Dependable Erection

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday afternoon garden blogging

Grape hyacinth

Continue reading Friday afternoon garden blogging

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Duke LAX

The recent crimes alleged against the Duke University lacrosse team, are finally, after nearly two weeks, starting to register on the national news. ESPN, NY Times, CBS News, and NPR are among the national outlets covering the story.

Here in Durham it's possible to examine the case on its merits and meaning for our community, without the pressure of synechdoche to have this act stand for all class, gender, and race relations throughout the entire country.

And on its face, Duke's response to the community of which it occasionally considers itself a part has been disgraceful.

Let's start with the uncontested facts. First, fifteen members of the lacrosse team have previously been charged with misdemeanor violations, including underage drinking and public urination. According to the N & O "Most of those charges were resolved in deals with prosecutors that allowed the players to escape criminal convictions," most likely what is known in North Carolina as a prayer for judgement. Conditions for recieving PfJ usually involve staying out of trouble for at least a year, so it will be interesting to see if any of those previous violations resurface.

Second, the 610 N. Buchanan property is one of fifteen recently purchased by Duke University from real estate "mogul" Guy Solie. The purchase was initiated by Duke in response to ongoing complaints from neighbors in the Trinity Park and Trinity Heights neighborhoods about quality of life issues (loud parties, public urination, public drunkenness, trash on yards and in the streets) generated by the Duke University student tenants in all of the buildings. The University plans to resell the properties with covenants requiring the purchaser to reside in the house and not rent it out. (Let's be clear about this - Duke is the good guy in this transaction. Duke alum Solie, who is profiting handsomely from the sale, which averages about $300k per house, bears much of the responsibility for allowing these properties to rented and maintained under these conditions.) So the University has, and indeed had acted upon, the knowledge that it was in the University's best interests to get its students out of these houses.

Third, the lacrosse team acknowledges that its players and captains organized a party at which alcohol was served to minors and at which two women were hired to perform exotic dances.

After that we start moving into allegations and unproven (at this time) criminal activities.

But don't the acknowledged facts already justify much more severe action than the University has taken? At the very least, hasn't the lacrosse team already admitted to actions that should result in the shut down of the season and the forfeiture of all games played? Duke University has a long history of making the wrong choice when it comes to improving Duke-Durham relations.

Carl Kenney, writing in the Independent, spoke with a couple of students at NC Central University. This quote says it all:

If it was Central's basketball team and it was a white student from Duke, the school would be shut down, the team would be arrested, the school would be under investigation, CNN would have the story by now, and it would be in every newspaper in the country. The city would be in an uproar. It would ruin the reputation of the school.

Regardless of how long it takes DA Nifong to decide whether or not to bring charges, University President Richard Brodhead and Athletic Director Joe Alleva have enough information to make the right decision. Shut down the season, forfeit the schedule, suspend the captains, and fire the coach. If it turns out the allegations of rape and assault have merit, the entire team needs to be looking elsewhere for their educational opportunities. And the lacrosse program needs to take a couple of years off to reexamine its purpose.

(by the way, interesting discussion of this case at the Indy's blog. you wouldn't think in 2006 that there were still people out there proud of their racism.)

Continue reading Duke LAX

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

And the truth shall set them free

i'm really not sure what to make of this. The NY Times is reporting that the US government, under pressure from conservatives in Congress and elsewhere (Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-MI is mentioned several times) has placed 48,000 boxes of untranslated documents captured in Iraq up on the Web for would-be secret agents to translate and analyze.

On the one hand, it's kind of like those little cards i saw when i was young that had "How to keep a moron busy for hours. See other side," printed on both sides of the card. If this project distracts various freepers, red staters and Ben Stein from doing any serious damage for a week or two, then it's really no big deal. We all know these ten or fifteen year old documents can't prove anything, let alone retroactively justifying an occupation that has destroyed a nation while turning up exactly zero real world weapons of mass destruction.

On the other hand, the documents reported in the NY Times yesterday were written in English, which means that most members of the free republic should be able to read them with minimal assistance:

At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable. The two leaders discussed a timetable for the war, details of the military campaign and plans for the aftermath of the war.

Discussing Provocation

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

Mr. Sands first reported the proposals in his book, although he did not use any direct quotations from the memo. He is a professor of international law at University College of London and the founding member of the Matrix law office in London, where the prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, is a partner.

Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, "We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders."

At several points during the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, there was palpable tension over finding a legitimate legal trigger for going to war that would be acceptable to other nations, the memo said. The prime minister was quoted as saying it was essential for both countries to lobby for a second United Nations resolution against Iraq, because it would serve as "an insurance policy against the unexpected."

The memo said Mr. Blair told Mr. Bush, "If anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning the oil wells, killing children or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq, a second resolution would give us international cover, especially with the Arabs."

Running Out of Time

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

Continue reading And the truth shall set them free

Monday, March 27, 2006


"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.'

From today's New York Times:

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

President Bush's press conference, 3/21/06:

Q I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

Q Everything --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

Q -- everything I've heard --

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

Q They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --

Q I'm talking about Iraq --

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --

Q -- go to war --

THE PRESIDENT: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Continue reading Doublethink

Sunday, March 26, 2006

" . . . a dinosaur victrola . . ."

Buck Owens: 1929 - 2006

and all he had to do was act naturally.

Continue reading " . . . a dinosaur victrola . . ."

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 70 East, Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Friday, March 24, 2006

On turtles

If you ask me, Ben Domenech has given turtles a bad name, and that's a bad thing.

You can start to rehabilitate turtles by buying this amazing album, and by reflecting on the death today of the world's oldest living animal, which in the grand scheme of things is a lot more meaningful than the short literary career of a home-schooled plagiarist.

Continue reading On turtles

Friday afternoon garden blogging

Oregano, or Joy of the Mountain.

Continue reading Friday afternoon garden blogging

More popcorn?

No thanks, i'm stuffed. Plus my sides hurt from laughing.

Continue reading More popcorn?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Congratulations to Team Japan on their victory in the World Baseball Classic, and to everyone involved on putting together such a great tournament.

Mike Piazza had the best quote of the tournament. "This is something very, very special to me, being able to play for the country of our forefathers and foremothers."

Alfonso Soriano would do well to remember how special it is to be able to play the game at this level at all.

Continue reading 「私達はであるチャンピオン」

Five - Oh

Thank you, Juanita!

Continue reading Five - Oh

Heroes are hard to find

Especially when you kill them and lie about it.

Continue reading Heroes are hard to find

Sunday, March 19, 2006

So, i thought he was getting married this weekend?

Continue reading So, i thought he was getting married this weekend?

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Mt. Sinai Rd., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, March 18, 2006

World Baseball Classic Final Four

First, let's congratulate the four teams that have made it to the semifinals of the WBC: Cuba, Dominicana, Japan, and South Korea. Cuba and Dominicana are just now getting ready to start their semifinal game, Korean and Japan play later tonight.

ESPN have put their best team behind the mikes - Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Thank goodness Rick Sutcliffe has the day off. Maybe they've got a word count in place, 2000 words and you've got to take 5 days of rest.

The US did not advance past the 2nd round, which was a surprise especially considering that the tournament was set up pretty much to make sure the US made it into the semis. How did they do that? By structuring the brackets so that all of the Latin American teams had to play each other in the second elimination pool. You could make a case that a random draw, or a draw in which teams from each of the first round pools would have played against each other in the second round might have seen a final four that included Puerto Rico and Venezuela. But those two teams had to play against Dominicana and Cuba in the second round, and only two could advance.

The US, despite having a 10th man on the field in the form of umpire Bruce Davidson, was unable to come up with the big hit at the right time. A lot of people seem to think that the US did not execute the fundamentals, but in the 2-1 loss to Mexico there were equal fundamental flaws. Jeff Francouer got picked off 2nd base in a sacrifice situation, but Jorge Cantu for Mexico was inexplicably bunting with one on in the first and popped into a double play which killed a potential inning. It takes a whole different approach when pretty much every game is the 7th game of the World Series, and every run is critical.

Next time (in 2009, so there's no wait'll next year) there's a lot of opportunity to get it right. I'll post my thoughts later about how to learn from World Cup Soccer in making this a better tournament.

Bad news - Bruce Davidson's name just got called as the home plate umpire. Let's hope he stays out of the headlines. That missed homerun in the Mexico - US game should go down in history as one of the worst calls ever.

Continue reading World Baseball Classic Final Four

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday afternoon garden blogging

Japanese Maple

Continue reading Friday afternoon garden blogging


From today's NY Times:

For nearly two decades, Kurds have gathered peacefully in this mountainous corner of northern Iraq to commemorate one of the blackest days in their history. It was here that Saddam Hussein's government launched a poison gas attack that killed more than 5,000 people on March 16, 1988.

So it came as a shock when hundreds of stone-throwing protesters took to the streets here Thursday on the anniversary, beating back government guards to storm and destroy a museum dedicated to the memory of the Halabja attack.

The violence, pitting furious local residents against a much smaller force of armed security men, was the most serious popular challenge to the political parties that have ruled Iraqi Kurdistan for the past 15 years. Occurring on the day the new Iraqi Parliament met for the first time, the episode was a reminder that the issues facing Iraq go well beyond fighting Sunni Arab insurgents and agreeing on cabinet ministers in Baghdad.

. . .

By all appearances, the attack on the Halabja Monument was an authentic expression of popular rage. The crowd contained young and old, men and women. Most seemed to view the museum — which was inaugurated in September 2003 at a ceremony attended by Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state — as the prop of an unjust government.

"That monument over there has become the main problem for Halabja," said Bakhtiar Ahmad, nodding at the museum, with its distinctive yellow crown-shaped roof. "All the foreign guests are taken there, not to the city."

Nearby, Tara Rahim, a quiet 19-year-old dressed in a neat black cloak and head scarf, said she had come to honor her sister Zara, killed in the 1988 attack, and to stop the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan from taking advantage of the anniversary.

"Kurdish officials used Halabja to gather money," she said, standing with a group of eight other identically dressed young women. "Millions of dollars has been spent, but nothing has reached us."

Let's remember, the Kurds, specifically the PUK and the KDP, are our main allies in Iraq. The Peshmerga are pretty much completely armed by the US, and have had autonomy, enforced by the US and UK patrolled no-fly zone, since the end of the first Gulf War. How lovely to see this would be government described by its people as a "tyranny." No wonder they have our support.

Continue reading WTF?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mission Accomplisheder

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Thursday it had launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating near the town of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

The statement said "Operation Swarmer" was launched on Thursday morning and is "expected to continue for several days as a thorough search of the objective area is conducted."

Samarra was the site of a bombing attack last month on a Shi'ite shrine that set off sectarian reprisals and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

That'll help.

Continue reading Mission Accomplisheder

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Markham Ave., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Friday, March 10, 2006

"It's about the rights of the child."

Well, it's about the rights of the child, sometimes.

The Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities said Friday it would stop providing adoption services because of a state law allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children.

The social services arm of the Roman Catholic archdiocese, which has provided adoption services for the state for about two decades, said the law runs counter to church teachings on homosexuality.

"At all times we sought to place the welfare of children at the heart of our work."

In a 2003 document, the Vatican said gay adoption was "gravely immoral," and that children placed in such homes "would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood."

And since those gay parents wouldn't be allowed to be members of the Catholic church, that's a whole bunch of little boys that that would be denied the experience of being "mentored" by pedophile priests, right?

Continue reading "It's about the rights of the child."

Friday garden blogging


Continue reading Friday garden blogging

AP Poll: Bush's Approval Rating Falls to New Low

37% beeyatch!

here's the money quote, though:
By a 47-36 margin, people favor Democrats over Republicans when they are asked who should control Congress.

While the gap worries Republicans, it does not automatically translate into GOP defeats in November, when voters will face a choice between local candidates rather than considering Congress as a whole.

and that's because the Republicans are going to do a better job of running against George Bush than the Democrats. Just look at Joe Lieberman v Ned Lamont in the Connecticut primary.

Continue reading AP Poll: Bush's Approval Rating Falls to New Low

WBC - Mexico beats Canada, opens the door for the US

Mexico over Canada 9-1. Both teams finish 2-1. If the US beats South Africa today, that will mean a 3 way tie for first in the group, with the US and Mexico advancing on the runs allowed tiebreaker. So even though Jason Varitek's grand slam against Canada the other day didn't put the US ahead in the game, it will probably turn out to be the difference between advancing to the second round, and going home early.

Cuba and Puerto Rico meet today also, both teams having already clinched a place in round 2. WBC organizers allowed a fan to hold an anti-Castro sign behind home plate during yesterday's win over the Netherlands. Let's see what happens if any pro-Castro signs show up today.

Continue reading WBC - Mexico beats Canada, opens the door for the US

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More East End Connector

Secretary Tippett forwarded your recent email requesting funding
for the Durham East End Connector (TIP project U-71) to me and
asked that I respond. Planning and environmental studies for the
project are currently underway. Unless unexpected complications
arise we should finish this process in 2008, allowing for us to
initiate right of way acquisition activities in 2010 as is
currently scheduled in the Transportation Improvement Program.
Based on this schedule, the earliest possible date for start of
construction would be 2012. The actual start of construction;
however, is dependent on availability of funds.

All urban loop projects, such as the East End Connector, must
compete with nine other loops statewide for severly limited
funding. Recently, the Legislature has added more than
$2.5 billion in eligibility to the loop program, but provided no
additional revenue to address this increase in program cost.
These additions included a complete redefinition of the Durham
loop to include projects totaling $400 million by Durham's own
estimate. This is nearly three and a half times the estimated
cost for the original Durham loop that was rejected by the
community. Because of the limited budget and numerous additions
to the loop program, we currently project that the loop program
can be completed no earlier than 2030.

The budgets and schedules for all loop projects are currently
under review. I am sure that the Board of Transportation will
take the importance of this project to the Durham community into
account as they set funding priorities for the annual loop
program budget of roughly $150 million.

Thank you for your interest in our transportation program.

Calvin Leggett, P.E.
Manager, Program Development Branch

translation: you guys wouldn't let us build the Eno Drive project. now fuck off.

Continue reading More East End Connector

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Holy cow!

Canada up 8-0 over US in the 5th inning. don't forget there's a mercy rule. Up by 15 in the first 6 innings, up by 10 7th inning or later, and the game is over.

(Update - that 6 spot in the bottom of the 5th should take care of any mercy rule shenanigans.)

(2nd update - Canada over the US 8-6 final score. This sets up all kinds of tiebreaker possiblities if Mexico beats Canada and the US beats South Africa. Unbelievable.)

Continue reading Holy cow!

What were you saying?

Any number of bloggers, Atrios probably most prominent among them, are of the opinion that, between South Dakota's new prohibition on abortion, technological advances in establishing paternity, and social progress in writing child support legislation, a lot of men are likely to find themselves writing unexpected checks every month.

My initial take on this was that we'll see legislation protecting men from both having to submit samples for DNA testing and from paying child support if they can show somehow that they were misled into thinking pregnancy was not possible. I figured we'd see draft legislation on the table parallel with the lawsuits that will be challnging the South Dakota law, because that's just the way these things go.

But damn, i didn't expect this:

Contending that women have more options than they do in the event of an unintended pregnancy, men's rights activists are mounting a long shot legal campaign aimed at giving them the chance to opt out of financial responsibility for raising a child.

The National Center for Men has prepared a lawsuit — nicknamed
Roe v. Wade for Men — to be filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Michigan on behalf of a 25-year-old computer programmer ordered to pay child support for his ex-girlfriend's daughter. The suit addresses the issue of male reproductive rights, contending that lack of such rights violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

Now, granted, this is an AP article, and doesn't go into great detail about anything, but some of the quotes that accompany it are, um, intriguing. Especially this one:

The president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, acknowledged that disputes over unintended pregnancies can be complex and bitter.

"None of these are easy questions," said Gandy, a former prosecutor. "But most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child."

i have a feeling that, regardless of whatever context Ms. Gandy was in fact speaking in, we're going to hear that quote thrown at us a lot, minus the context.

Continue reading What were you saying?

WBC results

Fuck Barry Bonds.

Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones both homered yesterday to give US a 2-0 win over Mexico, in what should be the hardest first round game for either team.

In Kissimee, FL, Venezuala nearly came back from a 5 run deficit, but then Dominicana broke the game open with 5 more in the 9th to win 11-5. David Ortiz & Adria Beltre each had 2 homeruns. Both of these teams should make it into the second round, where they could conceivably meet again.

Venezuela has a chance to get back on track today against an Italian team that is mostly from New Jersey. Cuba opens against Panama, who dropped a close 2-1 game yesterday to Puerto Rico.

Oh, and if i haven't mentioned it already, fuck Barry Bonds.

Continue reading WBC results

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ali Farka Toure 1939 - 2006

Yikes. i feel like this is turning into obituary central.

Celebrate his life and music.

Continue reading Ali Farka Toure 1939 - 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kirby Puckett 1961 - 2006

Seems like just yesterday he was leading the Twins to two World Series titles and finally washing the taste of 1965 away with a bottle of champagne.


(Update - According to the Baseball hall of Fame, Puckett was actually born in 1960, not 1961 as is commonly listed.I don't know why that matters.)

Continue reading Kirby Puckett 1961 - 2006

Tell it like it is

A pat on the back and this month's Maxwell's Silver Hammer award for hitting the nail on the head goes to the New York Times headline writer who launched this beauty:

Wall St. Cheers Phone Deal; AT&T to Cut 10,000 More Jobs

Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no more.

Continue reading Tell it like it is


Wow, i think this is a new personal low. The only award winning movie i saw last year was Wallace and Gromit. And it's not like i stayed home every night either. Crash certainly sounds like the kind of movie i should have seen, just never got around to. I thought Woody Allen's Match Point deserved more love than it got also.

Tom Shales sucks up to the DC establishment in his review of the telecast. I guess he resented having to stay up past his bedtime to watch the whole thing.

And maybe, not having seen either Crash or Brokeback Mountain, i'm completely unqualifed to say this. But Kenneth Turan in the LA Times seems to be engaging in a bit of projection.

I don't care how much trouble "Crash" had getting financing or getting people on board, the reality of this film, the reason it won the best picture Oscar, is that it is, at its core, a standard Hollywood movie, as manipulative and unrealistic as the day is long. And something more.

For "Crash's" biggest asset is its ability to give people a carload of those standard Hollywood satisfactions but make them think they are seeing something groundbreaking and daring. It is, in some ways, a feel-good film about racism, a film you could see and feel like a better person, a film that could make you believe that you had done your moral duty and examined your soul when in fact you were just getting your buttons pushed and your preconceptions reconfirmed.

So for people who were discomfited by "Brokeback Mountain" but wanted to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel like they were good, productive liberals, "Crash" provided the perfect safe harbor. They could vote for it in good conscience, vote for it and feel they had made a progressive move, vote for it and not feel that there was any stain on their liberal credentials for shunning what "Brokeback" had to offer. And that's exactly what they did.

Everyone i know who's seen Brokeback has said exactly the same thing - just substitute homosexuality for racism. It's a standard Hollywood love triangle, except that two of the points are facing in the same direction. Maybe people really thought Crash was the better picture. Maybe it wasn't about teh gay and liberal guilt.

Continue reading Oscars

Sunday, March 05, 2006

WBC opening weekend

The Asian group went pretty much according to form, with only the South Korean (3-0) victory over Japan (2-1) in the final game a bit of an upset. Both teams had already clinched a place in the second round with victories over common opponents China and Chinese Taipei. 40,000 plus turned out for the final match, much improved over the opening game attendance of about 5,000.

Pool B (US, Canada, Mexico, South Africa) gets underway Tuesday in the Phoenix suburbs; Canada and Mexico should end up battling for the second qualifying spot out of that pool. Pool C (Puerto Rico hosts Cuba, Panama, and the Netherlands) is probably the toughest group to call, since the Cubans are such a wild card. Dominicana and Venezuela should have little trouble advancing out of Pool D against the Australians and Italians.

Second round action features the top two teams from Pool A & B at Angels Stadium of Los Angeles at Anaheim, which is somewhere in southern California that might be Anaheim, if anyone could find it on a map or in a courtroom, but is definitely not in Los Angeles, despite LA being, oh, 40,000 square miles of sprawl stretching from the ocean to the Mississippi River.

Pool C & D winners and runners-up will meet in Puerto Rico's Hiram Bithorn stadium for their second round games. Conceivably, Venezuela, Puerto rico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba will be the four teams playing in that round, and that figures to be the best and most entertaining baseball of the entire event.

Televison schedule is here. ESPN2 will have a fair number of the second round games. Hopefully, they won't be blacking out the Cubans.

Continue reading WBC opening weekend

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Erwin Rd., Orange County, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bonus garden blogging

Continue reading Bonus garden blogging

East End Connector

I haven't blogged much about Durham, local politics, or specific North Carolina issues. Maybe it's time to start.

The backstory:

In 1959, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) first proposed the Durham Freeway (NC 147) and the East End Connector. The EEC would run from US 70 east of Durham to NC 147 right where it makes its south turn to hook up with I-40, which runs between Chapel Hill and Raleigh. When NC 147 was constructed in the mid-to-late 60s, the Briggs Ave. interchange was designed to handle the EEC. We'll leave aside for the moment discussion of the wisdom of the Durham Freeway, which did irreparable damage to thriving communities. That's a done deal right now, and the best we can do is figure out how to thrive despite its construction.

Fifty seven years later, the EEC is still on the drawing boards, Durham's population, along with the rest of the Triangle, has more than tripled, and thousands of vehicles per day are making the trip between I-85 and NC 147, to I-40, along Durham's surface streets, through some of its most densely populated neighborhoods.

One of them is the neighborhood i live in: Duke Park. It's a great place to live. One of the great things about it is the new playground that our Parks and Rec department installed last year. (We'll leave aside discussion of how long it took to build, and how little it resembles what DPR originally talked about following the passage of the bond issue to fund it in 1996.) On a given Saturday afternoon when the weather is mild, scores if not hundreds of kids, from all over the city, are in the park playing on the new toys. We love to see this.

What we don't like is that a lot of the kids in our own neighborhood can't use the playground, because traffic is so heavy they can't get across the street safely. When NCDOT proposed widening Roxboro St. from 2 lanes to 5 as part of the I-85 project, we asked for a traffic count along Roxboro St., which runs along the east end of the park. We never got one. "The computer broke," was the excuse we got from Jon Nance, NCDOT District 5 engineer. So, i did a manual traffic count during morning and evening rush hours, back in 2001. I counted right around 1600 vehicles per peak hour, in one direction (southbound in the morning, and northbound in the afternoon), which we translated to about 12000 vehicles per day in each direction. During a meeting with NC Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett, Mr. Nance accepted our numbers as being reasonably accurate.

Our neighborhood is not the only neighborhood so affected by traffic: Duke and Gregson Streets in the Trinity Park neighborhood carry equal amounts of traffic.

What we'd really like to know is how many of these cars are simply looking for the fastest and best way to get on or off the Durham Freeway from i-85 and points north.

Our guess is that it's 50% or better, but we really don't know. We have an idea of how many people work in downtown Durham, and how many people live in downtown Durham, but we really have never gotten an answer about how much of our surface street traffic is headed to downtown, and how much is headed for the freeway.

This is a problem because our streets are too busy and too dangerous to let our kids cross them to use our neighborhood park, among other reasons.

Now, here's the rub. All of Durham's elected officals (City Council, Mayor, and County Commission) support the East End Connector. It gives vehicles headed to NC 147 from points north a faster, safer, more convenient alternative than the surface streets through our inner city neighborhoods and downtown. The Durham MPO has made it our highest transportation priority. NCDOT agreed to fund its construction back in 2003, but, when the 2005 funding plan was released, the EEC mysteriously disappeared.

Now, it's time for NCDOT to release the next plan for funding transportation priorities for the next 6 years. Which means it's time to lobby once again for the East End Connector. I'm getting tired of doing this, but there it is.

Governor Easley, Secretary Tippett, if you're listening, here's the deal. Build the damn road already, OK? Fifty seven years is long enough. My kids have already grown up, and the last one will be off to college soon. I'd like to able to walk my grandchildren across the street to my neighborhood park.

Want to read more about the EEC? is the place.

Want to write to the governor or the secretary? and


Continue reading East End Connector

Friday afternoon garden blogging


Continue reading Friday afternoon garden blogging

Japan over China 18 - 2 via mercy rule

I'm not a fan of the mercy rule. Routs are part of the game of baseball, even at this level. Deal with it. And just because one team is up by 15 runs, what's to stop the other team from coming back. It's not like it never happened before.

Continue reading Japan over China 18 - 2 via mercy rule

South Korea 2, Taiwan 0

Interesting that AP refers to Taiwan, while the WBC itself calls the participating team Chinese Taipei.

this AFP article hints at a perspective that Major League Baseball and shortsighted team owners like George Steinbrenner would do well to heed.

The World Baseball Classic got off to a low-key debut, with limited crowds turning out for the Asian round of the 16-nation extravaganza hoped to reinvigorate a sport under threat from soccer.

Only a few thousand spectators took seats in the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome as South Korea beat Taiwan 2-0 to launch the 18-day affair that will carry on to the United States and Puerto Rico.

But more fans turned out to make the downtown stadium half full in the evening as regional powerhouse Japan took on underdogs China on the first day of the three-day WBC Pool-A round robin.

The top two from each pool will advance to the second round with the United States heavily favored ahead of other powerhouses such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Japan.

The event -- launched with a ceremonial first pitch by legendary Japanese slugger Sachio Kinugasa -- was organized by US Major League Baseball which is seeking to emulate soccer's World Cup.

Soccer's main event won legions of Asian fans four years ago when it was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.

"Soccer is more popular because of the World Cup finals in 2002," said Lee Min-U, 27, a South Korean student who was part of a 120-strong cheering squad.

"But this will be a turning point. If South Korea goes to the final many people in South Korea will become baseball fans," he said.

The quadrennial Classic may also signal some form of global future for America's national pastime after it was axed from the 2012 Olympics for reasons including a lack of international appeal.

Continue reading South Korea 2, Taiwan 0

Thursday, March 02, 2006

World Baseball Classic first pitch

So it's just about time for the first pitch of the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

Korea takes on Chinese Taipei in the very first game. Gotta assume that calling it "Chinese Taipei" is a concession to the Chinese government which the US government, which tried hard enough to keep the Cubans from playing, has been strangely silent about.

The official website is exceedingly slow, and out of date as well. Here's the "updated" roster for the Dominican team, for example. Still shows the provisional 60 man roster. But 30 man rosters were due today. (Other teams, like the US, have their final rosters posted.) Fully 1/3 of the front page screen is devoted to selling shit. Try to find info about where and when any of the games will be televised. (For ten bucks you can subscribe to the internet feed and wathc the first two round games, then listen to the semis and the finals.) To their credit, ESPN is carrying all of the games on their Spanish language station, ESPN Deportes, and good for you if you get it on your system. I don't. And good luck trying to find out when, or if, ESPN is carrying any of the games on their English language stations.

I guess that selling the WBC to Americans is just not part of the marketing plan. We already know about baseball. We're not a growth market like China, South Africa, the Netherlands, or Italy.

I watched the international friendly between England and Uruguay last night on Fox Soccer Channel. A tune-up match to help Sven pick his side for the upcoming World Cup, meaningless in almost every sense of the word. But Peter Crouch scored his first international goal at his home club stadium in Liverpool, in front of sellout crowd, and it was the big news in the English sports pages this morning. Can baseball do anywhere near this kind of job marketing the WBC, not only to countries where the fan base is so small that any increase can legitimately be called double digit growth, but here in the US as well? We know it'll be big in Puerto Rico & Dominicana, both of which have excellent chances to make it to the semifinals. Cuba will probably shut down to watch if their team should advance out of pool play.

In the US, will we even know what channel the games are on?

I hope so.

Play ball.

Continue reading World Baseball Classic first pitch

Rethinking race

Via Snopes, of all places, and various news sources:

A mixed-race British mom gave birth to twins recently — one of each. No, not a boy and a girl. Two girls — one black, the other white. The odds of such a birth are about a million to one, experts said.

"It was a shock when I realized that my twins were two different colors," Kylie Hodgson, 19, told London's Daily Mail. "But it doesn't matter to us — they are just our two gorgeous little girls."

image copyright Gary Roberts

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Continue reading Rethinking race

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Perfect songs

i've got a lot of stuff on iTunes. Most of it is pretty much wallpaper, especially if i'm listening while i'm at work.

Some of it is just about perfect, though.

Perfect songs that came up on shuffle play this week:

Cowboy Junkies - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (from Trinity Sessions)
Ray Charles - Careless Love (from Complete Country and Western Recordings)
Mr. Skin - Spirit (from Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus)

Continue reading Perfect songs