Thursday, December 13, 2007

Led Zeppelin to Headline Bonnaroo?

Bonnaroo, the quaint, annual music and arts festival held in Manchester, TN, has announced it's 2008 dates: June 12-15, but not the artists scheduled to take the stage.

Could it be that they're preparing to drop the biggest, baddest, rockinest bomb since the 11th US Tour in 1977?

The preliminary scuttlebutt, from a source of mine with ties to concert promoter AEG Live, is that Led Zeppelin, co-billed with Metallica, will be headlining Bonnaroo this summer.

I don't try to be a rumor-monger, I just really want this to be right.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Good News - Led Zeppelin Still Rocks

Rolling Stone's David Fricke's got the full review here. And the takeaway is that it was an awesome show in London last night.

However, no solid word on a tour. Fans are clamoring (including this one) and rumors are swirling and of course buckets of money are begging to be made. Come on lads, one more show.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Further Word on SnowForecast and WTF Ron Paul Thinks He's Doing There

The advertisement for advertising on claims "a huge ski and snowboard audience" which can help drive "more interested visitors" to your site through targeted placement of your ads.

For most of my experience on that made sense - I was seeing ads for skiing-related products and services such as Sun Valley Resort and REI. As a visitor to, I expect and even appreciate this kind of advertising. It just might prove useful, meaning the publisher and its advertisers are gaining a better sense of me and my kind as consumers and sponsoring the things we like. When a site I like has advertisers I like, there is a kind of harmony on the Interwebs and I surf on worry-free.

Then you get something like what I saw yesterday, with Ron Paul's shit-eating grin daring me to continue enjoying my content, compliments of gun-toting, pro-life Republicans.

I can't figure out which is worse: that a hard-right Texas conservative thinks he has an audience among people who ski? Or that he may be right and is playing to his base in permitting this kind of 'targeted' advertising.

Chances are Ron Paul's cloying mug wouldn't be here if it weren't getting clicks and here's what troubles me the most. Is he courting the swing voter or motivating the base? My in-group ideal of skiers and snowboarders as being left-leaning, open-minded environmentalists with a splash of humanist hippie sensibility, is taking a beating at this dissonance in advertising.

Then I think of my connection through Dallas a few years back on my way to Vail from the East Coast. It seemed every fat cat oilman in Texas was on that flight (less the super elite, Ken Lay-level that eschew the riffraff for their private/corporate jets) tan and coiffured and decked out in knee-length shearling, fur and sheepskin like the Clan of the Cave Bear, and I'm reminded of the new demographic of skiing now that it truly is a past time for the rich.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More Signs of the Snowpocalypse

The gruesome imagery above is a screen-shot of Squaw Valley's High Camp Cam today, December 5, 2007. And while the Rockies of Colorado, Idaho and Utah got crushed in the past week with early season-saving amounts of snow, we're still high and dry out here in California.

Fortunately, good news is on the way according to a sweet website I found, (which I'm not claiming to have discovered, but fully endorse).

Their forecast for Squaw is predicting up to 18 inches by Saturday. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mike Huckabee - Libertarian Force of Nature!

There's a message every libertarian can get behind: "I kill animals and want guns in every household and I hate fucking taxes." Sounds like a good, old-fashioned, small-government conservative.

Plus Chuck Norris thinks he's cool.

Too bad it's a total lie. From Robert Novak's "The False Conservative" in Monday's Washington Post:

"Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

There is no doubt about Huckabee's record during a decade in Little Rock. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax-and-spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he lost 100 pounds and decided to press his new lifestyle on the American people, he was hardly being a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian."


And Chuck Norris is diminished for endorsing him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Perils of Pooping at Work

If you are lucky as I am to work at place with nifty security badges that dangle from your waste, and you are a little self-conscious of being readily identified as one who craps on the work toilets, you may want to be more careful than this guy:... Because the snooping fellow in the stall next to you, who hid his ID in his pocket before squatting down, may be able to tell who you are. And if you're really unlucky, he may be snapping a pic with his hated Motorola SLVR L7 Cameraphone and blogging your pants-down stooping to humanity's lowest common-denominator (expelling solid waste) all over the Interwebs.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Out West, No Snow

I spent Thanksgiving near South Lake Tahoe and in the distant dreamy parts of my brain, when I booked the trip back in October I envisioned myself ripping a few early-season turns at Kirkwood or Heavenly. Much to my dismay, the scene (though never reliable in the Sierras this time of year) was grim indeed.

The weather was cold and clear, with just a dusting of natural snow at the highest peaks rimming the Tahoe basin. The screenshot above, from one of Heavenly's Webcams today, tells you everything you need to know. The skiing's no good, so we went for a hike.

The fickleness of the early season is nothing new in Tahoe, where in recent years the skiing hasn't picked up until January. But this year, the lack of snow is affecting more reliable areas like Utah and Colorado.

Aspen, Snowmass and Vail all had to push back their openings after a promising October gave way to a warm, sunny November which didn't deliver snowstorms, nor evening lows that would permit adequate snow-making.

In Utah, the mixed news from isn't much better:

"Alta opens Friday, November 30, at 9:15 am! Traditionally Alta opens with more snow than we have today. Mother Nature hasn't given us much snow lately, but the tireless efforts of our snowmaking, grooming and mountain crews have us ready to open this Friday...."

Tahoe I'd expect, Colorado I can forgive, but Alta, which may have America's most reliable natural snowfall, is just plain freaking me out.

I think I was in Vermont, a few years back, when I hear some greybeard wistfully state that he'd be sad if he lived to see the day when you couldn't ski in the New England winter. His was a haunting and early cry of fear for the American ski industry in the face of global warming.

Now here we are watching another wobbly ski-season struggling to take off...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mount Rainier from Horizon Airlines Flight 2045, October 25, 2007

For Thanksgiving I wanted to say something a little bit weepy and sentimental regarding my sensitivities and feelings of gratitude about life. Other than the obvious things: friends; family; health; for which I am of course thankful - I also am thankful for the myriad and amazing moments of beauty that life offers up at every turn and in many unexpected ways.

On a recent flight from Walla Walla to Seattle we got this amazing view of Mount Rainier covered in powder-white snow and lit up in dramatic Alpenglow shades of pink and blue and gold by the setting sun. There were low-lying clouds and blazing fall colors dotting the thick green forest here and there like campfires. It was in a word breathtaking, and the mountain itself is eye-poppingly huge!

My view, however was obstructed by the top-mounted wings and engines of the Bombardier Q400, perhaps the least window-seat friendly fuselage ever designed and which you can see in the upper-right of the some of the photos. Determined to 'capture the moment,' I strained and squirmed and stretched in my seat, snaking my neck into chiropractically ill-advised positions and maneuvered my cameraphone up to the grimy, yellow-tinged acrylic and....

So there it is. Everyday, unexpected beauty right in the world we live in.

Unfortunately the 1.2 megapixel camera in the hated Motorola SLVR L7 is lousy at capturing it. And that I am not thankful for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Taste for Trash

This photo, once again from the hated SLVR L-7 cameraphone, doesn't do it justice, but what I'm attempting to capture here in terms of abstractist, high-altitude. turbulence is the sheer amount of packaging waste I received along with my $5 United Airlines 'Right Bite' SnackBox.

What you're seeing is the equivalent, in branded plastic detritus, of the shells of half a dozen Maryland blue crabs which would take 45 minutes and hundreds of hammer strokes to eat. Yet I devoured the paltry volume of food (when compared to the ample volume of petroleum-based packaging) that produced an equal amount of rubbish in a little less than two minutes.

Served in its own shrink-wrapped paper box, this 'all natural, all high-energy, all delicious' ode to superfluous packaging contains:
  • Bumblebee® SensationsTM Lemon & Pepper Seasoned Tuna Medley
  • Late JulyTM Organic Crackers
  • Wild GardenTM Hummus
  • Stacy's® Multigrain Baked Pita Chips
  • Fino Selections Gouda cheese slice
  • Newman's Own® organic California raisins
  • Mini-Toblerone®
  • Napkin
  • 'Silverware'
  • 'Moist' Toilette
I took mine with a cup of Starbucks coffee and was immediately swimming in my own trash heap. Apart from the abundance of garbage that literally exploded from the relatively tidy package I received from the stewardess, I was also impressed that not an inch of it was unbranded. So the accusation of it being completely senseless packaging, is dampened somewhat laughably by the fact that each and every bit of packaging is dual-purpose: a.) sterile food delivery receptacle and b.) advertising space. Remember, the only good thing the history books say about the Indians is that they used every bit of the buffalo.

Now, even as we speak, in the wind-whipped vastness of the Pacific Ocean churns the Great Pacific Trash Vortex. It feeds on our plastics and adds to it bulk like a black hole. By credible scientific estimates it is twice as wide as Texas and indestructible since plastics can persist forever at the molecular level.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Two Pumps of Caramel?

My special lady likes the caramel macchiato at Starbucks. As her partner in crime, I've been indulging in a couple of these myself recently - smooth velvety caramel, melted in a rich blend of frothy milk and fresh roasted coffee. Delicious.

And suspicious. This last weekend, we dropped in on the neighborhood Starbucks and the barrista manboy behind the counter took our orders, two tall (meaning the smallest size?) caramel macchiati and with a lurid wink at my special lady, said 'two pumps of caramel right?'

What? I asked the special lady. He knows your coffee order like that? What else does he know, in the Biblical sense? Is my wife making a cuckold of me with the local Starbucks barrista?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tom Ridge, PR Schill: 'Welcome to the USA and Forget All that DHS Business From My Former Life'

One of the anticipated upshots of the weakening American dollar was supposed to be this torrential influx of foreign tourists/expats gaming the exchange rates and living the high life stateside like the way old Mexico used to be before the 1980s. Plenty of anecdotal evidence would seem to support this expectation - San Francisco and New York are swimming in tight-jeaned, Old Worlders with their Euro-powered flossy - but the facts say something else. It ain't happening, or at least not enough to be the silver lining to our darkening economic situation.

It seems even the promise of affordable American good times and cool toys cannot by itself overcome the steady decline of foreign tourism, professional and academic exchange that we created late in 2001 by passing (without reading) the Patriot Act.

So to combat this problem, the travel industry has hired former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to PR this into a positive situation.

Does anyone else see this as untenable? (Or at the very least ironic.) That Tom Ridge, who, as first ever DHS Secretary, set up the very real consular barriers to entry for foreign visitors, has now been hired to 'communicate' a way around them?

Then again, who is better qualified to point out the loopholes in the system than the man who created the system? And I can't fairly call Mr. Ridge a hypocrite, after all he was one of the first to bail on the Bush Administration way back in '05 for corporate pastures with green, green dollars. Since seeing that kind of light, maybe's had a change of heart. Maybe now he's actually pro-business and not just pro-businessman (ala Team Bush).

Monday, October 8, 2007

Beware the Cosi Carrot

Nasty is right!
It's not that I consider myself particularly litigious - I think most tort suits are a wanton abuse of our legal system - but I'm no sucker either.

So when I inadvertently bit into this oozing, black gelatinous mold-covered carrot at the bottom of my Cosi bag of carrots the other day, I did what any self-respecting dude would do (shy of pumping his stomach): I prepared my defense.

If was going to get sick and die of god knows what kind of poison was in these carrots, someone was going to pay. Cosi or the carrot company (Grimmway Farms), I didn't care who, but I was going to document the source of my sickness should I succumb before having the chance to make my mark and carry on the important work I'm here on Earth to do.

So if martyrdom to poor crop inspection was really in my cards, my survivors would at least get rich as shit in the void of my life and thanks tothe conveniently pointed-finger of my cold dead hand.

Let the record show that these pictures were taken on September 20, 2007, shortly after my biting into the above pictured carrot which in theory would be best consumed (and safely consumed one might therefore assume) before September 27, seven days hence:

Here's the pic clearly identifying Grimmway Farms of Bakersfield, California as originally being responsible for the carrot:

Though in fact the Cosi at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW in Washington, D.C. sold it to me.

Finally, if anyone at Grimmway Farms or Cosi cares enough to track this issue down to the root of the problem, here is the UPC and Barcode from the bad bag:

Other than the sickly swirling in my stomach and the near overwhelming desire to throw up, I never did succumb to any food poisoning or other terrible disease. I suppose I have my own immune system to thank for that, and the smarts to not consume the entirety of the clearly maligned carrot.

However let this blog post be a lesson to others who may eat something and immediately fear it may kill them. I think I gathered the available evidence in a neat, clever fashion that my law school friends say is admissible in court. So if in fact I had gotten sick and died, I would have gotten rich in the process.

To the PR schills working for Cosi and Grimmway who hate me bad-mouthing their efforts you can always apologize with dollars if you see fit, but that can't erase the fact that that was one nasty carrot your tried to kill me with.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gave Blood, Ate Nutter Butters

Yesterday, I went to the American Red Cross blood drive at work and gave blood. I haven't done this since college, when I looked at it as a chance to get free sandwiches, feel charitable and sneak in a free HIV and Hepatitis exam.

Free sandwiches don't do much for me anymore, and I'm clean as a whistle when it comes to sexual cooties, so I guess here in my maturity I'm driven more by the feeling of true charity - giving my blood for the of another whom I will never know.

Of course there are some other 'perk' motivations:

-NutterButters - I'm not sure if this is part of Nabisco's marketing plan, but these delicious little bastards are in my eyes the unofficially official cookie of blood drives. Something about their perfect concentration of high-fructose corn syrup, saturated fat and creamy, imitation peanut-butter byproduct filling makes them the perfect antidote to the sudden loss of blood sugar at a volunteer blood-letting. Have you ever seen a blood drive where Nutter Butters weren't part of the forced 15 minute observation period? I haven't.

-Lowering Your Tolerance - leaking 1 pint (or about 5%) of your blood and promptly replacing it with a pint of booze means that pint of booze instantly has a higher effect on your BAC than it would have before you'd lost all that blood. It's fantastic, really, like being a freshman in college all over again.

-The Chance to See Something Freaky - saw one girl totally lose consciousness, regain consciousness and then throw up. It looked dangerous - a familiar risk at blood drives but it never seems to lose its allure. Between the pin pricks, ten gauge needles, and bags of your own vital fluid - it's a lot for some people to stomach. The fear or the pain or the impact of the injury (it makes no difference to your body that you're volunteering), there are plenty of reasons to pass out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Passenger Air Bag Off

In this grainy picture produced by the supposed 1.2 mega-pixel camera of the hated Motorola SLVR L7 phone, what you're seeing is the Passenger Air Bag status indicator from a Chevy Impala I rented and rocked this weekend from Boston to York, Maine, and back.

The Impala, all fourteen, cherry-red feet of it, was a comfortable, stylish (if American) ride for the wedding-weekend. But this particular feature made no sense to me. And not just it's existence - I mean, really, why? - but it's implication - why?

Why would I want the passenger side air bag turned 'Off?' Should I, as the driver of this or any vehicle have that kind of power? To determine, seemingly by whim, accident or neglect, the fate of my passenger in the event of an accident?

So I can't imagine why this would (if the gauge is to be trusted) be an optional feature. Does the Impala get better mileage if the passenger-side air bag isn't activated? Or was it just GM's assumption that I would choose to let some of my passengers die in an accident or simply take their chances because I either hate them or don't care. Anyway, I thought the whole point of an air bag, like a guardian angel, was for it to be vigilant and ready to intervene when I hadn't been dismal enough to assume for myself that I might wrap the car around a tree on my way back to the motel.

My passenger and I were bothered by this revelation, and look as we did could not find any apparent way to activate the passenger-side air bag and turn the indicator from 'Off' to the hoped-for 'On.' So maybe (GM, I'm invoking your response here) I'm missing the point. Maybe 'Off' doesn't mean what I think it means. Maybe 'Off' is a good thing, as in, undeployed (but that's rather obvious in the case of an air bag) and so again, I beg the question, why this option, why this gauge?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Yale: Corporate America Digs Dicks

Well, this Yale study proves it: a man acting like a dick is a good thing and a woman doing the same is very, very bad. Quoth Reuters: "A man who gets angry at work may well be admired for it but a woman who shows anger in the workplace is liable to be seen as 'out of control' and incompetent, according to a new study presented Friday."

Transiting something we've known for a long time, chicks dig assholes, so, apparently, does Corporate America. But this shouldn't be a surprise after countless dickheads have risen through the sheer force of their bellicosity to prominent positions throughout history (corporate or otherwise, but with leadership of some kind being the common stripe) - Xerxes, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Henry VIII, JP Morgan, Richard Nixon, Donald Trump, Ken Lay, Steve Jobs, George W. Bush, off the top of my head.

Millions of anecdotal examples aside, the point of calling something 'a study' - which is to say 'scientific' - must mean the numbers back up the common knowledge. So is it that anger inspires awe and confidence or is that fear incited by displays of anger inspire obedience and complicity in the angry ones' rise to success?

Another question is, if this works solely for men is there a failing on the part of the feminist movement to not capitalize on the virtues of womanhood that would lead to corporate success? Abandoning anger for displays of love and affection perhaps (without of course, resorting to the demonstrably ineffective strategy of outright sluttiness)?

Either way, this is news I can use. I see know that I've been taking things way too easy at work in being the chill guy and letting shit slide like water off a duck's back. From now on, I'm not taking any prisoners. No goof, faux pas or mea culpa will go unpunished. Every stupid question will be met with a scathing verbal assault. Each personal foible, ruthlessly exploited until every last scintilla of embarrassing fodder has been pulled out and used to produce chagrin and anguish amongst my co-workers who will then respect and admire my ass straight to the top. Motherfuckers best watch out, cause the campaign of anger launches today and Flying Off the Handle will be my Indian name.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wilfing My Way to Badger Knowledge

In the 'Jargon Watch' section of July '07 Wired they define 'Wilf' as:

"an imperfect acronym for 'What was I looking for?' Wilfers spend up to a third of their online time drifting from news to shopping to porn sites."

And suddenly I prefer this verbage to 'surfing' the Internet (which implies 'wave action' - periodic bursts of propulsion through sites - decidedly not how I use the Internet), since it belies more of the bored mix of curiosity, ennui and what, maybe schadenfreude, that beckons me around the Internet like an opium dream when I don't have a point for being there.

So anway, I discovered this new terminology is perfect. Whilst wilfing today, I discovered this crazy line at the end of a pretty standard post at one of my favorite blogs (MGoBlog). It reads:

"Also: vicious, monkey-headed, cow-eating badgers who are "swift as deer" plague Iraq."

Naturally, I clicked the link. In the comments I saw a reference to another strange badger I'd encountered on the Internet. The Euroed-Out 'Badger Badger Badger' of few-year's-back forward fame.

Not that this had much to do with reality, but it reminded me that I had seen a badger cross US Highway 20 in Idaho on the drive from Boise to Sun Valley once and this got me curious about real badgers, so I went to the Wikipedia entry on badgers and learned something I did not know before (and thus proved the value of 'wilfing'):

"Aside from Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) and Humans (Homo Sapiens), badgers are
thought to be the only animals which attack without provocation."

Well, I'll be goddamned. That's fascinating.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Internet Knocked Me Up

Capitalism, apparently, isn't the only American trait slowly creeping into the pathos of China these days. If recent news is to be trusted, the Chinese people are also appearing to have adopted our tortish refusal to accept any personal accountability whatsoever.

See "Shanghai Teen Pregnancy Blamed on Internet."

As it is always someone else's fault for anything bad that happens in our lives here in America, why shouldn't it also be true in China that people are still nothing more than helpless, un-thinking victims of a world we can't control?

Apparently the pitfalls of this world are everywhere lurking to ruin our lives at an unlucky moment's notice and no thinking, action or common sense on anyone's part can do a damn thing about it. Teenage girls everywhere (or maybe only those of the above who also happen to be idiots) should be worried and careful to not give into the Internet's demands for unprotected sex. He will say that it just doesn't feel the same and that he really loves you and will pull out in time, but the Internet lies and is not to be trusted. You'd be better off continuing to suck face and heavy pet with those honest teenage boys and their drinks and pills.

Then again if your own actions have no bearing at all on the outcomes of your own life (as the finger-pointing is seeming to suggest) just throw your ankles back behind your ears and take on all comers, Internet, teenage boys, full-grown cads, Hell or high water.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Prescient Talking Heads Video From 1988

'Nothing But Flowers'

Strange how coming on 20 years later the issues haven't changed much and now we're celebrating the '80s for almost nothing more than excellent pop music.

Monday, July 9, 2007

$144 Billion Worth of Iraq War

Forbes is reporting the Iraq War is costing a cool $12 billion per month.

To put that in perspective that's $4,700 for every second that we are there and about $120 million per dead American soldier at current rates of expiration.

My question is who's buying this?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

F*** the FCC

Court ruling bitch!

That's what I thought when I heard about the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejection of the FCC's policy of penalizing incidental (or 'fleeting') expletives aired on live television broadcasts was 'arbitrary and capricious' and possibly unconstitutional.

Fucking 1st Amendment bitch!

While the ruling is not outlawing the FCC's policy, it is taking the power back after the FCC instituted the policy after Bono's 2003 Golden Globe f-bomb made its past NBC's filters and into the homes of millions of Americans who had presumably never heard such a foul, stinking word and need our government to protect us from the nasty, 'inherent sexual connotation' of the word. Curiously, 'shit' was also verboten in a some baby/bathwater slight of hand for the same(?) reasons. But let's keep the ability to think critically (or control ourselves) out of our own hands and keep it where it belongs - with bureaucrats, our best and brightest.

Anyway, fair and balanced Fox of all entities went to the mats on this one and came up big for not only their own prospects of advancing sensationalism on network tv, but each and every one of us to broadcast our foul-mouthed thoughts off the cuff whenever we please with no fear of rebuke. Wait, we've go the internet for that, but hey, a victory for free speech is a victory for me and for you!

The FCC, is 'disappointed' and worried about the children, whom they permit to watch homicides a plenty in prime time, but fear will now be washed into a corrupt sea of indecency by the flood of gratuitous sex talk they anticipate to start flowing form the networks.

Fascists have always made sore losers, but ok. Maybe. But what's wrong with a little amusing cussing from America's next generation? I mean it's kind of cute when kids talk like grownups. Right? Will Farrell and Pearl certainly had us thinking so last week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Big 3 Backing the Environment?

It seemed like a hopeful pledge for an environmentally-friendly future as well as statement of faith in the ability of good, old-fashioned American know-how when the Senate Commerce Committee passed a Democratic energy bill that would require automakers to average 35 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks combined by 2020, with 4 percent annual increases though 2030.

Nice going legislative branch, uniting environmental and political mandate with populist-consumer protections. Read: I like the bill because it appeals to my self-image as environmentally aware, leery of prolonged engagement in middle-eastern oil wars, and conscious of the fact that inefficient cars also directly cost me more money to own and operate every day.

In the most baby-soft, naive and ideal places in my brain, I held out slim hope that this kind of legislation would motivate the Big 3 American auto-makers to rise to the occasion, dust off their thinking caps and do something they haven't done in an awful long time (possibly since they largely, originally invented good old American know-how way back when, got rich, fat and lazy and started surrendering on all fronts to European and Asian car companies): INNOVATE!

Which is to say I still have faith that the industry that invented all industry still has a shot at returning to its former capitalist glory - leading the global automotive industry while also doing something good for the people, the plants, the animals, the planet.

Instead, led by Ford (possibly the worst of them, if you can ignore GM’s horrendous co-option of folk singer, John Cougar Mellencamp), they whined to their big friends in Washington to protect them from these crazy new fuel economy standards, saying they threaten business.

Where the hell are they coming from? The path to ‘winning’ here seems to me 180 degrees from the direction Ford, GM and Chevrolet were advocating with this misguided plea for corporate protectionism. Maybe the hope for short-term gains lies in the path of hiding from emissions standards, refusing to go green, and letting other people like Toyota and Honda invest in the technology, but I just can’t see that being the path to long term viability.

Earth to Ford. What you’re doing is no longer working.

Fortunately the out-sized backlash may be having the intended effect that many of us American consumers seem to be crying for. (I'd love to buy an American hybrid if I thought it would be better than a Prius.)

The CEOs of Ford, General Motors Corp. and the Chrysler Group have now decided they need to support an alternative if they have any hope of beating back the Democratic bill. Enter another great American tradition – compromise.

An early draft of Michigan Democrat Sen. Carl Levin’s bill would give automakers longer to comply and require a smaller overall increase -- 36 mpg for passenger cars by 2022 and 30 mpg for light trucks by 2025. Not bad, and the United Auto-Workers union seems to think the Big 3 will endorse the bill.

Cool, environmentally-friendly American cars may be right around the corner.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

House M.D. is Donuts For Your Brain (Really Good Donuts)

The wonders of Netflix, plus the 12-15 hours/week I spend on a bus training my ass to memorize the delightful contours of Highway 101, have given me an unexpected opportunity to catch up on lots of the tv I've been missing. This is either a good or bad thing, TBD, but the 1 year plan is mapping out bus-bound viewing periods ('seasons' if you will) for other of these popular tv series I've been missing: 24, Lost, The Office, etc.

I don't know why I chose House before all of these, and preceded only by Arrested Development, but I did and I'm sticking to it at least until I finish the first season.

I like the show, a lot, but one does have to be suspicious of anything so consumable, discretely enjoyable and unwoven. If tv shows were nutritious foods (or not), I'd equate House to a donut, each one is more or less the same and while everything in the immediacy of the experience cries out that it is indeed good, you know that it is actually quite bad - in the seductive, creeping, sinister sense of the word. There's a formula to donuts: sugar + fat = delicious. I suspect House is made with the intellectual equivalents, whatever they may be, but the point is that the means don't justify the ends since they're actually dangerous and while sugar and fat might make you diabetic and fat, House might just make you stupid while tricking you into thinking that you're smart.

And much like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin didn't invent the formula, they are mere iterations with different marketing details, House is not the first in this line of tv shows made of this gray-matter kryptonite - Law and Order, any of the CSI family of series and the West Wing come to mind.

I suppose 24 and Lost, at least, will turn out to be different donut varieties that could fit easily in this baker's dozen, maybe with sprinkles or maple-frosting, nothing too challenging. But comfortable, familiar, with good mouth feel and a satisfying finish.

The formula endures (for now at least) and that is the genius of this tv - not the original storytelling - but the business process behind it. Throw enough experts of details at an idea and anything can be good.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ruing the Day

An observation veiled in a question came up over drinks in NYC the other day - how many times have you rued the day? As with so many other male introspections it came up over a baseball game, Barry Zito's (and the San Francisco Giant's) 3-0 blanking of the Mets to be specific, and in direct response to the statement that George Steinbrenner might be ruing the day he passed on Carlos Beltran.

(Immediately after this, I was threatened for the first time in my life for hating the Yankees, which admittedly I've done for a long time, but in no way to the serious or even active extent that I thought it might become someone's particular conflict with me. In sum, I hate the Yankees in the general, lazy way someone might hate France for being France, or the US for being Awesome!)

So, to all the Mr. Steinbrenners out there, are you ruing any particular days in your life?

It was more of a general question.

Cody said it wasn't so much one single day or single moment he's ruing, so much as a generalized rue, more like ruing whole periods of his life - like certain semesters in college (perhaps college as a liminal phase itself) or phases spent with a certain, ill-chosen significant other. Maybe you're ruing the person - a real mean bitch or some fucking asshole who dragged you down for as long as you were foolish enough to be wasting your time with them.

Rue isn't something you waste on a small decision, usually the kind of decision that exceeds the scope of a single day, usually the kind of decision that is actually a whole sump of decisions like the choices so small we don't even see them as choices so much as the way we choose to live our lives in the day to day. That's the thing we might come to rue.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You Can't Take Bluegrass Lightly

I mean, I guess that's the point of the last post. I look at what David Lee Roth has done there, in an apparent comeback attempt and just have to shake my head. He took it lightly.

He figured, hey, I can dabble in this and suck or not, at least I gave it my best effort. I disagree. Bluegrass isn't something you can half-ass. It's an all or nothing proposition. A zero-sum game. So with your comeback on the line, the faintest flicker of doubt should be enough to deter any ill-advised attempts at bluegrass.

My roommate of a few years back in D.C. used to swear by bluegrass. At the end of each weekend , when he hadn't shaved in a few days and the funk of the weekend was reaching its ripest, it was his idea of getting folksy to turn on WAMU's 'Stained Glass Bluegrass' and do something with his hands, like roll cigarettes, polish his shoes or bake an apple pie. If the weather was good we'd sit outside in our courtyard beneath the Spanish embassy and smoke and drink and just listen to bluegrass.

The thing is it didn't matter what you did as long as it was relaxing to the max and didn't interfere with one's appreciation of the bluegrass music.

Now, I will be the first to admit that bluegrass is a little beyond me. I appreciate it in small or inspired doses. And it was rare I could sit through an entire 4-hour session without the banjo beginning to drive me crazy. There's an element of sameness across bluegrass, a heavily (and respectfully) derivative American tradition, that means it takes a careful, trained ear to differentiate the virtuoso from the dabbler.

Which is to say that bluegrass is the domain of non-casual music fans. The kind who dig real jazz and rhapsodize about Phish jams. The kind who get lost in the details and the kind who don't dig carpet-bagging crossovers into their 'pure' genres.

I guess that's what makes this so shameful. The only consideration was the degree of spectacle that could be obtained by forcing a man who is very willing to embarrass himself to abase an unwitting art form.

Friday, May 18, 2007

David Lee Roth Used to Be My Hero?

WTF? I guess you can't keep on rockin' after all.

Le Bidet

Vanity Fair, whose second annual green issue has been giving me lots of guilt problems lately, recommended that I rethink the way I use the toilet - something about each flush wasting 8 gallons of perfectly clean water and the 15 Rhode Island's worth of Canadian old growth forest we wad up in blossoms of double-ply to wipe our butts.

It's grim indeed.

So I was contemplating the alternatives. Left hands as they use in the Arabic world. Or the bidet, popular in the more mincing parts of Europe - like Luxembourg, Monaco and France.

This got me thinking. Are the French big environmentalists simply because they prefer the bidet? Or is it just a convenient, socially-acceptable guise for the way they carry their laziness onto the toilet.

It is much less effort after all to sit back and enjoy a lukewarm wash and drip dry while you're going to be on the toilet anyway. Ripping, wadding and wiping is far too manually intensive. Plus you can stretch the bidet, crotch-cleansing as it is, into arguable proxy for a shower if you're as
lazy and disinterested in true hygiene as the French.

Now that's it's saving a little water it's not lazy, but activist. Let's all be more French!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Sushi Dilemma

What seafood to eat?

I love the health benefits and the taste of good seafood. Yet I’m sensitive to the plights of the world’s oceans. You hear all the time about how in the good old days they were reeling in whoppers all the time with the simplest methods because the oceans’ bounty was literally teeming to the point of overflowing. In typical capitalist response we rolled up our sleeves and got down to consuming with wanton regard for the future. This is a recurring theme (see ‘American Bison’ or ‘Old Growth Forest’ for more depressing history).

Now we hear that the reefs are ghost towns and the catches smaller in diversity of species, raw number and size of fish. The giants being pulled from the deep have shrunk in every way over time in conjunction with our targeted elimination of the oceans creatures starting with the biggest and most popular and working our way down. This means fewer and smaller blue whales, great white sharks, swordfish, blue fin tuna and salmon. And the list goes on and expands as each preceding species dwindles, gets more expensive and must be replaced on restaurant menus with a lesser tasty species.

Everyone knows it’s our consumer demand that is to blame. Everyone’s at fault (who eats fish at least). We’re told this at the same time that chic sushi restaurants continue to carve up endangered blue fin tuna (buttery, delicious toro) and push it on us priced at the ounce and served with a side of sex appeal. In my experience hypocrisy this blatant is easy to get angry about. So where’s the outrage? Or do we care if our children know what a blue fin tuna is?

Love it as I do, I can no longer eat a species of fish in good conscience without knowing a few things first. It is good to know from available literature what species are still abundant in the oceans (as those are what we turn to when the former culinary favorites go down) but I think we need to look a little deeper and make sure that not only are the species we turn to still healthy in number, but also being responsibly managed for the future.