Did you click on my profile to get here? You're in the wrong place! Unfortunately, so many blogs still haven't moved to wordpress (if that's you - why not?) and require a blogger log-in to comment. Hence, I need to redirect you away from here to the actual, live blogs!

Go to my baby-blog -

Or perhaps my house-blog -

Something's gotta give

As you may have guessed from the last five post-free weeks, I'm going on hiatus from this blog. I think I'll be back to it (or something similar) someday, because I genuinely enjoy writing (and reading comments). But I have to trim down the number of obligations I'm spreading myself between, and until my daughter doesn't need constant and total attention, my dissertation is done, my house is bought and my new job is underway, the ol' Taming of the Blog is getting stored in the garage with my triathlon bike and cross-country skiis.

I have my fingers crossed that M.Bro and I find a 1900's Craftsman house that needs some work (but not major renovations), because I'm drawn to the idea of having a project-based blog instead of a whole-life-based blog. I'd like to document the process of buying and renovating our house, because it's going to be a hoot. There are 4-5 houses on the market right now that would be ideal - for raising a family in, but more importantly, for writing about on the internet.

Everyone linked here is also linked on the site M.Bro and I are writing for Josie, and I really hope you'll starting visiting us there. Josie dominates my life right now (in the best possible way), so the two blogs would be virtually identical for the next few months anyway. Except that I'd feel obligated to post more than just links to her blog here, and there's that obligation I need to trim down. So it's just Josie for now - but trust me, it's worth it.

It's Over: An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Dear Hillary,
Let me say this right off the bat - you're a top-notch candidate. Any other year, any other primary, any other opponent, and you'd be sailing to the nomination. But you're a better candidate than your campaign, and it's time for you to withdraw gracefully.

Oh, and if you could do it on March 7th, that would totally rock - it's the day I predicted to my students that you'd withdraw.

Let me give you the brief rundown before going into detail - your opponent has better on-the-ground organization, he fundraises like no candidate ever has (and without the desperate-sounding e-mails I get from your campaign), his rallies pack massive stadiums while yours leave empty seats at amateur hockey rinks, and your main line of criticism not only falls flat but boomerangs. As Eugene Robinson noted, if your situations were reversed, there would be daily calls for Senator Obama to step aside. And those making the calls would be absolutely right to do so.

On the issue of campaign organization, it's clear that you weren't prepared for an extended post-Super Tuesday contest - financially or managerially. A well-run campaign doesn't question the significance of nearly half the states. A well-run campaign invests the (relatively small) resources necessary to learn how the Texas hybrid system works and field a full slate of delegates in Pennsylvania - two states that will certainly prove their significance in the coming weeks. I might (might) overlook these sorts of oversights if you were running on a shoe-string budget, but you've spent well over $100 million to make the kind of errors any freshman Political Science major would giggle at. These are the opportunity costs of $100,000 of meat-and-cheese platters (to be fair, you may have also invested in fruit trays - I'm just an amateur observer).

You're blowing through cash like a 40-horsepower LeafMaster9000, but look at the bright side - you aren't raising nearly as much as your opponent. While you're sending me desperate e-mails, Senator Obama raised more than you, Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee combined in January and could be well on his way to raising $60 million in February alone. You're thinking about how many cleaning bills you could skip out on with $60 million, aren't you? Senator Clinton, please - I need you to concentrate. Senator Obama isn't only raising an unprecedented amount of money in a primary, he's doing it by convincing people like me to brownbag it for a week so we have an extra $25.01 for his campaign. He certainly isn't pushing nine out of every ten donors to their federal maximum!

I don't know how much it costs to hire a goth band (or, frankly, why anyone would pay pale teenagers dressed in black to whine at them), but if it fills arenas, then your money is well-spent. I think more people than Jose Bustos were expecting a little more. Although maybe they shouldn't have been surprised at the low turnout, since you're polling more points behind Senator Obama than asterisk-candidate Mike Huckabee is behind McCain. Senator Obama not only fills the home of the UW Badger basketball team past capacity ("We're risking the fire marshal's wrath for change!"), but has such a draw that tens of thousands are willing to wait outside for hours in negative-windchill temperatures for the opportunity to cheer for him. If you withdraw soon and ask politely, I bet you can still get a good seat at Citizen's Bank Park for the pre-Pennsylvania rally.

Finally, you've been critical of what you perceive as a lack of experience from Senator Obama. I realize you're busy, but maybe one of your highly-paid staffers could give this a quick read. It's daunting, I know - but I'm sure you wouldn't want your campaign to be misleading? Right? After all, your cries of plagiarism just before my state's primary not only failed to sway my fellow cheeseheads, the negativity may have actually hurt you! We're shockingly polite here - not quite Minnesota nice, but certainly a close second - it's natural that you'd underestimate us. I hope you learned you lesson when the same line of attack earned you boos in Texas. (Also, I hate to point this out when you're in such a delicate position already, but you're a little bit of a hypocrite, Hillary! I'm sure John's line was just so good that it stayed with you, so I hope Howard Wolfson will be e-mailing me an update soon!)

Senator Clinton, now is the time to gracefully withdraw from this race. Wait, I mean March 7th is the time to gracefully withdraw from this race.

Democracy in Action

Maybe you have friends who tell you they don't really feel like going out to vote - too much trouble, they say, especially for something that doesn't matter all that much. Send them the story of Prairie View A&M - they'll change their tune.

That's stupid, they might reply - why not just carpool? I'm sorry, who is the stupid one? What kind of carpool gets national media attention and an aerial escort?

(The photos look a little like a film version of The Long Walk)

Oh, hey

Well, lookit that.

Yes, we can! (snowblow)

The weather and the primary - these are the things that dominate my days. Well, those and the class I'm teaching and my dissertation. But between those four things (and the baby, plus trying to buy a house), these are the things that dominate my days. Also, conference papers.

The snow is the most visible of those - even more visible than M.Bro's protruding tummy. I knew we were well over the winter record (86.7" >>> 76.1" in 1978-1979), but I didn't realize how unimaginably far we were over the average Feburary 18th cumulative snowfall.

Snow-weary Madisonians are starting to crack.

When the forecast on Monday called for maybe an inch of snow but more than two inches fell in spots, Weather Central meteorologist Brian Olson started getting phone calls from irate citizens.

"People are at their wits' end," he said. "They just can't handle any more snow."

The good news this week? There is a chance for light snow on Thursday, but that's about it for snow the rest of the week.

The bad news? Look around.

"We've gotten 86.7 inches of snow so far this season," Olson said. "The normal snowfall to date is 36.2 inches, so we are 50.5 inches above normal."

Eau yeah!

Since Hillary Clinton is running ads calling Obama out for not debating in Milwaukee ("Why won't he speak to the voters?" - here's Obama's response), you might assume she's taking every opportunity to get out there and speak to the good folks of Wisconsin. You'd be wrong - in fact, she just cancelled a town hall meeting in Eau Claire.

Now why might Clinton do that? Could it be that she really did have some sort of a scheduling conflict? That's entirely possible - it sounds like they were still looking for a venue as of Friday. But it's also entirely possible that her campaign saw coverage of Obama's massive rally at UW-Eau Claire yesterday and decided to concede the area.

Thousands waited up to eight hours Saturday morning in a line that spanned lower and upper campuses. Shivering in blankets, spectators braved the cold to hear Obama speech at 1 p.m.

"I just think he's inspiring," said Dan Paulson, 51, of Bloomer, who was first in line at 5:15 a.m. "He's going to lead our nation to great things hopefully."

New Topic

I just found out that I'm going to be in the catalog as a member of the Environmental Studies program at NewJob!  Since NextProjectTM is about resource-related conflict and International Environmental Politics is one of the classes in my quiver, I'm very excited about this.  It's also a welcome way for me to begin filling the university service section of my tenure file.

More of the same

Even I'm getting tired of all my primary-related posting, but I owe this one to you. I predicted in class today that Hillary Clinton won't win one more state and will drop out on March 7th, so then you can just tune in for eight months of general election coverage.

Hillary Clinton totally rawks, d00ds(But Barack Obama is your new bicycle)


Things which were observed by me at tonight's Obama Rally -

  • 19,000+ people in one room is a lot, and apparently there were even more in overflow rooms. Biggest Obama events so far?

  • Even Melanie was excited. "Whoah, that was so awesome," she kept repeating. She even told us she got a little teary-eyed when Obama talked about the crushing weight of student loans.

  • Line of the night, for me: "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom." I'm stealing it for my own.

  • He didn't mention, or even hint at, Hillary Clinton - he's running in the general election now.

  • Rightly mentioned that the rest of you owe Wisconsin for the progressive movement. You're welcome.

  • My prediction, which I'm willing to make very public right now - Hillary Clinton won't win one more state.

  • One of the biggest cheers of the night happened when the CNN jumbotron-feed announced (after the VA results) that Obama had taken the delegate lead (including their superdelegate estimate)

  • If you have the choice between speaking before Obama and speaking after him, do yourself a favor and speak so far before him that your audience's children have forgotten what you said. Not that they were even listening, with all their mp3s and MySpaces.

  • Let's look at some pictures, OK? The last one is really something -

Update: Oh no, I was spotted by one of my students! He was next to the stage and saw us in the crowd -

It's a match!

I celebrated Lincoln's Birthday a little differently than I planned - I promised to be a matching donor instead of being matched. The end result - our donation has double the impact - is the same,but this way, I helped convince a first-time donor to take the plunge. There's a great little feature that lets me write my matcher a note, so I expressed my hope that our little contribution would help Bean grow up knowing Barack Obama as her president.

My donation was matched a couple hours ago, and here's the message Tracy in Nashville, TN wrote back to me:
Thanks for matching my contribution and congratulations on your first child! My mortgage is a month behind and I can't afford to go to the Dr. but I think donating to the Obama campaign is the long term answer. P.S. Goodwill is a great way to get baby clothes - usually brand new because many people get so many and babies grow so fast. I buy the ones with the original tags still on them. It's a great source of toys and books also. I think of it as being green, not being cheap or poor!


That's the capacity of the Kohl Center when it's set up for the Badger basketball team - what do you think the odds are of Obama hitting 20,000 at Tuesday's rally? With Obama leading by 10-20 points in Tuesday's "Potomac Primaries", I think we're in store for a rousing victory speech.

As long as Mel can find someone to work for her (and with a sister who manages the store, one would think it should be no problem to coerce someone into it), it will be her first campaign event. What an introduction to politics!

For comparison, here's a photo of the 10/29/04 Kerry/Springsteen rally in downtown Madison, which had 70,000-80,000 attendees. The fire chief called it the largest single gathering of people in Madison's history.

Only a question of by how much


(Hang on for a long, evolving post)

The Nebraska Democratic Party allowed individual counties to set their own caucus times, so we won't get official results until this evening. From the personal accounts caucus-goers have posted online though, I think we're looking at a 60-40 Obama victory!

Mister Vertigo may have gone, so I'll see if I can get him to post a Taming of the Blog exclusive.

For me, the victory isn't as sweet as the turnout. Spice sent me a link to an Omaha World Herald reporter's live-blog, which made me a little misty-eyed with pride - at Nebraska and at Obama. Here's an account of Papillion High School, where Mr. Vertigo would have gone to caucus:

The decision to have only one caucus site in all of Sarpy County appears to have been a bad one.

Reports are coming in that the caucus site in Papillion is overhwhelmed.

Thousands have turned up, when organized expected only several hundred.

They are still registering.

Traffic is backed up on Highway 370.

"All of Sarpy County is at this school and they've run out of registration forms," said Cindy Perich, of Papillion

You should read all the entries, but here are a couple of the most heart-warming comments:

It doesn't look good for Clinton at Monroe Middle School. The line to the Clinton box is empty. The line to vote for Obama is about a half block long.

At Metro in Elkhorn, "Plan B" was scrapped. An overflow room also became overran. Caucus leaders in Elkhorn are now allowing people to vote by a blue slip. At Monroe Middle School, people are now being asked to go into the parking lot.

Another Nebraskan checking in earlier this morning:

Heavily Republican Sarpy County is reporting miles of cars outside of their caucus site at Papillion LaVista South High School.

An Omaha caucus-goer's account of his site:

I was in the 9th district and Obama won 76 - 24, getting 8 of our 10 district delegates. More than 1200 there for Obama, and a bit over 300 for Clinton.

Some lady stood up in the middle of the counting and started ranting about Muslim's destroying the WTC on 9/11 and Obama being a Muslim (that blatantly false email). Anyway, she was chanted down by "No More Hate" and eventually, unceremoniously pitched out an exit.


Just in from 31 - West Omaha - heavy Republican.

Officials were expecting 100 and over 700 showed up. There were 4 overflow rooms at the Steamfitters Union Hall. 6 delegates went to Senator Obama. 3 to Senator Clinton. Amazing turnout. Amazing energy.

My mother just phoned in from Dist. 39 (Elkhorn area - VERY heavy Republican) 900 people showed up at Metro Community College - 700 for Obama, 268 for Clinton and the rest left undecided. She didn't stay for the delegate count. My aunt who is a life-long Republican switched parties to day to caucus for Obama with my mother in Dist.39. If she's switching - LOTS of people are doing the same out here.

Extremely proud to be a Nebraska Democrat today!!!!

Pardon my french (Hi Mom!), but holy shit:

"Just got back from the Caucus.

My precinct, #2, at North High School, was declared as a state of emergency. They expected 300 - 500 people to show up and instead over 1400 showed up.

They filled the high school's auditorium and the cafeteria.

Final count:

Omaba: 1378
Clinton: 26

She didn't get 15% of the vote, so all the delegates went to Obama.

So far so good in NE."

A little more:

An early count showed that 6,000 people showed up at the school to caucus, including 2,000 people who registered Saturday. About 1,500 of the new registrants had switched from other parties. "There's a hell of a lot fewer Republicans in Sarpy County than there were yesterday,'' Summers said.

A Nebraskan explaining Obama's appeal:

I grew up in rural central Nebraska and have lived in Lincoln and Omaha both, currently in Omaha. People in this part of the country have a big chip on our shoulder about how the "big-money" people on the coasts look down on us or ridicule us as ignorant hicks. I've had a lot of family and friends, many of whom are in prime Hillary demos, tell me how much they respect Obama because he seems to respect us. He doesn't talk down to us or ignore us.

There's also a very strong "no bullshit" sentiment in this part of the country. Hillary seems to be full of shit, Obama seems to be genuine.


Holy cow, kids - 68-32 for Obama! With a delegate allocation so far of 15-7!

It was easy to predict, though - Nebraska's clearly Obama's demographic, with its huuge minority population, overwhelmingly high-tech white-collar workforce, and latte-sipping wine-and-cheese set.

Was it an error, Wolf? Was it?

Rotary Club

One of the benefits of staying in this part of the country after we move is keeping our cell phone contract. The signal is kind of spotty, but they've been responsive when we've had problems and very helpful when our phones were stolen in Hawaii. A bigger benefit (for me personally) is finally using my contract-renewal free upgrade. I realize Razrs are old hat to teenagers across the world, but man, am I excited about this doohickey. I'll miss my old Cylon phone, with its fancy chrome and now-defunct Cingular logo (plus the slit glowed red - I assume with rage - when I missed a call) , but this matte black one is just so purty! And the features! Don't even get me started on the features! A camera! My cell phone has a camera! So I can...uh...well....have a camera in (on?) my phone!

(In keeping with this blog's recent theme - would Barack Obama approve? Obviously, yes - it's quite a change.)

Start Spreadin' the Word

Have $5.01 you can spare...for democracy? Even better, do you have $5.01 and the e-mail addresses of a half-dozen other people with $5.01? On February 12th, let's help Barack Obama buy some airtime in Wisconsin! And keep the ball rolling into Texas! And Ohio! And Pennsylvania! YEEEE-AAARGGH!

(The significance of $5.01 donations is explained here)

(The significance of $0.01 is explained here)

Update: And if you donate through this link and help the Obama campaign reach 500,000 (!) online contributors (that's contributors, not contributions - lots of folks have donated small amounts lots of times), your contribution will be matched.


Barack Obama is on board with Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy, and campaigning in Omaha today ahead of Saturday's Democratic caucus. Do you think I'll be able to convince the two Omahans I know - my little sister and Mister Vertigo - to caucus on Saturday?

Unfortunately, they're far, far too late to hope to get into the Civic Center for today's rally!

Crowds began forming this morning at about 9:30 a.m. outside the Omaha Civic Auditorium in anticipation of the Democratic presidential hopefuls appearance.

They came wrapped in black-and-white spotted blankets, farm caps with ear flaps and long underwear.

"We want to see the man," said Joe Kinnaman, a Lincoln businessman who arrived at about 11:30 p.m. "There is a lot of excitement going on here - we haven't seen this in years."

Barak Obama is coming to woo supporters to the Nebraska Democratic Party's first-ever caucus on Saturday. His visit marks the first time in long time that a major Democratic presidential candidates actually came and asked Nebraskans for support in their nomination quest.

Nebraska's caucus is going to be just like Iowa's:

What’s at stake: Results of Nebraska’s presidential caucuses will determine how 24 of the state’s 31 votes are allocated at the Democratic national convention set for Aug. 25-28 in Denver.

Who can participate: Democrats only, although you can apply to register as a Democrat at the caucus site and participate. Democrats as young as 17 can vote if they will be 18 by Nov. 4, election day.

How it works: Supporters of presidential candidates identify their choice by gathering in their candidate’s designated area of the room. Then, votes are counted.

A candidate must receive support from at least 15 percent of the participants in a precinct caucus to remain viable.

Participants who are not in a viable candidate group must either realign with one of the other presidential candidates or abstain from further voting.

Kim & Jason, you can go to to find your caucus site! Each of you take three people! Win it for the gipper! Wait, I think Ronald Reagan is the gipper! Or maybe the gipper is a football coach!


M.Bro, who has always been suspicious of Willard "Mitt" Romney, had this to say after hearing that he dropped out - "Good - even though it was kind of fun to see him lose so much of his money. Not that it probably put much of a dent in his wallet"


Wow, we're snowy! Here's how snowy, in statistics:

-13.3" since this morning
-35 mph winds
-2nd-highest one-day total in Madison history (17.3" in 1990 is the record)
-4000+ cars at a standstill on the interstate for 8 hours (and counting)
-State patrol and National Guard folks are snowmobiling through the traffic, warning people that it may not be cleared until tomorrow morning
Where will they use the potty?
-UW cancelled class after 3:30 today, only the third time since 1990 we've had a snow-day
-I hate snow
-Sheriff's office called most roads "completely impassable" early this evening
-There have been 68 days since December 1 - we've had measurable snow on 38 of them
-Cumulative snowfall for 2007-2008 is 74.3" - less than 2" below WI's all-time record for snowiest winter (76.1" in 1978-1979)
-We should break the record as soon as Saturday, according to the forecast
-I was born the previous snowiest year, Bean will be born this year - coincidence?
-Yes, almost certainly a coincidence

Back from NE

My grandmother passed away on January 17th, and this weekend our family held a memorial service. My dad, brother, uncles, cousins and I set up 250 chairs in the Brunswick auditorium, thinking that would be plenty. Monday morning, however, people were lined up out the door and around the block for my grandma. Another 50-60 chairs were brought in from the fire station across the street, but people kept coming and coming. By the time grandma's brother-in-law started the service, there were another 75-100 people standing in the back of the auditorium - 300+ chairs were too few to hold the number of people that wanted to say goodbye.

Brunswick, for comparison, had a population of 179 in the 2000 census.

The FCC won't let me be

On edge because of all the Obama-this and Mtt-Romney-is-Satan-in-a-human-suit-that? Tuckered out of Super Tuesday even though tomorrow's only Stupendous Saturday? Ready to kill a man in Reno just to watch him die? How 'bout you read some complaints lodged with the FCC to soothe your nerves. Some choice bits:

Dear Sir or Madam,; I wish to launch a complaint about Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; broadcast on NBC on Tuesday, October 23 at 10:00 PM. ; The program likened the behavior of US military in Iraq and in NY to that of; Dr Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi war criminal infamous for his; experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau. ; This is indecent beyond belief. NBC writers must live in a topsy-turvy world; unrelated to reality. ; I’ll never watch Law & Order again. ; - thanks, Alex.

Last night I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on the Comedy Channel, 7 PM, during one of the pieces about Madonna visiting Isareal, he mentioned her “TIT CONES” on TV. This type of ‘humor’ shocks and offends me. What do you plan on doing about this type of behavior and what type of constraints will be put in place to prevent this type of behavior again?

Thanks so much for providing the ability to report incidents. I’ve known about this for quite a long time and haven’t been able to find a way to report it.; During an episode of “Desperate Housewives” they showed a scene where the red headed star is getting into bed with her husband to be intimate (I believe the husband ended up having a stroke or heart attack if that helps you trace down the episode). The scene shows him moving down her body to kiss her
stomach … when the camera moves down it VERY plainly shows the woman’s pubic hair. ; I recorded the show on VHS tape and thought I saw something … when I went back and looked at it, I was correct in what I saw.


Setting the stage for WI's primary

I dare anyone to find a Super Tuesday rundown that's more insightful or thorough than this one.

I know it's a letdown, but I won't be able to live-blog the OBAMA V. CLINTON RUMBLE IN THE CALIFORNIA tonight - M.Bro and I have tickets to Cirque-Work's Birdhouse Factory at the Overture Center tonight. We're taking advantage of Restaurant Week to eat a very expensive meal at the Capitol Chophouse for a moderate price beforehand, so I'll get to watch the acrobats in a beef-stupor. One of the disadvantages of taking a job after my second interview was not getting taken out for dozens of expensive meals on someone else's dime.

Debate Live-blogging: Silver-haired Champion Edition

7:06 - Anderson Cooper is moderating the GOP debate tonight, and man, is it good to have a moderator that's willing to call the candidates on their bs. Halfway through the first answer to the first question, Anderson interrupted Mitt Romney to ask whether he's running for governor or president.

7:12 - I hate the audio in this giant (it seems almost....plane-sized) room. "Bananas" - heh. McCain's hitting Romney directly and sharply on endorsements and his record - that's what he's got to do, and he's doing it...OK-ly. I think the acoustics are sucking all the energy out of the room.

7:19 - The guy from Politico is wearing an ill-ill-fitting suit. It's two inches too big across the shoulders and fits like a sack through the chest. Shameful for someone who knew he was going to be on national TV. I was going to comment on solid black being a poor suit choice as well, but Huckabee's wearing a black suit too. For his funeral.

7:22 - Good for McCain for supporting California's stricter environmental standards, and doing so in a well-argued, eloquent way. Payback for Arnold's endorsement?

7:31 - Did Huckabee just suggest that building more highways is a good way to reduce emissions? I think he was arguing that more highways means fewer cars sitting in traffic, emitting without purpose. What a short-sighted solution. I hope I misunderstood him, but I don't think I did.

7:33 - I don't think it's the room that's draining energy from McCain. I think it's that he's 87 years old. How is this guy inspiring?

7:39 - God, this is lifeless and boring. I wish I hadn't told my students to watch it so I could see if something else is on.

7:48 - What currently holds the most-boring-thing-of-all-time record? I hope a ton of people are watching this.

7:50 - Hey! Commercials! "Clean" coal! That commercial I don't understand! Juno and No Country For Old Men are the only Best Picture nominees I'm interested in seeing! And I've already seen them! Not Atonement! CNN teaser - are they schmoozing during the break?! I think Huckabee was sitting on the table! I wonder if Ron Paul found anyone to chat with!

8:01 - Oh, they seem to have either brought in a new audience, sternly warned the pre-commercial audience to start cheering (threatened them with Zombie-Reagan?), or just showed them Ann Coulter nude on a big screen that we can't see.

8:06 - By 8:15, Ron Paul is going to flip over the table and stab Anderson Cooper in the neck with a pen just to get some airtime. You watch and see.

8:08 - McCain is smirking so much because he's the only one that knows Mitt Romney isn't wearing any pants.

8:10 - Ron Paul's too academic to be on stage with the rest of them. Just flip the table and storm out, Ron - you'll be an internet legend. I mean, a bigger internet legend - that video would live forever. It would be Ron Paul's Daisy Girl ad.

8:14 - Oh, HAA! McCain just used "unequivocally" twice in the same sentence! Romney butchered it ten minutes ago - "unequivocab...unequivocably, if I can get that out".

8:18 - I can stay awake for twelve more minutes! No, I can do more than stay awake - I can finish another Rolling Rock!

8:24 - Someone should teach Mitt Romney to smile non-condescendingly. Or re-program his motherboard.

8:26 - Ron Paul seems to think there's an alternative to "the government creating money out of thin air." Oh, wait - he supports a return to the gold standard, doesn't he? Nevermind.

8:28 - I just got the low-battery message, so let me see if I can predict some closing statements before I quit. Romney: "Washington? Broken." McCain: "Me? Not a terrorist." Paul: "This table? Upside-fucking-down, bitches." Romney: "I'm a governor? Lots of conservatives are secretly gay."

8:29 - I'm out.

Home sweet home

Oh my goodness gracious golly-gee, I want to raise Bean in this house! We have 1/8th of the furniture it would take to fill it, but I don't need to be inside - I'll just sit on the porch.

It's so close to campus (1.16 blocks) that I could probably yell lectures to my students while I'm out there.

Sigh. I'm sure it'll be off the market too soon for us though.

Race within a race (Note: not about race)

Discussion Question #1) Who will endorse Barack Obama first? John Edwards or Al Gore? And will they both do it before next Tuesday?

Discussion Question #2) There are 1,688 delegates at stake next week, and they're assigned proportionally - any predictions on the breakdown?

Discussion Question #3) John Edwards - NC Senator, Attorney General, or Supreme Court justice?

Discussion Question #4) Under what circumstances, if any, should the principle of pacta sunt servanda give way to national self-interest?


Ugh, I want Clinton to lose just so I never have to hear the word "Hillarycare" again. (I also hope she gets less than 50% in this pageant of a primary.)

Weather shift

The meteorologist (sorry, I mean "weather dude") on the news this morning told me to expect a 75-degree temperature drop in the next 12-18 hours. It's 43 and calm outside right now, but the overnight windchill is supposed to drop to 30-35 below. But it's not all bad - at least there's a 100% chance of snow and 40-50mph gusts of wind!

I loathe you, Charlie Shortino! Why do you make winter so awful?!

Update: It's still 38, but here's the Winter Weather Advisory -


Appropriately enough on Bush's last SotU-day

I just realized that the song I've been humming to myself all afternoon is the Imperial March from Star Wars. Do-do-do--dum-dadoo-dum-dadoooo.


I miss comments, so I'm going with a sure-fire participation-getter:

If you were in charge of a drinking game for the State of the Union speech, what word would you pick if you couldn't choose "terror" or "Iraq"?

Obama photo op

Bonus Hippie-Clintons:

Feingold '16

I couldn't be happier to be represented in the Senate by Feingold - I'm glad I'm staying his constituent. Atta boy, Russ.

This administration reacts to anyone who questions this illegal program by saying that those of us who demand the truth and stand up for our rights and freedoms somehow has a pre-9/11 world view. In fact, the President has a pre-1776 world view. Our government has three branches, not one. And no one, not even the President, is above the law.

(This is related to today's vote on FISA, which played 875th fiddle to $600 checks)

Update: There are, however, drawbacks to being one of Russ Feingold's constituents. The "Feels Like" column on's hour-by-hour forecast, for one. There's a silver lining in the "Chance Precip" column, but it's a dull, dull silver.


This is such a pleasant way to spend a wintry afternoon (or a summer afternoon, even a spring and/or fall afternoon) - eating a big salad and writing lectures at our purty new dining room table. I'm immensely, immensely proud that I bought the entire six-piece set (the bench, table, and four chairs) by flipping thrift-store clothes. M.Bro doesn't look at my paypal account, so it was a massive (in more ways than one - I think the table alone weighs an heirloom-quality 200 lbs) pre-housewarming surprise.

Not that we bought a house yet or anything, but we've started down that road.

Cisco Ad

Have you seen this ad, for Cisco's "TelePresence" videoconferencing something-or-other? M.Bro and I have decided that the guy secretly hates his family, but they have no idea. Evidence: based on the order of questions (i.e., his girlfriend saying she misses him), the call must start just before the beginning of the commercial.

So why does he get off the phone so quickly? There's no line of desperate aid workers in front of the tent waiting to use Cisco's revolutionary whatever. "But J.Bro, maybe the relief org can only afford a couple minutes of airtime?" What am I, stupid? C'mon. You think they can afford $300 whatever-thousand of brand-new equipment, but not ten whole minutes of airtime on it?

What's going on here?

Hold on, Hill

This kind of deceptive oversimplification annoys me, because it's the reason candidates aren't willing to speak with nuance or complexity - the reason speeches are cliched platitudes instead of substance.

Debate transcript (emphasis mine):

CLINTON: Well, I couldn't agree more. But I do think that your record and what you say does matter. And when it comes to...


... a lot of the issues that are important in this race, it is sometimes difficult to understand what Senator Obama has said, because as soon as he is confronted on it, he says that's not what he meant.

The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote.

Now, I personally think they had ideas, but they were bad ideas. They were bad ideas for America.

That certainly would be a troubling thing for a Democratic candidate to say! It's a good thing Hill is lying to you (because she thinks you're stupid). Let's take a look at what Obama actually said - the not-lying version:

"I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the presidential candidates and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems, for example. So, some of it's the times."

Huh, it's almost like he's saying they had ideas, but they were bad ideas (but in a more nuanced, eloquent way).

Let's go back to the transcript for another bite:

CLINTON: Now, let me start with the claim about the bankruptcy
bill. I said very clearly I regretted voting for it and I was happy
that it didn't get into law.

By 2005, there was another run at a bankruptcy reform, motivated
by the credit card companies and the other big lenders. I opposed
that bill. I said very forcefully I opposed that bill.

There was a particular amendment that I think is very telling.
It was an amendment to prohibit credit card companies from charging more than 30 percent interest.

Senator Obama voted for it. I voted against it. It was one of
the biggest lobbyist victories on that very bad bill that the
bankruptcy bill represented.

Again, wow, I'd have a hard time voting for a candidate who snuggles up to predatory lenders! It's a good thing Hill's distorting the truth again! It's almost as if she doesn't trust you to understand votes or positions that aren't just black and white -

From DK:

Obama did vote against the Dayton Amendment (no. 31) to limit interest rates to 30% (no surprise, he admitted as much in the debate). So did 17 other Democratic Senators (including John Kerry, Durbin, Leahy and Wyden) and all the Republicans. Even with Obama's support the amendment would have failed by nearly 3-1 (It had 74 votes against). Hunter notes that senators were concerned that the Amendment was poorly drafted and would probably preempt the more stringent usury laws in many states. In the diary Hunter singles out 10 more amendments that were also rejected, by much narrower margins. Obama voted for all of them.

Objectively Obama's vote on Dayton's amendment (the 30% limit) was completely meaningless. The amendment had no cosponsors (nearly all the others that came to a vote did), and lost by the largest margin of any of the Democratic amendments, failing to garner even a majority of Democratic votes. Hillary cosponsored several of the other amendments (as did Obama); if this one was so important why didn't she sponsor it as well? While I can't speak to the argument that it was poorly drafted and might have had unintended consequences, it is clear that a large number of Democratic Senators who voted consistently for all the other Democratic amendments and against the bill on cloture and final passage, chose to vote against this amendment.

Professor President

Well whaddayaknow, Professor Obama is exactly the kind of college professor that I style myself after.

But he was also less formal, more relaxed – he never taught the class as though he knew the answers to all the questions he was posing and was just hiding the ball from us until we could find them. Confident, sure, but never cocky.

And also:

Much in the Chicago tradition, he wanted all voices to be heard in the classroom, and when there a viewpoint that wasn’t being expressed or students were too complacent in their liberal views, he’d push the contrary view himself. These classes were conversations.

And most importantly:

For one thing, better dressed. Sleek sweaters and blazers as opposed to ill-fitting, coffee-stained suits with mismatched ties

New Pornographers: A Video Tribute

From Mass Romantic (2000)
-Mass Romantic
-The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism
-Letter from an Occupant

From Electric Version (2003)
-The Laws Have Changed
-All For Swinging You Around

From Twin Cinema (2005)
-Use It
-Sing Me Spanish Techno

From Challengers (2007)

Bonus Videos
-Furnace Room Gift, by Neko Case
-Maybe Sparrow, by Neko Case
-The Party Rages On, by Zumpano (A.C. Newman)
-I Dig You, by Zumpano (A.C. Newman)
-Behind the Beehive, by Zumpano (A.C. Newman)
-Jarhand, by Immaculate Machine (Kathryn Calder)
-Broken Ship, by Immaculate Machine (Kathryn Calder)
-So Cynical, by Immaculate Machine (Kathryn Calder)

Top Five of 2007

Finally, much later than promised,* my top-five favorite songs of last year, in no particular order. Did the suspense make it hard to concentrate at work? Were you itching to call me in the middle of the night when the anticipation was keeping you up? I hope it was worth the wait!!** (Who am I kidding, there are no surprises in this wave - I listened to mostly teenage girl bands this year)

Wave One: 11-15

Wave Two: 6-10

Wave Three: 1-5***

Modest Mouse - Missed the Boat
Missed the Boat has the dubious honor of including both my and M.Bro's favorite lyrics of the year - even though they're different lines. Mine is at 1:23 on the video ("our ideas held no water, but we used 'em like a dam") and hers is at 3:12 ("All our favorite were a'playin', so we could shake, shake, shake, shake-shake"). As the three-asterisk footnote says, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank was one of my favorite albums of the year - you should also buy it for Dashboard and Florida (featuring James Mercer of the Shins - see below).

The Shins - Australia
Wow, I picked this song without ever seeing the video - now I give it three extra points. The Shins did the right thing by those balloons. I still don't know what "the android's conundrum" is though. Also buy the CD for Phantom Limb and Turn On Me.****

Spoon - The Underdog
Why doesn't my pregnant wife ever set my pipe and slippers out for me? You know what - why don't I own a pipe or slippers? I'm glad this album was huge and all over the place, because Spoon deserves a huge amount of success. I don't think Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is as good as Gimme Fiction, but you should also buy it for You Got Yr Cherry Bomb and Eddie's Ragga.

New Pornographers - Mutiny, I Promise You
Oh, New Pornographers, is there anything you do that I wouldn't put at the top of some list or another? Buy the album for everything and listen to it obsessively.

Arcade Fire - Black Wave/Bad Vibrations
Listening to Arcade Fire is like hearing this great band playing across the street or in the next apartment building - they're not singing directly at you. Really, you're a pretty insignificant part of what's going on. Watch out about 1:40 into the video or you'll be crushed. Also buy it for Keep the Car Running and The Well and The Lighthouse.

*Although it turns out I accidentally published these last week. I put all fifteen in one post to save as a draft, but apparently hit the wrong button. Oh well, cessed lahh veeh as the Frenches say.
**It totally was.
***The five songs also happen to be on my five favorite albums of 2007 - I was consistent in my taste.
****Who am I kidding, you already have this CD.

Change + Experience = Wallabees

Muh mind is blown -

Well, Senator Clinton, I'm confused. I've done the math. You're 60, which means that 35 years ago you were 25. And I Googled your name, looking for all the change you were making as a 25 year old and, frankly, I'm not finding much. You were going to Yale Law School at the time -- which I'm sure was a personally transformative experience, but it's hardly the kind of change that should count on one's Presidential Training Experience resume, is it? Is that when you started your personal Working-for-Change-O-Meter?

That summer, the summer of 1972, you campaigned in Texas for George McGovern's unsuccessful presidential bid. A worthy -- if ultimately futile -- endeavor to be sure, but a notch on your Years of Change belt? Kind of a stretch, don't you think?

But as liberal as you are with your Experience Arithmetic, you are awfully stingy when it comes to the experience and background of Barack Obama.

"He was a part-time state senator for a few years," you recently said of Obama, "and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

For starters, the state senate in Illinois is not a full-time job, but you make it sound like he was some kind of political temp worker, just filling in when someone called in sick. But leaving that aside, why is it that you get to count your time canvassing for McGovern as working for change, but Obama's time as a community organizer and public housing advocate aren't worthy of mention? And what about his time at Harvard Law (where he was the first black president in the history of the Harvard Law Review)? Doesn't count? But your time at Yale Law does? In the now immortal words of your husband: Give me a break.


Update from below:

Conspicuous Consumpters

Social science - so awesome. I didn't even realize I wondered what the answer to this question was, but now I have an answer, an explanation, and data to back it up!

I want this primary to be...hilarious!

Since Michigan's Democratic primary is a mess of Hill vs. Uncommitted, there's a movement afoot to take advantage of Michigan's open-primary laws and cross party borders to keep Mitt Romney in the race, lashing out like a drunken fratboy against fellow Republicans. Hee.

In two minutes, this blog will explode

The incident in the Strait of Hormuz is absolutely terrifying to me, but not really for the reasons you might expect. The short version - just over a week ago, five small Iranian motorboats approached the USS Hopper, USS Port Royal and USS Ingraham as they were entering the Persian Gulf. A radio transmission was received at the same time that the motorboats were approaching the US Navy ships. The transmission said, "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes," although there is controversy over whether this message came from the Iranian ships themselves. The Iranians turned away just before the order to fire warning shots was given.

Scary, right? Yes, for two reasons:

1) Apparently this sort of confrontation is a regular occurrence in the Gulf, and now that the US is moving more ships there, they'll be even more regular. I certainly wouldn't want to accuse the Bush administration of blowing a regular incident out of proportion for political gain, but the fact that it's being reported as the opening salvo in World War III is more than a little scary.

2) In something straight out of Cold War-era apocalyptic fiction, the US Navy apparently has no formal communication link with the Iranian Navy.
Admiral Roughead said he worried such behavior could have escalated unintentionally into a military confrontation before either side could call for a halt. "I do not have a direct link with my counterpart in the Iranian Navy," he said. "I don't have a way to communicate directly with the Iranian Navy or Guard."
Dangerous Freedom-haters or not, this is a dangerous, irresponsible, scary way to operate in such a high-tension environment.

Favorite songs 2007: Wave 2

Continued from a couple days ago...

These are my next-to-top-5 favorite songs of 2007, again in no particular order (other than the meta-order). I will take your non-comments as solemn nods about my musical taste. Dudes, look how good these 5 + the last five have been - can you even imagine how utterly mindblowing my favorite 5 songs of 2007 are? Can you guess them?

Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun
-I haven't actually seen Into the Wild, but if it's as optimistically plaintive as Eddie Vedder's soundtrack, I'm sure it's better than Atonement and No Place for Old People to Live.

Radiohead - Bodysnatchers
-I put this next to Eddie Vedder for a reason, because I hope he's reading this. Eddie, buddy, listen - Bodysnatchers is what you were going for on the last album. Radiohead (a band I feel like I should like but don't) wrote a better Pearl Jam song than you. Get to work. (I would put a link to this song somewhere, but I hear Radiohead are really sue-happy about people downloading free copies of In Rainbows.)

Rilo Kiley - Breakin' Up
Rilo Kiley has the freakiest opening page on their website - it's like something for an underground horror movie. They're leagues better than any other band with two former child stars in it, and this is a fantastic song off their best album so far. Of all the bands on this list I haven't seen live, Rilo Kiley is at the pointiest end of the list.

The National - Mistaken for Strangers
-I've read this song described as being about urban, white-collar tedium, and I supposed it can be about that too. But I think it's about growing up, growing older, maybe before your friends do, maybe before you feel ready.

Feist - 1 2 3 4
-I feel like I've heard this song a bunch this year, but I don't think I listened to The Reminder more than a couple dozen times. Weird. And now I have the urge to shop.

For J.Po

Not to worry, Po - a real election is better than a coronation anyway. And now your state matters! And mine has the potential to!

As far as what happened, I'm of the opinion that nothing really happened. One week, two weeks, ten weeks, three months before the NH primary, this is exactly the result everyone expected. The news is all a-tizzy with Wilder-effect this and Diebold-machines that, but I think this is my favorite conspiracy theory.

February 19th!!!!

OK, here's what's going to happen: Hillary Clinton is going to win New Hampshire, which means the stories about her implosion are over, which means the huuuuge primary day on February 5th is going to matter. I have my fingers crossed - and crossed super-hard - that Clinton and Obama split a bunch of states that day....which might just mean that Wisconsin's primary matters! And that I would get to meet candidates!

Edit: I love Elizabeth Edwards.

Edit: And I'm so relieved that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are back on the air to tell me what to laugh at.

BCS Primary

After establishing an early lead, the incumbent and heavy favorite seems to be struggling to fend off the upstart challenger. Will experience prevail before the end of the night?

Is your health cared for?

I'm disappointed that this quote is from Mike Huckabee and not one of the Democrats:

The health care system in this country is irrevocably broken, in part because it is only a "health care" system, not a "health" system.

These numbers are almost ten years old now, but look how massive the impact of obesity-related health care costs are, according to the CDC. I don't look to the government to solve every problem, but there's a role to play here that's much more serious than a new food pyramid. Instead, I'd like to see Washington play a more proactive, assertive role in cost-prevention - beginning with more funding for healthy school lunch options, better priorities for transportation, and tax incentives for bikes in addition to the breaks for hybrid cars.

Favorite Music of 2007: Wave One

Mark's Eating Out Guide means two things - (1) Taco Bell's stock value is going to increase, and (2) it's time to post about my favorite songs of last year.

Instead of a multi-stage countdown like I did last year, I'm posting my fifteen favorite songs in three waves over the next few days. The waves themselves will be numbered (i.e. this post is the bottom five of my top fifteen), but the songs themselves aren't in any particular order within the waves. Look for songs I like even more tomorrow, then on Wednesday, whoah just watch out.

Instead, you do the work - arrange them how you see fit in the comments. I've helpfully included some comments and links to either downloads, streaming audio, or youtube videos, in case you're not familiar with a song. With a few exceptions, though, I think you'll know most of these. I've lost my hipster cred by picking a bunch of songs that get airtime on the XM station I listen to.

Let's go.

Wave One:

Sunset Rubdown - The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life
-There wasn't a new Wolf Parade album in 2007 like I thought there would be, but this is the Wolf Parade lead singer with different musicians. It's just as warbly and freaktastic as a new Wolf Parade single, so I'm satisfied.

The White Stripes - A Martyr For My Love For You
-Overall, I thought Icky Thump was their weakest album of the last three or four, but this is a solid, solid track. I hated Rag & Bone so much that I'm keeping this in the third wave as a personal insult to Jack White.

Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
-Here's the one that (barely) lets me keep my indie cred. Wizard of Ahhhs, Black Kids' four-song EP is only available on their myspace page. How 'bout that. You can download this song right here too.

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
-Pitchfork's #1 song of the year, so there was some hipster pressure to put it higher.

Foo Fighters - Long Road to Ruin
-Who remembers the days of blogger OleNelson. He scoffed pretty hard (as hard as an e-mail scoff can be) when Foo Fighters were nominated for eighteen Emmy awards, but he's wrong.


Update: On a sorta-related note, this is an exciting post. As my wife noted last night, Mitt Romney feels like the character in a movie that you roll your eyes at - "Oh, who DOESN'T realize that he's obviously the villain? C'mon!"

Update: Graham Allison - yay! ANOTHER question on nuclear terror doomsday-pocalypse - wft, Charlie?!

Update: I just e-mailed Spice to say that her boy is kicking ass so graciously. This is quite an Edwards-Obama tag-team.

Update: Three topics?! This is it? Nuclear hellfire raining down on Denver, who-is-the-changiest, and Iraq? Maybe he means before the next break, because I was hoping maybe we could hear them talk about, I dunno, the economy, education, the environment, energy, or immigration?

Update: Charlie Gibson can't put his personal politics aside - "Isn't it true that the troop surge prevented a nuclear attack on San Francisco (not that we care)?"

Update: Bill Richardson's tie needs to be snugged up a little bit. But he's handling a tough question about his days as Sec. of Energy really well despite it.

Update: Awwww - I'm not glad Al Gore didn't run!

Update: Jesus, Charlie - are you running for something? Nitpicking Obama about standing up during meals? But not asking A SINGLE REPUBLICAN how they're planning to pay for dozens of years of military presence in Iraq?

Update: Hillary's exactly right - and it's only half the story. How can Charlie Gibson suggest with a straight face that neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush created change?!?

Update: John Edwards' tie knot, on the other hand, is maybe the best I've ever seen - perfect dimple, symmetrical, tight. A masterstroke.

Update: Charlie Gibson has no idea how much liberal arts college professors make. And good for Clinton for cutting off his biased question.

Update: I'm not the kind of sports-watcher that complains about the refs - they have a hard job, everyone makes mistakes, and they're an easier target than admitting your team needs better fundamentals. But it's nice to see that the moderator of this debate closed it on such a tremendously asinine note.

Clinton and Stacey: Real U.S. Americans

I had big plans to work all night, finishing my International Law syllabus and putting together lecture notes (planning ahead for those weeks when lecture-prep time gets buried under DiaperWatch), but I just heard that the current Miss USA is the target of tonight's What Not to Wear. What? Does she dress badly when her handlers don't have her primped and blowdried? Or is this some challenge to make a well-dressed pageant queen some sort of Fashion Godzilla? My curiousity - it is piqued.

I'm a terrible person for what I assume about pageant people, though. Basically, this is all of them in my mind -

Post-caucus thoughts

If I didn't disagree with Mike Huckabee's entire social and economic platform, I'd volunteer for his campaign. What a great speaker, and what a great weight-loser. He's truly an example to the millions of Americans struggling with their new year's resolutions.

M.Bro thinks Mitt Romney looks like a bad actor trying to play an evil character pretending to be good.

Barack Obama's daughters are adorable, all waving and wearing their nightgowns to their dad's big victory speech.

Obama-Biden - that makes a nice bumper sticker for my car.

I don't have anything to say about Hillary Clinton (but that's kind of the way I always feel about Hillary Clinton).

Other than to wonder whether her friends call her "Hill", like in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.


It turns out that neither M.Bro NOR Melanie has ever - EVER - heard the term "new-fangled" before. I feel like they're pulling one over on me here. I don't know that I've ever used it (except maybe in a hick accent when I'm talkin' 'bout dem new-fangled cell-yoo-yar telephones), but this is like saying you've never heard the phrase "holy cow" or "gosh" before!

Update: M.Bro's response to TOWWAS' comment - "Oh, yeah - is she the one that's a professional writer?"

"We" would like to play

With all the Wii talk all over, I thought I should share my dad's first game. In which he out-bowled me. That's LittleBro on the right, in his basement game room. When I was his age, I had a game room too, but mine was in the little cubby underneath the stairs in my room. It also only had a SNES, but fortunately, that was the apex of role-playing games. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - it's been all downhill from there.

M.Bro and I spent a few hours looking through boxes of my childhood memories, from pictures of my Mom's baby shower (the summer of 1979) to dozens and dozens of copies of The Creighton News with my picture in them. It was a sentimental part of a sentimental trip - I may have teared up a little bit at the baby book my parents wrote for me, and Missy laughed herself sick at the stories I wrote when I was ten (especially the one about how the Grand Canyon started). Also, apparently I had a massive growth spurt in between the pictures below, from the most gosh-darn adorable seven year-old you've ever seen to a nine year-old who should have been happy his parents didn't lock him in the basement.

No, cauc-YOU!

Predictions for tomorrow's caucus?

I think: Obama & "Chuck"abee

M.Bro thinks: Edwards & Huckabee (And I can see it - John Edwards isn't exciting enough to be lots of people's first choice, but is too nice not to be their second choice)

I also think: Hilary Clinton losing the election is a huge win for women in politics.

Edit: CNN is playing in the background, and god, do undecided voters annoy me.