Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Few Late Night Observations

  1. GI Joe is even worse than I expected. The special effects are uneven (with some just being ridiculously bad), the story is laughably dumb, the acting is exactly what you would expect from a summertime explodapalooza, and the script is horrible. I’m glad I didn’t pay to see this thing in the theaters. Maybe I could have forgiven some of those sins if the movie looked good, but it doesn’t.
  2. But Netflix streaming over wifi gives me a better picture on the giant screen TV than I get with my cable. Much better resolution, color, everything. This is the kind of thing that makes me think that I might be happy if I killed my cable and got an Apple TV. Then I remember that I really like to watch sports. If it weren’t for that, I would probably get the Apple TV, subscribe to the handful of TV shows I actually enjoy watching, and call it a good day.
  3. Speaking of Apple, how about Apple’s new line-up of products?
  4. Apple TV still isn’t what I really want it to be, but at just $99 I might pick it up anyway. If I kill off the Blockbuster monthly membership, I would probably realize a savings by renting videos through Apple--and do so with a tremendous measure of convenience. It would also be the third product hooked to my TV that could stream video from my Netflix account--which, that just seems like overkill.
  5. The new iPod Shuffle is a step (back) in the right direction. As a reward for sitting through a sales pitch from a company that wanted to sell me marketing services, I was given a free, last generation iPod Shuffle. It’s an amazingly small bit of kit, but it is one of the worst Apple products I’ve ever owned. It’s a pain to control and it has absolutely none of the user-friendliness that I’ve come to expect from the company. If I had bought it, I would have been pretty cranky. The new Shuffle gives it back a normal set of controls at the expense of a little bit of its compact size. That seems like a good idea to me.
  6. The new iPod Nano is a different story, though. I think the last gen version is the one that I would want if I were in the market. While the new Nano has a nifty touch screen, a nifty OS, and looks like quite a nice little media player, it would have made more sense as a iPod Shuffle HD. To change the form, the Nano ditched the video, uses a smaller screen, and loses video playback. Yes, it gained a bit, but I actually liked the idea of using the Nano as an easy replacement for a Flip-class video player. I’m left a little cold by it.
  7. The iPod Touch is a great little beast, though. I have zero need for it in my life, of course, but if I didn’t have the iPhone, I would consider getting a Touch.
  8. Ping is the really confusing product for me, though. I’m not sure if the world really needs another social media site and, if it did, I’m not sure it needs that site to be built into iTunes. I have no idea if it will be successful, but, if it is, then it will probably be the final, welcome death of MySpace. MySpace already feels like a relic from another era (dog years have nothing on Internet years) and it’s just waiting for the final push to send it to the grave.
  9. None of which changes the fact that Britney Spears’ former body guard’s lawsuit sounds like so much bunk to me. The situations he describes as offensive and disgusting--well, let’s just say that I don’t buy his story.
  10. None of which makes me feel better about the fact that I don’t have nearly enough incandescent lights in the pantry. Not sure where to pick them up anymore, either--the stores around us only seem to stock the fluorescent bulbs now. Now, I don’t have a huge issue with the CFL lights except these little issues: I haven’t seen anywhere near the three to five year lifespan I was told that they would give me, they don’t work on dimmer switches, they often take too long to warm up, I’m still iffy on what I’m supposed to do to the pile of dead bulbs that I have in a bag in the closet, and I hate the fact that my choice has been slowly legislated away. Which is precisely why you should read what Lileks has to say on the subject.

Monday, April 05, 2010


What a game. What an end. Wow.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Telling Conversation

I have a friend who is a Republican. Not a conservative nor a deeply political person; her votes are more of habit and generalities than they are of intense political ideology. In the last election, she voted a mostly Republican ticket but refrained from voting for a presidential candidate because she didn’t like Sarah Palin, couldn’t vote for Obama, and there wasn’t an option of writing in my name.

That last bit isn’t a joke, by the way. We had gone from the office together and voted at the same time. When we were on the way, she told me she planned to write in my name because she thought I was a better candidate than any of the folks on the ballot. She’s probably wrong, but it would have made me smile; sadly, we saw nothing on the ballot that allowed for write-ins.

When I stopped by the office last week to use the printer, we talked for a bit and she wanted me to know two things that she said would shock me.

“I’m never going to say this again, so I have to get it out right now,” she said. She’s a notoriously stubborn and outspoken person, so when she goes for something like this, you know that it must hurt to the core. “First, I still don’t like him, but the Nuggets need George Karl back. Second, I still don’t like her, but even if Sarah Palin is the candidate, I’ll vote for her just to get Obama out of office.”

I was stunned by both admissions. She’s a long-time Nuggets season ticket holder, takes basketball more seriously than anyone I know, and has lobbied for Karl’s removal for over a year with me arguing the opposite. Her disappointment in McCain’s pick of Veep candidates was, if anything, even more absolute at the time. She didn’t like Palin, she didn’t think the woman was qualified, and she wasn’t fond of any woman being that close to the presidency--and oddly sexist opinion that brought out the kind of arguments I usually try to avoid in the office. That, in one conversation, she could possibly admit that George Karl brought value to the Denver Nuggets and that Sarah Palin would make a better president than Barrack Obama was like a Christmas miracle for me.

My Democrat friends will say that they never had her vote anyway, and there is truth to that, although her commitment to voting for any Republican candidate over the current president is out of character and more meaningful than they might admit. And, beyond that, the story doesn’t stop there.

Her kids both voted Obama in the election. Again, neither is particularly political and I don’t know either of them enough to guess at their motivation. My friend went on to tell me that she wasn’t sure how her daughter felt, but that her son was fuming mad over the president’s performance and bitterly regretted his vote. This is a young (mid-twenties), hispanic union member working in a non-professional capacity. He is the Obama demographic.

He’s also a nice kid, a smart kid, and, I stress this because I think it is important, not typically a politically oriented person.

The Democrats are going to lose the midterms in a big way. Barring a previously untapped and Clintonian capacity for triangulation that the public truly buys into, Obama won’t see a second term, either. The presidential election is a long way off, and, business cycles being what they are, the political situation could dramatically change between now and then. If the economy, the job numbers, and the tenor of the Obama presidency don’t change soon, though, I think it will reach the kind of tipping point where Obama might experience something that I can’t recall ever seeing: watching his own party abandoning him for another candidate when his “electability” is called into question.

Could Hillary be in the perfect position for 2012? I think it is entirely possible and I think that Democrats might find it easier to unite behind her than they would in fighting the early (too early, yes, but we’re speculating her) legacy of the Obama administration.

For the midterm elections, the future seems easier to predict. Obama and the Democrats are losing the center left and the independents right now, Republicans will see the return of some of the defectors who were tired of the Bush years, and some Democrats will stay home because they are going to be disheartened by the constant fight and the simple fact that the Obama years aren’t going the way that they expected. When you expect a deity and you get a mere Chicago politician, some folks are going to start questioning their choices.

Certainly, the human mind has amazing powers of self-justification and there will be a core of believers that will dig in and keep fighting. The great majority of voters aren’t true believers in much of anything, though, and their numbers are skewing to the right. The Tea Party wasn’t the flash-in-the-pan that many people thought it would be (and that the progressive left hoped it would be), and while the real impact of the movement has yet to be seen, only fools would deny the massive influence that the grass-roots uprising has had on the political conversations of the day. And the left’s continued attempt to minimize the movement with talk of “teabaggers” (and, yes, Mr. Ditto, I’m looking at you right now) is only entrenching the strange agglomeration of libertarians, conservatives, and center left citizens into an anti-incumbent and anti-establishment mood. Demeaning them, ignoring their worries, and insulting the Tea Partiers with accusations of racism, stupidity, and name-calling has only had the immediate effect of making the progressive left look even less attractive and less relevant to contemporary America than they did before the election of President Obama in what was far more a reaction to the previous administration than it was a mandate for massive social and political change.

While the Democrats lose the middle, it is entirely possible that giddy Republicans or Tea Partiers won’t learn the right lessons from recent elections or from each other--and my guess is that the Tea Party could overplay its hand in a few elections and cost conservatives some ground it might otherwise take, but that’s a conversation for another post. But Tea Party overreach and GOP clumsiness seem unlikely to derail the particular train that looks to bring massive defeat to the Democrats at the hands of an aroused, angry public in the mid-terms.

I’m no genius (political or otherwise) and I’m not reading tea leaves that aren’t readily apparent to others. What will be interesting is to see how the left rallies in those upcoming contests to try to maintain the advantage that they gained in the last election. In a way, though, that massive gain makes it even more apparent that the more time that goes on the more they are responsible for continued problems. Who else could it be? It helps that the Democrats managed to turn their supermajority into something that looked desperately like weakness.

If I’m right, though, and the GOP makes significant gains at the midterm, they will need to shift the tone of their message. No longer will it be good enough to be the minority fighting the good fight, but they will need to begin leading for the first time in many years. There is much to be red-faced about in being a Republican right now; the record of the supposedly conservative party has been, ahem, mixed as of late. Not finding a way to lead on the biggest issues of the day--not just offering up solutions, but actually delivering them and making the case for those solutions--would be devastating.

I believe that there is a historical opportunity coming to Republicans in mid-terms, but that opportunity could be an invitation to tragedy for conservatives if we don’t find a way to make something useful from it.

More reading for Sunday night:

Legal Insurrection has this gem: “If Obama has lost my friend, the Frank Rich-loving, Sarah Palin-hating greedy Democratic geezer that he is, the Democrats are in deep electoral trouble.”
Rasmussen Reports talks about trust issues.
Via the Corner, the Seattle Times supports a legal challenge the health care reform bill.
In a two-for-one, follow the link to Vodka Pundit and then click through to Charles Martin’s post on President Obama’s political “stage magic.” As I said a few days ago, keep watching both hands.
And, for something less political, Happy Easter.

Update: Be sure to see this post on Billllllll’s Idle Mind. “What did we do to deserve this?” Excellent question, Mr. Surplus Ells.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Weekend Inventory of Events

Duke is going to the finals. The Nuggets won. I’m married to a beautiful and wonderful woman.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Best Wishes to George Karl and His Family

Here’s what JR Smith had to say about George Karl’s announcement tonight:

Love coach Karl he will be fine everyone keep him in your prayers!

For Nuggets fans who somehow missed it, George Karl announced tonight that he will be taking a leave of absence from the Nuggets while he is treated for neck and throat cancer. For the next six weeks, he will be undergoing a series of aggressive treatments, although he noted that the doctors have told him that they believe the cancer is treatable.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Karl and his family. Here’s hoping he responds well to the treatment.

More here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nuggets v/ Hornets: Tying a Record

The Nuggets didn’t like their performance in the last playoff game in New Orleans, and they proved the point tonight with a big win. A really big win. In fact, it was the biggest win in a playoff game since 1956. The Nuggets beat the Hornets 121-63, a record-tying effort that matched a playoff game more than five decades old.

The Nuggets didn’t see much of their starters in the last period of the game and, aside from a few easy threes, worked more to eat up time than they did to score points through that stretch.

The Nuggets were fabulous tonight, but they were helped along by a Hornets team that grew lethargic as the game went on. You’d be hard pressed to say that the home crowd got their money’s worth in that last period with a New Orleans team that was hardly even trying. Given how scrappy they were early, how aggressive they were through the first half, I’m sure it was a disappointing end of the game for their home fans.

Basketball doesn’t get much uglier, but it was fun for Nuggets fans to see the team claim a 3-1 lead in the series. It’s even better when folks realize that the Nuggets are flirting with progressing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

But here’s the really funny bit: when I went to my Yahoo page to check the box score with something like five and a half minutes left in the game, they had already listed the score as a final. When I clicked form my page to the box score a few minutes later, they updated the score but still had it listed as a final. Apparently, while the NBA doesn’t have a mercy rule, the Yahoo sports page does.


I wouldn’t count on seeing the Hornets quitting in Denver for game five the same way they did tonight. In fact, I’m guessing they’ll play a vigorous and aggressive game just to reclaim a shred of dignity, because this game absolutely had to hurt.

Congratulations to the Nuggets on a big win where the entire team played brilliantly.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ashley Biden (And Her Big Bag of Cocaine)

The only reason to care about Ashley Biden’s snorting episode (if, indeed, it did happen) is because she didn’t see fit to share with the rest of us.


Aside from that, I’m pretty sure we have some more meaningful issues to discuss right now. Like my sadness about Duke’s early exit from the NCAA tournament, my patriotic fervor (as in, dissent is...), and the potential meanings of North Korea’s long range missile launch.

Compared to all of that, the overstimulated nostrils of one young woman can’t really be all that meaningful, can they?

Friday, March 21, 2008

About the NCAA Tournament

In case you were wondering (and I know you were), my strategy of incredible ignorance, trusting the rankings, respect for tradition, and inexplicable whimsy has worked out pretty well for me in the brackets.


I fully expect the second round to expose me as a pretender, though.


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