Friday, August 29, 2003

I CALL BULLMERDE: They're talking over 11,000 heat deaths in France now....and they're talking about cutting out a national holiday to pay for "elderly care"? Two words for you:

Air conditioning.

Air conditioning.

AIR conDISH-o-ning. Buy them, put them in your homes and apartments. I mean, elderly people die in the U.S. during heatwaves, but not in these numbers.

I went over to the emmanuelle blog to see if she had heatwave stuff (she didn't, at least not on the front page) and found a link to the very cool Merde in France blog. Who, in turn, has a link to the very cool Dissident Frogman blog, who has a lot of heatwave posts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

ARE YOU FOLLOWING STRIPPERGATE?: Here's a little update from Jeanette Walls's gossip column:

Are Hollywood forces behind that lawsuit that a stripper filed against the National Enquirer? That’s what some industry insiders are wondering after Antonella Santini, a stripper who lives in Vancouver, sued the tabloid for libel when it ran an article claiming that Ben Affleck performed hanky panky on her.

“IT’S VERY INTERESTING to me that Affleck himself has not sued,” says a source, “Yet the stripper has. Now, if Affleck’s people want to discredit the story, they can point to the stripper’s case without having to go through the process of disclosure.” What’s more, the lawyer representing Santini is with Rintala, Smoot, Jaenicke and Rees, a Los Angeles-based law firm that has worked on the same side as Affleck’s lawyer, Marty Singer. Affleck’s rep, when asked why he hasn’t filed a suit yet, said the star is “still considering his options.” Santini’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment, and the National Enquirer tells The Scoop it stands by the story.

It's a funny scandal: huge, but entirely contained in the entertainment press.

Monday, August 18, 2003

THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVENESS OF REPUBLICAN PARTIES IN LIBERAL STATES: CalPundit rightly smacks around Bill Simon for planning to go negative on Arnold. Or Kevin at least recognizes it as a fratricidal strategy for the Republicans, as it will surely lead to a Bustamante victory, which--I think--he would rather have. As a resident of another liberal state with a fractured Republican party who elected a now wildly unpopular Democrat for governor, I am pretty interested in all this. California Republicans have my sympathy, just because one-party rule is never good. And this recall should have been able to revitalize the Republicans to a degree, but if they're already hating on each other it's gonna be a long road to Sacra-men-toe. To put it in Barkley-speak.

Friday, August 15, 2003

WHY WAS PHILLY SPARED?: The Inquirer brings the story:

Technicians in Valley Forge saw the sudden power surge. Circuit breakers tripped. And within four minutes, the electricity grid that serves Pennsylvania and New Jersey had clamped off the spike that blacked out much of the Northeast yesterday, shielding Philadelphia and points south from the disruption.

As a result, the Mid-Atlantic grid, operated by Valley Forge-based PJM Interconnection L.L.C., experienced only a few spillover blackouts in sections of northern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey.

Never mind that nine seconds is shorter than four minutes. The Courier-Post seems to make a little more sense:

South Jersey escaped a big blackout Thursday - and you can thank the technology of the regional power grid system.

As soon as the electricity failed in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, transmission lines in New Jersey apparently started pumping juice toward blacked-out areas.

This strained the Garden State's intricate network of power lines, transformers and substations - but the blackout did not cascade down the line to South Jersey.

A system of relays, a little like circuit breakers, "isolated and sectionalized" the surge, said Phillip Harris, president of PJM Interconnection, the region's power pool.

In a sense, the equipment used by the utilities within the PJM grid prevented the blackout from spreading any farther south than North Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile the blame Canada party has raised its ugly head.
ALMOST LIKE A BAD SCIENCE FICTION SCENARIO: "In the future New Yorkers will pride themselves on being more polite than anybody else. And they'll riot in Ottawa."
THAT GAME SHOW NETWORK "WHO WANT TO BE A GOVERNOR?" THING HAD A CHANCE OF BEING INTERESTING: Until the first two announced candidates turned out to be Gary Coleman and the porn star nobody's heard of. Why not play it straight? Why not tap in to the reality teeve craze, get some serious underfunded, underpublicized candidates in there who really want to be governor, get people watching and rooting and (for those in California) voting? Why get goofy with it? Twits.
FRANKISH FACTOID OF THE DAY: From one of those reports of "3000 deaths" in France that I'm sure you've seen:

The widespread absence of air conditioning in France also played a role. Elderly people suffering from heat stroke were often taken to sweatbox hospitals that, like many public buildings in France, do not have cooling systems. An ingrained aversion to chilly drafts, an apparent tolerance for perspiration and an unwillingness to spend money to modernize have prevailed for years, although purchases of air conditioners have shot up during this brutal summer.

Many restaurants, subways, stores and other public places still rely on little more than open windows and ancient fans to beat the heat. This forces younger, healthier people to contend with acute discomfort and unpleasant odours. But, for older people, there can be grave risks, as well.

The problem isn't so much that superhero comics are "too adult" as that they're frequently too eager to be taken seriously as something deeper than they really are. The success of Watchmen (and, to a lesser extent, The Dark Knight Returns) rested on the incongruity of the core concept, and only ever really worked as a counterpoint to the other works on the shelves. Watchmen pointed out the perils of introducing too much Real World into escapist fantasy pretty clearly, and yet despite this it somehow became the benchmark for what superhero comics should strive to become. I'm guessing it was the attention from the press that did it; soon it seemed like everyone wanted to be known for writing Watchmen. The result was and is an extended period of High Decadence, where complex and distracting themes are stuffed into a genre originally created to provide a nice escape from reality. Such works are fine for longtime fans of the form, who've exhausted the basic tropes yet still hold them in fond regard -- for people first approaching superhero comics in search of escapist fun, however, works that strive too hard to be something else just don't do the trick.

Bolding added what I found most interesting. I just finally read the much-maligned Dark Knight Strikes Again, and need to do some kind of review.
FROM THE "FUNNY BECAUSE TRUE" DEPT.: From an op/ed on the Fox-Franken suit:

Franken and O'Reilly have had one or two public set-tos already, and Fox's complaint sounds like a collection of things O'Reilly wishes he'd remembered to say at their last encounter. It calls Franken “deranged,” a “parasite,” “sophomoric” and lacking “any serious depth or insight.”

Things surely more clever than yelling "Hey, SHUT UP!" at Al.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

LAMPE WATCH: Knicks sign the Polish basketball Rocky. Or something. Via SLAM LINKS.
CARNIVAL, NOT CIRCUS: Marc Cooper, as found on good ol' AlterNet:

Myth No. 1: The recall election is a circus.

It's a circus only to the degree that cynical, shallow media make it so. Especially the electronic media in which the ringmasters are the TV news directors – a species that wouldn't recognize a "serious" election if it fell on their empty heads. We're now going to get civics lectures from a bunch of ratings whores who long ago traded in their Sacramento bureaus for freeway telecopters?

Every election cycle attracts marginal and aberrant candidates, and the media usually ignore them after the one or two initial and totally predictable soft features. Angelyne, Gary Coleman, Larry Flynt et al. loom so large in this election only because the telephoto lenses remain so tightly locked onto them.

The L.A. Times (and other major metros) has also helped promote the circus theme, giving undue attention to the carnival candidates. A strange twist, as this is the same Times that barred Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader from the presidential debate it organized during the 2000 campaign. Times management argued at the time that Nader wasn't a serious enough candidate to warrant inclusion. Nader's mistake, apparently, was to not have Gary Coleman chauffer him down to Spring Street in Agelyne's pink Vette.

All part of his "Five Myths About the Recall." Includes funny Green Party-bashing.
PYTHONESQUE: Plurality of Americans finds recall "silly." With Northeasterners the most likely to find it silly. Which completely calls to mind Graham Chapman as that "It's a man's life in the British army" general. "Right--stop it, stop the recall. It's silly. It was amusing in the beginning, Arnold from Different Strokes was running, there was a porn star and the man who publishes Hustlers and we all had a good laugh. But now it's just silly. Right. On my mark, end this post.

YOUR RECALL CANDIDATE OF THE DAY: Van Vo, talk show host and shortest name on the ballot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

ABORTION STUFF: Gene Expressor Razib points out this TNR article on ectogenesis by Sacha Zimmerman. Ectogenesis is like this:

Better known as the artificial womb, ectogenesis is the process by which a fetus gestates in an environment external to the mother. And, while it may sound like the stuff of science fiction--evoking images of the "decanted infants" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World--researchers estimate that ectogenesis could be a reality within five years.

I'd have to be Charlie Murtaugh to have an informed opinion on that "five years" timetable, but it certainly sounds like we're pretty close to creating people outside the body:

Ectogenesis is close to becoming a reality because scientists are steadily advancing reproductive technology at both ends of gestation. At one end, to help women who are having difficulty conceiving or who have defective wombs, Cornell University's Dr. Hung-Ching Liu has taken steps toward developing an artificial womb by removing cells from the lining of a woman's womb and then, using hormones, growing layers of these cells on a model of a uterus. The model eventually dissolves, leaving a new, artificial womb that continues to thrive. What's more, Liu's team found that, within days of being placed in the new womb, embryos will attach themselves to its walls and begin to grow. At that point, scientists must end the experiment to comply with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) laws, so researchers do not yet know how long after the beginning stages of gestation this artificial womb would be viable. But Liu has said she hopes to "create complete artificial wombs using these techniques in a few years"--although, given current IVF and stem-cell laws, it is not yet clear whether she will be able to continue her work in the United States.

If this was a movie or something Dr. Liu and her crack team would say damn the authorities and produce their hideous frankenchildren in the dark of night in a secret sub-basement. This being the real world, Dr. Liu will probably move somewhere else to finish her research, like Godless keeps harping about. Now Razib--who never met an aspect of human life he couldn't put in evolutionary-fitness terms--says, re: the article, "It is discussed in the context of abortion rights, which I found rather uninteresting"--but jeez, that's the most interesting part:

While these scientists have no political agenda, the same can't be said for one of the earliest advocates of ectogenesis, Dr. William Cooper. In 1993, Cooper, then head of the Christian Fertility Institute, patented a "placental chamber," in which the fetus would gestate at the bottom of a tank and the placenta would rest on a shelf at the top. Cooper's invention went nowhere--today's advances toward ectogenesis owe nothing to the "placental chamber"--but his motivations for devising it are instructive: He hoped it would undermine Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade, after all, is predicated on two basic ideas: a woman's right to privacy (including the right not to be pregnant) and the viability of the fetus--defined as the ability to survive outside the mother's womb, currently placed at 24 weeks of gestation. Complete ectogenesis could dismantle both of these premises. First, it could make Roe's viability issue moot, since with ectogenesis a fetus could be technically viable outside the mother's womb from the moment of conception.

Which would surely impact the other idea underpinning Roe: a woman's right to privacy. With ectogenesis, an unwanted fetus, rather than being aborted, could be removed from a woman and placed in an ectogenetic chamber to be adopted later; the woman's right to privacy would arguably not be invaded, since removal of the fetus for implantation in an artificial womb need not be any more invasive than the abortion she was originally seeking. As bioethicists Peter Singer and Deane Wells write of ectogenesis in their book Making Babies: The New Science and Ethics of Conception, "Freedom to choose what is to happen to one's body is one thing; freedom to insist on the death of a being that is capable of living outside of one's body is another."

Although many right-to-lifers are skeptical of reproductive technology in general and view ectogenesis as an unnatural and dehumanizing possibility, others recognize that it could radically alter the abortion debate. "Roe v. Wade should be repealed anyway," says Dr. W. David Hager, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine who currently serves as head of the Bush administration's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. "But, if we had the technology to be able to placentize or incubate in a placental environment, then I would say that would be an argument in favor of repeal."

Zimmerman goes on to call the five major pro-choice outlets (NOW, NARAL, etc.) and none of them has position one on ectogenesis, which means fringe weirdos have to defend abortion in an ectogenetic world:

Writing about ectogenesis in her book Human Reproduction: Principles, Practices, Policies, feminist philosopher Christine Overall argues that abortion is about the right not to procreate, not simply the right not to be pregnant. Overall claims that fetal extinction--not just extraction--is the aim of women seeking abortions and that forcing a woman to submit to a fetal extraction is like forcing her to donate organs against her will. The pregnant woman, Overall writes, is the "most appropriate person--perhaps the only one--to decide the disposition of the fetus." Extraction, extinction, disposition: Is this how the pro-choice movement wants their side of the debate to be framed in a post-ectogenesis world?

So you have a technology that renders abortion moot, plus, in the same article, slamming of organized pro-choice forces. Highly worth reading if you have an interest in the abortion debate. ZImmerman ends with:

Just consider the issue of viability: 41 states ban abortion after viability; if ectogenesis is achieved, will abortion then become illegal in each of those states? Many pro-lifers will certainly be prepared to argue yes. Isn't it about time pro-choicers start thinking of what they will say in response?
ANOTHER ONE?!: Topless Starfire fans--from Australia? George Perez, what hath you wrought?
THE CASE AGAINST HARRY TRUMAN: Gene Healy links to this really fascinating mock-prosecution of Harry Truman as a war criminal. I side with the prosecution, as I consider the massacre of hundreds of thousands morally indefensible, even if at the same time it's this really horrible event that came to dominate the latter half of the 20th century and I can't imagine life without it, without knowing that ever post-apocalyptic story I've ever read or watched has its roots in an actual event. Like, would we fear The Bomb if The Bomb had never been used? Well, hopefully. But even if we didn't--that wouldn't justify the massacre. It's another justification, like the whole "the Bomb saved lives" bullcrap.

I always thought DC should do an Elseworlds where The Spectre--the avenger of mass murders--runs wild after Hiroshima. But that's just me.
RECALL REDUCED TO ESSENTIALS: Hugh Hewitt does it here:

Time for the purists to check their passion at the door and focus on winning. A governor with whom I agree 75 percent of the time – or even 60 percent of the time – is far, far better than a governor with whom I never agree.

A vote for Tom McClintock, Bill Simon or Peter Ueberroth is a vote for Cruz Bustamante.

It really is that simple.
JUST SO THERE'S NO MORE CONFUSION WITH THE BIGGEST RECALL "WHAT IF?": Daniel Weintraub explains what happens if Gray Davis resigns:

With polls showing his support eroding daily, the Davis-resignation rumors are hot and heavy around the Capitol again. And the resignation question has never ceded its first-place spot atop the list of questions I get from readers. So I am going to make a confession. Knowing Davis as I do, I never thought I would say this, but today, for the first time, I started to think that it is possible he might resign before the election. His position has deteriorated horribly in the past week and it is difficult to imagine a campaign that could pull him out of his tailspin. He can't even get the voters' attention; how is he going to persuade them? If his current condition were to persist past Labor Day, I could see Clinton leaning on him to quit, and arranging a golden parachute for him at an LA law firm.

BUT--don't believe what you keep hearing from national television pundits and national columnists. A Davis resignation would not scuttle the recall election. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would become governor, but the election would go forward, and a new governor could replace Cruz if Cruz failed to win the most votes. What happens to Cruz at that point is a subject of some debate. Some think he would be acting governor and return to his old job if he lost the election. Others think he would be out of a job completely at that point.

So nothing stops the recall at this point, and the only confusion involves Cruz Bustamante's status. There you go.
SLATE PERFORMS A BLOG-LIKE FUNCTION: Jack Shafer deconstructs the apparently "only in Newsweek's head" huge rise in teen prostitution.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

IN THE INTEREST OF HIGH-MINDED RECALL DEBATE I GIVE YOU: Arnold Schwarzeneggar's Japanese commercials. Via a comment at Daily Kos. I can't get them to work, but I'm at work.
YOU KNOW, AL FRANKEN IS PRETTY ANNOYING: But calling your book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" is kinda funny. By the way, you can't tell me there's no difference between the Big Three cable networks. Chris Matthews has some respect for intellectual discourse. And Keith Olbermann is nine times funnier than anything on Fox News ever--which I admit is not saying that much. But there's no way in the world Countdown should be getting outdrawn by the Morton Downey Jr. of the 00s. Vote with your remote, people! Vote MSNBC! NEWSFOXES!

Monday, August 11, 2003

LATEST MSNBC NEWSFOX: Sumi Das. And I really think they put all the newsfoxes on the Lester Holt hour so it's like a more journalistic "Charlie's Angels" or something. Watch for yourself--it's true!
SHEEDY FOR K-MART: The nerds at Sportsfilter discuss the possible Rasheed Wallace for Kenyon Martin trade. Bill Simmons had Sheed at 32 and Kenyon at 16 in his annual Top 40 NBA Players ranked by trade value list but Bill does go insane sometimes. Personally, I'll take that trade because Kenyon has not got it done in the finals and Rasheed has come closer to beating the Lakers than the Nets have. Plus it'll be different, and the Nets have to basically try anything to win a title with Jason Kidd. I mean, even with Alonzo Mourning and Rasheed they'd still be underdogs in the finals. Get ready for your 2003-2004 Eastern Conference Buffalo Bills....
SALON MEETS THE BOOTLEGS: An overview of the whole scence including its murky legalities, plus Charles Taylor loves the bootlegs:

Mash-ups may simply be seen as a logical extension of sampling, the next step in a culture where everything gets combined to less and less effect. Except that the irony I hear in mash-ups is not the irony of hip detachment. Mash-ups are not only the logical evolution of the mix tape, those intensely personal collages put together as love letters or journals or mementos of a time and place. They represent some of the best things pop music has to offer us right now. They're the place where real rock criticism is being done, the glorious return of format-free radio, the vindication of fandom and an affirmation of the egalitarian spirit of rock.

I dig Charles' analysis of two of the more famous bootlegs. Here he is on Stroke of Genius:

Mash-ups don't so much trash the barriers of high and low that exist in the pop world as simply refuse their existence. What hip young Strokes' fan, steeped in Big Star and the Kinks and the Replacements, would be caught dead grooving to Christina Aguilera? But when you hear the fleet, chugging guitars of the Strokes' "Hard to Explain" backing Aguilera's vocal for "Genie in a Bottle," they're a match made in heaven. If you think of the refrain that Julian Casablancas sings in the Strokes' original -- "I don't see it that way" -- it begins to seem like a denial of the possibilities this new version opens up.

Somebody saw it a different way (the version, credited to Freelance Hellraiser, is fittingly called "A Stroke of Genius"), saw that indie hipness and teen pop could be entirely comfortable bedfellows. And you notice something else -- just how good Aguilera's vocal is. The lyric and the song's original backing may be just another piece of pop-factory product. Taken out of its original context, Aguilera's vocal reveals a commitment to emotion beyond anything the song deserves, along with a dramatic pull between erotic surrender and refusal.

The Strokes might be a bunch of guys mooching around the sidelines at a dance eyeing Aguilera, the hot girl who's just sashayed in. The guitar riff of "Hard to Explain" promises pleasure lurking just around the corner, if only this girl would venture out on the dance floor with one of them. She, on the other hand, is determined to keep herself in reserve, though the slight moan in her voice tells you she longs to give into what the music promises. The number could be the long-awaited marriage of the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," with its heartbreakingly naive question, and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "I Wonder If You Take Me Home," where the singer knows exactly what will happen if she gives herself to the boy who's working overtime to melt her defenses.

And here he is explaining Smells Like Teen Booty, which I find to be a completely addictive song (i.e., I look forward to it more than any other portion of the vast Soulwax mix on Boom Selection):

For the most part, though, the elements of mash-ups work to complement each other, and never more so than in Freelance Hellraiser's "Smells Like Booty," a pairing of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child. On the Destiny's Child album "Survivor," "Bootylicious" kicks off to the opening riff from Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen." That stuttering guitar is meant to impart tension, but the track never delivers the mounting excitement of denied release. Worse, the vocals sound rushed, nervous, competing with the beat instead of being buoyed by it. The twists and turns of the vocal get swallowed in the mix.

It's stating the obvious to say "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hits faster and harder than "Edge of Seventeen." The oddity is that the pace of the song actually seems to relax the vocal, allowing every ounce of its lubriciousness to drop over the record like honey. It opens with the spider-vine crawl of Nirvana's opening riff and the vocal asking, "Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this? Beyoncé, can you handle this? I don't think they can handle this!" That has no sooner ended when Kurt Cobain's guitar, Krist Novoselic's bass, and especially Dave Grohl's drums explode and the release has already come.

But instead of being a premature ejaculation, the tension keeps building, band and vocalists striving to outdo each other's mounting excitement. "I don't think you're ready for this jelly," Beyoncé teases as the guitar and bass and drums work to an ever more crushing crescendo to prove otherwise. As she reaches the vocal's ultimate tease -- "I don't think you're ready for this" repeated again and again, the track reaches the moment in "Teen Spirit" where the rhythm is interrupted by the sound of the guitar, like a rubber band being yanked back. When the track reaches those interruptions, it's as if Beyoncé has succeeded in rocking her pursuer back on his heels, and as if she's smacking her bottom to punctuate her triumph.

This has to be one of the sexiest recordings ever. If "Stroke of Genius" is a dance of seduction, surrender, and retreat, this is a full-fledged sexual face-off, predatory and retaliatory between two sides determined not to give an inch. And lest it sound as if it's Destiny's Child alone who benefits from this pairing, Nirvana gains something, too, and what they gain is precisely the thing that grunge never had: sex. "Smells Like Booty" adds the one thing to their résumé that was missing: a great rock 'n' roll fuck song.

Stroke of Genius and Smells Like Teen Booty are both ideal bootlegs, unleashing the possibilities of two different songs and improving them both and seeming to come from a parallel universe with a unified pop culture not organized along class or age or racial lines. And he mentions other stuff (Steinski?) that I've never heard of and now have to check out. And you should check out those articles if you think you might like that craaaazy bootleg sound.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

YOUR GREATEST SEARCH THAT FINDS MY WEBLOG POST OF THE DAY: Number 2 for "teen titans, topless starfire." You and me both, buddy boy. You and me both.....
RETURN OF YOUR FAVORITE SCIENCE 'N' POLITICS BLOG: Charles Murtaugh is back--although briefly. Catch him while you can.
ONE MORE RECALL BLOG: Rough & Tumble. Mostly a survey of Cal newspapers.
A CARNIVAL, NOT A CIRCUS: That'll be my Henley-inspired headline for recall posts from people slamming other people for calling the recall anti-democratic or a Republican plot or something goofy. Screw y'all, this is fun. Daniel Weintraub argues something like that:

Wealthy candidates have not fared well in California. And Davis and the Democrats have tried to paint the recall as tainted by millionaires seeking to buy a public office. But Arnold isn’t going to sit back and take that punishment. He has gone on the offensive, using his wealth to his advantage. He has enough money, he has said several times, so that he doesn’t have to take campaign contributions from the interest groups buying influence in Sacramento. He will make decisions “for the people.” We can debate forever how he will know what “the people” want or need, and whether “special interest groups” aren’t simply collections of like-minded “people.” But Arnold’s got a powerful line and a brilliant strategy for minimizing the wealth issue or even making it work for him. Especially with those voters turned off by the connection between money and politics, who think that every politician is in the pocket of the big contributors.

The other thing about these voters is that, being casual observers of politics, they probably care less about the nitty-gritty policy details than do regular voters. This plays into Arnold’s other strength. He can appeal to them not with policy white papers but with calls for new leadership, shaking things up, bringing people together. He can run as the outsider. The Democrats already are telling us that Arnold has only voted occasionally. This can be a liability in a traditional campaign. It makes the candidate seem irresponsible. But watch for Arnold to turn this one around as well. I predict he will not apologize for his infrequent voting but try to use it to his advantage. “I have rarely voted because the candidates have all been terrible,” he will say. “They have all been the same. Professional politicians who didn’t connect with me, didn't speak to me.” Thus he becomes the voice of the occasional voter, their poster child. He gives them cover for their own lack of participation and a reason to change that now. It wasn't their fault they failed to vote. It was the politicians' fault. Now we can punish those pols for their sins.

Only one other candidate, Cruz Bustamante, has much chance of reaching new voters, of expanding the base. He would be the first Latino governor in modern times. California has about 2.5 million Latino voters. But exit polls suggest that only between one-fourth and one-third of them voted in the last election. If Cruz connects with them, is adopted by them, becomes their hope and aspiration, he could generate significant new turn-out and benefit from it. And his campaign for those votes will be largely unseen and, perhaps, undetected by the mainstream media, and by pollsters. Like Arnold’s attempt to reach disaffected voters, we may not know if Cruz’s campaign is working until Election Day.

Despite the record number of candidates, I would not be surprised if this became a two-man race. Arnold v. Cruz. The immigrant against the son of immigrants. Both of them are going to be doing everything they can to expand the number of people paying attention to politics and participating in it. Combine that with the more traditional, between-the-lines game to be played by most of the other candidates, plus the work of mavericks like commentator Arianna Huffington, and you have the chance for a huge voter turnout, perhaps greater than last year, perhaps greater than any recent election for governor.

And I thought the recall was supposed to be anti-democratic.

An expansion of people involved in politics is as close to an unadulterated Good Thing as you can get.
ANOTHER ONE: CalBlog. Via Presto.
ANOTHER RECALL BLOG SOURCE: PrestoPundit. Via Daniel Weintraub.

Friday, August 08, 2003

WELL GOSH, THIS MAKES ME VERY NON-CYNICAL: Halliburton dominates Iraq oil work.
T-MAC'S LIKABILITY CONTINUES TO RISE: The Orlando Sentinel had a little sit-down with him:

McGrady led the league in scoring last season with a 32.1 average and says performing an encore will be no problem.

"I got a lot more tricks in my bag. I'm going to be even better than last season. I'm not saying I'm going to average above 32 but. . . . I believe I can," he said.

"I'm more confident, too. Sounds crazy, but, yeah, I just feel unstoppable. I just feel like nothing right now can stop me from doing what I want to do on the basketball court. I can always get better. I really can."

On playing for the national team this summer:

"I'm just looking forward to going over there and claiming what's really ours. It kind of got away from that last year when those guys took the international players for granted," McGrady said. "And they saw what happened. We got a team out there that's focused to claim what's really ours.

"I think it's good to have guys such as myself and Tim Duncan, the elite players in the league, to go over there to set example and makes those guys realize that, 'OK you beat some of the best players, but you didn't beat our elite players.' We're going to go over there and take it seriously and win that gold medal."

McGrady doesn't believe the extra basketball will tire him out when he reports to the Magic's camp Oct. 4. "Come on -- I'm 24!" he laughed.

I know as little about T-Mac I do about Kobe, but it's nice to see an NBA superstar who isn't intent on making an industry out of himself though he clearly could--he isn't limited by his personality like Tim Duncan probably is.
HOPE FOR CHRISTIE/FOX II: Lakers/Kings once again NBA preseason finale.

AUG03 2777, pg. 395, $16.95

A collection spanning all four years of McGruder's racially charged daily newspaper strip. It's one of the very few strips on the modern funnies page with any guts at all, but it's an easier strip to admire than to like.

You should, of course, read Sweatshop for at least a little McGruder lampooning every month. Hey look--a 400 page Ralph Snart trade paperback! Holee....
"A FIRST-CLASS CARNIVAL": I submit that if we refer to the recall as anything we call it what Senator Feinstein did: a carnival, not a circus. "Circus" has somehow become derogatory over the years--i.e., something like "Oh gawd--it was a frikkin' circus that weekend." And you would never use "carnival" in that way; in fact, a "carnival atmosphere" usualy describes legitimate celebration, not chaos. A circus also implies a captive audience, whereas a carnival is more or less indistinguishable from a fair, which means you can mill around between the rides they towed in and get rooked at the "blow up the clown's balloon" booth and eat corndogs and receive free literature from 4-H. Carnivals are still fun; circuses are something you get dragged to on a middle school field trip. And this recall is all about being tons of fun AND offering a variety of exhibitors and not being clowns and animals and human tricks put on for captive rubes. Sheeoot, we should rechristen every Voting Day a Voting Carnival--more people would show up. Especially if there's sno-cones and corndogs.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

YOUR CALIFORNIA RECALL SCORECARD: Right here. No two candidates alike! Can't tell'em apart without a scorecard! Or something. Actually, if you find a better one let me know--some of those links are to people who don't have the $3500 yet.
MARK CUBAN WATCH: Shanti defends him, and links to Adrian Wojnarowski's really great assault on smug, self-important sportswriters:

The reaction was so painfully predictable, these pompous and protective housemen for the NBA telling Mark Cuban to stand on the sidelines, shut his mouth and cling to the company line. Everyone probes and prays for that provocative line, an original thought and when it comes, it, what happens now?

They vanquish the voice.

The way the Thought Police jumped Cuban was a complete disgrace Tuesday, one more reason why the sporting culture is doomed to eternity with the mindless and milquetoast clichés of the morons and scared deer that inhabit it. Because the thoughtful figures, the ones with the courage of conviction, will soon be completely shouted into silence. Why open your mouth, say something completely plausible and not be told that someone disagrees with you, but you shouldn't say it at all?

Why bother anymore?


Yes, Cuban loves the attention. He loves the limelight. So what? He's a great owner. He cares about winning. He cares about his fans and about the experiences they have buying tickets to his basketball games. Most of the owners in the NBA never interact with the paying public and are so determined to stay under the luxury tax threshold they won't spend to win.

Cuban is the best of sports ownership, understanding that it's about entertainment and winning. And he's right: Everyone will watch that Mavericks-Lakers game on opening night. Everyone. Still, this has nothing to do with the greater image of the game, the long-term pain promising to pound the NBA for the misdeeds of one of its greatest stars.

Cuban never said the sexual assault was great for the NBA. Never. He said it would make money in the short-term and he's absolutely right. If you studied the complete context of his words to Chris Sheridan of the Associated Press and Pat O'Brien on Access Hollywood, it would be clear that he separated the moral and practical differences on this issue.

We'll forgive Adrian his use of the worst sports columnists' cliche: the one-sentence paragraph.

Because the content of his article is spot-on.

Yes it is.

Oh yes.
TOTAL RECALL: That's the best possible headline for any Schwarzeneggar-related recall story. This is not arguable.
RECALL MCGREEVEY!: Well, why not? He's at least as corrupt as Gray Davis and was elected under similar circumstances (excessively inoffensive Democrat in a state with goofy, clannish Republican opposition). And--according to Monica Yant Kinney--we are one of the 18 states who can recall a governor--except we'd need 1.1 million signatures--which means we'd really really have to hate him. But we really really do hate him. So let me just put this out there so Google can know about it: Recall McGreevey!
RECALL SOURCE: The Sacramento Bee's California Insider weblog, by Daniel Weintraub. Via Kaus, who you should also be reading for recall news. I love this stuff--this is the best political junkie story since Bush-Gore. Plus--unlike Bush-Gore--there's genuine populism at work here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

SITUATION WHERE TARIFFS ARE A GOOD THING: Eric Lien on the South Korean film industry, which is in--not a Renaissance, right now, because it's not a rebirth. More like a Golden Age, I guess. And Hollywood wants to throw its weight around there and get the Koreans even more cheesed off at us--as if the Olympics weren't enough. Say, are there government quotas on pop music too in Korea, and is that helping K-Pop to eclipse J-Pop?
WELL-BALANCED (BETWEEN CULTURE AND BIOLOGY) GENE EXPRESSION THREAD: Right here. Have you noticed how lively GNXP is since Godless came back?
OH, FUNNY: Official Maloof family biographies. Pointed out at Sportsfilter.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

GONE FISHIN': Be back end of the weekish.