Archive for September, 2008

Please, Let It End

Posted on September 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Sarah Palin can’t name a newspaper she reads…though she does pronounce “microcosm” correctly. (Thanks to a poster below who pointed this out.)

More Palin-Bashing

Posted on September 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 184 Comments »

You know, when John McCain first chose Sarah Palin as his v-p candidate, I took a little grief for remarking that I didn’t much care for her accent. (You know who you are, grief-givers.)

So I was listening to the radio this morning, and NPR played a few excerpts of Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, and, well, I’m just going to come out and say it:

Sarah Palin’s accent makes her sound stupid.

And I don’t think she is stupid. Ignorant, maybe. Uneducated. Un-curious. But I don’t think she’s a dingbat.

It’s just that when she says something like, in response to Couric’s question about whether Palin could give her one specific McCain attempt to support regulation, “I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to ya“—well, she sounds dumb.

It’s a fine line, right? In Fargo, where the accent was basically the same, Francis McDormand made it sound sort of sly and knowing. Maybe it’s because we knew that her character was intelligent and she used the accent as a tool for putting people at ease and playing down her smarts.

Palin, not so much…. Because we don’t believe in her intelligence, we don’t interpret the accent in a positive light. And when we hear someone like Tina Fey make fun of it, it registers: Not so bright. Fairly or not.

Quote for the Day

Posted on September 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“There’s a certain point in your life where you make a choice between sex and food. I know which I choose.”

Simon Le Bon, quoted in this month’s issue of Q magazine.

More on Tommy Amaker

Posted on September 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

On reflection, I think it was unfair of me to make yesterday’s post on Harvard basketball a referendum on whether Tommy Amaker is a jerk. I don’t know enough about the issue to make it so personal. And in any event, Amaker’s personality isn’t the real issue. My apologies, Mr. Amaker.

(Though I still believe that, no matter how much Amaker and AD Bob Scalise may not like Times reporter Pete Thamel, they should talk to him, rather than foist off the responsibility on an associate AD, as they did.)

But the larger issue, of course, is what kind of basketball program Harvard wants, and whether that sort of program is so important to the university that it will compromise the traditional values of Ivy League athletics.

Here’s an excerpt from a blog called Hoops Addict that sums up the situation from that perspective:

Amaker’s presence and his and his athletic director’s assertion that Harvard Basketball is taking a new direction – an investment in winning – makes for more pressure for all the other Ivy League coaches. It is a proclamation that the Ivies are joining the big-time.

And this forces the coaches from the Ivies to join the NCAA basketball universe of the 21st century. They must actively recruit players from regions around the country that are, perhaps, outside of their comfort zones. They must ask for more money from the university and from boosters to conduct their business. This means glad-handing, doing rounds of speaking engagements, and even attending corporate and political mixers, which is the rarified air inhabited by well-heeled Ivy League boosters.

The question this all raises is why? Honestly, who cares whether Harvard has an elite basketball program? Isn’t the university creating a product for which there is no significant demand—and potentially compromising itself in the process?


Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The bailout gets beaten, and the stock market plunges….

Quote of the Day

Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

“I’m looking forward to meeting him, too. I’ve never met him before, but I’ve been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade.’’

Sarah Palin on Joe Biden.

You know, I’m about  the same age as Sarah Palin, and I pay pretty close attention to politics, and my state isn’t that far from Joe Biden’s. And I’m pretty sure that not once did I ever hear a single word about a Joe Biden Senate speech. So what are the odds of “I may be broke but I’m not flat-busted” Sarah Palin, growing up in Wasilla, Alaska, having heard anything about Joe Biden until, oh, a couple of months ago?

2nd Palin-on-Biden quote of the Day:

“I have to admit, though, he’s a great debater, and he looks pretty doggone confident, like he’s sure he’s going to win. But then again, this is the same Senator Biden who said the other day that University of Delaware would trounce the Ohio State Buckeyes. Wrong!

Dear God, help us….

Is He Winning the Indies?

Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

DailyKos argues that Obama won the most important part of the debate: winning in the minds of independent and undecided voters.

Pundits give way too much credence to the idea that the aggressor in a debate wins. Partisans like aggression, but that is not what independent voters are looking for this year. They want Josiah Bartlett, not Col. Nathan Jessup. In addition to the “Obama won the insta-polls” idea (see Mark Blumenthal for Debate Reaction: What’s a Win?), the LA Times/Bloomberg, Gallup and R2K improvements suggest Obama did himself some good; for those who need to see the numbers, they are there for Obama and not McCain.

As evidence, it quotes the LA Times/Bloomberg poll:

Obama was seen as more “presidential” by 46% of the debate watchers, compared with 33% for McCain.

The difference is even more pronounced among debate watchers who were not firmly committed to a candidate: 44% said they believed Obama looked more presidential, whereas 16% gave McCain the advantage.

Tommy Amaker…Jerk?

Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 23 Comments »

The Times continues its reporting on Harvard’s attempt to transform its basketball program into something decidedly un-Ivy League.

After being mysteriously (try to find some details) cleared of alleged recruiting violations by the NCAA, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker recently summoned five players, recruited by his predecessor, to his office and told them that they were all off the team. This was before practices had started, but after it was possible for the players to transfer to another school. Amaker would be replacing them with seven freshmen whom he had recruited.

Amaker’s decision to cut the players recruited by his predecessor — while not unusual outside the Ivy League — has raised eyebrows in the conference and has angered the players, their parents and coaches. Their main point of contention is that Amaker did not allow the players to compete for spots, going against the university’s athletic mission statement, and instead cleared them out to make room for his own players.

Meanwhile, Harvard’s PR department served up its usual meal of total bullshit.

Harvard’s associate director of athletics, Sheri Norred, said, “While the department is obviously sorry to disappoint any student-athlete, even with necessary roster changes, we have the utmost confidence in Coach Amaker’s ability to judge talent and treat his athletes fairly.

Why not just cut that sentence off after the word “talent”? It’s obviously not true that Amaker has treated these athletes fairly. To insist that he has is either stupid or dishonest.

Meanwhile the coach himself shows that he is no profile in courage.

Amaker did not return a call to his cellphone or an e-mail message.

The AD also shows that he is a stand-up guy.

The athletic director, Bob Scalise, did not return a telephone message.

Way to act like role models for your students, gentlemen.

Everything that Harvard stands for is character and standards for academics,” said Rob Pavinelli, who coached one of the jettisoned players, T. J. Carey, at St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, N.Y. “To me, not giving the kids a chance to compete seems like it goes against everything that Harvard believes in.”

Does Harvard really care so much about a winning basketball team that it’s willing to compromise its values?

Monday Morning Zen

Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

These photos were taken by an amateur photographer named Sandra Critelli off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. These are known as Golden, or Cownose Rays, and like all sting rays are shy and harmless unless provoked.

Pretty great.

(Thanks to my cousin Lucy for passing this along.)

McCain Rolls the Dice…A Lot

Posted on September 28th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

The Times reports that John McCain has a gambling problem. Suddenly everything starts to make sense.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

Let’s consider that a moment: 40 fundraisers and advisers? That is simply astonishing. And McCain has a record of helping the industry. 

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

The problem with gambling, of course, is that you can’t help but wonder what the industry has on John McCain—probably, either money or women [emphasis added]….

The former [campaign] official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

In one instance, McCain spent a night at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut and came away winning several thousand dollars. (Do you think the casino would let him lose? If so, I have some mortgage-backed securities to sell you.) 

Mr. McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator’s night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: “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.

It’s all about judgment—and as with his choice of Sarah Palin, John McCain is increasingly showing that there are serious gaps in his. 

This is a blockbuster story. Congrats to the Times.