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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Still Here

April 30th, 2008 - 8:42 am

Went to the Avalanche game last night, and now I’m sad. We’re down three games against Detroit, so this series is pretty much over.

Other than that, a quiet morning. Just have to ship a lens, put a camera body up for sale, and get Melissa’s laptop into the shop for a new screen (or at least a new backlight). OK, so maybe it’s not such a quiet morning.

Back in a bit.

Stuff & Things

April 29th, 2008 - 8:55 am

Busy week — back on the blog later today. I think.

Clinton Supporter Invited Wright

April 29th, 2008 - 8:40 am

From Ben Smith at Politico:

Obama’s campaign has disavowed Wright’s media tour, and a correspondent notes an interesting detail:

Wright was invited to the National Press Club by a journalist and minister who supports Clinton.

The Tribune reports that Wright was invited by Barbara Reynolds, a former USA Today editorial board member who has written on personal blog of her support for Clinton.

That Hillary.

Harrison Ford Feels Gaia’s Pain

April 25th, 2008 - 2:08 pm

Let’s file this under the “More Money Than Sense” category:

Harrison Ford, whose fourth Indiana Jones movie is coming out next month, had his hairy chest waxed to make a statement about the environment.

In an effort to showcase the pain involved in deforestation, Harrison willingly subject himself to the painful process of stripping his chest of all its follicles.

… it was Harrison’s hope that his trip to the salon might just shock people into thinking green.

Which, you know, is dumb enough all by itself. But look at that photo again. What is he doing with his right hand?

Pro-Peanut, Anti-Semitic

April 24th, 2008 - 1:05 pm

Jimmy Carter: “Complicit in evil.”

The quote comes from notorious right winger, Alan Dershowitz.

It’d Be a Mercy Killing

April 24th, 2008 - 11:28 am

Is it time to pull the plug on CBS News?

Good Question

April 24th, 2008 - 10:14 am

Bob Novak sees the Bradley Effect helping John McCain in November, no matter who wins the Democratic nomination:

If there really is a Bradley Effect in 2008, Zogby sees November peril ahead for Obama in blue states. John McCain is a potential winner not only in Pennsylvania but also Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and can retain Ohio. But there seems no way Clinton can overtake Obama’s lead in delegates and the popular vote. For unelected super-delegates to deprive Obama of the nomination would so depress African-American general election votes that the nomination would be worthless. In a year when all normal political indicators point to Republican defeat on all fronts, the Democratic Party faces a deepening dilemma.

Of course, Novak is quoting Zogby, which is always a perilous endeavor. Nevertheless, this should be a landslide year for the Democrats — and in fact I think it will be in the Senate, and maybe the House, too. But what does it say about a party that has every advantage, including two ideally representative candidates to choose from… neither of whom is exactly positioned to win?

Notice/Conjoined Baby

April 24th, 2008 - 9:37 am

PJM wanted a column on the rice shortage this morning, so I got out my handy Google and wrote one. With a two-year-old attached to my second-favorite elbow. I’ll link as soon as it’s posted.

Meanwhile, I’m going to scan the headlines and see if there’s anything fun to blog about today. And maybe do some research on how to detach a toddler from my arm.

The reasons for the Israeli airstrike in northeastern Syria last year have become as clear as day.

Those not wishing to see daylight may continue to repeat the “There Is No Axis Of Evil” mantra as necessary.

TiVo Report

April 23rd, 2008 - 8:53 pm

I don’t know if Friday night’s Galactica was the best hour of television I’ve ever watched — but it was certainly one of the toughest.

Ouch.

We smart, concerned, nobel, big-hearted, tree-snoogling, Gaia-fondling, koala humpers are doing something to save our Mother Earth.

Unlike the rest of you neocon savages.

Met HD Live Broadcast: La Fille du Régiment

April 23rd, 2008 - 12:49 pm

A short chapter of opera history is being written by the current cast and production of the Gaetano Donizetti comedy opera “La Fille du Régiment” (The Daughter of the Regiment). Monday night during the opening performance at the Met, tenor Juan Diego Florez elicited a rare encore and an unheard-of standing ovation from the audience, all before the end of the first act. Last year at La Scala a similar encore by Florez was granted to the audience, leaving a decades-long ban against encores at La Scala lying shattered at his feet. Juan Diego Florez has an effortlessly soaring, stunning, light tenor voice. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is something. (at least to opera fans)

Here’s what the buzz is all about.

But really, it is soprano Natalie Dessay who rules the roost of this cock-a-doodle comedy. Her singing is clarion, her acting inspired. Here is Natalie Dessay, performing “Chacun le sait, chacun le dit” (Everyone knows it, everyone says it) from Act 1 of “La Fille du Régiment”

All of the scheduled Met performances of “La Fille du Régiment” are sold out. The Met Live HD broadcast is this Saturday, April 26, at 1:30 eastern. This opera is a romp that the whole family can enjoy. Check here to find a participating movie theater near you.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

April 23rd, 2008 - 12:33 pm

With oil around $120 a barrel and going up, how will we ever keep enough Hummers on the road to fight the global coolening?

My old Wrangler barely gets 15 MPG the way I drive it. What are you doing to protect the environment?

(Hat tip, GR.)

UPDATE: Speaking of future ice ages, did you happen to catch “Sunshine?” I thought it would be some fun, maybe creepy, science fiction. Turned out to be very, very smart sci-fi and the best thriller/horror flick since “The Machinist.” Rent’em both this weekend.

Oh, and “Sunshine” on Blu-Ray? Stunning. Jaw-droppingly stunning.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I talk scary movies, Ed Christie talks opera. I was hoping bringing him on would class up the joint.

Thanks, Suckers!

April 23rd, 2008 - 9:04 am

Microsoft is officially abandoning PlaysForSure in August. Any tracks you bought will no longer be transferrable to new computers.

But, hey, there’s always Zune.

Shop Talk

April 23rd, 2008 - 9:02 am

Dick Morris says Hillary’s big win yesterday “didn’t mean anything.” I have the feeling Morris is probably right — although I’ve predicted, I think, three of the last zero times Clinton has bowed out of this race.

But that sure doesn’t mean yesterday didn’t mean anything.

Obama is going to win North Carolina in a couple weeks, everybody knows that. But if Clinton can win in Indiana that same day the way she just won in neighboring PA, then there’s absolutely no reason for her not to go all the way to Denver. Because other than Kentucky and Montana, the remaining votes will be held in blue collar states where Clinton has done well all season.

Would you drop out if you had a real shot at winning six of the last nine contests?

Ten points is a big win, and it’s repeatable in Indiana. Even her fundraising should improve, if it hasn’t already. I don’t know if Clinton will survive until Denver, but she can sure as hell make the case for hanging on until the last vote in South Dakota on June 3.

Steal This Lens

April 22nd, 2008 - 10:36 pm

Totally unrelated to anything important, but I’m switching my Nikon photo gear over to FX-size lenses. As a result, I have a mint-condition Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens for sale. For what I paid for it originally, it was the best all-’round DX-size lens available.

Now you can buy it, complete with five-year USA warranty, for far less than the retail price.

If you shoot Nikon dSLR, you should check it out. Say you saw this ad on VodkaPundit, and I’ll throw in a Hoya multicoated (that means “primo”) UV filter for absolutely free.

Suddenly Sully/You’ve Got to be Kidding Me

April 22nd, 2008 - 10:17 pm

How did Hillary win in Pennsylvania? It was a vast right-wing conspiracy!

Band of Fathers

April 22nd, 2008 - 9:12 pm

I’ve been squeezing an hour here and there to catch up on HBO’s “John Adams” miniseries. After tonight I’ll be only three (or four?) episodes behind.

The show has one flaw typical to most every historical drama: the historical figures always seem to work their most famous aphorisms into casual conversation. But you know what? It’s forced, but it if done well it works.

And that’s “John Adams” in a nutshell. It’s forced sometimes, but done well enough that you don’t care. Sometimes you even get swept away in the patriotic drama of it all.

Paul Giamatti might seem an unlikely choice to play John Adams, and he probably is. To me, William Daniels in the sillier-than-silly (but wonderfully so) “1776,” will always be Adams. But Giamatti really inhabits the role, even if he does seem too often too modest. But still: Kudos.

But the biggest kudos (do they come in sizes?) go to Tom Wilkinson as Ben Franklin. He never goes for the laugh, but always lets you see the good humor behind the spectacles.

If there’s a weak point, it’s Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson. Dillane does what he can with the part, but as written, the character lacks fire. I never found myself believing that this was the guy who penned the Declaration of Independence.

Finally, who would have picked David Morse to play George Washington? An unlikely, but inspired pick. HBO and HBO2 will be showing the miniseries near-endlessly, so set your TiVo if you already haven’t.

UPDATE: Almost forgot. Laura Linney as Abigail Adams? It’s the best thing she’s done since “Mystic River” and she absolutely blew me away in that movie.

Embed This/She Said What?

April 22nd, 2008 - 4:36 pm

I dare you to watch this entire video without wondering why her ratings aren’t down even more.

“That cat with multiple lives?” Not only is that about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard a major network anchor say (minus everything ever uttered by Dan Rather), but she didn’t even get the idiom right.

Report This/Dumb Question

April 22nd, 2008 - 1:11 pm

Strategy Page reports:

Between mid-March and mid-April, al Qaeda suffered major losses in Iraq. American and Iraqi troops killed or captured 53 al Qaeda leaders. These include men in charge of entire cities (or portions of large cities like Mosul or Baghdad), as well as men in charge of various aspects of terror operations (making bombs, placing them or minding the bombers). Most important, nine of the ten most senior men involved, were captured, and interrogated. This led to locating more al Qaeda staff, and assets. Hundreds of weapons and explosives caches have been discovered this year, as a result of interrogating captured terrorists. The result has been a sharp fall in suicide bomber attacks, and the ones still carried out are against soft targets (civilians), including the recent funeral of two men earlier killed by terrorists.

Why is it only blogs report these stories?

A Pol’s Breakfast

April 22nd, 2008 - 12:53 pm

Steve Ducharme emails, “I’m speechless. And that’s an accomplishment.”

He’s talking about Barack Obama’s leftover breakfast, available on eBay. The bidding is up to $21,100.

UPDATE: eBay now says the auction is over, and the winning bid was 99¢. Sounds fishy to me.

Pot/Kettle

April 22nd, 2008 - 12:06 pm

We’ll see how long this lasts:

New York Times Co (NYSE:NYT – News) Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr told shareholders on Tuesday the company is not for sale, disputing media reports.

“This company is not for sale,” he said, calling recent media reports suggesting otherwise “ill informed.”

If there’s one thing we’ve learned for Sulzberger, it’s not to believe everything we read in the papers.

Photoblogging/Food Porn

April 22nd, 2008 - 10:43 am

So it wasn’t actually my birthday, but due to some weird scheduling Melissa had to make my Birthday Dinner Extravaganza a week early. I’ve hardly eaten since.

We’ll start, of course, with the amuse-bouche.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cream Butter Eggs on Brioche. Just a couple little bites, followed by lots of finger licking.

(more…)

Primary Blogging — LIVE!

April 22nd, 2008 - 9:30 am

It’s at PJ Media. I’ll post until the last pundit drops.

Digest This

April 22nd, 2008 - 8:31 am

I’m still full from Saturday night’s Birthday Dinner Extravaganza. I’ll post pictures in just a few minutes. Short version: Melissa cooked for days and we ate for hours. While I upload the pics, click over to PJ Media for full Pennsylvania Primary coverage — including stuff all day and all night from yours truly.

What Have I Done???

April 22nd, 2008 - 8:25 am

Nooooo!! Overlord Gore, call off the attack! Abort destruction of Arizona and Florida! I know you’re still sore at Florida, and I know you don’t want another Republican in the White House, but please don’t take it out on all of us! Call off the attack from Global Warmening One, hovering high up in thine heavens, dear Overlord.

We surren…, we surre…, we sur…. … We sure are enjoying the light show. Just call off the attack already, Overlord Gore, before someone gets hurt. Place us in the lockbox of thy divine protections and grace, just like you did to your mega-manse in Tennessee. Thank you, Overlord Gore. Amen.

(h/t: Drudge)

The Goracle Bestoweth An Interview

April 21st, 2008 - 8:06 am

Thank thee Overlord Gore for thine words. We do honor thee, Overlord.

Now, kind readers, if you will excuse me for a moment whilst I clean the vomit from my lap.

Crushing Of Dissent at Thesaurus.com

April 18th, 2008 - 12:31 pm

Long-time VodkaPundit readers will probably remember my buddy Lein Shory, or more likely Lein’s creation, the Irate Savant. For those who haven’t been around so long, the Savant blog was an experiment in blogging as a creative device–and a highly effective one. Based on the comments and emails Lein received, I’d guess at least half of his readership was convinced that the Savant was a real person.

Since wrapping up the blog in late 2005, Lein has been hard at work transforming the Savant’s story into a novel. I was fortunate enough to get to read an early draft, and I can say without prejudice that it is very likely to be considered the first landmark novel of the blog era–but that’s not the point right now.

As a quick glance back at the original Savant blog will tell you, Lein’s title character has a fondness for writing with a distinctly Buckley-esque vocabulary (don’t read any political content into that observation, as Lein and I occupy entirely different political hemispheres). In his seemingly-endless quest for additional obscure words with which to populate the Savant’s first-person prose, Lein has been using the popular Thesaurus.com site as a resource.

Then came last Monday. First, Thesaurus.com went down for a long stretch, and after it came back up, a remarkable number of words were gutted of synonym entries, and some were missing entries altogether. Nonplussed, Lein started to do a little Googling. Here’s what he found, as posted on April 9 at Jezebel:

An observant reader was pissed off enough at Thesaurus.com to tip us off to this, and we share her rage. If you search for synonyms for the word “weaker” two main entries come up: Female and lady.

Apparently the Jezebel post, as well as a similar rant at Feministing got the attention of Thesaurus.com’s corporate owner, Lexico. From a post on Lexico’s blog dated April 9, written by one Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD (whom I’m sorry to say is the editor and compiler of Roget’s New Millennium Thesaurus):

The synonym “weaker sex” appears in many thesauruses for terms like woman, lady, and female. It is considered an informal, possibly derogatory, synonym for those words. Due to the way our search technology works, a search for weaker appeared to suggest that it was a synonym for female and lady. This was incorrect and has been fixed.

We take your concerns about language and society seriously (this is, after all, our business) and after reading feedback on the entries for female and lady, we carefully reviewed our editorial decisions. In light of how our customers use Thesaurus.com on a daily basis, we chose to remove “weaker sex” as a informal/slang synonym from our site. The entries now describe current American English usage more accurately and we feel we’re providing more helpful suggestions for those seeking guidance on word choice from us.

A quick look at Thesaurus.com indicates that Dr. Kipfer did a lot more than just fix an ‘incorrect’ link in Lexico’s database. There’s a screen shot of the previous “weaker” entry at the Jezebel link above, and you’ll have to go there to see it for yourself, because if you go to Thesaurus.com today and enter in the word “weaker,” you get… nothing.

No entries at all. No synonyms, no antonyms, no Tiny Tims. There’s nothing at all listed under the word, except a query as to whether you’ve misspelled it (and you haven’t).

As Eddie Murphy once said in an entirely different context, “Well, that’s peculiar.” Let’s look around for a few other words, eh? How about… malefactor. Only three synonyms are listed today, and no other useful information, but if one goes looking in Google’s cache for the same word, one finds a multitude of options that have now vanished into the ether(net).

How about a few more? Try comparing today’s Thesaurus.com entry for, say, omnipotent (there’s nothing there, the word isn’t even recognized) to the Google cache version, where there’s a whole page full of stuff. You can see similar rather astonishing edits for reprobate (cached version here), inamorata (cached version here) and inimitable (cached version here).

So, what’s going on here?

I’m hesitant to jump right out and call this an outright Ministry Of Truth descent into Newspeak. Relational databases are very tricky beasts, and I’m perfectly willing to believe that Dr. Kipfer and/or her minions simply made mistakes in correcting word links within Thesaurus.com’s internal systems while they were ‘cleaning up’ this business of the “weaker sex.” I certainly hope that’s the case, as I really don’t want to live in a world where the editor of today’s Roget’s Thesaurus is in the business of sanitizing the language in the name of pacifying pressure groups.

With that understood, even if the intentional part of Thesaurus.com’s “cleanup” were limited to the “weaker” and “female” connection, this is still troubling stuff. I’d personally have no problem if references to “the weaker sex” were tagged as archaic (which is certainly true) or even “offensive,” which is also obviously the case to most modern eyes. I do have a problem with people who are supposed to be caretakers of our linguistic heritage taking it upon themselves to write words and definitions out of the English language.

Looking at the missing words above, it looks to my eyes like most references to male or female characteristics of those words have been hacked out (along with many other references that presumably were lost in the database shuffle along the way). I should note here that Thesaurus.com has not bothered to make such changes that would affect other political points of view (check out the current entry for “unprogressive,” if you doubt me), but hey, I don’t want them to go editing those entries, either! I just want my language back.

UPDATE: Curiouser and curiouser. As commenter Scott discovered, the source of the pre-April 14 cached links is Roget’s New Millennium Thesaurus (of which the aforementioned Dr. Kipfer says she is the editor), while the current links (at least those that link to anything at all) are referenced to “Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus.”

(I am compelled to wonder if Wesley Crusher is a contributor to the latter, but never mind that.)

So, what’s the deal here? Lacking any actual announcement from Lexico, is this all due to a switch in databases? And if so, why? The “Roget’s II” appears to be singularly lacking compared to the previous version… could Lexico just be trying to move users to the pay-per-view version?

Inquiring minds want to know, but either way, I thank Scott for his detective work.

Programming Note

April 17th, 2008 - 9:55 am

I’ll be on the Michael Koolidge Show today, sometime between noon and 1PM Mountain. We’ll be talking about last night’s debate, of course.

I’m working on an angle that looks like this: Barack Obama = Tom Lehrer – The Humor.

UPDATE: Link was broken, now fixed.

You Call That a Wrap?

April 16th, 2008 - 9:30 pm

Technical troubles so bad I was tempted to do violence to my computer were still preferable to that… debate.

That said, I welcome our new liberty-sapping overlords.