Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I dressed the candidates up in their costumes. Does this change who you'll be voting for?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mixed Nuts

I was standing in line for the Bank of America ATM in Columbia Heights (there's always a line...) when a deranged old white dude with a scraggly beard and gnarled teeth came and gave me a talking to. I have no idea what he was saying, but it was not complimentary.

After he'd gone, and I glanced toward the short, middle-aged black lady in front of me (she'd been waiting for my eyes), she let me know what was on her mind:

"I hate to say it, but it's good to see a little diversity in the crazy people around here. It sounds bad, but it's true. This way it's mixed a little. You know, mixed nuts."


This one's for George:

(Hat tip to SLNG)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The God Vote

Sarah Palin is confident that "God will do the right thing on election day." Unfortunately for her, God is registered to vote in San Francisco, and California is already in the bag for Obama.

One all-knowing, all-powerful deity, one vote-- that's the rule. This is democracy.

(In writing this post, I encountered a question that I'm not sure I answered perfectly: If you were God, where would you live? In an apartment overlooking San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate? In a mountain lodge outside Aspen? In Hastings-on-Hudson? Weigh in via comment.)

Rooting for the Winner

(Cross-Posted here)

The press is pulling for a close election, and doing their best to report it as one, but all the indicators point to Obama continuing to widen his lead. With everyone expecting McCain to make a run, why isn't it happening?

My feeling is that it has to do with one of America's most cherished traditions: Love for winning. Though most Americans might have favored John Kerry's policies in 2004, or Al Gore's experience in 2000, George Bush knew how to talk like a winner. He looked like a winner. He was confident and sure of himself. The same was true of Bill Clinton, and people gravitated toward him.

Since the conventions, McCain has looked increasingly like a guy who's about to lose an election. He's nervous, he stumbles in his speeches, he looks awkward on stage, and his campaign is all over the place. Obama, by contrast, looks ever more presidential. In the debates he was calm, cool, well-spoken and connectable. He's acting like a winner, and everybody wants to be on the winning team.

This has created a positive feedback loop for Obama: The further ahead he gets, the more he looks like a president, and the more confident people become in his abilities. I still think it's reasonable to expect McCain to pick up a few points in the polls, but most of America is now expecting-- and looking forward to-- a President Obama.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Troubled Economy Says Hello

I got a slightly awkward call at work today from the D.C. office of unemployment. She was calling to verify the details of the welfare application submitted by the guy I replaced.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Phoenix Fall

Today is the first honest day of fall here in Washington, DC.
The summer is the present, it is now. Summer living is about capturing each moment and wringing out every drop of what is good about life. Catching every drop of sunlight, playing in every wave, spending each night sitting on the porch about to fall off the front of the house sipping strong drinks telling rude jokes and laughing too hard.

And then the summer fades, the heat contracts into a hard chill, and then one morning, you wake up and your nose is frozen and it’s fall. But rather than stepping forward from the present into the future, the whole world hits the rewind button and sinks into the sofa to sip hot cider and look at crackling home movies from the nearly-forgotten past.

The air in the fall is cold and crisp, but not yet sharp, and an unexpected breath of it will black you out with memories of playing soccer and football in ankle-deep crunchy brown leaves, and faint images of lugging around bags heavy with candy on a chilly Halloween night, and red cheeks and seeing your breath in the air for the first time. A chest full of fall air is good as an hour flipping through old photos.

When you take in that breath, everything begins to end: the end of free, unencumbered summer, and the beginning of death. The end of the brown, yellow, red leaves as they float to earth, and the end of red tomatoes bursting off the vine, anxious for you to take a hungry bite out of their side.

By the time you breathe out, everything is new again, reborn cool and fresh. Reams of clean paper are snapped into new binders, and two white sneakers are ready to carry you to the first day of school. The earth is beautiful and sad as it rises from the ashes of decadent summer into something innocent and pure.

Or perhaps it’s not sad at all—just beautiful—and I imagine that sadness, because I can’t fathom something so perfect as fall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barackman v. McPenguin

McCain is losing so badly right now (538 is calculating a 96% chance that Obama wins the election), that the odds are up for the Republican candidate to do something dramatic (and dramatically stupid). As such, tonight's debate has the potential to not be incredibly boring-- we might get some fireworks. Obama, of course, will be steady and even-keeled-- which is exactly what Americans want to see right now-- but old Johnny may make some dramatic attempt to gain back lost ground tonight.

The Penguin may have a model for McCain here.

Isn't that wild? McCain has clearly been taking cues from the Penguin-- promising no more mudslinging immediately before mudslinging, playing up his opponent's associations with shady figures to frighten the electorate, completely alienating the public with wrongheaded strategy... The only real difference here is that the Penguin is more animated and fun to watch.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I <3 teh internets

One of the really great things about the internet (as has been discovered by countless pedophiles and Nigerian spammers the world over) is that nobody knows who you really are! I've lately been receiving email from Stanislas Dupont, who, I think, believes I am his younger brother Samuel Dupont. Last week, I was inundated with photos of Stanislas' family, and today I was invited to a "réunion tupperware":
Eh oui, le congé maternité amène à beaucoup de choses... J'organise une réunion tupperware le jeudi 23 octobre à la maison (14h à 16h30). Si ça vous peux vous faire parvenir un catalogue.
Je vous souhaite un très bon week-end, le soleil sur Omissy a dû mal à percer ! j'espère qu'il va arriver...
A bientôt et gros bisous
If anybody out there can draft a brief, polite note, telling Stan that he's got the wrong guy, but that his children are adorable, I'd be greatly appreciative.

Whether I'd actually send it to him is another question. I secretly love being able to observe his family from afar...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

It feels a little bit like reading a suicide note-- seeing a paper publish a report about its own bankruptcy. The Washington City Paper, a once-reliable source for news, investigative stories, nightlife, etc., has thrown up their hands and thrown in the towel.

Well, not quite-- as their FAQ feature explains, "content bankruptcy" means they've got 120 days to get their act together and figure out a way to make money. Trouble is, nobody has figured out a way to make money. Prospects are not good.

They really hit the problem on its head at the end of the FAQ: The only news sources that people use anymore (and thus, the only ones making any money)-- RSS Readers, Blogs, aggregators like Google News and Huffington Post-- don't actually generate any content. Meanwhile, the real sources of news-- old-fashioned newspapers and magazines, and their reporters-- get neither credit nor cash for their work. And reporting is an expensive business! It costs the NY Times half a million dollars a year to keep a correspondent overseas.

The result is the imminent, total collapse of the news industry. The LA Times is cutting reporters right and left, the Washington Post is propped up by Kaplan, and the roof of the TimeLife Inc. building is precariously held up by People magazine, and nothing more.

Anyway, I hope you're happy, you people reading blogs and not newspapers. Seriously, you're ruining America. Get off my blog.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Of Parks, Debates and Ghosts

Sorry for the radio silence-- Slev and I have moved into our new apartment, and are presently without any of the internets in our home. Not a single one. We do, however, have two working fireplaces in our apartment. How cool is that? We're on University Place, a relatively quiet block in lower Columbia Heights. Send us a letter.

Good news: Our new place is nice, and superbly located.
Bad news: We have ghosts.
Good news: Very realistic Halloween party planned. Details to follow.

Exploring my neighborhood on Sunday, I made a terrific discovery (maybe discovery is the wrong word... It's a huge park around the corner from our place). Meridian Hill Park has a very New York feel. It's an elegantly landscaped park, with fountains and waterfalls, and it's packed with stately statues. On Sunday afternoons, if the weather's fine, people from the diverse communities surrounding the park come together, primarily around a drum circle that lays a funky afro-latin beat. A few photos of the gathering are below.

Regarding last night's presidential debate, I have very little to add beyond what the mainstream media (and mainstream bloggers) are saying. Obama was very steady, McCain less so, and Barack only solidified his commanding lead. At this point, something very weird will have to happen for Obama to lose. I'm anticipating a landslide. Check out my Daily Roundup for good links to debate commentary, plus thinly veiled commentary of my own.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tie Goes to the Senator

I'll synthesize my initial thoughts on the VP debate, here and now.

Everyone's expectations for Sarah Palin (and I mean everyone, from Joe Schmo to Joe Scarborough) were exceeded. Though she was talked up by both campaigns and the MSM beforehand, we all expected (hoped for? feared? planned our evenings around?) some verbal abomination. It didn't come, and overall, I think she held her own. Her "folksy charm" (Charm? Is that what I'm feeling?) actually carries some weight in some parts, and when she has a simple point to express, she expresses it effectively. But boy do those longer sentences get confusing.

Joe Biden, for his part, excelled. He did a very good job of speaking to John McCain, and avoided getting caught up in petty bickering with Palin. He got a little too wordy and senatorial at points, but when it really mattered-- especially on Iraq-- he brought his points home, and he brought them home hard. And how does he get his teeth so white?!

I'll give Biden the edge, just because, for the vast majority of Americans, Obama & Biden are on the right side of the issues, and Biden did a great job communicating the big points. Palin succeeded by virtue of not failing, but that's not going to win anybody any elections.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I'm liveTwittering the vp debate. check me here:

Also, elephant in the room duly acknowledged.


This morning I got a ticket. While riding my bike.

A cop stopped me and another biker on New Hampshire Avenue, for going the wrong way down a one-way block. We've each been fined $25. I just cannot believe it.

I took a new path this morning, because I wanted to swing by K Street Bagels for some homestyle nourishment. In fact, I even looked at my route before I left, and noted the single block of NH Ave that is one-way. Bah, I thought, one measly block, shouldn't be a problem. And it wasn't; there was no traffic on it-- just a couple bikers going the wrong way. And a cop, fat ass parked on the back of his car, waved us both over and asked us for I.D.

My co-conspirator tried insisting he hadn't seen the signs (clearly false), and I thought about denying that I had any ID on me (what would they do?) but didn't want to run the risk of being hauled downtown. I thought also about high tailing it in the opposite direction, but again, I'm an honest soul, and the only other time I'd been flagged while on my bike (also in D.C., of course) I just got a stern verbal warning. Then I thought about pointing out that I was saving the world while he-- his car idling in the street-- was destroying the world even as he wrote us our tickets. But I didn't.

And now I owe $25 to the city. I guess I can take some solace in the fact that, even over the past 24 hours, I've probably committed enough moving violations on my bicycle to work it down to about a dollar a pop.

I discovered recently that you can offer anonymous police tips by texting to 50411 (give the 5-0 the 4-1-1!). So I'm going to spend the rest of this week texting in tips every time I see a bicyclist (myself included) commit a moving violation. I invite you to join me in this undertaking.

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And the bagel, if you're wondering, was pretty good.