Monday, April 30, 2007

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

What David Byrne Said
Save Net Radio! One of my favorite things about the beginning of the month (give or take a day or 3) is seeing/hearing the new playlist at David Byrne Radio. Because he can, he ponies up about $2,000 a month to pay the royalties that keep the streaming station going. But thanks to a decision from a 3-judge panel, that cost is about to go up.
While traditional terrestrial radio does pay songwriter/publishing royalties for the musical work itself, in the U.S. they don’t pay performance royalties for the sound recording under the rationale that airplay promotes the songs, which benefits the copyright holders. (This determination was mostly due to the radio industry lobbying congress not to collect these royalties.) Web radio, however, along with satellite and cable services, does pay performance royalties — these are the rates that are being raised now. (If this discrepancy sounds illogical, it’s because it is.)
With the proposed changes the royalties can no longer be based on a percentage of revenue, but on a fee for each listening hour — how many folks are listening and for how long — and there will be a minimum fee per radio “channel”. Also, above a certain aggregate listening hour amount, non-profits have to pay the same per-listening hour rates as commercial broadcasters. . . . The threshold for non-profits is proposed to be 159,140 listening hours per month. Where did this bizarre number come from?
New Releases Coming from Old Favorites
Rufus Wainright - Release the Stars (May 15)
They Might Be Giants - Else (July 10)
Black Francis (formerly known as Frank Black, formerly known as Black Francis) - Bluefinger (September)

Unexpected Collaboration
Philip Glass is writing the score for the newest movie by Woody Allen - Cassandra's Dream - due out this fall.

I have to agree with Tim Goodman at the SF Chronicle, whose Sopranos commentary I always anticipate: last night's episode was not the best, although I loved the very end, confusing as it may have been.

"The Overlooked Genius of Twin Peaks' Second Season"
Yes, there was a second season. Slate's Jessica Winter has this piece on the occasion of its awaited release on DVD.

Summer Recommendations?
Of course, I have a million books I haven't read yet - but that's not going to stop me from getting something new to read once school's out in a week or so. What do you suggest?

Box Office Woes
Apparently nobody is going to the movies. You too? I'm not convinced Spiderman can be the single-handed movie savior they seem to expect, but I suppose we'll see. The few people that did see something over the weekend chose these:
1. Disturbia
2. The Invisible
3. Next
4. Fracture
5. Blades of Glory

Lots more Media related stuff to post about today so check back in and as always let us all know what you've been into.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

This is More Like It
How are the American people expected to get worked up over the trivial transgressions of the Bush Administration so far? You know the small mistakes I'm talking about - not heeding the warnings about September 11; diverting resources from the chase for Bin Laden to go after Saddam Hussein; misleading the public about Saddam's weapons, his threat level, his responsibility for the 2001 attacks; Letting Afghanistan get out of control, the Taliban back in business; maintaining Iraq War troop levels and strategies long after they've been proven ineffective; editing science reports they don't like; ignoring disaster warnings surrounding hurricane Katrina; responding sluggishly to the cries for help from New Orleans; putting inexperienced incompetent political hacks in important government positions; outing an undercover CIA operative because they were pissed at her husband; using the Department of Justice to do the dirty work of the national Republican Party; and then there's a wee bit of corruption as congressmen cavorting with bribe-artist Jack Abramoff are popping up left and right.

See? What's there to really be upset about?

Until now. Finally, a true American scandal.
On Friday, Randall L. Tobias resigned as deputy secretary of state one day after confirming to Brian Ross of ABC that he had patronized the Pamela Martin firm. Speaking yesterday on "Good Morning America," Ross said Tobias told him Tobias's number was on Palfrey's phone records because he had called "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." There had been "no sex," Ross quoted Tobias as saying, and that recently he has used another service, "with Central American gals," for massages.
ABC is expected to air a report on Palfrey and her clients on "20/20" on May 4, during sweeps.

More revelations are in the offing. Ross said the list includes the names of some "very prominent people," as well as a number of women with "important and serious jobs" who had worked as escorts for the firm.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Debate Word Analysis
Via Kos, this is an interesting word analysis of last night's debate. It shows me a couple things: Clinton is on message, Edwards emphasizes very basic civic-minded words, and Obama does not tend to emphasize words that are evocative, emotional, even memorable, and is also the most self-reflective - the only candidate for whom "campaign" was one of the 50 most-often words used. Richardson and Biden were the only ones who did not manage to say "war" enough to get in the top 50.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"One Signature Away" plus Debate Thread
Barack Obama's got the statement of the day. Now that both houses of Congress have passed timeline military spending authorizations, he says:
"We are one signature away from ending the Iraq War." The American people are ready for a timeline, the Congress is ready. Just one person stands in the way.

I don't know if I can bring myself to watch a presidential debate already. But the first one is on MSNBC tonight. Use this as a thread to clap or complain, depending.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New NBC/WSJ Poll
56 percent say they agree more with the Democrats in Congress who want to set a deadline for troop withdrawal, versus the 37 percent who say they agree with Bush that there shouldn't be a deadline.
Nice to see the House held it together. Late in the day, 228-218, Democrats passed the bill calling for troop withdrawal to begin in October.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Food Bill
Michael Pollan wrote 2 of my favorite recent books - The Botany of Desire and Omnivore's Dilemma. In the weekend NYTimes, he has a great story about the upcoming "Farm Bill," up for renewal this year, which he says should be called the "Food Bill" instead. No impending legislation, he argues, is more important for our national health. If you eat, go to the grocery, and/or care about your health, this is is a must-read.
Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?

For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root. . . .

That’s because the current farm bill helps commodity farmers by cutting them a check based on how many bushels they can grow, rather than, say, by supporting prices and limiting production, as farm bills once did. The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce. A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What have you been listening to, watching, reading?

For what it's worth, it's turn-the-tv-off week. Yeah, sounds lame to me too. Also, there's a nice piece at Slate defending the South Korean film Oldboy (I reviewed it a while back) from those who are blaming the Va. Tech shootings on it. Apparently, the kid wasn't just a deranged gun-wielding lunatic; he also was bad at film interpretation (the horror!!) --Don

Happy Birthday: Michael Moore. His new film, Sicko, has been selected for Cannes!

Move it to the top of your Netflix queue:

Finally released on DVD last week, Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us (1974), a story about trio of criminals (Keith Carradine, Bert Remsen and John Schuck) go on a bank-robbing spree through the Depression-era Deep South, terrorizing the population and managing to stay just one step ahead of the law Also stars Shelley Duvall, Tom Skerritt and Louise Fletcher. Often overlooked, some consider it one of Altman’s best films.

Sopranos Update: (Waring – could contain spoilers).

Only 6 episodes left: What are your predictions on how (or if) it will all end?

Every episode is a gift. This week’s episode Remember When is no exception. We find out how Tony made his bones. We find out that Tony knew about Paulie’s betrayal of the NJ crew to Johnny Sack (did the scenes on the boat make you seasick?). Best comedic moment – Uncle Junior dictating a letter to Vice Prez Cheney: “we’re both powerful men all too familiar with accidental gunplay.”

Is there anyone NOT watching the Sopranos? Arguably one of the best TV shows ever, Sopranos has kicked off the end of the series with great style. Sure, with six seasons behind us, new viewers may not be able to keep up with the show’s plot as it twists and turns in these last few episodes. For those wanting a quick (seven minutes) rundown, go here. Some college guys posted this clipped-up video summary of the entire series on Youtube. You’ll laugh (warning, contains some objectionable language, be sure to close your office door first!).

Am I the only one? In these last few episodes, I wonder....have we been seeing David Chase’s homage to the great gangster films? Seriously, the scene on the boat dock with Tony and Janice in the Home Movies episode (“what do you mean I’ve changed…changed how?”) make you think of the scene in Goodfellas with Joe Pesci (“what do you mean I’m funny…funny how?”). What about last night….the scene with Tony going out to check on his tomatoes? Right out of The Godfather.

Top 5 Movies:
1. Disturbia
2. Fracture
3. Blades of Glory
4. Vacancy
5. Meet the Robinsons

Top 5 Albums:
1. Now 24, Various Artists
2. Let It Go, Tim McGraw
3. Konvicted, Akon
4. Cassadaga, Bright Eyes
5. Timbaland Presents Shock Value, Timbaland

With the Lights Out: April marks the anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain, singers, songwriter, guitarist of the rock bank Nirvana (he was found April 8, 1994). He would have been 40 years old this year. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt the same about music since he died (although I still feel stupid and contagious). There were punk and alternative bands before Nirvana, but the 1991 release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind changed the face of rock music forever (bonus - it knocked off Michael Jackson’s Dangerous as best selling album in 1992), and Cobain’s influence is still felt today. For better or worse, Cobain brought alternative music to the mainstream and popularized “grunge” rock. Nevermind is easily one of the best rock albums of all time. If you haven't listened in a while, go back and do so. You won't be dissapointed.

Kurt - If the Top 5 list above is any indication, we could have really used you in 2007!

Sign the apocalypse is near: Spiderman might be coming to Broadway. Marvel Studios has begun casting for the tentatively titled Spider-Man: The Broadway Musical. Tony winner Julie Taymor (The Lion King) directs, with U2's Bono and the Edge handling the music and lyrics.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Newt explains who's responsible for mass killings like the ones that occurred at Virginia Tech, and Columbine: liberals. I'm not sure I can even follow his tortured logic, but it's something to do with the dehumanization of video games and Hollywood movies, which are apparently not the fault of the free market system conservatives love but because of something liberals do.

No word on whether liberals are also responsible for the kind of cruelty that would lead a man like Gingrich to deliver divorce papers to his cancer-stricken wife while she's in her hospital bed. Must be the fault of that best-selling Nintendo game "The Asshole", where you get points for having affairs with office assistants, leaving your wife, being a hypocrite, etc.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Times rips the AG a new one:
Mr. Gonzales came across as a dull-witted apparatchik incapable of running one of the most important departments in the executive branch.

He had no trouble remembering complaints from his bosses and Republican lawmakers about federal prosecutors who were not playing ball with the Republican Party’s efforts to drum up election fraud charges against Democratic politicians and Democratic voters. But he had no idea whether any of the 93 United States attorneys working for him — let alone the ones he fired — were doing a good job prosecuting real crimes.

He delegated responsibility for purging their ranks to an inexperienced and incompetent assistant who, if that’s possible, was even more of a plodding apparatchik.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ethanol: Not the Answer
"Ethanol is being promoted as a clean and renewable fuel that will reduce global warming and air pollution," said Mark Z. Jacobson, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and author of the study in the online edition of Environmental Science and Technology. "But our results show that a high blend of ethanol poses an equal or greater risk to public health than gasoline, which already causes significant health damage."

Ozone is a key ingredient in smog, and when inhaled even at low levels it can harm lungs, aggravate asthma and impair immune systems.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Death and Killing
A couple of things caught my eye this morning. One is that the Dallas Morning News has reversed its position on the death penalty. That seems significant, in the state that executes more than any other. Also, back to the VA Tech killins, the Washington Post has a piece on the "psychology of mass murder:"
They're not looking for highs -- they're depressed, angry and humiliated. They tend to be rejected in some romantic relationship, or are sexually incompetent, are paranoid, and their resentment builds. They develop shooting fantasies for months or years, stockpiling dreams and ammunition. The event that finally sets them off, Welner says, is usually anticlimactic -- an argument, a small personal loss that magnifies a sense of catastrophic failure.

"But they don't 'snap,' as you so often hear people say," Welner says. "It's more like a hinge swings open, and all this anger comes out."

They plan everything about the killings, he says, except how to get away.

"It's about suicide," Welner says. "It's about tying one's masculinity to destruction."

It's also rare for them to be truly psychotic, he says. Psychotics hear voices and people from outer space and talking dogs. These are shooters like Russell Weston Jr., who ran into the Capitol building and killed two police officers. He believed he was being told to do so by alien radio transmissions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No Warning Signs Here
From the AP
Citing unidentified sources, the Chicago Tribune reported Cho had recently set a fire in a dorm room and had stalked some women.
Some said that on the first day of a British literature class last year, the 30 or so students went around and introduced themselves. When it was Cho's turn, he didn't speak.

On the sign-in sheet where everyone else had written their names, Cho had written a question mark. "Is your name, `Question mark?'" classmate Julie Poole recalled the professor asking. The young man offered little response.
How can you set fire in a dorm room and still be, you know, a student?
Did you know there's a Thompson running for President? No, not Fred Thompson from Tennessee. I'm talking about Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin. With Vilsack we had maybe the shortest presidential campaign ever. With this Thompson maybe we'll have the most irrelevant campaign ever to be derailed by scandal? So far, the only news he's made is offending Jews.
"I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money," Thompson told the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."
With apologies to Seinfeld, I don't think "not that there's anything wrong with that" is the way to sidestep bigoted stereotypes.

Feel that Tommy Thompson surge!! Who wants in on the over/under of August 1 as the day he makes next bit of news - dropping out?

Monday, April 16, 2007

More than 20 30 dead from Va. Tech shooting. I understand suicide. But I'll never understand the ability to spread that kind of horror. So long as our national obsession with guns (masquerading as a love of constitutional rights) continues, we'll have to withstand occasional days like this. That's the trade-off. It hardly seems worth it to me, at least not today.
Calling All Bees
Mark e-mails to point out a new theory about the bee problem I posted about a while back. Here's the story in the UK's Independent.
The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.
German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

American Movie Rejects
On American Movie Classics right now...Halle Berry's 2004 Catwoman. I suppose it's American. And it's a movie.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I want to Stop I Really Do
Someone needs to be the one to start not talking about Imus any longer. But a couple of thoughts are stuck in my head - coming up every time I turn the TV or radio on, since it's all anyone talks about.

1) We have heard, and will continue to hear, worse things than Imus said coming from the likes of Rush and Howard Stern to name a couple. We expect that kind of racist/sexist ridicule from them. So, what's different here? I think the difference is not about Imus; it's about the happy fraternity of politicians and reporters who happily went on his show day after day, knowing he has said outrageous things. They are the ones that raised his profile as a legitimate place for serious people, probably because it felt fun to be cutting edge funny (or whatever). Now that he's done what he - pretty much - always does and been called on it, they're running for cover as if they're shocked. Why are they not regulars on Howard Stern's show? Some version of the same concerns should have made them think twice about being the I-man's best friend.

2) What about the other guy in the conversation? Imus was trying to make a point he though interesting or funny, about the fact that the Rutgers team looked tough, and the UT team looked glamorous. The other guy chimed in - about them then being "hardcore hos" (probably in his mind emphasizing the hardcore half of the statement) and Imus without blinking added the only other description he's ever heard modify "hos" - "nappy-headed." My point is - the other guy is on the radio too. Shouldn't he be getting equal treatment? One of Imus' problems over the years, if I understand correctly, is his unwillingness to get that guy under control on the air. I can only assume that's because he thinks he's funny.

3) I'm a bit sick of everyone talking about this great moment we have to address this issue as a country now. Remember Clinton's "Sister Souljah moment"? When was that, 1992? The same moment. I don't know if racism in America can or will be successfully addressed, or what that would even look like. But I feel confident it won't happen like this: with a sensationalized news drama and a renewed national commitment to deal with it. In the same way, comedians and black artists aren't going to stop using the n-word suddenly because of Michael Richards being an asshole. We may spend a week or so talking about dealing with it. But we don't know how to deal with it. That's the problem.

4 and then I'm done with this) Imus defenders should stop their whining about him losing his job. The guy just got 100 times more well-known than he ever was before. It's the best publicity he's ever gotten in his life. He couldn't have planned a roll-out to a satellite radio show - which he'll surely get - any better. He and his charities will make more money - and he will have more freedom - than he ever had on syndicated radio and a little-watched cable news channel. If he's smart he'll sign his next contract as soon as possible, while the buzz is still in the air.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Three things that (may) have come to an end worth noting:
1) Don Imus' radio show on CBS radio (will he still want to meet the the basketball team and apologize in person now that there's no job to save? [UPDATE: apparently they met Thursday evening at the Governor's mansion, so I guess so)
2) The life of Kurt Vonnegut
3) Democrats' wimpishness?
Overtime Playoff Hockey
is nerve-wracking...Preds had so many chances to win. Oh well. Gotta win game 2 on Friday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let's Go Predators!!
Lots of things in the news today, not the least of which is a new under-reported poll that says this:
Q: If George W. Bush vetoes the legislation, do you think Congress should pass another version of the bill that provides funding for the war without any conditions for troop withdrawal, or should Congress refuse to pass any funding bill until Bush agrees to accept conditions for withdrawal?

Fund the war without conditions: 43%
Withhold funding until Bush signs: 45%
Don't know: 12%
But my focus today is on one of the most fun times of the year for me these days - the start of the NHL playoffs. The Predators are well-positioned for both a long run - if their veteran players show up and the team is disciplined, and well-positioned for a huge disappointment - since they're playing probably the toughest team in the West right now and have alot of question marks with key players returning from injury.

Sadly, if you don't live in or around Nashville you can't watch the first 2 games of the series unless you go to a sports bar with the hockey package. But I'll be there making as much noise as I can. And I'm pumped for game-time! Nothing's more exciting than a rocking crowd for playoff hockey - completely different from the regular season, at least it has been in past years. So, I'm going to leave the wars, environmental crises and incompetent federal leadership aside for a little while and focus on hockey. If you get the Versus channel to watch the dynamite Penguins (or Fox Sports South for the Preds), I suggest you do the same. You can watch the first batter in the Red Sox game (Dice-K vs. Ichiro) and then switch over.
Water, Far Away
Evidence of water has been detected for the first time in a planet outside our solar system, an astronomer said on Tuesday, a tantalizing find for scientists eager to know whether life exists beyond Earth.

Travis Barman, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, said water vapor has been found in the atmosphere of a large, Jupiter-like gaseous planet located 150 light years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. The planet is known as HD 209458b.
Everyone seems quite excited in science land. But I have 2 questions - one is: don't they seem to find new "the first evidence of water ever found" pretty often? More important, is this really the best we can do, name-wise, for planets? Can we get the people that name hurricanes to give some kind of seminars to the astronomer crowd? Maybe send up their rejects? Even they have to be better than HD209458b.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I never understood how the guy got treated like some kind of knowledgeable, legitimate outlet for news-related interviews. Every public figure - like Tim Russert, Lieberman, Harold Ford - who have been regulars on his show should be embarrassed for their association. His act is nothing more than a wrinkled Howard Stern, with politicians and news reporters playing the role of Stern's strippers and porn stars. And it has such a lazy, thoughtless, cliche-ridden sense of humor, he just naturally gravitates to caricatures of black people as, among other possible labels, "pimps" and "hos" for any he sees on TV, even college students - young women trying to make something of themselves through higher education and a commitment to teamwork, and from the looks of their effort - engaging in harder work than the I-man has even sniffed in quite some time.

It's just a 2-week suspension but good riddance. The guy's made plenty of money in his time I'm sure. Here's hoping he has such a hard time getting the same kind of interview to which he's accustomed that the show is forced to fold.

Democrats don't go on Rush Limbaugh's show - we expect that kind of hateful rhetoric from him. Being a guest with Imus should bring the same stigma.

Still, as ignorant and poisonous as he is, whatever goes on in the head of Imus is like Mother Theresa compared to Tom Delay. You've gotta read what he said to believe it.

[UPDATE: Here are a couple of must-reads if your blood is boiling about this story. PBS' Gwen Ifill, once referred to as a “cleaning lady cover[ing] the White House,” by Imus, has a brilliant and moving piece in today's New York Times. And Al Roker says Imus needs to be "remove(d) from the airwaves."]
The Sopranos
The final handful of episodes got off to a brilliantly slow start, opening a rift in Tony's universe we knew was there but didn't expect to explode. Is this a head-fake? Or the avenue for the boss's downfall? Your thoughts? Warning - could be episode 1 spoilers in the comments.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Falling apart. It's Giuliani v. Romney v. Fred Thompson?
Kentucky Hires Billy Gillispie
It's a done deal. He was an assistant to Bill Self (Kansas' coach) at Tulsa and Illinois and is credited with recruiting the Illinois team that went to the national championship game a few years back. Since then he's rebuilt the UTEP and TX A&M programs as head coach in just a couple years each. We'll see if he can step up to the big stage.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh Well, Nevermind
Billy the Kid is staying at Florida. Now the best thing that could happen for the long-term health of Kentucky's program is this: get a good coach who restores UK's perennial place atop the SEC East, ahead of Florida leaving the Gators languishing in fights for 2nd and 3rd place and leaving Donovan - looking always up at the Wildcats - gnashing his teeth over his decision not to go. For the next 100 years, this would ensure that Kentucky would never again lose the coach on the top of its list.

Of course, personally, I think that would have happened anyway in about 3 years, if they had just kept the coach they had. I don't know who will be the next coach now, but something tells me we will be missing Tubby for several years.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Stuff I Know
Obviously, money is important in political campaigns. Because of Hillary's fundraising hype, she must be a bit concerned that Obama has shockingly stayed with her step-for-step. She claims $10 mil more for the quarter, but that extra wasn't raised last quarter--it's a transfer from her Senate campaign. Also, surely more of her funds are committed to the general election and so off-limits in the primary. In reality, Obama raised more cash for the primary in Q1 than she did. In addition, his donors are smaller dollar, so they haven't given the limit yet and can be tapped for future donations as the primary continues.

All of that sounds great, and strangely familiar. Howard Dean claimed all the same advantages - along with Obama's penchant for drawing huge crowds to his rallies. That's all fabulous and probably scares the Clinton crowd more than a little. But here's what I know from 4 years ago: having the most money, the most donors, and the biggest rallies doesn't get you any convention delegates. Obama has an astonishing 100,000 donors for the quarter. But 100,000 national votes won't win much. To do better than Dean, he has to be able to close the deal. That's where the primary will be won or lost. If he can't do it, the lesson will continue that Internet-based, people-powered, low-dollar donor-driven campaigns are just a fundraising gimmick, not a winning strategy.

I'm excited about Obama. But trying to remember...after the second quarter of 2003, Howard Dean drew rock-star crowds, and was the leading fundraiser among Democrats. I'd rather be Obama than Chris Dodd right about now, but unless he uses the money effectively to persuade Democrats to vote for him - the ones who wouldn't even think about giving money to a political campaign - it doesn't mean much.

Even beyond that, you don't need that kind of cash to win in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina but those are still likely to be most influential. Remember, Kerry was nowhere in NH and in SC until he won Iowa. Suddenly he's surging and wins all three. All the money in the world can't buy the momentum that winning an early state can. Dean tried to run a national campaign before the first primary vote. While he was doing that, Kerry had the best Iowa experts in the country on the ground organizing for the caucus.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Billy Donovan Watch
Lots of other more important things to think and worry about, but I've got my sport on today. The Predators are flagging and have a big trio of games left in the year. The Red Sox opening day effort was, well, uninspiring. And I go back-and-forth over whether Donovan might actually take the KY job. Word on the street is $4 million/year will be offered. I expect we'll know something by tomorrow or Thursday. Why would he leave? Why would he want to go to such a draining place? On the other hand, he'll never again have a Florida team that good, and he'll always be competing with Kentucky for the top spot. If, in 4-5 years, KY is back to perennial conference champs and #1 or 2 seed in the tourney, and Donovan is back to first-and-second-round exits...think he'll be regretting it? And if he doesn't take the job, who will? And how good can they possibly be?

Monday, April 02, 2007

SCOTUS: EPA Can't Ignore CO2
An important majority opinion written by Justice Stevens will likely be an increasingly rare event now that Bush has managed to make the Court more conservative. When he does pen a 5-4 decision we know they've managed to do something correctly. Today, the Bush Administration lost its argument over the EPA and its refusal to regulate CO2 emissions. More on that ruling, which established standing rights for the state of Massachussetts to sue the EPA, is at SCOTUSblog.
Attention Math Geniuses
Browsing a new Newsweek magazine poll on religion in America, I see that 3% of the country identify themselves as atheist, while 49% of the country claims to personally know an atheist. So, if true that means that 3% of the country is personally known by 49% of us. I'm no math guru but this seems impossible. There are some obvious explanations - atheists tend to underreport because of social stigma, or perhaps 49% of people know people they generally consider heathens and have labeled them atheists, maybe unfairly. Or, perhaps atheists are simply the most popular people in any given social setting, so everyone knows them.

But really I'm posting this with another question - could this be one of those unintuitive mathematical realities, like the unexpectedly high odds (over 50%) that 2 people in a random group of 23 will have the same birthday? Could 3% of the population be personally known by 49% of it? Or something close?