I know it’s the brew of choice for bookish types and test crammers everywhere, but am I the only who thinks the regular blend of Starbucks is much too harsh on the ‘ol taste buds? I don’t mind dark coffee, but Starbucks’ just seems to have a pervasive bitterness to it that I can’t get past.
Right now, I’m trying Starbucks breakfast blend, and it actually quite a bit better in my book, although breakfast blend in other brands, Maxwell House and the like, seem to be TOO mild. If you actually have a “Coffee” section on your household budget like us, try these: Cafe du Monde chicory, Yuban or New England Coffee. And if you can’t afford that elitist stuff, just go with JFG or the house brand. Honestly, I can’t find a huge difference taste-wise between them and Maxwell House or Folgers.
For run-of-the-mill restaurant coffees, both McDonald’s and Hardees make good brews, and any Ryans, Shoney’s or Waffle House. Huddle House coffee, in my experience, tastes like cigarette ash. That’s assuming I know what cigarette ash tastes like, which I don’t. But if I did, that would be a close estimation.
Hair cuts have always been traumatic experiences in my life. From my dad getting a little too headstrong with the razor when I was a kid (that spot right behind the ears is really tender) to my adult years, where awkwardness seems to be the only constant. I probably need to get a full-time hair cut person. All I want to do is make myself look less Kurt Cobain with glasses or a Doogie Howser, M.D. of the 70s, and my quarterly visits to Great Clips are getting more and more disconcerting.
So, I walk in and there’s like 10 workers, all different from the time before. Either these folks are very bad at what they do, are being transferred between other classy Great Clips locations or the management is so bad no one wants to work there for more than 12 hours. I sit down, and there’s nothing to talk about, and I try to avoid looking like a weirdo (I actually felt more like a weirdo when I was single because I thought THEY thought I was only there to pick up a date or something. Which, if they knew how far from the truth that was, laughter would follow. A) I can’t initiate a meaningful conversation with a chair, and B) If said conversation took place, it would quickly spiral into a bizarre, frightening, rambling discussion of subjects like slavery or John Milton or Counter-Strike:Source or something not normal, thus defeating my purpose of not looking like a weirdo.
So, I just sit there. I can’t ask her about her life or if she has pets or how busy the place has been that day without sounding like a weirdo. She doesn’t care about entertaining such banality, and frankly, I don’t care about the answers. She simply wants her $11, and I want the hair out of my eyes. I feel, at least with a full-time person, there might less chance for weirdness … but then again, probably not.
Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan told angry lawmakers Thursday he was “shocked” to discover — as a once-in-a-century financial crisis spread — that his bedrock belief that financial firms could police themselves turned out to be “flawed.”
“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity,” Greenspan, described as a maestro and an oracle while at the central bank, told a House committee. Greenspan called that “a flaw in the model … that defines how the world works.” — USA Today
So essentially, it took Alan Greenspan 30-plus years to figure out the hard way that bank execs, lending moguls and the like can’t control themselves and will, in the end, be governed by greed above all else?
I have a degree in English, and little formal training in economics and that’s far from rocket science.
This whole debacle brings to light the perils of the free market system. Make no mistake, I’m a fan of the free market system. It’s what makes this country one of the strongest economically in the world. But left unchecked and unregulated, the will of greedy men and women will in the end rule out. If the Microsofts, AIGs, Wal-Marts and Fannie and Freddies of the world grow to such gigantic proportions, and if by some colossal stroke of bad luck those companies go under, the ripples are felt throughout the country, and dare I say, the world. Something is intrinsically wrong with that system. The demise of a single company should not cause such an effect on our economy, and that effect witnessed in recent weeks and months, speaks to a flaw in the system. That flaw has to be lack of regulation. But I’m not speaking of the lack of regulation on lending practices as Greenspan was talking about. I mean lack of regulation with regard to monopolies and industry influence and power. Sure, the federal government attempts to regulate some companies with regard to monopolies, but company slogans, such as Microsoft’s “embrace, extend and extinguish” are dangerous, not just in the technology business. It carries over into the lending world. In short, companies should not be so large that the economy’s very survival depends on the feds bailing those companies out. Such necessity, it appears to me, is wholly anti-democratic and breeds the kind of quasi-socialism that some, yes those who in their own hypocrisy support the free market system that bolstered such monstrous companies in the first place, are deriding today.
By far the most bizarre element of this election. It trumps the lipstick and pig thing, the Palin interviews with Couric and Gibson and that Barney Frank impression from Saturday Night Live:
Bear found dumped at WCU with Obama signs
from the Asheville Citizen-Times
CULLOWHEE – A dead bear was found dumped this morning on the Western Carolina University campus, draped with a pair of Obama campaign signs, university police said.
Maintenance workers reported about 7:45 a.m. finding a 75-pound bear cub dumped at the roundabout near the Catamount statute at the entrance to campus, said Tom Johnson, chief of university police.
“It looked like it had been shot in the head as best we can tell. A couple of Obama campaign signs had been stapled together and stuck over its head,” Johnson said.
University police called in N.C. Wildlife Resources officials to remove the body and help in the investigation. Bear season is currently under way in Western North Carolina.
“This is certainly unacceptable,” Johnson said. “Someone was wanting to draw attention to the election. If we find out who they are, we’ll make sure they’ll get some attention themselves.”
“Western Carolina University deplores the inappropriate behavior that led to this troubling incident,” said Leila Tvedt, associate vice chancellor “We cannot speculate on the motives of the people involved, nor who those people might be. Campus police are cooperating with authorities to investigate this matter.”
I’m not a fan of making a reporter part of the news story except in the case of litigation, where the reporter is subpoenaed to court. Here appears to be a story of egos: Jay Glazer’s in refusing to concede that he may have goofed whatsoever and Favre refusing to say he may have went over the line in divulging information, whether against league rules or not. In reality, there is no line. Players, according to Glazer’s original report are free to do as they wish.
Still, Favre has the right to do whatever he pleases. If he wants to help other teams there is nothing in league rules that prevents him from doing so.
So, what’s the main nutgraph, the main point of the story? I’m not sure. I am sure that Glazer’s original piece gives not one credible or even identified source. Are we to trust Glazer that the sources are valid. I suppose, but it’s still not a good idea to publish a story without at least one identified source. Otherwise, there is no way to quantify anything.
Speaking at the Jets’ training complex in Florham Park, N.J., Favre spent nearly 15 minutes answering questions about the Sunday report by FOXSports.com’s Jay Glazer that said he called the Lions before their Sept. 14 game against the Packers. The report said Favre spent more than an hour giving Millen and Lions coaches information on nuances of the offense he used to run. Green Bay won the game 48-25.
Three days after calling a FOXSports.com report that he talked with the Detroit Lions before their Sept. 14 game against Green Bay “total b.s.,” former Packers QB Brett Favre admitted on Wednesday that he had indeed spoken with then-Lions president Matt Millen prior to the game.
Favre, who had a bitter split with the Packers in the offseason, said Millen called to invite him to go hunting. The friends then talked about football, but Favre denied sharing any specific information to be used against the Packers.
“I didn’t give him any game planning,” Favre said. “I haven’t been in that offense in over a year. I don’t know what else to tell you. It was pretty simple.”
Favre and Jets coach Eric Mangini said that sharing information is common in the NFL, and it isn’t against league rules.
“It happens every day,” Favre said. “It happens more than you know.”
Favre initially denied any contact with the Lions, sending a text message to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King on Sunday calling the report “total b.s. . . . not true and pretty ridiculous.”
“I stand by my story 1000 percent,” Glazer said Wednesday. “I guess Brett and I will just agree to disagree on certain things. The way I do my work, I don’t go on what just one person told me. I investigated this fully and for quite some time. I spoke with several sources, and when I go with something, I make sure it’s dead-on. I think my track record speaks for itself.”
Favre said he received a call from Millen while traveling home from the Jets’ training facility, and the two spoke for 25 minutes.
Green Bay beat Detroit twice last season, including a 37-26 victory in November in which Favre set a team record with 20 consecutive completions. Favre had a bitter split with the Packers in the offseason.
“We went empty formation and just keep throwing completion after completion,” Favre said he told Millen. “They study film, they know what type of plays.
“When Matt called me and was talking about hunting and told me that he lived an hour from here, don’t think for a second I wasn’t thinking, ‘Now, surely he wants to know something,”‘ Favre said. “Yeah, I played for the Packers for 16 years and we played against the Lions a bunch, but it’s no secret what we did against them. I don’t have a playbook from Green Bay. I didn’t send the playbook. I didn’t call him and say, ‘Look, if you do this, you’re going to win the game.’ I didn’t do that.”
Favre also said Dallas quarterback Tony Romo called him last week — not the other way around — to ask for suggestions on playing through injuries.
“Next thing I know, I’m calling everyone in the league, giving out secrets,” Favre said. “I’m willing to help, but it’s awful ridiculous.”
“I did not call the Lions, nor did I call Tony Romo,” a defiant Favre said Wednesday. “I don’t know what else to tell everyone, but I’m not calling people.”
During the call with Millen, Favre said as far as he knew, he was on the line only with Millen.
But he added that if he were “a guessing man,” there’s a chance other people might have been listening in on the conversation.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m telling you, I didn’t have a game plan in my lap, driving home, saying, ‘OK, last year, third-and-3 to (the) 6, we went … hold on, light.”‘
Favre, wearing a green Jets sweat shirt and a navy New York Titans cap, held his composure throughout the news conference. He clenched his jaw a few times and only once raised his voice in anger, when he was told that former teammate Charles Woodson said if the Lions called Favre, it’s OK, but not if it happened the other way around.
“Go back and tell Charles I did not call them,” an irritated Favre said. “I didn’t call ‘em.”
Favre was asked numerous times if he might have said anything that could be perceived as helping the Lions plan for the Packers. After all, Favre and Green Bay had an ugly divorce in the summer.
“I’m well aware of the perception of what’s going on,” Favre said. “Aren’t you and isn’t everyone else? Believe me, I’m trying my best to help this team win, the New York Jets, and spending no time trying to make sure the Packers lose. I’ve got enough on my plate, believe me.”
Favre said the controversy wouldn’t change the way he approaches similar situations.
“Nothing was wrong,” he said. “If Matt calls me and says, ‘Sorry about the big deal, the offer still stands,’ I’ll take the call. I know he’s not in football right now, but, you know, nothing happened. Nothing happened that was any different than happens any other day. But the fact I was in Green Bay for so long and what happened this offseason, that makes it a big deal.
“I am who I am. I’m part of the Jets. I’m trying to get ready for the Chiefs. I don’t have time to be dealing with other issues, especially other game plans. I wish them well up there. I really do.”
Sarah Palinsays she’s just “your average hockey mom.” But she sure doesn’t dress like one.
Seems the RNC coughed up a whopping $150,000 to outfit/accessorize Palin and her family for the campaign trail.
The tally included included a $75,062.63 visit to Neiman Marcus and two Saks Fifth Avenue pit shops totaling $49,425.74, according to Jeanne Cummings at Politico. That’s a lot more than the $1,874 spent by average Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Click here to see how Sarah’s clothing has changed since her VP nomination.
According to our intrepid political reporters at Top of the Ticket, the RNC’s financial disclosure records for September and October show that the RNC did charge those purchases as “campaign accessories.”
Charged were Bloomingdale’s ($5,102.71), Barney’s ($789.72), Atelier men’s boutique ($4,902.45) and two baby clothing and accessory stores.
Apparently, it’s totally legal — albeit not normal — for campaigns to buy duds for their candidates. Politico checked records for Barack Obama’s campaign and the Democratic party: No similar fashion expenditures. …
And these gems from the Hugh Hewitt Show (I don’t know who he is either, but Palin interviewed with him in late September):
HH: Governor, you mentioned the people who are struggling right now. Have you and your husband, Todd, ever faced tough economic times where you had to sit around a kitchen table and make tough choices?
SP: Oh my goodness, yes, Hugh. I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office. But yeah, there’s been a lot of times that Todd and I have had to figure out how we were going to pay for health insurance. We’ve gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs. Early on in our marriage, we didn’t have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would get hurt, nobody would get sick. So I know what Americans are going through there. And you know, even today, Todd and I are looking at what’s going on in the stock market, the relatively low number of investments that we have, looking at the hit that we’re taking, probably $20,000 dollars last week in his 401K plan that was hit. I’m thinking geez, the rest of America, they’re facing the exact same thing that we are. We understand what the problems are. It’s why I have all the faith in the world that John McCain is the right top of any ticket at this point to get us through these challenges. It’s a good balanced ticket where he’s got the experience, and he’s got the bipartisan approach that it’s going to take to get us through these challenges. And I have the acknowledgement and the experience of going through what America is going through.
Answering a third-grader’s question on a Colorado TV interview about the role of the vice president, Palin again repeated that the VP is “in charge” of the Senate, that “they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes …”
I know Palin was probably trying to simplify her response slightly given the questioner (we can only assume), but as Joe Biden said, the Constitution is explicit about the VP’s role:
Article 1: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly said this, but John McCain is an able leader. If he were president, I would at least feel confident that the wheels of our country would stay on the track (although most of the world would continue to dislike and distrust us and think we were pompous and obnoxious freedom crusaders, meddling in every world theater, and setting up little democracies around the world to people who may or may not want it). I would have felt comfortable with Mitt Romney or certainly with Rudy Giuliani, but McCain and his campaign have put the free world in jeopardy by his VP pick. Make no mistake. I credit Palin with these qualities (most will serve her well on the world stage): intelligent, cagey, pleasant, folksy, adept at public speaking, has the ability to cram a lot of information into her head, loving parent and ruthless. But experienced enough to juggle enormous, world-implicating issues she is not. It says something significant about McCain and his staff’s decision-making. Were something to happen to McCain, can we really picture Palin staring down people like Putin or Ahmadinejad? I mean, it’s terrifying to think about. For real. No jokes. It’s not funny. At all.
As the election draws near, the question has again been raised this year: Why do newspapers, in this supposed era of news objectivity, endorse presidential and other candidates for public office?
As early as February, Time magazine’s managing editor, Rick Stengel, asked this question in the form of a column titled “Should Newspapers Still Be Taking Sides?” In it, one quickly finds Stengel’s answer.
Says Stengel: I confess that I’ve never quite understood why newspapers endorse presidential candidates. Sure, I know the history and the tradition, the fact that newspapers in the 18th and 19th centuries were often affiliated with political parties, but why do they do it now? Why do it at a time when the credibility and viability of the press are at all-time lows? More important, why do it at a time when readers, especially young readers, question the objectivity of newspapers in particular and the media in general?
First, for newspapers to have an opinion section of their paper is not only crucial for readers to chime in with letters to the editor on issues they feel are important, but it’s critical for the free exchange of ideas in the public forum. This creates an open dialogue, a back and forth. If a newspaper isn’t receiving letters to the editor or opinions in some form from its readers, either that paper or that community is dead or nearly dead. The pulse of a community can be found on a newspaper’s opinion page(s).
For instance, suppose a local county council imposes strict zoning regulations on its constituents. If the local newspaper receives an overwhelming flood of letters and opinion pieces on the measure (regardless of whether folks are yay or nay on an issue), that’s a sign of a healthy newspaper and healthy community. If the newspaper receives sparse reactions, that community is either lethargic about their governance or apathetic toward the local government, the newspaper or both.
While the rest of the newspaper is devoted to objective accounts of local and national news reports, the opinion page sets aside a small forum for commentary on those happenings. Some, however, don’t understand, or find it hard to separate, a newspaper’s opinion pages from the rest of the newspaper. Some newspapers attempt to make the distinction clear by using an editorial staff (separate from the newsroom staff), which works solely on opinion-page content. At large papers, this editorial board usually consists of up to 10 or more members who meet each day and talk about what position the paper will take on certain issues. Often, particularly regarding endorsements, voting takes place and the majority wins out.
Thus, editors and publishers typically have enough faith in the public that it can separate what takes place in the standard news reporting pages versus what happens on the editorial pages. Political endorsements, then, are not much different than any other element in the opinion page. Large newspapers every day offer their collective perspectives (that is, the collective opinion of the board) on any number of community, state or national issues. It happens every day. Why then, regarding some of the most important decisions Americans make each election cycle, should the paper be silent? The paper uses a vast majority of its resources objectively covering the to’s and fro’s of political candidates. Why is it not then qualified — again, as a well informed body of editors — to offer its collective opinion on the single most important issue, as it has done throughout the year on other topics, facing its readers?
I suggest those still curious read this: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D01E3D91439F936A35752C1A9669C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all
The job of newspapers is not to be an aloof monolith, but to be an active and engaged member of its community and country. Endorsements are not offered to persuade anyone or tell someone how to vote (Column-writers and editorial writers are disillusioned if they write solely to change someone’s mind. More times than not, they won’t.), but to inform readers of the collective opinions of numerous well informed people who simply want the best for their community and country. Thus, newspapers offer their opinion, take it or leave it, let the chips fall where they may. Offering an official “opinion” of the paper on the editorial page does not dictate what reporters do day in and day out. Moreover, studies have shown that newspaper endorsement don’t have a large-scale impact on how elections turn out nationally.
Now, back to Stengel. He says:
It’s certainly the prerogative of newspapers and their owners to endorse candidates, but in doing so they are undermining the very basis for their business, which is impartiality. It’s a recipe for having less influence, not more.
First, Time magazine is in direct competition with the major newspapers, so, of course, it’s in Time’s best interest to go after newspapers as agents of bias. But Stengel’s argument comes from, either A) from a lack of understanding of opinion sections (Time magazine has opinion pieces and clearly editorialized pieces within their covers which may or may not be marked as such, while in newspapers, they are always marked as such) or B) a direct attempt to put a dagger into the newspaper business. For aforementioned reasons, it could be either of the above. Regardless, that credible, renowned newspapers are biased in their reporting of the news is a myth. There is no bias. Perceptions of such a bias are based on ones own ideology. (What seems too right wing for you might seem spot-on for me and vice versa).
That said, here’s a good resource for sorting out which newspapers endorsed which candidate thus far:
First, let me say that just hearing the final presidential debate Wednesday was a challenge all by itself. My wife and I, at the time, were traveling between Allentown, Pa. and New York City (en route to Boston on a very long, one-day trip) and mostly depended on AM radio stations to tune in. I suppose this was the case because we were in the boondocks for much of the debate. A station would be mostly clear for a few minutes, usually three, and then begin to fade into a white noise. I would hit “search” again, and we would listen to that station for another few minutes until the white noise rattled back. This carried on for nearly the entire span of the debate, with us missing a word here and there for lack of reception. As I commented to my wife at the time: the sports stations broadcasting the MLB playoffs came in crystal clear, but trying to tune into something that truly mattered (I know some will disagree) — only 75 miles outside of the world economic hub, no less — seemed out of our grasp. That said, Go Sox!
Now, as I didn’t have the ability to see the debate (and haven’t watched the video yet), I can’t comment on Obama and McCain’s body language (Most assuredly, Bill O’Reilly has already summoned the obligatory body language expert onto his show.) or how they appeared particularly uneasy sitting right across from each other. But by their words and tone of voice, mostly McCain’s, one could grasp a certain standoff-ishness, especially McCain’s quite correct statement:
Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.
That line gave me a good laugh, and I agree with McCain wholeheartedly. Clearly, though, for folks paying attention to the other two debates, much of the content was the same from both candidates. McCain sought to distance himself from the last eight years under Bush, he attempted to talk to the Joe’s of the country (and Joe the Plummer, who became a recurring character for some bizarre reason. According to factcheck.org, this particular Joe has given different accounts of whether the company he wants to purchase will make more or less than 250k per year, a number which is critical to Joe’s argument, given the amount of Obama-railing he’s been doing on TV). Also, McCain continued pounding the notion that Obama is somehow sleeping with known terrorists, turned coffee-sipping college professors (One can only assume Bill Ayers enjoys a nice brew now and then).
McCain: Mr. Ayers, I don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist. But as Senator Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.
Obama: Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board that was funded by one of Ronald Reagan’s former ambassadors and close friends, Mr. Annenberg.
Other members on that board were the presidents of the University of Illinois, the president of Northwestern University, who happens to be a Republican, the president of The Chicago Tribune, a Republican- leaning newspaper.
Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that’s Mr. Ayers.
Also, McCain’s response to the question of why he thought Palin was fit to lead was woefully inadequate. While Obama pointed to Biden’s long record of public service and looking out for the little guy, McCain said Palin was a reformer, a role model for women and experts in special needs kids and energy. While perhaps Palin as a reformer and an energy guru help in her ability to lead the country, her perceived status as a role model and expert in special needs does not and is terribly off the point. Unless, of course, the point is to play the heartstrings and throw the topic far away from Palin’s woeful inexperience and frightening lack of knowledge in international affairs. In that, McCain was spot-on.
As for Obama, in a seemingly more even-tempered way and continuing to look more presidential in his responses, he attempted to align McCain’s with Bush’s policies and slam McCain for his negative campaigning. I think numbers estimate that about 90 percent of McCain’s ads have been negative versus about 35-40 percent of Obama’s. A word on Obama: We shouldn’t have watched these debates wondering how he was going to awe us as he has done many in his stump and convention speeches. Obama merely got through these debates largely unscathed and did what was expected of him quite ably. Though it was evident his strengths lie elsewhere, I think he did an adequate enough job to maintain his lead and win the election come November.
On the flip side, I’m not sure that McCain gained enough ground on undecided voters to make a difference. He continued playing to folks that he likely already has in the bank, rather than attempting to sway those who are still on the fence. From both candidates, we generally heard the same talking points, with the exception of a brief introduction to McCain’s energy plan during the second debate, and I think McCain failed to wow us either (if “wowing” means to snatch some undecideds away from Obama.)
It’s noon Friday, and I’m sitting my friend’s Burlington, Mass. apartment ready to go eat bagels, so forgive me if my prose here was a touch helter-skelter. I’ll wait for my Flowing Prose muse to light once again sometime soon.