Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Song for Saturday

You're probably familiar with the Plain White T's "Hey there Delilah", well here is a fun song with a slightly different message. Again, this was my first PWT song, and I was instantly a fan.

Eat it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What can you glean from a sentence? Ctd.

I gave you a bad example, now a good one:

My view is also that nobody's above the law, and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen, but that, generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.

The diagram, though, offers several insights. First, the elegant balance of the central construction (My view is that x, and that y, but also that z) shows that Obama has a good memory for where he's been, grammatically, and a strong sense of where he's going. His tripartite analysis of the problem is clearly reflected in the structure of the sentence, and thus in the three main branches of the diagram. (Turn it on its side and it could be a mobile.) The third "that" - thrown in 29 words into a 43-word sentence - creates three parallel predicate nouns. And then there's a little parallel flourish at the end: "I am more interested in looking forward than I am in looking back."

Nothing feels tacked on; the "ums" and "ahs" Obama sometimes inserts into his speeches are not meant to buy time to think about substance, or to long for a teleprompter (sorry, conservative bloggers), but to make sure his long sentences stay on solid grammatical terrain. At the same time, Obama's confidence in the basic architecture of his sentences allows him to throw in some syntactically varied riffs and qualifiers: an absolute phrase here, a correlative conjunction or comparative adjective there.

You know what I feel when I read things like this?


From Soup to Nuts

This is quite amazing to watch:

Reggie Watts: Lost in the Options from Jakob Lodwick on Vimeo.

Be inspired to use your gifts, whatever they may be.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


You knew it was coming, didn't you?:

Better luck next time, Bobby....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Becomes King

In case you missed it, Slumdog Millionaire swept the Oscars last night. I was so happy to see the Indian culture lifted up in such a public way. It has been a long held belief of mine that Americans aren't exposed to other cultures enough. Congrats to The-Little-Movie-That-Could.

I told you it was good.

He's Listening...

...or at least trying to:

Every day President Barack Obama is handed a special purple folder. The folder contains ten letters, and every day President Obama takes time to read them.

Are they from world leaders? From members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Members of the intelligence community?

No, these letters have been culled from the thousands the White House Correspondence Office receives each day from Americans who have taken the time to sit down and write to their president.

That means, even taking into account a day off or two along the way, by the end of his term he'll have read over 14,000 letters from the citizenry.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

W Goes Broadway

Somehow, it all seems very fitting:

You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush reflects all of Dubya’s key traits—it’s tacky, cocky, defensive, a little half-[baked] here and there, utterly full of itself … and bunker-bustingly funny.

On the face of it, Ferrell and director Adam McKay are after easy meat. An old-fashioned Bush-bashing, celebrating a thumping repudiation at the polls, and on a Broadway stage—this is the blue-state equivalent of unfurling a mission accomplished banner.

I'll have to check this one out the next time I'm in The City. Have we ever had a President who was easier to make fun of? Apparently, the show is doing well...

A Song for Saturday

It occurred to me the other day that what makes mainstream rap unique from other genres is that there is a theatrical aspect to it. It isn't enough to be a good word-smith and to create good songs. You have to have an image, you have to have come from poverty or suffered a hardship of sorts for the masses to accept you. You have to have a character. That's why you hear so much repetition in it.

Socially conscious rap is very under appreciated. For that reason, this band, Flobots, will never be famous. But they're very good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

How did this happen?

This is how:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

You'll feel smarter having watched this.

"Right America: Feeling Wronged" Review

I touted this documentary a few days ago and I finally watched it last night. It was very powerful.

I spent the entire 45 minutes with my hand clapped over my mouth, stunned by what I saw, unable to comprehend it. Before I start I need to say that there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the film "This film is not representative of all Republicans but is only capturing the feelings of the faithful that showed up to the McCain/Palin rallies" (or something to that effect), and based on my experience with my Republican friends, I have to agree. That being said, the people on camera were not paid actors, imaginary or fictitious in any way. They were expressing their thoughts and feelings, and some of those feelings were bone-chilling.

Several feelings came to mind as person after person would express a deeply held belief on a well-known and long debunked untruth:

1) I felt sorry for them. Not for their ignorance, but because they were so afraid. So many people were afraid of what would happen to them, the country, western civilization (yes, someone said that), and the world if Obama was elected. Many believed that his election would be the end of everything we hold dear, and I imagine they still do. It saddens me to think that every time they see Obama on TV they are fearful. Now, I too experienced fear at the thought of the Republican ticket winning, but that fear was based on their policy positions. Some of this stuff was pure rumor...

2) I wondered how people in the same country could end up so far apart. Most people I know would have a hard time finding a common stone to stand on with these people, and I'm not sure how that happens. Alexandra, the producer/director/camerawoman, asks in the film (and in subsequent interviews) "are we becoming two Americas?". And its hard to come to any other conclusion when you see this kind of thing.

3)I was disappointed in how emotionally volatile our politics have gotten. I saw a man who was holding up an anti-McCain sign tackled to the ground and put in a head lock by a McCain supporter so that his sign could be taken away. Its nuts! We need to be able to disagree with out the vitriol.

Again, I urge you to watch it. Regardless of your political bend, you will learn something. I ordered HBO for one day so I could record it, you could do the same if you don't have it now.

Pray for our country.

Quote for the Day

Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:

"There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort zones", he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. “We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section ... We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

Hip-hop settings, eh? Good for you...

He later adds:

We need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.

Me-thinks I'm gonna like this guy...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watchmen, Ctd.

Counting down to March 6th, EW does another cover story on the first must-see movie of the spring.

I'm excited to see how they adapt that crazy story to the screen. I don't promote lousy movies. Go see it.

What can you glean from a sentence?

A lot, as it turns out:

I had never heard of sentence diagramming until I came across this story. Maybe I just went to bad schools. Anyway, Kitty Burns Florey asserts that,

There are plenty of people out there—not only English teachers but also amateur language buffs like me—who believe that diagramming a sentence provides insight into the mind of its perpetrator. The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, and generally stretch its capabilities, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression—or such an impoverished one that it can produce only hot air, baloney, and twaddle.

In the fall she broke down some of Sarah Palin's doozies. A sample from the Charlie Gibson interview:

I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people.

I didn't stop to marvel at the mad thrusting of that pet political watchword "families" into the text. I just rolled up my sleeves and attempted to bring order out of the chaos:

I had to give up. This sentence is not for diagramming lightweights. If there's anyone out there who can kick this sucker into line, I'd be delighted to hear from you. To me, it's not English—it's a collection of words strung together to elicit a reaction, floating ands and prepositional phrases ("with that vote of the American people") be damned. It requires not a diagram but a selection of push buttons.

Read the article. There's some good stuff there.

Imagine the Possibilities

(As of January 2002, the FRA has designated ten high-speed corridors under section 1010 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and Section 1103(c) of the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Designation allows a corridor to receive specially targeted funding for highway-rail grade crossing safety improvements, and recognizes the corridor as a potential center of HSR activity. These designated corridors are shown on this map generally from Southwest to Northeast.)

There has been a lot of mis-information about the stimulus bill and what is/is not in it. A lot of the bill's opponents, including the House minority leader, have claimed that there is 8 billion dollars being spent on a train from LA to Vegas, there is no such provision in the bill. This, by contrast, is an accurate description of the high-speed rail provisions of the Recovery Act:

The Stimulus Plan includes two provisions modeled after the Act that finance high-speed rail development. First, the Stimulus Plan provides a $2 billion grant for high-speed rail projects that will remain available until September 30, 2011. The grant will be distributed among applicant states, interstate compacts, public agencies having responsibility for providing high-speed rail service and Amtrak for capital projects associated with inter-city passenger rail services reasonably expected to reach speeds of at least 110 miles per hour. The Secretary of Transportation will have discretion to award grants based on an extensive set of criteria, including the legal, financial and technical capacity of the applicant to carry out the project; compatibility with relevant national plans; and anticipated economic, environmental and transportation effects.

In a last-minute change, the total quantity of funds available was increased. But there’s no special plan for Las Vegas. The money will be spread all across the country. In practice the areas that will get a leg up should be the Federal Railroad Administration’s officially designated high-speed rail corridors. As it happens, LA-Vegas doesn’t make the cut.

Imagine if our country had anything resembling this...

Know hope.

(Hat Tip: Matt Y.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Joaquin Phoenix

If you haven't seen this, you need to:

From my vantage point, only one of two explanations will do here:

1: He's on something. Maybe masking some sort of depression or other trauma.

but I think it is more likely that

2. He's faking it to get attention for some reason. He seems pretty out of it for most of the interview, but a couple of times you see his wit rise up which indicates his mind is alert. And when you're as bright as we know he is, I don't think it a reach to suppose he could pull this off.

But maybe my better angels are deceiving me.

What say you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dubai, Ctd.

Is the end neigh for Dubai?

Looks like it:

Short of opening a Radio Shack in an Amish town, Dubai is the world’s worst business idea, and there isn’t even any oil. Imagine proposing to build Vegas in a place where sex and drugs and rock and roll are an anathema. This is effectively the proposition that created Dubai - it was a stupid idea before the crash, and now it is dangerous.

As people scramble for the exits in Dubai, there is no ‘key mail’, like in America, where people can often mail back their house keys and walk away from a mortgage without the immediate threat of jail. People are literally fleeing this place, to date leaving 3000 cars stranded at the airport with keys still in the ignition. And the reason for this is that if you default on your Dubai mortgage, you can end up in a debtors prison.

So, the people who go belly-up don't even stick around for the rebound? Ouch...

They can't say I didn't warn them.

Don't Bet Against Him

My man Nate Silver of fame has put his unmatched predicting reputation on the line and is forecasting this Sundays Oscars. If you saw his projections for the election (he had Obama smashing McCain in June) then you know not to take this lightly.

A sample:

Lead Actor
Mickey Rourke.........................71.1%
Sean Penn.................................19.0%
Brad Pitt.....................................5.9%
Frank Langella..........................3.4%
Richard Jenkins........................0.5%

Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke have split the two awards that traditionally predict success in this category, with Penn winning Screen Actors Guild and Rourke the Golden Globe. But Rourke has an additional advantage: If an actor, like Penn, has been nominated several times without nabbing a statue, his odds of winning increase. Once he does win, odds go way down. Penn won Best Actor five years ago for Mystic River.

I Guess It Got Old

After 20 years, The Simpsons get a new opening sequence:

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Zebras Have Feelings Too...

Sometimes they get it right.

From Peter King:

I think the nicest story I've heard in the wake of the Super Bowl came in the officials' locker room after the game. Vice president of officiating Mike Pereira entered the locker room to find field judge Greg Gautreaux crying, and they were tears of joy and relief. Seems that Gautreaux, the man who made the immediate and correct call on the touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes by seeing Holmes get both feet down in fair territory while possessing the ball as his body hit the ground, was petrified that the biggest call of his life, a call he had to make in a millisecond, might be wrong. But it wasn't. It was perfectly correct. "That's a call that will define your career,'' Pereira told Gautreaux.


(Brett Favre and his wife after what I consider to be his best game ever, December 22 2003, on Monday Night Football, the day after losing his father.)

Brett Favre retired again this last week, and I believe its the end this time. I've been a Favre fan as long as I've liked football. I've never seen a season he wasn't a part of and until this year, I had never seen a Packer game he didn't play in. I have always been a Packer fan, but Brett had always been there. I wasn't sure if my love for the team would wain in his absence. It didn't, but I expected less of them.

His retirement is bitter-sweet for me. Its an end of a great era in pro-football. As a Packer fan I don't think I'll ever see a greater Packer player. So for that, I'm sad. I am also happy because I didn't want to see him continue to get old and abused physically and in the press.

I though i should write something in memoriam of his great career, but I don't think I have the words. His play spoke for itself. He wasn't flawless, but his flaws seemed to endear you to him more. He won more than any other QB ever, but his losses seem to tell you more about him. I hope we treasured our time as fans of his. I did.

Happy trails to the GOAT...

Right America: Feeling Wronged

Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Alexandra, is a documentary filmmaker who has made a movie covering the McCain/Palin ticket called: Right America: Feeling Wronged, which debuts tonight on HBO. I saw an interview she did with Rachel(that I've posted below) that I found interesting, mainly because I was expecting it to be a partisan hit-job, but her motives seem to be more admirable than that.

She did an interview with and she also had some interesting things to say. A few excerpts:

Well, more than 58 million people voted for John McCain, and I know that everyone on the coasts is on an Obama honeymoon right now, and they seem to forget that more than 58 million people did not want Barack Obama to be their president. And when I was traveling over the summer and I would go to rallies and 20,000 people would be there...

They had huge crowds, and I felt they were really underrepresented in the media. I didn’t feel like I saw these people on TV. And when I went out to talk to people, the first thing they would say to me was, "I can't believe you're talking to me." They were so flattered that I wanted to hear what they had to say because they'd say, "The media doesn't listen to us. You turn on the TV and all you see is Obama nation and you don't see us." They had some points. My liberal friends, I have to remind them that they have some really good points. No. 1, the media did not fairly represent them in this election. Obama was on the cover of every magazine all summer long. I understand Obama sold magazines. It's a business. But when you've got a presidential election and you have half of the country feeling really underrepresented, I think that's a real problem. And I think that's a bigger problem than Obama versus McCain.

There was this guy in Fort Wayne, Ind., Fred Boise, who says, "The media paints us to be fanatics. They treat us like hicks and we just go to Wal-Mart and we're rednecks. And they don't come to get to know us, and they go on stereotypes." I think all of that is true.

I am very interested in why people who disagree with me, disagree with me. I appreciate her taking the time to educate us Obama-maniacs as to how the other half of America looks at things.

If you voted for Obama, hopefully you'll learn something. If you didn't vote for him, hopefully you'll at least feel like someone was listening to you.

Happy Monday

Having a bad day? It could be worse:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Song for Saturday

James Morrison is a great talent. I was watching one of those huge music festivals on TV one day and he came on and I couldn't turn him off. His style is unique and you can sense sincerity in his words. He should be around for a good long while.

So, in honor of Valentine's Day, a nice sad song by my man... James Morrison.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I was watching this town hall live with my wife. This guy instantly brought a smile to our faces with his exuberance. A couple of things come to mind when I watch it again:

1. Wow. Presidential power is something to behold. Tuesday morning he was a lowly McDonald's worker, by that night...

2. The cynic in me wants to mock his unabashed enthusiasm, but part of me also respects it. It takes a certain amount of humility to act this way.

I present to you.... Julio:

Rachel Maddow

If you don't know who Rachel Maddow is, you need to. She is probably the smartest progressive voice on the airwaves (TV and radio) today. She has a radio show on Air America and a show on MSNBC that airs week-nights.

Part of her bio from her website:

Rachel has a doctorate in political science (she was a Rhodes Scholar) and a background in HIV/AIDS activism and prison reform. She shakes a mean cocktail, drives a bright red pickup, hates Coldplay, loves arguing with conservatives, spends a lot of money on AMTRAK tickets, and dresses like a first-grader.

(She also does not own a television, which I'm not sure how she gets away with working in the industry she does.)

She has had an amazing year. I first saw her on Keith Olberman's show in the spring. She was a frequent guest and always offered good insight into the issues of the day. Then they began letting her fill in for Keith when he was out. It then became painfully obvious that she needed her own show. By the end of the summer they had fired the 9pm guy and she was on TV. Her show has consistently surpassed ratings expectations and has even beaten O'Reily (King of that time slot) a few times. She even scored an interview with Barack Obama a week before the election, a huge get.

Keith has been my favorite for a while now, but I realized about 3 weeks ago that Rachel has surpassed him in my heart. I still watch him, mainly to laugh, but I watch Rachel to learn.

I encourage you to check her out, especially if you disagree with her politically. She articulates the 'left' side of the arguments well. At worst you'll at least better understand where those crazy lefties are coming from.

Liquid or Solid?

Two parts corn starch and one part water and you too can pretend to be Jesus:

Can You Run On Water - Free videos are just a click away

For You Early 90s Rap Fans

This is the show for you:

MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice are joining forces for a one-night-only joint show. “Hammer Pants and Ice” goes down Friday, February 27, 2009, at 8:00 p.m. at the McKay Events Center in Orem, Utah.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Voodoo Jesus

That title will make more sense once you watch this:

watch more at aniBoom

We're in trouble...

If you look at this graph of past recessions and compare it to our current one, it looks like this is going to be the longest and deepest hole that we've seen in a long-long time. Prepare accordingly...

And we're back!

Sorry for being AWOL for a few days. I celebrated my anniversary with the wife...

Back on the saddle we go!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Song for Saturday

This was the first Amy Winehouse song I ever heard. The moment I heard it I knew I was listening to a very talented person. Sadly, it seems that she has a pretty significant substance abuse problem. I pray she figures that out and gets some help before its too late. She has a lot of good music left in her that the world needs to hear. Few things bother me more than talent not seeing the light of day. I hope she doesn't become a cautionary tale, but what I've seen so far from her doesn't have me optimistic...

Enjoy her while you can.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ghost Towns

My thinking about Dubai made me think about this blog I came across a few months ago. is a collection of strange top-10 lists, its a great time waster and you'll see a lot of cool stuff. I'll probably start linking to them regularly now that I think about it... but I digress...

This post of theirs just shows the top-10 ghost towns. I don't think Dubai will go quite this far, but something like this is bound to happen to them.

I hope I'm wrong.

Dubai, Ctd.

I wrote about my concern about all the expansion going on in Dubai a few weeks ago. Well, they haven't heard my cry:

Waterfront Dubai, according to Wiki: expected to become the largest waterfront and largest man-made development in the world. The project is a conglomeration of canals and artificial islands; it will occupy the last remaining Persian Gulf coastline of Dubai, the most populous emirate of the United Arab Emirates. It will consist of a series of zones with mixed use including commercial, residential, resort, and amenity areas. The vision of the project is "to create a world-class destination for residents, visitors and businesses in the world's fastest growing city"

When done it'll look something like this:

Again, my concern is sustainability. How long can this keep going? What happens when they hit a depression? This has given me an idea for another post. Standby....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Joe Cool

I hope I can sound this cool the next time I control the fate of 100+ people. There was a better than even chance that this guy would be dead in a few seconds, and he sounds like he's checking his credit card balance!


Art Viewable From Space

From the slums of Kenya, an amazing sight:

Today, after more than a year of planning, 2000 square meters of rooftops have been covered with photos of the eyes and faces of the women of Kibera. The material used is water resistant so that the photo itself will protect the fragile houses in the heavy rain season. The train that passes on this line through Kibera at least twice a day has also been covered with eyes from the women that live below it. With the eyes on the train, the bottom half of the their faces have be pasted on corrugated sheets on the slope that leads down from the tracks to the rooftops. The idea being that for the split second the train passes, their eyes will match their smiles and their faces will be complete.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Say what???

For the first time in my adult life I just heard the President admit to making a mistake. It took him 2 weeks do do something W couldn't do in 8 years. Change has indeed come....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Recycling at its finest

(An ordinary phone booth was transformed into an aquarium by artists Benoit Deseille and Benedetto Bufalino as part of the Lyon Light Festival in France)

"Why?" You may ask, the designers clue us in:

“With the advent of the mobile telephone, telephone booths lie unused. We rediscover this glass cage transformed into an aquarium, full of exotically coloured fish; an invitation to escape and travel.“

More pictures here.


Ok, so I was wrong about them winning. But if you watched that game, you saw why I picked them to win. They have a lot more heart and talent than the world-at-large is aware of. My heart broke for them. They played a flawless game except for the last play of the first half which cost them 10 points (at best) and the title. As a football fan though, I was very entertained. I hope the Big Game can be that good every year.

I have no love for the Steelers. They get enough love from everyone else, they don't need me....

A Real American Hero

If you grew up in the 80s, seeing this will really excite you:

Getting the hype in early, aren't they?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Tell me you've seen a better move in the squared circle.

Coolest Wrestling Move You'll Ever See - Watch more Free Videos