Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
A couple of post-Katrina annoyances

-- The fact that Haley Barbour, who we all saw way too much when he was head of the RNC during the 1990s, is Governor of Mississippi. It's as if ten years from now we'd hear the words "Senator Karl Rove" in casual conversation. (At least it's not "Senator Oliver North".)

-- The fact that anti-tax overlord G. W. Bush
said this:
The federal, state and local governments are working side-by-side to do all we can to help people get back on their feet, and we have got a lot of work to do. Our teams and equipment are in place and we're beginning to move in the help that people need. Americans who wish to help can call 1-800-HELPNOW, or log on to, or get in touch with the Salvation Army.
So I guess collective action, and the funding it takes, do have a place after all. Helping people after what may turn out to be the worst natural disaster of our lifetime sure sounds like a core government function to me, but Bush is unashamed to plead for voluntary donations. (Plus, as has been pointed out all over, there's that whole business of how the National Guard is largely in Iraq.)

A reminder:
Rick Santorum wants to forbid the National Weather Service from making its forecasts freely available to the public, a decision that would hugely benefit the Accuweather company based in State College, PA.

(The word "annoyances" chosen not to trivialize the hurricane, but to keep these things in proportion.)

knight-errant capitalization

It may be gone soon, but the credit on this piece at Slate is:

Jack M. Balkin is knight professor of constitutional law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School.

Ho, good sir! Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony! None shall pass!

(Balkin actually holds a chair named after someone named Knight; he is not himself a knight.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005
Asked and Answered

I don't know if Billmon had seen this....

when he wrote this...
The White House propaganda maestros used an Iraqi women's rights activist as a living prop at Shrub's state of the union address earlier this year, whipping wing nut war hawks and media dingdongs alike into a frenzy of teary-eyed patriotism. They also arranged for her to stand immediately in front of the mother of a Marine killed in action in Iraq -- setting the scene for a "spontaneous" hug that reduced a national television audience to quivering lumps of sentimental jello and left Joe Klein spitting phlegm-coated bile at the Democratic Party.

Now, that very same activist is telling the world the Americans just sold her, and her Iraqi sisters, down the river to a bunch of medieval mullahs with Made-in-Tehran labels on the insides of their turbins.
and supported it with the material here. But it's like he did!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Your Moral Duty

If you're in a movie theater, and they're showing previews, and the previewed movie has either Matt Damon or Ben Affleck, and the preview announcer refers to him as "Academy-Award Winner" Matt-or-Ben, you are obliged to yell "Yeah...for writing!"

But don't yell during the movie. It's rude.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Showgirls: The Plot Summary

Here's what my TiVo says about the notorious bomb Showgirls:
A dancer becomes understudy in a Las Vegas show, sleeps with the boss, and pushes the star down some stairs.
Nice choice of words, "some" stairs. As if to imply that the pushing of a character down a full flight of stairs is beyond the capacity of this film.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Interesting editorial standards at A column by Gary Krakow is headlined

Why cell phone service here sucks

("Here" being the US as opposed to Europe.) That strikes me as pretty vulgar language for a mainstream headline; I suspect Krakow had nothing to do with it, since the sentence introducing the answer to the (implicit) question is
There are many reasons for this disparity.
Not that I don't say worse than this a couple of dozen times a day, but I bet someone's in trouble at MSNBC pretty soon.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Matt Groening on the Origin of the Simpsons Theme
I gave [Danny] Elfman what I called a "flavors" tape, featuring the kind of sound I wanted for The Simpsons theme. The tape included The Jetsons theme, selections from Nino Rota's Juliet of the Spirits, a Remington electric shaver jingle by Frank Zappa, some easy-listening music by Esquivel, and a teach-your-parrot-to-talk record.

Elfman gave it a listen and said, "I know exactly what you're looking for."

A month later we were recording the now-famous Simpsons theme on the 20th Century Fox lot with a huge orchestra. I think all the producers were a little nervous and fidgety about the untrendy audacity of the music. But then-executive producer James L. Brooks came in, listened a bit, then said, "My God! This is great! This is lemmings-marching-to-their-death music!"
-- from the liner notes to "Songs in the Key of Springfield". But for God's sake, don't go to the place I found this, or you'll never get out. Or here, either.

UPDATE: It gets far, far, worse: a total Scooby-Doo knockoff called Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kids.

Thursday, August 04, 2005
The Science of Polling I like when opinion polls make no sense. Not "make no sense" as in "how could people believe that", but make no sense. Joshua Holland at the Gadflyer points this out:
According to Gallup's David Moore, "More conservatives say the Unites States 'will' win the war in Iraq than say the United States 'can' win."

Monday, August 01, 2005
Chyrons Seen on CNN in the Space of An Hour

Bush Appoints Boltons

-- note plural. Just to really piss everyone else off, maybe.

Chris Landsea

-- a hurricane expert. Not as ludicrously appropriate as Lionel Tiger, who co-authored The Imperial Animal with Robin Fox, but close.

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