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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."