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)
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Actual Signage From My Local Star Market

Can you pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time? Can you shake your head left and right while saying "yes"? (Harder than you might think.) Can you walk through a door labelled like this without disrupting your entire nervous system? Is this a joke or what?

(Compare and contrast.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005
The Tabloid Imagination

For those following the various threads around on lazy Black Friday news coverage:

Stolen from the front-page gallery at The Newseum. Speaking of which, I didn't know there was such a thing as the New Braunfels, Texas, Herald-Zeitung.
Because They Can

The question, of course, was "Why do people take pictures of their sister's cat on their new cell phone and upload it to their blog?"
If You Meet My Mother On The Road...

...for God's sake, don't tell her how The Sixth Sense ends. She's the only movie-going, popular-culture-participating American who doesn't know. Pretty shocking to discover this fact, I must say.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
In A Small Village Parking Lot in Westchester

Car with license plate


Yes, it did have a rainbow logo bumper sticker. Why do you ask?
Friday, November 25, 2005
Dog-Whistle Journalism

You may have heard the expression "dog-whistle politics", which is apparently an Anglicism that refers to what we'd call code words in political speech. A classic American example is Bush's reference, in one of the debates in the 2004 campaign, to the Dred Scott decision, which seemed like an peculiar digression to much of the mainstream but which, we later learned, was probably a signal to the anti-abortion right, which likes to compare Roe v Wade to Dred Scott, the pro-slavery Supreme Court decision that has since been repudiated by history; the point being that evil USSC decisions aren't the end of the story, and the meta-point being that if you didn't know what Bush was saying, you'd miss the implied reference to Roe.

Anyway, it turns out you can do this in the New York Times as well, and you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe in the dog whistle. To wit:

NBC did not interrupt its broadcast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
yesterday to bring viewers the news that an M&M balloon had crashed into a
light pole, injuring two sisters.

In fact, when the time came in the tightly scripted three-hour program for
the M&Ms' appearance, NBC weaved in tape of the balloon crossing the finish
line at last year's parade - even as the damaged balloon itself was being
dragged from the accident scene. At 11:47 a.m., as an 11-year-old girl and her
26-year-old sister were being treated for injuries, the parade's on-air
announcers - Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker - kept up their light-hearted
repartee from Herald Square, where the parade ends.

Well, this sure caught our attention at my house, since we have a family member working for NBC News, they've just had their President (a family friend) replaced, and the organization is known in the industry to be, as they say, "beleagured" (although, the way we see it here, News is doing great, but Entertainment isn't holding up its end). We spent a couple of minutes (in the absense of Emmy Sister) guessing whether the parade was being done by News or not. Given the lead roles of Katie, Matt, and Al, we presumed it was an extended Today show broadcast,which would be News.

But wait, here's the whistle:
But Cameron Blanchard, a spokeswoman for NBC's entertainment division,
which broadcast the parade
, said that the anchors did not deviate much from
the script because it was not clear at the time what had happened. "We had been
alerted that there had been an incident," she said. "But no further details had
been conveyed to us."

I admire the way the key clause is just slipped in there. If you're casually reading the paper, it just seems like careful sourcing. If you're reading it as someone who cares about media gossip, and the state of NBC News in particular, then the Times is here to serve its mission as the House Organ of Mainstream Media. Well played, I say!
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Yale-Harvard Game

Let's see...when I turned off my car radio and left the car, it was Good Guys 21, Harvard 3, early in the 3rd quarter. When I got back to the car, it was tied 24-24 with about a minute to go; Yale had the ball, failed to convert 4th and short, and turned the ball over to Harvard, who, despite having one timeout left, sat on the ball and took it to overtime.

During which overtime:

-- Yale starts with the ball, and fumbles.
-- Harvard then needs a field goal to win...which they attempt, and fail.
-- Under the OT rules of this brand of football, Harvard now gets the ball at their own 25, beginning another pair of possessions -- each team has to have the ball the same number of times, and if someone's ahead after one of those pairs of possessions, they win.
-- Harvard passes. Yale intercepts in the end zone.
-- Yale fumbles, ending "overtime #2".
-- Radio announcers point out that the game is in danger of being called on account of darkness; there are no lights at the Yale Bowl, and this is in fact the first overtime football game there ever.
-- Yale gets the ball at the 25. Throws an interception.
-- Harvard, armed perhaps with flashlights, scores a TD, winning the game. It's the first triple-overtime game in Ivy League history.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
And We'd All Be Watching TV In The Dark, Too

Mark Kleiman:

Personally, I've always wondered whether a Dutch Arts Council, had it existed in the 1880s, might have prevented Van Gogh's suicide and given the world another few billions of dollars' worth of Van Goghs.

See, but if he'd painted more of them, they might not be worth -- ahh, never mind.

(I'll allow that Kleiman may well be deliberately engaging in an Irish bull here.)

Monday, November 14, 2005
What's That? I Can't Quite Hear You...

Click on the current first item on Kevin Drum's left-hand sidebar, and people like me get this:

Monday, November 07, 2005
Hacky-est Joke Ever

It's been a rough week in the NFL....Ben Roethlisberger was out after knee surgery...Wayne Chrebet had a concussion and is done for the season...even a couple of cheerleaders went down.

(I'm so proud.)

(For the football-impaired: see here.)
Crime in the Internet Age

Radio talk show host indicted for murder of wife

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. --A Missouri radio talk show host was arrested Monday on a murder charge for allegedly poisoning his wife by spiking her Gatorade with a chemical found in antifreeze.

James Keown, 31, was arrested in the morning at the radio station where he worked in Jefferson City, Mo. He appeared in court by videoconference later in the day and agreed to be extradited to Massachusetts, where he was indicted for murder last week.

Prosecutors say he killed Julie Keown, 31, by poisoning her over a period of months with ethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said Monday that the couple moved to Waltham from Missouri in January 2004. James Keown told his wife he would be attending Harvard Business School, but he actually took one class at Harvard's continuing education program, which he failed, according to Coakley.

So what's the first Google result for this guy? His blog. First post, from October 5th:
Welcome friends to my new blog, "The View from Here." What should you expect from this site? Well, just about anything. Most of what you will find here will come from my daily talk shows... but you're also going to get some extra insight into my daily life... sometimes it's exciting... sometimes it's downright boring. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as well. Enjoy the blog!
October 26th: Keown, really...a Murder Mystery Party:
It often takes a game like this to break down barriers with some co-workers or friends. You spend so much time playing a particular role at work or home that it's hard to break out of your shell. Then you get thrown into a mix where your boss is no longer your boss - he's now a crooked D.A. who you are trying to bribe. Something amazing happens when you're busy trying to act out a character - the real character inside you starts to come out in little bits. I learn some fun tidbits about each of my friends last night. Things that I might never learned if we weren't thrown together as flappers and speakeasy operators trying to figure out who capped Coppone.
Unfortunately his most recent post, dated this past Saturday, fails to mention his indictment last week on murder charges. But an anonymous commenter is here to pick up the slack:

Good Luck in Prison Blogger Man!!
WE knew you were guilty when we fired you from our company here in Kansas City last year. Your credentials and resume for the last 5 years was/is totally bogus. The Lee's Summit police were hot on your tail then and the boys in Beantown finally got their act together and nailed you sorry ass.

If you can lie, swindle and deceive you way out of this one, then I will have to give it to you. However, I believe that the capital offense of premeditated murder will get you a shot of something else, and none of the pretty girls or petty lies will save you sorry butt.

Watch for dropped soap and the slow drip from the IV bag.

Good Luck. It's nice to see people get what they deserve.

Sunday, November 06, 2005
Links Harvested from a Kos Thread

Zogby has been polling the West Wing's Santos/Vinick race. Before tonight's imaginary debate, it was 59/29 Santos, not suprisingly considering the show's fans; they'll re-poll after the debate.
The interactive survey included 4,492 respondents, all of whom identified themselves as viewers of the current season of The West Wing.
Wusses! Ask people who don't watch. Jimmy Smits or Alan Alda, straight up! I'd suggest asking it without the actors' names as a control group of people who know absolutely nothing, but I think they may actually do that anyway.
The survey showed that Santos is trusted more than Vinick to handle most current issues, including immigration, health care, Social Security, abortion, race relations, education, and the environment. Vinick is trusted more to handle international relations, tax cuts, and terrorism. Viewers think both candidates would handle the federal budget with equal aplomb.
I like the overlap between handling health care/SS, "handling" tax cuts, and handling the whole federal budget. You'd think the last would be related to the big economic items in the two candidates' lists of strengths, no?

Nerds attack NFL, utilize graph theory. Or maybe just make pretty graphs of who-beats-who. By the end of the season this will either be interesting or reveal the obvious.

Anyway, the "debate" live-blogging thread was here. I'll add that I'm amazed that the broadcast was allowed to go out with a fake "Live" and "NBC News" graphic (although it didn't look exactly like a real news broadcast would, I think). For a while, my father was in charge of exactly this kind of thing --that is, whether to allow the network news identify to be used in fiction, among other matter of journalistic ethics -- at ABC News, and believe me: no way. But that was about 15 years ago, at another network.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
How Can This Not be Called "Get Your Sox On"?

Let's imagine that you enjoy David Rees' Get Your War On. Let us further imagine that you are a Boston Red Sox fan. Now, how could you possibly combine these disparate interests?

The Soxaholic.
Today's Randoms

How low can Bush's approval rating get? Kung Fu Money argues 27%. Via The Slacktivist. [UPDATE: NTodd, using completely different logic, gets the exact same answer!]

Democrats in swing states, get ready to have your voting registration challenged for no reason. Via Digby.

Happy Guy Fawkes 400. Please to remember. This is when V for Vendetta was supposed to open.
Friday, November 04, 2005
A Couple of Links To Keep The Blog Warm

Republican Values Cheese Shop.

Possible Example of Rove Super-Dirty-Trickery.

And, from Roy at Alicublog, the answer to a question seriously asked at The Corner: "And why does the Left get to claim Rosa Parks?"

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