This morning (Friday), as we were waiting for the van to take us to the airport for our flight back to NYC, our director/choreographer told me that he overheard a conversation in a coffee shop earlier that day. Seems the person there (apparently a Lawrence, Kansas local) was talking about this weblog they read online, and how the person who runs it, Ed Fitzgerald, was in town with some dancing Shakespeare show.
I found it to be a little weird. I guess intellectually I was prepared for the possibility that weblogging could be a semi-public activity, subjecting one (at least potentially) to public scrutiny, but I still nonetheless was slightly taken aback by this first real-life instance of it. The idea that someone I know would, in the middle of the country, 1500 miles from my home, casually run into someone who reads unfutz is just a bit strange to me.
On other topic, on Rook's Rants, Guy Andrew Hall points out a bit of a paradox: it seems I added his weblog to my "Reciprocity" list before he had actually added unfutz to his blogroll. It's a real "which came first, the chicken or the egg" situation, since I'm pretty sure I added in Rook's Rants because of a link reported by TTLB's Ecosphere, which I assume was a blogroll link (I don't specifically recall when I added the link to my sidebar.)
Clearly, we've stumbled into the kind of bizarre causality loop so beloved of SF writers who do time-traveling stories. (Think of the movie Twelve Monkeys, or David Gerrold's classic The Man Who Folded Himself.)
In any case, thanks for adding me, no matter what the actual sequence of events was.
Update (3/1): Yesterday, I received the following e-mail from the fellow that my director/choreographer overheard in that coffee shop in Lawrence, which I print here with his permission:
Talk about weird, how about reading about the person anonymously referenced in your weblog and recognizing yourself? I noticed your friend noticing me noticing you (sounds like an Abba song) and wondered if he was somehow connected since his attention was only directed our way at the mention of your name. The other oddity was that I had not looked at your weblog for several weeks (no slight intended) and to find Lawrence referenced the day I happened to look at your blog was a strange coincidence. That Friday also found Lawrence mentioned in the NYTimes travel section as an interesting destination. You were quite right about Lawrence being an oasis of blue in a desert of red, we're lefty and quite smug about it. The rest of the state is suspicious of Lawrence, and periodically determines to do something about it. See last years' dustup between a state legislator and a KU professor regarding his class on human sexuality, which ended up a big enough item for O'Reilly to stink up the airwaves in his usual manner. Soon to come, a board of education 'trial' to determine whether intelligent design should have equal billing with evolution in science classes.
P.S. While I did indeed call the production 'A dancing Shakespeare show' I knew a little more about it than that, and was merely trying to get the idea across to the rest of our table in the shortest time possible. I just wanted to set the record slightly straighter in the hope of not coming across as another cultural philistine in the heartland.
[Links added. -- Ed]
My thanks to Keith for filling out the rest of the story. I wondered if the participant would respond if I put up that post, and I was gratified that he did, and also that he didn't take offense, since none was intended.
Incidentally, what I liked best about Lawrence, which went unmentioned in the Times piece, was the sound of the freight trains passing through town on the other side of the Kansas (Kaw) River from my hotel. They blow their horns as they approach a grade crossing near the old Union Pacific Depot (now converted into a visitor's center), and while some in our company found them annoying, especially at night, I found them to be quite comforting, and kept my window open to hear them better.
My usual criteria for judging a city I'm passing through is the quality of the book and cd stores, and downtown Lawrence (within walking distance of my hotel) did quite well, with several used book stores (one well maintained -- the Dusty Bookshelf -- and one quite unruly), a good small independent book store (the Raven) and a Borders; also a very good used CD store (Love Garden) and a nice smaller one as well (Kief's Downtown Music).
I'm not a gambler, and probably never will be. I've no interest in casinos, and don't expect to ever go to Las Vegas. But watching a recent episode of Monk reminded me of something I've always been curious about: I understand why a casino would want to closely watch their clientele in order to catch cheaters and eject them, but what possible rationale can they have for banning people who count cards at blackjack?
Other (of course) than that doing so is good for the house, which really shouldn't be sufficient grounds.
It seems to me that remembering what cards have appeared and altering one's play accordingly is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate thing to do, and stopping people from doing it is unfair.
As I said, an idle comment. (And, yes, I know that life is often unfair.)
The name al-Qaeda means something different practically every time it's used. Sometimes it's a synecdoche, intended to conjure shadowy legions of all the various militant Islamist groups around the globe... Sometimes it's held to be a transnational corporation, like Starbucks, with a spiderweb of sleeper-cell outlets spread worldwide, but controlled from a headquarters somewhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Sometimes it's described as a franchise outfit, like 7-Eleven, renting out its name to any small-time independent shopkeeper who's prepared to subscribe to the company program, and sometimes as a single store, or bank, owned and operated by Osama bin Laden.
This fogginess has been thickened by the political and journalistic habit of using speculative — often wildly speculative — conjunctions to connect particular people to the organization. Terrorist suspects, along with almost anyone temporarily detained under the provisions of the Patriot Act, are said to have alleged ties to, be associated with, or be linked to al-Qaeda. Although most of these associations have subsequently proved to be fictitious ... the impression is left that members of al-Qaeda are strewn as thickly over the ground, and in our very midst, as those of the AARP.
Although the interrogation of some captured key figures with proven connections to bin Laden (among them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Ramzi Yousef) has produced a great deal of detailed intelligence about past plots, as the 9/11 Commission Report abundantly testifies, it doesn't seem — so far as one can judge from what has been made public — to have revealed much about the organization and structure of al-Qaeda itself, which remains as nebulous as ever.
My thanks to all those folks who have dropped by in the year and a half I've been actively blogging -- and especially to those 50 or so people who (on average) come by almost every day:
And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in say "Shrink ... You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant," and walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it ... in harmony ... they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant, and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant, and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.
And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.
Da da da da da da da dum.
BTW, at #3820, I'm currently a "Flappy Bird" in the Truth Laid Bear Ecosphere. (That's quite a comedown from my high of #139, back when I was publishing my weekly Electoral College Survey. Ah, the fleetingness of fame!)
Since the expenditure figures are from different sources, presumably using different methodologies, they cannot be directly compared to each other, especially since they don't use a standard dollar, which would correct for inflation. The two correlations are nonetheless still separately valid, if not directly comparable.]
Update (2/26): Obviously, correlation is not causation, but just as obviously the correlation exists. There might be several reasons for this:
Bush's appeal is strongest in states where the dominant poliitcal philosophy doesn't encourage spending government money on social programs, such as education.
Bush's appeal is strongest in states which don't care much about educating their kids, as long as they can do manual labor, flip burgers, or stock the shelves at Wal-Mart.
States which spend less money on education turn out generations of under-educated citizens, and under-educated citizens are more easily fooled by Bush's bullshit..
Bush's appeal is strongest in states where the private sector (in the form of religious schools) handles a larger percentage of the states' education costs.
States which spend more on education may tend to have a stronger teachers' union presence (because the teachers use their clout to keep spending levels up), and Bush doesn't appeal much to unionized areas.
States that are more urbanized tend to spend more on education, perhaps because they realize that an uneducated student is more likely to become a burden on the welfare state, and Bush's appeal in urbanized areas is limited.
Or some combination of these and other factors.
There're probably others I haven't thought of, but whatever the reason, the correlation appears to be real, and significant.
Here's a look at the county map for the 2004 election. (Bear in mind that Dave Leip's maps use blue for the GOP and red for Democrats.)
[Click on the image for a larger view.]
There's a certain similarity to this map, from the Census Bureau, of 2000 population density by metropolitan area:
[Note: The census bureau's map of population density by county didn't seem to be functioning.]
Update:Angry Bear[thanks for the link] has four other maps (from 2000) that make the same point: urban areas, the places where people actually live, go Democratic. To overstate the case somewhat (since Bush did win, albeit by an extremely slim margin), Republicans represent acreage, Democrats represent people
Update (2/26): In comments, Dondo points out that the maps here make the same point -- and the 3D renderings are helpful in doing so with less ambiguity.
Update (3/1): Via Angry Bear, here's another map which bear an amazing similarity to those above. It shows the hometowns of US fatalties in Iraq through the end of January:
I'll note in passing that the hotel room where I'm currently staying (in Lawrence, Kansas), has both a Holy Bible and a Book of Mormon in the desk drawer.
No Koran, though.
I was also pleased to find out that even though Kansas was a thoroughly red state in the last election (25.38% margin for Bush), Douglas County (in which Lawrence is located) is one of only two counties in Kansas which went for Kerry -- by a healthy 16.14%. (The other was Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City -- the one in Kansas, referred to locally as "KCK". It went for Kerry by 31.84%!)
It's probably no coincidence that the University of Kansas is located in Lawrence.
(Note that there was a negative correlation between the amount a state spent on schools and the pecentage of votes Bush received in the 2000 election. It's probably about time for me to update that to see if it was true for the 2004 results as well.)
I was clued in to the fact that I was in an oasis of blue in a sea of red by signs in some of the local stores welcoming Howard Dean, who is scheduled to appear here on Friday, and referring to the "Democratic Republic of Lawrence". I figured a retail store wouldn't want to alienate its customers, which must mean that a significant number of the people here must be supporters of the Democratic party.
(Listening in on a coversation while I was shopping in a used CD store today, I heard that tickets for Dean's appearance went very quickly -- it sold out in a matter of hours.)
Incidentally, the show I'm working on is doing nicely. Some small tech problems in our opening here last night, though.
Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist, author of the classics Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and the seminal Hell's Angels died yesterday -- he shot himself at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.
I wouldn't recommend alcohol and drugs to anyone. But they have always worked for me.
quoted by Peter Whitmer in When The Going Gets Weird (1992)
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even with being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons nobody really understands at the time - and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
motto (c. 1980)
In a campaign, you need help from your friends; in Washington you need it from your enemies.
Politics is the art of controlling your environment.
Howard Dean has a lot to learn if he's to help party win in the South
Jazz came from the South and became the music of America.
Rock 'n' roll came from the South and became the anthem of America's rebellious youth (and, later, the music of choice for aging baby boomers). NASCAR came from the South and became America's fastest-growing sport. Jimmy Carter came from the South and became president. Bill Clinton came from the South and became president twice.
When George H.W. Bush wanted to build a political career, he left New England, moved to Texas and eventually became president. Son George W. Bush downplayed his ties to Yale, became governor of Texas and was elected president twice.
Wachovia and Bank of America grew from Southern roots and became financial megapowers.
There's a message in that history. Over the past century, the South has played an increasingly significant role in shaping the nation's culture and politics.
So what did the Democratic Party do when it lost the White House again by failing to win much support in the South?
It chose as its national party chairman a Yale-educated New Englander best known for serial foot-swallowing and cluelessness about the South. What is it, I wonder, that Democrats don't get?
Look at Dean's record. When campaigning for the presidential nomination, he seemed to view the South in stereotypes (he spoke of appealing to "guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks"). He said if Osama bin Laden was captured he should be held for a jury trial, but soon reconsidered to say if U.S. troops saw him they should blow him away. He said Job was his favorite book in the New Testament.
Dean may amaze the doubters and succeed in unifying the party and broadening its appeal.
Or his gift for misstatement may make Southern Democrats discover they're needed elsewhere when he comes to call.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, had an interesting observation when asked about Dean's new job. Noting that Republicans weren't making a big issue of it, Barbour recalled a phrase attributed to Napoleon: "Never interfere with your enemy while he's in the process of destroying himself."
I have to think it's Williams who doesn't get it.
First of all, his is a decidely short-sighted and blinkered impression of American History. In point of fact, the South has been a (if not the) dominant region in American politics since the very founding of the republic -- just think of all those Presidents from Virginia ("The Mother of Presidents"). Think of the effects of the Constitutional slavery compromise, necessary to keep get the South to agree to strengthen the Union. Think of the proximate cause of the Civil War: Southern discontent with the trend of national political thought. Think of the Dixiecrats, the Southern Strategy, "Reagan Democrats", all those Speakers and Senate leaders who came from the south. Geographical "ticket-balancing" has been to a large extent about getting enough Southern oomph.
For this guy to point at this and say it's a recent thing, is profoundly ahistorical, and decidedly provincial. Not only that, but his reaction to Dean is (in my opinion) totally at odds with reality. With all due respect to those I know and love who are from or dwell in the South, what this country needs is not more Southern influence, it needs less -- a lot less.
What's wrong with Williams' urging the Democrats to concentrate on the South? Well, take a look at the last election. We lost by 3% of the popular vote without carrying a single southern state. What that means is not that we have to lean over backwards to carry the south by becoming more conservative to appeal to southern white voters, it means (just off the top of my head) we have to:
use local wedge issues intelligently to win one or two borderline southern states, like Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee or North Carolina. Going after the deep south is a stupid idea for the Dems, because they can't win it -- period.
we have to take Ohio, Iowa, and Florida (only partly a southern state)
and we have to shore up our positions in those blue states where our margin of victory was slimmer than it should have been.
That's a semi-southern strategy with which we can win, and which is doable and feasible. Any strategy which seeks -- in the near term, at least -- to unseat the GOP in the south is going to throw away a lot of money to very little effect.
The GOP's vaunted "southern strategy" worked for them not because they all of a sudden turned their attention to that region after ignoring it, it worked because the complementarity of interests between the Democratic party and the white southern voter broke down over the issue of Civil Rights, and the GOP was able to step in and benefit from that divorce. That being the case, simply concentrating on the south and throwing money at it isn't going to help the Democrats there -- instead they have to identify where the GOP's influence is breaking down in other regions or with other demographic groups and then step in to take advantage of that separation.
Williams is advocating a politics that's, at least for the moment, dead and gone.
[Thanks to Shirley for the link]
Update (2/27):Digby has more, and he's right. My reaction is here.
I've noticed that Deborah Solomon, who writes the "Questions for..." column in the New York Times Magazine, comes up with some of the stupidest, most inane and annoying questions to ask the people she's interviewing. I'm going to start collecting some of them here:
1/23/05, to Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: Aug. 27 1883 and an upcoming book of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906: "One problem I have with geology is that it reduces existence to rocks. Do you believe in God?"
Comment: Yes, geology has a tendency to come down to rocks, and mathematics usually comes down to numbers, physics comes down to particles and forces, and chemistry comes down to, well, chemicals. Similarly, theatre tends to come down to various theatrical arts, dancing comes down to movement, music comes down to organized sounds, and garbage collecting comes down to the collection of unwanted materials. None of these fields of endeavor, geology including, would lay a claim to be all-encompassing, especially to the point where they would have something of interest of say about God. (Well, maybe theatre might.)
"And what about nature, do you find it benign or evil?"
Comment: You mean, geologically speaking?
1/30/05, to avant garde performance artist Laurie Anderson: "At 57, do you worry about aging and wrinkles?"
Comment: Anderson wasn't, but perhaps she began to worry about what kind of idiot had been assigned to interview here.
2/6/05, to Dan Glickman, former Congressman, former Secretary of Agriculture, now the new head of the MPAA, the motion picture industry lobbying group: "Do you find any parallels between the agriculture industry and the movie industry?"
Comments Aside from the amount of manure generated and used, of course.
2/13/05, to Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog (a puppet): "Some people say dogs are what Democrats profess to be, because they are so inclusive and welcoming of people regardless of social class. What do you think?"
Comment: I think we have to be concerned about the damned slippery slope. Once you allow Deomcrats to have sex with each other, the moral failure of this country is complete.
Is this the kind of stuff they learn in J-school these days? When Jack Cafferty, former local anchor and long-time curmudgeon, makea s passing remark on CNN, as he is supposed to be moderating a pro & con debate about drug safety, that he doesn't see the need for a government agency to insure the purity and efficacy of drugs, since the government is large enough already, I assume he's simply let his act go too far, and the PTB at CNN are too wussy (or too much inagreement with Cafferty) to call him on it; and when I hear my local all-news weekend radio anchor unecessarily (and inorrectly) disparaging Nancy Pelosi's response to the election of Dean, I assume it's because the bosses aren't paying much attention to what goes on on the weekend, but Solomon writes this same kind of tripe over and over again, unecessarily taking up a page of the Magazine and providing little, if any, interesting information or analysis of the disparate people she interviews.
My advice: shitcan Solomon and retire her column for a while, o Grey Lady! You can definitely do better. (And, while you're at it, give your reporters a general refresher course in what news is, and how it differs from analysis, commentary or punditry and personal opinions. A lot of the people operating in the Fifth Estate seem to no longer understand those distinctions. (Or they do, and just don't care abut them.)
Correction: Sorry, lost count -- the press is the fourth estate, not the fifth.
How many more times are we going to allow this from a high-profile Senator representing a Northeastern state? How much longer are Connecticut Democrats going to allow their state to be represented by a guy who moves more and more into the DINO column every time he opens his mouth and starts tap-dancing around an issue?
My advice to the Democrats in my neighboring state: gut him.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.