Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Um, All of Them"

How long before the McCain campaign concedes to reality and invests in a roll of duct tape?

(alt. video link)

How long till the wingnuts start screaming (again) that Katie Couric's "What newspapers and magazines do you read?" represents gotcha journalism!!!1!?

(h/t: Matt Yglesias)

[Added] Sadly, No! has more, including a defense of Palin's answer from (better sit down for this one) K-Lo.

Breaking Records As Fast As They Can Be Set

Move over, Mayor Funderburk.

Kevin K. at Rumproast has discovered a hole with someone digging even faster than you.

Line of the Day: 2008-09-30

Speaking of the House Republicans, David Brooks said:

Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality.

What Rebecca Said

Rebecca Traister: The Sarah Palin pity party.

Others have hinted at what Rebecca says, but none so well or so clearly. Must read.

Seriously, What Is It With These Small Town Christian Mayors?

The mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (oops, sorry -- habit) Fort Mill, South Carolina, Danny Funderburk (pictured at left) forwarded an email suggesting that Barack Obama is the Antichrist.


“I was just curious if there was any validity to it,” Funderburk said in a telephone interview. “I was trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up.”

While I sit here nearly paralyzed by the many layers of his stupidity, will someone please send Hizzoner the link to Snopes? Or better yet, PZ?

(pic. source: DannyFunderburk.com. Really. The same one.)

Reason To Be Cheerful

Bérubé is blogging again! Update your blogrolls and feed readers, post haste.

The latest post, as of this moment, is a fine quick laugh, but set aside a little time to read the one before that, Wandering back in, too.

And don't miss his (shorter) departing post on Pandagon, And now for the end of that story.

Truly, things of beauty.

(h/t: Sean Carroll)

Input From The Reality-Based Community

Two from TBogg: The Political Purity Ball and I’ll take "Moose Trivia" for $200, Gwen.

The stench of desperation coming from the McCain camp, especially regarding his pick for running mate, is apparent even through your computer screen.

Monday, September 29, 2008

He's Consistent in his Inconsistency, I'll Give Him That

McCain: Now Is Not The Time For Blame, But I Blame Obama

See also John Aravosis, who observes that McCain contradicted himself in consecutive sentences. (via TPM)

(No Title Could Add To This)

New Yorker cover featuring Sarah Palin

(click pic to enlarge)

(h/t: Chez. See also: Gawker for additional historical context)

I'm Sure He'll Say He Was Against It Before He Was For It Any Moment Now

Now this, my friends, is FAIL we can believe in:

McCain takes credit for bill before it loses

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his top aides took credit for building a winning bailout coalition – hours before the vote failed and stocks tanked.

(h/t: Atrios, via Twin)

[Added] On a related note, also via Twin, here's Barney Frank's correct take on the failed vote and Republicans in general:

(alt. video link)

Return of the Revenge of the Stuntman, The Sequel, Part XXXVIII

Krugman's great line noted in the previous post had nothing to do with this, believe it or not:

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

I see a big future for Levi Johnston as a spokesman for Trojan.

[Added 2008-10-24: This classic could always be built upon, with the shorter cast member replaced by Sara Palin's insatiable thirst for political gain.]

(h/t: Twin, via email, reminded by Steve Benen)

[Added] Attaturk has a post title I wish I'd thought of: Evel McFeeble. Funniest name I've read since TBogg came up with Bible Spice.

Line of the Day: 2008-09-29

At this point, one has the suspicion that a McCain administration would have us longing for Bush-era competence.
-- Paul Krugman

243,112,609 - 1

The 46th known Mersenne prime, found at UCLA. If you carry out the arithmetic indicated in this post's title, you can see the number in all its 13 million digit glory.

Practical applications for the discovery have yet to be described, although some comedy writers are believed to be hard at work trying to relate it to a certain well-known blog.

(h/t: Michael O'Hare)

Singin' in the Rain

Barack Obama speaking to a crowd of about 25,000 in Fredricksburg, VA, Sat 27 Sep 2008, the night after the first debate.

I think it's fair to say he made the weather cooperate.

(alt. video link)

Lines I especially liked:

The truth is, through ninety minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you.

Here in American, our destiny is not written for us, it's written by us.

Closing minutes are also really nice. Wish they would mike the crowds at these moments.

I'm sure many screen captures will be taken from this video by the wingnuts, to be made into still ads showing Obama squinting or frowning or whatever. So be it. This is our guy, and we know the truth.

h/t: The Jed Report.

See also Jed's post with local news coverage clips. And there's a nice slide show of crowd shots by Arun Chaudhary on the Obama blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Admit It:

The thrill of reading details of this past week's McCain Meltdown hasn't diminished. So go read Frank Rich: "McCain’s Suspension Bridge to Nowhere." A masterful summary.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Damned Liberal Media, Printing Facts Again

Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists — and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has.

That was campaign spokesman Tucker "Out of" Bounds, asked to comment on a story that the New York Times was assembling. You'll love the irony (projection?) in that last sentence -- the story is now available, and will appear on page 1 of the print edition of the Sunday Times. It's a long investigative piece headlined, "McCain and Team Have Many Ties to Gambling Industry."

Man, you want to talk delicious? This story has it all. It's got McCain going after Jack Abramoff as a convenient target to burnish his MaverickTM image, while:

... interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation.

It's got McCain flip-flopping, again for image-burnishing purposes, changing in 2005 from a politician who had taken bundles of cash from the Indians for years, and then suddenly declaring Indian casinos "as one of three national issues that were 'out of control.'" (Sound familiar?)

It's got suggestions about why McCain and Joe Lieberman are such great pals -- Connecticut casinos. It's got stories about McCain's own gambling habits, how he was treated by casino owners in Vegas, his numerous connections to lobbyists in the gaming industry, and the favors he did for them. It's even got copies of emails and letters between some of the players.

Enough out of me. Go read and enjoy.

(h/t: graz)

McCain's Week

Summarized by Gail Collins. Wickedly funny.

[Added] Also good, though not funny: Bob Herbert on Sarah Palin. Probably you've already made your own decision about this, but if you know people who have yet to see the light, this is a concise and clear-eyed argument that you should email to them.

Troopergate Update

Investigations of witness tampering coming?

Alaska State Representative Les Gara, who asked state troopers to launch the investigation, says:

Until Gov. Palin was appointed to the McCain ticket, everybody was fine with proceeding with the investigation. Then, the McCain campaign sent up 30 people to the state and, all of a sudden, people are not participating in the investigation.

Divine Secrets of the Pu-Ma Sisterhood

(alt. video link)

(h/t: The Poor Man Institute)

We've Lost One of the Real Good Guys

Paul Newman died last night.

Nice line by Pauline Kael quoted in the NYT's obit:

... you don’t believe it when he plays someone perverse or vicious, and the older he gets and the better you know him, the less you believe it. His likableness is infectious; nobody should ever be asked not to like Paul Newman.

And from the man himself, words to live by:

The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.

Google Currency Converter

Am I the last person on the Internets to know this?

Just had occasion to double-check what I thought I knew about the approximate value of the Japanese unit of currency. I always think "yen, yenny, penny," but a post on kyklops's blog made me wonder. A thousand-yen tax per pack??!

Turns out it's still a good enough mnemonic. But now for the fun part. To check it, I Googled yen to dollars.

Pretty slick.

I next tried yen for dollars but the Google managed to hide its amusement.

Clip of the Night 2

A mashup from Jed: "Obama Is Right: McCain Was Wrong."

(alt. video link)

Looked like Angry Johnny was about to blow a gasket there.

Clip of the Night

From Jed, posting on HuffPo, here's Obama's rebuttal to the old trope about "preconditions" and negotiating:

(alt. video link)

This was interesting to me for the split-screen aspect, which wasn't used on the CNN live stream I watched. Lots of unpleasant facial tics from McCain. Wonder how that will play.

Also, as Matthew Yglesias (I think) noted, observe how the TV people hid the height difference, which is visible in other views. No biggie, and I could spin it either way. Just an interesting observation.

Oh, and then there's that creepy "never look at Obama" thing.

[Added] Watertiger also notices.

Firefox Update

Firefox version 3.0.3 is now available. This release fixes one bug, having to do with stored passwords (details). Doesn't seem like a major security hazard, but it'll take you less than a minute, so why not do it now?

If you don't have automatic updates enabled, do Help → Check for Updates. That's what I did. The patch is about 1.1 MB, and it installed without a problem. Browser restart, and we're back -- ready to talk more about how miserably John McCain performed in the debate!

[Added] What with all my bloviating about John McCain's epic fail, you may have missed my note about last night's Thunderbird security patch. You didn't? Okay, good. Sorry for nagging.


Yesterday, I noted the growing number of conservative commentators who have seen the light regarding Sarah Palin, or who have had it burned so brightly into their eyes that they're now compelled to say so publicly. Just came across a post on Politico that mentions a few more. I've seen plenty of buzz elsewhere in the blogosphere, and not just on elitist liberal sites, that dares to say it out loud: should she leave the ticket?

Kathleen Parker, mentioned in that post yesterday, is one of the conservatives who have already floated the trial balloon -- use the demands of motherhood as a cover story for dropping out:

She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Makes you wonder.

That the McCain campaign doesn't even trust her to do a little post-debate spin is telling. I mean, come on. This is a two-minute drill, 90% of which can be memorized in advance. We're not talking hard-hitting interviews here.

So, would she (be asked to) leave? The strongest argument for "yes" in my mind is this: John McCain has demonstrated this entire campaign that he has nothing to offer except one drama-queen episode after another. If he and his people aren't smearing Obama, they're dreaming up Big Media Moments. They make ads that they never plan to pay to air, as catnip for the 24-hour cable news networks. There's the pick of Palin herself, and by the way, announced right after the Democratic Convention. There's this past week's stunt of "suspending" the campaign. So, Palin "asking" to be relieved could be the next grab for the spotlight from the campaign that thinks the most important thing is "winning the week." And it's perfectly in keeping with McCain's crap-shooter mentality.

No doubt, the media would go crazy. There's the obvious risk that much of the craziness would be laughter, of course. But I will not ever discount MSM wistful love for the old, "real" John McCain.

Now, who would he pick to replace her? Mitt Romney -- to double down on the "we're going to fix the economy" trope? Another woman, say, Kay Bailey Hutchinson? Another red-meat Christianist, to pacify the base? The Villagers do love them some Mike Huckabee. Or back to the one he really wanted, Joe Lieberman? Think about it -- Holy Joe as the new Hail Mary.

The thing is, Sarah Palin is the darling of the base. There is no shortage of apologists for her recent disasters in the Couric and Gibson interviews -- they'll tell you "it's the liberal media playing gotcha." Or, they simply don't care that Palin doesn't have a clue -- that makes her "one of us." So it does seems that if she gets tossed, the base will go mental, no matter who is picked to replace her.

On the other hand, it's becoming more and more clear that the Rove strategy of mobilizing the base, demonizing the opponent, and playing for 50% + 1 isn't going to cut it this year. Too many independents and undecideds and moderates are buying the message of E-nough! So, I wonder, would it cross McCain's mind to think, the hell with the base -- most of them will vote against Obama no matter what -- let me put all my chips on one last roll for the swing voters?

I put the odds against, at the moment, even for McCain. But I don't dismiss the possibility. If his numbers keep sliding, he might think, what have I got to lose?

Now That's Post-Debate Spin We Can Believe In!

Via TPM, 105 seconds of Joe Biden being awesome. This is what you want out of your VP running mate.

(alt. video link)

There must be a joke to be made here about the difference between a pit bull and a small-town mayor …

More on the Early Numbers

(Follow-up to this.)

As I suspected, at least some of the results being passed around are based on unscientific surveys. An email from MoveOn points to a couple of online polls and urges us all to vote in them. It's worth doing, because you know a lot of reporters will use these numbers no matter how unscientific they are. So, at least for the moment, visit CNN's home page and MSNBC's site and do your bit to influence the spin. Democracy! Yay!

[Added] The CBS numbers seem to be substantive, though. Follow the first link in Marc Ambinder's post. See also Nico Pitney's post at the HuffPo for more details.

The Never-Present Sarah Palin

Ocean sent me an email a short while ago, saying she'd seen no sign of Sarah Palin at tonight's debate. I responded, no biggie. Probably Joe Biden wasn't there, either. Why waste a running mate's night of campaigning or fund-raising at this late date, when we have, you know, televisions and stuff?

Ocean wrote back to say that she'd just seen Biden on TV doing post-debate spin [added: e.g.], but no sign of Palin. That is significant, I wrote back. Yet another example of the dread that the McCain camp feels at the thought of Palin speaking into a microphone without a script.

I was thinking about passing this along. As reliable as Ocean is, it being hearsay had me on the fence. Then I came across this post by Michael Crowley, which seems like sufficient confirmation (2 out of 2 TV viewers agree!):

Amusing moment on CNN just now. Wolf Blitzer, coming out of a commercial:

"We've been getting some emails from views out there wondering why we spent some time interviewing Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and not Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee. We would have loved to interview--we'd still love to interview Sarah Palin. Unfortunately we asked, we didn't get that interview...We're hoping that Sarah Palin will join us at some point down the road."

I'm told that Biden appeared on every major network tonight except ABC (which only turned him down because Palin wasn't available, on an equal-time sort of basis).

It's pretty strange when a candidate can't trust his own running mate to be out there spinning on his behalf.

And it's funny that a lot of McCain supporters seem to think that's about media bias and not the fact that Palin is in lockdown somewhere.

Regarding that last line: Yeah, huh? It must be weird to live that far outside reality. (Remember the new measuring tool!)

[Added] Oh, and a big FY to ABC. It's this lame-assed "Shape of Earth: Views Differ" faux balance that keeps a significant portion of this country uninformed. The truth is: Sarah Palin declined your invitations to speak after the debate. Report that, and don't punish the other side for her shortcomings. Stop letting the loudmouths on the right intimidate you. Do your fucking job. You've got Murrow spinning in his grave.

[Added later] Blogospheric resonance: See Jacki Schechner's thoughts on a similar media moment (h/t: Chez).

Early Numbers

Via email from Twin: Nate Silver points to MediaCurves. Notice the overwhelming win by Obama among independents. No idea about the sample, but if this group is representative of the nation's independents, I'm doing the happy dance right now.

Also, Isaac Chotiner at The Plank says:

Focus Groups, Undecideds For Obama

For what it's worth: The Frank Luntz and Stanley Greenberg focus groups went overwhelmingly for Obama. And a CBS poll of undecideds went for Obama 40%-22%.

Update: The CNN polls goes to Barack, 51%-38%.

[Added] TPM has some more early numbers, from a "CNN poll, conducted among debate-watchers," (probably the same one Chotiner mentioned) which is too ambiguous to be sure about -- people who voted online? A focus group? A proper random sample? That said, the story matches the above: they scored it a big W for Obama.

John Judis on McCain

Josh Marshall says: Read John Judis's post, Putting Country Last.

I second that.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Notes While Watching

The following was me live-blogging the first Obama-McCain debate. Nothing really moved me until about forty minutes in (see previous post).

9:45 -- good answer by Obama on the surge. McCain is sounding like a complete slime now. Trying to cloak himself in "the troops" and similar pieties. Piling up lies. Nonsense about "900 days." Stale talking point if there ever was one. Wonder if his strategy is to make Obama lose his cool.

9:50 -- the question of The Surge would be better debated in a more structured format

9:55 -- seriously, how many times is McCain going to namecheck Petraeus?

9:56 -- ooh, Obama just zinged McCain for talking irresponsibly. Brought up "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."

10:00 -- someone blogged earlier today that the problem with this debate format is that it would turn into dueling stump speeches. Spot on. I could go the whole rest of my life without hearing a politician tell some heart-string-yanker about someone he met on the campaign trail. Points to Obama for making his 15 seconds while McCain's was endless.

10:03 -- McCain keeps talking about traveling to war zones. Wish Obama would remind people that when he hit that Baghdad marketplace to show how "safe" it was, he did it while wearing body armor, surrounded by troops, and escorted by Apache helicopters. Just another stunt, in other words.

10:05 -- McCain says "straight talk" again. Everyone in the nation does a shot.

10:08 -- good bit by Obama on importance of talking to other (non-friendly) countries. McCain harping on "no preconditions." Good answer by Obama, not trying to run away from what he said earlier. Even better -- states how Bush, and McCain advisors, are now saying the same things he's been saying all along.

10:13 -- oooh. Obama zings McCain on Spain! McCain ignores it. Probably his best play. Wish they were showing more reactions shots.

10:14 -- I hope McCain saying "Ronald Reagan" is not part of anyone's drinking game, else half the country just passed out from alcohol poisoning.

10:15 -- if you came into this debate disliking McCain, you probably dislike him more. Man, I hate the way he keeps twisting things and giving that creepy little smile.

10:22 -- McCain sounds good on Russia, once he got past his stupid little dig about Obama's initial cautious statement when Russia invaded Georgia. Obama in his rebuttal transitions relations with Russia to general energy considerations. Seemed clumsy at start, but okay. McCain bit, anyway.

10:31 -- On question of "safer since 9/11?", do see a nice distinction -- Obama thinks we're mistaken to focus on Iraq, McCain insists its "the central issue" (and earlier called it "the central front").

10:34 -- I don't get why McCain keeps emphasizing that he's been around for so long and been in on "every important decision." Experience, yeah, but with all the recent mistakes that weigh most heavily on people's minds, not to mention how many people think the US is on the wrong path, it seems counterproductive for him.

10:37 -- McCain plays the POW card. Nation drinks.

Okay, it's over. My immediate sense is that this debate won't change anybody's mind. No obvious blunders, no killing zingers. Hard to say what undecided voters will take away from this. McCain didn't sound as bad as he has in the past few days. My opinion of him is that he's unable to talk any specifics on economic matters except for earmarks, but maybe that resonates with people. He did fine on foreign policy tonight -- lots of specific names and places. It comes down to whether voters think staying the course is the way to go on a lot of this, and whether they prefer McCain's more bellicose instinct to foreign relations.

I thought Obama was fine. I worried coming into this, because in some of the debates during the primaries, he had trouble being succinct and to the point. That was not a problem at all tonight. Obviously, I'm a big supporter, so there's not much point in me going on and on about how well he did tonight. I will say that I liked that he kept bringing specific foreign and domestic policy questions back to a more comprehensive point of view. To me, this says that he's not going to be the kind of president that runs around overreacting to every little problem, the way McCain always seems to do.

Forty Minutes In ...

... to this debate, I am already thoroughly sick of John McCain's buzz phrases. I hope the undecided voters are picking up on how often he keeps repeating them and realize how hollow they are.

I also think the format of this debate stinks. It's letting McCain get away with repeating lies right before they move to the next question.

McCain should have begun the debate by apologizing for his drama-queen behavior of the past few days. Obama should have noticed that he didn't, and said something like "Nice of you to show up."

Thunderbird Security Patch

Mozilla has released version of Thunderbird. The new release closes several security holes, two of them rated critical. (Details)

If you don't have automatic updates enabled, do Help → Check for Updates.

I have automatic updates enabled, and I was notified while composing an email that the download was in progress. When it completed, I was notified to restart Tbird for the update to take effect. I finished writing the message, sent it, then clicked "restart now." Everything seems fine.

[Added] I just did the upgrade on another machine (via Help → Check for Updates), and noticed that the download is about 8 MB, as opposed to the more typical, several hundred KB, Mozilla patches. If you're on dial-up or a sketchy Wi-Fi connection, this may be worth knowing, though you should do the update as soon as convenient.

Streaming Tonight's Debate

For those without TV, here is some information about watching tonight's debate online as a live streeam. The debate is scheduled to start at 9pm. It will feature Barack Obama and … well, whoever shows up for the other side. It'll be McCain, as far as I know at the moment.

It looks like CNN.com/live/ is planning to stream it live. In preparation, I just tried to stream something else from them right now, and found out that I had to download a plugin from that site. I did so -- it seemed to download and install without a problem, and was able to watch the a live stream after restarting my browser and going back to that site.

C-SPAN's schedule indicates that they'll be streaming the debate, too. They appear to have pages specific to Windows Media Player and Real Player. The WMP page doesn't work for me, because the plugin required (and offered for download) on that page is version 11 of WMP, which doesn't support Windows 2000. However, the Real page seems to work fine.

Note: clicking either of those links will cause the stream to start playing right away, assuming you already have the right plugins installed. This may be disconcerting. Note also that either of those pages have links to the other plugin-specific page, as well as links to pages streaming C-SPAN2, C-SPAN3, and C-SPAN Radio. Handy for future reference.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to add questions, comments, other tips, in the Comments or by sending me a email.

Historical Review

This is from last night's Daily Show. Even though McCain has now flinched blinked, it still bears watching as a sharp summary of John McCain's latest Hey, MSM, look at me! stunt.

(alt. video link)

No One Could Have Predicted That

I see by the Internets that John McCain is going to show up for tonight's debate, after all.

Josh Marshall:

Late Update: Numerous readers are informing me that I am incorrect -- that McCain didn't 'flinch' but rather 'blinked'. I can live with that.

(Help for political non-junkies.)

Some May See This As Elitist

... especially since I successfully resisted the urge to say dy-no-mite! in the post title.

An Open Letter to the American People September 25, 2008

This year's presidential election is among the most significant in our nation's history. The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security, and economic competitiveness.

We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country's scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government's scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.

We have watched Senator Obama's approach to these issues with admiration. We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation's competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take -- through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research -- to meet the nation's and the world's most urgent needs.

Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world's leading country. We hope you will join us as we work together to ensure his election in November.


Alexei Abrikosov Physics 2003 Roger Guillemin Medicine 1977
Peter Agre Chemistry 2003 John L. Hall Physics 2005
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989 Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
Philip W. Anderson Physics 1977 Dudley Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Richard Axel Medicine 2004 Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
David Baltimore Medicine 1975 H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Baruj Benacerraf Medicine 1980 Louis Ignarro Medicine 1998
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980 Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989 Walter Kohn Chemistry 1998
N. Bloembergen Physics 1981 Roger Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985 Leon M. Lederman Physics 1988
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004 Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007 Marshall Nirenberg Medicine 1968
Stanley Cohen Medicine 1986 Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
Leon Cooper Physics 1972 Stanley B. Prusiner Medicine 1997
James W. Cronin Physics 1980 Norman F. Ramsey Physics 1989
Robert F. Curl Chemistry 1996 Robert Richardson Physics 1996
Johann Diesenhofer Chemistry 1988 Burton Richter Physics 1976
John B. Fenn Chemistry 2002 Sherwood Rowland Chemistry 1995
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992 Oliver Smithies Medicine 2007
Val Fitch Physics 1980 Richard R Schrock Chemistry 2005
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990 Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Riccardo Giacconi Physics 2002 E. Donnall Thomas Medicine 1990
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980 Charles H. Townes Physics 1964
Alfred G. Gilman Medicine 1994 Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Donald A. Glaser Physics 1960 Harold Varmus Medicine 1989
Sheldon L. Glashow Physics 1979 James D. Watson Medicine 1962
Joseph Goldstein Medicine 1985 Eric Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Paul Greengard Medicine 2000 Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
David Gross Physics 2004 Robert W. Wilson Physics 1978
Robert H. Grubbs Chemistry 2005

The views expressed in this letter represent those of the signers acting as individual citizens. They do not necessarily represent the views of the institutions with which they are affiliated. The Medicine award is for "Physiology or Medicine."

(source [PDF])

Daniel Holz at Cosmic Variance explains the significance of this endorsement letter.

Hard not to link to someone ...

... who is so smart sees things so much like I do, especially when I've been in the minority on this for too long.

Scott Lemieux:

The bigger problem here is that when Chait notes that the press has an extensive history of "portraying him as a uniquely honorable figure," he never seems to consider the fact that this portrayal was completely unjustified. In reality, that he was a both 1)a political flyweight with little grasp of his own ostensible policy positions and 2)willing to relentlessly lie about his opponents was evident during his 2000 campaign if you bothered to look. It's just that his genuine military heroism and remarkable ability to suck up to the press caused these things to be ignored. The question about McCain is not why he has changed; it's why it took so many reporters (including some liberals) so long to figure out what he always was.

And on a related note, see Josh Marshall's "Would You Believe ...?"

And now, for a moment of self-back-patting

When I posted links to the first Palin/Couric clips yesterday, I wondered aloud how long it would be before the wingnuts started screaming that Couric was playing "gotcha."


(alt. video link)

And hey, quick before everything changes, look who's number 6!

[Added] Hurry! Now down to eighth!

Something About Rats and Ships Comes to Mind

TwinSwords, who has more patience (morbid fascination?) for certain bloggers than I do, emailed me a couple of nuggets.

Rod Dreher, aka "The Crunchy Con[servative]:"

Couric's questions are straightforward and responsible. Palin is mediocre, again, regurgitating talking points mechanically, not thinking. Palin's just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero. This is one of the more coherent passages: …


UPDATE: New Palin excerpt up, in which she discusses why having Russia next to Alaska gives her relevant foreign policy experience. I am well and truly embarrassed for her. I think she's a good woman who might well be a great governor of Alaska. But good grief, just watch this train wreck: …

Ann Althouse:

Sarah Palin will be answering questions later.

Here she is, on the spot, not responding to Katie Couric: …


Painful. Terrible.

ADDED: Some people think my comment is too terse or too vague. Sorry, but I thought Palin's response Couric was painfully awkward. … Palin had a substantial knowledge gap, and she didn't know how to hide it. It felt too much like the possibly forgivable "In what respect, Charlie?" And when combined with the news that the campaign seemed to be finagling to move the VP debate to a later time, it made her look they way her opponents have been trying to paint her: unprepared and weak. It's really not good enough.

It occurs to me that we now have a useful new tool: we can measure the intellectual honesty of a conservative blogger/pundit by how long it takes him or her to admit the truth about Sarah Palin. Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Larison, and James Poulos long ago made the right call on this; in fact, if memory serves, they've been safely on dry land from the get-go. David Frum and Charles Krauthammer, too, I think. I know I gave shoutouts earlier to Dan Kagan and Daniel Drezner.

From a random hop around, looks like we can add Ross Douthat to the feet-dry category:

And now, an excerpt from my inner monologue, as transcribed while watching various clips from Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric (I can't link to them; they're too painful):

And that, Douthat, is why nobody's ever going to hire you to help pick their running mate.

Actually, I usually think Ross is pretty honest for a conservative. Bonus points to him, here, for linking to his own earlier and now embarrassing posts.

Let's see, who else? Well, hello, Kathleen Parker! Welcome (not) aboard!

Palin didn't make a mess cracking the glass ceiling. She simply glided through it.

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.


If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

If Palin were a man, we'd all be guffawing …

Finally, just for a little balance, let's admit that it took liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald too long to give up the ship. It's a good mea culpa, though. Here's an excerpt:

... Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short of frightening -- really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her abilities -- as opposed to her ideology -- were much too extreme. One of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a) completely ignorant about the most basic political issues -- a vacant, ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted, even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse, but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the election, both options are heinous.

Sully chortles and gets to use his own blog's tagline in response:

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Would You Believe ... Still More Trainwreck?

Speculation is growing that the among the real reasons behind McCain's stunt of bailing out of tomorrow's debate were these two: he had an immediate motivation for that day to distract the media from Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric, and had as a longer term goal the plan of eliminating the VP candidates' debate. One proposal being floated by the McCain camp is that tomorrow's debate be "rescheduled," to take place on 2 October, which is the planned date for … you guessed it.

Further clips from the Palin/Couric interview certainly don't knock such speculation down. Here's Palin on Israeil:

(alt. video link)

As an emailer to Andrew Sullivan noted in reaction to another part of the interview, "Those aren't talking points; they're babbling points."

Want more babble? Here's Palin on bin Laden and Afghanistan (pardon the annoying 20-second musical lead-in; I'll replace the clip if I come across another one):

(alt. video link)

Other Palin/Couric clips here, here, and here. I repeat these links because, as Steve Benen and Christopher Orr have noted, it's clear in some of those other clips that Palin frequently looks down, as though she's got notes in her lap. It's worth reviewing them to see this. Turn the sound off -- it makes it easier to pick up.

I can only imagine that the notes were written in crayon.

[Added] Just realized she looks down in the second clip at about 0:37, also. Did not help.

Blog Post Title of the Day: 2008-09-25

Doghouse Riley:

GOP Realizes Long-Term Goal Of Reversing Roosevelt Administration: Loses War, Creates Depression

Yes, yes. Read the whole thing.

The Suspension of Belief

Q: When is a suspended campaign not a suspended campaign?
A: When John McCain says he's suspended his campaign.

So far today, he's taped three television appearances, his ads continue to run, his surrogates continue to make the rounds to attack Obama, his campaign offices are all open and running full speed, and word is, his TV ads will "resume" on Saturday. And so on. And so on.

As far as I or anyone else can tell, the only thing "suspended" is his willingness to appear at the first presidential candidates' debate.

Via TPM, Here's a clip worth watching. The opening bit is just the usual cable TV tripe, but starting at 1:30, Jeffrey Toobin calls it for what it is -- yet another McCain snowjob that too many in the media are parroting without question.

(alt. video link)

The Trainwreck Continues

Here's another clip from the interview Sarah Palin did with Katie Couric. This time the topic is how Alaska's proximity to Russia automagically gives Palin foreign policy experience.

Now, apart from those who are paid to keep a straight face, this claim has provoked little more than howls of laughter since it was first trotted out weeks ago. Nevertheless, the McCain people have not stopped pushing it as a talking point. So, by now, you'd think Sarah Palin ought to be able to tell a coherent story when asked about it.

You'd be wrong.

(alt. video link)

(alt. video link 2)

Hat tip to David Kurtz at TPM, whose post is worth reading for the other links it contains.

Other Palin/Couric clips here and here.

Unless They Did a Much Better Job on Amy Poehler's Makeup ...

... this is probably not a skit from SNL, and really is the second half of the interview Sarah Palin did with Katie Couric. I think.

(Sorry about the commercial at the start.)

(alt. video link | h/t: Mark Kleiman/The Reality-Based Community)

Wow. Just ... wow. The Automatic Phrase-O-Matic. She hasn't got the slightest idea what she's talking about, has she?

If you missed the earlier post, and if you just can't get enough of trainwrecks, you can find a link to the first part of the interview here.

Been Saving This for a Sunny Day

A while back, darkblack made and posted this. His title, too.

Retort, Decry, Fail?

McCain: Retort, Decry, Fail? by darkblack

The Grownup Speaks (Extended Version)

Following up from an earlier post, here is a longer video of Barack Obama's "press avail" in Clearwater, FL, 24 Sep 2008:

(alt. video link)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Meanwhile, Back In Wasilla ...

Christopher Orr has a post up that points to a worthwhile article on:

… Talis Colberg, the Alaskan Attorney General who, despite a raftload of conflicts of interest, has proven so central to Sarah Palin's efforts to squelch the ongoing Troopergate investigation …

You might already have seen the article Orr links to. It's been getting a lot of link love today, which gave me the excuse to be lazy and not pass it along myself.

Glad I procrastinated waited. Now I get to share the nugget Orr dug up for himself:

On the other hand, he [Colberg] does have a doctorate. His dissertation title (I kid not): "M.D. Snodgrass: The Founder of the Alaska State Fair."

Which, it must be admitted, is a little bit better than getting the job of running FEMA on the strength of your previous knowledge of Arabian horses (or not).

Hmmm ...

Another piece? From Marc Ambinder [ellipsis orig.]:

A senior Obama adviser says that the CPD [Commission on Presidential Debates] has told both campaigns that there will be questions about the economic crisis during Friday's debate.

They were told this last week...

This really strengthens my earlier suspicion that in addition to the panic over the poll numbers, there was also concern about McCain's lack of preparedness for the debate. I said then that this was the first thought to cross my mind when I heard about McCain's attempt to back out, but rejected it, since the debate was supposed to be on foreign policy. But now that we know that the McCain people have known for a week that economic matters were going to be added to the mix, it's really starting to smell like McCain knew he'd have no better answers than his boss running mate.

I now propose that we refer to this incident as the McCain Bailout.

As in unscheduled egress from an airplane in distress, I mean.

Letterman Reacts to Being Snubbed

I mentioned at the end of an earlier post that John McCain had blown off Letterman, using the old gotta-rush-back-to-DC-and-put-country-first excuse, only to be busted while Dave was still taping his show.

A smart man once advised against picking a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel. I'd say this is the digital illustration of why.

(alt. video link)

(2nd alt. video link)

(h/t: Marc Ambinder)


Or so I imagine the wingnutosphere will be screaming if the rest of Palin's interview with Katie Couric went anything like this.

(h/t: Christopher Orr)

[Added] Over at Rumproast, poputonian has video of (part of?) the interview, with one of the greatest blog post titles of all time. The part that Ambinder quotes is near the end of the clip, starting at about 4:30.

The Grownup Speaks

TBogg passes along reaction to McCain's latest stunt (see last post, if you just woke up after a looooong nap):

Mickey Edwards, Princeton lecturer and former Republican congressman:

Oh, brother. What idiot came up with this stunt?

It ranks somewhere on the stupidity scale between plain silly and numbingly desperate. McCain and Obama are both members of the senate and they're both able to help craft a solution if they wish to do so without putting the presidential campaign on hold; after all, I’m sure congressional leaders would be willing to accept their calls if they have some important insights to impart. And while one of them will eventually become president, neither one is president yet, nor is either one a member of the congressional leadership; I’m confident that somehow the administration and the other 533 members of congress will be able to muddle through without tapping into the superior wisdom and intellect of their nominees. Sorry, john; it really sounds like you're afraid to debate. This sounds like the sort of ploy we used to use in junior high school elections.

Via Al Giordano, here's a clip of Obama speaking at an impromptu press conference earlier today:

NB: YouTube is doing site maintenance as of this posting. Try back later if the video won't play.

(alt. video link)

If you read between Obama's polite way of putting things, it's clear that McCain tried to sandbag him with his "postpone the debate" stunt. McCain didn't make clear what he planned to do when he spoke with Obama on the phone. Instead, he sprang it on his own shortly afterwards. TPM and CNN have more on this.

[Added] Longer video of the same event posted here.

Panic in McCain City

If you've looked anywhere online in the past few hours, you've seen that the latest news from John McCain is that he wants to postpone this Friday's debate. Spinmeisters aside, everyone who I've seen weighing in on this proposal, including the MSM and many on the right, is calling it a stunt, a desperate attempt to stop the momentum by putting the lipstick of "country first" on his pig of personal ambition. The view is unanimous: someone who wants to be president ought not shy away from the idea of having to deal with more than one thing at a time. One wag had it that Obama's insistence that the debate go on as planned shows his confidence in his own ability to walk and chew gum at the same time.

When I first started seeing this news, the first thought that popped into my head was an idle one: the debate prep was going so badly that McCain, or his advisors, or both, started wondering if there was any way to get out of doing the debates, and then this handy crisis came along to provide just such an excuse. Were Friday's debate not about foreign policy, I guess I wouldn't be so quick to reject this thought.

I don't guess I see it much differently from anyone else. This is just the latest attempt by McCain to do something mavericky, to create a new story that will distract the media and take the heat off him for other things. I do wonder, though, if rather than this being a calculated maneuver, McCain is truly so lost in his own self-created image that he actually thinks this is a worthy idea. He'd be far from the first politician to think that appearing to be doing something is the same as doing something.

Additional wrinkle: Apparently, McCain is also "suspending" his campaign and calling on Obama to join him in canceling campaign appearances and political advertising. I usually say, "It never hurts to ask," but in this case? It's hard to see how more than a very few will see this as anything but a pathetic attempt by McCain to call a timeout.

Wheels further off the straight talk express bus department: McCain "too busy" to take Obama's call this morning to discuss a joint statement on bailout proposals. Why? Because he was meeting with Lady Lynn de Rothschild.

Wheels even further off: McCain cancels appearance on Letterman, saying he had to "rush back to DC to deal with the economy." Busted again.

Rumor: McCain's proposal to postpone the debates is part of a strategy to squeeze the VP debates out of the schedule altogether. See my above speculation about worried debate coaches. Maybe I was onto something. Some basis for rumor here. [Added: And more here.]

Delight: Even Fox News can't cook this data.

Only 12?

Andrew Sullivan is keeping count. Handy for the links.

Equal Time

Careful readers may have noticed that despite this blog's scrupulous devotion to balanced coverage of the presidential campaign, an occasional post may present the appearance of some slight hint of preference for one candidate over the other. In the spirit of renewing our commitment to impartiality, we now present a platform to McCain campaign senior advisor Steve Schmidt for airing his complaints about the New York Times.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: OpenLeft)

Firefox Update

Mozilla has released v.3.0.2 of Firefox. The latest release contains several security patches and assorted bug fixes. (details)

If you don't have Automatic Updates turned on, use Help → Check for Updates.

Update went smoothly for me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Straight Talk about "Straight Talk"

Joe Biden speaking about John McCain's real economic policies and priorities. Woodbridge, VA, 23 Sep 2008.

(alt. video link)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Politics Break

Here's an hour-long talk -- mostly Q&A, that Neal Stephenson gave at Google ten days ago. I liked it a lot.

(alt. video link)

"Reforming Washington"

Barack Obama, speaking in Green Bay, WI, 22 Sep 2008:

(alt. video link)

Compared to the other issues Obama addresses, this is a minor point, but I loved this part, especially the first sentence:

When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it. When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we will put as many as possible online for every American to watch. When there is a tax bill being debated in Congress, you will know the names of the corporations that would benefit and how much money they would get. And we will put every corporate tax break and every pork-barrel project online for every American to see. You will know who asked for them and you can cast your vote accordingly.

I've long wished for this. Now that we have the Internet, there's no excuse for not putting the final version of bills online before they're passed. If nothing else, that should cut down on on last-minute slip-ins of pork and loopholes.

Hat-tip to TPM, who also has the (pre-release version of the) transcript.

Latest McCain Lies

The Jed Report, scrambling to keep up with John McCain and Steve Schmidt, here, here, and here.

Real Fears

Sam Harris reflects on Sarah Palin in the latest Newsweek.

(h/t: Chez)

[Added] Dave Noon on Palin's "pro-development, anti-science" environmental record as governor of Alaska. See also his follow-up post.

The Weak

Much is made among the chattering classes of the concept of "winning the week." Here's how the past seven days went for John McCain, summarized by TPMtv:

(alt. video link)

So much for last week. Doesn't look like this one is starting off much better. Latest McCain lobbyist connection: his campaign manager Rick Davis was revealed to have made $2 million lobbying for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The story broke when, in irritation over McCain ads that drew a highly dubious connection between someone who knows Obama and the mortgage giants …

… several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000. Some who came forward were Democrats, but Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their descriptions.

(Quote from first source.)

The McCain campaign's attempts at damage control are not pretty. Pretty much boils down to demonizing the New York Times for reporting the story.

Oh, and then there's that question about car ownership. Newsweek reports, based on their search of public records, that Cindy and John McCain own thirteen of them. Michelle and Barack Obama own one. No one has been able to ask John McCain if he knows how many cars he owns, at least as far as I know.

It Gets Creepier

A commentary in the Anchorage Daily News adds a wrinkle to Troopergate, arguing that the real reason Palin fired the Commissioner of Public Safety was to be able to hire a replacement who would improve her cred with the "elite fundamentalists."

It reads as a bit conspiracy-theoryish, but it sure sounds plausible, now that Palin's (latest?) explanation for the firing is falling apart. Especially in light of stories like this. And this.

(h/t: Andrew Sullivan, twice)

The Next Life

Steven Weinberg has a good essay in NYRB titled Without God. It starts with a historical review of the ever-evolving tension between science and religion and then goes on to speculate about what life might be like if/when religious belief dies out. This excerpt gives some of the flavor:

It is not my purpose here to argue that the decline of religious belief is a good thing (although I think it is), or to try to talk anyone out of their religion, as eloquent recent books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have. So far in my life, in arguing for spending more money on scientific research and higher education, or against spending on ballistic missile defense or sending people to Mars, I think I have achieved a perfect record of never having changed anyone's mind. Rather, I want just to offer a few opinions, on the basis of no expertise whatever, for those who have already lost their religious beliefs, or who may be losing them, or fear that they will lose their beliefs, about how it is possible to live without God.

(h/t: Andrew Sullivan)

Scary Stuff Watch

She's doing it again:

On Friday, at a rally in Green Bay, Wisc., Palin gave herself top billing again when she referred to McCain as "my running mate."

Now we understand that Palin has a lot of things to get up to speed on in a very short time, but vice presidential candidates are always referred to as "running mates" no matter who is doing the talking.

Add to this and this.

(h/t: EarlG)

Star Wars Update

NPR has the first of a five-part series on the current state of the U.S. missile defense system. At this moment, only the text is available; audio should be up about six hours after this posting.

This first part, anyway, doesn't offer much of assessment one way or the other about whether this boondoggle has moved out of the boondoggle stage. It's kind of a "supporters say/critics say" piece. However, it is just part one, so this post is mostly a note-to-self. Remind me if I don't post links to the next segments, please.

Some of my previous thoughts on this topic here, here, and here, if you're interested.

[Added] There is now an index page for the whole series: "The Future Of U.S. Missile Defense."

Found Object

Can't beat Thomas Levenson's title:

Yes, Virginia, People Said Stuff Before Teh Google:
Barack Obama has always been smart edition

The rest of the post is a transcript of Obama commenting on The Bell Curve, on NPR, in October 1994. It's a fascinating read, especially if you remember the Philadelphia speech. No flip-flopper, he.

[Added] I just looked on NPR.org. Their archives only go back to 1996, unfortunately, so no easy audio.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More of those Troublesome Facts

John McCain's recent statements on the environment and alternative energy are compared with his voting record by Joseph Romm. You'll be unsurprised at the dichotomy if you've been paying attention, but it's always good to have the specifics at hand.

(h/t: PZ Myers)

Here's Four Minutes of Good TV

Via The Jed Report's YouTube channel, here's a four-minute clip from one of today's Sunday yakfests that's actually a pleasure to watch. If the Villagers are talking this way, that's a very good sign.

My favorite part comes near the beginning of the clip, when stooge of the liberal media noted conservative George Will says:

The question is, who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and unflustered? It wasn't John McCain, who, as usual, substituting vehemence for coherence, said, "Let's fire somebody!"

(alt. video link)

There ought to be a bumper sticker, don't you think? Here's a sketch (click to enlarge):

John McCain: Substituting vehemence for coherence

James Crumley

Got an email from TC, passing along news of James Crumley's death. Curiously, both TC and I, big fans of detective novels, had never heard of him. Sounds like we missed a good one.

Did you ever read any of his books?

Lede of the Day: 2008-09-21

Everyone has been talking about an article in The Atlantic magazine called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Some subset of that group has actually read the 4,175-word article …
-- Damon Darlin

Line of the Day: 2008-09-21

John Ridley on the recent Rushbo whining:

What is it with bigots that makes them think there is a context for bigotry?

McCain's Lies Working

Never mind Moose-lini and the Bridge to Nowhere. This, from Frank Rich's latest column, is really discouraging:

If you doubt that the big lies are sticking, look at the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Half of voters now believe in the daily McCain refrain that Obama will raise their taxes. In fact, Obama proposes raising taxes only on the 1.9 percent of households that make more than $250,000 a year and cutting them for nearly everyone else.

You probably don't need me to tell you this, but Rich's column is well worth reading in its entirety. Please email it to your friends, too.

[Added] And then there's this, from Nicholas Kristof's latest, "The Push to 'Otherize' Obama:"

Here’s a sad monument to the sleaziness of this presidential campaign: Almost one-third of voters “know” that Barack Obama is a Muslim or believe that he could be.

In short, the political campaign to transform Mr. Obama into a Muslim is succeeding. The real loser as that happens isn’t just Mr. Obama, but our entire political process.

A Pew Research Center survey released a few days ago found that only half of Americans correctly know that Mr. Obama is a Christian. Meanwhile, 13 percent of registered voters say that he is a Muslim, compared with 12 percent in June and 10 percent in March.

More ominously, a rising share — now 16 percent — say they aren’t sure about his religion because they’ve heard “different things” about it.

To belabor a point: Also worth reading and passing along

[Added] If you've made it this far, you deserve a little reward. Looks like Aaron Sorkin wrote MoDo's column for today.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Spirit of Pharyngula Compels You!

To help crash a meaningless unscientific online poll, that is!

The question: Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?. Click that link, cast your vote.

(h/t: Ocean, via email)

Don't get the title?
PZ Myers, the proprietor of Pharyngula, has a long history of impatience with this nonsense. Happy to see he's already posted on this one.

Ready to Lead Debate on Day One

Okay, not that either.

In reaction, August J. Pollak makes Nerf a verb.

I approve.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the OMFG vote is secured. "

So says Radar Online, passing along the news of the new blog, YA for Obama.

Hey, anything Judy Blume is involved with has to be a good thing, I say. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Then Again, Maybe I Won't were two of my favorites when I was a YA.


Yeah, that's a second N, not an M, on purpose. See Hendrik Hertzberg for details.

And don't miss, in the same post, the new old rules for using intrigued. Learn something new every day. Up till five minutes ago, I'm sure I would have sniffed at Shawn's prescription -- sounds like 1990s-style verbification run amok -- had I not known the prescriptor … prescriber? … guy who tells you how to talk good.

For Fans Only, Maybe

Paul Simon has some memories of Yankee Stadium. (Thanks, Instaputz.)

I have a lot, too, although none nearly as glamorous as his. I haven't followed baseball in years, and haven't much enjoyed my last few trips to any major league ballparks, but Simon's piece reminds me: tomorrow night is the last game at Yankee Stadium. Ever. It hurts a little to think of it going away. Erasing another piece of childhood, I guess.


I usually sat in the cheap seats, but one time, my father got the tickets to his company's box, right behind home plate, just a little to the third base side. I guess it was considered a nothing game by whichever executive had passed them along to my dad -- a weeknight against the Angels, who weren't much that year. Still, I was rabid for the Yankees back then, and even better, Ron Guidry was pitching.

Don Baylor led off by doubling down the left field line. I had a chill of premonition -- was I somehow offending the baseball gods by seating in seats above my station? Would the nearly unhittable Guidry have an off night because I was sitting in the box seats instead of the upper grandstand?

As it happened, not many other Angels made contact that night. Guidry ended up striking out 18, which was then a new American League record.

You've probably heard the baseball cliché, describing a pitcher's breaking ball as "falling off the table." I'm here to tell you, from where I sat that night, Guidry's slider did exactly that. It would come in around thigh-high, and starting a few feet from in front of the plate, it would dart sharply down and in on a right-handed batter. Joe Rudi, known as a good contact hitter, struck out four times on that pitch. The last two at-bats, he actually hit his bat against the ground while swiping at it. He looked like a man trying to kill a fish with a paddle. Guidry pwned him, as we didn't say back then.

I came the closest I've ever come to catching a foul ball at a major league game that night. We were just out from under the steel net that protects the fans right behind the plate, and midway through the game, someone lofted a towering pop that seemed destined to come right into my hands. I dropped my scorecard and pencil, stood up, looked up, hands sweaty but at the ready. I can remember every sensation about that moment, thinking don'tdropitdon'tdropitdon'tdropit, heart going a mile a minute, glad that I had no soda to worry about kicking over. Coming down, coming down …

The guy next to me elbowed me in the temple, I staggered, the ball bounced off of his hands, and disappeared into a scrum.

My mom chewed that guy out but good.


Another time, I was in one of our regular spots, upper deck in left field, with my friend, David. Yankee Stadium was our place. It represented the first big step in leaving the nest -- going to the city unaccompanied. We spent pretty much every penny we made off our paper routes there, which is to say, we could go to a game or two every few weeks if we didn't buy snacks. Needless to say, we did not ever leave a game early.

This game, the Yanks were down 8-0. It was the bottom of the ninth, one out, no one on. No question but we still had faith, and this time it was rewarded. A walk or a single or two, an extra base hit or something (it's the details that sell your story, right?), before anyone realized it, the Yanks had a few runs in, men on base, still one out, and all the people who had stuck it out were going absolutely crazy.

For some reason, David and I had taken a special dislike to the left fielder, Bruce Bochte, most likely because he was the only one who might be able to hear our catcalls. For good luck, to keep the rally going, we heaped abuse on him before every pitch. At one point, he looked in our general direction, mystified. Victory!

There were pitching changes galore, but no one could get anybody out. Soon enough, a single by I've-forgotten-who drove in the runners from second and third, tying the game, 8-8. Pandemonium. More opprobrium hurled at Bochte. Another pitching change. Still only one out. Yanks called time and sent in a pinch-runner for the man on first. This was getting beyond melodrama now -- it was Mickey Rivers, fresh off the DL. Everyone in the ballpark was standing, screaming. We knew he could steal second, and one more single would win the game. Greatest comeback ever, coming up!

Somehow, the new relief pitcher got wind of our secret plan and promptly picked Rivers off of first. He retired the batter, too. Twenty or forty thousand people said, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh." Took us all a moment to realize, hey, we hadn't lost! Extra innings!

Well, the Yanks ended up losing in 11. No biggie, at least in fuzzy memory, and I'm pretty sure that even at the time, that was way more fun than losing 8-0.

I've never left a game early since, either.


1978 World Series. It had already been a season beyond belief, what with the comeback from being about fourteen games down in July or maybe even August, culminating in the special one-game playoff, when the Yanks and Red Sox finished the season tied for first. I was away at school by then, but I did catch that game on TV. David had somehow managed not only to get himself to Boston, but had scored a ticket to the game. He told me later he missed Bucky Dent's home run -- by then, he was so superstitious, he had taken to going for walks where he couldn't see the field when he wanted something good to happen.

After the Yanks got through the playoffs, they met the Dodgers in the Series. The Dodgers at that time were even more hated by David and me than the Red Sox, partly because we knew their fans left in the seventh inning, mostly because of Steve Garvey. Ugh. I still wrinkle my nose when I think of him. Phonier than George Bush cuttin' brush, he was.

Anyway, David badgered me into leaving school and coming down for a game when the Series, which had opened in L.A., returned to New York. I was a little hesitant -- I'd done that the year before, only to get stranded on a broken-down bus for four hours no more than fifteen miles from Yankee Stadium. Missed the game, of course. Plus, this time, David didn't have tickets. The plan was to get them from scalpers.

Uh, okay. Any excuse to leave school was a good one. This time, I took the bus down the night before, just to be sure. Of course it didn't break down this time. Next day (yeah, they played baseball during the day back then. Go figure.), David and I took the usual train to the usual subway, caught that great glimpse of green as the subway came above ground pulling into 161st Street, jumped off, and started walking around the ballpark. David's younger brother, Marc, was with us.

It was a madhouse outside. The Yanks had lost two, badly, in L.A., but had come back to New York and won two themselves. This was Game 5, the last game of the year in Yankee Stadium, no matter what. There were scalpers, or those pretending to be scalpers, all over the place. We started negotiations with a few, but they all wanted big money. Marc started drifting away from us, as was his wont. This irritated his big brother, who kept snapping at him to stick with us.

Eventually, David and I got into it with one guy who had two bleacher seat tickets. Marc had vanished, again. We decided to grab these, figuring we could find Marc and another bleacher ticket. We settled on thirty bucks apiece (face value was $4 or $6, IIRC). Then we went looking for Marc.

We never did find him, after an hour or so of circling the ballpark. David finally said, "He does this all the time. He probably found a ticket on his own and just went to his seat. Let's go in."

It was a great game, for Yankee fans. Close for a while, and then when the Yankees put together a bit of a rally, Steve Garvey made a key throwing error trying to nab the runner at home, and the Yanks blew the game open from there. It ended ended up being a laugher -- 12-2, or something like that. (--ed. Yup.)

Oddly enough, this was the first time David and I had ever sat in the bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium. In those days, General Admission tickets were only a buck or two more, and with them, you could sit almost anywhere you wanted in the upper deck, except for the first few rows behind home plate. I still remember how different it felt seeing the game from behind the center fielder. Probably the October sunset light helped enhance the new mood.

When the game ended, pretty much everyone in the stands jumped onto the field. The cops made a few half-hearted gestures, but they basically let anyone come who didn't make eye contact with them. David and I just stood at third base for ten or fifteen minutes, marveling at how far a throw it seemed to first in this big ballpark. We spun in place a few times, trying to drink it all in, not wanting to let that fabulous season end. The organ music wound down, and they started dimming the ballpark lights. The air seemed filled with mist. Finally, we tore up a hunk of sod each and left.

When we got back home, there was Marc (oh, yeah, Marc), curled up in an armchair, eating a bowl of ice cream. "Great game, huh?" he said.

Turned out he'd found a single ticket, just as David and I had guessed. However, after he finished dealing with his scalper and was about to start looking for us again, he met up with a guy who was a Dodger fan, who had flown into town for the game, and had to had to had to have that ticket. Marc said, "It was a good seat. Almost a box seat. I had paid $50 for it and the guy offered me $100. So I took it. Then I decided I didn't really care that much about finding another ticket. I figured you guys would give me shit, so I didn't come looking for you. I just got on the train and came home and watched the game on TV."

He patted his pocket, waggled his eyebrows, and nodded a couple of times, that little smile that he always had stretching just a little farther.