Monday, April 30, 2007


The last few books I've read have been exceptionally well-written and/or interesting:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: Won the Pulitzer for fiction, understandably. I just can't say enough about this book. It draws you into the lives of the protagonists and takes you from Prague to Brooklyn to Antarctica to Manhattan and along the way makes you care about them deeply. With one or two exceptions, it never crossed my mind to doubt that such truly amazing adventures could be happening to real people. (This was a selection from my mothers' club book group.)

The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America Are Winning the Culture War: Dobson has been one of the most powerful non-elected men in politics over the last two decades. This is an unbiased (really) examination of how and why he got there, and also how the Christian Right became so powerful that it was able to pull off feats like winning Dubya the 2004 election.

Three Cups of Tea: I'm only about a third of the way through this book, but I'm totally hooked. The writing is wonderful and the story is truly incredible. It follows an incredibly fascinating person that I can't relate to at all to a place I can't imagine but makes me want to be along for the ride. (Our latest book club selection.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

More meat = more heat

As Bigdra points out over at NoE, transportation and electricity aren't exactly the only bit culprits in global warming.

American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Remember: Beer has food value, but food has no beer value."

Seen on a sign over the bar at Jersey Joe's, where, apropos of nothing, male customers outnumber women 10 to 1.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

2007 deadlier than usual for drivers, pedestrians in San Jose area

The trend runs counter to what is happening statewide, where highway deaths fell 9 percent in 2006, the biggest drop in 14 years. Yet deaths on Bay Area freeways rose 9 percent last year.

"If there were that many homicides, people would wonder, `Where is this crime waving coming from?' But we seem to accept it," (police Lt. John) Carr said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More proof the Bush Admin. is evil and dumb

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unfazed, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

Ah, spring in Yosemite!

This was the view from our tent Sunday morning in the Upper Pines campground. We were not really prepared for snow, so we packed up fast and came home.

Matthew woke up in a tent covered in snow and went wind surfing the same afternoon!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Off to Yosemite!!

Schrenk Rap is taking the weekend off for camping in Yosemite!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

'Most E-Mailed' List Tearing New York Times' Newsroom Apart

This is a great Onion article because it really could be true. And I found it on Romenesko, so I was actually fooled for a second.

I also love how the Onion homepage has been redesigned to more closely resemble the NYT homepage.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Guns vs. cars: No contest

There is much hand-wringing, and rightfully so, this week about guns and how 30,000 people a year are killed by guns and how we need to revisit gun control (though not enough angst, me thinks, about how the Virginia Tech shooter wouldn't have had access to the weapons he used if Dubya had signed the renewal of the assault weapons ban, but that's another post).

And yet 41,000 Americans are killed each year in automobile crashes. That's about three-and-a-half Virginia Techs a day. And millions, of course, die each year of diseases caused by obesity and inactivity, which can be largely attributed to the sedentary lifestyle our car culture has enabled. Yet no hand-wringing there. No calls for more public transit or fewer roads. No outcry for expanded bike lanes or walkable cities. I guess it's easier to call for stricter gun laws when only 38 percent of American households own firearms, while 60 percent of American households have at least two cars. For most Americans, you'll have to pry the steering wheel out of their cold, dead hands.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Retailers drop invasive species

This is pretty progressive stuff, especially for a Midwestern mega-chain like Meijer that sells guns alongside groceries and baby clothes.

Monday, April 16, 2007

More on the values of Religious Right politicos

Regent University, founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson to provide "Christian leadership to change the world," boasts that it has 150 graduates working in the Bush administration.

Unfortunately for the image of the school, where Robertson is chancellor and president, the most famous of those graduates is Monica Goodling, a product of the university's law school. She's the former top aide to Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the matter.


Consider George Deutsch, the presidential appointee at NASA who told a Web site designer to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, to leave open the possibility of "intelligent design by a creator." He turned out not to have, as he claimed, a degree from Texas A&M.


Or there's the case of Claude Allen, the presidential aide and former deputy secretary of health and human services, who stepped down after being investigated for petty theft.

Divorce vs. Gay Marriage: The Dobson perspective

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good forbid some college kids have fun!

Can't people just learn to relax and take a joke?!?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Score one for the reader (finally)

This week a judge recognized Dean Singleton is out to screw the average Joe (whether he works for a newspaper or not) in order to fatten his own wallet.

MediaNews and Hearst had sought to dismiss Reilly's suit, arguing that individual readers have no stake in antitrust laws because they suffer no harm from any alleged reduction in newspaper competition.

Oh that's interesting. As a reader, I shouldn't give even a little rat's ass if my local paper is going down the crapper.

But U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said federal law recognizes the public's concern in maintaining competition and diversity in the news media....

law shows that "Congress values the existence of separate sources of newspaper content in a community, and that loss of separate sources injures consumers," Illston wrote.

More generally, she said, a consumer in a market that is threatened by anti-competitive activity has the right to sue for antitrust violations.

So, good luck to Clint Reilly, who should get a plaque or something for trying to help the rest of us get decent news coverage of our area.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Terry Gross sucks

No one, except for maybe Neifi Perez and George W. Bush, gets more success and acclaim for doing a crappy job than she does. Terry Gross is a terrible interviewer. If you're on the radio on stations all over the country and have a famous radio show, you shouldn't be using "um" and "like" in every sentence.

She is the queen of the painfully obvious statement. Such as saying something to Sacha Baron Cohen like: "Your humor is based on making other people feel uncomfortable." And that's not nearly the worst.

She is so freaking pretentious and overrated. The way she says "Frr-ESH Aairr" is enough to deserve banishment from the airwaves.

I would love to have someone comment on why they (or others) think Terry Gross is such a great interviewer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cubs snowed out

You read that right -- snowed. Why do people live there again?

Tribune staff reporter

April 11, 2007, 11:27 AM CDT

With a fresh blanket of snow on the field and the aisles as slushy as a convenience store drink, the Cubs opted to cancel Wednesday's game with Houston and reschedule it for the night of July 12.

A Cubs spokesman said the team is able to add another night game to the schedule because it kept one date open in case ESPN wanted to add a Sunday night game.

Manager Lou Piniella, holding his first press briefing in his new office at Wrigley, was realistic about the decision to cancel the game.

"You couldn't play today," he said. "And the weather for (Thursday) doesn't look all that promising. … You'd like to play, but you can't do anything about the weather."

The Cubs already have a scheduled off-day for Thursday, so Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild decided to rearrange the rotation, moving Carlos Zambrano up to start Friday's game against Cincinnati, with Wednesday's scheduled starter, Rich Hill, moving to Saturday.

Ted Lilly will now pitch Sunday instead of Saturday, and Jason Marquis and Wade Miller will round out the homestand, starting against San Diego on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

"What we're trying to do is keep everybody pitching as much as we possibly can," Piniella said.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Baseball announcers

Ah, it's that time of year again. The crack of the bat, the cry of the peanut vendor and the nails-on-a-blackboard sound of major league baseball's TV and radio announcers. Like every season, I am amazed by how bad most of these guys are. This is the major leagues, people!

Of course, part of the problem is that many color men are former players, and as a rule, those guys just aren't that bright (see yesterday's post -- and if you have ever heard Ron Santo on the radio, you know what I'm talking about). But still. There are only 30 major league teams. Assume there are a couple TV guys, and a couple radio guys, and throw in a couple more for the middle innings or whatever, and that's only 180 guys. One hundred and eighty people get these jobs, out of the 300 million Americans. And we baseball fans have to listen to people like Bob Brenly butcher the English language?

Granted, I get exposed to the low end of the curve because Chicago's teams have arguably the worst announcers in the biz (the Sox have un-arguably the worst announcers EVER). I know this because I pay the extra cash every season to get the satellite package that lets me watch every single ballgame, so I have listened to pretty much all of them. And listening to the Giants game the other day I noted that those guys can barely put a sentence together.

What must it be like to listen to a minor league game on the radio? It has to reduce your IQ by a point an hour or something. Then again, maybe something is keeping the good ones out of MLB, something like the chuckle-head ex-players getting these sweet gigs.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sliding into first base

As I was listening to yesterday's Giants-Dodgers game, I heard a description of Jeff Kent sliding into first base. This has to be one of the least intelligent moves in all of sport (aside from pretty much any move in boxing, of course). For those who aren't aware, the rules of baseball require the runner to run from home to first and touch, but not remain on, first base. So the idea is to run as fast as you can for those 90 feet and not slow down until after your foot hits the base. Sliding is only required when you're trying to avoid a tag (at second, third or home) and when you need to stay on the base. Sliding is not going to get you to first any faster, and you don't have to avoid any tag. So why do players do it? I can only conclude that it is because they are dumb (for excellent example, see Kent above and associated facial hair). They are simply of below-average intelligence. Which may be why most announcing teams are so bad (more on this tomorrow).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More problems with the Merc

It's becoming ever more obvious by just reading the paper that Dean Singleton now owns it. In the last week we've noticed two typos in section front headlines -- first the biz section, yesterday a sub head on the front page -- above the fold!

To summarize: at this point, the Merc is about one step above the Fremont Argus.