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politics & government

Romney v. Newt: How the GOP and the conservative media killed the TEA Party

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The TEA Party is dead.  The corpse of hope has rigor mortis, and is beginning to produce a funky odor.  I write this as a funeral dirge for the light of the right, a remembrance of what was, and a lament for what should have been.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but the fact remains that the TEA Party is done, and its influence has faded like the last flickers from a guttering candle.

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health & medicalmovies

The city of Los Angeles cares more about pornographic film performers than the rest of us, apparently

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Kudos to the city council and mayor of Los Angeles, California for exhibiting rare leadership by mandating that pornographic film actors wear condoms when they make their films within the LA city limits.

With just a few strokes of his pen, the mayor has saved literally dozens of lives, probably. Actually, it’s probably millions of lives, because now not only will the performers in pornographic films be completely protected from uncovered penises, but the people who watch pornographic films will be reminded of how great condoms are, and they will emulate their pornographic film performer heroes and put them on when they engage in their own coitus. [Read more →]

ends & oddtravel & foreign lands

Learn Japanese the World War II way!

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Recently I was browsing in a used book store when I stumbled upon a soldier’s Japanese phrasebook from World War II. Between faded orange covers I found a treasure trove of fascinating words and phrases- certainly it’s the most useful text published by the U.S. War Department I’ve encountered since that pamphlet on sexual hygiene for GIs I found in a Texas ghost town a few years back. It does lack for detailed diagrams of human genitalia, however.

Like most phrasebooks it contains all the standard terminology related to greetings, asking for directions and finding lodgings, but the structure and at least half of the language is strictly determined by the context of war. Thus it begins not with “Hello” and “My name is…” but rather a set of “Emergency Expressions” the very first of which is: [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The Peyton Manning drama in Indianapolis is just beginning

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A very challenging situation is developing in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning, arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, may be seeing his time in that Midwestern city coming to an end. It could, in fact, be his NFL career that is ending. The only part that is certain is that Colts fans are experiencing plenty of agita right now, and it is likely to last a little while. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

Top ten answers to the question “How cold is it?”

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10. It’s so cold, you have trouble jump-starting your penguin

9. It’s so cold, you’re shivering like Rick Santorum at a Gay Pride parade

8. It’s so cold, when Wall Street investors jumping off buildings hit the sidewalk, they shatter into a million tiny pieces

7. It’s so cold, Osama bin Laden actually saw a snowball where he is

6. It’s so cold, Michele Bachmann’s husband is staying in the closet – for the coats

5. It’s so cold, nobody’s calling the fire department when their house catches on fire

4. It’s so cold, when police tell a robber to freeze, it’s redundant

3. It’s so cold, five rednecks have frozen off their truck nuts

2. It’s so cold, Anthony Weiner is Tweeting pictures of his mukluks

1. It’s so cold, you’re teeth won’t stop chattering – and they’re still in the glass

 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

animalspolitics & government

The Keynesian mating call

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educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

A good place to start?: Demystifying Wikipedia for students

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Wikipedia, for most, resides on the Web like a neighbor we see and interact with often, so we may be surprised to learn that this seemingly friendly presence has caused all kinds of trouble with schools. Some teachers and even a few institutions have considered banning their students’ from having a relationship with Wikipedia at all. [Read more →]

Michael Cade's audio files

Audio files: The worst thing about music is the people who play it

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I’m back with a rare Thursday night edition of  the once weekly and now sporadic “Audio Files” column.  And look out, because I’m armed with the contents of my Google Reader, namely…

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books & writing

Lisa reads Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright

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To be honest, when I started Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright, I wasn’t sure that I was going to love it. The book came to me through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program, and when I got the notice I was getting it, I couldn’t remember requesting it. It was a little slow going at first, but the story really draws you in. These aren’t always very likable people, but you find yourself interested in them and wondering how things will turn out for them. Eventually, I found I did not want to put it down.

Sir Harry Trevelyan-Tubal has been the head of Tubal & Co., a small privately-owned bank in England, for decades. The bank is in trouble. His son, Julian, was suckered in, like so many financiers, and now the bank is sunk deep in worthless mortgages and complex financial instruments that he barely understands. His father always said he wanted to run a bank, not a casino, but his son gambled and lost. Now Julian will need some fancy footwork — and shady dealing — to keep the bank solvent. [Read more →]

family & parentingpolitics & government

The plague of dads

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Mitt Romney has suffered serial pantsing through the primaries, some of it self-inflicted. Count the Iowa caucuses as an own-goal. If he hadn’t made his puny “win” by eight votes (against Rick Santorum for cripes!) into some sort of historical landslide then his puny loss by thirty-odd votes and the quick-change dealing involved would not have landed with such a thump. The lash bit especially deep as he also played his genuine and unsurprising win in New Hampshire as the second in a streak! And don’t you know that NOBODY has ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire and NOT won the Republican primaries! This factoid suffers explosive decompression when it is likewise understood that none of those gents ever won the general. But Triumphalism is largely the coin of the primary realm. With momentum any uptrend is rideable all the way to the White House, so Mitt was certainly counseled, that is IF he had to be convinced to take his victory lap and did not, as seemed to happen, leave all salaried employees in the dust. We can forgive Willard his enthusiasm perhaps as he was doing it for Dear Old Dad. [Read more →]

music

He said, she said — songs with two points of view

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I have a tendency to find songs that I get addicted to–listening to on repeat incessantly, walking around with its lyrics in my head all day. One of the most recent examples of this has been Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” (linked below for your convenience.)

As this song keeps finding its way back on my playlist, I started to wonder what it was that made me love the song, and even the video, so much. [Read more →]

diatribespolitics & government

Newt Gingrich: The joke that South Carolina didn’t get

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I never wanted to write an attack piece. As a satirist with a few TV appearance under my belt, I’ve always avoided the type of person-as-the-joke pseudo-commentary you can hear from smirking amateur comics in LA who say things like, “Hey guys, GLENN BECK! Haha!”

Legitimate commentary deconstructs politicians in order to make a point, rather than relying on shared prejudices to get a snicker. But despite my best attempts, the only real point I can think of to make about Newt Gingrich is that he actually is a joke, and he’s one that a shocking number of Americans don’t get.

This is my attempt to explain it to them. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Joe Paterno dies at 85

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I am going to preface this column by saying that I understand that there are people out there for whom the recently revealed events at Penn State involving Jerry Sandusky, children from The Second Mile, and the leadership of the university and the football program completely invalidate the incredible career and contribution to the school of Joe Paterno. I am not one of those people. I am not here to debate this point or to belittle the opinion of others. Rather, I would like to simply express my feelings about the passing of Joseph Vincent Paterno on Sunday. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmovies

Top ten signs your film won’t be nominated for an Academy Award

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10. It’s Larry the Cable Guy’s first dramatic turn

9. Your movie was the basis for the television show “Working It”

8. It stars either Smurfs, gnomes, or chipmunks

7. The opening and the closing credits meet in the middle

6. The jury at Cannes recommended the death penalty

5. It’s called Incredibly Quiet and Extremely Far Away

4. During its in-flight run, people kept walking out

3. Like The Artist, it’s a silent film, but only due to a technical error

2. Instead of Meryl Streep, it stars Merle Haggard

1. In his review, Roger Ebert said he wished he had more than two thumbs to put down
 
Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

black helicopter watch

Miscellaneous Miscellany

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Etta James

Music. The incredible Crispin Sartwell and I had a brief discussion of Etta James over at his blog “Why the Selection of Newt Gingrich for Pope is part of my master plan to save the universe?” Crispin’s Blog is highly recommended if you’re looking for a IFC sort of always on, sort of off philosopher with a rock and roll bent. (Except for the damn card tricks, which can rapidly devolve to the level of cat pictures.)  Basically, we agree that Etta James was incredible as a performer although, as with many blues and rock and country and grunting Tibetan throat singers her earlier, simpler stuff was better. Some of her producers were like second rate Chet Atkins adding strings and horns to something that just needed more bass, stronger rhythm and more reverb! There are exceptions to this general rule – musicians mature and get better and more interesting and versatile. Marianne Faithful falls into this category, I think as do The Allman Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris and Steve Earle. But as her range decreased and her weight ballooned and plummeted– cocaine, heroin, abuse, and gastric by-pass add up to a helluva drug combination – she remained a great performer but a different one.

Etta James is definitely in the Edith Piaf-Billie Holliday-Tammy Wynette tradition of female singers on the edge –victimized and exploited but never a victim.  I refuse to see her death as tragic. Pretty sure she ran out of steam – pneumonia, diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure, kidney failure and dialysis –and is no longer in pain. The behavior of her family in fighting over who was going to control her estate testifies to something about human nature…as a general rule, people suck. [Read more →]

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

You can do it, South Carolina — strike a blow for the political class

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The New York Times opinion page is chock full of benignant thinkers. It’s a roster of such great intellectual depth that, to be honest, I always feel like I’m missing something every time I read them. The lineup is so impressive that it’s difficult to decide exactly which one of them is the most special, but David Brooks recently made a strong case for himself when he made the following important observation about politics and the government:

Sunshinism is a destructive ideology. Forcing people to financially undress in public is just one of those incursions that repels decent people from running for office.

It also destroys people’s faith in government. Have you noticed that as democracy has become more open, cynicism has skyrocketed and the effectiveness of government has gone down the toilet? Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has the best observation on this — that parts of government should be hidden for the same reason middle-aged people should wear clothes.

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politics & government

Newt plays the victim

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art & entertainmentterror & war

First-class warfare

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Gore Vidal is not the chronicler but the fictionalizer of American history. The twin capitals of the nation warranted titles of their own, in his estimation. The one was Washington DC. The other was Hollywood. I ascribe not even the tarnished Golden State as the residence of Hollywood. Instead this bucolic appellation that once meant a modest agricultural hamlet now describes an ethereal thoughtscape that hovers above and beyond terrestrial boundaries. Hollywood rests on a state of mind, not a mere State of the Union as the existence of Bollywood and other imitators attests. It is a factory town and it’s one produce is Dreams. Tony Montana was well advised. “Don’t get high on your own supply.” Mark Wahlberg should have listened. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Black Thunder by Aimee and David Thurlo

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Anyone who reads here regularly will know that I love mysteries. One of the keys to a good mystery series is that it should be accessible — if I haven’t read anything of yours before, I should be able to walk into the series, no matter which book I choose. So when I learned that Black Thunder was the 13th Ella Clah novel, I was a little cautious. The great thing about the book is that without ever reading any of the previous books,  I was able to enjoy Ella’s adventures and not feel at all lost.

Black Thunder takes place on the Navajo reservation (“the Rez”) in New Mexico. One of the most interesting things about the book is the setting and the restrictions it places on Clah’s police work. How can you discuss the suspects in a case when the Navajos avoid using a person’s name? How do you interrogate someone when you have to wait in your car to be invited to their door? It’s a very different way of dealing with people and it was fascinating to see the way that Clah and the other detectives adapted their methods. [Read more →]

on the lawsports

Joe Paterno probably deserves to be punished (but doesn’t deserve it yet)

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Society forgives a lot. Don King killed two people — yes, he really did kill one person, then decide this wasn’t enough so he later killed another — before he pulled his life together and entered that most honorable of professions: boxing promotion. (And in fairness, in the first case he was trying to protect one of his illegal gambling houses and in the second the guy owed him money.) Likewise, Mike Tyson served time for rape, but now most people tend to ignore that in favor of the nobler moments from his life, like when he sang along to “In the Air Tonight” in The Hangover or beat the hell out of Don King. Perhaps the only crime you can’t redeem yourself from over time is child abuse. And this may be why there doesn’t seem to be a measured response to it: it is an offense that seems either to get ignored completely or for which everyone connected in any way must be destroyed immediately, disregarding the possibility that they might actually be innocent. [Read more →]

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