Saturday, August 14, 2004

It's official....

llamas rule.jpg

Confessions of a Link Whore; or, Blogger's Been Bery Bery Good to Me

Post number twenty four hundred and ninety-seven. Hard to freaking believe. I started about a dozen blogs that never lasted a day before I hit on the Llamabutchers forumula: having a steady and reliable co-author in Robb-O. On our best days, we've got this weird Vladimir Horowitz/Jerry Lee Lewis thing going which is a lot of fun. The fact that people actually come by to read it is just frosting: the best thing about blogging so far is having that daily dialogue with one of my best friends.

So, we're leaving blogger for good. Now to many people, having "blogspot" in your URL is the equivalent of putting "CRACKHOUSE" on your current address line on a job application. There are certain places we don't talk about in correct company: Sudan, the back of Bill Clinton's pick-up truck, and blogspot.

Truth be told, to coopt the old Garrett Morris line from SNL, "Blogger's been bery bery good to me." As is clear from the post below, I'm cheap: I don't want to pay when I can get something equally good for free. Now, the magic all falls into how you define "equally good" and for me, for this weird hobby that blogging is, that's what it has been.

Precisely because there is no entrance fee is part of the secret of the revolution in American politics and media being unleashed by Big Blogging. Any old jackass can do it. All you need is a voice and consistency. A copy of photoshop helps.

So we are moving, to the strange little universe of Munivinia--the mu.nu URL suffix. Why? Because they were nice enough to invite us, and, well, it's not costing us anything.

No particular title for this post

I've been away from the blog since Tuesday, and our old pal INDCent Bill is having fun razzing my laziness in the comments section of the last post. Fair enough, and quite in keeping with the usual back and forth banter via email, but there's been a whole lot of stuff going on that I just want to unload in one post.

First is that I hate August. Hate's perhaps the wrong word, I try not to hate anything (as it's quite a destructive emotion). Rather, August is always a trying month in ways that I can account for, but also in ways that I cannot fathom. I can account for the "back to school blues," the sense of let down that summer didn't live up to the mountainous expectations of the spring. This was a very good summer: lots of fun family time, a bountiful return from the garden, a great trip to the beach, really no complaints. But still, there's something about August for me that has always spelled "nevermore," and to be perfectly honest I don't know why. This weekend is always particularly hard as it's the time for the Mystic Art Show in Mystic CT. Growing up, and then in high school and college summer jobs, the Art Show weekend was the huge end of the summer event, measured in shear volume of visitors to the area and guests coming by. In college, it usually signalled the beginning of the exodus of friends away. I remember once, it might have been my freshman or sophomore year in high school, having dinner with my family and my grandparents in the Bee-Bee Dairy on a tuesday, the day after Labor Day, and a tumbleweed might as well have been blowing down the middle of the street in Mystic. Quite a contrast to a few weeks before. This is also the time the first leaves start to begin to change. Maybe I'm just getting old.

This week we came back from our trip to Ithacam NY. It was a fabulously good time and the kids were great, but basically just lost it about half way into a 9 hour car ride. Just. lost. it. That was Wednesday, and basically it wasn't until last evening that I suddenly realized I hadn't had to raise my voice or parcel out any punishments in a couple of hours. I'm the primary discpline guy in our house, and while I really don't like it, the alternative is not worth it. It's one of the prices of the job, I guess. Bascially, all has been quiet on the behavior front for about 24 hours, so I think we're settled back into the normal routines. It's easy to forget as a grown-up with all your cares and worries that sometimes it's not easy being 5 1/2.

The other big headache around here is financial. Actually, the problem's all in my head, in that every once in awhile my brain goes into Gimble Lock on matters. Yesterday, the notary came out for us to sign papers as we were refinancing the mortgage. My wife's a CPA by training, and so everything's straight and cool---it's just seeing all that spelled out on someone else's paper still is enough to freak me out. I was born in 1966, but somehow as a kid I had the read-only-memory buffer in my brain permanently imprinted by my older relatives with Great Depression stories. Basically, I'm hardwired not only as an uptight, Calvinistic Connecticut Yankee, but with sensors permanently set on "economic catastrophe is a comin'." I don't like debt, and my wife likes to joke that it's nearly impossible to get me to go out and buy anything more expensive than, say, a pair of pants without multiple store visits and suitable mullings over. She's wont to say "God won't hate you and smack you down for wearing a new paper of Dockers, dear." So far she's been right, but you never know....

This fun is compounded by the fact that we are buying a new car. As you can imagine, I'm about as much fun to car shop with as John Goodman in a Whole Foods. The car we're replacing is mine---a fourteen year old Volvo wagon with close to 200K miles, but that's starting to become unreliable. I can strand myself, yes: but if I strand my car pool, I'm toast. We've been looking at three cars: a Subaru Forester, a Volvo sedan and a volvo wagon. Truth be told, if price were no issue (which means if they tripled my Wellbutrin meds) I would want to get a Saab. But I can't bring myself to do it. (Yeah, I know, that's weird as well as pathetic. Waaaaaaaaa.)

The last thing mulling around here is getting the new place up and running. The frustration for me has been having to learn to think in terms of stylesheets: I have done a lot of HTML design quite well, but I've always thought from a design perspective in terms of tables. It's been a pain because it's like learning a new language that's enough like the old one but the grammar is completely different. One way or another, though, we're moving.

So, that's what's kicking around my head the last couple of days. That, plus I'm trying to finish this conference paper that's been a real slog to get the words to come together. Sometimes writing is the most frustrating thing in the world.

So that's me, Mr. Vegas. How's everything in your world?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm taking the risk here of Jello Biafra coming to my house personally and kicking my ass

The beatings I'm willing to take to keep you guys happy!

holiday in cam.jpg

[Note to INDCent Bill and other youngsters: a long, long, time ago in a place far, far away, there was this really cool punk band named the Dead Kennedys.....]

Llama Vacation Blogging

Okay, this is post #2495, so I'll let Steve-O turn over the meter, thereby inaugurating our move to the new digs. I'd only ask Steve to remember that we've blogrolled a bunch of new folks since he last played over there, so we probably need to redo the new blogroll. (And I still owe some new names, as well.)

Gosh, is it Tuesday already? Time flies. My exit Friday afternoon from my old firm was enlivened by a bomb threat that cleared the building. I dashed for the garage and got my car out, rather than having to stand on a street corner for an hour waiting for the police to call us back in. But it put something of a crimp in the traditional round of goodbyes.

In the meantime, I spent a great part of the weekend installing nylon netting around the base of my garden fence. If this doesn't stop the Wraith Rabbits, I'm buying that Daisy air rifle, regardless of what the Missus might say.

Yesterday as I was mowing the lawn, I saw a cool sight: Hearing a momentous roar overhead, I looked up in time to see a B-2 Stealth Bomber cruise by. Awesome. I've never seen one before. We live in the flight path of commercial jets heading into Reagan National (at least when the wind is in the South). In fact, the last time I saw military planes over our house was after 9/11 when fighters were doing CAP circuits over the Potomac Valley. This guy was heading north and climbing. Don't know where he was going. Also, these things may be radar-stealthy, but dayum are they noisy!

So we're off to the Hamptons in the morning. It's under 6 hours from here if the traffic isn't too bad - I think my record time is 5 hours and change. I lose a bit of time because, being afraid of heights and bridges, I'm too much of a coward to cut the corner and cross the Verrezanno Narrows. We go up and around via the George Washington and the Throg's Neck bridges to the Long Island Expressway. It adds a bit of time, but to me it's worth it.

The weather forecast says another early front is coming through, with storms the next couple days and they highs in the 70's at the beach. Perfect. I'm bringing a couple extra books in anticipation of the rain.

Well, I probably won't do much more posting until I get back a week from tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope all y'all are getting some down time in as well and look forward to coming back tanned, ready and rested.

Yip at you later!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Interesting days

Robbo won't like the analogy, but are we witnessing the Battle of Atlanta and the beginning of the March to the Sea phase of the War on Terror?

(I use that analogy because of the relevance of the Battle of Atlanta to the election of 1864.)

YIPS! from Robbo - You wrong me. In fact, I like the analogy a lot. Not only because I think it's apt, but also because my great, great grandfather served in the Atlanta Campaign as a lieutenant in the 10th Ohio Light Artillery. (Alas, he wasn't in the March to the Sea - his unit got posted to Marietta for the duration.)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

GO THUNDERBIRDS! Or, do your best impression of a dead Chicagoan voting for JFK I in 1960

INDCent Bill points us to this German poll about the election: visit and visit often, stuff the damn little ballot box. (Bush is up 58% to 33% at the moment). Meaningless? Absolutely. Designed to drive Peter Jennings nuts? Absolutely.

Post number twenty four hundred and ninety one

One of the new little features blogger has installed is the post number indicator, which I guess is useful if you are busting out a steven den beste sort of jag and need to track down quickly what was that pithy quote on your piece about how Japanese anime when viewed backwards and upside down sheds light on the neo-Jacksonian strategy shift of the Corps in Fallujah, when viewed through the lens of the Phillipines guerilla war. Or something. But for us, it serves as a helpful milepost: Rob, let's do an even 2500 posts, and then make the move to moo.knew.

I've been on vacation since Wednesday: lots of waterskiing, trips to the science museum with the kids, paper mache dinosaur making (gotta love rainy day activities), outstanding crabcakes (made by yours truly) last night couple by a wicked gazpacho (I'll supply the recipe for anyone interested), and movies, lots and lots of movies.

Two recommendations: The Village and The Manchurian Candidate. Now for the latter, I was very skeptical going in, just on the principle that you cannot eff with one of the great works of MISTER Frank Sinatra. The original 1962 version is a truly great movie: creepy, eerie, provocative, stunning, bizarre, cool. Perfectly cast. Why mess with that? As Yoda would say, "Skeptical indeed was one." And I almost walked out in the first five minutes when limp puss sack Al Franken made an appearance. But.......what a payoff. Meryl Streep is in the Angela Lansbury role as the evil mom. Now, if your only experience with Angela Lansbury is "Murder She Wrote," well, dude, you just don't know Angela Lansbury. Trust Stevie on this. Amazingly, the makers of this movie actually paid attention to the original and while changing the premise of the villains, it plays tightly within the parameters of the original: the character's names, the rough sequence of events, the trips between New York and Washington on the train. One difference was that in this version it was clear that something was going on, that Major Marco wasn't just nuts. And how Meryl Streep channels Hillary: hairdo, dress, mannerisms, accent, ambition.....somebody obviously didn't give Mr. Franken the full script on this one.

The Village was excellent as well. I know many of the critics don't like it, but I think they are off base. When we are over on the new site next week, and we can go into the larger section type posts, I'll write more about this so that people who don't want a spoiler (and there are some doozies of course, it being a M. Night Shyamalan movie and all). But I think this one is a masterpiece that won't be as popular as The Sixth Sense (aka the post-modern ghost story) but in many ways is that much better.

Well, time to go as the rain has stopped.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Set The Way-Back Machine, Sherman!

Sheila has another question for us. If you had a Time Machine, what five times and/or places in history would you like to go visit?

Here are some of mine, right off the top of my head and in no particular order:

-Augustan Rome
-London and Vienna in the 1780's/90's. (Amongst other things, I would go to every single Mozart and Haydn concert I could)
-The Battle of Mount Baden, where King Arthur routed the Saxons (assuming it really happened)
-The raising of the Siege of Vienna in 1685, where the Pole Jon Sobieski led a genuine last minute surprise cavalry charge to defeat the Turk (echoes of the Ride of the Rohirrim?)
-The Restoration of Charles the Second

This one is worth thinking about more, but I've got to run....

A Friday Political Hot-Button Meme

I've seen this both at Impenetrable Prose and Reflections in D minor. If all the cool kids are doing it, I've got to jump in:

1. I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. Not true. We used to live down the street from the senior Donk in the Virginia House of Delegates. A real nice guy - I used to chat about gardening with him. One year, the Republican running against him was, I'm sorry, a real dick. I couldn't go with that.

Steve:I've pulled both levers. I voted for Joe Lieberman (over that puss nut Lowell Weicker) in 1988 for Senate, for Virgil Goode for the House (before he switched), and some local elections where the parties really have no ties to the national organization.

2. I think my taxes are too high. Uh, yeah. Today's WSJ, as a matter of fact, carries an editorial suggesting that the best way to reform the tax code is to abolish withholdings. Let everyone write a big ol' fat check to Uncle every year to know exactly what they're paying. Buh-lieve me, you'd see a groundswell for lower rates pretty damn fast.

Steve:Yeah, but I'm a congenital whiner that way. On instinct I think that lower taxes and regulations are better economically over the long haul, but hey, that's what they taught us in the Young Hayek Pioneers.

3. I supported Bill Clinton's impeachment. Yes, but perhaps not as gung-holy (is that a word) as some people. And I kinda figured it was doomed in the Senate.

Steve:Perjury and obstruction of justice are felonies; felonies are "high crimes." The situation that caused the perjury and obstruction do not matter.

4. I voted for President Bush in 2000. You bet.

Steve:Yes, and I think I swayed a half dozen our so normally donkey votes for Nader. Ahh, the power of radio. (Insert Scooby Doo laugh here....)

5. I am a gun owner. I really don't know. My father keeps a number of shotguns that are technically "mine" - presents and so on - but I don't have any in the house.

Steve:If the general category is "guns" instead of "firearms" yes, we do: my wife owns about six glue guns, one an automatic make that Chuck Schumer has been trying to get off the streets for years. Heck, she even sold one last year to a neighbor, so that would make her an unlicensed gun dealer.

That said, I'm a big believer that if you read the first amendment (as the Court has done) to include topless dancing as "expressive artistic and commerical speech," than you can't take an excessively narrow reading of the second amendment to include only Brown Bess flintlocks kept at the local arsenal. My pet peeve, however, is one amendment further: I'm the world's biggest third amendment absolutist.

6. I support school voucher programs. I certainly support the concept. And I am gob-smacked by the limousine liberals around here who send their kids off to 20K + per year elementary schools and then tell the poor that they should just deal with the public system and shut up already.


7. I oppose condom distribution in public schools. I've never understood the logic of "Well, you really shouldn't do it, but if you do...." Too much nudge-nudge, wink-wink about it.

Steve:Hello? This has to be one of the stupidist public policies yet developed. Why not give out free lighters as well---"hey, you know smoking is bad for you, but hey, you're teenagers, so here's a free Zippo..."

8. I oppose bilingual education. So far as it prevents assimilation into the English-speaking culture, absolutely.

Steve:If it means getting francais out of the classroom, I'm all for it! Seriously, I think this was a very well intentioned policy that was stunningly stupid and arrogant in its inception and has been a complete and total disaster. But then again, that's just me, Mr. Vegas.

9. I oppose gay marriage. Yes, on grounds of faith and tradition. But I do not oppose legal recognition of civil unions.

Steve:No. But that also means that the state can't ban polygamy either (not that I'm interested in that, but rather if the state can't ban consenting adults from marrying, the state can't ban consenting adults from marrying. Sorry, Sully, it's a pandora's box you've opened.

10. I want Social Security privatized. Social Security is doomed. It's a simple matter of population mathematics. So we'd better think of something pretty creative to ward off the crunch. It's a generally sound proposition that people make better choices when their own money is involved.

Steve:Yes, for the baby boomers and under. The older folks are grandfathered in, literally. But for the rest of us, it's an intergenerational ponzi scheme and I'll be damned if I'm going to be shovelling my hard earned money to some fat and lazy Escallade driving baby boomer whining about how the latest botox treatments are not covered by Medicare. Thanks a boat load, Dr. Spock, you useless twerp who unleashed that generation of whiners on us.

11. I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense. Again, I believe in the concept. Sure, we have to watch out for abuse, but to jettison the whole thing over fears of "insensitivity" strikes me as fool-hearty in a time of war.

Steve:No, I believe profiling of potential terrorists at airports is common sense, which is a huge difference from racial profiling which I think is an inefficient waste of policing resources.

12. I shop at Wal-Mart. Sometimes.

Steve:For the once yearly new underwear/socks/gym shorts/t-shirts run. Sorry if that was too much information.

13. I enjoy talk radio. I very rarely hear any of it.

Steve:No, I don't listen to talk radio generally because since I do a fair amount of it as a guest, I don't want to pick up stuff by osmosis and become derivative. I love doing call in shows--there's nothing quite like the rush of it as you have absolutely no idea of what's coming next.

14. I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase "undocumented person" for "illegal alien." PC-Speak as a whole gives me the guts-ache.

Steve:News editors? I don't listen to NPR anymore, I don't watch tee-vee news, I read blogs and about 20-30 different newspapers (foreign and domestic), so no, I'm not annoyed because I completely bypass them. And hopefully, that annoys THEM.

15. I do not believe the phrase "a chink in the armor" is offensive. Is this really an issue? I do believe anyone who would take offense at this phrase is a moron.

Steve:Grow up. However, there are whole sets of words that have certain sounds in them that I no longer use at all for fear of having them misheard. I have a eastern Connecticut accent with a deviated septum to boot, so I have a distinctive sound pattern, and life's just too short to do otherwise. Does this bother me? No.

16. I eat meat. Mmmmmmmm....meeat....AAauguhggwgag!!!!!!


17. I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty. No way! Bitch set him up!

Steve:Yes, although it's quite possible that his eldest son did it.

18. I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured. Well, I was very pleased.

Steve:Yes, although I was displeased the local population didn't get a chance to give him the Mussolini treatment.

19. I cry when I hear "Proud to be an American" (God Bless the USA) by Lee Greenwood. No, I think it's a little hokey. Of the crop of post-9/11 patriotic country songs, my two favorite probably are "Have You Forgotten" and "Letters from Home".

Steve:No, but I've cried to Springsteen's "The Rising." And I have to leave the kitchen every morning for fear of seeing the digital clock o n the stove register "9:11" That still freaks the bejeebus out of me.

20. I don't believe the New York Times. I think they even fudge the weather forcasts.

Steve:Screw the NYT and the horse they rode in on. Their day is over. And history will remember Arthur Schlessinger Jr. only as an ideological hack, if he's remembered at all.

UPDATE: The Queen of All Evil weighs in. And apparently this all started with Michelle Malkin. (Perhaps I should have known.)

FURTHER UPDATE: Just to complete the Web's McMillan & Wife combo, here are Dean's answers.

Llama Senior Week - Zero Hour

Well, it's getting on towards time for me to finally clear out of my office. What is politely deemed my "exit interview" is scheduled for 2:00 pm. In the meantime, there's not that much else for me to do except cart a few posters down to my car.

I was trying again to figure out why I am so tired last evening and it finally sank in on me that, on top of everything else that has been going on, I need a vacation. Badly. Haven't had one in a year. Well, as of later this afternoon, I get two delicious weeks off, made even more so by the fact that I am starting fresh at my new DOJ gig when I get back. That ought to recharge the batteries some.

Next Wednesday we're off to the beach to stay at my wife's grandmother's bungalow. It's in the Hamptons, about 10 miles or so from Sag Harbor, right on the beach of Shelter Bay. ("Beach" is a slight misnomer here. It is a beach, in that it borders Long Island Sound, but it's all rocky and you have to wear shoes. If you want real sand beach, you have to go across to Southampton on the Atlantic side. Fortunately, we have access to a seasonal parking pass, so we'll probably spend some time there as well.) This place is perfect for simply lolling around and not doing much of anything, which is just what I want. The only drawback is that there is no air-conditioning. Not a problem during the day, since there is almost always a breeze, but sometimes in August you will get a very still, foggy night that is so hot as to be maddening, where it almost makes more sense to sleep outside than in. Hopefully, we won't have to deal with that.

Anyway, from your point of view, the important part is that I will be computer free during that time, so no blogging. (Try and contain your grief.) Between now and then (and after our return) I will be blogging from my favorite combo of dial-up and AOL at home. It is a royal pain in the ass to try and link on this dinosaur of a system, so I will probably confine myself to more "homespun" essays about life around the Butcher's House, as well as music, movie and book reviews. (If traffic drops away to nothing during that time, I'll know exactly what you think of this kind of post.)

But boy, what a fall you're in for! Steve-O gets back at the end of next week (I think) and I go back on full Beltway Alert on the 23rd. And finally, after a long summer of promises, promises, we're going to switch this whole operation over to our new digs. (If you haven't had a peak at the new shop yet, be sure to go poke around. We're still fiddling with layout and whatnot and any comments about what you'd like to see there would be greatly appreciated.) Between my new adventures as a gov'mint lawyer, Steve-O's recharged and remedicated brain, getting acquainted with all our new MuNu friends and the upcoming election humdinger, we should have plenty of choice Tasty Bits (TM) for you to snack on. Yip! Yip! Yip!

This Is Smart

Dubya takes a few steps to the side of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth and their ad blitz against Kerry's Vietnam service. But even better, the White House takes the opportunity to bash all so-called 527 Groups, outfits that operate within the loopholes of campaign finance regulations. Most of these organizations, like MoveOn.org, are rabidly anti-Bush.

Jeff at Shape of Days parses out the press briefing, suggesting that the issue was teed up so that Bush's spokesman could smack it out of the park.

Well done, Scott McClellan.

Yips! to Katie of the Resplendent Mango.

"Crack Young Staff"?

Just like anyone else who appreciates good taste and rapier-like wit, I make a point of reading the Hatemonger's Quarterly every day. Not only are the HMQ's postings loaded down to the Plimsoll mark with generous helpings of said taste and wit, they are (or have been) a bright beacon to me in the otherwise stormy and fog-bound sea of Youth Politics. Surely, I have thought to myself many times, a "Crack Young Staff" with such a healthy frame of mind is a source of hope for all of us that the Younger Generation is not made up entirely of slackers, neo-hippies and other grungers.

Alas, my faith has been shaken. In today's post, the CYS dredges up the ghost of Milli Vanilli and their controversial fall in 1984. 1984! What real Young Person remembers 20 year old events? What real Young Person remembers 20 minute old events?

So I appeal directly to the Crack "Young" Staff: Please dispel my sneaking suspicion that you are really a pack of rapidly-approaching-middle-aged geezers like me! Please reaffirm that you are the Crack Young Staff that you purport to be! How, might you ask? Perhaps you can incorporate some hip, up-to-the-nanosecond "pop-culture" references into your next post, something that will go rocketing right over my head. For example, I see the name "Jessica Simpson" all the time, but haven't the remotest idea who she is. I couldn't name a current "hot" band if you paid me. I've never seen a single episode of any so-called "reality show" on the tee-vee. I don't know if "what up?" is still a correct greeting. Surely there is ample material here with which you can demonstrate that you are truly members of the Younger Generation.

Don't let me down! I love jewels such as PYWTTGOAWHDASW, but I revel in the notion that they proceed from the collective brains of a group of young'uns, most of whose peers can't get beyond the monosyllabic "Dude". Please keep that dream alive!

Spoiled Brat Politics

The ever-superb Victor David Hanson. You know what to do.

Wow, What A Morning!

An incredibly beautiful day here in Your Nation's Capital, the kind that gives you some hope for the future after the tortures of summer - bright, cool, crisp, a keen wind whipping in from the northwest. Indeed, I think the cold front that came through yesterday can count as this year's first hint of fall.

It's awfully early this year. Usually, one doesn't expect a day like this for another three or four weeks.

Maybe it's a sign of an approaching Ice Age.

Or maybe it's Global Warming.

I dunno. But now I'm getting all worried. It's nice, yes. But perhaps it's too nice....

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Kerry's Alan Alda Moment

This is rapidly heading towards farce. Stand by for some serious poll number shifts.

In a speech today, Kerry vows to fight "a more sensitive war on terror".

I can just see it now. "Oh, Bin Laden. I'm very, very disappointed in your behavior. I know you're just acting out against us because we don't always listen the way we should, but your actions have just got a little too inappropriate. I think you need a time out in the Happy Corner to think about things."

Yips! to Allah, who has a link to the WaPo transcript.

The Old Reliable

Just when you feel you're washing out and your audience is going to start saying it with tomatoes, Google comes to the rescue. I am, er, intrigued by the fact that we are No. 2 for "pics of butchers ham".

Well, with all due modesty, all I can say to whoever came here on that one is: you'll need a wide-angle lens.

Another Llama Apology

Well, the good news is that I have virtually stripped my office of everything. I'm sitting here amid bare walls, stacks of docs to be tossed and a couple of boxes to be sent over to my new digs. As I had hoped, about the only thing I have to do tomorrow is turn in all my firm identity stuff and suffer through all the faux-chumminess of the farewell party.

The bad news is that I am fully aware that I've been throwing ducks the past couple of days, mostly posting very lame stuff that probably doesn't interest you all that much. For this, I feel I owe all of you an apology. We've worked hard to build this place up and I can't help feeling I've let everyone down a bit by serving up such weak material.

I suppose winding things down here after five years is having more of an impact on me than I had anticipated. The alternative explanation, that I haven't had a drink since last Sunday, I refuse to entertain since it makes me look rather pathetic.

Either way, I promise to try and buck up so as to deliver some genuine Llama keepers before I go on vacation.

Llama Yips!

We've had a goodish amount of traffic come over from Kesher Talk, a blog of all things Jewish, thanks to Judith Weiss, who linked Steve-O's Moore the Hutt photoshopping antics.

Thanks muchly and welcome to the Butcher's Shop!

Why Six Year Olds Don't Run The Space Program

We had a nice time at the water park yesterday but got cut a little short when a line of showers and storms rolled in. By the time we had gathered up all our things and were ready to head out into the parking lot, it was pouring. Standing under the tent at the entrance kiosk, I had the following conversation with my eldest:

Me: Alright - let's go [out to the car].

She: But it's raining! I need an umbrella!

Me: You're soaking wet from the pool already - what possible difference does it make now?

She: Oh.

Llama Apology

One other thing - I mentioned earlier in the week that I was going to try and fiddle with the blogroll to add some new Llama friends. I'm very sorry I haven't got round to that yet, but promise that I will. So please be patient.

Llama Senior Week - Day 4

Well, today is the day that I hope to have all of the files and other assorted junk cleared out of my office, leaving nothing but my coffee cup and a few odds and ends to go in the take-home box. It's the final push, but it's hard to do when you just don't give a damn anymore.

The only things I should have to deal with tomorrow are the "exit interview", in which my ID, passwords and other firm-related goodies are stripped from me like the insignia of a soldier about to be drummed out of the corp, and the dreaded "Farewell Party". Of the two, I am looking forward much more to the former. I expect to collect plenty of material for a really snarky after-action report. Be sure to tune in.

One bright spot: a bunch of the secretaries appear to be making up some kind of going-away basket for me and sent a deputation to find out what kind of champagne I like. As a matter of fact, I really don't like champagne very much. By smooth diplomacy, I was able to suggest that a bottle of Scotch (Island single malt, if you please) would be much more appreciated. So I've got that to look forward to.

UPDATE: My spy among the secretaries just informed me that she was able to head off some of the more elaborate cake suggestions that were floating about. You see, I don't much like cake, either. Instead, I think it's going to be some kind of ice cream concoction. Good enough, if I have to eat a dessert.

Pump You Up!

This is a good idea: John of TexasBestGrok stumbled across the USMC's Physical Fitness and Swimming Requirements and has started using them as a marker to measure his own performance.

I think I'm going to try the same thing. It's one thing to come up with your own routine in a vacuum. It's something better to judge yourself against a standardized scale, especially one with incremental toughness built into it like this. Looking at the chart, I think I could probably manage a third class rating now. It would be nice if I could bump that up. (Of course, I turn 40 in a few months, so I'll pick up some points just by default.)

Heh. But Now I'm All Hungry!

When I saw the title "Bratblogging", my first reaction was that someone else was serving up some Gratuitous Domestic Posts (TM). But now I see that this is the kind of brat I don't mind at all.

Yips! to Glenn.

Kerry. Is. Toast.

Why? Because the Divine Peggy is joining the Bush Campaign.

We're not worthy!

UPDATE: Hemmingway at The AlpacaBurger Forum (just scroll) compares recent Dem and GOP draft picks and concludes that the Donks got robbed. Yup.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Llama Senior Week - Day 3 - Update

Time for this Llama to check out for today. My girls have been after me all summer to come with them some weekday afternoon to the local water park. Today is the day, so I am off to meet the mermaids.

Besides, after this morning's ranting and snarking, I think I need to cool off a bit.

Yip at you later!

Llama Senior Week - Day 3

Today I'm clearing out my email. At the moment, I have 20,268 messages in my "deleted items" folder, with probably another 8000 or so to clear out of other boxes. I confidently expect that when I hit the "empty trash" button, the firm's entire system is going to suffer core meltdown.

That's a shame.

Llama Reading Recommendation

If you don't read Rich Galen's Mullings column, you really ought to. Rich is a professional pol-handler, operating in the heart of Your Nation's Capital (well, in Alexandria, anyway) and almost always has something smart and funny to say about things. Today, Rich bursts out in song over the Dems' dead-cat bounce.

Seriously, tho, you can get Rich's column zapped into your email box every morning - and it's free! Sign up today. You'll be glad you did.

And Now For Something Completely Different

An actor with chicken-pox.

Light Fuse, Stand Back

Tim Worstall is pursuing the story of Amy Richards, the woman who was featured in the NYT Magazine a few weeks back for deciding to terminate two out of the three triplet fetuses she was carrying because she didn't want to have to "move to Staten Island and buy mayo from Costco". A friend of Tim's actually had an email exchange with this woman, reprinted in Tim's post, that frankly does not do much to improve her standing IMHO.

Our friend INDeCent Bill takes Tim to task over one of his arguments, specifically his estimation of how far $40K will go in New York. Bill is right about this. And he makes some decent general points about family planning and financial stability.

I stayed out of this the first time around and God knows why I'm getting involved now, but it seems to me that another point needs to be emphasized. Budgeting for children is extremely important. But you can never be absolutely sure of your calculations. And more fundamentally, children, even in the fetal stage, aren't a commodity, they're human beings - you can't simply send some back if you find you've got too many. Instead, you adjust to the circumstances as they arise. You wanted one, you got three. You didn't want any, you got one. You deal with it. "Quality of Life" arguments don't wash with me when the alternative is death.

Indeed, it seems to me that all of this goes right back to where the issue of "choice" ought to be in the first place. If you choose to be sexually active, you run the risk of pregnancy. If you choose to try and become pregnant, you run the risk, as here, of getting more than you bargained for. Truly informed choice consists of understanding all the possible consequences of your actions and either accepting the risk and responsibility for them before you engage in them or else, if you don't feel you can handle the consequences, refraining. This is why I have always been particularly aghast at the "choice" argument as applied to abortion-as-birth-control. In that context, such a choice is, in fact, a method of getting out of the consequences of one's actions.

(And before people start flooding the Mail Sack with angry "yeah, but -" emails, let me just state for the record that I am not a zealot. Crackpots who shoot abortion doctors and bomb clinics should have the book thrown at them. I believe there are and always have been perfectly legitimate medical reasons for considering an abortion. I accept the argument in favor of abortion in the case of incest. I am more uncomfortable in the rape context, since, although by definition no choice is involved, the crime is hardly the fault of the fetus. Nonetheless, I am willing to tolerate it. But about 90% of the whole bloody debate is about abortion as birth control, and that I find to be barbarous.)

Okay, that's all I'm going to say on the subject.

UPDATE: Well, almost. Just for the sake of full disclosure, let me also point out that I believe these issues are a matter for state legislatures, not Supreme Court fiat. Given that, if Virginia were to decide to permit instant, full term, no questions asked abortions, so be it. I wouldn't like the law, and might work to persuade the legislature to change it, but I'd respect it as long as it was on the books.

School Daze

Congrats to Steve-O for making the Commissar's Blogville Class of 1965 Yearbook. It's good to see some recognition for his work in the Young Hayek Pioneers.

Bleat-Like* Furry Little Bastard Watch Update

(*Not intentional. It just came out this way. Sometimes many of the forces in my mind converge at the same junction and it gets a bit messy. Think Gettysburg or Five Forks and you'll see what I mean.)

Bad news greeted me when I got home last evening: Sauron's Wraith Rabbits are back in the garden and have been reinforced. I found two of the fiends within the perimeter and saw another scampering off into the underbrush as I dashed down to the gate. Nasty, sneaky, tricksy little thiefs! For some reason, they seem to have lost interest in the purple magnus (which are really starting to establish themselves, finally) and instead have been focusing on the black eye susans. They don't seem to care for the joe-pye or the various butterfly weeds and bushes and have completely ignored the columbine and salvia. Go figure.

Well I'm nothing if not the Man of Action. To say it with rocks was for me the work of an instant. Nearly got one of them, too. I must have provided an entertaining sight, though, dancing frantically around the garden, throwing rocks and yelling, "Goddam rabbits!" The neighbors might have mistaken me for George the Third in one of his less lucid moments. (That is, assuming they knew who he was.)

Speaking of George III, according to the biography by Christopher Hibbert that I'm currently reading, the story that the poor man once mistook a tree for the King of Prussia and entered into conversation with it, going so far as to shake its hand, was false, a slander put about by some of the Prince of Wales' disreputable set to try and bring about the Regency more quickly. Awful people. Awful, awful people. Thank God for Billy Pitt.

But I digress. Since the Daisy air rifle option continues to face insurmountable opposition from She Who Must Be Obeyed, I've no choice now but to run chicken wire around the bottom of the fence. (I think I mentioned earlier that there is wire in place now, but the holes are sufficiently large for the filthy little vermin to squeeze through.) Fortunately, I finally have some time on my hands, so I can put this plan into operation instanter.

I've noticed before that Home Despot does not call chicken wire "chicken wire". Instead, it refers to the stuff as "poultry fencing". I've puzzled about this for a while, but still do not have a completely satisfactory explanation. However, I strongly suspect the hand of "marketing experts". My working theory is that the plain, old-fashioned term "chicken wire" has been found off-putting to the nouveau-toffs that inhabit the McMansions around here, being too closely associated in their minds with Uncle Jesse Duke, Snuffy Smith and Bob's Country Bunker. "Poultry fencing" sounds fancier, thereby appealing to their vanity while at the same time assuaging their insecurities about being tagged for a Rube by other nouveau-toffs. (As you might have gathered, as a class I don't like these people, since their behavior tends towards flagrantly conspicuous consumerism and pretentiousness, both of which I loathe. No really nice person lives in a McMansion if they don't have to and, given that the starting price for these abominations is well into seven figures around here, nobody has to.) The main problem with this theory, of course, is that these people typically do not garden much themselves, relying on the Help to do it for them. So perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the appeal is aimed at people who aspire to nouveau-toffiness, since they dream of McMansionite status but still get their hands dirty. But I'm sticking with it because it allows me to indulge in some heartfelt snarkiness about a prominent architectural eyesore and an insufferable group of people in my neck of the woods.

Actually, there is some historical precedent for my theory, found in a nifty etymological split that I read about a long time ago. Most of the English words for barnyard animals - chicken, cow, pig, sheep and so on - are Saxon in origin. On the other hand, the words we use for the product that comes to table - beef, poultry, pork, veal, mutton and the like - derive from Norman French. This is a direct result of the events of 1066 and offers a very good clue as to which group wound up tending the animals and which group got to eat them. So if nothing else, the nouveau-toffs (and the "marketing experts") could argue that they are simply following the precedent of William the Conqueror. (That is, assuming they knew who he was.)

UPDATE: I really, really love the Blogsphere. Kathy the Cake Eater suggests that if I'm that, er, pissed at the rabbits, I should use it to my advantage. I might not trust her nature skills any more than I do her ability to pick the best Jane Austen heroine, but this time she's got backup.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Oh, LAWDY! When Will I Learn?

Hot beverages and Allah make Robbo a soggy-blogger!

Llama Senior Week -Day 2 Update

For whatever psychological reason, I always love to have a large, cluttered bulletin board somewhere near my desk, on which I stick a fairly steady stream of photos, cartoons, jokes, etc. I have a habit of looking them over when engaged on long, boring telephone calls, for instance. I very rarely replace anything, just pin more stuff over it. (This is also in keeping with my habit of never throwing anything away.)

Well, I am taking down the Board O'Clutter this afternoon. One of the gems that has been in place ever since I started working years ago is a collection of some of those snarky little commentaries the New Yorker does on other publications' bloopers, or at least used to do. (I don't know if they do now because I dropped my subscription years ago.) The current crop are all, I believe, from the pre-Tina Brown Era:

Corrections & Clarifications

Dear Abby's column yesterday incorrectly stated that a man's hiccups were temporarily cured through the use of carbon monoxide. The treatment involved carbon dioxide. - Denver (Colo.) Rocky Mountain News.

(Too late.)


David Shapiro, a Torontonian who is president of O & Y Southeast, is a staunch believer in air in the environment. - Real Estate Weekly

(A man among men.)


BACK TO BASISC FOR CIRRICULUM - Boulder (Colo.) Colorado Daily

(Good idea.)


Answer: Shelley's Paradise Lost.
No winner. - Woodstock (N.Y.) Times.

(How come?)

Thought you might enjoy them.

What is going to give Dubya a huge bounce coming out of the Republican convention

Is this:

Activists Plan to Disrupt GOP Convention

NEW YORK - Activists plan to hold sit-ins at delegate hotels, take over city intersections, block doors to major corporate offices, confront GOP bigwigs and infiltrate events when Republicans come to town for their political convention.

They say the aim is not to cause harm or even stop the convention from proceeding inside Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. They will use what they call creative mischief to call attention to their disgust with the Bush administration.

"It sends that message loud and clear, that people feel so strongly that they are willing to put their freedom and their bodies on the line," said Cindy Rosin, an activist involved with the effort.

While some protest groups have tangled with city officials over permits for marches and rallies, others have been planning acts of nonviolent civil disobedience for months.

They expect to make their debut by swarming Times Square as thousands of Republicans arrive for a glamorous night of Broadway shows on the eve of the convention. A loose council of protesters will call for mass civil disobedience on Aug. 31, the second day of the convention, and activists expect to target GOP events with sit-ins and street theater.

The Manhattan district attorney has said he foresees 1,000 arrests per day throughout the four-day convention — three times the normal daily arrest volume — and these unpermitted protesters are likely to make up the majority.

The actions also protest the city's permit process itself, which critics say unfairly herds crowds away from the convention. After new terrorism warnings were announced Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said protest permits will help police focus the deployment of officers and better control the location and flow of large crowds.

"We're prepared to accommodate peaceful demonstrations," said the New York Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul Browne. "We're also prepared to deal with anyone who breaks the law."

Demonstrators say they plan to offer an alternative to the Republicans' official program.

"Inside the convention, there's a monologue," activist Tim Doody said, "a dog and pony show that runs on the fuel of corporate dollars and not on people's interests, and we want to show the majority of people whose beliefs aren't being represented inside Madison Square Garden."

They plan to create zones around the Garden, with a site for a mass sit-in and areas for street theater. Organizers also want a festive area, where activists make art, music, food and "create the kind of world they want to see," Doody said.

But their discontent — with everything from the Iraq war to the president's desire to ban gay marriage — is more likely to be the emphasis. These activists, many of whom are veteran protesters championing an array of causes, want to seize the rare chance to communicate their anti-Bush message through the world media in town for the convention.

Organizers advise protesters not to wear masks, which are illegal at New York City protests, and to find alternatives to all-black clothing. Khaki is less intimidating, one group suggests. It will also let them blend in.

"They won't know who to arrest or pepper-spray just by looking," a Web site says. "Plus, the crowd will look much more like the average American instead of a marginalized gang of malcontents — not that there's anything wrong with that."

The key words there are "street theater." Little do they realize that our own INDCent Bill, king of the Moonbat anthropological websters, will be on hand with camera and tons of batteries. This is going to be fabulous---they aren't going to be able to stop themselves, it's going to be broadcast live (THIS is the sort of stuff that the nets will carry) and it's going to reverb right into support for the President. There is no way that this street theater is going to be explained or spun away. There on full display will be the Marxist wing of the party, in all its self-indulgent, anti-personal hygene glory. My only hope is that the NYPD takes a cue from the Wesleyan University campus police: the only way to disperse a crowd like this is tear gas cannisters filled with raw beef. Nothing like seeing a vegan protester howl when she's been knocked over by a half-pound of raw ground round....

My favorite, though, is about getting the moonbats to switch to Dockers. There's a separate piece in that one alone. Bill?

Kerry seeks the endorsement of yet another foreign leader

kerry and khan.jpg

"You are een the poseetion to demand nothing, Sir. I, on the other hand, am een the poseetion to grant..nothing."

PS: have you ever seen anyone EVER wearing a blue blazer in a Wendy's? Didn't think so.

PSS: Special BONUS pshop, of Khan wearing his stylish new "Pimp style" INDC bling-bling:

khan indc bling bling.jpg

IN THE NAME OF FAIR BALANCE here's a pic of W with Don King. Personally I like the OTHER pic of the King and the President....


YIPS! from Robbo and an UPDATE: Go read Steyn. That is all.

MORE YIPS from Steve: I think Gordon gave us the winner! I've been searching around for the name of a cool Alliance and I think "The Wrath of the Neo-Khaans" is it!

Speaking of George Costanza...

Eloise of Spitbull has the details on the book that is proving to be a bestseller in France.

Reporting live from behind enemy lines

Reliable carrier pigeons have just brought the latest posting from the New England Republican, bravely filing dispatches typed furtively on a semaphore hidden in the back of an old hogshead in the loft of the barn in enemy occupied Massachusetts.

Actually, there's an easier way to receive the NER's daily dispatches: just click here, add to your blogroll if it aint already there, and tune in for Radio Free New England. He's got the Boston Herald and NYPost covered like kudzu, and if you aren't following, you'd miss important gems like this: if Kerry wins in November, Ben Affleck is going to run for his open seat.


Special message to NER: help is on the way!

That's why they call him DOCTOR Rusty Shackleford

My Pet Jawa crunches the numbers and puts to rest the Kerry contention that we are in the worst economic times since the Great Depression.

Note to Rusty: re your email, you can take this post and expand on it by looking at the old "Misery Index" figures from 1980---ie, add together the unemployment rate, interest rate, plus inflation (I think it was all three, or it might have been just interest rates plus inflation). Anyhoo, that would be a good follow up.

I don't know what it is with the Dems and history: first of all, it's having a convention lovefest for JFK I in 2004, which would have been like at JFK's convention in 1960 having a nostalgia fest for the good old days of......Woodrow Wilson. I mean, for the love of gawd, that was 44 years ago. Let the Camelot stuff rest, for goodness sakes. Second, thanks to the Democrat's core constituency of the National Education Association, most young folks don't even know who Herbert Hoover is anyway, so what's the point of the comparison?

WAIT! DON'T ORDER NOW! Special BONUS linkage! Follow the comment thread to the bottom, and look for the latest Donkey-meme, trying to pass off a famous George Costanza quote as Dick Cheney's. Don't these people have any shame? Of course, Cheney did always want to pretend to be an architect.....

PS: While our old pal INDCent Bill is hobknobbing with the nobs at the Republic National Convention, look for Dr. Rusty and I to be live blogging the event from the bar of the Chicago Hilton, where we'll be "attending" the American Political Science Convention...


Whanna explain why we're on this list?


LDH of Impenetrable Prose & Poesy demonstrates what happens when you mix paint thinner and unsupervised web-surfing.

Actually, it's cool. Except one thing: What is the deal about Gabrielle? I'd take Xena over her any day. I mean, come on.

(Ed. - Stand by for rebuttal from John L. Yeah, probably.)

Looking to bag New Hampshire's 3 Electoral Votes

Forget Florida: losing New Hampshire (or West Virginia for that matter) cost Al Gore the presidency. But for those three electoral votes....

Anyhoo, here's the editorial today from the influential Manchester Union-Leader:

CONVENTIONAL wisdom held that John Kerry would get a sizable “bounce” in the polls after his Thursday night acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. It didn’t happen. Kerry and Edwards looked more like Eeyore and Christopher Robin than the ever-bouncing Tigger.

While some polls showed that the convention gave Kerry a small bump up, some showed the opposite. A CNN/USA Today poll had Bush over Kerry by 4 percent. Where all the polls did agree was in finding that the public remains evenly divided over the two candidates. The gap between Bush and Kerry has been within the margin of error of most polls for months, and that did not change after a week in which the Democrats spent four days spreading anti-Bush rhetoric through the nation’s airwaves and newspapers without the President making a single rebuttal until the end of the week.

For the Democrats, the convention was a terrible investment. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on the event, including about $40 million in taxpayer money for security. And all it bought was a statistically negligible bump in a couple of polls, and possibly even a drop.

Even Boston businesses made out better than that. The convention famously cost local businesses millions of dollars in revenue as locals stayed away from the city and attendees spent most of their dinner money inside the FleetCenter.

A whole bunch of Democrats came to town, and it cost local businesses money? That should be no surprise. Nor is it surprising that the public got a good, long look at John Kerry and yawned.

John Kerry's "dead cat bounce" has been a very interesting development to say the least.

More Llama Musickal Posting

I realize that in some respects I am the Fraser Crane of this blog, playing opposite Steve-O's Mayday Malone. This is another one of those posts. Deal with it.

A couple of weeks back, ACD at Sounds & Fury was roundly damning and blasting period instrument performances (or as he calls them, historically-informed performances) of Baroque and Classical music. His basic argument was that all HIP treatments were too fast and bloodless and that the people who claimed the mantle of authenticity for such performances don't know what the hell they were talking about. I responded with a post which suggested that while what he said was certainly true in some cases, it was going too far to dismiss the entire movement.

I got thinking about this again last night because I was listening to a CD of Telemann wind concerti. Two things occurred to me. First, if not for the period instrument movement, it is highly unlikely that I ever would have heard any of these pieces. While a few Telemann selections have always been in the repertoire, surely one of the great achievements of the movement has been the rekindling of an interest in (and recording and performance of) a tremendous amount of 16th, 17th and 18th Century music that might otherwise have never again seen the light of day. The library of recordings available today would have been completely unthinkable thirty years ago.

Second, prior to the mid 80's I had heard some Telemann performed on a number of occasions and had listened to some of my father's recordings as well and had never really liked his work. It always struck me as rather tangled and lugubrious. But in the recordings I have now, including the one I listened to last night by Musica Antiqua Koln under Reinhard Goebel, Telemann's music sings. It's alive and vibrant, sometimes fast perhaps, but never too fast. Further, the charge that a performance like this is bloodless is, at least to my semi-educated ear, unfounded. It's light and nuanced. And because the group isn't madly overstaffed with strings, all the voices shine out. (I've noticed this effect with a number of other composers as well, most notably Vivaldi and Corelli, as well as Handel, at least as far as his instrumental music is concerned. For all three, I would strenuously recommend you try Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert, although there are plenty of other fine groups as well.)

Now here's a segue into your real Fraser Crane Moment: I used to have a cassette recording of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespro della Beata Vergine. The recording was made back in the 50's by some East Bloc state orchestra, I forget which. The funny thing is that I swear they sang it in Classical Latin instead of Church Latin. (Lots of ex-kel-sis instead of ex-chel-sis, and so on.) I used to wonder if that was the only way a Communist government would sanction such a recording at all. I still do. (BTW, I have the recording by J.E. Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists I link to above. I don't much like it. This may well be an example of historical "authenticity" being pushed too far. Way too many choir members and the thing was recorded in a cathedral in Venice so the echo is so bad you often lose the actual music.)

So, when is the Snipe Hunt?

YIPS from Steve: Fraser? I always had us pegged more as Niles Crane and Indiana Jones. Okay, truth be told, more like Niles and Cliff Claven (on quaaludes).

New School versus Old School

Michele has two links encapsulating the difference between old school and new:

New School: Roger Clemens ejected from a Little League game. Spits on an ump who calls his son out.

Old School: Obituary for Thurman Munson, Yankees catcher who died in a plane accident twenty five years ago last week.

Thurman Munson was a dirtbag, make no mistake about it: but he was just the sort of dirtbag you need around. As a kid I absolutely hated Munson, replete with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns: I was a Carlton Fisk guy, and a series between the Sox and the Yanks wasn't complete without Munson sliding cleats first into Fisk's head, or Fisk "accidently" having his bat hit Munson in the mask on a foul tip. The rivalry was intense, but it was one founded ultimately on a twisted respect: you hated Munson because he was good and tough and knew how to win. He would play injured, even if the injury came from getting hit on the head with a bottle the night before saving manager Billy Martin in a bar fight. This being the internet, there is of course a page dedicated to the Munson/Fisk Rivalry.

The difference between Munson and Clemens? Munson never made more than a $100 grand or so a year. Munson wouldn't sit out a game if a hangnail was bothering him. But most of all, Munson would NEVER have gotten himself ejected from a Little League game for boorishness.

Michele memorializes Munson as "still her favorite Yankee." It's funny how some of the players you hate when you are younger you respect when you are older. The Sox of Yaz, Rice, and Fisk I still love; but folks like Munson, Reggie Jackson, and Lou Pinella I respect now and even like in that way in which you can like Irwin Rommel: I mean, sure, he was the enemy and all, but damn he was good. Add Kareem, Magic, and James Worthy to that list. Shaq and Agassi are the same way: hated them when they were young, but now that they are old and broken down, you can see through the slick marketing to the mighty heart beating inside.

So rest in peace, Thurman Munson, and I hope there's a baseball field in Iowa amidst the corn where you can beat the [un]living crap out of Ty Cobb after he slides into home plate sharpened cleats held high. And, hopefully, someday the elders of the sport will come to their senses and find a home for you in Cooperstown.

Llama Senior Week - Day 2

The count-down to my departure from the firm continues. As it happens, I got the vast majority of what I needed to accomplished yesterday.

Given that, I'm going to try and take some time today to fiddle with the blogroll - there are a bunch of you out there who've recently added us Llamas to your own rolls (thank you very much) and reciprocation is in order.

There are a variety of opinions out there about blogrolling. Some folks are very select, some have rolls with hundreds of entries. Some folks only blogroll other sites that they read all the time, some split their rolls into "daily reads" and "other". All of this is fine and is simply a matter of taste - I don't think there is any particular right way to do it.

As you can tell, we Llamas are pretty open about blogrolling. Obviously, we bring in sites that interest us as we come across them. And simply as a matter of camraderie, we almost always list sites that have put us on their own rolls. I believe this makes for an interesting combination of voices. And given the number of different pies in which we have our hooves, it makes for quite an eclectic experience.

We've never really discussed any kind of limit on the number of sites on the ol' roll. Of course, things get a bit messy after a while and occassionally need pruning. I have been mulling the subdivision of our Cold Llama Pizza column for some time but have not really hit on any natural splits yet. Most of the blogs in this column are very much like us - talking about a mish-mash of domestic, political and cultural matters, depending on where the mood takes them. I'm not sure that there are enough blogs here of a specific character to warrant creating whole new sections yet, but I can't help feeling that something needs to be done.

Well, anyway. The original point of this post was to thank those of you who've tacked us on recently and to let you know that we intend to return the favor.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Monday, August 02, 2004

With a name like "Baby Seal Club" how can they NOT wind up on the blogroll?

Say hello to Tim over at the Baby Seal Club. Personally, I like my Baby Seal Club with extra tomato and mayonaise--it really helps bring out the distinctive taste of the seal.

One of my finer moments in my youth was putting a restaurant out of business once on the first day. I was there with the original Llamabutcher himself, a good friend of ours named Dave, and we went for dinner to this little bistro in Essex Connecticut called "The Black Seal." I think they were riffing off of "The Black Swan" which was the name of the tender boat for Australia II in the America's Cup race in 1984---Essex is kind of stuck up yacht-ee that way. Any hoo, we sat down, and the waitress gave us the menus, and there it was, right smack in the middle---the Black Seal Burger. So the the waitress came over, and of course, I ordered my Black Seal Burger, rare, and of course asked if it was freshly clubbed: because, you know, frozen just won't do. She seemed to be a tofu type anyway, and I think she lost a quart of blood straight to the old pancreas. She went over and told the owner/manager, and the next day, new name.

The thing was, the seal tasted remarkably like beef. What a rip.

Anyhoo, Tim's blog looks crisp and sharp, so let's give him a rousing welcome to the blogosphere.

More Thoughts "For The Children"

Murray at Silent Running sings an Ode to the Nanny State.

I swear that even though I am a lawyer and a soon-to-be gov'mint employee, I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment. I am also old enough to remember what being a kid used to be like. You should have seen some of the spectacular scrapes I got on my knees going down hills on an improvised "skateboard catamaran" with my friends. Oh, and not only did we have Coke cans with pull-tops, we used to put the pulls in the cans! So far as I know, no one ever accidentally swallowed one and slashed up his own throat as a result. And as for the car: Seatbelts? Are you kidding me? We had a '72 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon, complete with fake wood panelling, a big back bench and pull up rumble seats in the way-back. My brother and I used to torture my sister by sliding violently into her going around turns. Never ceased to amuse us.

Yips! to Grandma Deece.

Monday Madness Meme

Since the Friday Fives seem to have dried up, I have no problems jumping on to Monday Madness instead. Here are some true or false questions:

1. I always exercise my right to vote. False. I have voted in every presidential election since 1984, but have not always made it all the way down the menu.
2. I pay little or no attention to the campaign ads aired on television prior to a presidential election. False. But because I've become such an arm-chair expert, I look at them academically, rather than as a means of informing my choices.
3. I can see myself running for some type of political office someday. False. Not. Bloody. Likely.
4. I believe we will see a woman become president in my lifetime. True. Furthermore, I think she's going to be a Conservative, or at least a Republican.
5. I try to keep an open mind regarding all political issues. True, but. I try to judge matters within a framework. I mean, I don't feel it necessary to reexamine my opposition to the use of the tax code to redistribute wealth every time a tax issue comes up, or to rethink my support for a strong military every time a defense matter arises. Where I try to be open-minded is to see whether a given proposal or candidate will fit in to that framework.
6. I believe the drinking age should be raised. False. As a matter of fact, I think the legal age is both priggish and useless.
7. I think the legal age to vote should be raised. True. Furthermore, there should be intelligence and property qualifications.
8. I thought these questions were interesting. Up to a point, Lord Copper.*
9. I will be back to play again! Of course.

~Bonus Question~
10. If I was the moderator of this meme, one question I would ask is........Huh? Where am I? How the hell did I get here?

Yips! to LDH.

*Llama bonus points for spotting the quote.

A La Recherche Update

I just opened another rarely-used drawer and found my old T-shirt, bought during the 1992 campaign, that reads "Property of Rodham Gulag".

I used to wear this shirt while working out in the building's gym. What I always found disappointing was how few people seemed to even understand it.

Something tells me I may need the thing again in say, about, '08.

A La Recherche Watch

I was going through piles of miscellaneous papers in my drawers (insert Sandy Berger joke here) and came across an estimate from February, 1999 from an outfit called Babyguard for baby-proofing our house against our then 11-month old first child.

I have always referred to businesses like this as "The Fearmonger's Shop" (motto: Buy this or your child will die). Going down the inventory, Babyguard wanted to gate virtually every doorway in the house. They also proposed a plexiglass shield on the banister in the upstairs hallway, latches on all the windows to keep baby from either opening the sash or having it slam down on her little head and a fence around the fireplace. All told, they estimated this would run us about $700. Why they didn't recommend safety netting on all the potties is a mystery to me.

As I recollect, we eventually had them put gates at the top and bottom of the stairs, but that was about it. Safety is one thing, but all-consuming paranoia is something else completely. Furthermore, I loathe the habit of some parents of trying to eliminate all risk of any kind from their children's lives. How do they suppose their little hot house flowers are going to survive once they're out in the world? [Ed. - Easy, sue everybody. Oh, I forgot.]

Last week when no one was looking, our two year old climbed up and burned her fingers on the stovetop. Of course I felt sorry for her at the time, but I will say this - she doesn't go anywhere near the thing anymore. In the long run, I think she's better for the lesson than otherwise.

In Vino Sum

Tim Worstall has a post up concerning the line-in-the-sand issue of screw-top vs. cork. Without claiming to take sides, he points out an important biosphere effect of the cork-harvesting industry in Spain and Portugal.

I'm unabashedly pro-cork and have a more basic objection regarding screw-on tops: Once you've uncorked a bottle, why in Heaven's name would you ever consider closing it up again?

Put Down The Coffee Cup

And read today's installment of The Hatemonger's Quarterly. Pure bibliophilic magic!

Plum Blogging

Here, collected for your reading pleasure, are some choice statements by one of my favorite authors, Evelyn Waugh, about another of my favorite authors, P.G. Wodehouse.

There is a somewhat deeper story, only suggested by one of the quotes. Wodehouse was living in France in 1939 when the Nazis invaded. He and his wife were arrested at their villa at Le Touquet and sent off to prison camps. The Germans eventually let them go on condition that Wodehouse agree to do some radio broadcasts, humorous little vingettes about his life behind the wire. Being the unwordly fool that he was, Wodehouse agreed. (I have the transcripts from them in a biography at home. If you've read any Wodehouse, you immediately recognize the tone.)The Nazis attempted to make hay with these recordings by trying to get them aired on the BBC. (The Brits did not cooperate.)

As a result of this episode, there was a huge outcry in Britain, with some people branding Wodehouse as a traitor. In fact, he was almost prosecuted for treason. However, one of his staunchest defenders was Evelyn Waugh, who argued in many letters and columns in favor of Plum. Wodehouse essentially never went back to Britain, settling after the war on Long Island. But at least thanks to the efforts of Waugh and others, Wodehouse's reputation was eventually restored. (Alas, there are still those out there who would have seen him hang.)

Yips! to Mr. Enoch Soames, Esq.

Splendid Chaps!

Ha! Fooled you. This is actually a Gratuitous Domestic Post (TM) about my oldest girl, but I find it highly amusing and a possible boon to the Culture and am asking for all my fellow bloggers' help.

You see, some time back (when she was four, I believe), the girl invented a very useful verb: "to chap".

To chap is to run off your mouth mindlessly, paying no attention to anyone else around you. Using it in a sentence, one might say, "I wanted to join the discussion but Sue and Bob were chapping so much, I couldn't get a word in."

My girl also uses the word as an adjective: "Jane and Tom were being chappy and I couldn't get a word in." "John Kerry is very chappy, isn't he, Daddy?"

The word has entered the Household Vocabulary and I even thought I caught the two year old using it this weekend.

So here's a neat little meme I'd like you all to undertake: Put up a post using the word "chap" as defined by my daughter. Let me know about it, either in the comments or via the TastyBits Mailsack(TM). I want to print them out and save them as part of the scrapbook that the Butcher's Wife is putting together for her. Some day, I think it would be very nice indeed if she were able to look back on this. In fact, if there is enough support, I might just put together a new blogroll section - call it the League of Splendid Chaps.

Whaddaya say?

Blogging Bush Babes

It seems that Barbara and Jenna are starting their own blog.

I have to say this about those two: I'm a pretty average guy when it comes to, er, eye-candy. But I just can't go there with the Bush girls. As hokey as it sounds, I have so much respect for the family that it just don't seem right. So no gawking from this particular Llama.

Yips! to Doc Russia at Bloodletting. This guy, new to me, is a former Marine grunt off to med school. As always, go on over and have a look.

It's Llamapalooza In The Blogsphere!

I dunno what's going on, but suddenly four-hooved, woolly, long-necked South American herbivores are hip. Just check out the Alpacaburger Forum over at the New Counterculture! Also, the Misspent One has an interesting Google search.

On the other hand, Robert Prather is dissing us and all our friends. Them's fightin' words man! Remember - we spit.

What the......

First off, mega Llama Yips to Robbo about the impending move: I'm looking at it like my own personal episode of "Law & Order: Regulatory Law" (you know, "The people are protected against indecency on the airwaves by two separate but important groups: the regulatory lawyers who comb the regulations to impose fines, and the administrative assistants who fax for them. These are their stories (BWANG, or however one would right out the L&O sound)). Plus, I'm hoping now Robbo will be able to score me some tix so that in the second administration I'll be able to bring some marshmallows to when we finally start burning some witches at the stake!

What a weird weekend. My 7 yr old daughter had her swim league championships. Not to go all Michele Catalano on you, but I was so proud of her. This was her first year and she really stuck with it and got better incrementally each week while having a tremendous amount of fun. One of the funny things about being a dad is discovering all new emotions that hit you in funny ways: for me, some of the best therapy is just seeing her have fun. Basically, it sucked up most of Friday and Saturday, and last night was their team banquet. I snuck out yesterday morning to do the radio, a call in show where under the banner of objective political science i torched Lurch and the Beav unmercifully, which generated a ton of calls given that we were on an alt listener supported station with ads from places like the tofu shack etc. The upshot was that I missed the big news: Nomar dealt to the Cubs. What the eff?

Today is crazy as we are packing to head to Ithaca, NY for about a week and a half. Blogging will be limited at best. August, I see, is going to be a light month for the Llamas. What a weird and fun summer it has been so far. We started the shop last November, which was actually my fifth or sixth attempt at launching a blog, the only one that lasted more than a day or two. The secret for me at least was finding a great co-author, someone to provide the steady beat around which I could do my "many moods of Steve-o" schtick. I had two goals for the summer, blogwise: Large Mammal status, and 20K+ on the sitemeter, which was ambitious at the end of April considering we were crawly amphibians with around 4K visits. With Rob's jump, we'll finally be able to do the official move (as his current employer blocks all mu.nu sites, including our own) to llamabutchers.mu.nu, which will allow us to do a lot more than crappy ol' blogger can imagine. However, for all its faults, blogger has been good to us, providing an easy way into this ridiculously fun obsession that is the llamabutchers.

How has everything changed since we started? The main thing that has changed is who and what I read, which to be perfectly honest has taken me by surprise. I had this silly vision starting out that blogging was kind of like that old "5 Club" skit on Saturday Night Live, where all the folks who had hosted 5 times or more were sitting around in a lounge, swapping bon mots, smoking cigars and acting like bastards. You know, that somehow Glenn, Sully, Lileks, Vodka Boy, and Taranto would be hanging around, playing poker, letting den Beste mix drinks with the new bartender robot he built from a kit, joking about the state of the world, and that somehow, if you discovered the magical password, they'd let you join the club. What I've learned, however, is that what is fun about blogging to me is the fun in developing your own club or extended blog family. The funny thing to me is that I don't read the blogs I used to, at least quite as closely: sure, I check Instapundit, Vodkapundit etc., but blogs I used to read closely (like Tacitus and Assymetrical Information) I hardly ever look at anymore. While a link from one of the big guys was fun and all in an electric sort of way, to be perfectly honest I get a much bigger kick out of links or comments from Lawren, Rusty, Sheila, Willow, the crack young staff, Katie, John, Bill, Kathleen, Ted, the Geek, Liz, Lynne, and of course, Jen. (I would add Gordon to the list 'cept he's too damn cranky!) That's what has made this whole enterprise even more fun than I imagined when we started.

The other news is that my wife has decided she's going to guest blog on occasion, to "set me straight" and to give you, the readers, the inside scoop on life with the Llamabutchers. I'm cringing, as I saw her scanning some old photos of Robbo and I when he was in law school. I think Rob knows what pictures I'm referring to...

Yips! from Robbo. Especially with the part about developing our own blog circle, Steve-O just posted the entry I've been trying to write for about a month. Seriously, you guys are way cool.

As for Mrs. Llama - I thought you said you got rid of those pics, Steve! Duck and cover! Duck and cover!

I Am Not A Llama! I Am A Human Being!

18.75 %

My weblog owns 18.75 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

See? I can take it or leave it alone whenever I want!

Yips! to Lynn.


43.75 %

My weblog owns 43.75 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Of course, they need to add a question: "Do you regularly lie on online polls to get the result that you think would be funniest in the subsequent post to your blog? If yes, 100%"


I'm not quite ready to pop the champagne corks just yet, but God-dayum the Kedwards Campaign is stumbling badly out of the blocks. Dead-cat non-bounce from the Convention, that bad PR flap this weekend with the Marines at Wendy's (Semper Fi, you guys!), Kerry's "super double secret" plan to deal with Iraq (no info on whether it involves Wonder-Twin powers) and good ol' loose cannon Howard "The Screamer" Dean claiming that the latest terror threats are a Karl Rove stunt. I could spend half the day linking this stuff, but I think all y'all probably know where to find it already.

I've said this many times before and I'm going to keep saying it until proven wrong: There is a very real difference between entertaining the idea of an alternative to Dubya and voting for the actual person who would fulfill that alternative. Kerry has got as far as he has due to a solid block of Anybody But Bush folks, a wildly biased press corp and his sensible course of standing back and letting these two groups hammer on Bush. Kerry can't do that anymore. It's showtime. And as more and more middle of the road people see the real J. Francois Kerry and ask themselves "Do I really want this guy to be my President?" the more I believe the answer is going to be, "Uh....no."

As I say, it's waaaay too early to write the Kedwards Campaign off as farce, but it is by no means beyond the realm of possibility. If this past weekend is any indication, it's gonna be fake noses, fright wigs and seltzer-water before we know it.

YIPS from Steve: This is priceless. When Kerry talks about making reform at the CIA a high priority, I didn't realize he meant the Culinary Institute of America.... (HT to Glenn).

It's The Proustian One-Word Answer Meme

Let's have a go, shall we?

Your most marked characteristic? Cheerful intolerance. (I know it's two, but the modifier is key.)
The quality you most like in a man? Steadiness
The quality you most like in a woman? Grace and competence
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty
What is your principle defect? Impatience
What is your favorite occupation? Reading
What is your dream of happiness? Uh....
What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? Loss of a child
What would you like to be? Admired
In what country would you like to live? United States
What is your favorite color? Blue. No, yelloooooo.......
What is your favorite flower? Foxglove
What is your favorite bird? The Kingfisher (Dunno why, just always thought them cool.)
Who are your favorite prose writers? Waugh, Wodehouse
Who are your favorite poets? Keats, Milton
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Guy Crouchback (okay, he's an anti-hero). King Arthur.
Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Emma Woodhouse (No, Kathy, I'm not backing down. Spppllttth!), can't think who else.
Who are your favorite composers? Mozart, J.S. Bach, Purcell, Monteverdi, plus many others
Who are your favorite painters? Constable, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Benjamin West
Who are your heroes in real life? Horatio Nelson, George Washington, Pitt the Younger, Caesar Augustus, to name a very few
Who are your favorite heroines of history? Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth I, Eleanor of Aquitaine (I guess you could call them heroines)
What are your favorite names? Katherine, Caroline, Elizabeth
What is it you most dislike? Foolishness
What historical figures do you most despise? The French Committee for Public Safety during the Terror, Cromwell and the Roundheads.
What event in military history do you most admire? The "Jeeps vs. Giants" Battle of Leyte Gulf, Waterloo, Trafalgar.
What reform do you most admire? The rule of law.
What natural gift would you most like to possess? Better eyesight.
How would you like to die? Peacefully
What is your present state of mind? Bracing for a ea-change
To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Impatience, interest in too many different things
What is your motto? Non semper ubi sub ubi

Yips! to Jen(nifer). No, I can't do them all in one word.

Gratuitous Llama Professional Announcement

Here's a little something to stir some small interest in the Blogsphere on a Monday morning: The fact is that this is my last week in the private sector for a while. Three weeks from now, I'm moving to a new position as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice. You see, the AG and I got so chummy on our nightly jaunts - where we suck the living brains out of sleeping babies and burn crosses in people's yards - that we decided to put the whole thing on a more professional footing.

Seriously, tho, I see this as a terrific opportunity. I've been involved in a regulatory practice (specifically telecom) for a long time. There are two problems with this. One is that the practice is in administrative law - heavy on license applications and policy rule-makings and light on what you might call "real lawyer" stuff like litigation and all its attachments. The other is that when you become so highly specialized in one particular regulated industry, your professional fortunes rather tend to rise and fall with that sector. And if you've been reading the papers over the last few years, you'll know that telecom is a mess. Many firms here in Your Nation's Capital have been cutting back their practices or jettisoning them altogether. Meetings of the Communications Bar these days are fraught with gallows humor.

Well, no more for me, thanks. By hook and by crook I was able to land this DOJ gig. As I say, I'm quite excited about the opportunity - real hands-on case work, lots of good, solid on-the-job training and the development of a skills set that will be easily transferable wherever I wind up going in the future. (This is to say nothing of being able to forget about billable hours and practice development issues for a while.)

Of course there is a downside. Actually, there are many thousands of downsides, if you take my meaning. I've still got three small kids and what you might call a private sector mortgage to deal with. All I can say is that it's a good thing I like peanut butter and macky-cheese, cos I'm going to be eating a lot of them for a while. But that's okay. I look at it more as sweat-equity than anything else and reckon that when I flip back into private practice a few years down the road it will pay off. Nonetheless, if I start obsessing about money here from time to time, you'll understand why.

In the meantime, it's Senior Week here! I'll be spending the week packing up, writing exit memos for active client files and just basically telling everyone exactly what I think of them. (Well, maybe not the last.) After that, it's two weeks of well-earned vacation - including a week at the beach - and then on to the new shop. Blogging this week should be pretty lively. The next two weeks, I'll post some from home but will be computer-free at the beach. I dunno what the schedule will be when I start at DOJ - probably pretty spotty at first. But I'll have plenty of juicy new material for you, I'm sure.

Anyway, there you have it. I'm thinking a new motto here: Robbo The Llamabutcher - Your Tax Money at Work!

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