Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ted's Top 26 Songs of 2008

It's nearing the end of the year and that means finals (boo) and end-of-the-year best-of lists (yay). The following is a list of my favorite songs of 2008, but it is not necessarily indicative of my favorite artists or albums of 2008. So, without further ado, here are my top 26 songs of 2008, in no particular order:

- "Electric Feel" by MGMT (Oracular Spectacular)
- "The Most Beautiful Girl In The Room (Album Version)" by Flight of the Conchords (Flight of the Conchords)
- "Shove It (Switch Remix)" by Santogold (I Believe In Santogold EP)
- "He Doesn't Know Why" by Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes)
- "Let The Beat Build" by Lil' Wayne (Tha Carter III)
- "Golden Age" by TV On The Radio (Dear Science)
- "Chemtrails" by Beck (Modern Guilt)
- "For Emma" by Bon Iver (For Emma, Forever Ago)
- "Violet Hill" by Coldplay (Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends)
- "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" by Vampire Weekend (Vampire Weekend)
- "The Rip" by Portishead (Third)
- "Mikey Rocks" by The Cool Kids (The Bake Sale)
- "Trick For Treat" by Neon Neon (Stainless Style)
- "Evil Urges" by My Morning Jacket (Evil Urges)
- "A Little Better" by Gnarls Barkley (The Odd Couple)
- "Gila" by Beach House (Devotion)
- "Control" by Kid Sister (Scion CD Sampler Vol. 22: Fool's Gold Remixed)
- "Oil" by Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood OST)
- "Mykonos" by Fleet Foxes (Sun Giant EP)
- "Grounds For Divorce" by Elbow (The Seldom Seen Kid)
- "Circus of Horror" by Quiet Village (Silent Movie)
- "Dance Wiv Me" by Dizzee Rascal (Dance Wiv Me Single)
- "A Milli" by Lil' Wayne (Tha Carter III)
- "Sentimental Heart" by She & Him (Volume One)
- "Still Here" by Girl Talk (Feed The Animals)
- "Kamphopo" by The Very Best (The Very Best Mixtape)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baghdad by the Bay

According to the SF Crime blog, San Francisco has surpassed 100 murders for 2008. If you believe the blog, this is the second straight year of 100 murders in the city (the SFPD recorded only 98 in 2007). The 104 murders recorded to date by SF Crime is the highest amount since the 104 reported in 1995.

It might be interesting at this bloody moment in SF to recount an August column by C.W. Nevius in the San Francisco Chronicle:

In July 2004, Mayor Gavin Newsom was confronted by a morning radio show caller who complained about the homicide rate. Newsom's flip reply was that if homicide rates didn't drop in a year, the caller could "begin a campaign to recall me. And you know what? I may be right there as a co-signer of that effort."

When it comes to wisecracks the mayor wishes he never said, that has to be at the top of the list.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oligarchy or Democracy?

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has produced a seven-and-a-half hour State of the City address that is being presented in various "webisodes" on YouTube. This is all you need to know about it:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Palin Redux

You need not have been following the presidential race closely to know that the Republicans' nomination of Sarah Palin for vice president was, at best, a laughable attempt to win the support of voters who supported Hillary Clinton while, at the same time, lighting a firecracker beneath the red-meat conservative base.

I could cite the interview she gave to Charlie Gibson of ABC News, but I already wrote about that. Her recent stints with Katie Couric of CBS have sufficed to let the average viewer know that Palin is utterly unqualified to hold any position of authority in the federal government, much less Vice President of the United States, and far much less President of the United States. Can you imagine? I cannot.

Here we have a woman who has displayed an incomprehensible lack of knowledge about world affairs, who has come up lamentably short even in the eyes of some of the softest pundits seeking to give her every benefit of the doubt, and who cannot say whether she reads a single newspaper.

Some have ascribed her suffering at the hand of the press to sexism, but that, frankly, is a joke. If a woman does not know what she is talking about, does not understand what Hamas represents, does not know what a $700 billion government bailout of the financial industry entails, then she is not suffering from sexism, she is quite simply not smart enough to occupy the second most important, or possibly the most important office in the most powerful nation in the world.

In what was apparently an actual interview, Palin was asked on Tuesday, "Governor, your candidacy has ignited extreme hostility, even some hatred on the left and in some parts of the media. Are you surprised? And what do you attribute this reaction to?" (I should mention that Hugh Hewitt, a hilariously partisan writer, conducted this interview.)

Palin responded:
"Oh, I think they’re just not used to someone coming in from the outside saying you know what? It’s time that normal Joe six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency, and I think that that’s kind of taken some people off guard, and they’re out of sorts, and they’re ticked off about it, but it’s motivation for John McCain and I to work that much harder to make sure that our ticket is victorious, and we put government back on the side of the people of Joe six-pack like me, and we start doing those things that are expected of our government, and we get rid of corruption, and we commit to the reform that is not only desired, but is deserved by Americans. "

And that would be funny, if she wasn't a nominee for vice president, because she can't even give a straight answer to the ultimate softball question of all softball questions. Americans deserve more than "Joe six-pack American" in the office of vice president. Here's a question: If you needed heart surgery, would you ask your sister? If you needed investment advice, would you ask your girlfriend? If you wanted to understand the political atmosphere in the Middle East, would you ask your aunt? These are not sexist questions. If Sarah Palin wants to position herself as a hockey mom, a pitbull with lipstick, an average Joe six-pack, then why can't we question whether we want such mediocrity in the position of ultimate power?

Hewitt also asked: "Now governor, the Gibson and the Couric interview struck many as sort of pop quizzes designed to embarrass you as opposed to interviews. Do you share that opinion?"

Palin said: "Well, I have a degree in journalism also, so it surprises me that so much has changed since I received my education in journalistic ethics all those years ago. But I’m not going to pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrelful. I’m going to take those shots and those pop quizzes and just say, “That’s okay.” Those are good testing grounds. And they can continue on in that mode. That’s good. That makes somebody work even harder. It makes somebody be even clearer and more articulate in their positions. So really I don’t fight it. I invite it."

First of all, the Gibson and Couric interviews were just about as kind as they could possibly be. But what really gets me about that exchange is Palin's response, because according to her own Wikipedia page, Palin spent one semester at Hawaii Pacific University in 1982, transferred to North Idaho College to spend two semesters in a "general studies" program, transferred to the University of Idaho for two semesters (during which time she won her beauty pageant), for whatever reason transferred again to Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska for a "term," then finally came back to the University of Idaho for three semesters, eventually earning her BS in communications-journalism in 1987. So not only are her journalism credentials questionable, at best, it appears that her college education as a whole doesn't even qualify her for Teach for America, much less vice president.

Sarah Palin is now holed away in Sedona, Ariz., being briefed by operatives from the McCain campaign and awaiting her date with Joe Biden on Thursday for the vice presidential debate. If her interviews are any indication, Palin will fail miserably. Yet ideologues will still attribute her failure to the "liberal" press, to commentators who aren't yet ready for a powerful, "average" woman to come into great political power.

At this stage, though journalists must remain neutral, commentators and pundits must be honest with themselves, and with the American people. Just because the McCain campaign accuses you of being "in the tank" because you're skeptical, doesn't mean you're doing wrong. In fact, it probably means you're doing right.

I would be surprised if McCain wins this election. In the end, I predict an Obama near-landslide, along the lines of a 53-47 popular vote split, if not more. If you look at the Bush-Kerry electoral map from 2004, it seems clear that Obama can turn key states: New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Florida. If Obama can't pull this off, then I have serious questions about the rationality of the American voter.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin and the Campaign

If you're a Democrat, especially one who believes that salvation is riding on the back of Barack Obama, then you might have felt a little shiver after Sarah Palin delivered her biting acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The days following the RNC have been filled with McCain campaign attacks, culminating in the recent, completely misleading brouhaha over Obama's "lipstick" comment. (Look it up, I refuse to discuss it.) In situations like this, with their presidential candidate constantly on the defensive and suffering beneath a barrage of Republican talking points, Democrats inevitably do what they do best: Freak out and self-flagellate.

But, from what I see, the Obama campaign is actually in a good position. And Obama's counselors, known among journalists for their cool professionalism and self-discipline, don't seem to be freaking out. Here's why: After Republicans put on their biggest event of the election cycle, the RNC, and introduced a vice presidential candidate who can best be described as the juiciest of juicy steaks for right-wing conservatives, the McCain bounce in national polls drew him into a dead heat with Obama. That bears repeating: Barring some dramatic, unpredictable turn of events in the next one-and-a-half months, the McCain campaign has enjoyed their biggest bump in the polls, and all they've done is pulled even with Obama nationally.

It's important to note the word "nationally." Included in such a poll, obviously, are voters in the South, as well as the Mountain West, two regions that I think most people would say are locks for any Republican presidential campaign these days. Yet McCain is only even with Barack Obama. Obama's operatives, because they're smart, can only be encouraged by this. As David Broder noted - coming via the Wonkette post I linked to above - the Obama campaign is playing the electoral college. They don't need to win the South and Mountain West. They need to win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and perhaps Florida and Colorado. I'd be interested to look at the polls coming from those states.

Meanwhile, Palin's honeymoon has begun to come to an end. Realizing that they couldn't sequester their VP pick in an undisclosed location until Nov. 4, as they might prefer, the McCain campaign let Charlie Gibson go at Palin in her first big, unscripted TV interview since being nominated. Things didn't go super well. Liberal blogs are playing up the fact, perhaps rightly so, that Palin stumbled and evaded Gibson's questions, often repeating certain phrases, mantra-like, over and over. This is in spite of the fact that she was coached by some of the biggest Republican political operatives for weeks. I expect that her failure to address several questions head on - including her childlike attempt to escape a discussion of the "Bush Doctrine" - will get play in the mainstream media. The Washington Post already has a front-page story for Friday about Palin linking Iraq to Al-Qaeda at a speech she gave recently at her son's military base.

So now the tide begins to turn. Right wing stalwarts such as William Kristol and the National Review have turned defensive. Just as Democrats tend to form circular firing squads when things don't go their way, Republicans resort to their own time-tested strategy: blaming the media. Even for a nonpartisan such as myself, there's a delicious irony in reading Kristol whine about the Washington Post "distorting" Palin's Iraq comments, considering how easily he and his cohorts resort to distortions when criticizing Democratic candidates. Turnabout is fair play, and Kristol should know.

It will be interesting to see if the McCain campaign releases Palin from her media exile, or if they interpret the ABC Gibson interview as a failure and squirrel her away for more briefings. I'm sure they'd like to do the latter, but I think the consequences are probably too great. It looks like a lose-lose scenario for the campaign, because it's now clear that Palin is going to get criticized by the press, yet has to go before the press, and at the same time apparently can't handle the questions put by the press, even with weeks of intensive political education.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All Hail the Fake Olympics

For those of us who never believed that China could pull off the Olympics without doing something that made everyone go, "Ohhhh, right, you're still kind of scary Communists," some validating press reports have been popping up recently.

Here's the LA Times blogging a round-up of the most obvious chicanery:

-Fake fireworks in the opening ceremony
-Fake voice for the little singing girl
-Fake wind for the flags (I noticed that one but wasn't really that upset. Flags need to wave, you know?)

And the New York Times with a longer look.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

America: Prudency Isn't Our Middle Name

Tax Checks Yield Surprising Growth in Retail Sales - NY Times

Or, roughly translated: Even Wall Street didn't think Americans would spend their money that quickly.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

New Ratatat Album - "LP3"

Here's a few tracks from Ratatat's new album. Definitely one to listen to on headphones, or at least in a place where you can enjoy the sweet production. Probably good even if you're just blasting it, too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gay Marriage in California?

The California Supreme Court has announced it will issue its ruling about the legality of gay marriage this morning at 10:00 a.m. PST.

The opinion can be found here, when it's published:

Expect reporting on the ruling at these sites:
(CalLaw - free subscription required)
(The CalLaw blog, totally free)
(The Bay Area Reporter)
(The San Francisco Chronicle)

And maybe here:
(The Wall Street Journal Law Blog)
(uhhh... the new york times.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why I Love Radiohead Fans

Someone has made a site to document the current Radiohead tour (I'm seeing them August 22 here in S.F.!). It's pretty extensive.. gets me excited for the show.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Primary Thought

The New York Daily News is not, as far as I know, a bastion of journalistic integrity. But a recent article on the post-Indiana, post-North Carolina primary world got me thinking.

The article quoted two men who I'm assuming, based on the article's theme of race relations, are both white.

"I'm kind of still up in the air between McCain and Hillary," said Jason Jenkins, 32, who cited information from a hoax e-mail as a reason to spurn Obama.

"I'll be honest with you. Barack scares the hell out of me," he said. "He swore on the Koran."


Obama did manage to pull in many white voters, but still encountered similar sentiments from a man who refused to shake his hand at a diner in Greenwood, Ind.

"I can't stand him," the man said. "He's a Muslim. He's not even pro-American as far as I'm concerned."


In recent weeks, pundits have cited repeatedly the fact that Clinton outdoes Obama among working-class white voters. These days, everyone wants to know if Obama can win a general election campaign against John McCain. Besides the ever-present Democratic fear that Republicans will outwit their candidate, I think the subtext here is clear: Can a black presidential candidate win in a white nation?

Hell it's not even a subtext:

"He has to convince people that he can win over working-class whites in places like Florida, Ohio and Michigan," [former Bill Clinton pollster Doug] Schoen said.

So, here's the question, Democratic voter: Do you not vote for the historic, game-changing black candidate because America might still have a lot of racists who won't elect him come November? Would we be so cowardly as to reserve our vote for a reason like that?

I can understand voting for Clinton if you truly believe that she's the better candidate or that we need a woman in the White House now more than a black or white man. But more people have voted for Obama, and he's won more delegates. The Clinton argument that Obama can't win a general election campaign is cynical, defeatist and basically racist. She argues that you shouldn't vote for the black man, however astounding his potential is, because working-class whites won't vote for him in the end. She argues that voters should fear the racism of their countrymen instead of supporting the candidate who, so far, they believe in. I find that pretty depressing.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What is the Democratic Primary Like?

Some Ideas:

--It's like a solicitor who keeps knocking at your door, even when it's obvious you're ignoring him, but he keeps knocking, even at midnight when you're fast asleep.

--It's like a bad rash that you can't get rid of and you don't really know what it is but you don't want to go to the doctor because every time you make an appointment it goes away so you cancel it, but then a few days later it comes back and it itches even more this time and it has spread.

--It's like middle school when there are two new kids and they both want to be in the cool kids clique but the novelty of being new is diluted because there are two of them so the cool kids reject them but they won't give up and so spend middle school making each other's lives miserable.

It's like when you are really hungry but you know you have no good food to eat so you put off eating and then you get hungrier and really anything sounds good to eat but you are too lazy to eat so you put it off longer and then you aren't really even hungry anymore but you feel like eating so you eat whatever you have in your fridge but it sucks so you are dissatisfied.

Submit more!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Vampire Weekend
Jimmy Kimmel Live
With a Drumline!

We both love Vampire Weekend's single "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," and this performance does have the added benefit of a drumline, but I (Evan) was a little underwhelmed by the singing. Kinda boring, I thought, compared to the album version. But that's just me. Enjoy.

The Dark Horse of Cantripshire
Part One

Christ, let this darkness end. Oh, how I long to look on the fields of Cantripshire once more! If I had known it would come to this, I never would have listened to him. How could he, my own flesh and blood, betray my trust in this most heinous and awful way?

The oftentimes cheerful and sunny Cantripshire horizon was slowly filling with dark, menacing clouds. G.H. Fipsworth watched from the wide bay windows of his study as the sky's hue darkened and the air closed in around him. The sounds of larks singing and far off dogs barking were gone. A silence was growing; an uneasy, almost terrible silence. Suddenly, he heard the distant rumble of thunder. Forks of lighting could be seen in the black mass in the sky that was moving ever closer to his spacious country home. Looks like we're in for one hell of a night, he thought to himself, slowly pouring a glass full of whiskey. The silence was abruptly interrupted by a loud knock at his study doors.
Where most people would have jumped at the sudden noise, Fipsworth's demeanor stayed calm. His years of serving the Empire in India as a Colonel had given him nerves of steel. When a man is faced with unexpected bursts of artillery or gunfire, he learns to keep his wits about him. Slowly turning his sturdy frame, he paced the large room in a surprisingly short amount of time. He laid a strong, weathered hand on the latch and swung the door open. There, standing before him, was Ian Nielson, the butler of the house since time immemorial.
"Sir, a Mr. Goodwin wishes to see you. He is waiting in the parlour," stated the elderly servant. Though getting on in years, it was obvious from the old man's eyes that he still possessed a sharp mind.
"Thank you, Nielson," said Fipsworth. "Tell him I shall be with him directly." The old butler nodded,
"Very good, sir," he said as he shuffled out of the room. Mr. Nigel Goodwin was Fipsworth's third cousin, twice removed, on his mother's side of the family. The two became fast friends long ago, having served in the Army together in the Manjabi Province. It had been awhile since Fipsworth and Goodwin had spoken due to the latter's journeys around the globe. Fipsworth was looking forward to catching up with his old friend; he always liked to hear stories from his cousin's adventures. I wonder what kind of tall tales he'll be telling this time, Fipsworth thought to himself, smiling. He proceeded out of his study and into the spacious parlour. As soon as Fipsworth set eyes on his cousin, he could tell something wasn’t right. The once smooth round face was taut and wrinkled. His customary smile was now a grimace of pain and the usual spark in his eyes was gone.
“Hullo, Gerald,” said Goodwin, calling Fipsworth by his Christian name, “how are things?” His voice, once robust and jubilant, was now gravelly and it sounded as though that small salutation had drained the breath from his lungs.
“Not too bad, Nigel, not too bad,” said Fipsworth apprehensively. “You’re looking…well,” he added a moment later. Goodwin’s laugh was filled with anything but mirth.
“Oh my dear Gerald. Let’s dispense with the pleasantries, shall we? We can both see that the years have not been good to me.” Fipsworth could see the darkness in his cousin’s eyes. There seemed to be a shadow emanating from within, like a blackness pouring forth from his soul. His cracked lips opened and he said, “I have come to make you a proposition, my dear friend, my dear cousin. A proposition that I hope you will be unable to turn down.” Fipsworth waited a moment, eyeing his cousin with something that was half suspicion and half sadness. He could tell that the man was obviously down on his luck, and it pained him to see his once well-to-do cousin in such a spot.
“Look Nigel, if you just need to borrow some money or something, I could loan you a few hundred quid. I know you’re good--”
“Ha!” His cousin laughed in his face. “I do not need your charity, my dear boy. Despite my somewhat haggard and disheveled appearance, I am still somewhat wealthy. No, no, my proposition has nothing to do with anything so dismal as money.”
This last statement interested Fipsworth. As long as he could remember, his cousin had put money first. First before his wives, all three of them; first before his children, and who really knew how many of them there were? “Pray tell, then Nigel, what exactly is this grand proposition of yours?”
“I have two words for you, my dear Gerald,” his cousin rasped, his voice lowering to almost a whisper, “Sanjit Kumpur.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Great Lakes Lesser Cities: Podcast Numero Dos

We hope you will enjoy our new podcast with it's All-Robot cast. You can listen to or download it below:

You can also download an mp3 file of it HERE
Just click the link and on the right side of the page, click "Download original."

Hope you enjoy it and feel free to let us know what you think.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Odd Photograph

I saw this photo on the Chicago Tribune's Web site the other day. I'm curious if anyone knows where it could've been taken. I don't know of a single place where you can be out on the water that far and look back toward the city, unless it's Navy Pier, but I don't think that goes out far enough. Thoughts?

Friday, April 4, 2008

NY Times: America has Serious Case
of the Mondays

A Friday New York Times article reports that 81 percent of the nation thinks "things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track."

Apparently, this is the worst it has been since the Times/CBS News began to ask about such things in the early 1990s.

The real question here, for me, is: Who wrote this poll question?

I say there's two possibilities. Either it's Farmer John from down in the corn patch, or your grandpa. Those are the only two people I can think of who would think things have "pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track." A possible third option is the guy who thinks his date is starting to go sour, as in, "Whoa whoa, Christine, I think 'things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track' between you and me."

Anyway.. major bummer, folks.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I have been going through some old notebooks and journals of mine from when I was still a film student. The bulk of these were written when I was probably 19 or 20, which was about 3-4 years ago. Almost all of it is ridiculously embarrassing and I am going to destroy the bulk of them pretty soon, but some of them were actually kind of neat to go through. So I tore out a few of the poems and drawing I did that weren't that bad so that I can save them for posterity's sake. I'm going to share three of the poems/rhymes I wrote below. Enjoy and go easy on me. I promise I haven't written a poem in probably at least 3 years.

P.S. I'm including the titles that I originally gave the poems. Also, all of these were originally written in my horribly rote cursive that I hadn't used since 3rd grade but that I used with them because I probably thought it was more "artistic" or something.

"Sloppy in Style, Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar, and Flow - Yet Surprisingly Optimistic Poem"

When night has come, and doused the sun, to my waiting bed I run. Before I fall, as dead as leaves or weeds or anything at all, I crawl to the floor and thank the Lord for letting me live in this world at all. For in this life we are given choices, and with these choices come voices. Telling us which path to follow, some of them completely hollow. But others are filled with awe and wonders and these we should take above all others. So the only thing we have to fear is fear, that is undoubtedly clear. Fear comes with the voices that make evil choices, and try to take our free will so dear.

I actually like this poem because it has almost a classic quality to it. The way it flows in the beginning. I'm not quite sold on the last sentence. I feel like I could have beefed it up a little or at least kept the lyrical rhythm I had going. Oh well. Next:

"Stupid Poem #8"

If one were to transplant a brain, would the love contained within remain? Or would it stay, left behind, for the new owner of the old body to discover in time? I do not believe that love is so cold that it cannot exist without a soul. But what is a soul if not the creation of the mind? Something designed to help everyone find something in existance to help them put distance between the present and the end of time.

I like this poem because it also has a nice flow to it. And it ends better than the last one did. Also, the syllables fit really well at the end, unlike the last one. Moving on:

"Stupid Poem #9"

Entwined by the wine, they hoped for a sign to prove their lust was just. And just in time they received a sign when their genitals were turned to dust. Rusty, musty, crusty, and dusty was how they lived out their days. Living with the knowledge that perversion never pays.
I was (and still am) a huge Edward Gorey fan, and I'm pretty sure I wrote this right when I was starting to get into him. It's obviously a blatant rip-off of his style, but I still like it.

Well, I hope that wasn't too painful for anyone. I promise I'm done with poetry.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Great Lakes Lesser Cities: First Podcast

I just got done putting together our first ever GLLC podcast. It's not much, just some songs to get you in the mood for Spring. Hopefully, in the future, we'll do more in-depth podcasts covering real topics. But for now, enjoy this:

Or, Download it.
Just click the link and on the right side of the page, click "Download original."

1. Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
2. Fleet Foxes - "He Doesn't Know Why"
3. Jamie Lidell - "Multiply (In a Minor Key)"
4. She & Him - "I Was Made For You"
5. Bon Iver - "For Emma"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weird Notes from the Ether

This is what the world of bit torrents will yield:

It came along with a download of The Wire. Someone apparently wants me to know about Freemasonry. You know.. my grandpa was a Freemason, I've been told.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bush is Still Stupid

I just read a Gail Collins editorial this morning. I'm starting to really like her. I, for one, still haven't gotten over the fact that our President is a bumbling idiot. This speech to the Economic Club of New York is just one indication of that fact, out of the millions we've gotten over the years.

Maybe you're thinking, "Oh come on, he never knew economics anyway, and it's not like he controls that policy." I suppose, but when you combine Gail Collins' editorial with this article from Reuters, you realize that yes, he really is retarded.

"In a videoconference [on Afghanistan], Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.

Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country's democracy-in-the-making.

"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some New Music

OK, I know you're all listening to "Ashley Alexandra Dupre," the latest sensation to come out of England... er, wait, sorry, I mean the New Jersey girl who had sex with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, but maybe take the time to listen to some stuff Ted and I have been enjoying:

Fleet Foxes (MySpace)


El Guincho

Panda Bear

Maritime (cover of a Hot Chip song)

And Yet More Thoughts
on the
Spitzer Circus

More clues as to why The New York Times was hot on the trail of the prostitution bust, while everyone else had no clue:

"Just one fact piqued interest for some in the room: The lead prosecutor on the case was Boyd M. Johnson III, the chief of the public corruption unit of the Manhattan United States attorney’s office.

Later that day, reporters at The New York Times learned of the unusual presence of three lawyers from the corruption unit, including the boss of that division and an F.B.I. agent from one of the bureau’s public corruption squads. The public corruption units often look at the conduct of elected officials.

Within hours, the reporters were convinced that a significant public figure was involved as a client of the prostitution ring."

The Times apprently sent a reporter to stake out Spitzer's apartment and see what he was up to over the weekend, a fact which, in light of the following excerpt, makes it seem as though this reporter tailed Spitzer the whole weekend:

" Late Saturday afternoon, the governor hopped an Amtrak train to Washington, changing into a white-tie tuxedo in the train’s restroom."

Really? And how do you know that? Kinda creepy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thoughts on the
Spitzer Circus

Sure, it was a great New York news day. Big ups to The New York Times for breaking the story and reporting the hell out of it. But if the Times wants to follow through, they'll start thinking like others have begun to (check the comments) and examine why Spitzer was under so much scrutiny. Why were the feds looking so closely at his finances? Why this prostitution ring in particular? If this ends up netting only Spitzer and some random sleazeballs (i.e. no big money, no other big names), then there's a question as to why it ever happened in the first place.

On a journalistic note: This piece from Editor & Publisher examines what other newsrooms did with the news of the prostitution bust (before anyone knew it was Spitzer). No one seems to have any inkling that it was going to catch a big fish, except apparently the Albany Times-Union:

"[Editor Rex Smith] said the paper had filed a freedom of information act request Monday morning, before the Times story broke, for Spitzer's travel records from the February dates on which he supposedly met the prostitute in Washington, D.C."

That seems like a rational and prudent move on the part of the Times-Union. So why did the NY Times move so much faster, with high-level editors pulling late weekend shifts? The first piece I linked to mentions that veteran Metro reporter William Rashbaum got a tip that "Client 9" in the prostitution bust was a "New York official." Who gave him the tip might be a fact we'll never know, but it's the key to the whole thing. It's probably the only reason the Times was able to break this story, and who the tipster is and what his motivations are might indicate why Spitzer's identity leaked in the first place. Looks like Rashbaum's old-school experience paid off big time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today in
Breaking News

Today, we all found out that a guy who looked like he used prostitutes did in fact use prostitutes, albeit apparently high-class ones.

That guy being New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, duh.

I think it's (mildly) interesting (for a journalist) to note that three major papers-The New York Times, the New York Post and the Washington Post-all used almost identical headlines:

Wash Post: "NY Governor Linked to Prostitution Ring"

NY Post: "Spitzer Linked to Prostitution Ring"

NY Times: "Spitzer is Linked to Prostitution Ring"

Come on, New York Post, that's the best you can do? How about: "Hypocrite Gov. Indulged in High-Class Whores?" I think the question mark would maintain the Post's integrity.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday Morning
Journalism Round-up

Let's start with the lede from this article by Steven Lee Meyers of The New York Times:

"President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques."

I don't know Meyers' writing, but this strikes me as a somewhat Times-ey lede, meaning that the first time I saw it, I had to read it twice to get the meaning. Why not switch things around and simplify a little bit:

"President Bush vetoed on Saturday a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency's ability to torture terrorism subjects, further cementing his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers."

I think that reads a little better, but we're still left with the rather weak "legacy of fighting for strong executive powers." For a paper often accused by the Right of liberal bias, that terminology makes me think either Meyers or his editors handcuffed his writing a little bit. One could just as easily say, perhaps in a different paper with a slightly more partisan bent, that Bush's veto further cements his legacy (maybe the Rove legacy, more accurately) of asserting the supremacy of executive power. To me, "fighting for strong executive powers" implies that Bush is some sort of crusader, bravely defending the rights of the West Wing.

Side note: The Washington Post seems to agree with me:

"President Bush vetoed Saturday legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, saying it 'would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror.' "

Right on, Dan Eggen.

And what would a journalism round-up be without the Chicago Tribune and their ever-depressing front page?

"1 student killed, 1 beaten"

"Woman charged with stabbing teen over boy"

"Police have suspect in UNC student leader's death"

From the San Francisco Chronicle, a story about today's Wyoming caucus, which Obama is leading, contains this sentence:

"Obama generally has outperformed Clinton in caucuses, which reward organization and voter passion more than do primaries."

Now, I like this piece of background info, which I've seen repeated in several different papers. It's useful to know the difference between primaries and caucuses. But what about that little "do" stuck in there, as in "more than do primaries"? Seems to me like the case of an over-eager editor trying to make the sentence's grammar perfect, though I'd like someone else to weigh in and tell me if that "do" is really necessary.

Finally, the opening paragraph from a piece found in the Feb. 11 and 18 New Yorker, which piece is unfortunately unavailable online. (note: I think "which piece" is the right way to refer back to the article, and not the entire New Yorker edition, thoughts?)

"My nickname when I was in junior high and high school, in Kansas City, was Loyd, my father's name. It was given to me inadvertently, in 1967, by my seventh-grade math teacher, who had taught my father thirty years earlier and sometimes forgot which of us he was calling on. In my father's day, the math teacher's nickname had been Tarz, short for Tarzan, because he was built like Johnny Weissmuller; by the time I had him, his nickname was Wheezer. He looked like Lyndon Johnson, with tremendous gravity-stretched jowls and earlobes. Age must have lengthened his scrotum, too, because he was always careful to lift his testicles out of the way before sitting in a chair or leaning back against the front of his desk. Sometimes, my friends and I, as we took our seats for math, would pretend to lift our testicles out of the way, too."