Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Chocolate City? Like Water For Chocolate!

New Orleans is sort of ridiculous right now. I read what would have been an otherwise hilarious article in the NYT that stated New Orleans officials are expected to issue a "mandatory evacuation order" on Sunday. Why is that otherwise hilarious? Because "at that point, residents would be told, though not physically forced, to leave New Orleans." Find, if you can, the etymological error in that sentence.

Today on CNN I was relieved to learn that many of those NOLA residents who were evacuating the city for Baton Rouge would also be able to catch the LSU game on their way out. Thank God for football!

Seriously, though, why would a human being live in New Orleans after Katrina? You might as well move onto the slopes of Mount St. Helen after 1980. One of my co-workers suggested one could ask a similar question as to why someone would choose to live in such a godawful climate like Minnesota. Please. You get cold, you put on a sweater. In New Orleans...I guess you put on a life preserver? I'm just glad billions of dollars weren't wasted restoring a city that would be drowned again in three years anyway.

In all seriousness, though, I know several people who currently live in New Orleans, and I hope they're safe.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Inspiration Is Most Audacious

I had intended to do day-by-day coverage 0f the DNC, but that plan sort of fell by the wayside. Right now I am watching Bill's speech on the NYT website, since I missed it yesterday. I even missed Barack's acceptance speech, since my office's annual office party was tonight. There was free booze, and one of my managers said he had a pool going that I would get the most drunk, so I wanted to do my part to make him proud. This is all by way of saying I am pretty drunk right now. And feeling pretty absolutely wonderful. About my office, my bosses, my co-workers, my job. About my life. But also about America. It's all converged into a perfect storm. The Democrats have rolled out some of their greatest members of my time this past week. The Kennedys. Bill. Biden. Obama. And maybe it's the booze, but I would never have thought four years ago that I could be as excited, as inspired, by my country as I am right now. I mean, my God, man. YES WE CAN. We can amend, we can reclaim the deterioration of moral leadership of the last eight years if we choose, if we elect, to band together as American brothers. We can shape it; we can reach out in November, and one-by-one we can change the fucking world. We can do better; yes, we can. I don't know if we can bridge the divide, but we can cross it--cross the gap of political partisanship that seems more designed to perpetuate itself, rather than to dissolve it. Vision is vision: it is universal; it knows no age, nor experience, nor Beltway babble; it is as real, as fundamental, as the curve of the earth itself.

Oh yeah, and no matter how much I agree with him politically, Keith Olbermann is still a douche.

Fun Fact: There is not better use of a buzz than utilizing it reading a couple chapters in Greenspan's book. Broaden your fucking mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's Not Fair!

Today I went to the Minnesota State Fair for the first time. Five Augusts I've lived in Minnesota, and this is the first time I've been to the State Fair. Frankly I don't see what all the fuss is about. Here are some things I learned:

1. The Bible mentions St Paul, but it doesn't mention Minneapolis.
2. Pretty much any food can be fried and/or put on a stick.
3. Yes, 17-year-old girls are hotter.

After the Fair I got suckered in to going down to Minneapolis proper to hit up the bar scene. Yes, "suckered," I tell you! One of my friends may think I'm pretty mad at him right now. I'm not. I'm mad at myself; mad at myself for agreeing to something I knew I wouldn't enjoy, and all out of the notion that it's what other people do for fun. I've never been like other people; I've never enjoyed what they enjoy. It's certainly my loss more than my gain. But it's the way I'm wired. I can't pretend I enjoy going to random clubs and dancing with Miscellaneous Girl in the dimming hope we might establish some sort of meaningful connection. I can't pretend D.G. is so utterly replaceable, even though she is. I didn't really enjoy it when I was 21, and I certainly don't enjoy it now that I'm 26. I can't be something I'm not.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Unless That Delightful Billy Crystal Is Involved

Does anyone else just want to punch Bill Kristol in the face? Something about the poor guy just makes me want to punch him. Right. In the face. I think it's great the NYT has offered an olive branch to opposing views by giving him a column every Monday, but really. Everytime I read it I'm so remarkably unimpressed. This guy got two degrees from Harvard? This guy was the first domino that collapsed the Clinton health care plan? This guy has the supposed vision for the New American Century?

I just don't see it.

I can imagine a young Bill Kristol now: big glasses, buck teeth, hunched forward as he scuttles across campus with a load of books in his arms. Would the pretty girl like to go to the prom with him? No! He'll show her. One day he'll be a powerful figure in American politics. He'll be the shadowy man behind the curtain, pulling all the right strings. He'll be the guy behind the guy behind the guy. Yes, one day he'll show us all.

No, Bill. No matter how hard you try, the pretty girl will never go out with you.

It's like Bill O'Reilly. Someone needs to tell Bill that no matter how loud he rants his father is never going to tell him he's proud of him. Then they should hug him Good Will Hunting-style.

And then make sure he doesn't punch THEM in the face.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Speaking of Al Franken...

Here are two campaign ads that have been getting a lot of airplay recently:

Al Franken for Senate:

Norm Coleman for Senate:

Notwithstanding the fact that Priscilla Lord Faris (Dickens called: he wants his character back) comes off a little too much like the Shrieking Feminist Lawyer equivalent of a bin Laden video...

I think the contrast between these videos is striking. Is it telling that the jackass comedian apparently has done more for our troops than the guy who's been in the Senate for six years?

You decide!

Or rather, don't.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Al Franken: A Revue

I recently finished reading Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. It's a book by Al Franken. In my defense, I actually purchased it several years ago, at a significant discount, at Barnes & Noble. I love books. I love reading them. And because I love owning them, the range of my interest is broadened significantly when faced with free and/or significantly discounted books (see, for example, the entry on Cornel West, that fucking cad).

Much like the product of the aforementioned Mr. West, I didn't initially pick up this book expecting to really enjoy it. I don't know that much about Al Franken, other than his comedy career. On the other hand, I know about his comedy career. You see what I'm getting at? * I simply figured that, with Franken on the ballot in November, I should at least make an effort to read the one book by him that I own. If not now, when? It was sort of like reading Bernstein's biography on Hillary Clinton before the Minnesota primary.

* SAM: Look, I really like her, and she’s not what you think.
JOSH: The only thing I know about her is she’s a call girl. Is she a call girl?
SAM: Yes.
JOSH: Then so far she’s exactly what I think.

Unlike the Bernstein biography, however, which only provided a more resourced foundation for many of my negative opinions about Hillary Clinton and thereby permitted them to blossom, Franken's book won me over. Not to say there weren't some things I disagreed with. For example...

Franken on Affirmative Action:

I had a baseball coach pose this question to me: "You have two guys run down to first. They have equal times, but one has much better form. Which one do you choose?"

You choose the one with the bad form. You can coach him to use good form and he'll beat the other guy. [See also: The West Wing, Episode 5.5, "Constituency of One," teaser --Ed.]

In the same way, blind adherence to SAT scores and GPA is ridiculous. Take two kids, one white and one black. The white kid's in private school, has educated parents, opportunities to travel, intensive SAT tutoring. He takes the SATs three times and submits his highest score--1,280. The black kid is brought up by a single mom who didn't graduate from high school. No books in the house, works after school, shares a room with two brothers. No SAT tutoring, takes it once, gets 1,120. You'd take the black kid, right?

No, because in your own hypothetical the white kid still got to first base first.

From the same chapter, Franken on the Confederate flag:

I was talking to a Southerner about this the other day, and he said, "The Nazis were bad. But we drive around in Volkswagens."

I said, "Yeah, but we don't put a Volkswagen on top of the state capitol."

I think you meant to say: Yeah, but we don't put a swastika on the state capitol. I'm actually agree with Franken here, I'm just wishing he had had a more opportune comeback.

But, and this is my larger point, Franken wins me over quite easily in this book because most of it is focused on explaining why the Talking Shrieking Heads of the conservative movement are a bunch of assholes. Yes We Can Yes They Are! This is a book that takes it's time and uses factual support to outline just some of the many ways in which the trickle-down trinity (Coulter, O'Reilly, Hannity - the titular "Lying Liars"), and the Fox News that made them, are so outta-control outrageous. Seriously, they should put a picture of Sean Hannity in the dictionary next to the word "bloviate."

And while in a vacuum I might not think Al Franken is All That, his demonstrated willingness to put to task the same people I dislike makes me like him. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

So here comes the larger point. I don't necessarily disagree with the ultimate merits of everything Sean Hannity says. I completely and utterly disagree with the juvenile manner by which he goes about expressing it. By dismissing and demonizing those who subscribe to the Opposing View, he's redrawn the lines, and somehow I ended up on the same side as someone who I might otherwise be a little more reticent of.

Oh yeah, and Norm Coleman is kind of a jackass. I can take my politicians sarcastic and condescending. I can't stomach them self-righteous.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Don't Blame Me, I Didn't Vote!

It was such a nice day I went for a walk in my neighborhood today. Here are some fun things I discovered:

1. There's a coin laundromat about twenty blocks from where I live. Can you imagine such a thing? I mean, there's poverty, and then there's poverty!

2. I happened upon a small park located in the middle of a tiny traffic circle. Interestingly, it's called "Circle Park." Hmm. I wonder why.

3. A lot of people in my neighborhood have Al Franken and Obama 08 yard signs. They go nicely with the slightly-worn Kerry/Edwards signs they still have on display. Sometimes I feel like walking up to these people and explaining that, unfortunately, not only are Kerry and/or Edwards not on the ballot, but yes, they were in fact fucking losers four years ago.

Then I remember something my father told me. After the '84 election he bought a bumper sticker that read: Don't Blame Me, I Live in the District.

So I get it. You voted for Kerry. I won't blame you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It Was Definitely Blonde, But I'm Not Sure What About It Was Legal

If you're wondering, the answer is: yes, Legally Blonde is even more intolerable after you've actually graduated from law school.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's the Etymology, Stupid

Yesterday someone was on my case for not being able to find out, in thirty minutes, how a court deals with a contractual provision that waives a non-waivable right. Only a lawyer would need guidance on this. Is it not etymologically obvious? It's NON-WAIVABLE. YOU CAN'T WAIVE IT. I can't believe there isn't a long trail of litigation where the courts grapple with this complex issue.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

From Beijing With Love

The Olympics bore me. BUT one thing I like about 'em is that it's always easy to choose whom to root for.

Answer: The Russians.

UPDATE: Best part of the Olympics so far? Getting to hear the NBA on NBC theme song.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What, Me Worry?

Here's what passes for an Op-Ed from CNN that I've been meaning to comment on for a while now. If you're too lazy to click on the link, 'cause that's, like, totally a lot of work, it's titled "Could An Obama Presidency Hurt Black Americans?" What? How could an Obama presidency hurt black Americans? Read on, faithful reader:

Paul Street, author of the forthcoming book "Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics," says Obama risks becoming an Oval Office version of talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. She and former Secretary of State Colin Powell are African-American figures whose popularity allows some white Americans to congratulate themselves for not being racist, he says

"They're cited as proof that racism is no longer a significant barrier to black advancement and interracial equality," Street said...

When Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in June, many African-Americans cried because they said they never thought they would live to see such a day. Vendors soon started selling T-shirts of Obama's portrait pasted alongside King in Walgreens stores and at online stores.

Yet there are a few political commentators who warn African-Americans that an Obama victory could be twisted to suppress the push for racial equality. Most of these commentators are African-American, but they also include white, Latino and conservative pundits.

These commentators say that there is a subliminal appeal to Obama's presidential candidacy that has been ignored. Obama doesn't just represent change; he represents atonement for America's ugly racial past for others, they say.

So what's their point? That we SHOULDN'T vote for Obama in November? Of course not! Here's their point: "Hey, White America! Even after you've elevated a black man to the most powerful position in the country, don't think we still don't get to complain about race relations!"

Don't you worry, little guy. We would never take that away from you.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Here's a rational question looking for a thoughtful response:

Barack needs to talk to his Communications Director about the concept known as "not accepting the premise of the question." Granted, he rejected one of the premises of that question. But there was another, antecedential (is this a word?) one. Let's review:

1. There are numerous attacks clearly being made on the African community, the black community. PREMISE STATUS = ACCEPTED.

2. Barack Obama has not had the ability, not one time, to speak to the interests, or speak on behalf of the interests of the oppressed and exploited: the black community or the African community. PREMISE STATUS = DENIED.

Average Black Man says: let's pigeonhole Barack Obama as the black candidate! That should win over those swing states!

On the other hand, I like Barack's response: If you don't like my position on black issues, vote for John McCain. Yeah, assuming Florida doesn't disenfranchise black voters. AGAIN.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Baby Don't Be So Mean

The other day I got a call from a very persnickity attorney. I don't necessarily mind when people are mean or condescending to me, but you've got to earn it. You've got to be that much better than me. Here are some criteria you'll have to meet before I let you talk down to me:

1. If you're going to be condescending, you're going to have to be that much smarter than me. My intelligence will have to clearly pale in comparison to yours. And not to brag, but I've got 26 years worth of test scores that say that's pretty hard to do. Depending on who you ask, there's somewhere between a 1-in-15 and 1-in-50 chance that you're as smart as me. And remember, in order to be mean to me, you'll have to be scoring significantly better than that.

2. You have to be better-looking than me. This is less difficult to do, but remember you've got to do it whilst still clearing the Smarter Than Hurdle. It may be superficial, but I refuse to be talked down to by someone who looks like the Elephant Man. I'll just be thinking to myself, "Maybe I can't figure out how creditors' rights are affected by gerrymandering in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, but at least I can figure out how a treadmill works."

3. You've got to be better-schooled/more successful than me. This would involve something like going to Harvard for undergrad, Yale for law school, clerking at the Supreme Court, and then making $160,000 in your first year at White Case. As you can imagine, that's pretty hard to do. What I'm basically looking for is someone who's talent is undeniable as to be immediately self-evident.

Here are some famous assholes I would have let be mean to me:

Frank Lloyd Wright
Miles Davis

I'm talking about guys who changed the nature of their profession. Whether it be architecture or crafting the Silmarils, these guys, to quote Wolverine, were "the best at what they did."

4. If you're significantly more experienced than me I'm willing to be flexible on one or two of these criteria. Example: if you've got 40 years experience in the profession I don't necessarily expect you to still be more attractive than me, but you should at least have been a looker back when you were 20.

5. Your girlfriend/wife should also meet these criteria. I won't take crap from someone who's dating Betty Bimbo.

Good night, and good luck.