Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Uh Oh: Google misses analysts expecatations. After hour trading does not bode well:

Symbol: GOOG
Last Trade: 359.42 4:51PM ET
After Hours Change: Down 73.2401 (16.93%)
Today's Change: Down 67.40 (15.79%)
Bid: 359.35
Ask: 359.83

Monday, January 30, 2006

Obligatory Pre-Superbowl Post: Decent story here about the brothers Courson, Steve and Bruce. Steve played for the Steelers during the heady days of the steel curtain, when the terrible towel was something that hung from Bradshaw's belt. He became an anti-steroids crusader after his health was destroyed by them. Bruce, never much of a football fan, still roots for the Steelers, his late brother's old team. (Steve died in an accident last year.) I like the part about how he taught himself German and Russian to better study history. I'm sure that happens all the time in the NFL, eh?
Annoying NPR Trait; No. 14 of 38: Listening to Sunday's Weekend Edition and there was a report by the ubiquitous and, per NPR's mission statement, oddly-accented, Sylvia Poggioli [Note: despite her not quite-Italian-but-what-the-hell-is-it accent, as her own bio admits, she was born in the good old-U-S-of-A -- Providence, RI to be exact (and to be clear, while put-upon accents are bad enough, at least she doesn't suffer from one of the various speech impediments that seem to afflict about 1/5 of the staff at NPR)]. I don't even remember the story at the moment, but she was quoting from various European newspapers about the subject. First up, what Sylvi-dahling called (if memory serves me) the "Viennese Daily" which I believe she meant the "Wiener Zeitung" which translates into "Viennese Newspaper". I could be wrong -- the exact paper is not important to my point, what follows is:

Then she prattles on for a while in her up-and-down accent, coming to her next paper, which I cannot recall here because...yes, she said it in Italian -- her "native" tongue (to my ear, it sounded like approximately 27 syllables thrown together into one, maybe two words).

See, I got two beefs: 1) She didn't dare try the awkward germanic title of the Viennese newspaper, but [it's my suspicion that] 2) she picked an Italian newspaper as her second source, just so she could show how good her Italian is.

Too good for the Adolphs of the world Sylvia? And you're telling me you couldn't find a perfectly decent article in the Des Moines Register [pronounced "dess moynes"] regarding the fall of the Euro or how strikes by railway workers in Kosovo save lives? Bahhhh.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Live or Memorex?: I don't know how long it must have taken to get the video game to sync with the video, but in any event, kudos.

What am I talking about? Well of course it's a side-by-side simulation using Grand Prix 4 of (what appears to be) a time trial at Spa in a Jordan F1 racer.

Pretty amazing. You'll not want to use a dial up to watch, of course.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Aussie Oh How Wrong: That'll teach you to bet my card. Henin hangs on to beat Sharapova, and Clijsters injures her ankle and gives Mauresmo the spot in the final. I may be continuing my streak of lousy predictions, but in a Mauresmo-Henin final, you gotta like Henin.

Update: Or, you know, not.

A Terrorist Organization Grabs the Levers of Power in a Dictatorial Quasi-State: So Hamas is now officially in charge at the Palestinian Authority. This is probably worse than them being unofficially in charge, when Arafat was their hostage. Note the "world reactions" part of the article:
Reactions to the Hamas victory streamed in from around the world. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, according to news reports, called it a "very, very, very bad result." But Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union's external relations commissioner, said Hamas must be "ready to work for peace" with Israel if it joins the Palestinian government.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated the Palestinian people on the peaceful elections, which he views as an important step toward a Palestinian state.

President Bush told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday the United States will not deal with Hamas until it renounces its position calling for the destruction of Israel.

Kind of tells you all you need to know. Bush and Berlusconi disapprove; oh, but they're both part of the Axis of Cowboy, after all. Kofi sends flowers and a mash note.

More: Click here to find out why Laurence Simon says

Dig a six-foot hole in the lawn at the Carter Center and lay a trail of peanuts from the airport to it's edge.

Boot meets ass, shovel meets dirt, Cartner meets destiny. Film at 11.

BB&T: A big financial player from Flyer's neck of the woods comes out swinging against eminent domain.
BB&T, the nation’s ninth largest financial holdings company with $109.2 billion in assets, announced today that it "will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain."
Via Volokh Conspiracy's Tyler Cowen, who has lots more in his comments section, including some nuggets like this one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Google F.U. (that is, Follow Up): You know I used to be a big fan of Google, and I defended them when economic know-nothings made them the latest windmill in their campaign against successful American companies (Microsoft, Walmart). But I'm not naive, and I don't buy into corporate philosophies. Everyone's got a price.

Remember the old joke about the man and the woman in the bar?

Man: Sleep with me for a million bucks?

Woman: Sure.

Man: How about for a sawbuck?

Woman: Whaddya think I am, a whore?

Everyone's got a price, and today Google's the whore.
You want irony??: I got your irony right here. Otherwise known as Google's "10 Things" under the "Our Philosophy" banner. Go right to number 4 folks, which reads: "4. Democracy on the web works."

May I suggest a new title? "Democracy on the web works, unless you're kowtowing to a totatalitarian regime in exchange for market share, in which case, you know, there are alternatives to democracy that are just fine, really."

Oh, and item 8 is a real hoot too if you think about it for even one one-googlieth of a second.

And let's not even bother with number 6...

Google This: Thus sayeth the Hog, to Google:
I hope your founders enjoy spending their blood money.

More: Want a second opinion? Here's Will Collier.

Blood money isn't worth it.
Hey, Google, get with the program or I'll . . . I'll . . . I'll stop using your crappy blogger front end, goddammit!
Long Absence: I've been painting woodwork, helping the boy set up his first fish tank, and driving all over creation, plus cooking some kick-ass meals nightly. (That KFC night this week was not my idea.) Tonight is pork vindaloo with sauteed spinach and lentils, by the way.

Down to business. I see that Miss Hingis wowed her critics this week, getting bounced in the quarters by the world number 1. Not too shabby. Granted, she didn't have to go through either of the Williams sisters on the way, but she made Big Kim go three sets. She still has an awful lot of work to do, but I think she can make a respectable claim to comeback success. And she's still the closest thing to cute on the tour. The women's draw looks pretty strong at the end, here, with the 2, 3, 4, and 8 seeds still in it. I like a Clijsters/Sharapova final, with Clijsters winning that.

On the boys' side, the draw looks weaker, which benefits Federer. He should have no trouble with the 21-seed Kiefer, who needed a mythopoetic journey to the land of darkness to get past that wily frog Grosjean. Don't-Call-Me-Davey Nalbandian may have more trouble with the streaking Baghdatis, who has knocked off a top-ten seed in each of his last two matches. (Although, let's be frank here: one of them, the 2-seed, was Andy Roddick, and beating Andy these days is like getting naughty with Madonna in the 80s -- just being in the same zip code means you stand a decent chance of it happening.) But if Nalbandian survives, he stands a good chance of winning his first slam. His game has not progressed as much as Federer's in the past 2 years, but he knows the Maestro's game well and was, during Federer's years on the rise, his bete noir.

That said, smart money's still on Federer.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Near Miss: Was in NYC this weekend for some cultur-izing. Whilst strolling down 5th Avenue, arm in arm with the Missus, trying to come to terms with my gin hangover, I was nearly struck down mid-stride by John Bolton's mustache. Thing had some serious 'tude.

I didn't see it coming, as it was incognito, in a windbreaker of all things, but while I can't swear to it, I'm fairly certain I saw a small Iranian envoy enveloped protectively beneathe the salt-and-pepper whiskers - off to some safe house no doubt, to hammer out some pre-arranged sanction language for the on-again uranium enrichment program. Anyway, as I was about to rear back and accost the accursed follicles, I was thrown against the glass of a Bergdorf show window by an unhappy man wearing an earpiece, and by the feel of things, a 10mm. I allowed discretion to be the greater part of valor and moved on ... sheepishly, all the while vowing to shave as soon as I got back to the hotel.

New York == what a city.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wilson Pickett: A great loss. I grew up listening to "Land of 1000 Dances" and "Mustang Sally," and my understanding of rock and roll (and music generally) would be the poorer without him.

Last night I was reading this book, and the author spoke about reviewing videotapes of old soul revues with the legendary Sam Moore, who began to cry while watching his peers, so many now dead, strut their stuff, so young and alive and full of power.

Jeff Goldstein, winner: of my unofficial "Longest Sentence I've Seen Today" contest.
After all, if Star Jones can overcome that desire to stuff her ignorant maw with
Godiva chocolate and entire Hickory Farms gift baskets, then surely the
Islamists—who want to kill all infidels, or else force them to submit to
dhimmitude and Sharia law; and George Bush, who just wants to act all Shaft-like
baaadaassss, like Bufurd Pusser with unmanned drones and helicopter gunships
instead of a big slab of hickory—can simply solve this whole “global war on
terror” [read: men not properly conditioned by the carefully-designed cultural
fixes for manly bluster and excessively violent acting out detailed by Christina
Hoff Sommers in her The War Against Boys] by slapping their war cocks on the
table, measuring the things, handing out a ribbon to the winner, and getting on
with the important business of 1) universalizing health care and curing breast
cancer (US); and 2) making sure women are properly covered and beaten for
stepping out of line (which includes being raped); religious apostates summarily
executed, and homosexuals crushed beneath giant stone walls.

It really wasn't even close, actually.
Progressive Dog Sitting: Heheh -- Jon Anderson, front man for Yes, gives instructions to his dog sitter.
Money Well Spent: It only took 10 years and $21MM for a special prosecutor to determine that Cisneros underreported his income by doling out some of it to his mistress. I mean, for crissakes, this was a Clinton appointee! You think that just maybe he was doing shady things with a mistress?

The spin is that the special prosecutor had to take extra time because of a massive cover up by Cisneros' former friends and colleagues, and so then, more time and money had to be spent to investigate the cover up itself. By that logic, could the investigation ever end?

Oh, and the outcome of all this? A $10,000 fine by Cisneros with a guilty plea to a misdemeanor -- all other charges dropped because the mistress was an untrustworthy witness. Imagine that! But still, the "investigation" continued for another six years so that the cover up could be adequately "investigated".

The most important question is of course, how do I get one of these jobs? I think I should be appointed special prosecutor to investigate special prosecutions -- a lifetime appointment, don't you think?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Three Amigos: For what it's worth, the three GOP yahoos running for majority leader in the house had op-eds in the WSJ this week. Golly, wouldn't you know it, they're all, each one of 'em, shocked, shocked, at the kind of reckless spending that's been going on the the branch of government that their party controls. They are, to a man, opposed to pork, lobbyists, and whatever else you hate this week, goddammit.

I rest easy tonight knowing that one of these sawed-off bastards will be there to continue to ride the GOP into minority status. Hell, they'd be there already if the Dems weren't led by that halfwit Pelosi, who's starting to channel Newt, in politics if not policy.

I give up. Who wants a beer?

iPOD Zen: Much like your typical zen koan, one's iPod can provide deep, yet whimsical inspiration. Here's how: 1) Grab your iPod, 2) enable the shuffle feature for your songs, 3) randomly pick your first song, then, 4) advance to the next song, and 5) put the two titles together to see what you get. Here's a few good ones off of mine:

* Be Yourself; Lose Yourself / (AudioSlave); (Eminem)
* Everybody Knows; The Boxer / (Leonard Cohen); (Chemical Brothers)
* Blackout; Remind Me / (Muse); (Royksopp)
* Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing; One of These Days / (Chris Isaak); (Doves)
* Love and Longing; Optimistic / (Stellastarr); (Radiohead)
* Knives Out; Machine Gun Funk / (Radiohead); (Notorious B.I.G.)

And my favorite, because it's four in a row, and amazingly follows the storyline (for you Shakespeare fans) --

* She is Beautiful; You Choose; Romeo and Juliet; An Honest Mistake / (Andrew WK); (Pet Shop Boys); (Dire Straits); (The Bravery)

Anyway, not mind-blowing perhaps, but amusing and sometimes insightful.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: Oy.... Well, my brief foray into the suicide pool ends rather ignominiously. Out with Henman on day 1 (as Eno was so kind to point out), and on day 3, Elena Likhovtseva stabs me in the back. I tried to show my usual bravado and not pick the "easy" ones -- instead, my creativity was punished. *sigh* See if I ever expose my heart again -- it's not easy trusting others, I just want to be loved, but NOOOOooooo.

Well goodbye cruel world, back to the bottom of the bottle for me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Some Quick Hits: How I feel about my commonwealth, expressed quite well.

I think Radley's analysis is right on. But I'm happier about it than he is. Go Steelers!

Aussie O? Haven't watched a whipstitch of it yet, but no real surprises yet despite the "upset" headlines after day one. (Beating a Williams sister is no longer an upset, and early exits by ranked clay courters are expected.) Razor, your Henman pick in round one was bold. Bold, I tells ya. Adios.

Golly, That'll Fix the GOP's Wagon in a Hurry: The latest big thing making the rounds among the bloggerati is this "Appeal from center-right bloggers." It looks like one of those moronic e-mail petitions that made the rounds a decade or so ago.

No political party is going to reform itself when most of its congressional members are well insulated in their incumbency by gerrymandered districts and the McCain-Feingold incumbency protection act. Twenty years ago, an Abramoff scandal might have flipped the house to the minority party. Even the professional congress watchers think that pretty unlikely in 2006.

Power corrupts, and bureaucracy entrenches.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Best Po' Boys ever: James Glassman of Opinion Journal writes about the conditions in New Orleans. Good areas and bad, as we all know. He also has some thoughts on the city's rebuilding and who should take charge. But none of that really matters right now, because I'm overjoyed with this bit of news.
Some live oaks have toppled, and many magnolias have died, but all the way to
the French Quarter, the shops and restaurants are open, and people have come

There are crowds taking a number for po' boy sandwiches at Domilise's on Annunciation, locals lunching on shrimp remoulade and trout amandine at Galatoire's, and browsers examining the silver ice buckets at Lucullus Antiques on Chartres Street.

I can't possibly express what a run down little hole in the wall shack this place is. It's the front half of an old house that sits on the corner of Annunciation and who knows what street (I had to find it anew every time I went there, maybe once or twice a month. I would drive to to where I thought it was and be wrong every time, then have to drive a few block on Ann. till I found it.).

Dom's was quintisential New Orleans, in a sense. Amazing, huge po' boys, loaded with shrimp, oyster (or both, the Peacemaker), soft shell crab or hot roast beef. A really small bar that served draft beer in big, iced fish bowl glasses or ice cold Barq's Root Beer (sorry to disappoint Eno, but not every lunch in NOLA was an excuse to booze). And Zapp's chips, the best in the world. Dom's smelled like 75 years worth of fried seafood and cigarette smoke (not a bad smell, actually, but tough to get out of a sportcoat) and attracted a diverse clientele of white and black, blue collar and suits. You ate fast and didn't linger long, or they'd start eyeing you like a thief for taking up a perfectly good table (there was only seating for about ten people at tables and another few at the bar and at lunchtime there could easily be twenty people in line to order).

Enough memory lane blather. Just really glad to hear they survived, both the storm/flood, which isn't that surprising given the location, and the ensuing dearth of business. Next chance I get, I'll be there. Large oyster. Dressed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Don't Knock It: Via Drudge, this story: "Some Of Nation's Best Libraries Have Books Bound In Human Skin"

Actually, I have one of those in my collection. A small volume, bound in human skin, that contains the Oxford English Dictionary in tiny print. Actually, I had it bound in foreskin, so if you give it a good rub, you increase the type size.

Thanks, I'll be here all week, ladies and germs.

Wingnuts: Lileks.
Likewise the Little Red Book affair: okay, it didn’t happen. Granted. But if
Bush eavesdrops on people calling Al Qaeda cells in Pakistan, you know he has
plans to deport the Nation magazine’s subscriber base to labor camps in Kansas
and make them sew covers for Gideon Bibles. Sometimes a lie reveals a greater
truth. Just because “King Kong” is a movie doesn’t mean there aren’t monkeys,
somewhere. The lunatic right went through this in the 90s. Bill Clinton, as it
turned out, did not tie small children to railroad tracks in Mena, Arkansas to
cover up his world-wide cocaine-distribution syndicate. To the Clinton foes,
however, it was true in the macro sense. Somehow. It had to be. In the 90s these
people were marginal cranks, and no one listened to them. Today they’re on Air
America. So nothing’s changed, in other words.

Aussie Suicide: No, I'm not writing to lament the self-inflicted death of the former INXS frontman, I'm talking about the John Wertheim (of Sports Illustrated [in this case, dot com]) suicide pool for the Aussie Open. No cash will exchange hands, but the winner gets some free SI swag (probably left over football phones from their subscription drives). Anyway, I'm in -- I'll register under some pseudonym bearing the "razor" marque.

I'll detail my picks later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Some Alito Thoughts: Listening to the hearings when I can, some things are quite clear. First, and most obvious, is that Ted Kennedy's questions were written for him by a staffer. Anytime he tries to go off the board, it's clear he has no real understanding of the underlying concepts. (Much like his collegiate study of Spanish.)

Pat Leahy is a giant blowhard. If he spent any more time talking about himself, we'd have to bring down the houselights and cue the piano music.

Chuck Grassley sounds like he's in a hostage video. But at least his questions are short and to the point.

Alito's membership in CAP is a problem, considering he's pulling the old "no recollection" excuse. Other than that, if you think this guy's out of the "mainstream," you're living in a box somewhere, likely either in your own filth beneath an interstate overpass or at a teaching post at a major university (filth optional).

One more thing: Since I'm not watching, I'm not sure what the hell's going on in that room, but could someone pass around some f*cking cough drops?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hingis v. Henin-Hardenne: In her first match against a top 10 player, the Swiss Miss fell well-short of the mark. Hardenne beat her soundly, 6-3, 6-3 -- breaking her on her first service and then pretty much toying with her from there.

What makes this match so interesting (and to be fair, it's only the third or fourth match Martina has played since resuming her career), is that of all the top 10 players out there, Hardenne is physically and game-play wise the most like her ... shorter, slighter, more angles and placement than power and brute strength. Granted, Justine is probably the best at those tactics, and Hingis has a ton of rust to shake off, but if Hardenne can handle Martina this easily, one shudders to think of Sharapova or one of the Williams girls (when healthy and interested) might do to the little thing from Switzerland.

My prediction is that Martina keeps a game face on into the French. If she gets wiped out there, on a surface that plays to ALL of her strengths, then it's quit-time and into a broadcast booth.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hoist: Gene Shalit's in dutch.
The veteran Today show critic has been taken to task by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation over his negative review of the gay cowboy western, in which he referred to Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack, as a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts."

The group claimed that Shalit's statements, delivered during his "Critic's Choice" segment on Thursday's Today show, promoted "defamatory anti-gay prejudice to a national audience," and criticized NBC News for providing the eccentric critic with a platform from which to air his views.

I'd love to hear from Goldstein on this, if he isn't dead yet, but it seems to me that the academic left, particularly the queer theory left, has spent years living off radically deconstructing literary and/or historical relationships. You know, Tom and Huck are gay, or Tom and Jim are, or Jesus and Judas are and Judas betrays him for making eyes at young Mark, or Holden Caufield is a repressed homo, or Abe Lincoln was with his bed-buddy Josh Speed, or Cap'n Ahab is driven to obsession with the whale because his society won't let him have some sweet, sweet man-love. That sort of thing. (The broader gay community [like GLAAD] loved it, too, mainly since it was "transgressive" but mostly because it made straight people, especially straight religious people, uncomfortable, I think.)

Well, look at 'em now, shoouting "no fair" at Gene Shalit.

At least one person in my family has been sick since Thanksgiving, and we've had a non-stop parade of in laws coming through for the holidays, so no, I haven't seen the movie yet. But I have a hunch that Shalit's take is not wildly off the mark. No matter what, it's a work of art, and once out of the auteur's hand, it is open to any and all interpretation that can be supported by direct reference to the text. Hope Shalit says something like that instead of the usual chickenshit fold in the face of a designated victim group.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Razor's Next Governor? Via AP:
Former Steelers star Lynn Swann declared his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor Wednesday in the city where he made his name in professional football.

He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday afternoon that he made up his mind to run in the fall, after spending months weighing support at events around the state.

And he's a Republican, too.
Swann said Wednesday that he hopes to convince blacks that he is a better candidate than [Ed] Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor. The Democratic Party has "taken the African American vote for granted," Swann said.
As a commenter here notes, anyone aiming to give Swann the treatment Maryland's Michael Steele got should make sure to be at least in Harrisburg.
Journalism 101: Good to see that the mainstream media learned absolutely nothing in 2005, since they blew the first be story of this year (and doubled the tragedy for the families) by running pure unsourced rumor as "news."
In one of the most disturbing media performances of its kind in recent years, TV news and many newspapers carried the tragically wrong news late Tuesday and early Wednesday that 12 of 13 trapped coal miners in West Virginia had been found alive and safe. Hours later they had to reverse course.

. . . It is unclear why the media carried the news without nailed-down sourcing. Some reports claim the early reports spread via cell phones and when loved ones, and the governor, started celebrating most in the media simply joined in.

Real solid, professional reporting from solid professionals.