The Bw!og

    That’s Some Great Police Work
    02/20/2009, 6:26 pm -- by | No Comments

    Irish police officers have finally cracked the case of a Polish scofflaw with more than 50 tickets to his name. Seems the infamous Prawo Jazdy had given a different address every time he was stopped, and the authorities were at a total loss to stop his reckless driving — until the day they finally figured out that in Polish, Prawo Jazdy…


    …”driver’s license.”

    True story.

    Three Links (Vol. 19)
    02/18/2009, 12:40 am -- by | No Comments

    — I think this is my favorite AP article of all time. Fascinating, unbelievable, and informative. How did I not know about this before? How could any 17-year-old girl’s greatest wish be to visit a presidential museum? And the most burning question of all: do they have his beard under glass?

    — What’s that? You’d like to see the ugliest website in the world?

    — From the author of Moneyball, it’s a quick 9000 words on counterintuitive lessons of probability and efficiency in the sport most like life. The numbers became flesh, and dwelt among us — and Michael Lewis testifies of him: Shane Battier.

    Bad Marketing
    02/13/2009, 2:16 pm -- by | 2 Comments

    I have seen two new businesses around town that have not inspired my confidence. Against all Odds Hair Salon is the first. I figure, what are the chances of getting a good haircut there?

    The second is One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.

    “Hey, your guy was here and fixed our air conditioner. It worked for about an hour — and now it’s down again.”

    “Yeah, so what’s the problem?”

    Three Links (Vol. 18)
    02/11/2009, 11:50 pm -- by | 2 Comments

    — Welcome to This Is Why You’re Fat: a gastronomic gallimaufry of “food porn.” Close-up, glossy pictures of such delicacies as a Krispy Kreme sloppy joe, a deep-fried peanut butter-covered brownie wrapped in cookie dough, and the truly frightening “double bacon hamburger fatty melt.”

    Right now the front page even includes Rochester’s claim to culinary fame: the aptly named but undeniably delicious “garbage plate.”

    — And on that gluttonous note, this essay about shifting attitudes toward food and sex is perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve read all year. Mary Eberstadt argues that our society has developed distinctive and universalized moral hangups about food, at least in part due to its abandonment of such longstanding stigmas against indiscriminate sex.

    It’s a little too cute to call this modern man’s “own act of transubstantiation,” but it’s a fascinating observation — and, as Eberstadt points out, both junk food and junk sex have undeniable consequences.

    — But if all of this is too base and mundane for your ethereal mind, I’ve something for you too: a brief and surprisingly understandable lecture on the concept of physics’ string theory. As a theory, it’s quite likely nonsense. Sure is cool nonsense, though.

    Big Lots (Part Three)
    01/31/2009, 1:57 pm -- by | 3 Comments

    More fun at Big Lots (see part one and part two).

    Have you ever seen a lion look so bereft? This guy isn’t scaring anybody, unless you take into account the large chunks of paint he sheds. Come no farther — or I shall tempt your children with tasty flakes of lead!

    On the plus side, it’s incredibly heavy, discouraging thieves who are really into that “unfinished modeling clay” look.

    This is not a game
    But a secret Chinese test:
    Just how dumb are we?

    I find it important to note — this is not a singing horse, as the packaging claims.

    No. This is a singing, dancing decapitated head of a horse. And as such, what exactly does he have to dance about? They cut off his head and didn’t even remove the reins!

    Oh, you were looking for drunken, cross-eyed gnomes, were you? Right this way!

    Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 5
    01/30/2009, 11:52 pm -- by | No Comments

    A Cardinal rule
    1947’s luck
    Has more than run out

    Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 4
    01/30/2009, 4:36 pm -- by | No Comments

    Big Ben strikes the hour
    A loud and terrible sound
    Kurt pockets the ring!

    Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 3
    01/30/2009, 2:22 pm -- by | No Comments

    If the Jets beat you
    by scoring eight (8!) touchdowns,
    you stink: Pitt blowout.

    Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 2.1
    01/30/2009, 2:11 pm -- by | No Comments

    True win? Budweiser
    Trumping Bud Light once again
    It is destiny.

    Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 2
    01/30/2009, 2:09 pm -- by | No Comments

    As Obama won
    So too will his prediction
    Steelers, not Card’nals

    Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 1
    01/30/2009, 2:07 pm -- by | No Comments

    Mediocre game
    Very good food, however
    Chicken wings galore!

    Big Lots (Part Two)
    01/30/2009, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

    More fun at Big Lots (see part one).

    How ’bout this clearance aisle, huh? These products were apparently priced to move chaotically, without warning, evading all attempts at organization!

    Kind of takes all the fun out of having an Easter pet, doesn’t it? I mean, they know this isn’t a real animal, don’t they? It’s not going anywhere unless you move it there, so why put it in a cage?

    Do we really want to raise a generation of children who keep their stuffed animals in cages, sitting on their shelves, while they sit at their computers?

    Also, what’s with the ponytailed duck on the tag?? This is a rabbit, isn’t it? What’s going on in China anyway?

    This picture’s for Josh. Oh, it’s available in stores, my friend.

    I can’t wait until spring — the time when kings go out to battle — when these two mighty empires will finally meet in the ultimate conflict!

    Robots! Monsters! The six-sided ring of fire! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

    Big Lots (Part One)
    01/29/2009, 7:51 pm -- by | No Comments

    Ever been to Big Lots? It’s the Aldi (“like a rummage sale for food”) of department stores: messily stacked aisles filled to the brim with whatever Chinese imports haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves at Walmart.

    I went there recently. For you.

    Well, at least they’ve got the truth in advertising thing down — although is it just me, or does the picture on the outside not accurately reflect the doll on the inside? All they have in common is that vacant, bovine stare, like someone’s been spiking the formula with Valium.

    And what does this ‘babbling kid’ (why not alliterate to ‘babbling baby’??) say anyway? I imagine some harsh words for whoever plucked his eyebrows and dressed him in white-collared overalls.

    Because no sentiment goes better with “I love you” like “Now with trout and bass!”

    Honey, happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a two-dollar chocolate fish, to let you know that I won’t throw you back until your painful asphyxiation is complete!

    Wait, where are you going?

    Right… The problem with Barbies has always been difficulty.

    I just like how this says “A game for 2-3 players with fun.” They must not have liked how the focus group responded to the funless version.

    Let’s spice up this fishing game, McIntosh! What do you say, we add a little…fun?

    Can you spot the fun in the picture though? I think it’s represented by the blurred action chomp shot.

    Bumper Stickers III
    01/27/2009, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments

    Previous entries here and here.

    Driving around…
      Summary: Peace through . . . alien invasion?
    In Other Words: I give up, ET! Do your worst! Please — take my ’99 Honda Civic!
    Designed For: People who still think an alien head logo looks cool. People who still think a peace sign is trendy. People who like to get their surrendering out of the way super early.


      What Now?: The SUV didn’t seem higher than normal…
    Leading Me to Wonder: Eyebrows, face, chest, or backside?
    And If I Had a Nickel: For every time I’d asked that…

      Oh Good!: Snarky, unnecessarily combative bumper stickers are no longer the sole province of the left! We’re saved!
    One-Sentence Summary: Please deface my station wagon!
    Dirty Looks Per Drive: 25 (city), 35 (highway)
    No, Susie, Don’t Be Silly: That nice man is just telling Mommy she’s number one!


    Acts Band Name Playoffs!
    01/22/2009, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

    Here’s the first round in the Acts band name playoffs!









    It Takes A Frenchman…
    01/22/2009, 12:56 am -- by | No Comments

    …to surrender to a depressed poodle!

    From the Phone 7
    01/20/2009, 12:01 pm -- by | No Comments

    “Saint Ronald of Reagan, pray for us and hear our prayers.

    And may God have mercy on our souls.”

    What DID It Take in the ’90s to Burn the Charts?
    01/15/2009, 11:39 pm -- by | No Comments

    If only Hammer had known…

    1990 — Nepotism

    1991 — Exaggerated, Schmaltzy Boasts
    “There’s no love, like your love. And no other could give more love.”
    It takes a special kind of man to rhyme “love” with “love” — then immediately do it again.

    1992 — Ripping Off The Temptations
    “Girl, I know you really love me. You just don’t realize. You’ve never been there before.”
    Also, you dig that I look like Urkel in these enormous glasses.

    1993 — Ripping Off Dolly Parton

    1994 — A Deal With the Swedish Devil

    1995 — Growing Up in Compton

    1996 — Rump-Shaking Rhythm
    “Heyyyyy, Macarena! Aiyee!”
    There were people who needed a computerized lesson to learn this dance?!

    1997 — Shameless Exploitation of Tragedy

    1998 — Filthy Grinding
    “Baby, us dancing so close — ain’t a good idea.”
    Singing about it? Also not such a good idea. The musical equivalent of a trenchcoat flasher.

    1999 — A Truly Stunning Amount of Botox

    Source: The Billboard Hot 100

    The $2.99 Gas Guarantee
    01/15/2009, 1:02 am -- by | No Comments

    Not everyone is entirely thrilled about today’s lower gas prices, I bet. Watching a taped episode of Lost tonight, I saw a long-forgotten commercial for Chrysler’s summer ’08 gimmick, the $2.99 gas guarantee. Remember? They promised to subsidize gas purchases for those who bought their new cars, so that the buyers would never have to pay more than $2.99 per gallon.

    Back then, when the average price for gas was over $4 per gallon, this probably seemed like a great idea. But that didn’t last long — soon the price of gas began its freefall. And these days, those people probably feel a little cheated. After all, they gave up as much as $2,000 in incentives in exchange for three years of three-dollar
    , only to see the whole world get it twice as cheap by November. Now some part of them has to be secretly rooting for a burst pipeline, a natural disaster, trouble in the Middle East — anything to get them back on the right side of this deal!

    WWF, WWE… what’s the difference
    01/14/2009, 7:57 pm -- by | 2 Comments

    A commercial for WWF (the World Wildlife Fund) just came on TV, pleading with me to save the polar bears.

    Did you know most of them will be dead in “our children’s lifetime!”?

    Despite the clear environmental message, I couldn’t help wondering for over half the commercial, “what do polar bears have to do with wrestling?”

    Three Links (Vol. 17)
    01/14/2009, 12:42 pm -- by | No Comments

    — Have you ever noticed that Andy Rooney turned 90 today? A comedian invented the Andy Rooney Game, where his commentaries are edited down to their barest essentials — the first and last sentences. Brilliant!

    — This is a little old, but I just saw it: an etymological map of the world that uses the modern English translation of every place name. You can see a slice of America here — or as the map puts it, the United States of the Home Ruler, home of the proud state of New Wild Boar.

    — Both presidential candidates loved the scapegoat idea of closing Guantanamo, but they never said much about what we’d do with all those nasty terrorist suspects we’ve been holding there. No surprise, though, that the alternative is moving them onto US soil, filling up our military bases and granting them constitutional rights. Great idea.

    The Hum of its Parts (With Video)
    01/5/2009, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments

    The frighteningly homogenized specter that is American popular music is laid bare in this video, an astounding and technically brilliant mashup of 2008’s top 25 singles, created by the aptly dubbed DJ Earworm.

    Over the orchestral fullness of backing track “Viva La Vida,” the piece holds up musically — in truth, vastly outshining most of its ingredients. But the true measure of its genius comes not from the seamless integration of the songs, but from their respective spliced videos, which serve as a virtual laboratory report on our cultural fixations.

    Row after row of gyrating, underclothed women, blurring what remains of the line between empowerment and objectification. Preening, posing men in dollar store sunglasses, their caps perfectly askew. Money. Diamonds. Exclusive nightclubs. If it weren’t for Sara Bareilles’ nose and Coldplay constantly banging on stuff, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell anyone apart.

    In the end, the concept is so successful because, with rare exception, these already ARE one song, certainly one video. By editing away much of what identified the individual artists, DJ Earworm not only created a catchy mix of radio-ready hooks; he also exposed the underlying superficiality of popular music and American culture, in a Trojan horse of a tune that satirizes as it showcases. And the fact that most viewers won’t even give it a second thought simply reinforces the truth of the message.

    Is it a news flash that popular culture is shallow, base, repetitive, and perverse? No. But any reminder is a good one. Don’t tell me you’re sorry, music industry — ’cause you’re not.

    Pirate Ships Would Lower Their Flags
    12/28/2008, 8:07 pm -- by | No Comments

    I don’t have any strong feelings about this story, where an RNC chairman candidate distributed a CD with a potentially offensive song about the president-elect, a satirized version of Puff the Magic Dragon. I’ve heard the song; it’s not particularly funny, and since it requires a rather labored explanation of how it’s not racially offensive, it’s not a good idea to send it around when you’re seeking any national office. Yawn. Hardly worth a click.

    By far the most interesting thing in the article was at the bottom, a comment by Puff‘s original author, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary): “It is almost unimaginable to me [that Saltsman] would seriously be considered for the top post of the Republican National Committee. Puff, himself, if asked, would certainly agree.”

    Puff would certainly agree? If asked?? What are we waiting for? Somebody grab a handful of strings and sealing wax and go get a pull quote from the dragon!

    Three Links (Vol. 16)
    12/22/2008, 12:03 pm -- by | 2 Comments

    Obviously these’ll be a light next few weeks…

    — Here’s a weird news quiz, recapping some of the odder stories from 2008. I got 19 out of 23 right, which scares me. I guessed on a bunch, honest!

    — I love this Joseph Bottum piece from First Things, reprinted from Christmas 2006, about (to varying degrees) guilt, cell phones, winter, Manhattan, and the human condition. “What would genuine innocence look like if it ever came into the world? I know the answer my faith calls me to believe: like a child born in a cattle shed. But to understand why that is an answer, to see it clearly, we are also compelled to know our guilt for the world, to feel it all the way to the bottom.”

    — And just in time for the procrastinating Christmas shopper: ornate, hand-crafted, floral URINALS??

    A List of Lists
    12/18/2008, 11:05 am -- by | No Comments

    It’s that time for end-of-the-year lists! But I’m not interested in the 200,000 identical lists of albums (“lol chineese democracy rocks dude, axls still got it”), movies, and “hunks.” It’s the more unique lists that I look for.

    For example, National Geographic has released their top ten photos of 2008. My favorite was only #2.

    If it’s quantity you crave, Time has gone overboard with the thing with the “Top 10 Everything.” I’m not going to click all those links to test that claim, but it certainly appears to be quite thorough.

    If you like ads, you’ll probably enjoy the top 10 viral advertisements and worst ads of the year.

    Assuming you’re really bored and really interested in projectors, there’s even a top 10 projectors of the year! What’s that? A native XGA resolution, 2500 ANSI lumens, and an 1800:1 contrast ratio? Be still, my heart!

    Oh, and how could we forget the top cricketers of the year, a pantheon which includes the delightfully named Michael Hussey? “Hussey combines his easiness on the eye with a basic and compact technique, something which makes his wicket particularly difficult to claim.”

    You can’t make that stuff up.

    Goosing the Economy?
    12/17/2008, 5:46 pm -- by | No Comments

    The USA Today has the headline today: “Fed Gets Creative to Goose Economy.”

    Are you kidding me? Who approved that headline?

    Goosing a person involves — to my knowledge — sneaking up behind them and initiating physical contact in a way that only a doctor should perform. The dictionary defines goose (verb) as: Slang, to poke (a person) between the buttocks to startle.

    The economy is bad enough as is — leave it alone!

    Three Links (Vol. 15)
    12/15/2008, 11:25 pm -- by | No Comments

    Michael Totten is an independent journalist who travels with various American units in Iraq, and reports from the front lines at a time when most of the media have forgotten those still exist. Routinely fascinating stuff.

    — In an article from the indispensable First Things blog, Michael Linton compares the liturgical calendars of the church and the nation. Sketching out such key dates as Super Bowl Sunday, Halloween, and Mother’s Day, he concludes that while the traditional church calendar “commemorates the saving work of God through history, our American calendar celebrates money.” He admits this isn’t exactly a stunning insight, but the question remains: “If ”” or perhaps better, when ”” we run out of money, what will keep us together?”

    — I’ve done way too many of these little quizzes lately. 115 countries isn’t bad though, right?

    Catlike Presidential Reflexes!
    12/14/2008, 6:25 pm -- by | No Comments

    An angry Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush today, yelling, “It is the farewell kiss, you dog.” The footage shows that al-Maliki tried to protect him from the second shoe. According to news reports, some of the other Iraqi journalists “stood up to apologize.”

    Here’s the video:

    Said the US pool report: “The president was at no point injured and he brushed off the incident. ‘All I can report is it is a size 10.'”

    Holy Rollin’
    12/7/2008, 8:12 pm -- by | No Comments

    My favorite part from an unusual story about a Detroit church that stationed three donated SUVs on the altar for some up-close intercessory prayer:

    “At one point, [Rev.] Ellis summoned up hundreds of auto workers and retirees in the congregation to come forward toward the vehicles on the altar to be anointed with oil.”

    Straight from the crankcase, I hope! And the Spirit of the Ford was upon them, from that day forward…

    But seriously, am I the only one who’s upset about this? Don’t they understand that this oil could have been sold, for $24.99 in a half hour or less, and the money given to the poor?!

    Something Completely Different
    12/5/2008, 10:52 am -- by | No Comments

    Three Links (Vol. 14)
    12/2/2008, 3:26 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    — This firsthand account of the horrific attacks in India is spellbinding, as have been so many of the others I’ve read. A truly terrifying experience — one, I add, that we have been blessed to avoid on this soil for over seven years now. I pray that continues, here and elsewhere.

    — Sen. Harry Reid is giving thanks for the new, $621 million Capitol Visitors’ Center because it means he and his fellow legislators won’t have to smell the tourists anymore. I’m not quite sure how air conditioning will solve the proletarian odor problem, but if it makes our Congressional overlords happy, I’m all for it. If there’s one thing Senators shouldn’t have to face, it’s common scents.

    — Meanwhile, the long, desperate wait is over, and we have Cornell University to thank: for yam-flavored ice cream!

    Three Links (Vol. 13)
    11/22/2008, 1:30 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    Halftime of the Villa/Man U game…

    — The thing I’ve noticed about the weird Levi’s commercials, with people backflipping into jeans and filling their pants up with helium, is the lack of a disclaimer at the bottom advising us against “trying this at home.” Does this mean they think these things are perfectly safe, or that they think it’s obvious that the commercials are fake?

    This poor guy drove all the way from upstate New York to Montana, worked one 10-hour shift, then got fired. Meanwhile, down in North Carolina, a couple fishermen a mile out to sea used a lasso to land a golden retriever.

    — Last story’s a sad one. Six weeks ago, a 22-year-old Army reservist and Jefferson CC student named Jesse Kilgore walked into the woods near his home and shot himself. Now, in an interview with the questionable WorldNetDaily site, his father links his suicide to Richard Dawkins’s atheist snoozer, The God Delusion.

    His death is a terrible tragedy no matter what its cause, but if these claims are true — that a book and “science classes” turned this young man’s faith into despair — the real problem is not with literature or science. The problem is not even a college that allegedly “undermin[ed] every moral and spiritual value” he had (which has not been the experience of the many JCC students I know). God created the world that biology explores and studies. When our faith in Him cannot stand up to a full, impartial consideration of reality, when we feel “we must shut up one of God’s books to read the other” (Noll), then it is we who are to blame: not God, and not science.

    We cannot simply demonize learning and rely on this sort of mushy, meaningless answer: “I told [Jesse] it was my relationship with God, not my knowledge of Him that brought me back to my faith. No one convinced me with facts . . . it was a matter of the heart.” Heart or no heart, facts exist whether we ignore them or accept them. Part of the reason the university culture is so dismissive of faith is that so many people of faith are reflexively distrustful of education. Where teaching is openly anti-Christian, that’s understandable. But rather than disengaging from society, we’d be a lot better off teaching young Christians how science and philosophy are blessings, not threats.

    What I Just Read . . .
    11/20/2008, 10:57 pm -- by | No Comments

    (first in a series)

    The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll

    Its First Words — “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

    In Ten Words — Evangelical Christians must again think seriously — or risk cultural irrelevance.

    In Fifty Words — Fourteen is usually an awkward age, for human beings and non-fiction books, so it’s a bad sign indeed that Noll’s indictment of the intellectual impotence of the evangelical church has aged so well. 10 years later, he largely stood by its conclusions, seeing any improvements as exceptions, not the rule.

    In Its Own Words — “Fidelity to Jesus Christ demands from evangelicals a more responsible intellectual existence than we have practiced throughout much of our history.”

    Fighting Words — Young-earth creationism and dispensationalism come in for some serious and well-leveled criticism. In one particularly blunt passage at the end, Noll compares evangelicalism to the deuce in the card deck of Christianity. Really? Not even the four or five, Prof?

    Well-Chosen Words — A juxtaposition of the 19th-century Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart with the 20th-century Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is cherry-picked but interesting. “Under the influence of fundamentalism, evangelicals turned their eyes to Jesus, and the world grew very dim indeed.”

    As an Aside — Mike Huckabee is the new William Jennings Bryan: populist, activist, and Christian progressive. (I do not think this is a good thing.)

    Closing Words — Christians must obey the mandate to love God with our minds, wherever that leads. Learning matters — our habits of thinking matter — because the world and its people matter. “The search for a Christian mind is not, in the end, a search for mind but a search for God.”

    Further Election News
    11/18/2008, 10:03 pm -- by | No Comments

    The major media outlets appear to be calling the Stevens-Begich Senate race for Begich, the Democratic challenger. This puts the Democrats one seat closer (58 total) to a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority, pending the results of the December 2nd Chambliss-Martin runoff and the Coleman-Franken recount which begins tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.

    Suggested Norse Oaths
    11/17/2008, 1:06 am -- by | No Comments

    Why should the Christian Trinity get all the work in the curse department? Let’s put the Norse gods to work with some of these exclamations.

    By Freyja’s cat-drawn chariot!
    Holy Odin on a pogo stick! (Hat tip: Djere)
    Oh, Frigg!
    Sweet goats of Thor!
    Mighty Mother Nerpus!
    Hang a shaman!
    Kvasir, gods’ spit!
    Naughty Nanna’s consort!
    Aw, Hel!
    Sniveling Snotra!
    Valknut petroglyphs!

    How’d We Do?
    11/11/2008, 1:20 pm -- by | No Comments

    Let’s look at the Bweinh! election predictions. First, the haiku:

    CORRECT: 3MC-B; Kaitlin; David
    INCORRECT: 5Josh; Job; Steve; Djere; Tom
    TOO VAGUE: 1Connie

    Next, my predictions. I was right that the partisan breakdown wasn’t as disparate as many polls suggested: just 39-32 Democrat, but I still underestimated Obama’s popular vote by 0.5%, and overestimated McCain’s by 1.6% (the final result was 52.6-46.1).

    Here’s the map. All the states I pegged as blowouts (10+) were in fact blowouts, with one exception: South Dakota. But of the five I thought would be sound Obama wins (5-10), four were blowouts. Only two of McCain’s five were blowouts, while I was right on the other three.

    And the pattern continued: of the four states I predicted Obama would win semi-close (3-5), two were blowouts and two were sound wins. McCain had one sound win, one semi-close win, one state still too close to call (Missouri), and two tight LOSSES (0-3). This left only the five key states, and Obama won them all: Pennsylvania in a blowout, Nevada and Virginia soundly, Ohio semi-close, and Florida tight.

    So I was wrong a lot on margins, and five times on states. But I did give an “absolute worst-case scenario,” and provided that McCain holds onto Missouri, that prediction (364-174) will be off by only one electoral vote. Seems Omaha outperformed even MY pessimism.

    Three Links (Vol. 12)
    11/7/2008, 4:28 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    — This year’s election map by county doesn’t look all that different from 2004, but if you check out the voting shifts tab, you see that pretty much everywhere that wasn’t Tennessee, Arkansas, or Oklahoma got markedly bluer. Still an improvement over the Clinton years, though.

    — I don’t feel comfortable sending you all to some of the things I most enjoy at McSweeney’s, but anyone who’s ever fired 10 times at a squirrel on the Oregon Trail should appreciate this. “The other day, I saw you quit the trail immediately after your wagon capsized in the Kansas River. You lost only an ox and a hundred pounds of food. I drank myself to sleep that night.”

    — As I learned during college, people love lists. Whether they loved my lists is another question entirely, and rather than considering it, why don’t we check out this list of the ten most irritating phrases, from researchers at Oxford? Maybe, at the end of the day, I’m fairly unique, but I personally feel that it’s not rocket science; with all due respect, you absolutely shouldn’t of doubted that using these phrases 24/7 at this moment in time — it’s a nightmare.

    The Morning After
    11/5/2008, 10:13 am -- by | No Comments

    I’ll go through my predictions once all the results are finalized, but it sure does look like my worst-case scenario came true. But what does it all mean, really?

    For one thing, a lot of people are considerably happier than they were yesterday. Josh reported walking through the Staten Island projects yesterday and seeing people dancing, screaming, and celebrating in a way he hadn’t seen since the Giants won the Super Bowl. And I find myself legitimately glad for those people. Today the United States has elected a president of mixed race, and that is an achievement — an achievement of identification and participation. Good for them.

    On a more substantive note, the Democrats will finally be forced to provide responsible political leadership, rather than endless delay and obstruction. They were never going to become serious about the War on Terror until they were responsible for it, and now we will see whether even that will make a difference. Republicans maintained enough seats in the Senate to at least occasionally threaten a filibuster, and after five years of endless Republican immolation, I for one look forward to watching the Democrats destroy themselves for a change. I feel more comfortable on the outside. It’s refreshing.

    Today I woke up and walked to work and the sun was shining and the breeze was blowing and it was so warm and beautiful I thought it was May. Life is good and God is on His throne.

    Today is a good day to be an American. They all are.

    Why Hillary Clinton — no, Barack Obama — Will Be Our Next President
    11/5/2008, 8:00 am -- by | No Comments

    Originally published November 2007, and resubmitted October 31, 2008.

    No, I don’t like her him. No, I would never support her him. Yes, I really believe she will be our next president.

    Why do I think this?

    First, it’s the Democrats’ turn. One of the best practical jokes I was ever a part of involved a camper trailer, me, a massive former football star, a small musician/ladies’ man, and several children. I put the kids in the trailer and worked out signals, so that when Henry (the small guy) lifted the tongue of the camper while I moved the stump to level it, the kids scurried to the back, making it easy for him to lift. But when Tim (the big guy) tried, I had them scurry to the front, making it impossible to lift. With the wheels as a fulcrum, 5 or 6 small kids made the job either easy or impossible — tricking Tim was great fun.

    The weight, I believe, is shifting back to the Democrats. The strongest candidate we can muster won’t be able to overcome even the feeble challenge of a liberal female inexperienced candidate.

    People in this nation seem to love the underdog, and they get tired of the same people being in power — especially when those people promised they would “remember you” when they got there, but quickly forgot, amid their newfound life of luxury. Remember the right-wing revolution? The Contract with America? People gave conservatives the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time in a bazillion years, and we were going to reform lobbying and campaign finance, set term limits, and fix every other advantage held by the inside-the-Beltway boys? Yeah, they slacked off on those promises and never did get around to reforming all that’s wrong with our national government.

    *loud whistle* “TIME! DEMOCRATS! YOU’RE UP NEXT!”

    But it’s not just that, it’s also the economy again. It’s kind of like having only two grocery stores in town — when you get sick of the one you shop at now, you go back to the one you left eight years ago. It’s bound to happen. Prices go up everywhere, but you still go back to the old store.

    I know no one is saying we’re in a recession, but the man on the street can sense these things long before the big shots admit it’s happening. Gasoline affects every other sector of the economy. Everybody needs transportation to get back and forth to work; everyone has to get their product from point A to point B. Everyone I know is struggling paycheck to paycheck. Every business owner I know is looking at a bad year. Our business did $1.2 million last year, but we won’t come close to a million this year. Like it or not, people are ready for change.

    Then there’s the war. It was the right thing to do; it’s still the right thing to do, but it’s draining away revenue we don’t have, and creating a huge deficit again. Right or wrong, people vote with their wallets, and right now, those wallets are leaning to the left. There’s no one out there I can see who will turn them back.

    And that’s the last reason. There is no conservative Republican candidate generating the type of interest needed to energize the Christian vote. You may think I’m crazy, but I know Christians who voted for Bill Clinton when he ran for re-election. Four years of his shenanigans, and still they voted for him.

    When I hear people here in Alabama, a solidly conservative Republican stronghold, entertaining the possibility of another Clinton Obama administration — and hinting that it might not be so bad, I think the tide has turned.

    From the Phone 6
    11/5/2008, 1:02 am -- by | No Comments

    Overheard at work today:

    “If this election goes the wrong way, we should move to Canada.”

    “If this election goes the wrong way, we’ll BECOME Canada!”

    Election Day Live Blog!
    11/4/2008, 5:05 pm -- by | 6 Comments

    We live-blogged Election Night for almost EIGHT SOLID HOURS, including input from Steve, Djere, MCB, Job, Kaitlin, Josh, and Tom! So check it out, and don’t forget to scroll down and look at all our other content from Election Day too!

    The Final 538 Prediction
    11/4/2008, 2:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    On one hand, these guys are admitted Democrats whose analysis frequently seems to consist of telling liberals “not to worry” about polls that look bad for Obama. On the other, they do seem to use thorough models and have an impressive pedigree in statistical analysis, especially in the stat-heavy world of baseball.

    So for what it’s worth, 538 projects a landslide Obama victory — either 353-185 or 349-189, depending on which way you want to look at it. That’s only one state (Indiana) short of my worst-case scenario.

    They give McCain only a 1.1% chance of victory, which is comically low. I suppose we’ll see how all their numbers look after tonight.

    Battleground Poll Results
    11/4/2008, 11:55 am -- by | No Comments

    May the rest of my Election Day be as pleasant as this morning, where I got two rounds of applause and some free cookies for being voter #100 in the precinct.

    If you’re looking for good news, the reports of high turnout have not been limited to Democratic areas, and the early vote in Colorado is almost equally split between Democrat and Republican.

    Also, the most accurate poll in three of the last four elections has predicted a final result of Obama 50.9%, McCain 47.4%. Combine that projection with the huge margins Obama is expected to run up in New York and California, and maybe McCain does have a shot to eke out that narrow Electoral College win.

    I think the odds are around 8 to 1.

    From the Phone 5
    11/4/2008, 10:59 am -- by | No Comments

    “And so we enter the great unknown”

    “And, tomorrow, the re-education camps”

    Steve’s Predictions
    11/4/2008, 12:51 am -- by | No Comments

    Why should you listen to me? I went 13-1 this week in my football picks, that’s why!

    First, I don’t really believe in the Bradley Effect — but I do think many of the polls that have given Obama massive leads are making faulty assumptions about the partisan breakdown of this year’s electorate. Not even after Watergate did Democrats outnumber Republicans the way some of them seem to expect, and when you hear bad news tomorrow in the exit polls, just remember how wrong they were in 2004 and 2006.

    That said, Obama’s still going to win the popular vote, something like 52.1 to 47.7. As for the states:

    Obama by 10 or more: Illinois (21); New York (31); Connecticut (7); Massachusetts (12); California (55); Maine (4); New Jersey (15); Hawaii (4); Vermont (3); DC (3); Rhode Island (4); Delaware (3); Maryland (10)
    McCain by 10 or more: Alabama (9); Tennessee (11); Alaska (3); Kentucky (8); Texas (34); Mississippi (6); West Virginia (5); Idaho (4); Utah (5); Wyoming (3); Louisiana (9); Oklahoma (7); Kansas (6); South Dakota (3)
    TOTAL: Obama 172, McCain 113

    No real surprises here. The continuing coal gaffes push WV over the 10-point barrier, but the rest of these are simply the two parties’ bases: mostly coastal Democrats and rural Republicans.

    Obama by 5-10: Michigan (17); Washington (11); Iowa (7); Oregon (7); Minnesota (10)
    McCain by 5-10: South Carolina (8); Arkansas (6); North Dakota (3); Georgia (15); Nebraska (5)
    TOTAL: Obama 224, McCain 150

    Not a good sign for McCain that rock-ribbed Republican SC and GA are in this section rather than the last — or that MI and MN are this far out of reach. But I also have a feeling the Pacific Northwest won’t be as Democratic as the polls indicate.

    Obama by 3-5: Wisconsin (10); New Hampshire (4); New Mexico (5); Colorado (9)
    McCain by 3-5: Arizona (10); Montana (3); Indiana (11); Missouri (11); North Carolina (15)
    TOTAL: Obama 252, McCain 200

    IN, NC, and MO have been close for a while, but I expect they will stay Republican tomorrow as the undecideds break for McCain. It’s the losses of NM and CO that have really put McCain on the hot seat — there’s really only one place he can make up those electoral votes.

    Only five states are left; I’ll take them from smallest to largest.

    Nevada (5): Reports from early voting have Obama ahead, but not as much as you’d expect, given the partisan breakdown of the voters. I think McCain takes the state by less than 1%, although I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Obama pull it out by a similar margin. In the end, it won’t matter. 252-205.

    Virginia (13): For a long time, I simply didn’t believe this state would go blue, not with McCain in the race and such a large contingent of veterans. But every poll since the beginning of October has shown Obama with the lead. I don’t think they’re all wrong. Obama by 2. 265-205.

    Ohio (20): Another state where the Democrats’ mouths are getting them in trouble, and where McCain has been closing the gap as of late. Ohio has enough of the areas where Obama has underperformed to keep McCain alive, although not by much. McCain by 1.5. 265-225.

    Pennsylvania (21): The end of the road for John McCain, even after Obama called its voters gun-clinging ignoramuses and vowed to bankrupt the coal industry. McCain started in a big hole here, and I just don’t think he can overcome it. I sure hope I’m wrong, but… Obama by 2.5. 286-225.

    Florida (27): Close enough to slide to the Republican side when the undecideds break, especially given the state’s demographics. Not nearly as close as 2000, either; I see it going to McCain by 2 percent, giving us a final total of 286-252, Obama.

    Basically, McCain can’t win without Pennsylvania — not unless he holds Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Nevada, and ekes out a victory in Colorado or something. And there’s not much reason to think either of those scenarios will happen. Barack Obama is very likely to be our next president.

    But McCain sure has come back before, and Obama sure has underperformed before, and the USA did beat the Russians in hockey that one time, and, and . . .

    My prediction: 286-252 (Obama)
    Absolute worst-case scenario: 364-174 (Obama adds Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Indiana, and North Carolina)
    Absolute best-case scenario: 300-238 (McCain adds Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Virginia)

    Three Links (Vol. 11)
    11/3/2008, 8:03 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    — A reminder from pacifist, agitator, and singer-songwriter Derek Webb: “If your conscience is seriously conflicted over both candidates, you are at liberty to not vote.” That’s the position of many Amish, enough so that “looking for Amish voters is a little like trying to buy drugs.”

    Obama Warns He May Cease To Exist Unless America Believes In Him [The Onion]. Don’t laugh — it can happen. “In Texas, he is nothing more than a gentle wind, rustling through the trees””a ghostly visitor soon departed.”

    — James Lileks — writer, polymath, and a personal role model — has started a separate political blog, perhaps foretelling the impending tide of leftism.

    P.S.: While I was looking up my first-ever reference to Lileks (wherein I called him “the love child of Garrison Keillor and Dave Barry”), I spent a solid few hours looking through my old journal. Fascinating reading, some of it. Linking to it here should help my biographers.

    As for what I found there, you might enjoy this actual picture of a logged forest, this list of things to do when you’re bored, or this story about how Abraham Lincoln was almost in a duel to the death, thanks to a satirical letter he wrote.

    Or — if you’re interested in the actual content — here’s a consideration of how quickly taboos become anachronisms, an indictment of the modern focus on feelings over ideas, and my acknowledgment that I’m not nearly as smart as I think I am.

    Now that I remember where this stuff is, I might use it for a “Best Of” article someday.

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 9
    11/3/2008, 6:21 pm -- by | No Comments

    If Obama wins,
    God’s deserved judgment has come;
    if not: His mercy

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 8
    11/3/2008, 6:04 pm -- by | No Comments

    Barack Obama
    will win PA and CO:
    John McCain loses

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 7
    11/3/2008, 4:08 pm -- by | No Comments

    Today’s spam subject:
    “McCane kicks Obama’s butt”
    Can you say “Bradley“?

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 6
    11/3/2008, 3:07 pm -- by | No Comments

    McCain the crack-up
    Going down in a blaze of
    SNL glory

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 5
    11/3/2008, 2:56 pm -- by | No Comments

    They say Mack can win
    with some help from a redskin
    I can blush, Meghan!

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 4
    11/3/2008, 2:50 pm -- by | No Comments

    Obama rises
    Victorious with Biden
    Dorks have won the day

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 3
    11/3/2008, 2:09 pm -- by | No Comments

    Virginia called early:
    the beginning of the end?
    Or this year’s Florida?

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 2
    11/3/2008, 2:04 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    Lawsuits like raindrops
    Lawyers: Biblical locusts
    Apocalypse soon

    Presidential Haiku Prediction 1
    11/3/2008, 1:59 pm -- by | No Comments

    Beauty and Maverick
    versus record fund raising?
    Barry by a nose.

    Our Endorsement
    10/31/2008, 12:00 am -- by | 5 Comments

    After an interminably long campaign season, the 2008 election is finally, blessedly, upon us. And as we vote, our nation faces immense challenges, from without and within: a gathering economic storm, two ongoing wars, and potential threats from Russia, China, and the Middle East. Our choice is not merely academic. We cannot afford a mistake. America must elect a leader with the experience to guide us safely through the next four years, the judgment to choose the best course through trouble, and the wisdom to make the difficult decisions.

    Given the choices on the ballot, we have no trouble concluding: that leader is Senator John McCain.

    Senator McCain has a long and storied record of serving this country with honor. He was shot down over Vietnam and tortured for over five years, enduring this suffering even after he was given the opportunity to be released before his fellow prisoners. He has been in the Senate for 22 years, where he is recognized by members of both parties as a pragmatic and independent leader, willing to hammer out a compromise when he believes it is in the best interest of the country, regardless of his party’s policies. He has long fought excessive spending and corruption in politics. His life tells a tale of accomplishments and action.

    Contrast this record with his opponent’s. Senator Barack Obama has run an inspiring campaign that may well land him in the White House, but nothing in his history suggests that he is qualified for the job. From the Ivy League, he immediately entered the sleazy world of Chicago machine politics, where his ambition and gifts allowed him to quickly climb from local community organizer to U.S. Senator, with the help of several unseemly characters.

    What has he done in that time? Precious little but run for higher office and vote “present” on controversial bills. What does he offer in support of his candidacy? Precious little but soaring rhetoric and vague promises of “hope” and “change” — welcome words in a time when so many believe the nation is on the wrong track, but ultimately, nothing more than hypnotic platitudes. He is simply a blank slate onto which his followers project their wildest political fantasies.

    He has never — not once — taken a stance opposed to the wishes of his party.

    He has never — not once — shown the courage to stand by an unpopular position.

    On the issues, Sen. McCain outshines Sen. Obama, especially given the near-certainty of Democratic control in both the House and Senate. McCain’s tax plan focuses on relief for those who currently pay taxes; Obama would raise taxes on investors and confiscate money from some Americans to give to others. Obama has promised that one of his first actions in office would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which purports to abolish all state restrictions on abortion. McCain is, and has always been, unapologetically pro-life. Obama’s responses to foreign crises, such as the Russian invasion of Georgia, have been unsurprisingly naive, while McCain speaks with the gravity of a man who has been deeply involved on the foreign stage for a generation.

    While Obama has swayed with every gust of wind, McCain has been steadfast and right on Iraq and Afghanistan, promising that those countries will be secured and self-governing before we leave them. McCain would nominate Supreme Court judges who will free Congress and the states to make the law; Obama supports an unelected activist judiciary that would impose its policy preferences on the nation. McCain supports the continuation and expansion of free trade, which has been a tremendous boon to American industry. Obama would “renegotiate” the treaties, hamstringing our fragile economy even further.

    John McCain is not a perfect man. He is anything but a perfect candidate. We disagree with him on several issues, and we need no help seeing his myriad flaws. But to choose a third-party candidate, as many have done, is no choice at all — not when the differences between the two major candidates are this stark, not when the stakes for our nation are so great. We have no time for foolish quibbles over irrelevant issues, the political equivalent of leaving a church over the color of the nursery carpet.

    No, these are serious days for our nation and the world. We deserve, we need, more than a smooth-talking first-term senator who has never run anything larger than a law review office and a campaign. We deserve experienced leadership, a man who has been thoroughly tested and found worthy of the job and its tremendous responsibility. A man who respects the presidency, but does not lust for it.

    Sen. Obama might inspire and uplift, but beneath the words, he is an unqualified man with one of the most extreme voting records in the Senate. Sen. McCain has a proven record of bipartisan accomplishment and consistent leadership.

    One talks, and talks, and talks. The other has followed through.

    Bweinh! proudly endorses Senator John S. McCain for President.

    Spam Subject Line of the Day
    10/30/2008, 11:15 am -- by | No Comments

    McCane kicks Obama’s butt

    Three Links (Vol. 10)
    10/28/2008, 2:14 pm -- by | No Comments

    — I certainly reserve the right to not support Sarah Palin in the next election, but I’m tired of the recent flood of critical articles from members of the conservative intelligentsia, wanting to establish their independence from the purportedly fast-sinking ship.

    So it’s nice to see her described, by a liberal feminist who’s actually spent some time on her press plane, as “thoughtful [and] curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight.” But then, why would you personally speak to the candidate when you can just jump to conclusions based on fevered hallucinations about her church attendance?

    — My time on British buses was actually quite pleasant. Tube stations, though — they’d be a better fit for this new “there’s probably no God” ad campaign.

    — And on the heels of that painting horse, here’s a site where you too can let your inner abstract expressionist/equine prodigy run free.

    McCain down 31 — in New York
    10/27/2008, 2:11 pm -- by | No Comments

    Remember how, a little over a month ago, McCain was supposedly down only 5 points in New York? Well, now he’s down by just a little more. 31, to be specific. 62% for Obama, 31% for McCain. Doubled up.

    If people are generally irrational creatures who make decisions based on emotional reasons they don’t understand, but rationalize after the fact — and I have a feeling that they are — then this election wasn’t decided by John McCain’s “dirty campaigning,” or so-called “lack of judgment” in picking Palin or suspending his campaign.

    It was decided when people first checked out Obama and came away thinking that he understood them. That he spoke for them.

    Once that switch was flipped, attacks couldn’t stick — he became a walking canvas for American hopes and dreams, the vague principle of change representing whatever a voter happened to want most. He’s not just a man, he’s a cult of personality.

    People are most likely to wind up agreeing with you when you just present the facts and let them connect the dots in argument. Barack Obama just showed up — with his preternatural cool, his dusky baritone, and his meager resume — and let America fill in the blanks.

    God help him. God help us.

    Whither Bono
    10/24/2008, 1:49 pm -- by | No Comments

    From the Guardian:

    “A new writer will be joining the New York Times editorial staff, issuing literate meditations on the issues of the day. He’s Irish. He wears wrap-around sunglasses. And his name rhymes with ‘Oh no!’ ”

    Well, no. No, it doesn’t. It rhymes with “I have mono!” and maybe “Check out my tonneau!” Trust me, I’m a limerick expert and I named my second (tonneau-less) car after the guy.

    A little later in the article, the Times’ editorial page editor offers: “The problem with conservative columnists is that many of them lie in print.”

    Oh! Like those famous right-wingers, Jayson Blair [NY Times] and Stephen Glass [the New Republic]? It seems the Times’ definition of a lie isn’t deceit: it’s disagreeing with them. Enjoy those sliding profits and declining circulation numbers.

    Bumper Stickers II: The Apolitical Edition
    10/24/2008, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments
    Walking to work…
      Designed For: The guy who’s tired of people only hating him for his personality. Insatiable front-runners. Hillary Clinton. Carl Pavano.
    Hey, At Least It’s Not: Pink.
    Chance He’ll Get Hurt: 90% (Boston); 75% (the Bronx); 0.01% (Phoenix)

      Wait, You Forgot: Overcompensate!
    It Was Also Her Year To: Turn without signaling; cut me off in a crosswalk
    One-Sentence Response: “Well, what’s left for next year?”


    Live-Blogging the Third-Party Debate!
    10/23/2008, 7:12 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    Check below for my live-blog transcript of the third-party presidential debate! If you dare…

    Third-Party Debate Is On, Apparently
    10/23/2008, 4:37 pm -- by | No Comments

    According to this seedy-looking press release (complete with flanking swimsuit ad), the third-party debate will go on tonight at 9 pm EDT.

    Nader’ll be there, because, really, what else does he have to do — and so will Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. Looks like ol’ Bob Barr won’t show up, and McKinney might be out too. But, heaven help me, I’ll be here to live-blog it. Stop on back in a few hours!

    Three Links (Vol. 9)
    10/23/2008, 12:35 pm -- by | No Comments

    — I’m reading too many touchy-feely, wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed “come-to-Obama” stories from people who claim to agree with John McCain on the issues, yet simply can’t vote for him in the face of the irresistible force of Barack Obama’s personality. Well, here’s a pretty solid argument against him, although if you are like one too-honest law school friend of mine, the fact that it uses logic might just make it passé.

    — My morning Internet routine includes these three crosswords: USA Today, my local paper, and the LA Times.

    — Have I mentioned I love McSweeney’s? Here is a short imagined monologue from a 39-year-old single wedding photographer. Not only will she “make you a DVD slideshow of your photos set to your favorite love songs,” but she promises to “cut the brake lines on zero limousines.”

    Some previous favorites from the series include a particularly treacherous game of Risk, a particularly treacherous game of Clue, and an intervention staged by Christopher Robin.

    Four More Years…
    10/22/2008, 11:58 pm -- by | No Comments
    Of Jimmy Carter.
    A Syntax Question
    10/21/2008, 10:26 am -- by | 3 Comments

    “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

    This sentence is sensible and grammatically correct. Can you explain how (without cheating)?

    10/17/2008, 1:12 am -- by | 2 Comments

    The silliest part about this story about a horse artist isn’t that his painting, “The Big Red Buck,” was selected to appear in a prestigious international juried competition.

    It isn’t the art critic who wrote that the horse “clearly grabs me and holds me as I watch him paint with the fire of Pollock.” That’s just creepy.

    No, it’s this quote from his owner “and assistant” — “It’s not about novelty anymore. It’s about his validation as an artist.”


    I did enjoy what one art curator said, although probably not for the reasons he intended. “There may not be a lot of thought behind the process, but one could also ask the same question about Pollock or De Kooning or Rothko.”

    Well, yes. Yes, one could. In fact I do. Every time I look at their “art.”

    If a horse can do your job as well as you can, you should probably consider another line of work.

    Spam Subject Line of the Day
    10/16/2008, 12:10 pm -- by | No Comments

    Why to wait?

    Three Links (Vol. 8)
    10/16/2008, 11:39 am -- by | 2 Comments

    — I am seriously considering live-blogging the third-party presidential debate this Sunday. I can’t even imagine what those folks will say, but I bet it’ll be more interesting than another Obama-McCain slapfest.

    — Slate helpfully brings us an article on the etymology of “fail” as a noun. “The highest form of fail ”” the epic fail ”” involves not just catastrophic failure but hubris as well.”

    — I can’t play golf in real life — or at least I was pretty bad the one time I tried — but I enjoy the new fully-functional online golf game at the World Golf Tour. The gameplay is startingly similar to NES Championship Golf, except with beautifully rendered landscapes replacing cartoonish trees. So I guess it’s not all better.

    Live-Blogging the Last Debate!
    10/15/2008, 7:17 pm -- by | 2 Comments

    Click below to read our live blog of the third and final presidential debate!

    Toyota Pre Runner
    10/10/2008, 3:51 pm -- by | No Comments

    I got behind a Toyota Pre Runner today in traffic. Is that like a Four Runner that hasn’t hit puberty yet?

    Where Do They Come From?
    10/9/2008, 5:08 pm -- by | No Comments

    I saw a guy today walking at an angle, employing a quick and purposeful stride that brought him off the shoulder of the road and out into the path of my car. Seconds before I got there, he looked up at me with shock and horror — as though he had never before encountered an automobile in any of his previous forays out into the world.

    He stepped back and watched in utter amazement as my car and a pickup truck sped by; he stood and watched us for the longest time as we drove on. Where did he come from? Was he raised by wolves? How could he not be expecting traffic on a busy road in the middle of the day?

    People like that puzzle me.

    Three Links (Vol. 7)
    10/9/2008, 11:20 am -- by | No Comments

    — How does a mother give a show and tell presentation that ends with all the kids touching a dead bat? At least she offered them a sanitary wipe — but now they’ll all need six shots. Bet her kids are going to be popular this week.

    — In a finding that will surprise absolutely no one who follows politics, business, or education, narcissistic people are most likely to become leaders, out of a desire for power.

    “Many people have observed that it takes a narcissistic person to run for president of the United States,” said the study’s lead author, adding that such people “tend to have volatile and risky decision-making performance and can be ineffective and potentially destructive leaders.”

    — How about some delicious . . . cat?!

    Live-Blogging the Presidential Debate!
    10/7/2008, 8:00 pm -- by | No Comments

    Thanks for joining us for our debate live blog! If you missed it, you can click on the box below and read the entire transcript!

    Bumper Stickers
    10/7/2008, 6:14 pm -- by | No Comments
    Walking home from work…
      Summary: The sticker for the guy who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “obsolete.” Or the word “war.”
    One-Word Response: Uh, Hitler?
    One-Sentence Response: “Don’t worry — McCain will install the patch and upgrade to War 7.0.”
    Chance I’d Get Hurt: 15%. When pacifists actually do fight, the guilt just makes them fiercer.

      Summary: Now even your bumper can chant for the Chosen One!
    Delicious Irony: It was stuck over a “Dissent is Patriotic” sticker, probably because soon it won’t be.
    In Other Words: “I Didn’t Kill My Baby Immediately After Birth, But in the Future, I’d Like That Option”
    Spam Subject Line of the Day
    10/6/2008, 11:43 am -- by | No Comments

    “Do accept my sincere apologies if my mail does not meet your personal ethics”

    Call J.G. Wentworth
    10/3/2008, 2:57 pm -- by | No Comments

    Does anyone remember this poll?

    Well, if California (tied for #2) doesn’t get some cash soon, they might sink into the mighty Pacific.

    We’re still working on Massachusetts. Stay tuned.

    The Next Day
    10/3/2008, 9:32 am -- by | 3 Comments

    I don’t know. Part of the reason I was unsatisfied with Palin’s performance (see the post below) was the sheer number of missed opportunities to say important, overlooked things about Obama and Biden, and the fact that her opponent looked and sounded a lot more comfortable answering the questions.

    But upon reflection, I think part of the problem was that Joe Biden is simply an excellent liar who happens to be very telegenic. He makes crap up and he does it with a straight face.

    He lied about us spending more in a month in Iraq ($10B) than we have in 7 years in Afghanistan ($172B). He lied about his position of “always” being in favor of clean coal — he just said he wasn’t a few weeks ago. He lied about McCain’s alleged vote to raise taxes. For goodness’ sake, the man even lied about Katie’s Restaurant in Wilmington, which closed years ago.

    The McCain campaign has a list of other lies here, although I don’t agree with all of them. For instance, Biden didn’t lie when he said McCain was “dead wrong on Iraq” just because he agreed with him for a little while.

    But he did lie a lot — and he sounded great doing it.

    UPDATE: There are a few more in this post .

    Live-Blogging the VP Debate!
    10/2/2008, 7:34 pm -- by | No Comments

    Join us right here at 9:00 EDT for as-it-happens discussion of the vice-presidential debate!

    Previous live blogs: Westboro Baptist Church

    Three Links (Vol. 6)
    10/2/2008, 10:52 am -- by | No Comments

    — Here’s a challenging word game. I first linked to it back in spring ’06, when I was running Job’s blog for a week, and this morning I was happy to find that it hasn’t changed a bit.

    — “He has no church. He belongs to no denomination . . . As recently as three centuries ago, he probably would have been burned as a heretic.” He’s Benny Hinn, and The Wittenburg Door would like to tell you a few things about him. Did you know he describes God as “6-2 or 6-3, with long hair of a light brown color, and eyes that can look right through you”? Alluring!

    — And finally, how refreshing to see a major media organization finally write an in-depth article not only investigating how millions of Barack Obama’s funds have been illegally sent in by anonymous donors (many from foreign countries), but also examining both his close affiliation with the corrupt Chicago political machine, including unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and criminal Tony Rezko, and his complicity in the subprime mortage meltdown, as the #2 recipient of donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past twenty years.

    Refreshing in theory, I mean. In reality, all we get are snarky “Sarah Palin is stupid” hit pieces like this one from Slate (owned by the Washington Post). Oh well. Her sentences are hard to diagram. And that’s really important too.

    BONUS: I couldn’t leave out this great article on the sinful nature of man, as illustrated through movies. It’s more interesting than I make it sound, I promise. “However surprising it may be to hear this coming from a theologian, I find that some of Hollywood\’s most popular, current films could re-educate us on the traditional, rich, and incisive language that Christian cultures once used to describe the human condition. Hollywood can teach us how to speak about sin ”” and indeed how to be sinners again.”

    A Vote for Charity
    10/1/2008, 12:50 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    If you act now, you can send $2 to the charity of your choice, with nothing but two clicks of the mouse. Squidoo is giving away up to $80,000: $2 for each of the first 40,000 votes cast at that page in the next two weeks — but they’ll probably reach 40,000 today or tomorrow. I was number #9192 or so.

    I picked the Salvation Army for my Jefferson (I owed them for that beer I didn’t drink), but there are plenty of deserving options, including Action Against Hunger, the ASPCA, the March of Dimes, an Oregon church, charities opposing all manner of diseases, and the current leader, Soldiers’ Angels, which sends care packages to our overseas military.

    So go vote!

    Spam Subject Line of the Day
    10/1/2008, 12:38 pm -- by | No Comments

    “Make your fat friends envy you”

    A Brief Note
    10/1/2008, 12:00 am -- by | 1 Comment

    Hello, friends. Happy October.

    The past month has brought significant change to Bweinh!, and I wanted to make you aware of some of the details.

    First, please join me in thanking Chloe and Erin for all of their fantastic contributions, which have, unfortunately, come to an end. Their insightful perspectives and well-fashioned prose, which enlivened so much of the site, will truly be missed.

    Second, we are currently in a time of transition, and it may result in slightly more sporadic updates. The weekly Bible discussion will continue on its regular schedule, but articles and Clashes may be slower to appear at times. I’m not quite sure what this transition will bring, or when it will be complete, but I can tell you that the site will neither disappear nor fade away.

    Third, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that tremors in the overseas credit markets will lead to our acquisition by a larger, more established website, or even the United States government. Allow me to assure you that we are as solvent today as the day we began; your money is as safe with us as it is with any group of random strangers who enjoy the finer things in life. Oh, and I earned this Maserati. I intend to keep it.

    Fourth — well, there is no fourth. You can leave early! But please feel free to email me with any suggestions or comments, about anything at all. And thanks for visiting.

    Spam Subject Line of the Day…
    09/28/2008, 9:26 pm -- by | No Comments

    “Your chemist wants to know if you are interested in bad health”

    What Does It Take to Get Fired?
    09/25/2008, 8:17 pm -- by | No Comments

    Today everyone in my department was required to attend a multi-hour sexual harassment prevention session. I was already in a combative mood, and once the facilitator steamrolled through our discussion, then made it clear that we were staying an extra half hour, my body language (I am told) began to betray my disgust and impatience. Don’t waste my time, man. Not today.

    Some of the things we learned in those first two hours included:
    — If an enormous man decides he identifies as “female,” his new status immediately applies in the restroom
    — If someone complains about how much skin is displayed in a picture of my baby, I will be asked to remove it from my desk
    — The word “manpower” is offensive and wrong

    Somewhere around hour 3, slide 34, our trainer told us a story about two court librarians who, while on the clock at work, snuck back to the superseded stacks and, shall we say, commenced an interlibrary loan aboard a table. Everything was captured by security cameras. The tale ended, unbelievably: “They got called in and asked if it was them on the tape, and they admitted it. And, by the way, they still work in the court system today.”

    Wait, what?? A lady two seats down said what we were all(?) thinking. “How were they not fired?”

    “Wow, you guys are tough!” our trainer answered. “You really think they should have been fired for that? They were transferred and sanctioned…don’t you think it matters that they told the truth?”

    I couldn’t resist.

    “No! No, it doesn’t matter at all! Of course they should have been fired! They were caught on video, on the clock, having sex on a table — in our library!”

    The trainer frowned at me. “Well, maybe you should know that this sort of thing has happened more than once, and–”

    I interrupted. “Well, maybe if they’d fired the first people, it wouldn’t keep happening!!”

    Lesson learned, though: I can do whatever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want, as whatever gender I want, as long as I don’t lie about it when it’s caught on tape — and as long as it doesn’t involve any baby pictures on my desk.

    It’s Better Than Nothing
    09/22/2008, 11:26 am -- by | 5 Comments

    I could survive for 1 minute, 19 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

    Three Links (Vol. 5)
    09/21/2008, 1:26 pm -- by | 2 Comments

    Just walked back from church through a brisk, delightful mist, appropriate weather for the last day of summer.

    — Maybe you’ve seen smarmy standup comic Bill Maher in advertisements touting his upcoming movie Religulous. Although he characterizes religion as a “neurological disorder” that prevents people from thinking critically, it turns out he’s got some intensely odd beliefs of his own — no surprise, given a recent study that concluded that those who lack traditional religious belief generally exhibit increased faith in pseudoscience and the paranormal. So if everyone has the disorder of faith, just pointed in different, contradictory directions, at what point do we start to see it as a feature to be tweaked, not a bug to be squelched?

    — I probably couldn’t disagree more with Roger Ebert’s politics, but I love his movie reviews for their insightful and incisive commentary. Here he writes a wise defense of criticism: “It is important to know why you hold an opinion, understand how it emerged from the universe of all your opinions, and help others to form their own opinions . . . Too many simply absorb. They are depositories for input. They can hardly be expected to be critical of their own tastes, can they?” Oh yes, they can — and must.

    — “I’m a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage.” So writes David Blankenhorn, who supports California’s Proposition 8 this November as a way “to strengthen the only human institution — marriage — that is specifically intended to safeguard” the right of children “to know and be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world.” He notes that the other events that take away that right are seen, to some extent, as tragedies — to enact gay marriage would be to celebrate this failure, effectively denying the worth of a mother and a father to the children they rear.

    Three Links (Vol. 4)
    09/18/2008, 9:55 am -- by | No Comments

    — Is it really a good idea to teach computers what words mean? I guess it would make yelling at them more satisfying.

    — Lileks has a brilliant takedown (toward the bottom of the page) of a loathsome, unhinged piece in Salon. McCain and Palin, the author’s Jesuit friend assures her, are “everything He or She [God] hates in a Christian.” As Lileks writes, “Nothing gives the soul peace like knowing God hates the same people you do.”

    — As a basketball official who has been known to make a bad call from time to time, I feel awful for Ed Hochuli, whose mistake actually changed the outcome of a game. “I failed miserably,” he writes. “Although it does no good to say it, I am very, very sorry.”

    From the Phone 4
    09/17/2008, 1:01 pm -- by | No Comments

    “The McCain website should debut a feature where you can sign up to receive a text message when Obama picks a NEW running mate.”

    Dramatic Irony
    09/16/2008, 10:53 am -- by | No Comments

    Every Monday night, I join some friends from work at a British pub for a written trivia quiz. Our performance has been slightly above-average: an admirable result, as the questions often focus on obscure African geography and the duration of the Peloponnesian War. We’re good, but we’re not always 460 BC good.

    Amidst the quiz, there are three “beer questions” — yell out the answer first and win whatever you’re drinking. Since what I’m always drinking comes with free refills anyway, my interest is less fevered than those who shell out $5 a pint; in fact, I’d never even bothered to answer before.

    Until last night’s first beer question: “What organization’s official publication is The War Cry?”

    A second of silence, then my voice, alone in the pub: “The Salvation Army!”

    And that’s how a teetotaling organization won a teetotaling man a free beer.

    Another Dissatisfied Searcher
    09/15/2008, 1:58 pm -- by | No Comments

    Amidst our daily referrals of those searching for Navy boot camp information and analysis of Yerma came:

    14 Sep, 22:22 — “sarah plain [sic] in a bathing suit”

    And to think, that person’s vote counts just as much as yours does…

    McCain Down 5 — in NEW YORK
    09/15/2008, 12:19 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    I don’t believe it’s accurate, and I certainly won’t suggest that he has a shot to win, but it’s worth noting — especially for those who think their votes meaningless — that the latest Siena College poll shows only a 46-41 deficit for McCain here in New York, down from 51-33 three months ago. More discussion here and here.

    How long will it be before Biden is forced out for our junior senator?

    From the Phone 3
    09/13/2008, 3:41 pm -- by | No Comments

    “I’ve never seen a PT Cruiser driver and thought, ‘You know, I was wrong about them.’ “

    Where Were You?
    09/11/2008, 2:22 pm -- by | 4 Comments

    Seven years ago I was a few months removed from college, a few months away from my first job, foundering about in the uncertain void that seems to precede every important decision I face. My brother was sick or feigning, home again after only four days in fourth grade, and I was awakened early that morning to keep watch.

    I was at my parents’ computer when my aunt called our home phone. “I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center.” I turned to CNN and saw the replayed clips and the President’s news conference.

    John remembers that I came out to the living room and made him turn off his video game. Twenty and nine, together the two of us watched, for the rest of the day. First one crowded tower fell. Then the other.

    Where were you?

    From the Phone 2
    09/11/2008, 10:28 am -- by | 1 Comment

    “My apartment hallway always smells like some unholy onion fraternity spent the night hazing the Vidalia freshmen.”

    Make Par While the Sun Shines
    09/11/2008, 10:24 am -- by | No Comments

    What is it with golfers? I can’t tell you how many times I have been watching the ESPN ticker thing and see stuff like BELLSOUTH PGA INVITATIONAL….Singh (-3)…Leonard (-1)…suspended on account of darkness… Like it was a surprise that the sun went down! They didn’t know it was going to get dark when they started?

    Three Links (Vol. 3)
    09/10/2008, 10:23 am -- by | 2 Comments

    — I was stunned by what former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel had to say about Sarah Palin — and so were the left-wing radio hosts who had welcomed him to their program!

    — Camille Paglia shows again why she’s my favorite atheist left-wing libertarian feminist. Really!

    — Something that has nothing to do with politics: here’s how you would — no, will — die in a black hole, your atoms “extruded through space like toothpaste being squeezed through a tube.” Minty. But if it was going to happen, it already would have

    EDIT: I already linked to Paglia in today’s quote, so here’s a bonus link: who knew that Cindy McCain was an accomplished “drifter”?

    Always a Bright Side
    09/9/2008, 9:11 pm -- by | No Comments

    Today I had to drive to New Jersey to pick up some dentures (don’t ask). Anyway, on my drive, I saw a billboard for a website: Of course, I was interested. Unfortunately, I didn’t have Internet access. Fortunately, I was driving a car, so I could handle the situation myself.

    Amazing Limerick Offer!
    09/9/2008, 9:42 am -- by | 2 Comments

    G.B. Shaw purportedly, perhaps apocryphally, said that there were two types of limericks: the dirty and the bad. I don’t agree, and I intend to prove it. Same rules here as on Facebook — for the low, low price of $0.03, I will write you (yes, you!) a personalized limerick about the topic of your choice.

    And for an additional cent, I will include at least one word you will have to look up in a dictionary! What a deal!

    Offer void where prohibited. Limit three (3) limericks per individual. Cash value: 1/100 of one cent. Avoid contact with eyes.

    Too Late To Be Today’s Quote
    09/8/2008, 12:25 pm -- by | 1 Comment

    “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life, when viewed from the inside, is simply a series of defeats.” — G. Orwell