Monthly Archives: January 2004

Farm Livin,’ the Life for Me

America’s near the end of its toughest yearly trial — the maw of sunless nothing that yawns between the end of fall “Survivor” and the onset of winter “Survivor.” Rupert‘s about to save us, though, if we can just wait till after Super Bowl XVIKPWOQ.

In the Jeff Probst-less meantime, high-minded Berkeley-ites residing beneath the dry-rot rafters on Holly Street have whiled away the empty hours by watching all six discs of the first season of “Law and Order” (“L&O,” as it’s known locally). Not sure how that happened. Kate hated the show when I’d land on it on A&E. But she, Tom, and I watched every episode together the last two or three weeks. Sure, everything’s a little bit too neat; and sure, the show relies too much on the unquestioned faith (as most of the cop shows do) that the system produces the right results (the ultimate refusal to kneel at the same altar was one of the chief reasons “Homicide” still stands out).

Now we’re done with “Law and Order” for awhile (the first season’s the only one on disc so far). And that has led us to another dimension of classic TV: the first season of “Green Acres” on DVD. Kate and I watched the first couple of 22-minute episodes this evening. Observations/confessions:

–The show really had a great ensemble cast, fine writing, and flawless comic timing.
–I never thought I’d think Eva Gabor was a looker, but now I do.
–She was a better comedienne than I remember, too.
–And the pig featured in the DVD picture looks more like Babe or a close cousin than the warty, hairy, ungainly pig from the show, Arnold.

What can I say? I’m easy to please. Sometimes.

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Dean.com Bust

The top story on The New York Times site right this minute is the shakeup in Howard Dean’s campaign: Joe Trippi out and a Gore lieutenant in. But the news I found most interesting was the mention of Dean’s finances: He raised $41 million through Dec. 31 (the excellent OpenSecrets.org is worth checking, though it currently posts reports only through Oct. 15, 2003) and has spent it all; the Times says he has $4 million or $5 million on hand, the cash raised since the first of the year; the Washington Post reports the cash situation prompted the campaign to skip further TV advertising in next week’s primary states.

So where did that mountain of Internet money go? The campaign reportedly spent $9 million-plus on TV advertising so far. What about the other $32 million? What combination of plane leases, candidate and staff housing, salaries, broadband access, toner and Dunkin’ Donuts runs adds up to that? I’d love to see the books, out of sheer curiosity.

Most likely, all the campaigns spend money fast, since the name of the game is gettng results now; and this isn’t the first time a promising candidate has burned a big bank balance with little to show for it. But to read that most of the capital is used up already and that the campaign will survive only with another big round of donations carries a whiff of the worst of the dot-com bust: We’ve got such a hot business plan/candidate, we need a big hit of venture capital/contributions right now. It’ll be awhile before we see results, but the upside could be huge. And then you wind up with office suites full of nice computers and furniture to sell for 20 cents on the dollar. Not that that’s where Dean & Co. is headed, necessarily. You can’t avoid the feeling, though, that investors just got word their stock is sick.

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Why Johnny Can’t Sell

(By way of my brother John): Because, The New York Times says, Johnny (and Janey) can’t spell:

“When Holly Marshall wanted to sell a pair of dangling
earrings, a popular style these days, she listed them on
eBay once, and got no takers. She tried a second time, and
still no interest.

“Was it the price? The fuzzy picture? Maybe the description:
a beautiful pair of chandaleer earrings. …”

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Bush and Mars and Iraq…

A scathing Talk of the Town piece on Bush’s State of the Union speech in this week’s New Yorker:

“… Bush’s only serious (that is, expensive) domestic program, as always, is yet another mammoth tax entitlement for the rich and the superrich. The new plan would make permanent his earlier tax cuts, which, in a gimmick designed to make future deficits look less terrifying, were scheduled to expire in 2010. This new round of relief for the unneedy, like the previous three, is to be financed (though the President didn’t mention this part) by confiscating the Social Security trust fund, curtailing federal activities that benefit society at large, and borrowing more trillions — taking out a fourth mortgage on the future, payable to foreign creditors. …”

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Yawp: The Etymology

Was just wondering, and the American Heritage site yields this: Goes back to Middle English. Verb (“You can stop yawping, Dr. Dean”) and noun. As the latter:


1. A bark; a yelp. 2. Loud or coarse talk or utterance: ‘I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.’ (Walt Whitman).”

I’ve never thought Whitman meant it as a reference to coarseness; rather as a sign of irrepressible exuberance, a refusal to be unheard.

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Reading the Obits

Reading The New York Times at the Civic Center BART station on the way home, I caught a glimpse of an old picture of a very tall-looking woman with very muscular legs (“cut” is the modern term, I think) in a track suit racing toward a finish line. The headline said, “Fanny Blankers-Koen, Star of 1948 Olympics, Dies at 85.” Never heard of her. But she was sort of the female Dutch Jesse Owens of the sprinting world, if there could be such a thing. Was a big fan of Owens, got his autograph as an 18-year-old at the Berlin Games in 1936, where she competed unspectacularly; then came back after World War II to run in the London Olympics despite public disapproval of a 30-year-old mother of two running down the track in shorts. She won four gold medals.

The Google search on her name comes back with 3,870 listings, including this 2000 profile on the BBC site.

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A Totally Whack New World

Opportunity012504The second Mars rover, Opportunity, plunged and bounced and rolled safely to rest last night/this morning. The NASA scientists running the Martian campout are agog at images of the landing site (“it’s a bizarre, alien landscape,” quoth one).

In other news, engineers think the other rover, Spirit, marooned in a less bizarre, less alien landscape, might not be totally brain dead.

[Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell]

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the of state union

Just for fun: “The “word-freqency State of the Union”: The president’s speech, its 5,200 words presented first in order of frequency and second in order of appearance in the address (for instance, “the” appears 279 times in the speech, “and” 247 times, and they’re the first two words of the of state union; the final five words in this text are “trust guides unfolding purposes bless”; they’re all used just once in the speech, and are presented in the order they appeared in the original text. I got the word counts by pasting the text into an online frequency counter at MyTranslate.com.

the of state union exposes the literary merit concealed in the plain vanilla syntax of the original — Bush and wordsmiths meet Whitman meet Joyce meet Ginsberg. And somehow, the message still comes through:

the and of to in a
our we is are
for that you will this America
have I can by on their with be they as from people all not must so act has health
help Iraq more
it them or who new law
Americans children economy world
American one tonight work free
some congress war
schools tax country
an these care great
us do when drug united
terrorists years been right
also most would nation
every my need last now marriage
taxes good year
Medicare security women nations no coverage
child weapons
freedom should make seniors under part way
those continue better against men
government important
send enforcement states
yet high job workers propose
unless just back
growth at your know
come behind
growing if what was
but never school jobs
because strong program other prescription only
system medical insurance
many without live were Afghanistan training
month lives forward
federal businesses families
danger about reform
much middle members terror
cut dangerous Saddam
passed regime troops
citizens prison
find skills
math percent
time together
millions over
Iraqi killers ask two costs take medicine support drugs get faith
aggressive peace threats
want rising
brought Hussein
give up face
go home
defend there
found east making long working nuclear
willing budget cause
attack allies man
small income
low personnel
basic money
than democracy enemies
compassion helping
power left
friends testing
parents students homeland expect
issue own terrorist life
even mass programs
character while require its had needs
choose protect courage
best choices
September institutions
Ashley meet defense
months god heart desire
council see challenge
confront higher since set expire
focus woman next lead fundamental each standards
vital where offensive
dollars third
rates day his president
destruction coalition leading far through like did raids too
chamber funding
Britain international community
grade out thousands
science regimes provide private again
killed al Qaeda
return away
same saving
social doing
foreign temporary worker
illegal respect
change skilled progress after still patriot
believe hard into buy
able keep partners
save relief economic union
such religious stand
use young based million message
shown me letter
greater trade sent matter
Australia
Poland
plans serve objections often principled
killing already
failed
revealed
weakening fields
countries justice love
place duties ended
debate Baghdad beginning once violent
however goal having intelligence
supporters hardest
unfinished shadows
tracking tyranny
rise confidence began strategy
around nearly thugs
known voice services expanding
service begin providing
reliable leaders
double resolve
national always
markets historic
mission comes
aim upon dignity
captured enterprise
understand determined three takes
January credit reduced
military begun death today
servicemen governing tool
put bring fastest highest almost ownership
rights ever increasing
Iraqis prepare end using state
turn hundreds responsibility across giving refuse
gain basics
reading
which first passing
build senior changing
increase Libya
results plotting
sense Taliban level
made any opportunity
information ensure including provisions off expand placement
stronger teach grants
actions agenda business secure diplomacy threat
effective different owners
frivolous lawsuits
energy elections
run urge pass along
less open region Korea
account limit protects
meets spending wasteful eliminate half full immigration laws
values benefit hunting opening employers true encourage
called preserve path
demanding committed keeping press
key control modern fellow
effort bringing starting education receive commitment
given additional
kept old resources
plan fits difficult hope
savings signed taken
afford individual lower avoid reduce individuals
wrong living
seen lonely building
meeting civilization
proud decisions
treatment honored four friend proposed
serious forces here
administration society
sports performance
steroids
representatives
sexually transmitted diseases abstinence
rest value may judges order charities
mentoring groups prisoners
another released
legislation times
really crime problem
Pearson please
deck carrier Pacific mess hall
listening policies defeated inside primary divisions
fight win
base question
proving view terrorism delivering constitution solved mainly indictments
guaranteeing center attacked
guilty indicted tried convicted
vice officers settled Mr.
drawing participation ambitious
tragedy chaos carnage
enough
trial legal papers declared
got liberation
gather falter
centers motives let candid being consequences leaving seeking
facts established
Kay report identified dozens
related activities
significant amounts
equipment concealed
boys dictator
resolutions girls
empty leave encouraging defiance
dictators torture chambers filled
victims terrified
innocent distinguished
afghan vanished
army sands
essential safer tools
critics said faced internationalized particular criticism
explain tasks
Japan South Philippines Thailand
Italy Spain Denmark Hungary
Bulgaria Ukraine Romania
Netherlands Norway El Salvador
surviving history
ignore contributions
dismiss sacrifices
allows sought operations gained
fighting analysts
difference challenges between submitting
few seek permission slip
hear doubts realistic
met share combat
examining rare mistaken
condescending
assume whole cultures religions incompatible
liberty self track
disrupt planted human cells
seize crushed assets
decades enforced demands
remains
despair anger produce movements
threaten safety
used pursuing similar rule
efforts catch standard embezzlers
barriers hateful
propaganda traffickers
broadcast broken Baathist programming
Arabic Persian soon television
airline remnant passenger ran news methods
proposal showing battle dispersed
endowment choice development joined labor unions above finish
criminals light others
transform troubled continuing lists
beliefs dominate ambitions empire
confident democratic
founded powerful ruler responsibilities
acts hole
side sits
special calling
republic greatest
cell adversity
top strengths
recession corporate
scandals uncertainties acted
stimulate doubled officials
former patrols conducting
penalty average phase week dealing
capital gains stock dividends
evening lowered pays active took surely dealt driving pace
evil quarter guests construction
schedule twenty eight
Cheney pride
manufacturing activity
renew inflation works
interest exports productivity
whim brutal numbers
confirm speaker started department
technology transforms march
done becomes productive
Khalid draft Shaikh biotechnology
respond bill
Mohammed mastermind awoke
transition supposed learned early grades
sovereignty mastered illusion June
expectation literacy himself
hold custody requiring regularly
fundamentals reporting
patrolling spread sure options
performing toward excellence
status quo defenders undermine accountability
common violence graders read fear trying asking identify shake falling
days simply shuffling
learning Pakistani door
authorities august intimidated
older adults
occupations assassins
preparation beyond fail
series measures 21st century assuming extra fall
skeptics advanced future
invite professionals
welcome sector
capture larger Pell
respected college courses fine colleges
train industries
creating current join prosperity creation
pursue pro Adnan Pachachi sir
reductions stands unfair
Hambali charged
pay eventually
peaceful coasts
sake cuts permanent leadership
employees needless regulation
junk player
leader consumers supplies
Indonesia voluntarily pledged disclose
dismantle modernize electricity outlaw
promote conservation
soil dependent sources
promoting fair thought
entrepreneurs
manufacturers
farmers
create younger nest egg tempting impossible personal retirement
uranium source
enrichment burden
acting stewards
taxpayers weeks
funds project colonel domestic
limiting discretionary Qadhafi
priorities correctly wise
judged deficit thirds
five borders raising murder
reflect nine intense negotiations
involving match
succeeded fill
needed honest orderly allowing border patrol
understandable oppose amnesty
comforting further very unfairly
reward break reason citizenship
clear false hardworking words
amazing credible technologies
improving dramatic doubt
word deployed
extend benefits vigilance strategies throughout goals
requires bipartisan manhunt
ago showed strengthening adding going deserve insisting north
continued discount card
retail price remaining
Bali hide cities preventive screenings
diabetes
disease entering wellness
exams monthly premium bills
roughly caves
Jakarta Iran
commitments develop
Casablanca expenses
Riyadh confronting measure proudly
attempt hands veto critical harbor
Mombasa affordable address
rapidly band
negotiate
came cover
association refundable
allow computerizing records
rostrum mistakes police improve
doctor patient relationship
doctors shield catastrophic accounts
allowed deduct premiums
fallen access makes officer things endure
reverence integrity
differences could race try instilled reminder
supply task
congregations unseen pillars does remain
gave raise healthy responsible worst complete
gamble futures
Jerusalem securing declined defeating hundred thousand fewer
pledge chemical biological demand
proven Istanbul
provided punish public don
cast lose examples
athletics play role
reforms unfortunately
professional votes setting example
plot enhancing closest
baseball football sends shortcuts
accomplishment call team unwavering
coaches players signal tough rid dangers talk
teenagers contract diplomats
tireless shadow harm
kill prevent becoming grassroots
campaign inform risks
duty fact certain affect
ultimate counter negative
influence culture messages
skill institution enduring Clinton
statute declares armored redefine activist
charges redefining court
midnight regard
elected consequence heard
insist forcing arbitrary alternative constitutional process
sanctity outcome
conduct moral tradition
defines teaches sight strengthen communities
unleashing protecting creed
hours feeding hungry taking hand
denied contracts
faithful cross star David crescent wall
executive opened billions
grant competition includes
codify discriminate past worked
mentors watch addicted homeless consider joy
group inmates civilized experience likely commit prisoner entry initiative
transitional housing
newly land
second chance gates ahead
tests achievements shared
felt kind grief
grace rediscovered
daring victory
noble aims apart
witness calm sorrow
toughness
haul youngest girl Lincoln
Rhode Island lost honor
dear George W. Bush
anything determination
oppressed age
anyone posts tell she added
believes conveyed yes
yourself study listen mom dad
someone uniform
say thank
safe move
steadfast mankind
momentum unmistakable
carried alone
trust guides unfolding purposes
bless

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Great Glass, Premium Prose

An imaginatively done glass site that includes a nice presentation of work my brother John did a few years ago for a new glass museum in Austria.

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The Yawp Affair

The candidate was indecorous. I’m with the pundits and editors who’ve decided to ride his lapse into the ground: Decorousness is everything, and Howard Dean’s whole candidacy deserves to be reduced to a single prolonged syllable in a single speech. If you want a reality check on just where good manners can get you with the press and the people, check out the White House. The folks there lied to get a blank check for a war that’s done little or nothing to improve our security. But they lied politely. It’s enough to make you want to say, “Yeeeaaaggghhh!!!” Quietly.

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