Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening day

The six months that begin today make the other six months worth living.

To make it easier for you all to ridicule me at the end of the season, I will provide my predictions for my favorite teams.

Phillies: 88-74
Red Sox: 93-69

Wild card prediction for the number of times Greg will call me a carpetbagger this season: over/under of 20.

Feel free to post your predictions for your favorite teams.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


If these pictures of Jill Carroll's homecoming and reunion with her family don't give you chills, you're Vulcan-esque.

Genesis: Born again as an ironic hipster favorite?

On Friday evening, I downed a couple I.P.A.s at one of Harvard Square's truly great destinations: Charlie's Kitchen. One of the few remaining elements of pre-gentrification Harvard Square, Charlie's Kitchen offers cheap food, great beer, and a brilliant jukebox in an atmosphere dominated by hipsters and punks.

The jukebox's brilliance stems from its general lack of cooler-than-thou bands while offering a healthy diet of great music. Spend an evening at Charlie's, and there's a good chance you'll hear the Ramones, Pixies, Clash, and Rolling Stones. If you had asked me a week ago to name a band that almost certainly would not be featured on the Charlie's jukebox, it is certainly possible that I'd say Phil Collins-era Genesis. So imagine my surprise when "Invisible Touch" began playing.

This got me to thinking: When did Genesis pass from the world of cheesy crap to ironic cheese, a la Neil Diamond and Journey? Did it happen on Friday or is this a less-recent development?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No shame

So now we know why Dick Cheney enjoys watching the Fox News Channel. Check this out. Warning: you may not want to watch it at work.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Slow day at work

I just learned that Marah was featured on NPR last week! Check it out.

Oh the humanity

It is very difficult to justify the mass slaughter of human beings, unless they are somehow dehumanized. So, as more and more Iraqis continue to be murdered in Iraq--the vast majority of these killings are not the direct result of American action, although we certainly paved the way--one way war proponents can continue to support our decision to go into Iraq is through thoughts such as the following by the National Review's John Derbyshire:
We don't particularly care whether the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds of Iraq put down their arms. We only want them to put down their arms against us ... One doesn't want to be accused of inhuman callousness; but I am willing to confess, and believe I speak for a lot of [To Hell with Them Hawks] (and a lot of other Americans, too), that the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure.
Thanks to the reporting of the New York Times's superb Jeffrey Gettleman, we know that Iraqis are human, too, and in many ways, no different from us.
Mohannad al-Azawi had just finished sprinkling food in his bird cages at his pet shop in south Baghdad, when three carloads of gunmen pulled up. In front of a crowd, he was grabbed by his shirt and driven off.

Mr. Azawi was among the few Sunni Arabs on the block, and, according to witnesses, when a Shiite friend tried to intervene, a gunman stuck a pistol to his head and said, "You want us to blow your brains out, too?"

Mr. Azawi's body was found the next morning at a sewage treatment plant. A slight man who raised nightingales, he had been hogtied, drilled with power tools and shot.


Mr. Azawi was the youngest of five brothers. He was 27 and lived with his parents. He loved birds since he was a boy. Nightingales were his favorite. Then canaries, pigeons and doves.

During Saddam Hussein's reign, he was drafted into the army, but he deserted.

"He was crazy about birds," said a Shiite neighbor, Ibrahim Muhammad.

A few years ago, Mr. Azawi opened a small pet shop in Dawra, a rough-and-tumble, mostly Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

Friends said that Mr. Azawi was not interested in politics or religion. He never went to the Sunni mosque, though his brothers did. He did not pay attention to news or watch television. This characteristic might have cost him his life.

On Feb. 22, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra was attacked at 7 a.m. But Mr. Azawi did not know what had happened until 4 p.m., his friends said. He was in his own little world, tending his birds, when a Shiite shopkeeper broke the news and told him to close. He stayed in his house for three days after that. His friends said he was terrified.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mixed messages

The lead item in the "Talk of the Town" section in this week's New Yorker discusses the growing body of evidence that global warming is a reality. It reports that Antarctica is losing ice and this past summer the Arctic ice cap had shrunk to the smallest area ever recorded.

The piece proceeds to report other ominous signs and then offers the conservative response to global warming, quoting the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online.

From the Journal:

The problems associated with climate change (whether man-made or natural) are the same old problems of poverty, disease, and natural hazards like floods, storms, and spent on these problems is a much surer bet than money spent trying to control a climate change process we don't understand.
And from the National Review Online:
We can do more to help the poor by combating these problems now than we would be reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
To which the New Yorker responds:
The beauty of this argument is its apparent high-mindedness, and this, of coruse, is also its danger. Carbon dioxide is a persistent gas--it lasts for about a century--and once released into the atmosphere it is, for all practical purposes, irrecoverable. Since every extra increment of CO2 leads to extra warming, addressing the effects of climate change without dealing with the cause is a bit like trying to treat diabetes with doughnuts. The climate isn't going to change just once, and then settle down; unless CO2 concentrations are stabilized, it will keep on changing, producing, in addition to the "same old problems," an ever-growing array of new ones.
So the message is clear: We need to cease adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Sixteen pages before that piece appears a can't-miss ad for the new 320-horsepower V8 Infiniti FX. On a 12-page insert, the reader is told relentlessly that this "SUV inspired by sports car design" is a marvel. The vehicle is "accentuated by distinctive, dynamic features that exemplify both elegance and power." It has a "muscular stance." It's "Brave. By Design."

The message is clear: We need to buy this vehicle which gets 18 mpg on the highway and add a big 'ol heap of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Trivia, NCAA Tournament edition

I apologize for my lack of posts recently. I've been, as they say in Boston, wicked busy.

So here's a factette for you: The area code of Lexington, KY--859--spells UKY on a telephone's keypad.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


On of my favorite weekend activities is to visit my local coffeeshop and read the paper, a book, or a magazine. I'm lucky enough to live a three-minute walk away from a charming little place called True Grounds.

Yesterday, I noticed that a USA Today article about ten places in America to get a great cup of coffee had been taped to the counter. True Grounds made the cut. Pretty exciting.

While I was at True Grounds yesterday, I read the following passage in the latest New Yorker:
Democratization in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it was believed, would increase the pressure on the Iranian regime. And, if the threat of military intervention was required, U.S. forces would be well situated. James Dobbins, the Bush Administration special envoy for Afghanistan, told me that in the prewar planning for Iraq "there was an intention that the U.S. would retain troops in Iraq--not for Iraq stabilization because that was thought not to be needed, but for coercive diplomacy in the region. Meaning Iran and Syria." (Italics mine)
I think that passage goes a long way toward summing up what's gone wrong in Iraq.