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January 16, 2009


So I have to say that the fact that no one died in that USAir crash yesterday was phenomenal. And the pictures of passengers calmly standing* on the wings waiting to be rescued were great. And that calmness should be highlighted -- stampedes to the exits just mean that more people are going to die. I imagine we might see the pilot at Obama's state of the union speech (if he gives one this year).

It is fracking freezing here in DC, I hope people bundle up for the inauguration (anyone going?). Downside: anticipated massive clusterfnck in DC. Upside: 4-day weekend.

And with that I end my last work day under the WPE. Allahu Akbar.

*except for one guy who apparently couldn't wait and swam to shore, brrrr.

So, at the office today, pondering a patent, I hear:

Go where you think you want to go
Do everything you were sent here for
Fire at will if you hear that call
Touch your hand to the wall at night

It seems strangely relevant, 'tho I couldn't tell you how.


I am seriously shocked by how good The Terrordactyls are. They're the Vampire Weekend that no one talks about or, really, listens to. And, really, not many people, quantitatively, listen to Vampire Weekend -- and most that do discount them as overhyped ten-minutes-ago. A lot of that is wrong; mostly.

What the Hayek was that? The UI skin was really weird there for a few minutes. Did a flock of geese collide with the ObWings server?


IIRC there was some growsing in these parts that Hillary's stellar performance in her Senate confirmation hearing didn't garner much in the way of positive attention. So btfb, this link is dedicated to you:

Al Giordano highlights positive upcoming changes re: our State Dept. policy in South America, as inferred from the interaction between Secretary of State nominee Clinton and Senator Kerry.

Also, H/T to Sullivan on finding this little gem:

While most birds probably wish to peacefully coexist with humans, it is becoming increasingly clear that a small group of radicalized avians are hell-bent on destroying our way of life. These radical birdists hate us for our freedom. This can not stand.

I, for one, look forward to President Bush's declaration of a War on Birds. Unfortunately, this will last only four days, after which President Obama will no doubt appoint this guy as special envoy to the avian community.

Lastly, Patrick McGoohan stages his last (and permanent) escape from the Village.

I am seriously shocked by how good The Terrordactyls are. They're the Vampire Weekend that no one talks about or, really, listens to. And, really, not many people, quantitatively, listen to Vampire Weekend -- and most that do discount them as overhyped ten-minutes-ago. A lot of that is wrong; mostly.

I endorse this message in its entirety - though I have to catch up on the T's a bit more.

It's fracking *below* freezing in the Midwest, boyo. A sultry -19 when I went to work this morning, and we were part of the lucky "warm" pocket.

On the "Bush as Lincoln" issue, I liked this from the linked CQ article:

Yes, there are any number of better decisions he could have made. Foremost among them would have been to bring a quick and decisive end to the war in Iraq shortly after it began.

I don't quite see how he could have done that, but he certainly should have brought it to a "quick and decisive end" before it ever started.

On the Jay Rosen piece--Daniel Hallin is basically Chomsky's press criticism done with a Venn diagram. Which I mean as a compliment.

The only problem with Hallin is that his terminology is a little clunky. but once you get past that his theory is almost self-evident, especially with the Iraq War example to keep in mind. I still have a friend, well-informed by the mainstream press, who thinks "everyone" believed Iraq had WMD's, because that's all he ever heard or read at the time and it is still repeated (including, IIRC, by Joe Biden).

There is an email circulating around the internet has been forwarded to me almost everyday this week called "Inauguration Ball 2009". It is one of those emails that you have to scroll down through five levels of email addresses to read, because no one will take the time to cut and paste the actual message into a new email.

The text of the email is deceptive - it seems simple enough at first, the description of a dream about the ghosts of legendary African Americans mingling about at an inaugural ball held in honor of President Barack Obama - but as you read on, you start to realize that the author has done more than string together a few famous names. The make-believe world he creates captures perfectly the nuances and reactions you would expect to see in such a surreal setting.

It spoke directly to me, because I've been in that room.

Interview: Author Of "Inaugration Ball" Email

von: I do listen to Vampire Weekend, and am sufficiently out of whatever loops there are that their being overhyped carries no weight in my psychic economy. I will investigate these Terrodactyls of which you speak. Thanks.

You know this Dorothy Parker poem:

"Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Roumania."


All my life I've assumed that Marie of Roumania was either made-up or someone like, say, Anastasia Romanov, whom various people claimed to be, and maybe when Parker wrote someone actually was, but emphatically not Dorothy Parker.

So today I was trying to find out exactly when Obama would be speaking in Baltimore tomorrow, and I come across this story, and read:

"Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Dixon, said the spot was selected largely for logistical reasons. It's close to the train station, easily accessible and has a proven track record when it comes to security: It played host to Queen Marie of Romania in 1926 and O'Malley's mayoral inauguration party in 1999."

She was real! Who knew? (I bet the answer is: Gary.)

Terrodactyls of which you speak.

Just keep in mind that it's a completely different direction. Violent Femmes meets Kimya Dawyson (in one song, literally) meets Lil' Wayne. And there is something that's interesting about very, very "cute" arrangements (twee, one might say) for quite disturbing thoughts.

But maybe it's just me: I listen to a lot of music, new and old, all styles, and I'm not quite sure I've ever heard a band that sounds quite like that before. (I had heard echoes of VW before I heard them, by comparison, foremost in Paul Simon's Graceland.)

So: Peril of the new. Doesn't make it good.

She was real! Who knew? (I bet the answer is: Gary.)

I certainly wouldn't bet against Gary, but he's not the professional (well, ex-professional) historian here. ;}

Thanks, TLTiA.

I was only going to lurk for a short spell, but you pulled me in. The wife and I had one of those spats, over something that was nothing and should have been kept at nothing -- so I banished myself to the basement, watched "Friday Night Lights," read a sentimental article in "Ducks Unlimited" about a hunter's first season with his new black lab, Bailey, after the passing of his loyal 13-year-old lab, Jenny, and here I am.

I was in one of those mad-against-the-world moods today at work after the day turned sour quickly, capping off a sour, dumped-on week, after my expectations had been raised by some sudden and strong sales last week. Not a positive character trait that I allow a mood like that to shut down my brain and spirit.

I had been saving that dog story to read knowing it would make me miss CoCo, and it did. She always lifted my spirits when I got like this.

Jay Leno is in the background, that station still on from "Friday Night Lights." Has any entertainer so average ever been more successful? Johnny Carson, meanwhile, tells jokes to God.

Before signing off and getting some sleep for work Saturday, I'll try and contribute something wise to this thread.

Read the linked Newsweek story before bed last night, found its topic -- "Seeking the True Meaning of Wisdom" -- fascinating, and wished it would have been longer.

It tells of a current University of Chicago study seeking to, duh, find the true meaning of wisdom. The point being, that you can be smart or intelligent -- and not necessarily be wise; that you can measure intelligence, but you can't measure wisdom. It seemed to make the point that wisdom is rare.

Which got me to thinking: Who would I consider wise? For some reason, I immediately thought of newsmen Walter Cronkite and Ted Koppel. Warren Buffett came to mind; he is an oracle, after all. And Bill Walsh, a football genius. As for recent presidents, I'd nominate Gerald Ford, who inherited an executive branch in disarray and dishonor and brought back dignity to the office (we may say the same thing about Barack Obama someday). And since I brought up Johnny Carson earlier, he's in.

Here, I see hilzoy and russell as two of ObWi's wise owls.

Perhaps others could share in the wisdom and add a few names, famous or not. Good night.

On the sad demise of Patty G.: Did the fact that he was sometimes pursued by gigantic beach balls ever detract from the experience for you? Because I like the Prisoner, but I could never really get into it.

In contrast, I totally got into Buffy (through season 4, at least), B-star G, etc.

Additional, bonus promo: Avatar: The Last Airbender freakin' rocks for a cartoon aimed at tweens. (When you have two small kids like us, you do a good part of your drinking in front of a TV in a spitup-stained hanes no-tag t.) Sadly, M. Night Shama-youhaveoneideaandkeeprepeatingit is directing the live-action three-movie version. So it's probably ruined. But my better half and I approve the cartoon version.

bedtime: thanks. And hugs. Moods are a bitch. (Be glad you don't get PMS, ha ha ha. Every single month, an opportunity to practice not letting moods get the better of you. Ah, the joys...)

(Although it can be pretty convenient as a sort of emotional early warning signal. When you're pretending something is OK and it's not, it can be useful that no more than one month will go by before it becomes absolutely unendurable.) (You do, though, have to be able to figure out which are the moods you should pay attention to, and which are the ones you should just squash.)

And dr ngo: oops.

Here, I see hilzoy and russell as two of ObWi's wise owls.

Well, being named in the same sentence as hilzoy has made my week. But being credited as a "wise owl" is freaking me out ever so slightly. "Wise ass" seems like a better fit.

However, thanks for the kind words.

I was in a mad-against-the-world mood because my gig tonight was in a club that has been getting hassled for loudness, so they wouldn't let me use a bass drum.

No bass drum? Don't they know that I AM AN ARTIST?!?!???!!!!

So I nursed my little snit until we started playing, at which point I was having too much fun to hold onto my bad attitude.

I ended up playing a lot of Latin cowbell and timbale stuff (on the snare drum, snares off) on some Grateful Dead and Band tunes, which was highly entertaining. Played a samba triangle part on "Bertha". I'm guessing that may be a first.

Oddly, it all worked.

It's hard to hold on to a bad mood when you're having fun.

Because I like the Prisoner, but I could never really get into it.

Me neither, and I do think the beach balls had something to do with it.

Seriously, beach balls are just not threatening enough to generate the requisite level of paranoia.

Robotic vacuum cleaners, or bear traps, or an army of really aggressive gila monsters, yes. Beach balls, no.

Back in the late 1970s the Prisoner had something of a revival here in the SF Bay area when KQED (the public station) ran it and then hosted on-air panel discussions and eventually an interview with Patrick McGoohan.

One way to look at the show is to think about it all going on inside Patrick McGoohan's head. There are several episodes that have a dream-like quality. I can't say what Rover (the beach ball) might represent but consider that at the end the last scene is him driving his car again, just like at the beginning.

It's also something of a statement of his point of view. There are several moments when he looks directly into the camera. In the show, that means he's looking at his watchers but also he is (in real life) staring directly into the lens of a camera filming the scene.

In the interview he made a point of complaining about having to sign in to the KQED studio building. "That's prisonership!" What must he have thought of today's surveillance society?

This, via Lawyers, Guns and Money, was an interesting take on McGoohan

Apropos of comments having been started with discussion of the USAir crash, this from digby: Brought To You BY The F*&#$%n' Union

Sullenberger is a former national committee member and the former safety chairman for the Airline Pilots Association and now represented by US Airline Pilots Association. He--and his union--have fought to ensure pilots get the kind of safety training to pull off what he did yesterday. Marcy Wheeler

I was also thinking about the Gimli Glider in 1983.

It had been below zero F for 40+ hours here in Chicago - as Mimi Smartypants put it, 'extra-special cold'. Things are finally warming up (to the teens), but we'll remember this deep freeze, for which only heat adjectives (e.g. 'searing') seem adequate, somehow; 'brutal' or 'bitter' just don't convey what this kind of cold feels like. BTW, it produces mild organ damage (not failure): your skin absolutely screams.

There was a nice moment, though: I woke up just at the beginning of the sunrise the first super-cold morning, and the sky was breathtakingly beautiful. When it's that cold, the sky is immaculately clear; the moon and the stars are in the sharpest of focus, and the nascent blue is a particular iridescent turquoise. It looks like some of those photos from outer space - stunningly clear.

now I'm ready for some clouds though!

Violent Femmes meets Kimya Dawyson

these past few weeks in my little world, the Femmes have frequently appeared on nearby radios: in my wife's car, in the, on the TV, etc.. i wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something.

one one one for my headache.

Dear Brown man, Thank yuo for the link. I read Kos daily bit somehow I missed the essay--and I appreciate the opportuinty to hread it here.

Bedtime, It's weird how often our moods and thoughts are parallel. I have been, well, I don't know, greiving i suppose. Lassie is goimng to be adopted today. I will never see her again.

I don't think that I woud be so sad if I knew the people and felt better about the placement but I don't.

I can't tell if this is a series of posts or a forum or some sort of vampire/airplane live chat but either way I am both flattered and scared to be mentioned here.

Also, it's like 70 degrees here in Texas. They should totally move the inauguration here.

either way I am both flattered and scared to be mentioned here

But, like, could you give us a breakdown of the percentages?

Jenny, anything more than 2 per cent scared is unwarranted. Your blog's hilarious.

Re moving inauguration to Texas: too soon.

The official inauguration celebrations have begun!

Oh, and I've been all busy with silly Facebook stuff since joining yesterday. Friend me! :-)

Phil and the rest of ya:

All of this stuff about EVERYONE involved with the USAIR rescue being UNION members can't possibly be true.

It goes against what we know to be the universal true nature of human beings as they respond guinea pig-like to the incentives and disincentives of the marketplace.

Add in the fact that flight controllers are not only union members who are overpaid and over-insured but are also "bureaucrats" and we detect a double whammy to your unAmerican and deeply-flawed theories.

Please, in the future, construct your theories about human behavior from Ronald Reagan's speeches and page 438 of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", in which John Galt lands his plane full of freeloaders safely only after considering his after-tax bonus and the number of free stock options he would miss if he had drowned.

Although he did have his Dagny Taggert blow-up doll safely stowed in his overhead compartment for floating safely to shore.

No, the deep truth about the USAIR downing is that unionized bureaucrats at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service incentivized Canadian Terrorist Geese to unionize and fly wherever they wanted and in numbers large enough to choke every air intake port on every jet engine in this great country of ours.

this from digby

Actually, that was from dday...

Jenny, anything more than 2 per cent scared is unwarranted. Your blog's hilarious.

Yeah, I clicked Eric's link out of curiosity, and that was, like, two hours ago. Not just funny, the kind of funny that overwrites the reader's own authorial voice for the rest of the day. Already I'm having a hard time breaking up my paragraphs and avoiding run-on sentences.

Anyway, sorry I didn't vote for you in that weblog whatevery thingamabob that you lost; you totally shouldn't've.

Trying to decide whether I really want to stand out in the cold for hours for the Lincoln Memorial concert tomorrow, especially since I'll be doing it Tuesday for the swearing in.

In unrelated news Matt Taibbi has a review of Tom Friedman's new book. Surprisingly, Matt is not impressed:

"My initial answer to that is that Friedman’s language choices over the years have been highly revealing: When a man who thinks you need to break a vase to get the water out of it starts arguing that you need to invade a country in order to change the minds of its people, you might want to start paying attention to how his approach to the vase problem worked out."

Which got me to thinking: Who would I consider wise?

My short list:

Will Shatter. Tom Waits. Whoever wrote the lyrics to "Frigid Stars" by Codeine.
Buddha. Whoever wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Bertrand Russell.
Nguyen Tat Thanh. Genghis Khan. Tyler Durden.
Charles Bukowski. Samuel Clemens. Jane Jacobs.
Theodor Geisel. Bill Watterson. Ivan Brunetti.
Mostly, my cat.

Which got me to thinking: Who would I consider wise?

Interesting question, I guess it'd be a list of people who've influenced my thinking.

The Cohen Brothers, H.L Menken, Mark Twain, George Carlin, Shakespere, Julius Caesar, Lao Zu, Siddhartha.

Eric: Actually, that was from dday...

Actually, that was from emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler).

jonnybutter: It had been below zero F for 40+ hours here in Chicago - as Mimi Smartypants put it, 'extra-special cold'. Things are finally warming up (to the teens), but we'll remember this deep freeze, for which only heat adjectives (e.g. 'searing') seem adequate

I only lived in Iowa for two winters, but during one of them the temps stayed below zero for six weeks. It became almost normal.


"I only lived in Iowa for two winters, but during one of them the temps stayed below zero for six weeks. It became almost normal."

I was in South Dakota for a winter. The lows would be in the negative 20's and the wind chill was in the minus 50'. Whether wind chill means anything or not, I can vouch that it felt cold. I walked to a local grocery store a few hundred yards away when it was that cold just to experience it--I can't remember the sensation anymore, except that it was cold on a level I couldn't have imagined.

And when it got to about plus ten, I can testify that this literally felt almost springlike.

Though this is nothing to Montana winters, I guess.

Instead of looking it up, I'm just going to wing it: wind chill does matter, because in the wind wind you lose body heat faster than in still air.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_chill>Oh what the heck: here it is.

Once, when I was a kid, I read that arctic explorers had a 30-30-30 rule: if it's 30 below zero and the wind is blowing at 30 mph, explosed flesh freezes in 30 seconds. I tried googling this the other day because I'm not sure I believe it, but I couldn't find anything like it. I've been outside at -25 or so and didn't come close to freezing, but then again I'm pretty sure I haven't been out when it's that cold and very windy.

Living in Milwaukee for 5 years, and now in Maine for 20+, I know that there's a kind of dreamy slow-moving feeling after some time in that kind of cold: I think because when it gets that cold, your body has to work pretty hard just to warm up the air you're breathing.

We're having a heat wave here in central Maine: temps above zero again...and snow on the way, so they say.

I grew up in Iowa.

Wind chill counts.

Walking to school survival: remove earrings 'cause the gold conducts temperature which makes your earlobes freeze.

Car starting survival: a light on an extention cord under the hood and sleeping bags piled on top. And that's inside the garage.

Plus use lots of anit-freeze. It was so cold once that my fuel line froze up while I was driving.

Wind chill temps down to seventy below are not unknown. And Iowa winters are windy.

Of course one can get just as apochryphal about Iowa summers: days on end of over 100 degrees with the humidity so high that the air is fog-like, weeks on end of damp armpits, mold growing on ones's neck, hair never completely dry. Getting hyperthermia in the over-airconditioned stores and heat stroke in the car. Nature trying to kill people with the emmissions from every kind of allergy-proking plant imaginalble, swarms of biting insects (misquitos, gnats, nomseums, deer flies, chiggers) poison ivy, poison oak, and heat rash competing for skin space...

and then there's tornado-and-flood season.

On average I think Iowa has about a week of good weather each year, sometime in September.

I used to think all that drama was normal. Now I am a Washington weather wimp, wear sweaters year round, complain about temps over seventy or under sixty, can't drive in snow, and can't see when the sun comes out.

Re: wisdom--Buddha. Can't site my dog as wise because he is a terrier. Now I think my old pug Charlie had a very sound attitude about life and the relative importance of things.

wonkie -- I loved your 10:58 comment, especially the last paragraph.

One week of good weather a year in Iowa reminds me of things people said when I moved to Maine:

-- "There are two seasons here: winter and the 4th of July."

-- "We've got 5 seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and mud." (I think mud season comes to a lot of rural areas, not just Maine.)

"Frigid Stars" by Codeine

that is a fantastic album.

Hyperventilation of the day: "Obama Launches His Gestapo", at Macsmind.

(The "Gestapo" being Obama's new 'Organizing for America'.)

"We had a couple of meetings with the president, and there were detailed discussions and briefings on cyber-security and often terrorism, and on a classified program. With the cyber-security meeting, he seemed—I was disturbed because he seemed to be trying to impress us, the people who were briefing him. It was as though he wanted these experts, these White House staff guys who had been around for a long time before he got there—didn’t want them buying the rumor that he wasn’t too bright. He was trying—sort of overly trying—to show that he could ask good questions, and kind of yukking it up with Cheney." -Richard Clarke

This quote was meant for Hilzoy's post on Bush, but I can't comment in that thread (possibly because the HTML's broken in the post).

Hyperventilation of the day: "Obama Launches His Gestapo"

Voter registration macht frei!!

Let it be known now that MacRanger will not submit to the Obama Agenda and thinks the Obama brand is BS, and will oppose him and his minions with every ounce of strength.

OK, no phone survey for MacRanger.

I also spent much of my childhood in Iowa, up in the northwest part of the state. Most every winter had at least a week-long stretch where the high was -10F. The scale for "cold" in one of Jack London's stories is interesting. I don't recall us ever reaching the point where spit would freeze before it hit the ground, but it did occasionally get to where you could spit and it would be frozen by the time you could reach down to touch it.

After days of controversy and outrage from the religious right, openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson opened Barack Obama's inauguration concert on the National Mall today with a request that the nation pray for "understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah."

But only the people AT the concert heard that, because HBO did not televise Robinson's message. Who engineered this blackout of Robinson? Joe. My. God.

Full transcript of the prayer for the nation that it was decided was inappropriate for the nation to hear, at Pam Spaulding's blog.

Later, I'll be angry. At the moment, I'm just kind of wondering why we didn't see that coming: it's not as if anyone important actually wanted Gene Robinson there at the Inauguration, or wanted his words heard. He was just an extra to make the queers less mad at Barack Obama for picking Rick Warren, and so why would anyone think his prayer ought to have been regarded as an important part of the ceremony?

"I'd nominate Gerald Ford, who inherited an executive branch in disarray and dishonor and brought back dignity to the office"

I think you have to know very little about Gerald Ford to think this.

Jes, only a small minority of Americans pay to get HBO; C-Span is available to all cable subscribers, and where almost everyone who is interested in inaugural events is watching. I didn't even know HBO had any coverage. HBO is an entertainment, subscription network, and it's very expensive. I'd be astonished to learn that HBO had ever broadcast anyone's prayer.

wonkie: I have seen what fosters go through just from what I have watched on Animal Planet, and I applaud your and their work, and can only imagine how heartbreaking it is to let the furry guys go -- although if they are getting a good home, it makes it a happy experience in the end.

Apparently, it isn't common for a foster to wind up adopting one of the cats or dogs under their charge. I remember watching an Animal Planet ep where the woman kept this kitten who melted her (and the viewer's) heart -- no way she could give that kitten up! (I've learned some programs won't let the foster adopt those they foster, and they must have a good reason, but I would hate to be the person to tell a foster "no.")

Good luck.

now_what and Fledermaus: Thanks for putting forth some wise guys. I like the choices of Menken, Twain and Shakespeare. I'll add Henry Ford; hell, the man invented the middle class. And Robert Frost -- he seems to be quoted everywhere these days; yesterday, by the winning Steelers coach. Let's not forget Yoda and Yogi Berra, the wisest of the wise. I've had dogs and cats with all sorts of different and endearing attributes, but only the late, great Bonzo was truly wise.

FWIW, the one link of Eric's that got me to reading the other night was Mimi Smartypants. I had no interest in some of the subject material, but I thought the writing was first-rate, very personal and pulled me in.

P.S. Anyone else encounter this problem: I started this comment an hour or so ago, got tied up with a customer, came back to post it right away and was refused -- about the third time in a week this has happened, so I deduce there is some time of time limit for posting an item. So I save the item, log back on to ObWi and cut-and-paste.

Fledermaus: A sports columnist I used to know well wrote a regular dot-dot-dot column under the umbrella "I don't get . . ."

I don't get . . .

Tom Friedman.

I don't get . . .

Billy Mays (or whatever his last name is, the guy with the beard who yells at you and tries to sell all of that use infomercial-type crap on TV).

I don't get . . .

The Atkins diet. My boss of the last two years goes on it, it "works," he gains the weight back, he goes on back on it, it "works" -- rinse and repeat. Lose weight by eating meat, only meat, and all you want? Insane. Make me give up pasta and bread? No chance.

I don't get . . .


I don't get . . .

Larry King. I used to get him a long time ago. No more. I know he is a "name" who anchors CNN's prime-time schedule, but they can't take a chance on someone else? (And what's with that face he makes as they cut to commercial and he looks down at his notes? Doesn't he have producers to tell him how disgusting and stupid that looks?)

I don't get . . .

Tom Cruise. Or Scientology.

Or Oprah.

Or Dr. Phil.

I don't get . . .

Those Cialis commercials. No one I know does. What's with two amorous people luxuriating outdoors . . . in tubs, separate tubs? Even my 10-year-old -- who, thankfully, has yet to ask what Cialis is -- doesn't get them.

I don't get . . .

MTV. What happened to the videos? Music Television?

I don't get . . .

How the New York Times could be on its financial deathbed. I understand that newspapers are a dying breed. But good newspapers -- even the New York Times?

P.S. KCinDC -- Did you go to the concert yesterday? Lots of big names.

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