First it was Ballard (Matator, Cupcake Royale) and Queen Anne (Uptown Espresso) and now even humble Greenwood is exporting their charms here. Has West Seattle ever started any citywide phenomenon? Burglaries and STDs don't count.

UPDATE: I also had the ribs.


Fast food retro chic continues unabated

SEATTLE, Washington - First the Burger King Italian Chicken sandwich crept back into my life, and now McDonald's has brought the McRib back for another run! Chomp!

What next? Maybe Wendy's will roll out the Superbar again? I'm feeling the need to find and eat at a Roy Rogers next time I'm back east.


OH NO - karaoke in West Seattle

SEATTLE, Washington - Talarico's is offering karaoke. I don't know how long this has been here, but I know how long I hope it lasts - not long. Maybe if we all just ignore the karaoke, the karaoke will go away.


Disgraceful General Motors propaganda video

SEATTLE, Washington - General Motors has released a video documenting why we should be writing our lawmakers and demanding that they fork over a $25 billion bailout (or as the video calls it, a "loan") to the auto industry.

There's a lot of hot air here, but the main bone in my throat is that most of the video assumes a complete "collapse" of the domestic auto industry - that it completely ceases operations. They did everything but show a picture of auto workers at a plant and then ghost out the workers, leaving an empty factory.

Have they never heard of bankruptcy? Do they think we've never heard of bankruptcy? You declare bankruptcy, which shields you from creditors for a time while you do what you have to do - sell yourself off for parts, restructure your debt, resize, whatever. Often, businesses keep operating during bankruptcy, and this would certainly happen in the case of the big automakers.

But that is insufficiently apocalyptic.

One of the first and most powerful criticisms during the original "bailout" debates for the financial sector was that it would cause many other industries to show up in Washington, hat in hand. Now everyone from Ford Motor Company to the mayor of Phoenix is showing up for some cash.

Toiletries with an attitude

SEATTLE, Washington - All the toiletries at my hotel in New York last week used the imperative form, which sometimes led to contradictory instructions:


Football Lock of the Week

NEW YORK, New York -

Record: 6-4

This week's pick: Oregon St. (-3.5) vs. Cal

All Picks for This Season

UPDATEOSU wins, 34-21. Record: 7-4


Hayden Planetarium at night

NEW YORK CITY, New York - just across from my hotel this week


A bit of carnage with "synergized" Sirius XM channel selection

NEW YORK CITY, New York - I was wondering why I couldn't log into my streaming Sirius account yesterday afternoon - SIRI/XM was in the middle of their big channel synergization.

As far as the music channels:

In many cases, channels will now be simulcast on both satellite systems. This was a no-brainer in the case of many channels (like decade-specific channels) where SIRI/XM seems to have taken the best of the best as far as DJs, etc.

My first fear was that Outlaw Country (SIRI 63) would be lost in the merger, but it's still there. Willie Nelson's channel has come over from XM and both of these channels are now on both systems.

Area 38 is now just called Area (presumably it's not channel 38 on XM).

One of the best grabs for SIRI is the '40s on 4 channel. Sirius used to have a channel Swing Street that played a lot of old big band stuff that I used to listen to a bit; this channel got canceled a few years ago but it's essentially back now.

There are casualties, like the Punk channel and the Disco channel. Most surprisingly, both systems have deleted the old-skool hip hop channel (this was Backspin on Sirius, The Rhyme on XM). I'm sure SIRI/XM did their homework on this, their demographic data must have indicated they could drop this music, but I know a lot of people who are upset with this. It seemed to be the kind of offering that satellite radio is made for. There's already some whining and complaining on the blogs about this move.

The loss of Backspin probably means that Kurtis Blow is looking for work, if you need him.

The full lineup diff is here.


we have a new champion - Internet Bikini Ass Photo division

NEW YORK CITY, New York - Move over Mena Suvari, because you've just been blasted off the stage by the fleshy flawlessness of this picture of Vida Guerra, whoever she is.

Hollywood Tuna isn't a fan of Guerra (Tuna seems to prefer the skinny fake-boob types) but count me among the disciples.

The Gideon Bible isn't good enough any more?

NEW YORK CITY, New York - My hotel room in New York came with two books on the end table - an autobiography by British television personality Richard Hammond and an issue of Alaska Quarterly Review from 1998.

Both books still have the price tag on them.


Involuntary Servitude We Can Believe In

SEATTLE, Washington - I think all the Obama voters are so busy patting themselves on the back for being so Cool and Hip and Progressive and Tolerant and Not-An-Evil-Republican that they're failing to notice the garbage appearing on the official President-elect web site.

After all, what better way to celebrate a black man becoming President than introducing a broad new suite of involuntary servitude programs?

President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.

Found at Little Green Footballs

UPDATE 11/9 10pm: LGF is chronicling the backpedaling on the requirement of involuntary servitude. Hopefully, while they're at it, they delete all the other nonsense on

Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 6-3

This week's pick: Oklahoma State (+3.5) @ Texas Tech

Enjoy your one week ranked #2, Tech!

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: my previous losses were all just 1-4 points so I was due to take a thrashing, TTU won big here. Record: 6-4


This painting was not done by me, it was done through me

SEATTLE, Washington - After I finished reading Gravity's Rainbow, I decided to paint one of the opening scenes. (I considered doing this for every book I read but realized, as I like to buy books cheap, that this might quadruple the cost of every book I read.) After completing it, I started running into a bunch of stuff that reminded me of the painting. This is the painting:

After completing it, I ran into this cover image of one of the editions (it's not the edition I read, nor is it the image on my Goodreads entry for the book):

I also noticed after the fact that my painting bears a resemblance to this photo of Atlanta that I have on the wall of my home office. (The painting is an image of London):

Finally we have the image below from Zak Smith, an artist who created one image for each page of Gravity's Rainbow. Like me, Smith included a smokestack and the rocket with vapor trails. I put a hat on Prentice because I was dissatisfied with how I had painted his head.

Mr Smith saved the bananas until the next page's image.

I recommend viewing all the Smith images if you've read the book, and maybe even if you haven't read the book.


Football lock of the week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 5-3

This week's pick: Rice @ UTEP - Over (77.5)

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: This game ain't even over but it's already a cover on the over, 49-37 Rice. Record: 6-3.


So bad it's good - the Burger King Italian Chicken Sandwich

SEATTLE, Washington - I think we all have a few foods like this in our life - foods we know taste bad but that give us some sense of nostalgia. There are a few restaurant dishes in Atlantic City that I wouldn't tolerate at any other restaurant but fit right in there.

A reliable fast food good/bad actor has made a reappearance - the Burger King Italian Chicken sandwich. I remember it from years ago; the first time I moved out on my own, there was a BK located just before my apartment. It doesn't taste good. I know it doesn't taste good, but I keep ordering it.

It disappears from BK's menu for years at a time, then comes back, like a comet.


Why do guys knock up women?

SEATTLE, Washington - Everyone knows why women lie about birth control and get knocked up - but why do guys let themselves fall for this? Why perform this (hopefully, I think) massively life-changing event so casually?

Unless a guy is doing something exotic like holding his laptop in his lap and hoping this damages the sperm, all he has is vasectomy and condoms. If you haven't had a vasectomy, and you have sex without a condom with a woman capable of pregnancy, and you're not in a permanent-ish (e.g. marriage) relationship with the woman, you're either extremely irresponsible or you want to make a baby. Most contraceptive claims a woman makes in these circumstances should be ignored.

I'm coming around to the idea that a lot of guys want to make the baby, even if it's a semi-conscious or unconscious decision. I think a lot of people are like me, they procrastinate and waffle on certain large decisions in their life e.g. who to settle down with, or whether to have a child at all. Having sex without a condom in these circumstances has a couple advantages: (1) you get to have sex without a condom, which I assume is more pleasurable than doing it with a condom and (2) you could have one of your Big Life Decisions made for you by fathering a child with a particular person.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 4-3

This week's pick: Cleveland Browns (+7) @ Jacksonville

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: Cleveland wins, straight up, 23-17. Easy money. Record: 5-3.


Should you masturbate before gambling?

SEATTLE, Washington - I've already discussed how masturbation does not adversely affect athletic performance - but what about gambling? Jean Genet, in The Thief's Journal, claims that a pre-gambling spank was standard practice in the circles he ran in:

He led me a few steps away to the one comfort station on the Parallelo. It was run by an old woman. Surprised by the suddenness of his decision, I questioned him:

"What are you going to do?"

"Wait for me."


He answered with a Spanish word which I did not understand. I told him so and, in front of the old woman who was waiting for her two sous, he burst out laughing and made the gesture of jerking off. When he came out, his face had a bit of color. He was still smiling.

"It's all right now. I'm ready."

That's how I learned that, on big occasions, players went there to jerk off in order to be calmer and more sure of themselves. We went back to the lot. Pépé chose a group. He lost. He lost all he had.
(From the Grove Press translation)


Kentucky trying to say domain names are "illegal gambling devices"

SEATTLE, Washington - Whenever politicians talk about "protecting the children", you know they're pondering stuff that has nothing to do with protecting children. The absurdities pile up particularly high on the issue of online gambling.

Last year I mentioned proposals in Massachusetts. Now Kentucky is getting into the act - governor Steve Beshear is trying to the domain names of 141 internet gambling sites classified as "illegal gambling devices" that can be seized under state law. Surprise surprise, Beshear has also been pushing for a state constitutional amendment to allow meatspace casinos. Hurry, Steve, hide behind a child:

"No one has been willing to step up and do anything about illegal Internet gambling until now," Beshear said in the statement. "We must protect our people, especially our children, from this illegal and unregulated activity while also protecting our legal and regulated forms of gaming in Kentucky."
The technical absurdities pile up on this issue. Internet domain names are just mappings to a unique 32-bit numerical IP address, which people are free to use instead of the domain name - is Kentucky ready to start confiscating 32-bit numbers? Is the number 1481743248 an illegal gambling device, Mr Beshear?

The tech dork response to this may be "just use a proxy", but proxies and anonymizers often have performance lags that might be prohibitive for something like online gambling.

And of course, state governments are like football coaches, if they see one guy doing something that works they all copy it:
Jeremiah Johnston, president of the Washington D.C.-based Internet Commerce Association, said he thought the ruling could have far-reaching ramifications on Internet commerce.

"With this decision, it's essentially throwing a wild card into the mix," Johnston said. "I definitely fear copycat actions from other states."

Found via Digg (where it had a headline so misleading, I'm not linking to it)


Vitali Klitschko doesn't piss on himself, he lets his baby do it

SEATTLE, Washington - Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klitschko has revealed a training secret he uses to reduce swelling in his fists - he wraps his fists in diapers full of his baby's piss. Says he got the idea from his grandmother. Of course he did.

The topic of piss and athletes came up a few years ago when baseball player Moises Alou revealed that he regularly urinates on his hands to toughen them up, which allows him to bat without batting gloves. He said in an interview that it wasn't gross at all, that urine was "just like water."

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada soon verified that he, too, pisses on his hands. He claims this was a common trick of manual laborers that he learned during his rural childhood.

But science says that urine should actually soften hands, not toughen them - leading me to believe these guys just like pissing on themselves.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 4-2

This week's pick: Virginia Tech (+3) @ Boston College

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: Nothing's easy... this game was a circus and BC ended up covering, 28-23. Record: 4-3


A better economic barometer - photos of chicks

SEATTLE, Washington - I know I've been whining about the herd behavior of the public regarding their opinion of the "economy", but we may have finally stumbled upon a good indicator of the public's true sentiment - Playboy centerfolds. Scholars have correlated the dimensions of the playmates with the economic conditions of the time of their photo spread, and determined that in bad times, the playmates look like someone you'd hook up to the plow, and in good times they look like baby factories. This is consistent with something called the Environmental Security Hypothesis:

The Environmental Security Hypothesis says that in tough times men will prefer women who are good at production, generally older, taller, heavier, less curvaceous women with less body fat. In good times, they will prefer women who are good at reproduction, generally younger, shorter, lighter, more curvaceous women.


Daniel Craig as James Bond

SEATTLE, Washington - I finally got around to seeing Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as Bond. And let me say, the days of graying old Pierce Brosnan sipping on his martinis are dead and buried. Craig is Bitter and Badass and Totally Yoked. I think, for the next few years, the Bond bad guys are going to be in even more trouble than usual.

The Stock Market is not The Economy

SEATTLE, Washington - I keep hearing this constant drumbeat about how horrible the economy is. This is usually based on looking at the stock market. Even on the sports station, KJR, all the hosts are talking about our disastrous economy.

Can anyone cite for me the evidence of a disastrous economy? GDP grew at almost 3% last quarter. For comparison, during the Great Depression (and people who gain from misery keep comparing today to the Great Depression) there was an almost 30% contraction in GDP.

Unemployment is around 6%, a bit higher than recent years but still right around the 20 year average. Yet I keep reading news stories from places like MSNBC and ABC about the disastrous job situation.

Yes, the stock market is down and showing a lot of volatility. The volatility is a natural outgrowth of the uncertain situation regarding bank lending and the various rapacious and boneheaded government responses to the bank situation.

The evidence that we're going to hell in a handbasket seems to consist of the Secretary of the Treasury, Congress, and the media telling us that we're going to hell in a handbasket unless our wise government takes decisive action with hundreds of billions of dollars of our wealth.

While the media keep telling you about the stock market - oil is at $72 a barrel today, down around 50% from just a few months ago. A few months ago, we were all doomed because of high oil prices - it made food too expensive, we all had to throw our cars in the river, etc. Myopic publications like The Stranger were declaring the end of the automobile era, declaring that we should take whatever transit measures were being shoved down our throats, because oil had gotten too expensive and there's no way the price of oil ever falls.


Chinook's butchers their menu

SEATTLE, Washington - Chinook's has unceremoniously dumped the Oyster Stew from their menu. What reason exists to go there now, exactly? The view of the rusting sailboats?

They also ditched the Oyster Pot Pie.

I would have been the first to admit that the menu at Chinook's was a bit swollen, had a few items that had to go. But not the Oyster stew.

Guess I'll be learning how to cook oyster stew.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 3-2

This week's pick: Utah (-23) @ Wyoming

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: Utah wins and covers, 40-7. The only surprising thing is that Wyoming scored at all. Record: 4-2


Misery as entertainment in Seattle sports

SEATTLE, Washington - I hate to take the detached, cynical view of sports in this city but I'm a detached, cynical person.

Sports is ultimately about entertainment and I am entertained. Entertained by the meltdown of the UW football program, the bloodthirsty calls for Willingham's head, the sniping in the media between Tim Lappano and Hugh Millen, etc.

Sports talk radio is much more entertaining when things are bad. The Sonics have left, I know many people are heartbroken about this, but the whole 2-year relocation drama made for entertaining, informative radio.


O.J. Simpson found guilty - of carrying a bad manpurse

SEATTLE, Washington -

photo from Celebslam


Harrison Ford's Billboard of Dorian Gray at Madison Square Garden

NEW YORK, New York - To whom have you sold your soul, Mr Ford?


Football Lock of the Week

NEW YORK, New York -

Record: 2-2

This week's pick: South Carolina (+2.5) @ Ole Miss

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: South Carolina wins straight up, 31-24. Record: 3-2


The sensual pleasure of crackling AM radio

NEW YORK, New York - While I'm on the topic of sensuality: I happen to be in New York City this week just as the baseball season has ended and the Mets have narrowly missed the playoffs for the second straight year. I've been listening to the tragicomic catharsis of the Mets fans on WFAN's evening call-in shows.

I'm not getting great reception in the hotel so the signal has a bit of a crackle to it, and I like it this way. I grew up with the buzz of mediocre AM signals and for me it's part of the experience.

WFAN now streams their programming and I do listen when there's big sports news, such as the trade for Brett Favre ("I wuz so excited... I heard the news just after midnight, right away I called my muddah...."), but it's not the same. Listening to Ed in Kew Gardens or Jerry in Bay Ridge vent about the Mets at 1am sounds so much more right on AM radio than on a 16 Kbps stream.

Perhaps I should work on a media player that will add some static to streaming radio.


Dating advice only a college football coach could give

NEW YORK, New York - Big-time college football coaches are a notoriously stiff and humorless lot, but Texas Tech coach Mike Leach does not seem too worried about his image. A freshman called his weekly television show asking for some recommendations for a first date he was planning, and he gave a rambling answer that included picking a restaurant that has "very little salad" so the woman would be "forced to eat in front of you", going to a coffee shop with "bizarre-looking characters" to give you something to talk about, and finally exchanging "computer schemes" at the end of the night if things went well.

On the stock market and the as-of-now failed "bailout"

NEW YORK, New York - Congress has voted down the "bailout" package and adjourned until Thursday - hopefully a Citizen's Brigade forms to block the doors and not let them back in.

I don't have the time to comment in detail, but I will say this:

I'm a big believer in the stock market in this fundamental sense - that it is essentially a system of communication; the rising and falling of stocks is a referendum on the health of companies and industries, a distributed and decentralized means of determining the best possible allocation of capital.

One might look at the failure of the "bailout" plan and see the reaction of the market and assume that the failure of the plan was a bad thing, because the market is tanking on the news. Already, I watched a closed-caption newscast of an "expert" for twenty seconds in my hotel lobby and saw "the House blew it" scroll across the screen.

The problem with looking at it this way is that not all aspects of our macro situation are represented by a stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. For instance, there's no stock on the market that represents a market judgment on the economic health of and relative burden upon the American taxpayer. Were there such a stock, it would be way up today.

There's no stock that represents a market evaluation of our liberty, of our commitment (paltry though it is) of our government not to interfere in the basic process of letting the market reward successful risks, and punish failed risks. Were there such a stock, it would be way up today.

(If we did have a choice of governments, evaluated by a stock-market-style process, bad governance would come screeching to a halt, but that's another discussion for another time.)

It's good, I guess, that 134 Republicans briefly regained the foggiest notion of the true intellectual foundation of their alleged governing ideology. But don't worry - they'll trade it away at the next dangling of a carrot, probably later this week.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 2-1

This week's pick: Central Michigan (-6.5) vs. Buffalo

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: I know I should have taken Maryland against Clemson. All the trends pointed against Clemson. I just didn't have the heart to do it. As it happend, CMU had to make a comeback and won 27-25, failing to cover.

Record: 2-2

Giada says Mario Batali is not "romantic or sensual"

SEATTLE, Washington - Apparently Giada de Laurentiis thinks she's the only person who brings sensuality into the kitchen. In an upcoming interview in the New York Post Sunday magazine, Giada takes a crack at the pride of Seattle, Mario Batali:

I mean, I love Lidia [Bastianich], but [she’s] kind of boring. And Mario Batali [I] love to death... but he’s not romantic or sensual. Those are the things I bring to the table.

Batali is very sensual. In fact, virtually every driven successful chef has a good dose of sensuality to them.

I would suggest Giada head over to Otto and try the Fennel & Bottarga pizza and re-evaluate her comments.


Roundup of Indians in the news

SEATTLE, Washington -

In Mumbai, a court recently used the results of a brain scan known as a Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature as evidence to convict a woman of murder:

After placing 32 electrodes on Ms. Sharma’s head, investigators said, they read aloud their version of events, speaking in the first person (“I bought arsenic”; “I met Udit at McDonald’s”), along with neutral statements like “The sky is blue,” which help the software distinguish memories from normal cognition.

For an hour, Ms. Sharma said nothing. But the relevant nooks of her brain where memories are thought to be stored buzzed when the crime was recounted, according to Mr. Joseph, the state investigator. The judge endorsed Mr. Joseph’s assertion that the scans were proof of “experiential knowledge” of having committed the murder, rather than just having heard about it...

In Greater Noida, Delhi, a mob of laid-off factory workers killed the CEO:

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, a manufacturer of car parts that has its headquarters in Italy, died of severe head wounds on Monday after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said.
A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: “Such a heinous act is bound to sully India’s image among overseas investors.”

In Durban, South Africa, a comment an Indian made to a white man at a urinal about comparative penis size led to three men getting gunned down:

A worker at the bar, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said a customer of Indian origin had remarked to a white customer while they were both at the urinal in the bar that his penis was bigger than that of the white customer.

"After both men returned to their friends, the two groups began swearing at each other before the group of five Indian men left the scene and all returned with firearms. They opened fire and three guys died on the spot.


Pemco chimes in on the chicks at the bookstore

SEATTLE, Washington - I talked about the women at the bookstore recently. A new "Northwest Profiles" radio ad from Pemco chimed in on the same subject, discussing the "Ghostlike Used Bookstore Waif".

It's whizbang Flash animation or something, so I can't directly link to it but I screenshotted it below and you can dig up Profile #30 on the Northwest Profiles page to listen to the ad.

Promoting bike travel to the point of absurdity

SEATTLE, Washington - This sign appears in the International District, indicating the direction of a twelve mile bicycle route to the airport. Taking a bicycle to the airport! Where are you supposed to carry your luggage? If you pick someone up at the airport, do you put them on your handlebars?

This sign is right across the street from a stop for the 194 bus that will take you right to the airport. If you can't afford the bus fare, you probably have no business at the airport anyway. If you work at the airport and ride your bike there, you already know the route.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 1-1

This week's pick: New Orleans Saints (+5.5) @ Denver

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: New Orleans covers the number, losing 34-32.

Record: 2-1


This correction of the movie review is probably more entertaining than the movie

SEATTLE, Washington - This correction was run by the New York Times regarding its review of the movie Save Me:

A film review on Sept. 5 about “Save Me” confused some characters and actors. It is Mark, not Chad, who is sent to the Genesis House retreat for converting gay men to heterosexuality. (Mark is played by Chad Allen; there is no character named Chad). The hunky fellow resident is Scott (played by Robert Gant), not Ted (Stephen Lang). And it is Mark and Scott — not “Chad and Ted” — who partake of cigarettes and “furtive man-on-man action.”

found via Regret the Error


George Takei: similar to the losers from your small hometown

SEATTLE, Washington - George Takei married his longtime partner Brad Altman this past weekend in Los Angeles.

The notable thing here is not that it's a same-sex wedding, or that it was a multicultural-to-the-point-of-satire ceremony, but that Uhura was the maid of honor and Chekhov was the best man.

Has Mr Takei not made any friends since the late 1960s that could have served in these roles? Someone from the Howard Stern show, maybe? Anyone? This seems just like the rear-guard folks in your hometown, still hanging out with the same high school crowd while everyone with a crumb of adventurousness or ambition left a long time ago.

But congrats to Mr Takei anyway.


Learning not much about the Future of Copyright

SEATTLE, Washington - Perhaps I've marinated myself so thoroughly in the issue of digital-age copyright that I can't learn much more from short essays, but the Cato Unbound series on this issue didn't enlighten me too much.

The lead essay is by anti-copyright activist Rasmus Fleischer ("just give up, copyright cabal, you can't win and you're just becoming a pain in the ass") with reaction essays by Cato scholar Timothy Lee (who proposes a middle ground that doesn't really accomplish much), law professor Tom W. Bell (who doesn't do much besides mention a book he wrote), and law professor Doug Lichtman ("we need copyright, we will pass whatever laws we have to to enforce strong copyright, and you will like it.").

Perhaps they could interest the less marinated.


Bill Gates wiggles his ass in new Microsoft commercial

SEATTLE, Washington -

Gates shakes his ass at Jerry Seinfeld at the end of this.

Single women do not exist at the bookstore

SEATTLE, Washington - I'll often see an attractive or even semi-attractive woman at the bookstore. Even if she's not so hot, if she has a purposeful air about her in the bookstore that's good enough for me.

But I'd never approach such a woman, for two reasons: (1) I'm not inclined to do such a thing under any circumstances and (2) she is 100% guaranteed to already be taken and her man is also in the bookstore.

Every single time I've seen such a woman and keep an eye on her, her guys shows up in short order. If I owned a watch I could set my watch by it: "Boyfriend appears in 5... 4... 3... 2...".

I've done this little mental exercise dozens of times, and it always ends the same way. And I'm only counting times where I've already looked and not seen a ring on the I'm Taken finger.

One or the other or both of the following is happening: (a) every woman that doesn't look like a bridge troll is already taken (b) women don't go anywhere, even a quick jaunt to the bookshop, without their man. Most likely, the poor guy just wanted to go to the bookstore and these chicks, like most chicks, think that if the guy is out of sight for 20 minutes he's off having sex with someone else.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Last week: A blowout win for ASU 41-14

Record: 1-0

this week: Oregon (-7.5) @ Purdue

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: Clearly superior Oregon forgot to show up for the first half and fell behind 20-3, and ended up winning 32-26, failing to cover by 1.5 points. Shit.

Record: 1-1


I'm still incapable of watching a television series

SEATTLE, Washington - I tried watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox last night. It is heavily promoted on Fox during football games and the young hot Terminator has a certain icy appeal to me.

It was all very disappointing. The opening sequence had long stretches of jumpy, over-styled slow motion with some rock song background*. The Terminator, Cameron (a bad name on at least two levels), got injured right at the top of the show and limped around for an hour so I didn't get to see her chops. I can't get into the mood of a one-hour show because I know things will all be well soon (John is trying to jump start a truck as a Terminator approaches! I wonder if he'll get it started?) and this particular episode required suspension of disbelief that was difficult even for science fiction (John seems to repair a corrupted microchip by scraping at it with a screwdriver.)

I give up. I tried. Watching TV is like eating olives for me; I know I don't like it, but I feel bad about it and try again every so often, just to be sure.

* Contrast this with No Country for Old Men, which I recently watched and off the top of my head I don't recall much music at all during the movie. More shows and movies should do this.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington - I pick one game every week, college or pro, side or total. I wasn't posting them here before but my private clients (i.e. the friends I spam with football picks for no reason) know I went 8-5 last year and 11-3-1 the year before.

This week:
Arizona St. (-14) vs. Stanford.

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: This was a classic early-season lock - 41-14 ASU.

Record: 1-0


Christina Ricci left her ass on an old movie set

SEATTLE, Washington - Hollywood Tuna is raving about Christina Ricci's new bikini body. Tuna asserts that she has gone from being a "weird looking chubby chick" to a hard body.

I, for one, prefer the higher curvature of the old (i.e. young) Ricci, the one from the days of Buffalo '66 or The Opposite of Sex.


John Stuart Mill on one-man-one-vote

SEATTLE, Washington - If we can't get rid of democracy in favor of a better way of each of us getting the government we want, at least we can look at addressing some of the flaws of democracy. I mentioned in this book review that I find the one-man-one-vote principle to be flawed in that it gives my vote the same weight as that of a less competent or deserving person.

I've thought briefly about different ways to weigh votes (e.g. proportional to taxes paid). Turns out, none other than John Stuart Mill was on the case way back in the 1850s. His essay Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform 1859 proposed a weighted voting scheme.

The first half or so of the essay is a discussion of districting schemes in Britain in the 1850s, dry even by my standards (and I enjoy reading learned 19th century English). He then steers the discussion to his thoughts about what would be "the ideal conception of a perfect representative government, however distant, not to say doubtful, may be the hope of actually obtaining it."

When most people hear you question the one-man-one-vote scheme, they automatically assume that you want to deny the vote to some people. Mill makes it clear that this is not where he stands, and enumerates several reasons why all governed people should have a vote:

First, then, in every system of representation which can be conceived as perfect, every adult human being, it appears to me, would have the means of exercising, through the electoral suffrage, a portion of influence on the management of public affairs...

It is important that every one of the governed should have a voice in the government, because it can hardly be expected that those who have no voice will not be unjustly postponed to those who have. It is still more important as one of the means of national education. A person who is excluded from all participation in political business is not a citizen. He has not the feelings of a citizen. To take an active interest in politics is, in modern times, the first thing which elevates the mind to large interests and contemplations; the first step out of the narrow bounds of individual and family selfishness, the first opening in the contracted round of daily occupations...

Whoever is capable of feeling any common interest with his kind, or with his country, or with his city, is interested in politics; and to be interested in them, and not wish for a voice in them, is an impossibility. The possession and the exercise of political, and among others of electoral, rights, is one of the chief instruments both of moral and of intellectual training for the popular mind; and all governments must be regarded as extremely imperfect, until every one who is required to obey the laws, has a voice, or the prospect of a voice, in their enactment and administration.

He then starts to question whether everyone's vote should count equally. He goes after the notion (repeated over and over at election time, or voter registration time) that your vote primarily gives you a say in your government. What it really does, in practice, is give you a say in everyone else's government:
But ought every one to have an equal voice? This is a totally different proposition; and in my judgment as palpably false, as the other is true and important... [Supporters of one-man-one-vote] say that every one has an equal interest in being well governed, and that every one, therefore, has an equal claim to control over his own government. I might agree to this, if control over his own government were really the thing in question; but what I am asked to assent to is, that every individual has an equal claim to control over the government of other people. The power which the suffrage gives is not over himself alone; it is power over others also: whatever control the voter is enabled to exercise over his own concerns, he exercises the same degree of it over those of every one else.

Given the power that your vote has over others, Mill forwards the idea (which would not make him popular today) that all people are not equally qualified to exercise such power:
If it is asserted that all persons ought to be equal in every description of right recognised by society, I answer, not until all are equal in worth as human beings. It is the fact, that one person is not as good as another; and it is reversing all the rules of rational conduct, to attempt to raise a political fabric on a supposition which is at variance with fact. Putting aside for the present the consideration of moral worth, of which, though more important even than intellectual, it is not so easy to find an available test; a person who cannot read, is not as good, for the purpose of human life, as one who can. A person who can read, but cannot write or calculate, is not as good as a person who can do both... A person who has not, either by reading or conversation, made himself acquainted with the wisest thoughts of the wisest men, and with the great examples of a beneficent and virtuous life, is not so good as one who is familiar with these. A person who has even filled himself with this various knowledge, but has not digested it—who could give no clear and coherent account of it, and has never exercised his own mind, or derived an original thought from his own observation, experience, or reasoning, is not so good, for any human purpose, as one who has. There is no one who, in any matter which concerns himself, would not rather have his affairs managed by a person of greater knowledge and intelligence, than by one of less. There is no one who, if he was obliged to confide his interest jointly to both, would not desire to give a more potential voice to the more educated and more cultivated of the two.

Mill then outlines a sample vote weighting scheme, assigning relative value to farmers, skilled and unskilled laborers, surgeons, members of "learned societies", etc. Mill seems to draw a direct correlation between education and competence as a voter, which is one possible scheme of many, and not really one that I agree with.

Interestingly, Mill's fall-back position (what to do in the absence of the stated ideal system) is to implement a rigorous minimal educational qualification for voting. If you can't make the vote of the smart guys count more than the vote of the dumb guys then yes, we do need to stop the dummies from voting.

found at EconLog


The sporting life of Sarah Palin

SEATTLE, Washington - Not only is Sarah Palin a better basketball player than Barack Obama, but she's also handy with a rifle.

Note to Joe Biden: wear a suit of an un-naturely color, like blue, to the Vice-Presidential debate (or better yet, an orange safety vest) so Palin does not mistake you for wildlife.


No disrespect to the Orientals, but it's football season!

SEATTLE, Washington - The pigskins are about to fly for the 2008 football season. Unfortunately, Bill Parcells is no longer coaching in the NFL so we won't get to hear him in a press conference making a reference to "Jap Plays" (mp3 here) anytime soon.

audio from The Jim Rome Show


Some people drop Big Oil into every conversation

SEATTLE, Washington - I was at a local bakery the other day, wearing schwag from a not-very-well-known tech company. An old timer in line started talking to me about the font on the shirt. He praised that it was a fairly unique font - said that he did some typesetting and printing as a hobby, and was distressed that so many companies choose to use the boring Helvetica font in their logo.

He rattled off some industries that he said use Helvetica too much (airlines, etc.)... then gave a bit of a dramatic pause, dropped his voice a bit, and hit me with:
"All the big oil companies use Helvetica."


Can this Islamic terror group change its name?

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey - One of the groups that Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch regularly reports on is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a group in the Philippines. Problem is, everyone but Robert Spencer has a whole other thing in mind when they see the acronym MILF. So when Robert posts headlines like "MILF linked to Al-Qaeda", it conjures up all sorts of images.


Even at the Olympics, women can't have sex for its own sake

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey - As we all know from real life, women don't pursue men or have sex with men just for the sake of enjoyment. There's always an ancillary agenda.

This is true even at the Olympics. When the competitors are done sporting and get down to the business of using the 100,000 condoms that are distributed to the athletes, the men simply try to find a good-looking woman to have sex with (ignoring how a given sex partner did in the games), but the women fight it out to bag gold-medal winning guys:

The chaps who win gold medals - even those as geeky as Michael Phelps - are the principal objects of desire for many female athletes. There is something about sporting success that makes a certain type of woman go crazy - smiling, flirting and sometimes even grabbing at the chaps who have done the business in the pool or on the track. An Olympic gold medal is not merely a route to fame and fortune; it is also a surefire ticket to writhe.

But - and this is the thing - success does not work both ways. Gold-medal winning female athletes are not looked upon by male with any more desire than those who flunked out in the first round.

And they do this at the Olympics for the same reason they do it in the rest of life - to brag to their friends about the guy they managed to bag. There has to be a secondary reason - to brag to friends, to steal sperm, whatever.

If a woman really wants to set a world record, she should simply have sex for its own sake, even just once. She'd probably be the first woman ever to do so. I'd vote to have her put on a box of Wheaties.


IKEA - transforming more than just Renton

NEW YORK, New York - It was only a few short months ago that I blasted Red Hook, Brooklyn as being an isolated, dumpy neighborhood. Now, not only is it getting some West Coast coffee roasting love from Stumptown, but I can't talk to anyone at the office for five minutes without them mentioning the new Ikea in Red Hook.

It's not just that people want to buy Ikea stuff, but that Ikea has instantly made Red Hook un-isolated with a good, old-fashioned, almost libertarian private suite of transportation options:

Transportation options include free shuttles every 15 minutes from three Brooklyn subway stations — the Smith and Ninth stop on the F and G line, the Fourth and Ninth stop on the R, and Borough Hall — between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily... and a free water taxi from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan, running every 40 minutes daily from 10 a.m. to 8:20 p.m.

It's good to see private transportation options like this (and, as another example, the private bus service Google operates for employees in the Bay Area) popping up.


Sirius launches Russo channel

NEW YORK, New York -

SIRIUS XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) announced today that it has signed renowned sports talk personality Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, the former star of the Mike and the Mad Dog show, to a five-year contract to headline a new sports talk channel exclusively available on SIRIUS and XM.


Seattle invades New York the only way it can - coffee beans

NEW YORK, New York - When I moved to New York three years ago, I was stunned at how hard it was to find A-list espresso; I assumed everything about urban life in New York was by definition better than urban life anywhere else. Greenwich Village coffee houses may have hosted groundbreaking intellectual conversation 40 or 50 years ago, but all they have now is poseurs and bad espresso.

Help is on the way from Seattle; the New York Times is reporting on the blossoming New York espresso roasting scene, including the migration to Brooklyn of Stumptown Coffee Roasters owner Duane Sorenson.

The article has the now-obligatory reference to roasting locally to leave a "less intrusive footprint."

One California cafe owner seems to have taken a swipe at the alleged "politics" of the coffee scene in other places, presumably Seattle?

Andrew Barnett, who owns Ecco Caffè in Sonoma County, California, was in New York recently, scouting real estate for a roastery and cafe he hopes to open in the next 12 months.

“This is a great place to run a small roastery,” he said. “I feel like there is a very strong barista community, without the politics and divisions of other places.”


You learn something new about Mongolia every day

SEATTLE, Washington - Did Madonna, Cher, and Seal draw professional inspiration from the Mongolians? A wrestler from Mongolia won a gold medal at the Olympics, and this fine nugget about the citizens of that country appears at the end of a story about the celebration:

"Right after the June 29 election, we were in central square protesting election results and throwing stones against policemen and interior troops. ... This time we are all here to cheer and support our athletes participating in Beijing Olympics," said Ganbaatar, 47, who like many Mongolians uses only one name.


"Alien Burrito" redux? Bigfoot allegedly bagged

SEATTLE, Washington - UFO buffs are probably familiar with the "Alien Burrito" story of Jonathan Reed and Robert Raith. Those two gentleman appeared on the Art Bell show on November 11, 1998 (I was listening live) and Reed (who claimed to have a PhD in Psychology) told a tale of having shot an alien while hiking in the Cascades.

To make a long story short, the alien photos were completely discredited, Raith was exposed as being a West Seattle gas station attendant, and Jonathan Reed was exposed as a longtime West Seattle resident and frequent 13 Coins diner with no academic credentials.

"Dr." Reed wrapped his "alien" up in a tarp and stored it in a freezer, giving rise to the "Alien Burrito" appellation.

We have a new beast in the freezer this week - some hunters in Georgia claim to have a Bigfoot body in their freezer and will be holding a press conference tommorrow (Friday), allegedly.


Very subtle penis, Mr Fassbinder

SEATTLE, Washington - I rented the 1982 movie Querelle knowing that it would be gay, and guessing it would be bad. It was bad, and it was gay - but even I wasn't expecting the blatant penis-shaped columns in the port city of Brest.

I'm assuming Brest does not actually have massive penis columns on the waterfront.

UPDATE: Twig AND berries!


My hair is just like Carrot Top's

SEATTLE, Washington - The color's not the same, of course, but in curl etc. it's a dead-ringer.

I'm not yoked like Carrot Top, but he's worked very hard at that.

Not all musicians are dullards

SEATTLE, Washington - One of the reasons that I have a zillion times more respect for books/authors than music/musicians is that good writing requires intelligence. If you read a really well-done novel, you know without fail that it was written by an intelligent person. There's just no way around it. I'm an intelligent person and I appreciate accomplishments that require smarts.

There's no such requirement for being a skilled or successful musician - you can see from interviews that many accomplished musicians are manifest idiots.

(And don't come at me with the "there's different kinds of intelligence" crap.)

But we have a Highly Intelligent Musician sighting! The PhD thesis of longtime Queen guitarist Brian May has just been published. This is not a thesis in basket-weaving, but instead is in Astrophysics. May started the research in the 1970s, took about 30 years off to play the music, and presumably spent a bit of time as the Weird Old Guy Sitting In The Front Row Of Class before wrapping up the thesis in 2007.


Does having sex degrade athletic performance?

SEATTLE, Washington - The Fox Sports series Sport Science decided to investigate whether having sex several hours before athletic competition degrades an athlete's performance. Boxer Chris Byrd (and, thank goodness, his wife) were brought in to assist with the investigation.

They performed test after test upon Byrd both before sex and 4 hours after sex, and concluded that having sex did not negatively impact athletic performance. Parts 1 and 2 of the show are below. The tedious opening credits take about 2 minutes, and the shot of a gushing oil rig was unnecessary.

What I want to know is, does this apply to masturbation? Because I'm thinking about going golfing this afternoon.

UPDATE: Masturbation is fine! I just shot a career best 17-over 87 at Jefferson!


Cupcake Royale revises chocolate cake

SEATTLE, Washington - Looks like Cupcake Royale is going to start playing a flavor-of-the-month strategy - this month it's Skagit Valley Strawberry frosting. This is available on vanilla or chocolate cake.

And for those of you complaining about the dryness of the chocolate cake, they have introduced a reworked chocolate cake. It was spongier in texture and yes I guess a bit less dry.


Life imitates The Godfather, as usual

SEATTLE, Washington -

Mohegan Sun officials said the casino's net income in the third quarter dropped 89 percent compared with the same period last year, and they're placing some of the blame on gamblers' extraordinary luck.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported net income of $5 million Thursday for the three months ending June 30.

Mitchell Etess, Mohegan Sun's president and chief executive officer, said the casino had an extremely long streak of bad luck.

The Godfather:

Michael: The Corleone Family wants to buy you out.

Moe Greene: The Corleone Family wants to buy me out? No, I buy you out, you don't buy me out .

Michael: Your casino loses money. Maybe we can do better.

Moe Greene: You think I'm skimmin' off the top, Mike?

Michael: You're unlucky.