Weblogs came into mainstream consciousness this year. Even before Dan Rather was taken down weblogs were considered to be important enough to play roles in Presidental campaigns and to cover political conventions. Here's my list of those who made 2004 the Year of the Weblog.
Kevin et al had turned this weblog into an hourly must-read. You don't know what will be posted. Political news, war commentary, media criticism, disaster news, celebrity porn news, anything goes on Wizbang.
Foreign policy wonks are using the terms "Core" and "Gap" when refering to fighting global terrorism. They were coined by Barnett while studying a map of where U.S. troops have operated in the past 10+ years. His thesis is that global stability, i.e. U.S. national security, requires a shrinking of the Gap, those disconnected economically and technologically, by the Core. His analysis is profound though a touch too Hegelian. His solution is also thought provoking. He envisions a "system administration" branch of the military that would rebuild and reform an area of the Core after the big guns of the military finish dropping their bombs. I'm skeptical. His sys admin branch sounds like a Peace Corps with guns. There's plenty to argue with in PNM. However, you must appreciate that Barnett is asking the most important foreign policy questions of our times.
September 11 Commission Report
I never would have expected a government-produced document to make it onto my list of best books of the year. But I also never expected a horrific event like the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There is plenty to critize about the the Sept. 11 Commission. There was a big confict of interest with one of the commissioners as well as the partisanship that ran roughshod over the public hearings. Those aspects will be forgotten. What will stand is their report. It's detailed, comprehensive, and most importantly readable. While not perfect (no work could be) it's the place to begin to understand that awful day.
A Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World by Wesley Smith
With the explosion in new biotech possibilities humanity is on the verge of entering a new age. Smith thinks we're headed toward Aldous Huxley's distopia if we're not careful. This brief argument assails those in favor of unlimited human cloning and embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. He explains the technologies then delves into the moral questions surrounding the quasi-totalitarianism of designer babies and genetic engineering. His tract isn't all negative. Smith offers evidence that adult stem cells is offering more medical hope than ESC. One problem with this book is Smith's refusal to link embryonic stem cell research to the abortion debate. Since both cause the death of human life they are deeply connected. Biotech is the most important moral debate of our time. Smith's book has the ability to bring non-tech people into the conversation.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
For U.S. history buffs we are living in a great time. A few years ago, David McCullough graced us with a fine biography of John Adams. Last year, Walter Issacson gave us Benjamin Franklin. This year, Ron Chernow offered a 700+ tome to Alexander Hamilton. In it the reader will realize he was the second most important of the Founding Fathers, behind George Washington. Hamilton was an important aide to Washington during the Revolutionary War. He helped write the constitution. Through the brilliant Federalist Papers (along with James Madison and John Jay) he defended the document and gave us one of the most important documents on politics in world history. As the United States' first treasury secretary he put the nation's finances on a sound footing while creating an government that has lasted for 200+ years. With a biography of such length we see Hamilton as a whole warts and all. While being an amazing thinker and workaholic we see his greatest weakness, personal pride leading to his infamous duel with Aaron Burr.
The Call of the Mall by Paco Underhill
This is the first time in the history of the TAM Book Awards where a business book made the list. Underhill deserves it by writing a study of mall shopping that could be described as sociological. He carefully watched how shoppers behaved and transformed those observations into a great story.
I just popped open some champagne sparkling wine before it got past my folks' bedtime. Earlier, I made myself a nice, thick ribeye steak. Yum! As you can see I'm posting a little tonight finishing the 2004 TAM Awards. If you want to ring in the New Year with me online send me an e-mail and I'll give you my IM details. Could I be any more boring than Regis Philbin? What I do know is I can't have too much fun tonight. At 10 a.m. tomorrow the Wisconsin Badgers are playing Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
UPDATE: I still haven't decided my weblog award winners. Feel free to bribe persuade me by plunking something into my tip jar to the left.
She may be old, but Loretta Lynn can rock. It helps to have The White Stripes' Jack White helping with production and bringing in a backing rock band. But what shines on this is album Lynn's storytelling. It starts off in the title song with a lovely tale of her mother and father's courtship. "Portland, Oregon" is a great duet with White about love while drunk. "Have Mercy on Me" is a country/rockabilly gumbo song. "Women's Prison" may seem cliche for a country artist, but Lynn tells the story so well to make it a four-minute musical novel.
What a wonderful mix of world music chants and instruments, funk, rock, and dance beats--and that's just in one song on this hour+ mix. In the late 80s, REM's Michael Stipe thought the future of music would be indigenous sounds fused with cutting-edge technology. Ethnomixicology fulfills that prediction.
"Mash ups" may be hot with The Grey Album and Jay-Z's and Linkin Park's joint effort, but Ethnomixicology literally embodies the concept. We need a new term to describe music of such diversity. How about a "mix-up?" You may think that the combination of sounds should be a mistake, but the music sounds too good.
How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb U2
This album had the most hype with it prior to release. This was supposed to be U2's first "rock" album. What the previous ones were, I don't know. Then with rocker "Vertigo" becoming the theme song for the iPod fans were expecting big things.
All the typical U2 sounds are here: The Edge's one-of-a-kind guitar; Bono's passionate voice; a flawless rhythm section. The songs pack energy, heart, and sheer love for making music. "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" changes pace with beautiful honesty and Bono's hitting a few high notes. With a song titled "Love and Peace or Else" you may think it's a threat. Instead it's a cry. "We need love and peace," sings Bono in this mid-tempo burner. U2 offered no letdown from All that You Can't Leave Behind.
Hot Fuss The Killers
Until recently I though power pop was dead. Sugar is no more, and it's been years since the Goo Goo Dolls put out an album that incorporated power to their pop. Pop punk has the guitar crunch. But the vocals are as whiny as the songs' lyrics. So I had to look elsewhere for my pop rock fix. The retro sounds of The Killers grabbed me. Hot Fuss contains hooks, tough guitar riffs, and the Moog syths that transport you to 1983. "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me" are full of lyrical wordplay which adds to the subject's troubled psyche. The band is from Las Vegas, but they sound like 80s Euro pop. You can hear echos of The Smiths, The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and New Order, especially in Brandon Flowers' vocals.
Crimes of Passion Big Head Todd & the Monsters
This album is a slow burner on the heels of the rockfest Rivera. BHTM have done this before. After their Sister Sweetly album they came back with Strategem. In both cases the follow-up album is more subdued, but not less interesting. BHTM kind of tricks you with "Dirty Juice" the first song on CoP. While not a full-throated rocker, it's got an addictive groove. Next, you come to "Beauty Queen." The smoky jazz vibe in this one assures you the band has taken a break from high-powered rock and roll. This song like "Drought of 2013" and "ICU in Everything" are the type that requires multiple listenings to really appreciate. Todd Park Mohr tells some good stories in these songs, and his precise, unexpected guitar playing shows the breadth of his talent. The best song is "Imaginary Ships." The dynamic soundscape created is heartbreaking, sublime.
Lisa is thinking about reading the business bestseller Who Moved My Cheese? One of my specialties at my bookstore are business books. The truth is most of these books are awful reads. They're trite, banal, and full of so many bullet points as to make them Powerpoint presentations printed on paper. Cheese may be the worse. Here's my Amazon review:
This book contains some of the most banal prose I've ever read. The book reads for a sixth-grade reading level. Then there's the obvious theme: accept change. After living in the real world for the past 20+ years, who doesn't know that s/he must accept change? I'm saddened, because of the high sales of this book, to wonder about the literacy level of many managers.
If Lisa wants to take any insight from the book all she'll have to do is read page 74. It's all layed out there without having to numb your brain with a lousy fable. Stay away from it Lisa. Stay away!
Michele's special. One reason is she has a shiny new U2 iPod. One thing I don't understand with some iPod owners is why they don't immediately fill it up. When I first got mine I put all the songs on my computer into the iPod folder and clicked the update button. Because I have slightly more songs than space on my player I let iTunes pick and chose. The end result was 4000+ songs at my fingertips. If you have more space than songs why wouldn't you load all of them? The point of a 20GB or 40GB iPod is to have all your music with you where ever you go.
Thank God for iTunes. It's how I discovered a real treat in Paris, Texas new album Like You Like an Arsonist. I adore good power pop (think Goo Goo Dolls and Sugar), so when I listened to PTX's "Bombs Away" I knew I needed to immediately get the rest of the album. All these songs are tight. They ripple with energy. One qualm with my first listen is the lead vocals aren't super dynamic. There's no sign of the annoying whining that plagues pop punk and no Pavement droning, but Scott Sherpe is no Bob Mould. Another flaw is there are few real guitar solos. There are some moments when a riff is repeated, but Nolan Treolo and Nick Zinkgraf can play. They could have stretched out a little.
It's wild knowing a band this good was in my neck of the woods (Madison, WI). Too bad for me it took me this long to discover them.
Below are some thoughts about some of the songs while going through my first listen.
"White Eyes": Has machine gun, Ramones-like riffs and a dab of vocal harmony.
"Your Death": The fluttering notes at the beginning immediately signal no break from the fast pace. Big thick guitar chords in the chorus. I could live without the tempo shift just before the chorus.
"Strike My Heart": The intricate guitar layering and interplay are the key to this song.
"One Hot Coma": Do I detect a snarl in Scott Sherpe's vocals.
"Hip Replacement": More neat guitar combinations. Power chords with harmonies and stacotto swipes of the strings.
"Better Off": The intro riffs drip with power pop purity. Melody and crunch unite to become fist-pumping, tune-humming yummyness. This is the most "emo" of the songs so far. That's probably because there are moments of sparse guitar work where I can focus on the lyrics.
"Gemini": Jumpy. Slightly off-kilter rhythm guitar makes for a cleaver change of pace.
Americans are giving Millions of dollars for tsunami disaster relief. Here's just one example:
John Hewitt is used to opening his checkbook when disaster strikes overseas.
The Virginia Beach entrepreneur, who typically gives a quarter-million dollars to charitable organizations each year, says he expects to provide as much or more to help buy food for victims of the tsunami that has killed nearly 80,000 people and devastated parts of a dozen nations that rim the Indian Ocean.
Hewitt, owner and chief executive of Liberty Tax Service, which prepared nearly 1 million tax returns last year, says he will "donate something for every tax return we do" to Stop Hunger Now, a charity in Raleigh, N.C., that is among dozens of U.S. organizations rushing aid to southern Asia and East Africa. "My feeling is that God wants us to give back," says Hewitt, 55. "I don't think God just says arbitrarily, 'You win, you lose.' "
Some consider it "stingy" when a government isn't the source of cash, but show me a more benevolent private sector than that of the U.S. Take that Jan Egeland.
A few years ago, the bright spot for AT&T was its wireless unit. AT&T Wireless got spun off. Earlier this year, it merged with Cingular. Now, AT&T will be going back into the wireless business by using Sprint as its backend. It just has to get back the AT&T Wireless name from Cingular.
It's stories like this that make me understand how some can view capitalism as a chaotic, confusing mess.
The best way to deal with natural disasters is to be rich enough to take precautions and have the resources available to handle the aftermath. Only when a nation like Sri Lanka is rich enough can she seriously contemplate a tsunami warning system. Madsen Pirie on the Adam Smith Institute weblog offers some ideas to help make poor countries richer:
Cancel their debts (which were run up by a previous generation of predatory despots) and open our markets to their goods. Help them fight AIDS/HIV and Malaria. Help everyone gain access to clean water. Help them tackle corruption and predatory government. Buy their stuff.
These are simple answers that go back to Adam Smith (go figure). The challenge is to build the political will to get them enacted. Hopefully this disaster will wake people up. Then something good will come from this.
Bryan at Arguing with Signposts... and Steven Taylor are both peeved at the tsunami Monday morning quarterbacking. Bryan writes,
The key thing that seems to be escaping peopel about this event is that this is a *once in a century* event. Not a very high priority on a list with a region facing civil war, poverty on massive scales, religious persecution, nuclear brinksmanship, and the other assorted second and third world problems of the region.
The bottom line is that when something like this happens, we want to blame somebody or something. It is, as I noted earlier, a key part of our modern mindset.
I think the seed of a good article or book is in his remarks.
QandO has links to weblogs that scold President Bush for not doing enough for tsunami relief efforts. An easy dead horse to kick is Juan Cole who complained about the "hundreds of billions" spent on the Iraq War while castigating Bush for initially offering $15 million, "a mysteriously chintzy response." These people want to fund humanitaian efforts while neglecting to fund the war effort. In the big scheme of things the latter is what's going to make the world a safer place. This thinking is on par with the notion that somehow it was more morally just to send U.S. troops to the Balkans because there was less for the U.S. to gain.
Hell hath no fury like a newspaper columnist scorned. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Nick Coleman took up an entire column to rant about Power Line. This must be one of the few cases where a MSM columnist focused on a single weblog. I'm sure many Twin Cities readers where wondering what a "blog" is. John Hinderaker responds as does Captain Ed and Mitch Berg.
As the body count goes up I become more numb. Now, there's word 3,000 people may have died on one stretch of beach in Thailand.
I've had a problem with some media coverage of the tsunami disaster. On Sunday, CNN had the most coverage. Fox News decided talking about Michael Jackson's upcoming trial was more pressing. Strange, since News Corp. has a presence in Asia with its Sky satellite service. MSNBC was completely worthless. They didn't bother with any news, and broadcasted their travel/adventure shows instead. It's already Wednesday, and Fox News is finally covering the story. This was one story where cable news got trounced by the internet. This was no contest.
Even if there was a tsunami warning system in place for the Indian Ocean it may not have helped at all if people didn't act on the limited information available to them at the time.
The Thai government has generally maintained that it has done what it could under intensely difficult circumstances, with little warning and limited resources. But a front-page story published Tuesday in a Bangkok newspaper, the Nation, reported that Thai officials were aware of the possibility of the tsunami early Sunday morning -- more than an hour before it hit -- but rejected suggestions of an evacuation, fearing the consequences for the tourism industry during one of the busiest weeks of the year. The report could not be independently confirmed.
If the report is true I will grant Thai officials didn't have much to offer the effected areas. The best they could have done was inform beachfront resorts that a strong earthquake could produce tsunamis. There's no assumption any warning would have been heeded. Locals could have just brushed it off since tsunamis rarely happen in that area. So, I disagree with Kevin when he writes, "Unbelievable." When a natural disaster happens for the first time in hundreds of years any sort of blame game is pointless.
At least 68,000 have died and over $13 billion in damages were caused by Sunday's tsunamis. Indonesia suffered 27,000 deaths while India has endured 12,000. Expect the death toll to rise as rescue workers reach remote areas and disease plagues the living. An Italian offical thinks the toll could rise to 100,000.
To help with the relief efforts, Amazon is collecting donations to the Red Cross. The Command Post also has a list of links on how to help with the relief. I'm sure many of our wallets are thin from Christmas gifts, but please donate as much as you can.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Bill Lyon has a beautiful ode to Reggie White. Sadly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's sports department has no one as eloquent. The best that paper has is opinion columnist Eugene Kane's nice rememberance.
This week is the worst week of the year to host a weblog linkfest. Last year, I hosted the Carnival of the Capitalists. It was one of the only weeks that wasn't linked by Glenn Reynolds. Thus, I'm giving Dane Carlson some linky love.
Early guesses indicate the deadly tsunamis won't hurt U.S. insurance companies. That means the U.S. economy shouldn't see a direct economic effect. But there could be indirect effects to the U.S. economy. That area of Southeast Asia is a source of cheap labor. Look on the tags of your clothes and you'll probably read "Made in Thailand" or "Made in Indonesia" on it. The tsunamis could disrupt a lot of production. That could mean temporary shortages or higher prices on some imports, at least until manufacturers can move production.
Glenn Reynolds' latest TCS article expands nicely on the points I've made about economic trade offs and tsunami warning systems. Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, and the other nations severely hit would have been better off had they been richer. That's easy for me to say since I have the luxury of typing my thoughts on a computer that's connected to the internet. But what is needed is the never-ending fight for global economic freedom. That means tax cuts where they impede growth, adequate law enforcement to protect life and property, innovation, and global free trade.
One would have thought some Christmas cheer would have rubbed off on some people. Unfortunately, the post-Christmas creatures are as rude, condescending, and impatient as the pre-Christmas creatures.
Christmas fell on a Saturday this year. Therefore, today was the first business day after Christmas. Somehow, many shoppers didn't seem to understand that much of what they couldn't get before Christmas was still unavailable. My bookstore just got its first shipment of new stock in, and I can tell you many more will be needed to fill up our store. For example, the new Brett Favre book wasn't available for days going into Christmas because the publisher didn't expect such demand. Just because we're past 12.25 it doesn't mean more copies arrived. No one worked on Christmas. How could they get here? My employees and I are good at what we do, but we can't just wave our hands and make stuff magically appear.
The store is also in a state of semi-chaos. It's going to take time to reorganize sections. Many customers don't seem to realize that employees can either wait on a customer or put the store back into some semblance of order. We can't do both.
It's bad enough when rude people allow their cell phone to interrupt a conversation, talk on one while going through a check out line, or loudly yap one-half of a personal conversation in public. I've now learned that California 911 operators see an increase in calls on Christmas because morons are testing their new phones by dialing 911. Why couldn't a tsunami hit there?
Many Sri Lankans feel the same way about the lack of a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean as air force chief Harry Goonetilleke: "This is tragic. There should have been such an arrangement for the region. This is absolutely not acceptable." So those Asian nations hit by the devestating tsunamis are considering building an early warning system. Of course this will cost money, something countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka don't have a lot of. The costs of building a system have to be weighed against its effectiveness. A warning means nothing if local areas don't take advantage of it. One can't simply say a tsunami early warning system should be built. If one killer tsunami happens in the Indian Ocean every century would the system be worth it? What must also enter the equation is what will be sacrificed if money is put into an early warning system. Would programs fighting disease get lesser funding? Would infrastructure improvements be postponed? Money going to an early warning system and away from other programs may make nations worse off.
Even during disasters Man cannot change the laws of economics.
Over 20,000 are dead from the tsunami with more being counted. Beaches have become mass graves that would make Saddam proud. Now, the worry is disease from all the dead bodies. It's cliche, but it's going to get worse before it gets better. Thankfully, relief efforts have begun.
Reggie White is dead. His stay in Green Bay wasn't as long and his time in Philadephia. But his six seasons helped bring a title back to Titletown and made the Packers one of the most beloved franchises in all of sports.
Brett Favre's golden arm and incredible toughness will be what is most remember about this Packers revival, but I feel safe claiming that a third Super Bowl title wouldn't have happened without #92. It wasn't just that Reggie White was the most dominating defensive end in NFL history. By White coming to Green Bay it told the rest of the league that the Packers were serious about winning. As Tom Silverstein writes, "Soon after his arrival, the Packers were able to recruit free agents from all walks of life because they had the great Reggie White recruiting for them."
Reggie was a leader on the field and for the most part was a good man off the field. Packers fans gave generously to rebuild a burned out church White was a part of. The church was never rebuilt and questions about where the money went weren't answered.
What I'll most remember about Reggie was one play against the Vikings (I think). Reggie was lined up again a big, hulking offensive tackle. The ball was snapped. Reggie didn't run around him, cut to the inside, or try to spin on him. He just got his arm underneath the tackle's armpit and tossed him aside like a rag doll. I don't even remember if Reggie ended up sacking the quarterback. It doesn't matter because I was in awe of such strength and leverage.
If there's a version of Lambeau Field in heaven--and you know there it--all the fans there are chanting "Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!"
Over 10,000 are dead from an earthquake-induced tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Yet Waverly Person of the U.S. Geological Survey said many could have been saved if the countries hit had early warning systems.
Most of those people could have been saved if they had had a tsunami warning system in place or tide gauges. And I think this will be a lesson to them."
Just one problem which Person admits: tsunamis are rare in the Indian Ocean. This is like saying that people in Wisconsin could be better prepared if more earthquake detection devices were in the Badger State. Such Monday morning quarterbacking after a disaster ticks me off. All decisions come with trade offs. If India, Thailand, Indonesia or Sri Lanka chose to have early-warning systems that money would have not gone to some other concern. The countries hit are not the richest nations in the world. They have other pressing needs like dealing with diseases and making sure there's enough clean water. It's pretty arrogant for a man from a rich nation like the U.S. (along with this Slashdot poster) to suggest options poorer nations didn't have the luxury of having.
One more shift and it's Christmas for me. Because of the lame NFL decision to schedule the Packers-Vikings game in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve I expect a rush until the 2:00 kickoff time. 10+ will be waiting for our doors to open at 8:00 a.m. Once the game starts it will die down with the few non-football fans and truly desparate shoppers left.
This will be a wild day in that desparate people will buy anything we put in front of them. Some book we haven't moved all season could vanish in a matter of hours. The really hot item will be gift cards.
If this Christmas Eve is like the others I've worked, when my store closes at 6:00 we'll be kicking out 50-100 customers. Some will even grumble that we should be open later and even on Christmas Day. All the employees will try to make the store look somewhat decent quickly. No one will want to be there any longer than we have to.
Some may think that with Christmas here retailers can catch their breath. Not so. We'll be busy until kids finish their Christmas vacations. Even then, people will be returning stuff and spending their gift cards. To use a football analogy, we're almost to the end of the third quarter.
Here is your last bit of gift-giving advice for the toughest people on your list. If by some chance you failed to plan properly, were just plain lazy, or went out on a really wild drinking binge, you will wake up tomorrow, Christmas Eve, realizing you still need to buy gifts. If the malls and stores have closed by the time of your "epiphany" your last resort is Walgreens. Don't fret. Hope is not lost. For you can get a big, floppy dog. Or you could force your recipient to dig out his VHS player to watch the new movie you bought him. There is also a foot spa for that person you know walked the miles at the malls to get you something. And if all else fails, buy everyone a Whitman's Sampler.
[Added to Wizbang's "The 10 Spot - Christmas Eve Eve Edition."]
By the way, The Smithereens are a highly underrated band. They have a knack of balancing great pop hooks with muscular guitar crunch. I was hooked with "Girl Like You," and I've never looked back. Go get their greatest hits collection.
Steve of Norway is doing his best Martha Stewart impersonation--just without the prison guards. Two things: 1. Chocolate chip cookies are great, but do they qualify as "Christmas cookies?" 2. Who's this "someone?" We want details.
Fidel Castro has been having a fit with the U.S. interests section in Havana. Here's the BBC's description of the section's Christmas display:
The display at the US interests section includes a huge white Santa Claus, an image of galloping reindeer and a flashing sign wishing Cubans a Happy Christmas.
What's ticked off Castro is this:
A large figure 75 is picked out in neon, inside a large circle, in reference to the number of Cuban dissidents jailed last year.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "We think that remembrance of the 75 people in jail is entirely appropriate to the season. And we intend to leave the lights up."
In response, 5000 Cuban students protested outside the section. Along with that big pictures of Abu Ghraib victims, caricatures of an eagle and the head of the U.S. section, and swastikas are all posted outside the section.
It was non-stop shopping craziness today. Thus, the tardiness of the first post of the day (evening).
The big issue in Wisconsin politics is TABOR, the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights. It's a proposed state constitutional amendment that would limit the growth of state government. Last year, State Senate Republicans couldn't agree on how strict to make the amendment. That cost GOP Majority Leader Mary Panzer her job. Today, State Assemblymen Frank Lasee proposed a TABOR that was tied to population increases and the Consumer Price Index. It's tougher than any proposal on the table last year.
I don't think Lasee really expects his version of TABOR to be the one that eventually is enacted. He just decided to make it so strict so as to pull the final TABOR closer to his position. The final compromise will end up more conservative than if the farthest right position were not as strict. It also makes the very conservative State Assembly Speaker John Gard look more moderate. Intentionally or not this is a good cop/bad cop tactic. The end result is (hopefully) an end of Wisconsin's tax spiral.
One group who will fight tooth and nail to oppose TABOR are city governments. Rich Eggleston, spokesman for the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities said the GOP should give cities a chance to curb spending. "But if you give us time to produce smarter, more efficient, more productive government . . . then we can develop the solutions that preserve services and hold down taxes." The cities have had years to stop the ever-increasing tax burden on Wisconsin citizens. The only way to see real reform is to turn off the tax dollar spigot.
And remember, some people appreciate New Year's gifts as well as Christmas gifts. (I'm not making this up, that's indeed the way we always did it in my family.) And some people appreciate gifts on any day.
Steven Taylor has posted some thing he doesn't get. I'll respond to his first item:
Three workers, long line of customers, yet only one register is open.
If the store operates the same way as my bookstore it's a combination of allocating labor and the power of accountants.
Even during the busiest shopping day there are lulls. For instance having every register manned when the store opens at 8:00 a.m. is a waste of money (wages). The store manager has to make educated guesses as to when to max out his cashiers. If he guesses wrong and customers flood the store early, lines build and tactical adjustments have to be made.
Which segues nicely to the second part of my explanation. If they know it or now accountants rule the world. They can take down global companies like Enron and WorldCom, and they can stick wrenches into public policy proposals--we'll see plenty of this with Social Security reform. In a store it's important to give limited access to cash and cash functions. Doing so prevents internal theft and mistakes that can lead to the retail buzzword "shrink." In order to minimize shrink only the management team has access to the store safe, and individual cashiers are assigned a register. That means that when more customers than expected appear in line an "excess" employee can't just hop onto a register and start checking people out. They have to get a manager to get them a cash drawer which has to be counted. Then the employee has to get a manager to sign them onto an unused cash register. Since lots of needy customers are around finding a free manager can take some time. I've seen many instances where someone found a manager, got a drawer, got signed in only to find no one left waiting in line.
There's probably a better way of handling the wax and wane in a store. If you figure a solution out you'll probably be able to make some good money in the consulting business. But for now we're bound by imperfect projections and accounants who have a lot more power than they realize.
It won't be a merry Christmas for those soldiers attacked in Mosul nor for the families of those killed. A really awful part of this story is two soldiers from the 276th Engineer Battalion of the Virginia National Guard were killed. They're going home in about a month, and battalion lost no one--until today.
As an aside, it makes me wonder how those critics beating up Donald Rumsfeld at the moment would have written about the calibre of F. D. Roosevelt's defence chiefs 50 years ago, during the Battle of the Ardennes, better known as the Battle of the Bulge. Andrew Sullivan might have been calling for Eishenhower's head on a stick by now.
You may have a hard core Red Stater on your Christmas list. This person may be so hard core they think President Bush is a wimp for not nuking Fallujah. They may also be the type who thinks you're not a "real" American if you didn't see The Passion of the Christ. For a person like this only one talking head will do: Ann Coulter. Say what you want about her she dishes out the bromides as well as anyone. She's even some-what attractive--though that's fading fast.
The DVD won't arrive by Christmas, but don't let that stop you. Just print out this web page, put it in an envelope, and put it under the tree. The anticipation of Ann on their television screen will give them a giddy feeling inside.
Retro will never die. At least if marketers have their way.
Remember Spam, that mystery meat in a can? Does Popeye ring any bells? How about White Castle burgers? Maybe you're familiar with these products just from listening to your parents talk about the good old days. But chances are your familiarity will grow next year. Marketers are revving up the publicity machine to turn these darlings of yesteryear into 21st century stars.
Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and even Broadway are betting that many of these ubiquitous icons still retain some cachet. Witness the recent success of The Brady Bunch family reunions and the return of chocolate drink Ovaltine. Marketers know it's tougher to launch a new, unknown, and untested brand than to bring back oldies but goodies for a second act. "Marketers don't have to explain the brand, just build on latent appeal," says Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade Marketing Group, a brand-marketing firm in New York.
Stephen Taylor claims to be trying to help last-minute shoppers with a review of Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man. But he thinks it's only an average book so only search for this if you have a big Michael Moore hater on your Christmas list.
July 16 will be one of the craziest nights in book history. That's when J. K. Rowling's next Harry Potter book is released to her adoring millions. So along with the last-minute Christmas shopping I'll have to deal with people already wanted to order the book.
Last year was an experience for me. This July, the mania could be worse. I better get that vacation request in soon.
The turducken is in the fridge. The wine is in the cooler. All important people have been covered in the gift department--that could change since I'll be out shopping again tomorrow. All I have to do is wrap gifts. It's been a stupid tradition for me to wrap presents just before they were opened, but I'm closing the bookstore Christmas Eve. I'll want to get home and start celebrating.
UPDATE II: As to my "best friends" quip I was almost correct:
Some leaders of Jewish organizations were miffed that the White House chose to meet with a hand-picked group of rabbis —and predominantly Orthodox ones at that —rather than appointed heads of leading Jewish groups, as is usually the custom.
Separation of Church and Football: Not this Friday
Captain Ed makes some good points about the upcoming conflict between church and football. I don't quite understand the conflict since I didn't know many churches held afternoon services on Christmas Eve. As a kid, my Lutheran school had it's program during the evening of Christmas Eve. What I don't get is the NFL's thinking of playing a rivalry game (Packers-Vikings) on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Evening I'd understand, but as Ed points out many fans would be doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. With the huge implications of Friday's game stores in both Minnesota and Green Bay will empty out during the game*. Everywhere else there will be no change.
If you happen to be in Duluth, MN beware of exploding Zambonis.
Leaking propane from a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine was blamed for an explosion and fire that destroyed Peterson Arena in the midst of a broomball game Sunday night, according to press release issued by Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson Monday.
Bergson said the city's fire marshal had determined the leaking gas reached an open flame on a gas-fired hot water heater, which triggered the explosion.
"Said explosion breached into the arena and rapidly spread into the upper level and across the ceiling," the release said.
Damage to the building and equipment inside was estimated at $850,000.
At least it wasn't the DECC. My beloved Bulldogs aren't affected. What the explosion has done is mess up tons of local hockey events.
On Rathergate Wonkette doesn't get it. The focus was on the fraudulent National Guard documents because that's what the new part of the story was. For months, even years the MSM was digging around trying to determine if President Bush did or did not fulfill is National Guard service. They couldn't find proof that he didn't, but his paper trail led to some dead ends. Instead of just writing it off as poor handling of paperwork in the 1960s guard they assumed a conspiracy.
Then in the middle of a Presidential election some damning memos miraculously appear. Of course the focus should have been on "evidence" that could swing a Presidential election. Once the memos were found to be fake (with little forensic work needed) the story then became how CBS News let themselves be so easily fooled.
Ana Marie Cox once again demonstrates why I don't bother with her lame weblog.
We see the end of the Christmas shopping tunnel, and the light we see is a beautifully decorated tree. Unlike the TAM's Terrific Treats series I've entertained you with (I hope) the past week or so here are some more serious picks for you last-minute shoppers. I realize even though some online stores claim they can still get you your gifts by Christmas ordering now involves some risk. So I'll not only provide a link to the item, but I'll give you the ISBN. Booksellers love it when customers have that number because all we have to do is type it into a computer to see if it's in stock.
I've become a big fan of Donald Westlake's Dortmunder books. The most recent is The Road to Ruin (ISBN: 089296801X). The main character is a professional thief. While he's a man who breaks the law he still abides by a moral code. Dortmunder is a crook with a soul. The capers have plenty of twists and turns. They never quite end the way you think, but you'll laugh and smile watching how it turns out.
Daniel Silva's The Confessor (ISBN: 0451211480) is a taught, action-packed spy book where a Jewish art restorer is also an Mossad agent. It would be good for those who like Robert Ludlum's Bourne series.
Now onto non-fiction:
For someone with little exposure to the study of economics a great place to start is with Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson (ISBN: 0517548232). It's short so it won't overwhelm the reader. Yet it's full of insight with talk about the importance of tradeoffs and unintended consequences.
John Stuart Mill's On Liberty is a classic political tract for a reason: his arguments must still be tackled today.
Michael Lewis' Moneyball (ISBN: 0393057658) isn't just a great baseball book. It's a great business book, and it's a great economics book. Lewis wondered how the Oakland A's won with small payroll. By answering that question we learn the importance of discipline, creative thinking, deep analysis, and taking advantage of other's missed opportunities.
If you think someone would be daunted with a copy of Tom Wolfe's large novel I Am Charlotte Simmons, then give them Hooking Up (ISBN: 0312420234) a collection of essays and a novella. It has Wolfe's wild, wizbang style, and the title essay should let the reader understand what Charlotte Simmons is about.
President Bush was named Time's Man of the Year. I'm not surprised, and it's a good choice. I just think awarding it to Mel Gibson & Michael Moore would have made for a more interesting issue. I followed the election all year so I'm quite familiar with all the twists and turns that reelected Bush. Reading about Bush's successful past year is "old news" to me.
I won't say too much yet about any weblogs of the year. That will be saved for the TAM Awards later this month. Time named Power Line the "Blog of the Year." [UGH! Why, oh why must they call it a "blog?" It's such an ugly word.] The honor's fitting with their work taking down Dan Rather. I just wonder if some of them are getting a little out of touch with the rest of us in the blogosphere. For instance, John Hindraker, A.K.A. Hindrocket calls the initial post skeptical of the Rather memos "the most famous post in the (short) history of the blogosphere." Then in an AP story--ironic since Power Line's most well-known work before exposing the memos was exposing the anti-GOP lies from the wire service) Hindraker said Power Line only made "a couple thousand bucks a month." Heh, some of us old fogey webloggers haven't made a hundred bucks total in the years we've been posting. This is a "Let them eat cake" moment, but without the arrogance.
If weblogging was anything like a serious business Hindraker's statements would signal that the bubble may soon burst. However, what would it mean for the weblog bubble to burst? Servers wouldn't collapse; keyboards would stop working. At worst, advertisers would stop paying webloggers. A few weblogs would then shut down. The blogosphere would still hang around since most of us write in this medium not for money but for the ability to be read.
Many months ago Milt Rosenberg was kind enough give me notice of a paper by Dr. Steve K. Dubrow-Eichel on on how smart people, scholars, can be fooled. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies and Uri Geller fooled Stanford scholars into thinking he could bend spoons with his mind.
The ideas in this paper go beyond just social psychology research. They can be applied to the political arguments of our day. How did NY Times editors let Jayson Blair get away with his fake stories? How do Bush bashers walk away from Fahrenheit 9/11 believing Moore's outlandish conspiracy theories? Why do a few on the Right insist the Clintons had Vincent Foster killed?
Research has found attractiveness, prestige, and confidence led credibility to consumers of information. Maybe that's why President Bush never publically admits to mistakes as President. He fears that a public display of insecurity would hurt his ability to get reelected or to rally the public to his side.
What's the solution? Dr. Dubrow-Eichel looks at dispersed, especially opposing, viewpoints:
I believe anyone who studies highly controversial and polarizing social movements needs to be especially respectful of how prior biases impact on subsequent research strategies and interpretations of data. In fact, I go so far as to state that it is not enough to rely on ourselves and our like-minded peers; we need to routinely employ critical consultants from “the opposing side” to keep us honest.
We're knee-deep into the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Empty store shelves are what remains from shoppers' craziness. I'm sure many of your first, second, third, ... eighth choices can't be found. With grouchiness and frustration setting in what do you give to someone? Two words: bobble heads.
This Andre the Giant bobble head won't remind you of his quaint role in The Princess Bride, but it's made from "heavy ceramic-type resin."
This Buckwheat bobble head is sure to insult the ethnically sensitive on your list. So you better tack on a Jesse Jackson bobble head along with it.
I saved the best for last. Say you have a religious or history buff on your list. You'd like to choose a book, but you're sure their collection rivals that some some small universities. If you're in such straights I sugest a Martin Luther bobble head.
My Christmas celebrating started today with my mom's side of the family. We all gathered in southwest Wisconsin for our annual weekend before Christmas bash. The new and the old were there. This was a newborn second cousin's first Cooper gathering and my grandfather's umpteenth. My grandfather has been through a lot of medical problems recently. He's weak, but his mind is still sharp, and he enjoyed the party. The family was loud, and boisterous. We always tell newcomers to the family not to mind our "debates." We may yell and scream to get our point across, but we always leave happy.
A gathering of Minnesota webloggers is planned for 01.22.05. I'm tempted to crash it. It will be post-Christmas, and I'd love to meet some finewebloggers I've been reading (and losing too). For them, they might pick up some tips from and "elder statesman" like myself.
To prevent comment spam I've installed MT-Close2 that closes the comments on old posts. I've set it so posts older than two weeks will have their comments closed. That shouldn't be a problem except for the occasional person who finds an old post via Google. Let me know if you notice anything wrong.
RedState has moved beyond being simply a weblog and information resource for conservatives. It's now officially a 527. The Right is behind the Left in online political activism, but their catching up.
It also appears the weblog looks more like a conventional weblog. I avoided RedState before because I didn't want to click on the "Read On" link. I'm a firm believer in posting whole posts on one page (unless it's footnote-type material). I don't mind using my scroll wheel.
The Milwaukee area Salvation Army is behind in donations. This is partially due to Target banning the bellringers from their stores. Talk radio yapper Charlie Sykes allowed a representative on his show today to ask for donations of time and/or money. The SA is looking for volunteer bellringers. If they can't find enough they have to hire replacements which cuts into the money coming in. If you don't have any time--understandable during Christmas--you can stuff any of the 100+ red kettles throughout the Milwaukee area or donate online.
You may have seen a commerical or full-blown infomercial for The Sharper Image's Ionic Breeze Air Purifier. But did you know you can also get a personal version that looks like the ugliest MP3 player ever designed? This would be perfect for the person on your Christmas list most like Howard Hughes.
Christmas shoppers sapped me of energy today. That's why this is the first post of the day. At least this time it wasn't so much crabby shoppers and as just the volume. We're headed into the final shopping weekend before Christmas. More and more people are out and about.
I never got around to answering the question asked from a few days back. It may have been a small act of God, but the next day at the store I stumbled upon an edition of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. Scholars have dubbed that book the foundation of modern conservative political thought. As a conservative always trying to deepen my knowledge of politics (broadly defined) you'd think I'd have been through this one by now.
The edition I found and subsequently bought is part of the "Rethinking the Western Tradition" series put out by Yale University Press. I was impressed with their edition of J.S. Mill's On Liberty. Their edition of Reflections shouldn't disappoint.
I also found a list I made of books I should read. Here are just a few:
Democracy in America
The Conservative Mind
The Screwtape Letters
For a New Liberty
The Federalist Papers
Shelby Foote's Civil War trilogy
I know there are no left-of-center classics on this list. Any suggestions?
Finally since I'm yapping about books, I'm currently reading John Keegan's The Face of Battle. It's good in that Keegan goes beyond other military historians and digs into the how and why of battles. He asks and answers questions other historians gloss over or assume away.
Time will soon pick its Person Man of the Year. The most obvious choice would be President Bush. Webloggers would be a great choice, but a MSM honoring their newest competitors (at least in their eyes) is illogical. How about this for a selection: Mel Gibson and Michael Moore? They both represent the politically divided nation we saw on Election Day. They both made movies that became bigger than what was projected on the big screen. With their success this year both won't be going away. It's Red State and Blue State. Liberal and Conservative. Left and Right. They both represent this moment in time. The picks just fit, and the accompanying articles would be more interesting to read than a rehash of Election 2004.
Oh to be a poor, inner-city, Washington, D.C. child who's parents were wise enough to get me into Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. You have to think memorization is a high priority there with a name as long as that.
Geography lessons will include where "Panama" and "Cabo Wabo" are on a map--plus she'll bring in Grandpa as a guest speaker.
She will have to avoid mentioning "Judgement Day" since Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School *whew* is a public school.
She must make sure not to let her students give her the "Runaround" for why their homework isn't done.
When Joey turns in a very short book report, Ms. Bush will offer this retort: "Not Enough." When he protests she'll reply, "Right Now."
For phy ed she'll let them "Jump" as high as they can go. Maybe they'll reach the "Top of the World." (Hopefully no fadish cup stacking in that class.)
When someone complains about too much homework, Ms. Bush can simply reply, "Finish What Ya Started."
For science class volcanoes can be the topic, and she'll describe what causes an "Eruption."
When "Jamie's Cryin'" because she's not like the other kids, Ms. Bush can comfort her by reasuring her she's a "Humans Being" just like everyone else.
On the weekends, Jenna will be "Unchained" from the stress of a classroom of kids. She'll let loose (which we all know she can do) and "Dance the Night Away" because it "Feels So Good." Let's hope she doesn't start "Runnin' with the Devil."
Hershey's has a new candy bar, Take 5. The five comes from its five main ingredients (I counted 8+ main ingredients on the package): pretzels, caramel, peanuts, peanut butter, and milk chocolate. If you like salt and sweet you probably will like this. For me, I only tasted the salty pretzels and the sweet chocolate. I did note the chewy caramel. It's not bad, but it only rates a C.
Ross Rubin thinks TiVo should drop it's subscription model. I'd be happy with that. It would raise the price of DVRs but you wouldn't have to pay for anything afterward. I do wonder how it fits into my view that the future of television as pay-per-view pumped over the internet on demand. Maybe TiVo could position itself as the toll booth between viewers and program producers.
If they the subscription fee but raised prices it would make me think hard about getting a second machine. Right now, $199 ($99 after rebate) for a Series 2 box is tempting.
Even though Bernard Kerik is no long in line to joining the Bush Administration we're learning just how corrupt he was. How did all this get past a very efficient Bush opperation other than simply taking the word of Rudy Gulliani?
Since we do know that New York City doesn't have the cleanest of governments what's in Rudy's closet (if anything)? If he wants to be taken as a serious 2008 Presidential contender he needs to run against Hillary in 2006 or do something that allows the press and his enemies to flush up his dirty laundry. It would too sweet for the Democrats to dig some really good stuff up after Rudy secured the nomination.
I should have warned you ahead of time that posting would be slow to nonexistent tonight. The extended edition of Return of the King came out today, and I made chicken curry. Rachel Ray is not just the sexiest person on Food Network, but her recipes are easy and tasty.
This Virginia Postrel post reminds me of an old parlor game among academics -- confessing the most important book in your field that you have never read.
My "field" would be political economy (broadly defined). I also have to think if reading portions of a book count or don't count. I open this up to the audience while I pour over my bookshelves and past reading lists.
Unfortunately, I can't offer an autographed book. I will do this: the first person who donates $100 I'll send them an autographed copy of a used fantasy football magazine. I must warn you, it might have bad luck.
One thing that makes capitalism so interesting is the changes that take place due to competition. Netflix and other (relatively) new DVD rental services have done better at satisfying consumers. Rental behemoth Blockbuster is countering by no longer charging late fees. If a customer doesn't return their movie or game within one week of the return date they'll buy it. If the item is returned after that one-week grace period but within 30 days they'll get a credit on their account. I'm not sure if that's a credit onto their credit card or if it can only be used on future rentals.
One result of this is customers won't consider the due date as the real due date. The average return date will be the last day of the grace period because customers won't have the incentive not to return the movies on the "soft" due date. But since Blockbuster test marketed this before rolling it out nationwide, I'm sure they know this.
Another result is the hit the company will take on the bottom line.
Blockbuster, which has more than 4,500 stores in the United States, says it expects to make up the lost revenue from late fees with increased store traffic, reduced promotional and marketing expenses and more focus on managing its operating expenses.
Late fees would have contributed $250 million to $300 million to 2005 operating income, it said.
I'm glad I don't have any money invested in Blockbuster. Somehow relying on your customers tardiness doesn't seem like the most reliable way to make money.
My fantasy football season is over. *Sniff* Which may be a good thing since I ended the season with a seven-game losing streak. The next Ron Wolf I'm not.
My problems started at the draft. At the time I thought I did okay. Looking back my biggest mistake was drafting Fred Taylor over Edgerin James. I just didn't have confidence in Edge's knee. Then I picked Anquan Boldin even though he was rehabing an injured knee.
But I was still in the middle of the pack at midseason. I figured a trade or two would help. My goal was finding a stud quarterback. I traded for Warrick Dunn then moved him the next week for Matt Hasselbeck. I started him a total of one week due to matchups. What I should have done was not trade away Michael Pittman (along with Roy Williams for Dunn). After trading him away Pittman racked up eight touchdowns in five games. I don't know if that would have been the difference in some games, but I certainly would have been in a better position.
Then there was some scoring quirks. I thought my additions would make pass-catching running backs more valuable. In an example of unintended consequences great tight ends were scoring better than above-average quarterbacks. I didn't realize I needed to adjust and just approached this league like any other I've played in. As King (who beat me last year for the league title) wrote, "If you use a book or magazine, you're not drafting right for this league." I was behind right from the start.
Since I now have a long post-season I'm going to have to revamp my approach. On the league's message board King told us about his tools for winning. Looks like I'm going to have to find some fantasy football software or *gasp* learn how to use a spreadsheet.
Today, five new inductees were announced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. U2, The O'Jays, Percy Sledge, The Pretenders, and Buddy Guy made it. Who missed out? Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, the J. Geils Band, and Conway Twitty. Another glaring omission is the Canadian power trio Rush who this year celebrated 30 years as a band. They're a band that has progressed from Led Zeppelin metal to art rock to 80s rock/pop to the stylized music they make today. Through it all there has been fine musicianship, great songs, and intelligent lyrics.
Not to pick on The Pretenders--they had their time in the late 70s and 80s, but Rush has consistently put out interesting music that stretches their abilities and their listeners ears. And would the Hall of Fame seriously consider The J. Geils Band? They had two songs, "Centerfold" and "Freeze Frame." That earns you an "as seen on TV" greatest hits collection, not a place in Cleveland.
According to an "expert," Rush isn't in the HOF because Rolling Stone magazine doesn't like them. So it's Jan Wenner's fault. There is a petition 22,000+ have signed, so I'm not the only upset Rush fan.
My own opinion, for whatever it's worth: Lomberg is right on the most important matter: trying to "fix" global warming by spending trillions of dollars would be inhumane and irresponsible. For the costs associated with such questionable nostrums as the Kyoto protocol, we could do far more to provide clean air and water for most of the world's population, and do far more for extinct species preservation and nature conservation. The Earth has been much hotter (and had much higher CO2 levels) in the past, and the notion that we can control the temperature of the Earth the way we control the thermostat in our homes is absurd.
In any case, panic over rising ocean levels and global catastrophes isn't just unfounded in science: it's pseudoscientific hysteria.
I've been skeptical about man-made global warming ever since the theory surfaced. However, even if it does exist there are greater environmental issues to be dealt with--and not necessarily via government. It's about priorities and tradeoffs--something many "intellectuals" don't understand.
The voting is over and the 2004 Weblog Awards are history. TAM didn't win in it's catagory, but I'm claiming victory anyway. It's just like Bill Clinton claimed victory in New Hampshire in 1992 even though he took second. Last year, TAM received only 1.4% of the vote. This year, it got a whopping 4.5%!
We have that all important momentum--not "Joe"mentum, "mo"mentum. Next, we must ask--no DEMAND--that Glenn Reynolds put TAM on his blogroll. Let him know he's not doing a very good job respecting his weblog elders. ;-)
If you have to fill the position of Energy Secretary (name one thing Spence Abraham did in his term--heck name one thing any secretary did) I guess filling it with someone respected by Hernando de Soto is alright.
But if "gets it" on property rights in the developing world then why waste him at Energy? Send him to USAID, have him run Treasury, or better yet send him to Iraq. It sounds like Samuel Bodman is a wasted talent in a wasteful department.
Here's another #5 for you. For those who reminisce about some of the goofier things about the 80s I found this:
Now, you can get it for someone who collected an entire Garbage Pail Kids set pack by pack by pack (did they come with gum?), or give it to a youngin' who always looks at you funny when you mention Rubik's Cube, G.I. Joe, and ColecoVision.
Before Power Line helped take down Dan Rather, before James Lileks showed people beyond the Twin Cities how funny he was, before Michele made lists, before Kos said, "Screw 'em," before Andrew Sullivan begged his readers for money, and before Glenn Reynolds first wrote, "Indeed" on Instapundit, there was The American Mind. Five years ago yesterday, TAM started with this post (scroll all the way down):
Jill Stewart of the New Times Los Angeles has a interesting story of how the LA school district is ignoring Prop. 227 which was supposed end bilingual education.
The link is dead, but with that post a weblog was born.
I have no idea what was the first weblog that caught my eye. Back in 1999, I "wasted" hours on the internet filling up on the latest news. I had bookmarks to oodles of news sites. Then I stumbled upon weblogs. Maybe it was an article about the "fad" on Wired News or News.com. However I came upon them I found these running online commentaries to be fascinating. They helped me find new items to read, plus they had interesting commentary.
I seem to recall being inspired by Michael Wasylik who started What's On It for Me? back in 11.99. (WOIFM appears to be on a long-term hiatus; too bad.) I figured if he could write a conservative/libertarian weblog so could I. Really, it was my way of forcing myself to write on a daily basis. My dream job would be to get paid to write books, essays, articles, etc. There's something very heady about crafting a string of words that pursuades people. The initial idea was to write on TAM then turn some of those posts into more extensive pieces. Well, it's been five years, but that hasn't happened. Part of the problem is ignorance. Even with the internet it's tough finding the right person to contact in a publishing operation. The greater problem is just plain personal insecurity. I don't know if my writing is that good. I dread hearing the word "no," thus I take few risks.
If you look carefully, the first year of TAM was hard coded. No permalinks, no trackbacks, and no comments. I handmade archive pages at the beginning of each month.It was just me, a simple text editor, and Angelfire. But that was enough to satisfy my writing itch.
Despite my inability to sell my writing I did get some media attention. During the summer of 2000 I was obsessed with the Elian Gonzalez story. I did not want that child to go back to Cuba. I was especially appalled Janet Reno's decision to used armed troops to remove the boy from his Miami relatives. So I created ElianWatch to cover the story. A reporter for CNBC spotted the weblog and interviewed me for one of the programs Geraldo Rivera had on that network back then.
Another media highlight was this summer when CNN linked to my poll asking: Who's hotter, the Bush Twins or the Kerry Sisters?
What I learned about the blogosphere is it's a meritocracy. Traffic, readers, and now ad dollars go to those who write well, are entertaining, and add value in peoples' lives. However, this lesson is a double-edged sword. If you're not getting as much traffic and readers the only one you can blame is yourself. There have been times I whined publically about not getting credit or a link. There have been even more times I've grumbled privately about young weblogs grabbling attention. It didn't seem "fair" these newbies were jumping ahead of a weblogging veteran like myself.
An example is the 2004 Weblog Awards. TAM's gotten some votes in the category it's nominated for (thank you very much), but it's not winning. I'm also confident TAM is the longest running weblog on that list. It proves age means nothing in the blogosphere. That's painful to me. The final blame must rest with me. Other people are better marketers, writers, and attention grabbers. More power to them.
Despite my occasional frustration with the "unfairness" of a meritocratic blogosphere I don't regret diving into the personal publishing pool. I consume more news than I ever have in my life, I write about what interests me, and I know people read and respond to my thoughts. I've met new people, found allies in common causes, and learned more than I would have without weblogging.
Five years from now, I can see myself still posting, still commenting on political economy, sports, music, and whatever catches my eye. To me, TAM is my version of talk radio only I type instead of yap. (No, I don't see myself podcasting. Maybe once or twice just to see what I'd sound like.) I'd love to have a bigger audience that comments more, sends me e-mail (unlike some webloggers, I get little because of TAM), and bugs Glenn Reynolds to put me on his blogroll. Even if that doesn't happen I'll still write TAM. I need TAM. It's an outlet for griping or arguing or trying to make people laugh. Since I like to write why not do it someplace where someone will read it? Weblogging is still fun, and I can't imagine it not being so.
UPDATE: Darn Floor has proof James Lileks was doing the whole internet thing way back in 1997. I remember he had a website back then because of his pages devoted to the Gobbler. (I've driven past this place, but never stepped inside.)
TTT #1 was for those who were/are bummed about the election. Tonight's Terrific Treat is for the happy folks. Measure up to President Bush with a lifesize cardboard standup. It's 5'11" of pure politician. Sorry ladies, he isn't in his flight suit.
John Kerry is stiffing the House on the Rock Resort where he stayed to prepare for the Presidential debates.
House on the Rock Inn and Resort received a heap of international attention for being the place where Dem hopeful John Kerry holed up for days in late September with his closest advisers to prepare for his first debate against President George Bush.
But, when a $20,000 tab goes unpaid for several months, a blessing can turn into a curse.
Sue Donaldson, president of Vivid Incoporated, the company that owns House on the Rock Inn and Resort, says about $20,000 is still outstanding for Kerry's rental of a condo, food for staff, meeting room rental, and extra services requested for installing communications equipment.
"We've been trying to collect it for the last couple of months, calling every couple days," Donaldson said Thursday. "They're not disputing it. They keep saying it's coming, and it never comes."
90% of the people I encounter on a daily basis are idiots. I haven't recently come to that conclusion. It's taken me years of working in retail to get to figure that out. It's especially noticeable at Christmas.
Here are some hum-dingers I had to deal with today:
The "gentleman" (and I'm being very liberal with that word) who decided to interrupt me helping another customer. The person I was helping was standing right next to me so there shouldn't have been any confusion by the rude dude. Then after I told the "gentleman" that I would help him after I was done with my current focus he got all huffy appearing like I was the one who was rude to him.
The idea of an audiobook isn't complicated. Instead of reading the book someone is recorded reading the book and you listen to it. For some this is an amazing innovation.
It amazes me when a customer gives me no title, no author, hardly anything about the book then gets upset that I couldn't help him. And no, saying you heard about it on the radio a few weeks ago doesn't help either.
It also amazes me when a customer gives you enough information to find the book only to be told that that isn't what she wanted.
To the barbarians who can't treat a public restroom with respect, I hope you all soil you pants. If you decide that being filthy is your calling mess up your own bathroom.
I'm going to make an assumption. I feel pretty safe about it because of all the years I've worked in retail and with many different co-workers. You may notice and like that smiling face helping you compensate for your inability to be organized, mildly helpful, and considerate. But behind the facade is contempt for how much of an idiot you are. To you morons we wonder how America will continue to be the world's sole superpower. We wonder if the nation's collective I.Q. goes down with each new child you bring into the world. Stupid people shouldn't breed, and we could certainly like to have easy access to enough x-rays to fix the problem.
Other than that I'm having a great Christmas shopping season.
The iPod looks to be the gift for Christmas. It's on every buying guide list I read, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle "analysts are predicting sales of 4 million more units in the last three months of this year." That will almost double total iPod ownership.
A neat quality to the music player is all the stuff you can buy for it. It's almost a customizable as the music you play on it. There's the FM transmitter, the car holder, the stereo connector, the voice recorder, and a host of other gizmos for your gizmo. If you don't like the sleek whiteness of the iPod you can change that too. There are iSkins in all sorts of colors (some even glow in the dark), more organic leather cases, or you can be completely idiosyncratic and make your own iPod coverings.
What I found is perfect for those iPod users who have to deal with the cold and snow. During a winter in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, or New York you bundle up to stay warm. Sure your iPod produces heat while running, but don't you think it wants to stay warm too? Well, here's something to fix that: the iPod hoodie.
Fleece for you, fleece for your iPod. Fair is fair.
Dean Esmay makes the Washington Post's Dana Milbank look like a rube who never learned anything about modern American history.
But to seriously address the point these Bush critics make I'll use a cliche: Don't judge a book by its cover. Appearance isn't what demonstrates America's continued civilian leadership of the country. It's who's accountable. President Bush was elected President by American voters not generals and admirals. Running around in a bomber jacket or flight suit doesn't change who the commander-in-chief reports to. No matter what he wears he's still bound by the constitution.
Here's what The Economist thinks are the best books of 2004. Time is quickly vanishing to suggest a title for the TAM Book Awards. I'll probably be able to squeeze two books at most in before the end of the year. Leave your suggestion in the comments.
Music is a good fall back for that tough-to-buy-for person on your Christmas list. You could play it safe and get the latest albums by U2, Norah Jones, or the Nirvana box set. But come on! If that special someone is giving you gift-giving troubles, get him something that will remind them to put together a wish list ahead of time next year. Here are some unforgetable TAM Christmas picks:
With Zamfir you know romance is in the air. The soothing sounds of his pan flute will either get you some nookie or put you to sleep.
Other than "Tiny Bubbles" I bet you can't name a single Don Ho song. Actually, I'd be impressed if you heard of Don Ho without ever seeing those Brady Bunch episodes set in Hawaii. The crooner has himself a greatest hits collection. If you give this, tack on some tiki soap to keep with the theme.
For the metalhead-turned-country-lover (or country-lover-turned-metalhead) there's Fade to Bluegrass: Tribute to Metallica.
TAM wasn't the only place savoring the irony. Here is some blogospheric reactions to U.N. Anti-Corruption Day:
Don at Danz Family writes, "It's like the KKK instituting Interracial Marriage Day or the ACLU celebrating Christian Government Day or Charles Manson honoring Mental Health Day."
Espresso Sarcasm lives up to its billing: "That's like O.J. Simpson speaking out against domestic violence. This calls for a drink. Maybe two."
At Clear and Present Mike writes, "The UN is currently the subject of no less than five U.S. congressional investigations and an internal inquiry over the oil-for-food fiasco, so this week's celebration of its anti-corruption initiative (which hasn't been signed yet by Canada or any other major country) invites images not so much of foxes in the hen house as clowns taking over the circus."
Tomorrow 12.09, is U.N. International Anti-Corruption Day. It would be appropriate for that hallowed body to issue a progress report on Paul Volker's investigation of the Oil-for-Food program. Tomorrow would also be an opportune day to fill us in on the sex abuse scandal involving U.N. workers in the Congo. And while their at it the world body could let us know about any consequences dealt out from last year's "No Pay Zone" frenzy. Heck, maybe diplomats will start paying their parking tickets.
Being the hypocritical, toothless organization that it is, I expect the U.N. to do none of these things.
Oliver Willis was inspired by a few of my words on liberals and terrorism. I'm flattered. I'm not interested in debating the Iraq War. That's over with and done. I will comment on some of Oliver's points that stand out to me.
I claimed Afghanistan and Iraq were military victories. Oliver disagrees. I simply take before-and-after snapshots. Before both wars the two nations were filled with oppressed people governed by autocrats that posed threats to the U.S. After the wars, both nations were put on the path to becoming stable democratic republics.
Afghanistan now has a freely elected President. To claim that victory in Afghanistan means it should be as stable and safe as any Western nation is unrealistic.
Iraq is much messier. Al Qaeda has poured its energies into preventing the January elections from happening. If we can glean anything from rank-and-file Democrats its that they want U.S. troops out of Iraq. They hate the Iraq War, think it's a failure, and want America out.
On another point Oliver writes,
Here's a bit of advice, for free. Labeling your political opposition as traitors, simply because they see an ill-planned and ill-advised war as folly in the making, is not the best way to unite a nation. It is the Republican party who decided in 2002 to make the war a wedge issue. I want us to fight terrorism, I want us to fight threats to our nation and our interests, and to put in place policies that will derail the creation of future terrorists.
The way he writes implies I was tossing the "traitor" label around. As far as I know, I never did that. (If you find where I did, let me know). I know I called those that disagreed with the Islamist War to be misguided, unserious, and wrong.
Let me note that it was Sen. Tom Daschel and fellow Congressional Democrats who went partisan with the Homeland Security Department bill. They placed a union provision above getting the bill passed. That bit them in the tuckus in the 2002 elections. When the post-Sep. 11 political division began, I don't know. What I do know is one party decided to be unserious about winning the war and bashed everything the President was doing while the other accepted the destiny set before it.
Christmas shopping is hard. Getting into the car, driving to the best sales, searching for a decent parking spot, and battling the oodles of other shoppers taxes even the most hard-core shoppers. Even more difficult is finding the right gift for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list. You know who they are: Cousin Pete who seems to only work at the golf course and tinker with his truck. Do you really want to buy him a case of motor oil? There's you Aunt Angela who watches reality shows and is happy wearing Green Bay Packers sweatshirts. A cashmere sweater probably won't get much use from her. Then there's your nephew Matt who lives, sleeps, eats, and drinks Star Wars. You mention Star Trek to him, and he just rolls his eyes. But since his collection is so vast you don't know what he doesn't have--neither does he.
Here's where TAM comes in. For the next few days I'll be offering up some unique items I'm sure your most difficult gift-getters don't even know exist. These things may be tacky, weird, or just plain goofy, but they certainly won't be your run-of-the-mill gifts.
So, let's get started with TAM's Terrific Treat #1
I found a gift that should satisfy the Blue State political geek on your list. It's the Jesusland, USA t-shirt. Not only does it rip Bush voters ("average I.Q.: 70"), but it's made of "luxuriously soft" cotton. While I wouldn't recommend wearing it to a NASCAR event you shouldn't worry because what true blue Blue Stater goes to those anyway?
The race to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee is shaping up as a retread of January’s Iowa caucuses, with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean emerging as the early front-runner and the Democratic establishment furiously scrambling for a candidate to beat him.
As much as I'd like to see Howard Dean, M.D. running the DNC (the Duck Hunt could rise from the dead) it won't help the party better connect to all voters. Virulent anti-Bush tirades may satisfy a gloomy political base, but it's not the foundation for future electoral victory.
Ideally, I want to see a Democratic Party that takes Bill Clinton's "era of Big Government is over" line to heart and combine it with a muscular anti-Islamist policy. In essence, I want them to go to the right of the Republicans. Will it ever happen? Not in my lifetime, but the farther they move to the right the better it will be for human liberty.
No, David, you're not the last weblogger to comment on Peter Beinert's piece on a new liberal foreign policy. It's a little obnoxious for a conservative like me to pontificate about what liberals should do. I'd be a little perturbed reading a Lefty offering the Right advice. But if Democrats and liberals continue on their present course the nation will be stuck with a one-sided debate. A smart, intellectually honest Democratic Party is good for the GOP and good for the country. So here are some of my thoughts.
Had history taken a different course, this new brand of liberalism might have expanded beyond a narrow foreign policy elite. The war in Afghanistan, while unlike Kosovo a war of self-defense, once again brought the Western democracies together against a deeply illiberal foe. Had that war, rather than the war in Iraq, become the defining event of the post-September 11 era, the "re-education" about U.S. power, and about the new totalitarian threat from the Muslim world that had transformed Kerry's advisers, might have trickled down to the party's liberal base, transforming it as well.
Instead, Bush's war on terrorism became a partisan affair--defined in the liberal mind not by images of American soldiers walking Afghan girls to school, but by John Ashcroft's mass detentions and Cheney's false claims about Iraqi WMD. The left's post-September 11 enthusiasm for an aggressive campaign against Al Qaeda--epitomized by students at liberal campuses signing up for jobs with the CIA--was overwhelmed by horror at the bungled Iraq war. So, when the Democratic presidential candidates began courting their party's activists in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2003, they found a liberal grassroots that viewed the war on terrorism in negative terms and judged the candidates less on their enthusiasm for defeating Al Qaeda than on their enthusiasm for defeating Bush. The three candidates who made winning the war on terrorism the centerpiece of their campaigns--Joseph Lieberman, Bob Graham, and Wesley Clark--each failed to capture the imagination of liberal activists eager for a positive agenda only in the domestic sphere. Three of the early front-runners--Kerry, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt--each sank as Howard Dean pilloried them for supporting Ashcroft's Patriot Act and the Iraq war.
In a backhanded way Beinart blames the Bush administration for the Democratic base not fully supporting the Islamic War. But maybe it was the unrealistic expectations they have toward war. Democrats fail to comprehend how amazing the victories in Afghanistan and Iraq were. In both cases it only took weeks to topple nations and liberate their peoples. As an added bonus there were few Allied causalties. When you put the 1000+ troops that have died during the Iraq War and in post-war operations into historical context you see Iraq has been one of the least-bloody military operations in American history.
Beinert goes on:
Kerry was a flawed candidate, but he was not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem was the party's liberal base, which would have refused to nominate anyone who proposed redefining the Democratic Party in the way the ADA did in 1947. The challenge for Democrats today is not to find a different kind of presidential candidate. It is to transform the party at its grassroots so that a different kind of presidential candidate can emerge. That means abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn.
Beinart will be disappointed in Oliver Willis' Brand Democrat campaign. For Willis it isn't about changing the party, just marketing it better to American voters. In fact, Willis writes, "Howard Dean was right. Peter Beinart, The New Republic, The DLC, and all the pro-Iraq war liberal hawks were wrong, wrong, wrong." Oddly, Willis endorses Howard Dean, M.D. for DNC chairman. Somehow, I don't think he's the greatest salesman for the Democrats.
Beinart sees little hope in Democrats getting their act together until the base realizes America is in a war. That means more than a tiny portion of Democratic delegates have to rate terrorism or defense as their number one issue.
One can only hope that many Democrats take Beinart's ideas to heart. I would love to see my country united, both Left and Right, in the fight against Islamism. A more unified U.S. could be better understood by a cynical Europe and Middle East. Domestic unity could inspire more international unity. In short, foreign policy unity could shorten the long war with Islamist totalitarianism. Doves and hawks, liberals and conservaties, Democrats and Republicans, all want that.
The news of IBM selling its PC business to China's Lenovo Group wasn't shocking to me. Big Blue hasn't been big in PCs for years. Dell and HP have whupped them in market share. The fact that a Chinese company bought the division doesn't bother me because IBM has been outsourcing PC manufacturing for years. You can't make this into an "America gets screwed by the Chinese" story. If we did get "screwed" it happened some time ago. What did raise my eyebrow (I can do it just like Spock) was this nugget:
Like other major Chinese manufacturers hoping to expand overseas, Lenovo is planning to leverage a well-known foreign brand name. Liu said the company would be entitled to freely use IBM's brand name in five years' time.
Expect IBM to not be called IBM five years from now. The company will be giving up a lot in branding, but with their focus on computer services and software they must feel a legendary household name wasn't worth as much as the $1.75 billion they got. Let's just hope they don't pick something stupid like Accenture.
In a first "final" draft the less-liberal Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) appeared to be moving its party down a sensible path that would better encompass the worldview of Red America. In a commentary they laid out the slimey nature of the Iraq Oil-for-Food program and the ties to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. In the final paragraph there is a call for Annan to "step aside." I, like many others, took that to mean the DLC stood next to Sen. Norm Coleman is calling for new U.N. leadership. We were wrong. The DLC published a note before their piece they really meant Annan should get out of the way and let Paul Volker do his investigative work.
Going after the biggest financial scandal in world history would have been perfect for a self-avowed "centrist" organization to better connect with fair-minded swing voters. That they haven't means even the "moderate" Democrats have a ways to go to win over the Red States.
Oddly, it's December and my neck of the woods hasn't yet seen snow fall. Wisconsin has a reputation for being one of America's iceboxes so no hint of snow yet is a surprise. If it's because of global warming then I'm even more anti-Kyoto. I bring up the weather, not because I love writing about it, but because a new dance mix album is out. Escape: St. Barth's transports you to a place of sand, sun, and warm, fun house music.
The highlights of this mix include Martin Solveig's "Rocking Music (Joey Negro Dub Mix)" that lives up to its name. It has a great groove and beat with a bouncing bass. GusGus's "David (Tim Deluxe Mix)" entertains with a simple happy synth topped by standard female house vocal. Tim Deluxe does it again with his own "It Just Won't Do." The song has a horn theme where even Sam Obernik's vocal sounds like a horn. The Supermen Lovers' "Starlight (Dub Version)" adds a retro touch to the mix. It brings a funky disco feel with soulful singing and traditional song structure. Near the end there's Lee Cabrera's "Shake It (Move a Little Closer)." It's sweaty, sexy, and makes you want to dance close to someone. This song best captures the summer vibe.
Escape: St. Barth's is not serious progressive house. This is fun, smiley house with plenty of hooks but little cheese which a mix invoking the summer could easily "melt" into.
When Michael Moore appeared clean-shaven and in a suit on Jay Leno one could have thought he was dealing well with President Bush's victory. In that appearance Moore talked about how Republicans won because they were better storytellers than the Democrats. As deeply as the rotund filmmaker could think Moore is expanding on that opinion by arguing that the Democrats need to align themselves more closely to Hollywood. Because that "is where they need to come to learn how to tell a story."
He even went further by claiming Hollywood stopped a bloody Democratic defeat:
What Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bruce Springsteen and MoveOn and all the other people that were working during this election, what we did was we prevented a Bush landslide.
My conclusion is Moore is still suffering post-election shock. He was suffering from it on Jay Leno, and he's still suffering it today. There's denial and there's delusion. Moore's suffering from the latter. Depending on who the Democrats choose for their next party chairman we know if the donkey party is suffering too.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee, 2004 could be labled "The Year of the Child Criminal." Another brutal crime was committed by a Milwaukee kid.
What began as an apparent armed robbery ended with the teenager raping the 23-year-old woman as her son looked on, according to police and the victim, who spoke to a reporter Monday on the condition her name not be used.
The victim did not know her attacker. She was staying inside the apartment she shares with her only son and her mother Monday as police hunted for the suspect. She said her son, who was napping late Monday afternoon, didn't seem traumatized, but she said she will watch him closely.
That's what Mike Holmgren will be tonight after his Seahawks scored 25 straight points to grab a late fourth quarter lead over the Cowboys only to lose it at the end to rookie running back Julius Jones.
Sen. John McCain has threatened to intorduce legislation forcing baseball to test its players for drugs. He can claim all he wants that Congress has the constitutional power to do it under the Commerce Clause. He might even be right. But is it appropriate for a Senator to waste his time trying to regulate a sport? By the way I phrased the question, you already know my answer.
There are time when McCain can be really good. Like when he campaigned hard for President Bush even though the two don't like each other. Then there are times when McCain looks like a sanctimonious attention seeker. Talking at length to the Washington Post about this is the latter.
It took a while, but Tommy Thompson is leaving the Department of Health and Human Services. Maybe he didn't find D.C. so bad and was debating about really leaving. All I've heard about Thompson's future is he's going into the private sector so he can make some money. That sounds like getting on corporate boards (like John Engler and plagerizing author Doris Kearns Goodwin), giving speeches, and consulting.
UPDATE: WTMJ radio just broadcast a small portion of Thompson's resignation press conference. What I heard was mostly a rehash of what is in his resignation letter. Thompson did say that "after 40 years of public service"..."it's time for me and my family to move on." He also called HHS the "Department of Compassion." I wouldn't exactly call a department funded with $539 billion in confiscated taxpayers' money as "compassionate."
Bush finished the Nov. 2 election with $4.4 million left in his $75 million, taxpayer-financed general election campaign fund and $1 million in bills to pay. He had $15 million in a legal compliance fund that he could have tapped in the event of a recount fight, according to reports he filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.
The president also detailed the money raised and spent by his record-breaking primary campaign fund. He ended his private fund raising with $273 million collected, close to triple the then-record $106 million he raised for his 2000 primary campaign. The cost of television ads consumed much of Bush's money.
Bush was not allowed to use private contributions on his campaign after he was nominated Sept. 2 at the Republican National Convention in New York. That account had $2 million left as of late November after Bush gave nearly $11.3 million to the Republican National Committee and $1,680 to the White House Historical Association.
While Bush gave millions to the RNC for other campaigns Kerry's stinginess forced the Democrats to borrow money. Better money management is another reason Bush beat Kerry.
UPDATE: This is not a good sign. I ask you to vote for TAM, and goes down in the rankings. It's like when John Kerry went up in the polls the less often he was in the media. Oh, well. To those of you who voted for TAM I say, "Thanks." To those of you who didn't I ask, "Why not?"
I posted some thoughts about Jason Giambi's admission at SportsBlog. Also read this column begging baseball to investigate Barry Bonds. It could be a fatal blow to baseball should he break Hank Aaron's career home run record while later finding out he cheated his way to the record.
Uber Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings talked to Nightline.
For two weeks of his run as the longest-reigning "Jeopardy!" champion, Ken Jennings lived a double life. The shows had not yet aired, and no one was allowed to know where he was when he took off time from work.
"Nobody knew except my boss," the Salt Lake City software engineer recalled. "So I'd be working at my day job, living my normal life and I'd feel like Clark Kent 'cause every couple of weeks I'd have to secretly fly out here [to Los Angeles] and have this secret identity as a game show star."
"Jeopardy!Champion Reflects on His Unprecedented Reign"
Drew at Darn Floor is doing a fine job covering the Chai Vang murders, a story where I haven't written about because I haven't found an angle that hasn't been examined by reporters and talk radio yappers. Drew's latest post on the subject deals with racial tension (or the lack thereof) between whites and Hmongs.
Patrick Ruffini suspects there's Presidential aspirations in the mind of Sen. John Corzine (D-NJ). As he writes, "Why give up a Senate-seat for life after just one term for a term-limited job [New Jersey governor] that doesn't have the best track record of enhancing reputations?" (Maybe Corzine wants the job so he can hang out with Ahhnold!) Ruffini then goes on to offer some possible reasons a Corzine candidacy would make sense.
However, he ignores Corzine's most glaring problem. He's a Northeastern liberal. Recent political history has shown that that type of candidate hasn't won the Presidency since JFK. The governor's angle is good. A Governor Corzine would have an actual governing record to run on. Lengthy, complicated explanations about Senate voting records could be called "old news." Could even a Blue State liberal governor be able to relate to the hopes and fears of Red Staters? Michael Dukakis certainly couldn't.
No, Democrats have to look away from the Northeast for their next nominee. I see Sen. Evan Bayh as the perfect nominee. He's from Indiana, is a moderate, and has executive experience from when he was governor. But does he have the personality and desire? More importantly, do the hard core Democrats that will choose the nominee like him?