My First Concert
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Jessica Valenti has a good meme
- what is the first concert you ever went to?
Mine was Sting on the Soul Cages Tour. It was pretty sweet.
This Doesn't Seem Right, Does It?
Your Score: Kermit the Frog
You scored 66% Organization, 35% abstract, and 67% extroverted!
This test measured 3 variables.
First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.
Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.
Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.
You are mostly organized, more concrete, and more extroverted.
Here is why are you Kermit the Frog.
You are both somewhat organized. You have a good idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Kermit is also reasonably tidy. He'll even dress up for interviews.
You both can be concrete thinkers. Kermit spends a lot of his time as a reporter collecting facts and teaching others. Sure he did sing "The Rainbow Connection," but that wasn't when he was on Sesame Street. You probably know what you want in life, and you have a real plan toward achieving it. You may have dreams, but like Kermit you don't let them control your decisions.
You are both extroverts. Kermit gets along with everyone. Sure a few folks annoy him, but that's just because they are annoying. Kermit likes to meet new people when he does his job as a street reporter. You definitely enjoy the company of others, and you don't have problems meeting new people... in fact you probably look forward to it. You are willing to take charge when necessary or work as part of a team.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kermit starred on Sesame Street years before The Muppet Show.
The other possible characters are
Oscar the Grouch
I have written many many tests for fun on this site. Feel free to choose another one from my handy categories. If you liked a test, please rate it before continuing.
Intelligence tests (all with answer keys)
The are you Smarter Than a 1st Grader Test Test your school smarts against my 1st graders.
The Proper Urinal Etiquette Test
The State Locator Challenge I'll show you a picture of a state, you tell me which one it is.
The 10 Tricky Anagram Puzzles Test A fun quirky IQ test.
The Following Directions IQ Test The name says it all. Perhaps my trickiest IQ test.
The Take the Jeopardy Challenge Test A great tests for fans of jeopardy. Somewhat lengthy.
"Which character am I" tests
The Your Sesame Street Persona test By far, my most popular test.
The Smurf Personality Test 16 smurfy possibilities. Smurf facts included.
The Your Seinfeld Identity Test Surely the only test here that uses "Kavorka" as a variable.
The Life in Hell Test Which rabbit are you in this Matt Groening (The Simpsons) strip?.
Tests that are actually games
The Real Choose Your Own Adventure Test 29 possible endings. Uses internal links to navigate.
The Survivor Game Great fun for fans of the T.V. show. Complex scoring algorithm.
What will you do for a Klondike Bar? Life and death hangs on each choice you make.
The Morphed Faces (with a reward) test Quick. Kind of dumb but fun.
Let's Play Rocks Paper Scissors Takes less than a minute. Bet you can't win.?
The Murder Mystery Flash Game A dumb addictive flash game I did not create.
Death related test
The Wecome To Your Funeral Test Tells you who attends your funeral and when you'll die.
The Who's Dying First Test See if you are likely to outlast me on this planet.
Would Jesus Die For Your Sins? Short and sarcastic (like me!)
Bizarre compatability tests
The Choose Your Next Planet Test When ours becomes inhabitable, where should you go?
The Would Judge Judy Yell at YOU test? Can you escape her wrath? Probably not.
The If We Were Both Lesbians... Sure you dig my tests. But would you dig me...as a woman?
The Would Zeppo Sleep with you test My very 1st test. Would my cat date you or more?
The Yankees or Red Sox fan test Which team SHOULD you root for. Fun questions.
The rest (or the "Could be deleted any day tests...")
The Do You Know the Muffin Man Test No clue how to describe this test.
The Let is snow? Let it snow test This test will tell you if you like snow. Seriously.
You too can get 10,000 takers The author reveals his secrets to creating popular tests.
The Smokey the Bear Forest Fire Test This test is really pathetic. Don't take it.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I just realized that as of yesterday I've been blogging for four years. Wow.
A Question for the Universe
After a very long drive to visit Brazen Hussy at her field station, I was somehow induced to do field work while visiting her. I'm still not sure how that happened, but nevertheless it was lovely seeing her again. I can't believe she's not coming home for another month. I then took another day-long drive back home on Monday, to return semi-exhausted to work today.
Which brings me to my question: Why is it that projects are always due at the same time? It's damned inconvenient.
I Need A Break
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I'm exhausted with politics right now. I think I'm going to take some time off - at least a week or two. That doesn't mean I'll stop posting, only that it will be strictly personal stuff.
Speaking of, I have the great good fortune of being able to go visit Brazen Hussy this weekend. A mutual friend is driving out there over Memorial Day weekend, and generously allowed me to tag along. Cool. The prospect of not seeing her for the next 6 weeks was really bumming me out.
Not Dead Yet
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I hate how everybody is acting like Ted Kennedy is dead already. He may be dying, but let's save the eulogies, shall we?
Having said that, Ted Kennedy has been one of the handful of truly great Senators. I hope that he stages a miraculous recovery - goodness knows that family deserves some luck for a change.
Speaking of Angry Primaries
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
So I haven't mentioned it yet, but my candidate for County Council did well enough in the primary to make it into the general election. I hesitate to say he "won" because he came in third, but then in this sort of race the top three get in, so that's good enough. Our success was colored, however, by some shenanigans by one of the other Democratic candidates. The leading vote-getter (J) encouraged his/her supporters not to vote for any other candidate, thus depressing the vote share of my candidate (G) and another candidate (W). Since G and W were the likely 2nd choices of J's voters, it turned out that they both came fairly close to losing.
Now I'm sure you can imagine my reaction when I found out about this. In fact, in select party circles it is now referred to as "The Conniption." It's a big scandal and everybody is very upset, and some people are out for revenge. After some consideration, I decided that I won't be one of those out for retribution. With some difficulty, I've chosen to set my irritation aside and work with J's campaign anyway. If this crap happens again in the general election, we could very well lose seats on the Council, and I don't want that to happen. Hopefully J has been shamed enough to cease this nonsense. (Of course, if I find out it happens AGAIN, there will definitely be an accounting)
Why am I writing about this? Well, let's just say that I'm trying to practice what I preach. I've argued that Clinton supporters should accept the results and rally around the nominee for the good of the party - to let bygones be bygones. I really get how emotionally difficult that can be, and how satisfying it would be to lash out. But I'm not doing that, because the stakes are just too high for that kind of behavior. I don't intend this to be read in any lecturing tone - only one of sympathy. It really sucks when you feel like your candidate has been screwed (although in Clinton's case I think the problems were more media- than Obama- driven).
This Really Isn't That Complicated
Friday, May 16, 2008
If I were working for the Obama campaign, and Clinton's people told me that she'd quit if I made her VP, I'd probably do it - just to wrap this stuff up. VP's really don't make that much difference, and it was accelerate the unification of the party going into November. But this is the ONLY reason I can think of for putting Clinton on the ticket that makes any sense.
There are two other silly arguments. First, that we need a woman on the ticket. I think disappointment with the defeat of the first major woman presidential candidate might deflate female support a little - although I think female support for Clinton is all about positively voting for Clinton than voting against Barack. But if you need a woman running mate, why choose Clinton? Why not Kathleen Sebelius, who gives you other thematic advantages as well? Unfortunately I think Janet Napolitano is probably a non-starter, given her unmarried status and all the rumors about her sexual orientation. I don't like it, but there it is. I'm also a little concerned at the idea of putting a black man and a white woman on the same ticket. Let's just say that would be pretty daring, given how badly Democrats usually get killed among white men. Maybe it's a good idea - I really can't decide. But it obviously comes with huge risks.
The other argument is that Obama needs to shore up his support among white working class voters, among whom Clinton demonstrated real strength in the primaries. Now, I think the idea that Hillary Clinton has some sort of special rapport with these voters is simply bizarre. These votes were clearly about rejecting Obama than endorsing Clinton. She's a DLC technocrat, and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that, but she is in no sense a populist champion. The very idea is absurd.
As DHinMI astutely described, Obama's real achilles heel in the primaries wasn't among white working class voters generally, but in greater Appalachia in particular
. Given that, doesn't it make a whole lot more sense to pick a running mate FROM APPALACHIA, rather than a Chicagoan-Arkansan-New Yorker who is pretty much from D.C.?
I also pretty much agree with Bowers' idea that you "double down" with a running mate to underscore your campaign themes, rather than trying to compensate for weaknesses. Given this, I really think that the VP options can be narrowed down to two. If you want a woman, pick Kathleen Sebelius, who is an articulate moderate woman who has demonstrated real ability to win over Republicans and independents. If you want a man, choose Jim Webb, who is a populist from a swing state and a former Republican. There might be others, of course, but these choices seem fairly clear.
Clinton, on the other hand, comes with an enormous amount of baggage. If the price of healing the party is putting her on the ticket, that's fine. But recognize that that is what you are doing - not compensating for Obama's weaknesses.
It's Worse Than They Think
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Despite the embarrassing results of Tuesday night's special election in Mississippi, and the Republicans' apparent state of panic
, they still haven't grasped how much trouble they're in. The conventional wisdom is still only that the Democrats will pick up 10-20 House seats and 4-5 Senate seats. There is also a common belief that McCain will substantially overperform the Republican "brand" (god I hate that phrase) to make it a close race.
It is my belief that this is a significant under-estimation of the degree of danger Republicans face. Or, to quote Atrios: NA GA HA PEN.
With an 82% percent "wrong track" number, a deteriorating economy. no improvement in Iraq, continuing corruption scandals, the large number of Republican-held open seats, McCain's bizarrely unacknowledged weaknesses as a candidate, Democratic enthusiasm --- well, that's a very long list, isn't it? No party facing this combination of problems has emerged with anything as piddling as a 20 seat loss in the House.
Right now, the fundamentals are pointing to a 5-7 point win for Obama, 30-40 seats in the House, and 7-8 seats in the Senate. And I think this is a moderate estimation - it could be even worse (or, from my point of view, even better).
Now am I predicting that the Democrats will enjoy this sort of presidential & congressional romp - not seen by them since 1964 and by either party since 1980? Well, no. Things can change, and I have been wrong often enough to toss in a caveat or two. But if I were in Vegas, I definitely put money on the Democrats beating the spread this year.
By the way, even going down by 20 seats would only put the Republicans in a 256-179 minority - pretty much where they were in the early 1990's. Now the Republicans had a lot of success in that period, so what's the problem? Well, because the Democrats are now much more cohesive, and Obama would have considerably more intra-party clout than Clinton did (who was facing an entrenched and arrogant 40-year Democratic majority).
But that wide a margin in the House would be less important than the margin in the Senate. There just won't be that many moderate Republicans left after this year - Specter and Snowe will be about it. If the Democrats pick up the seats now viewed as competitive (VA, NM, CO, MN, NH), that only puts them up 55-44-Lieberman. The good news is that several other states are looking like potential Democratic pick-ups: OR, OK, TX, NC, MS. If everything went perfectly, the D's would win 10 seats for a 60 vote margin. I'm not sure that's going to happen, but if Obama wins by 10 points on election night, it very well could.
Needing A Bigger Boat
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There's not just blood in the water, there's blood in the frickin' ship.
The Republicans just lost
a 60% Republican district in Mississippi
. For those keeping track, that's the 3rd straight special election defeat for the Republicans this year, and unlike last time, they had a perfectly adequate candidate in a very conservative district. No more excuses after this one.
My word. They're going to lose something like 40 seats this November. I would surely love to be at RNC HQ right now, and I wouldn't take Republican House campaign chair Tom Cole's job for all the whiskey in Scotland.
Okay, maybe that last part isn't quite true.
No, Reagan Did In Fact Suck
Sorry, but it's true, no matter what Sean Wilentz or Louis Bayard say now
. I've written on this subject before (here
), but with liberals
now making the case for Reagan, I see I'm going to have to revisit the topic.
The core of Wilentz's case is that Reagan fundamentally re-shaped the political discussion in this country in ways that lasted for decades - at least until the present day. He also notes that Reagan successfully co-opted the cheery optimism of the New Deal and New Frontier, and that Reagan wasn't quite as ideological as people sometimes believe.
I will concede that much of Wilentz says is true - Reagan has been extraordinarily influential. But to draw from this conclusion that we accept or facilitate Reagan's rehabilitation is another matter entirely. Reagan was influential, but that influence was almost entirely a negative one
. The gigantic deficits and gruesome cuts to social services, the redistributions of wealth towards those least deserving of it, are Reagan's most obvious contributions. However, his real menace is that he unleashed and encouraged truly dangerous habits of mind in the American citizenry. Reagan's very "optimism" was was a potion of reflexive chauvinism and bizarre Potemkin politics. His chief accomplishment was to give social acceptability to the forces of evil in American life.
Reagan's disavowal of facts, his validation of ethnic and religious claims to superiority, his deliberate exclusion of roughly half the population from the acknowledged polity, his disrespect for the Constitution, his damaging propagation that we are, fundamentally, on our own - these are all trends that reached their apogee in the present administration. Bush's subordination of reality to fantasy and ideology is not a perversion of Reaganism but simply Reaganism. Bush did more damage because he didn't have the check of a Democratic Congress, not because he was somehow more pragmatic than Reagan.
At last we appear to be on the verge of burying one of the most pernicious political movements in American history. Let's not give it new life with the harebrained and self-destructive hagiography of a dead villain, shall we? Genghis Khan was influential too, and I don't see a lot of people defending his reputation.
I Hope This Is Received In The Spirit In Which It Was Written
Monday, May 12, 2008
I've worked in losing campaigns. There's nothing quite like the feeling that the voters have rejected a person whom you support, in whom you've placed great hopes, sweat, money, and time. It can be devastating. When I was 20 years old I stood in a room as the results came in, with my candidate and many other good people going down to defeat. I thought of that feeling two years ago when the Democrats retook Congress - that there was probably a 20 year old enthusiast whose beliefs had been repudiated. I felt sympathy for that person, even though he and I agree on nothing. So of course I feel for those many, many people whom I agree with 99% of the time who are now experiencing something similar.
To all the Hillary Clinton supporters, men and women who have been and will be my allies in the future: thank you for your work and faith, thank you for your championing of the first (major) woman candidate in history, thank you for your determination. Your efforts have not been in vain. Although your immediate object may have been denied, your ambitions are only deferred. For now there's still a perfectly good substitute, and I'm convinced that there will be a woman president before too much longer.
Before I Leave At This Unseemly Hour
Friday, May 09, 2008
I have to go to the airport at 4AM, but before I depart for my graduation, I must report the following tidbit:
In response to a negative attack from his general election opponent, Barack Obama said that John McCain, who had asserted he would run a clean campaign, had "lost his bearings
." McCain is whining that this phrase is a form of agism. Uh-huh. John? You had just said Obama was supported by Hamas
. Shut up, you hypocritical sell-out.
Barack is going to kill this guy, isn't he?
Good News For Me
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Tomorrow I'm flying to my graduation, which Brazen Hussy is making me go to. Well, at least she's making the trip to it and I'll get to see her for the first time in weeks. In a little over 24 hours I'll officially be a Dr.
You know, I really thought this would be more exciting.
Yesterday I wrote that "if Clinton continues" she will cause damage to the party and to her own position in it. By "continues" I mean maintaining a highly aggressive posture vis a vis Obama, and pushing this all the way to the convention. If Clinton runs a positive campaign until Obama clinches or after the last primary, that's no big deal.
Forks or Knives
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
rudely stole the planned title of this post, so I had to make revisions. Hmph. Anyway, the primaries last night pretty much remove any doubt by all but the totally delusional that Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. While the mathematics of the situation pointed to a prohibitively high probability that Obama would be the nominee, last night turned them into a certainty. There just aren't enough delegates left on the table for Clinton to secure the nomination, even with Florida and Michigan counted. Clinton needed to come close in North Carolina and win big in Indiana, and the reverse happened. She's not going to lead in the national popular vote, and there is no way superdelegates will break for her now. Forks, indeed.
The question remains what to do next. If the Clinton people decide to keep going and pray for a miracle, her political career and any influence in the party will abruptly end. The media will portray her as desperate, the party leadership will become disgusted, and Obama will start portraying her as an ally of John McCain. In short, the knives will come out, and she will be carved up.
I don't want to see that. I admire her determination, but such an eventuality would be bad for all concerned. I do not subscribe to the "devil theory" of Hillary Clinton. I think that she's been doing the best she can to secure the nomination, but now that it's over, I think she'll drop out. Maybe not now, but soon.
Which brings me to what happens next. I think that Clinton has demonstrated enough support in the party, and still possesses enough ability to make trouble if she were to choose to do so, that Obama has to give her pretty much anything she wants. A place on the ticket, Secretary of State, whatever. Obama should make the offer soon, himself. If Clinton accepted it, they could start running for the general election tomorrow, and send that faker McCain and his contemptible party to political oblivion forever. Heck, from the point of view of having a scrapper who will attack the other side, she is the perfect
running mate. I think it would reconcile a lot of her supporters to Obama that much more quickly, as well as make Obama look extremely magnanimous.
End it. End it now. We're all very tired, so please give us a break.
Why Iron Man Isn't Your Usual Superhero
Monday, May 05, 2008
thinks that the success of the Iron Man movie is a disaster for film. He argues that because even a second-tier character like Iron Man can, with good script, actors, and directors, be hugely successful, then we can anticipate to be suffocated by nothing but potentially great actors wasting their careers in silly costumes for the next dozen years.
Now on one level this argument is silly. Any movie, from any genre, with good writing, acting, and directing is likely to do well, as long as its subject matter is not positively dreary. And any such movie will inevitably spawn imitations. I mean, how long have we been living with the consequences of Scream? Or the Godfather?
Beyond that, I think that Douthat's argument misses something crucial - Iron Man is different. First, the Iron Man storyline was drawn almost entirely from the great period of writing stretching from 1978 to 1989 - the comic's "golden age." That period dealt with some heavy themes, like the first time in comics that a major character struggled with alcoholism and total personal failure lasting for years. During that period the suit was incidental to the man, giving the stories far more power than is conventional in superhero fare. Iron Man was never a gigantic seller like the X-Men, but that doesn't mean it didn't have some really great stuff in it. So the "second-rate" jab really doesn't cut it with me.
Second, how many other super hero characters are like Iron Man? The point has already been made in the reviews: this is a superhero without any powers. He isn't a mutant or an alien or a god or exposed to radiation. He's just really, really smart. And the Iron Man adventures were never about him just punching people. He was frequently beaten up, but he always managed to out-smart his enemies. Frankly I can't think of many mainstream costumed types who are like that.
Finally, the Iron Man character is uniquely suited to contemporary culture. He's techy (where most heroes are mystical or just weird). He's deeply flawed, yet still basically a "good guy." He's compromised by his personal weaknesses and always struggling with the compromises of his life (part of the military & corporations but still determined to do good). I think that the Iron Man character, properly portrayed, is uniquely suited to reflect our own very ambiguous identity as a country. He's not an anti-hero, but he's not a goody-goody either - he's a very believable person.
In short, I think that Iron Man (whether we're referring to the Tony Stark or James Rhodes incarnation) is a perfect fit for today. I've thought so for years actually. I'm just thrilled they pulled it off.
So Ross: Stop worrying. Just sit back and enjoy.
So I finally got to see the Iron Man movie on Sunday. I'm probably not objective, since I was a huge Iron Man comic book fan as a kid, but it was awesome. I've heard that some people thought it was sexist, which I suppose is certainly possible. I didn't notice if it was because I was too distracted by the pretty flashing lights. Zoom! Whee!
Okay, I'll do my best to grow up now.
Woe Is Me
Friday, May 02, 2008
So the Iron Man movie, which I have been breathlessly anticipating for months and has received stellar reviews, is in general release tonight. I already called my brother and told him to go ahead and see it before I go to graduation (it's just going to be too busy to arrange it while I'm there). The lovely and brilliant Dr. Brazen Hussy is off in some other state, so I don't have to take her against her will. So I'm ready to go!
1) I have no car
2) The movie theater is miles from my apartment
3) I might be persuaded to hoof it anyway, but
4) There is "severe weather." Which means
5) I am bereft.
On General Election Polls
Some recent general election head to heads have Obama doing worse than Clinton against McCain both in specific swing states and nationally. This shouldn't be surprising, as Obama has endured nearly 10 weeks of attacks from Clinton and negative coverage from the press, without really responding in kind. I would propose that general election match-ups now are not a good indication of what November would look like, because Obama is much more likely to run more aggressively against McCain than he has against Clinton, for reasons I wrote about yesterday. In addition, I think it is highly unlikely that the hostile media coverage will continue uninterrupted for the next six months. The force of Clinton's attacks have been particularly strong because her standing as a Democrat gives them credibility a Republican attack would not. (Which is why they are so destructive to the party, by the way)
The average of polls show Clinton and Obama doing roughly the same against McCain, with Clinton doing better among Democratic loyalists and Obama among independents. I think that Obama's numbers vis a vis McCain are probably deflated, since it is extremely unlikely that loyal Democratic voters will stay home or defect to the Republican candidate in substantial numbers. It is far more likely, I think, for independents to continue to break against Clinton in any general election, particularly given the exceptionally high negatives created by her attack strategy on Obama.
A Note On Strategy
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Many people I know are worried about the presidential nominating contest. For some reason it has become my appointed task to cheer people up when they get discouraged. I don't know how it became my job, given that traditionally I am a doomsayer, but life takes bizarre turns. Obama's campaign appears to be losing steam in the national and key state polls due to Wright's gratuitous re-appearance on the public scene. While I don't think the effects will be long-lasting, it is quite possible it will result in his defeat in Indiana. This changes nothing, as the contest has been virtually over since Ohio and Texas (which I did not realize until a few weeks ago, having failed to run the delegate numbers before then).
Having said that, the specific concern that has been raised to me is that Obama refuses to "fight back." If only he would be more aggressive with Clinton, if only he would respond in kind, she would be defeated much more easily. This is almost certainly true, but it is also irrelevant. Obama is not running to become the Democratic nominee - he is running to become President. And unloading on Clinton is not the way to make that happen.
First, Obama is
attacking Clinton, albeit subtly in public and more aggressive through lit drops (which are way, way tougher than anything he says on the stump). He isn't really going to work on her the way she is on him because a full-force attack risks alienating her supporters in the very way she is alienating his. I wrote many, many moons ago that Clinton was in a strategic bind because she could not attack Obama without forfeiting black support in the general. Which is precisely what has happened, and why even if she were to by some miracle get the nomination, it would be virtually impossible to win the general election.
The cost of Clinton's attacks on Obama is widely understood, but it doesn't matter in the Clinton calculation because she are running for the nomination - the general, I suppose, will take care of itself. What is not usually mentioned is that Obama can't unleash a major critique on Clinton either.
If he did so, he would likely alienate feminist voters, who are just as central to the Democratic coalition as African-Americans.
There are already many people who believe that Obama has indirectly exploited sexism, although I think these arguments reach a bit too far. If Obama were actually to do so - to say that she was cashing in on her (husband's) name, that she is just an ambition and nothing else, that she has never really accomplished anything on her own, other than a failed health care plan, that she is part of the problem - that she is, in so many words, a scheming bitch (which many people believe and is therefore precisely the way to destroy Clinton if one so desired) - then he would be just as guilty of taking advantage of perverse prejudices as it seems that Clinton has done.
I don't think there is any question that Obama will fiercely attack John McCain. He has already done so, although not in a consistent way. What he will not do is do so with Hillary Clinton. If she were a man, then he might be more willing to - there would be no political price to pay. But if I were taller, my pants would be longer. Neither supposition has any bearing in this
It's a gamble, for sure. Obama's reticence could cost him the nomination. But Clinton's very different decision has already cost her the presidency.
Oh My Goodness
John Favreau might have gotten my favorite comic book character right
- which no comic writer has been able to do since the 1980's. But then I'm an old fogey.
Nussbaum is, in my humble opinion, the greatest living American political philosopher. Which is why I was so tickled to see her on Moyers