Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: November 2007 Page 1 of 3

Overnight Music

Working late here, with some trash TV on in the background. Another VH1 rehash. But then this clip comes on:


It’s an amazing performance, and (I think) a fair analog of the man. He starts out a little off and hesitant. Gets stronger, but some doubts remain. And then, he gets there. Some place the rest of us never could, but recognize nonetheless. It’s amazing. Man, did we lose something when we lost him.

(Title and concept stolen from Atrios a long time ago. Just now got around to making the theft public.)

What Kind of Anti-Gay Are You?

Slate hosts this hilarious Mark Fiore cartoon, in which Right-Wing Ralphie (he’s not gay!) helps you figure out whether you’re a Bicivil Libertarian or a Questioning Demosexual.  Brilliant.

(Link leads to a flash player, requiring sound)

Arlington Turkey Trot


Arlington Turkey Trot

On a day not exactly associated with physical activity (tho’ perhaps the lack of), hundreds of runners participated in the Arlington Turkey Trot. Routed through the decidedly not-flat neighborhood of Lyon Park, everyone who participated earned at least a second helping of pie tonight.

Snapped a good number of photos, which you can find here.  An absolutely beautiful fall day.  If you’re a runner, and want a copy of the original, just drop me an email and link to the picture I’ve posted.

Selling Out Isn’t Hard

if you only offer ten units for sale.  Apparently, Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader sold out in a matter of hours.  Given its appalling 1980s aesthetics and even worse $400 price tag, I can only guess that every member of the Amazon executive team was required to buy one.  I’ve a generally very high opinion of Amazon’s business acumen, but this is a complete mess.

Gun Control: Back in the Spotlight

Every Democrat in the country better be ready for a barrage of gun control questions between now and the general election next year.  Why?  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that goes to the core of the Second Amendment, which reads:

A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Vastly oversimplifying things, it’s about whether the “right to bear arms” is a right that you – as an individual – have, or whether the right to bear arms is only as part of a “well-regulated Militia” (which is then up to the States to define).  If there is an *individual* right to bear arms, then many of the existing restrictions on gun acquisition and ownership may well be found unconstitutional.  I think it’s a perfectly valid question, and something that the Supreme Court has been avoiding for years.  So I’m happy to see that it will be sorted out.  As a lawyer, anyway.

But the real harm here is going to be the reinsertion of the “Democrats want to take your guns away!” canard into the political sphere.  If ever it was true, it certainly hasn’t been true for decades.  Yet it remained a regular (and effective) rallying cry for the GOP (a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA, for the purpose of this issue).  It had faded, in recent years, and I was glad to see that.  But look for this case to put it front and center again.  Democrats need to prepare to ready, aim, and fire back.

Primary Wars

I have, for the most part, tried to stay away from the public primary process.  There is something about this that makes otherwise reasonable people become the biggest assholes, show the smallest minds, and engage in ridiculous hypocrisies.   To what end?  I’m really not sure.  Barring Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich, I think any of the Democratic field would make a fine President.  (Sorry, Dennis.  I admire your positions more than any other candidates.  I just have no faith in your effectiveness.  And Joe?  STFU.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that.  Enjoy yourself in the Senate.  It’s perfect for you.)

That said, we’re now less than a year away from the general election, and the primaries (messes that they are) are mere months away.  So ‘ll probably start talking about that now.  To start it off on a somewhat positive note, I’ll highlight something I *like* – one candidate responding to another candidate’s whispering campaign with “put up or shut up.”  While there’s no shortage of actual dirt amongst politicians, the tendency to traffic in wholly unsubstantiated charges is particularly galling for me.  So it’s nice to see someone up the ante by trying to bring it out into the open.

Hand Over Heart: It’s the Law!

Did you know this?

According to U.S. law, a civilian like Obama is supposed to stand up when the anthem is played, take off his hat, face the flag, and put his right hand over his heart.

I did not know this.  I’d always assumed that the highest authority in the matter of what to do was social convention.

Fall TV Recommendations

So, it’s getting darker and colder. And much easier to opt for some couch time over more road miles.  All of which, despite the backup of books that I’ve got, has somehow led to more television watching. So, in case you can identify at all, here are some recommendations (besides going to the gym or picking up a book, of course):

  • Friday Night Lights – I know what you’re thinking. No show about football could possibly be interesting. Well, that may be true, but it doesn’t matter – this isn’t about football. It’s about high school. And not in all of the awful ways that high school has been done to death on television. It manages to nail the reality of relationships and public pressures without slipping into overcompensating irony or cloying sweetness. You can probably pick this up midseason and enjoy it, but I’d suggest going back to last season for the really good stuff.
  • Dexter – Oh, this is a delicious show. Michael C. Hall as a perfectly sensible serial killer in Miami. Acting is great, storylines compelling, and the aesthetics are perfect.
  • Weeds – What’s up with this? Shotime having better shows than HBO? Well, that’s what happens when you kill Deadwood, Carnival, etc. Mary Louise Parker is the newly-widowed suburban mom (complete with the ever present iced whatever-you-buy-at-Starbucks) trying to make her way in the world. As a dope dealer. A cringe-inducing premise, to be sure, but wonderfully executed. Bonus: a new cover of Malvina Reynold’s Little Boxes with almost every new episode.

Almost all are midway through the season, but I let them pile up while the sun was still out, and am just now getting around to them. Lots of networks have their shows online, though, or available for free through your cable operators on-demand service. Check them out. And let me know if I’m missing something good.

If those don’t work for you, remember that BSG: Razor is on next week. Or, perhaps it’s time to borrow/catch up on any season of The Wire that you might have missed – the fifth and final season takes us back into Baltimore in January. Also, Jericho may be worth your time, and new episodes are already cued up to act as mid-season replacements.

Finally, two shows I’m watching, but won’t recommend. Nip/Tuck. I tried to stay away. I’m disappointed that I can’t. And, unrecommended for entirely different reasons – Boondocks. Have you *seen* this season? Aaron McGruder must have one rock solid creative control clause in his contract. I have to say, when I heard he was taking the strip to animation, I didn’t think it would work. But this? This is brilliant.

Friday Notes: Lawyers Protesting, Explaining Perspective, and Musical Maps

I went to the DC lawyers march in support of the lawyers in Pakistan.   It makes me cringe just to write that.   Though well -intentioned, it just seemed so . . . off.   In any event, it did result in my two favorite lines of the week.  The first was by another lawyer, saying that “this was the first protest I’ve been to where everyone arrived in cabs.”  Tis true – the curbside in front of the Library of Congress looked like the Mayflower Hotel cabstand.  The second line might reach what made this “march” okay, cringeworthiness aside.  A few people from (what I assumed to be) Code Pink came along, cheering and asking –

“What took you so long?”

Indeed.  For a more thought out take on the US lawyers rallies across the country, check this out.


Occam’s Hatchet at dKos uses the classic Flatland book to explain the importance of perspective.  An excellent read.


Barry Ritholtz at the Big Picture linked to this interesting little tool from Gracenote a little while back.  Gracenote is the company that provides the track information for the CDs that you put in your computer.*  They’ve now created a map that lists the 10 most popular artists and albums by continent and country.   It’s a bit of a rough measurement – the results, of course, are heavily skewed towards the demographic that can afford computers constantly connected to the internet.  That said, it’s still quite fun to poke around.  Finland?  There’s something wrong with that country . . .

*Saving you kids all that typing we had to do back in the mid 90s.  Uphill.  Both ways.

Is Iran Next: A Town Hall Meeting

I’m not Jim Moran’s biggest fan, but he gets credit for hosting this event:

When: Tuesday, November 13th
7:00PM to 9:00PM

Where: George Washington Masonic Temple; Theater
101 Callahan Dr.
Alexandria, VA 22301


  • Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense.

Guest Panelists:

  • Lee Hamilton, President, Woodrow Wilson International Center, Chairman, Iraq Study Group, Co-Chairman, 9/11 Commission, former Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee;
  • Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan;
  • Danielle Pletka, Vice President for foreign and defense policy, American Enterprise Institute;
  • Dr. Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council;

I’ll be there. Join us.

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