Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best. Blog. Ever.

Go here. NOW! RUN, DON'T WALK!!!

A smart ad on gay marriage

I've been in Louisiana all week, and I'm catching up on Andrew Sullivan's blog. This ad on Proposition 8 in California (which would overturn their Supreme Court's decision to allow gay marriage) is a smart piece of commentary:

Notice how they cut the rug out from under the argument by pretending that instead of gay marriage, they're talking about interracial marriage, instead? And the in-your-face ending, "Vote no on Proposition Hate" cuts right to the heart of the issue. This isn't about some abstraction like defending marriage, it's about giving the finger to people who hate gays. These people are pathetic and need a swift kick in the ideological teeth.

As a former broadcaster, this is an excellent piece. It's well-conceived, smartly written, and absolutely calls out the other side on the main issues: Bigotry and hatred.

Good work, kids.

Cycling PSA for Obama

I know some people who watch this ad don't agree with my politics, but it's still pretty funny, in that it's a cyclist's worst nightmare come to life.

HT: Sullivan

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Olbermann: On fruit flies and false allegations

One of the reasons I like Countdown is that Olbermann, while being a bit of a screech, has plenty of well-reasoned regular guests. Listen to Richard Wolfe's opening comment about Sarah Palin's fruit fly comment:

And Gene Robinson's final comment on the Ashley Todd crap--that if the McCain campaign jumped the gun alleging the "attacker" was an Obama supporter, someone should fall on their sword:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tim Minchin: Song of the day


Obama: The Straight Talk Express shall be mine!

I love the Onion:
Via Sullivan.

Quote of the day.

"They don't think she's qualified to clean the White House, forget about occupying it. And they're right."
--Ed Brayton, on Sarah Palin and independent voters.

Richard Dawkins on terrorism

Written four days after the attacks on the trade centers, but still as pertinent.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Olbermann: O'Reilly's a hypocrite

Knock me over with a feather:

Now, Mr. Bill, if you're going to say that anything 1998 or older is off limits...Ayers who??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Olbermann: ISU Oops

Hey, we're famous!

Whaddya wanna bet they tone down the smoke so they don't have another similar Spinal Tap moment?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Obama: Transcript


(TOM) BROKAW: Well, let's move to the American presidential campaign now, if we can. We saw at the beginning of this broadcast a short tease of what you had to say just a month ago. Let's share with our viewers now a little more of Colin Powell on these two candidates and your position.

(Videotape, September 20, 2008)

GEN. POWELL: I'm an American, first and foremost, and I'm very proud--I said, I've said, I've said to my beloved friend and colleague John McCain, a friend of 25 years, "John, I love you, but I'm not just going to vote for you on the basis of our affection or friendship." And I've said to Barack Obama, "I admire you. I'll give you all the advice I can. But I'm not going to vote for you just because you're black." We, we have to move beyond this.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: General Powell, actually you gave a campaign contribution to Senator McCain. You have met twice at least with Barack Obama. Are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates that you're prepared to support?

GEN. POWELL: Yes, but let me lead into it this way. I know both of these individuals very well now. I've known John for 25 years as your setup said. And I've gotten to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past two years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good president. I have said to Mr. McCain that I admire all he has done. I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years. It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that's a choice the party makes. And I've said to Mr. Obama, "You have to pass a test of do you have enough experience, and do you bring the judgment to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president."

And I've watched him over the past two years, frankly, and I've had this conversation with him. I have especially watched over the last six of seven weeks as both of them have really taken a final exam with respect to this economic crisis that we are in and coming out of the conventions. And I must say that I've gotten a good measure of both. In the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to deal with the economic problems that we were having and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me, sensing that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had. And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired; but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I think, is ready to be president on day one. And also, in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a, a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well. I also believe that on the Republican side over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower. Mr. Obama, at the same time, has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He's crossing lines--ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He's thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values.

And I've also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.

Now, I understand what politics is all about. I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for. And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me. And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration. I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we've got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

Colin Powell endorses Obama

Short version: He liked Obama's selection of Biden, didn't think Palin was a good choice, having watched her for the past seven weeks, and has a bad taste in his mouth over the usual Republican smear tactics. He called the relationship with Bill Ayers, "Very, very limited...this goes too far." And about the Muslim slurs:

"Stressing that Obama was a lifelong Christian, Powell denounced Republican tactics that he said were insulting not only to to Obama but also to Muslims.

“The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society."

A wiser person than me put it best: the whole Obama/Osama crap gives the racists an excuse not to vote for Obama without actually calling him the N-word.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stylish bike helmets?

Figures, they're from Denmark.

HT: Matt Yglesias.

Chicago Tribune endorses Obama

Not a slam-dunk, they're fairly conservative. Money quote:

"Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

"We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

"We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready."

Quote of the day II

"Walking into a room full of dead bodies is one thing; walking into a room full of dead bodies in clown suits is something else entirely."

Yglesias on Liddy

Bottom line: G. Gordon Liddy is to McCain what Bill Ayers is to Barack Obama. Get over yourself, Mac.

McCain and Obama roast each other

Ed Brayton's already done the heavy lifting. This is really, seriously, non-politically funny. Go here.

Quote of the day.

"Ignorant Christian Fascism is not a recipe for success, it's Saudi Arabia under a different prophet. Count me out. Despite differing with the Democratic platform on a great number of policies, I will gladly vote for the Obama ticket because at a minimum it promises adults at the helm, a rational approach to policymaking, the return of science over theocracy, the restoration of the primacy of the rule of law, and the creative destruction of that assemblage once known as the GOP."
--A reader of Andrew Sullivan.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're Famous!

Andrew Sullivan showcases Ames, IA!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I thought Wasilla was a yeast infection I got at Ohio State."
--Richard Lewis.

Asteroid impact

No reason, it's just a cool video.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Bike City: I HAZ BYK!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Invincible...

Final tally: $3300 for the frame, $5900 for the complete bike. Parts list:
I got the frame Monday, October 6th, started building it that night, and promptly found that Moots had built the seat tube to a larger diameter than I had planned on. Therefore the only real snag (other than my own inexperience in building bikes) was in getting a front derailleur from Bike World with the proper clamp diameter. That took a couple days to sort out, but once I got everything together, the bike weighed 19.25 pounds without bottles, but with everything else listed above. In other words, real-world weight, not trumped up claims of the lightest frame around before it's useful (are you listening, bike manufacturers?)

Once everything worked its way out, I rode the bike home Wednesday night in street clothes, and took it out for its first ride in "real" clothes that Friday with my friend Kim. Simply, it lives up to expectations. It's a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship and it's worth every penny.

And like I've been saying, I defy anyone to take a look at any single piece of that bike and say it looks out of place. I'd wanted to go for a classic-looking bike made out of the best modern materials, and I scored a grand slam.

Thanks go out to the following:

Jon Cariveau from Moots, who did an excellent job putting together the proposed design and serving as my contact. Praise goes to all the employees there involved in the fabrication are true artisans.

Kim Topp and Marc Seeman, for reminding me that above all, this is a fun sport.

Tom Healy, chief mechanic at Bike World Ames, for putting up with my snowstorm of questions and for doing a damned fine job of both building my wheels and not throwing me out of the shop when I became a pest.

Eric Grootveld of Bike World, for reminding me that this isn't supposed to be cheap or easy. Thanks, Grote; taking that advice to heart was well worth it. But I still dispute that perfection can't come in 700 x 23 :-)

And above all, Steve and Leann Lauber of BW. You guys have gone from being good business acquaintances to being better friends, and I thank you for everything.

Spin easy, friends.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coolest bike frame ever.

From the Interbike trade show, this little gem costs $12,000...for the frame.

And I thought my tastes were expensive...

Dan Savage: In Defense of Dignity

Anyone who reads this and remained unmoved is a cad.

Suddenly, the doctor was at the door to my mother's room again. He waved me out into the hall. He needed a medical directive. Immediately. Her vital signs were tanking. If we were going to put a tube in her, and put her on machines that could breathe for her, it had to be now. Right now. So it fell to me to walk back into my mother's room...(and) tell her she was going to die..."
The piece to which I've linked is Savage's exhortation to the voters of Washington State to vote in favor of a proposition to allow assisted suicide for the terminally ill, a so-called "death with dignity" initiative. He just watched his mother die of pulminary fibrosis a couple of months ago, so he's in a position to know what he's talking about.

And the Catholic Church and other life-at-all-costs organizations are fighting it. This line captures all my libertarian sensibilities perfectly:
"The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don't approve of abortion? Don't have one. Don't approve of gay marriage? Don't have one. Don't approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ's sake, don't have one. But don't tell me I can't have one—each one—because it offends your God.

"Fuck your God."
Or, if you like, fuck your idea of what you think God wants.

This is especially heart-wrenching to me because of my own mother's situation. She's in a nursing home, in stable health, but with a degenerative condition that will never allow for improvement. And I think about how she will die constantly. How will I react when/if I am someday put into this position? How long will I be able to "hold it together" to make the decisions that can only be made once and had best be made correctly?

I don't know.

All I know is, my heart goes out to Savage and his family.

HT: Pharyngula
Update: Savage has more here. Reader reactions and their own heart-rending stories here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rachael Ray strokes an ear of corn

Sometimes, this stuff writes itself:

HT: Ed Brayton.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Breakin'--for Jesus?

And you thought The Lawrence Welk Show was creepy: - Watch more free videos

Monday, October 6, 2008

PZ Myers pwns a homophobic preacher.

Hilarious. A snippet of a quote can't do it justice. Just go here.

Dear Sarah: Apologize, you loose-lipped nobody!

That from Margo Howard, Abigail Van Buren's daughter and heir to the "Dear Abby" advice column. Money quote from The New Republic:

"To live on the same street and to have served on a board with Billy Ayers, part of the Weather Underground when Obama was in grade school and now a professor, is not my idea of "palling around with." I think this hockey mom/moose skinner fits perfectly into the class war she is helping perpetuate, even though she has none.

"It would have far more factual validity for Obama, or a surrogate, to publicize the fact that Track, the kid who joined the Army, did so because a judge told him it was that or jail due to his dealing drugs. I have a strong hunch, however, the Obama people would never get into that."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bill Maher on Sarah Palin and her witchdoctor

Money quote:

"If there was a video of Barak Obama standing in front of his congregation being healed by a black witch doctor, this election would be over."


A podcast featuring a recording of the late Allen Ginsberg reading Howl.

Rolling Stone on John McCain

A typically, marvelously comprehensive article. And it should be no surprise that the McCain camp wanted no part of talking to the press. But the money quote is this:

"In some respects, I'm not sure that's the kind of character I want sitting in the Oval Office. I'm not sure that much time in a prisoner-of-war status doesn't do something to you. Doesn't do something to you psychologically, doesn't do something to you that might make you a little more volatile, a little less apt to listen to reason, a little more inclined to be volcanic in your temperament."
That's Larry Wilkerson, US Army Colonel (ret.), former chief of staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

And there are plenty of anecdotes that McCain didn't change nearly as much as you thought after getting out. The opening piece speaks of McCain revealing he was looking for a trip to Rio on Navy business...because he stood a better chance of getting laid. And it also speaks of a time when he was arrested as a teenager for cursing out two girls who had laughed in his face at his attempts as a pickup artist. THAT should make the Sarah Palin nomination all the more apparent as the prop that it is.

Oh, and read about his "heroics" on the USS Forestall, too


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Olbermann: WPITW!

Yeah, my man crush again...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Political candidate: Kill teh gayz!

From Sudbury, Ontario:

Police are investigating whether an independent federal candidate committed a hate crime by telling high school students homosexuals should be executed.

David Popescu was invited to participate in a federal candidates' discussion at Sudbury Secondary School on Tuesday. He made the comment after a student asked his opinion of gay marriage...

"We are actively conducting a criminal investigation in this matter," deputy police chief Frank Elsner said.

Nice to see someone in this world is sane enough to cut to the chase. And one gay person absolutely hit it out of the yard:

"I think sometimes violence and hatred towards gays and lesbians gets dressed up in sort of a religious guise and is somehow tolerated. I just don't think it should be tolerated at all."
Exactly. It's bigotry, no matter what "holy" book you think is sacrosanct.

HT: Pharyngula.

Quote of the day.

"Cell phones have no place in a movie theater, and anyone who uses one there should be required to wear a badge saying, 'I am an inconsiderate moron.' The time is coming when theater chains will be forced to take action against audience misbehavior, because it is alienating so much of its customer base. With big pictures, perhaps some multiplex screens could be set aside for the civilized."
--Roger Ebert

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Bike City: It's shipped!

What? A blog post on bikes? Who'd'a thunk it?

The Moots is on the way. Woot!

More to come.

Quote of the Day

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."
-- Douglas Adams

Palin the thug

From the Anchorage Daily News:

(Troopergate) becomes about one thing and one thing only, revenge. Not public good, but settling a score.
That newspaper is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Talk about a no-spin zone.

Four more years

Sarah Palin is the female equivalent of this guy...only dumber.

Maureen Dowd: Tribute to Paul Newman


(W)e lost an American icon who stood for traits that have been in short supply...: shrewdness, humility, decency, generosity, class.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Olbermann: Lay off Ifill!

Keith, loosen up a little. Seriously, we're all friends here; let us know how you really feel...

Speigel article on Bush

Pour yourself a tall beverage and get comfortable reading this. It's long, but it's good. Money quote:

Also on display is the end of arrogance. The Americans are now paying the price for their pride.

McCain in Des Moines

A press conference with the Des Moines Register's editorial board.

HT: Sullivan.