Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hace mucho, ¿no?

Well, it certainly has been a long time since our last post, and for those of you still regularly checking the blog for updates, kudos!

It has been a busy 6 weeks here in BCN. Jake took a 10-day trip to St. Louis to see his youngest brother graduate and spend time with his family. I had to stay here because the program was ending and there were many loose ends to tie up with the end of the school year. The students all returned to the US (well, almost all, a few stayed behind to aprovechar of Barcelona), so the days have been lonely in the Knox office with no one to visit me.

The English lessons that Jake and I have been teaching are also ending as the school year ends, so we will soon find ourselves with much more free time on our hands. I, for one, am advocating spending said free time at the beach.

Summer officially begins next week, and here in Spain the occasion is celebrated with St. John's Day, which actually is an all-night party that includes such exciting events as midnight swims in the Mediterranean, spontaneous bonfires, and copious amounts of fireworks. The summer looks to be a good one for us, as Jake's youngest brother will be visiting us for 8 days, I am planning on making a trip to the US for three weeks (although if this law firm job pans out, my travel plans may be placed on hold....), we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary on August 11, and then we will wrap up the summer with a huge 10 day festival in our neighborhood at the end of August. September will be here before we know it!

But for now, enjoy the beautiful summer weather, wherever you are (except if you're in the Southern Hemisphere. If so, enjoy winter! Ha, fools!)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Best Worst Sentence

From an AFP article discussing a theory that Neanderthal is a separate species from Homo Sapiens:
Various species of Homo have been put up for the crown of being our direct ancestor, only to find themselves dismissed by critics as failed branches of the Homo tree.
Yes, I'm a mental twelve-year-old.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Things I Have Eaten This Week

  • Home-made fried rice
  • Sushi
  • Home-made tortilla
  • Patatas bravas
  • Tuna steaks (twice)
  • Susie's risotto
  • Mussels
  • Granatizada (twice)
  • Mousse with sea salt and olive oil

Along with the usual pizza, paninis, etc. that are a regular part of my diet.

Monday, April 28, 2008

In Need of a Patron

So I just found out that I'm a groomsman in my best friend's wedding in September. Good news, right? Well, it turns out there's a problem. Before finding out about my groomsman duties, Susie and I had mapped out our summer travel. I was coming home for my brother's graduation and a July return to Chicago/St. Louis, in which much would take place. Plane tickets being as expensive as they are, this was pretty much our summer travel budget. So, I'm faced with a conundrum.

The obvious choice seems to be to skip the July trip or the wedding. Both are totally unfair. On one hand, I don't want to miss my friend's wedding. We've known each other for half our lives, and he stood in my wedding. On the other hand, skipping out on three weeks with Susie, seeing our respective families, and missing things like the Cardinals, Fire, Lollapalooza, etc. for what will be a "get in, get out" trip (the wedding is after school starts, so I'll be teaching) seems unfair to the people mentioned in this scenario. Not to mention I'll be begging off a family trip I promised Susie I'd make three times and have begged off of three times. This would be time number four.

So, being one who likes creative solutions to everything, I figure I have two options that have not yet hit the table.

Option 1 - Get a patron. It worked for Descartes, Leibniz, Brahe, and Mozart. Said patron would buy me a ticket to get to St. Louis for my friend's wedding. In return, I would (I don't know) do philosophy for this person, and when I make my lasting mark on academia, my patron will be remembered for their support.

Option 2 - Do something crazy for money. Did you ever watch I Bet You Will? Ever see the Million Dollar Webpage? I'm willing to get a group of people to chip in money for me to do something crazy (but safe, non-scarring, etc.), provided the money raised will allow me to cover my travel plans for the summer.

Here's what I want from you: either let me know that you'll just straight up be my patron, throw me some ideas regarding what I can do, or let me know that you'll sponsor me in whatever crazy endeavor I go after. I'm counting on you, internets!

And... We're Back

Sorry for dropping off the face of the Earth there, but it's been a busy month. Few things to update you on, though. First, Susie was sick for two weeks, so her sickness and my care duties prevented us from posting.

Also, random articles that I posted on the blog have a new home: bcnjake.tumblr.com, also known as It Came From the Interweb! Posting here has been non-existent, but posting there is fairly steady.

Barça is playing the second leg of their Champions League Semi-Final tomorrow against Manchester United at Old Trafford. The first game was a 0-0 tie, so Man U can only advance with a win. Barça automatically advances with a win, any draw but 0-0, or a penalty shoot-out victory. Since Barcelona was eliminated from winning the Liga championship, this match is huge with a capital HUGE.

More soon, but I wanted to let you know... we're not dead!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rediscovering Octavio Paz

One of the most enjoyable musical experiences I had with the Knox College Choir was singing Eric Whitacre's choral works. They're very contemporary tone poems that typically draw from preexisting texts. Frequently, Whitacre found inspiration in the poems of Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

When I was at Knox, I remember searching for a Paz collection in the library, and I was fortunate enough to find a bilingual collection (Paz wrote exclusively in Spanish). I'm usually not a poetry person. I don't understand it. But something about Paz clicked for me, and there was one poem in particular that struck me. It was beautiful in so many ways. Its images were beautiful. Its language was beautiful. And it was heartbreakingly sad.

This poem fell by the wayside until I saw the Knox College Choir in Castello d'Empuries this past Sunday and bought the CD from their 2006 Spain tour. Laura dipped into the Whitacre well again, and Whitacre dipped into the Paz well, also. Track #11 is the poem I found back in Galesburg, "A Boy And A Girl."

[Los Novios]

Tendidos en la yerba
una muchacha y un muchacho.
Comen naranjas, cambian besos
como las olas cambian sus espumas.

Tendido en la playa
una muchacha y un muchacho.
Comen limones, cambian besos
como las nubes cambian espumas.

Tendidos bajo tierra
una muchacha y un muchacho.
No dicen nada, no se besan,
cambian silencio por silencio.


[A Boy and a Girl]

Stretched out on the grass,
a boy and a girl.
Savoring their oranges, giving their kisses
like waves exchanging foam.

Stretched out on the beach,
a boy and a girl.
Savoring their limes, giving their kisses
like clouds exchanging foam.

Stretched out underground,
a boy and a girl.
Saying nothing, never kissing,
giving silence for silence.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quick Quiz

What do Star Trek: Voyager, DeGrassi Jr. High, Lost, and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper all have in common?

They all took place in an autistic boy's head!

What?! According to this guy, who obviously has too much time on his hands but is awesome nonetheless, they all take place in Tommy Westphall's head. So who's Tommy Westphall? He's the surprise twist ending in the final episode of St. Elsewhere, when it was revealed that the whole series was nothing but a daydream that took place in Tommy's autistic mind. So how do we get from there to the United Federation of Planets/Canada/The Island/Oakland?

The logic goes like this. At some point, there was a crossover episode between St. Elsewhere and Homicide: Life on the Streets where one of the docs was investigated for murder. Therefore, since Homicide characters interacted with fictional St. Elsewhere characters, it also took place in Tommy Westphall's head. But Homicide had crossovers, too. Those crossovers had crossovers. And before you know it, there are 282 shows existing within the same fictional sphere, all of which are figments of Tommy's imagination. Some are obvious (e.g. all those TGIF shows on ABC that did crossovers all the time), some are less so (e.g. the connection between The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which involves a fictional cigarette brand). It's like a cracked-out version of Three Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

For example:
St. Elsewhere to Lost (Four Steps)
St. Elsewhere's aforementioned doctor was investigated for murder on Homicide.
John Munch from Homicide questions the Lone Gunmen from The X-Files.
The mugshot from the X-Files episode "Titonus" can be seen in the Veronica Mars episode "Leave it to Beaver"
In another episode, the lucky numbers in Veronica's fortune cookie are the Numbers from Lost.

Crazy, huh?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Obviously, That Last Post Was Susie's

But hey, Radiohead rocks. I'm geeked out.

Reasons why Susie Rules by: Jake

1) She snagged 2 $60 3-day Lollapalooza tickets before they sold out, without even knowing who would be playing.

2) Radiohead will be playing at Lollapalooza.

The End.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

¡Infección, infección!

Yes, that is what the doctor proclaimed after looking in my throat and loudly exclaiming, "¡Uf!" As I am ordered bed rest for the next few days (which I have also interpreted to mean couch rest), I thought I should catch up on the blog. (On a somewhat related note, I also plan to *finally* put some pictures up on Flickr.)

This is my second illness in the past month, though I think this one is related to the nasty bout of flu I had a few weeks ago. Needless to say, these past few weeks haven't been all that exciting, as I have either been sick, recovering, or taking care of Jake when he caught the flu. However, the past two weekends have been gorgeous and Jake and I have been able to take advantage of the nice weather and explore the outdoors a bit--going to the botanical gardens, the nearby gardens of Putxet, and visiting Montjuic. Work is good--things with the study abroad program have been busy as there are 30 students this term, but the students are a good bunch of kids. My English lessons have been going really well--two of my students who had previously been failing English received very good grades on their latest exams, so I am quite pleased.

Basically, aside from illness, life here in Barcelona is good. I am hoping to be fully recovered in time for our spring break trip to France!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This Will Take Some of the Sting Out

Barça are through to the Champions League quarterfinals (4 - 2 aggregate), but they'll now have to do without the services of Leo Messi a/k/a the Lord God Almighty for six weeks, since he tore his quad last night. But this will take some of the sting out:

AS Roma 2 - 1 Real Madrid (February 19)
Real Madrid 1 - 2 AS Roma (March 5)
AS Roma 4 - 2 Real Madrid (Aggregate)

'Deu, Merengues; don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Koyaanisqatsi

One of the blogs I follow on Google Reader is Smashing Telly, a collection of videos, generally long-form, that have found their way to the internet. Today featured a clip from the art film Koyaanisqatsi centered on St. Louis' own failed Pruitt-Igoe housing complex. I'd seen this before, though I haven't yet had the chance to watch all of Koyaanisqatsi, and the more I watch it, the more I'm fascinated by it.

The film takes its name from the Hopi word meaning life out of balance, as I continue to view this section of the film, I come to realize just how out of balance city living can be. Yes, living in a city has innumerable advantages. Yes, city living gives us access to public transportation and other simply ways to address environmental change. Yes, the city gives us culture (symphonies, ballet, theatre, etc.) that is hard to find in rural areas. But the honest truth is we didn't evolve to live in cities. Cities remain foreign to our genetic makeup. And sometimes, the city upends our life and throws it out of balance. Consider:



0:00 - 0:38 (Aerial time lapse view of Manhattan) The city is a grid. The city brings order, gives structure.
0:39 - 0:56 (City view along water) Nature bows to the city's order. The water seems a part of the grid. The trees, the only green shown so far, is planted by man and is not part of nature.
0:57 - 1:18 (Panning shot from building to city street, still of two buildings) The growing bass line in the music gives a sense of foreboding, the city seems to press in on us; the order is claustrophobic and stifling.
1:19 - 2:38 (Zoom out and stills from buildings, panning shot to street) The first of several arresting shots. Order in the grid begins to break down. Structure becomes a ruin. When the camera pans, we expect more ruins, like a bombed out Nuremberg, but instead have our first shot of people. These people live among ruin and chaos, but why? The main theme for this piece, a disorienting, dizzying arpeggio is heard for the first time.
2:39 - 2:41 (Girl in window) Perhaps the saddest shot in the piece, a girl leans out of a window, eating a banana. The film implies she's surveying what we have just seen. She receives none of the benefit urban life is supposed to bring.
2:42 - 2:58 (Toilet paper blowing in the wind, interior of Pruitt-Igoe community room, playground) The city is supposed to be a place of action, of excitement. To this point, the only action we have seen are signs of decay and people among the chaos. The vibrant urban landscape is revealed as unmoving except in decay.
2:59 - 3:10 (Broken streetlight, shattered windows) The theme begins a transition to measured repetition, as though order is coming. However, juxtaposed with the shots of urban blight, the scene becomes more oppressive.
3:11 - 3:15 (Circling birds) The circling birds along with the swelling music suggest foreboding. Something monstrous is coming.
3:16 - 4:20 (Pruitt-Igoe aerials) I find the buildings in this shot terrifying. They are the monster. They lack soul. Pruitt-Igoe failed on so many levels, but by trying to plan a "perfect community", rejection and chaos only came sooner. The aerial shot frames the buildings as though they are marching straight at you. Any green we see, any vestige of nature, is dead. A trumpet scale mimics an evacuation siren.
4:21 - 4:35 (Formal window shots) The formal, geometric shots of shattered windows suggest a fundamental design. This decay is not random. For whatever reason, this was unavoidable.
4:36 - 5:16 (Pruitt-Igoe aerials) The menace continues its march toward you. If the order was claustrophobic, chaos is attacking and oppressive. The fact that the shots are not steadied almost makes the buildings appear to be lurching and stumbling, as if in a drunken stupor.
5:17 - 5:42 (Pruitt-Igoe demolition shots) Chaos leads to decay, which in turn leads to destruction. Such is the fate of a failed housing project.
5:43 - 6:32 (Building demolitions) So far, the close up building shots have been of decrepit housing projects for poor minorities. No longer. It's easy to turn a blind eye when you think chaos and decay are side-effects of poverty, a problem that isn't yours. But chaos is shown everywhere. This is your problem, because this is humanity's problem. This is not part of being poor, it's part of being us. To borrow a phrase, things fall apart; the center cannot hold.
6:33 - 6:49 (Explosion) The smoke that had been rushing towards the camera is no longer a primary concern. Shrapnel assaults the viewer, with a piece of metal appearing to strike the camera.
6:50 - 8:11 (Time lapse thunderstorm) Why attempt to build a system that seems destined for chaos? Why live in a city? To escape nature. But nature cannot be escaped, and can overwhelm a city. Nature is moving. Nature is vibrant. The city is stagnant and imobile.
8:12 - 9:30 (Formal glass skyscraper shots) The city tries to hide its chaotic nature in reflective glass. The effect is of nature moving in reverse, suggesting a perversion of the natural order as imposed order looms down on us.
9:31 - 9:43 (Building moves into shadow) One building causes an unnatural solar eclipse with another building. We descend into darkness of our own making.

This piece is haunting on a number of levels. It was made in the 1980's but calls to mind modern occurrences, like 9/11 (building demolitions) and Katrina (nature overwhelms city @ 6:50). It says that if we are the change we've been waiting for, we are also our own worst enemy. If we seek to escape chaos and create a vibrant environment, we escape the very vibrancy we seek. If there is hope, it is in returning to balance. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.

P.S. These are my thoughts after viewing "Pruitt-Igoe" four or five times. I make no claim to their being the end all of filmic interpretation. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Guess Whose Turn It Was To Be Sick?

That's right, it was me! I'm finally back, but what a few days that was. As expected, taking care of sick wife = constant close proximity + germs = SICK! So when I woke up on Wednesday and my throat felt like a softball-sized urchin had been placed in it, I knew I was in for a rough patch. The worst of it was when I woke up on Friday and almost felt normal. I thought it would pass, but the weekend had other plans.

Last weekend, I went to Montjuic and hung out at the art museum. This weekend, I crawled in bed and stayed there. If you come to Barcelona, I recommend the former. To add insult to injury, the weather this weekend was gorgeous, I'm told. Not that the weather here had been bad, but it's been low 50s-ish and today it was grey and misty. Saturday and Sunday? 70 and sunny.

But, I'm ready for a good week. This week sees the return leg of the Barça/Celtic Champions league clash (Barça leads 3-2 and would need something of a meltdown to be eliminated for reasons I'll discuss later), prep for trimester exams (for my students), and clean the apartment. Also, I need to finish my current book, Richard Dawkins' A Devil's Chaplain so that I can reread The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I'm discussing with my advanced class next Thursday. (I'll plug the book again; it's the best piece of fiction I've read in years and you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't pick it up.) Hopefully by then my next book, The World Without Us will have arrived in the mail, but international post being what it is, I give it a 50/50 shot. It's a wonderful world when much of your to-do list consists of books.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

¡Benvinguts a Bicing!

Note the sweet but subtle incorporation of the BCN in the logo.


After weeks of waiting, our Bicing cards showed up. I'm totally stoked to use mine tomorrow. So what's Bicing? It's the most fabulous community bicycle program on Earth. You pay 24€/year and have access (through a card) to 1,700 community bicycles owned and maintained by the city of Barcelona. They're accessed through Bicing stations around the city, and for the first 30 minutes of use, they're totally free. People thought that when the program began in early 2007, there would be theft, vandalism, etc., but this hasn't been the case; it's been an unfettered success. In fact, it's so successful that other cities, like Valencia, are considering adding Bicing programs of their own. So why are we only hopping on the Bicing wagon now? Until recently, there were no stations located within a mile of our apartment. Now there are five.

Because our Fair City is situated on a hill and our apartment is situated about two-thirds up said hill, it was speculated that Bicing would never make its way up here, since no one would want to make like Lance Armstrong in the mountains, but about a month ago, a station was built not 100 feet from our building. And, a new station was also built 100 feet from the school where I teach. My Metro bill just got a lot cheaper.

Oh, and if you're curious, bici is the Spanish word for bike (the full word is bicicleta). Adding -ing and other English-isms adds some something like hipster cachet. "Super" is everywhere.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dell P.O.S. Deathwatch (Day 1)

Susie's computer broke in half today. Miraculously, the display functions (for now), but I fear it is not long for this world. Susie is currently looking into hospice programs. The computer will be survived by its younger, cooler brother, Mac PowerBook G4.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Paradox of Choice

So what do you do when your two favorite football teams play each other in the first Champions League knockout stage? Tonight at 8:45 CEST (that's Central European Standard Time, for those keeping score), Barça will march onto the pitch at Parkhead to face the Celtic Football Club. Let's face it; I'm torn.

It's like I'll be happy regardless of the result, but I'll be happier if Barcelona wins, by the slightest of margins. Barça and Celtic both had high expectations going into this season, but for different reasons.

Barça had the Fantastic Four, who have played a whopping one game together. People thought they could contend for the treble (a triple-championship of sorts where you win your domestic league, the domestic league cup, and the Champions League) but now sit five big points adrift of league leaders and blood-rivals Real Madrid. They have a realistic shot at the Copa del Rey, especially with Madrid (#1), Espanyol (#5), and Villareal (#3) now booted from the competition. Also, Barça hold the mark for most Copas with 24.

A 25th would be nice, but if you asked Joe Barça fan (or Josep Barça Fan, as it would be here), he might flip Champions League and La Liga as priorities, but the Copa would come in third. Plus a Champions League title would cut into Los Merengues' 9-2 advantage. Madrid once won five Champions Cups* in a row (1956-60); only two other teams have won five (AC Milan and Liverpool). I blame Franco.

Celtic, on the other hand, have high expectations for different reasons, but sit four points off the pace set by (again) league leaders and blood-rivals Rangers. However, due to the vagaries of the Scottish Premier League schedule, which makes about as much sense as the Democrats' Texas delegate allocation rules, those four points are much more manageable than Barça's five point gap. The pressure comes from the fact that Celtic are two time defending champions and the fact that they played like crap for a couple weeks early in the season (see their 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Rangers at Ibrox).

So why should I root for Celtic? This season is the 40th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions, the first British and only Scottish team to win the European Championship.* Besides being the only Scottish champions (take that, Gers), and besides fielding an all Scottish side (a rarity then and downright impossible today), every member of the team was born and raised within eight miles of Celtic Park. Celtic fans are understandably proud. Nothing would would put an exclamation point on their anniversary celebration like another European title.

Good reasons, all. But who to root for...

I'll be rooting for Barça, but if they get knocked out, it won't be the end of the world. I'll just watch Celtic win at the Celtic Cross on Diagonal, instead of the Italian bar.

*European Championship, Champions Cup, and Champions League are basically interchangable terms. The Champions League's structure (group stage followed by knockout rounds) is a fairly recent invention. Before that, it was called the European Champions' Cup and was a home and home knockout tournament contested exclusively by domestic league champions, rather than the champions and first couple runners up as it is today. Championships won under the old framework are considered equal, rather than a separate competition.

Monday, February 18, 2008

October Surprise!

Yes, I made my own logo.

Well, it's almost here. In 25 minutes (3:00 AM, Barcelona time), the draft will be here.

I'll be posting draft updates as things progress, because I have to stay awake somehow...

We play in an 18 team, five keeper league. This means that each team selects five "keepers" from last year's team to form the core of this year's team. My keepers, following a respectable but inches from the money finish, are Alex Rodriguez (3B - NYY), Placido Polanco (2B - DET), Derek Lee (1B - CHC), Torii Hunter (OF - LAA), and Aaron Rowand (OF - SF). Over the next few hours, the rest of the roster will be filled out. We have one player at every position, one "utility player" who can be from any offensive position, two starting pitcher slots, two relievers, and three pitcher slots, which can be filled by any pitcher.

October Surprise 2008

Position Players

C - Yadier Molina
1B - Derek Lee
2B - Placido Polanco
3B - Alex Rodriguez
SS - Felipe Lopez
OF - Aaron Rowand
OF - Torii Hunter
OF - Juan Pierre
Util - Chris Duncan

Starting Pitchers
Brad Penny
Jeff Francis
Derek Lowe
Tom Gorzelanny
Chris Carpenter
Aaron Cook
Hiroki Kuroda
Jon Garland
Carlos Silva

Relief Pitchers
Jonathan Papelbon
Brad Lidge
Joaquin Benoit
Dennys Reyes

Bench
Mike Cameron
Andre Ethier
Alfredo Amezaga
Coco Crisp
Scott Hatteberg
Nyjer Morgan
So Taguchi

DRAFT ORDER
1) Jonathan Papelbon (RP - BOS)
2) Brad Penny (SP - LAD)
3) Jeff Francis (SP - COL)
4) Juan Pierre (OF - LAD)
5) Brad Lidge (RP - PHI)
6) Felipe Lopez (2B/SS - WAS)
7) Derek Lowe (SP - LAD)
8) Chris Duncan (OF/1B - STL)
9) Tom Gorzelanny (SP - PIT)
10) Chris Carpenter (SP - STL)
11) Aaron Cook (SP - COL)
12) Yadier Molina (C - STL)
13) Hiroki Kuroda (SP - LAD)
14) Mike Cameron (OF - MIL)
15) Joaquin Benoit (RP - TEX)
16) Andre Ethier (OF - LAD)
17) Alfredo Amezaga (2B/3B/SS/OF - FLA)
18) Jon Garland (SP - LAA)
19) Coco Crisp (OF - BOS)
20) Scott Hatteberg (1B - CIN)
21) Dennys Reyes (RP - MIN)
22) Nyjer Morgan (OF - PIT)
23) Carlos Silva (SP - SEA)
24) Scott Spezio (1B/3B/OF - STL)
25) So Taguchi (OF - PHI)

EARLY UPDATE - 2:45 AM Rich (our commisioner) has already screwed up the draft and switched two teams. Not as bad as last year when we had to scrap and reschedule the draft, but now you know team names like "Hansen Eats Babies" and "Richwillfupthedraft" are well deserved...

3:15 AM - Keepers are drafted. Now it counts.

3:48 AM - No one can say I didn't try to address pitching needs. Three rounds, three quality pitchers.

3:58 AM - Playing in a league with Chicago partisans has its advantages. Picked up Juan Pierre (first non pitcher), who's rated #56 in Yahoo!, for like the 160th pick (including keepers). Just cause he sucked for a year in Chicago.

4:16 AM - Welcome back, Brad Lidge. And hello Felipe Lopez.

4:32 AM - Lots of Dodger blue so far... and the first Cardinal - Chris Duncan

4:47 AM - Fifteen minutes later, I get to pick again. We're going to end up drafting more than half of the active Major Leaguers (and some prospects, too) before the night is over. It makes the mid-late rounds grind to a halt.

4:56 AM - Drama in Mudville! My browser crashed during my pick, and I had Yadier Molina selected. Fortunately, it automatically selected the guy I wanted, Chris Carpenter. That will either be the move of the season or the worst pick in history. Either way, another Redbird.

5:15 AM - Yadier Molina in the 12th round can only mean one thing. HUGE man crush.

5: 25 AM - Only players left on my pre-ranking list: Brian Bannister, Carlos Silva, Jon Garland, Ryan Church, Andre Ethier, Randy Winn, & Wes Littleton. Did I mention the draft is only half over? Also, I now have 60% of the Dodgers' rotation. That's probably not good.

5:40 AM - Susie just came out for some water, seems impressed with my team. Also, I just gave up on the contacts. Glasses are a go.

5:46 AM - Forget the pitchers. I now have what seems like half of the Dodgers' likely opening day roster. Andre Ethier joins the club, since Pierre might find himself out of a job.

6:00 AM - Yup, we've hit the three hour mark. I teach in eight and a half hours, and I just drafted Alfredo Amezaga. He qualifies everywhere (2B, 3B, SS, OF). You might think a super-bench guy isn't worth anything in fantasy, but when someone has a day off, you can plug him right in. And he was a decent OPS guy last year, too. I had a Brewer last year that filled that function admirably. Not so admirably that I remember his name, though.

6:16 AM - At this point last year, I set my draft list on every remaining Cardinal and called it a night. Not this year. I'm going all the way, baby!

6:31 AM - Nyjer Morgan is a top 20 prospect, according to ESPN. And I got him in the 22nd round.

6:39 AM - I just drafted Carlos Silva. I have no idea why. All I know is he was on my pre-rankings list.

6:57 AM - And it's finished. I bow out with personal favorite So Taguchi for the hell of it. Mr. Irrelevant is Jonathan Meloan, a relief pitcher for the Angels. The highest rated player left on the board? That would be Braves starting pitcher Antony Larew. Total draft time: 3 hours 57 minutes.

Radio Silence

Sorry for last week's radio silence. The week was basically spent caring for a sick Susie, who has just now recovered enough to go back to work.

But, a brief recap of the last week or so.

Last weekend - Calçotada and monastery trip. Definitely a separate entry on that one. And SFA Picnic types, I'm looking for a way to reproduce the calçot experience in the states.

On Valentine's Day, we were going to go out for a nice romantic dinner. But Susie was sick, so it didn't happen.

Most of the week was spent watching Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, which I purchased using an iTunes gift card I got as a Christmas present.

Oh, and the drainage tube from the washing machine came unsealed from the drain pipe, leaving us with a flooded bathroom and hallway. The handyman is coming to fix it.

But tonight is the big fantasy baseball draft. Start time: 3:00 AM here in Barcelona. My students are going to wonder what happened to me tomorrow. Woo! It's also the start of a big week.

Tonight: fantasy baseball draft.
Tomorrow: recover.
Wednesday: Barcelona @ Celtic. Also, Adam's birthday.
Thursday: Knox fancy pants dinner. Also, lunar eclipse.
Friday: Recover. Perhaps belated romantic dinner with the Missus.
Saturday: So help me, I'm going to MNAC.

More soon!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who's Ready?


Fantasy draft in seven days. Pitchers and catchers report on Thursday.

Current October Surprise roster:

C: TBD
1B: Derek Lee
2B: Placido Polanco
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: TBD
OF: Torii Hunter
OF: Aaron Rowand
OF: TBD

Pitchers: TBD

Update to come after the draft.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hillary Takes The Stage


It's not spelled Missourah, Hill.

Interesting video from MSNBC. I clicked on it because it said that Hillary would talk about her fundraising "loan" that she made before Super Tuesday. But, about a minute into it, during the obligatory "no, we won last night" comments, she talks about Missouri. Couple observations.

First, she calls it Missour-ah. It's Missour-ee, for Pete's sake. Get it right.
She talks about how she took 110 of 115 counties in Missouri-ah and says this is a victory because these rural, low population counties are traditionally Republican counties. (This explains the Missour-ah comments, since that's what the outstaters call Missouri.) But her campaign is trying to belittle Obama's victories in Idaho, Utah, Kansas, Alaska, etc. by saying that they were victories in rural, Republican areas.* You can't have it both ways. Either you lost the Democratic strongholds in Missouri, bellwether of the nation, or you can't belittle Obama's victories. Your pick, and it looks like it's door #2.

Oh, and MSNBC's video player is sweet.

------------------------
*From Clinton's campaign memo today:
Sen. Obama, in contrast, won with large margins in Alabama and Georgia, two states that have been in the Republican column in the last two elections. He also won with large margins in a string of caucus states with comparatively fewer voters – Alaska, Idaho, Utah, and Kansas – and have also been in the Republican column. Of course, he won his home state.

MObama!

I should be a pundit.

Last night I was listening to the returns on NPR and following an ABC News live blog, when I noticed something about Hillary's (at the time) 24% lead in my home state. St. Louis and Kansas City hadn't come in yet. The whole lead was outstate Missouri.

I'm normally not Mr. Blog Comment Man, but I did some writing last night on ABC's Political Wire, getting into a conversation with a gentleman named Paul...

---------------------

Interesting results in Missouri. Clinton's lead includes 0% of St. Louis City and St. Louis County. Look for Obama to come storming back in the Show-Me State. The question is, will it be enough?

MObama? We'll see...
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 9:47:36 PM

---------------------

Paul in MD (and Rick),

Look at Missouri more closely. All of the Democrats in the state are concentrated in KC and St. Louis, and they're not reporting too much.

Jackson County (KC) - 12% reporting, but going for Obama
St. Louis City - 0% reporting, expected to go at least 2:1 for Obama
St. Louis County - 3% reporting, breaking 60/40-ish for Obama.

St. Louis City essentially has NO REPUBLICANS. Don't judge results by the central counties. Don't prognosticate- SHOW ME!
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 10:16:52 PM

---------------------

Paul,

Don't know about proportional by congressional district in Missouri. But if so, the margins are close enough outstate that they'll be split evenly. Obama is KILLING IT in St. Louis City & County.

St. Louis City is now over 70/30 for Obama (30% reporting), 55/40 in St. Louis County (15%). KC continues to break Obama. Starting to count STL cut Clinton's lead from 21% to 14% very quickly.

SHOW ME some more results!
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 10:35:44 PM

---------------------

Paul, the big thing to watch is St. Louis City. 71/25 with 31% reporting. Yes, there are only 33% of the precincts left, but they're in Obama strongholds. If Hillary wins (and she might), it will be narrow. Less than 9% for sure, I think within 3% regardless of the winner.

KC and St. Louis County continue to be strong Obama, but St. Louis City could win it.
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 10:55:53 PM

---------------------

NPR - Colorado for Obama.

Missouri down to Clinton +4

Now we have CObama. Will we see MObama?
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 11:13:36 PM

---------------------

Missouri - Almost all of the outstate vote is in.

Hillary leaning counties still outstanding (Franklin, Jefferson, & Benton).
Almost certainly Clinton, but no reports (Johnson & Douglas)
Obama oustanding (St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jackson County, Boone County)

NPR just called Missouri for Clinton, but I think it's going to be tight. Outstanding counties clearly favor Obama, just maybe too little too late.
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 11:29:50 PM

---------------------

What did I tell you, Paul? Let's hear it for the STL.
Posted by: Jake | Feb 5, 2008 11:49:43 PM

---------------------

Obama down one half of one percent in Missouri with 96% reporting!
Posted by: Jake | Feb 6, 2008 12:08:57 AM

---------------------

OBAMA UP IN MISSOURI!
Posted by: Jake | Feb 6, 2008 12:14:34 AM

Picking Through the Wreckage

The aftermath of Super Tuesday.

Super-Duper-Mega-Ultra-Tsunami-Loopy-Cloverfield-Giga-Katrina-Tuesday-of-Destiny has now come and gone. Now that I've had some time to sleep and reflect on last night's results, here's what I think.

This thing is going to the convention. And not in that "someone will clinch it with a week to spare" sort of way. More like that smoke filled room, brokered convention sort of way.

Last night was insane. Why don't we have a national primary? Could you imagine doing this with seven candidates per side? No one knows how many delegates Obama and Clinton won yet. We don't even know who won New Mexico.

Of course both candidates are claiming a win, but I think Obama has a stronger hold to that claim. The Clinton camp says that a) they "upset" Obama in Massachusetts and b) won decisively in California. The Obama camp says a) more states, b) more delegates, and c) more money. Let's look at the claims.

An upset in Massachusetts? I don't really think that one has legs. Clinton had a 20+% lead two weeks ago. This seems more like a ploy to try and divert attention from the fact that she couldn't hold on to Connecticut, which is in her back yard. The California win has more legs, but because of delegate allocation rules, isn't the blowout that 10 points suggests it would be.

Obama says more states and more delegates, which are both true and impressive, but I think the big thing is this. He has more money. Hillary has already loaned her campaign $5 million just to play in Super Tuesday, and she's considering loaning more. Her donors are maxed out. Why is this a big deal? Obama wins people as he they get to know him, and he has money to get some media out there. The calendar for the rest of the month is already favorable for him, and Clinton can't seriously compete without reaching for the piggy bank Mitt Romney style.

But before anyone gets too excited, consider that more than half of the delegates have been awarded at this point. For someone to win a majority with the allocation rules the way they are would require a constant super-majority from here on out. The only candidate would could possibly do that is Obama, but that seems highly unlikely. The Clinton strategy was to put this one away last night, and it didn't happen. Obama's wins have been huge at times, but that kind of momentum is hard to sustain across the board without a single slip up.

So, it looks like Democrats will go to Denver without a nominee. Brokered convention, here we come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Annotated James Dobson

Today, Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, a right-wing evangelical soapbox, came down hard on John McCain. (Or, as our good friend Lou "so-called Latino vote" Dobbs calls him, Juan McCain. Oh! He's so clever! Asshat. /tangent) Anyway, Dr. Dobson thinks that Senator McCain has a host of problems and that he'll destroy the Republican party or something. So, in the interest of fairness, I give you the annotated statement (my comments in parentheses).

Oh and sorry if this gets a little colorful. These people really grind my gears.


FROM DR. JAMES DOBSON AS RELEASED ON THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW

I'm deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, (Protect from what? It's a civil rights issue, and I don't care if you think God told you it's bad. Separation of Church and State, so piss off!) who voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings, (God forbid we help the people that are actually... I don't know... people.) who opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, (Huh? There's a penalty? Is that why all the gay people want to get married? Is that why everyone files "married but filing singly"?) and who has little regard for freedom of speech, (By telling you to keep your religion out of the town square? See annotation #1) who organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters, (Filibusters are an important Senatorial procedure for the minority party, regardless of who is in the minority) and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language. (He was in the Navy. Not excusing, just explaining.)

I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, (Cool.) and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. (Cooler.) He has at times sounded more like a member of the other party. McCain actually considered leaving the GOP in 2001, and approached John Kerry about being Kerry's running mate in 2004. (Because we all know that Bipartisanship SUCKS! Wait...) McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president. (Gasp!) Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does not make the medicine go down. (In the most delightful way.) I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience. (And America thanks you.)

But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives. Should John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. (Even though you voted Nixon twice) I certainly can't vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. (Read: one is a woman and the other is black.) If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life. (I knew you voted for Nixon!) These decisions are my personal views and do not represent the organization with which I'm affiliated. (I'm just sayin', you know? Wink.) They do reflect, however, my deeply held convictions about the institution of the family, (antiquated) about moral and spiritual beliefs, (bankrupt) and about the welfare of our country. (In the shitter since you people became a major voting bloc.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ten Reasons

Like I said, I have no idea what's going to happen in Super Tuesday. I'm cautiously optimistic for Obama, but who the hell knows?

So, here's ten reasons why Obama will emerge victorious in twenty four hours, followed by ten more why Hillary will come out ahead.

Obama
  1. Momentum has clearly swung in Obama's favor. Tracking polls show narrowing/closed gaps across the board.
  2. People like Obama as they are exposed to him. Hillary, on the other hand, seems to have a ceiling of support.
  3. Obama's victory criteria are lower than Clinton's. The remainder of February is very favorable for the Obama camp.
  4. CNN gave Obama his first national lead today.
  5. Obama leads Missouri, a microcosm of America if ever there was one.
  6. David Plouffe's press release seems to imply Obama is feeling optimistic.
  7. People who are undecided on election day traditionally break 2:1 against the incumbent, which is clearly Hillary in this case.
  8. Obama is trying to win smaller states (e.g. Idaho) by large margins to rack up delegates. The strategy seems to be working.
  9. Proportional voting is a funny thing. This is a delegate race, not a beauty contest. You need big margins to win extra delegates. The margins no longer seem to exist.
  10. That $32 million didn't come from nowhere.
Clinton
  1. Obama has narrowed the gap, but not closed it, according to many polls.
  2. New Hampshire polling was a disaster. Everything else should be taken with a grain of salt.
  3. Hillary cried again.
  4. The Clinton Machine got Bill elected twice. It's had practice.
  5. Though best case polling has Obama pulling off a miracle upset, worst case polling has him getting buried.
  6. Obama depends heavily on the youth vote, a notoriously finicky group that has shown up so far, but tomorrow's another day.
  7. Obama depends on independents, who cannot vote in several primaries tomorrow.
  8. If Obama misses Plouffe's point spread, it's a loss by his own definition. Can't spin that one.
  9. This is a race that depends on the storyline the press wants to pursue. What if Clinton is slightly ahead? Clinton Wins? Obama Disappoints? Obama Beats Expectations?
  10. Presidential candidates I've voted for are a collective 0-3 (Gore, Dean, & Kerry).
I'm just nervous, that's all. Maybe I'll live blog the results tomorrow.

Fired Up!

It's officially Super-Duper-Tsunami-Mega-Giga-Loony-Cloverfield-Tuesday-of-Destiny. All I can do is sit back and watch - my vote's in the mail.

I have no idea what's going to happen.

None.

And I don't think I'm alone.

Clinton by 100

Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, sent out a memo today regarding expectations for tomorrow's madness. Interestingly, instead of saying "we expect to do well" or "we will be in a strong position even if Senator Clinton collects more delegates," Plouffe set the point spread.

Clinton (-100)

Think of what that means for a second. Obama, by all accounts, has been surging in national polls. CNN has him up 3 nationally. He has closed the gap in California & Missouri, and he has shortened the gap in New Jersey, Connecticut, etc. If Plouffe, speaking for the campaign, sets the line at 100 and Obama loses by 101, it's a loss by his team's definition. Obama & Co. must feel very confident in their poll numbers.

There are 1,688 pledged delegates available on Super Tuesday. a 100 delegate spread means Barack needs at least (1,688/2)-50, or 794. This amounts to 47% of the delegates available. Now, the Obama camp didn't do such a hot job setting expectations in New Hampshire, but that seems to be something of an outlier. No campaign manager in his/her right mind would set expectations that explicitly without some wiggle room, which tells me one thing: Obama expects to make some serious noise tomorrow.

I'm taking Obama and the points.

Vid

In case you haven't seen this, cool video from Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.


Yes, we can.


Music: will.i.am
Lyrics: Barack Obama
Feat: Tatyana Ali, Eric Balfour, Nick Cannon, Common, Jesse Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Kelly Hu, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Scarlett Johansson, John Legend, Adam Rodriquez, Nicole Scherzinger, Aisha Tyler, Amber Valetta, and Kate Walsh

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sweet

On February 20/21 there will be a total eclipse of the heart moon.

See? We can watch it together.

Endorsements

And then there were two. Quite the debate last night at the Kodak Theatre, and quite the star-studded event, too. I guess the writers strike left the celebs with a little time on their hands. I think Obama acquitted himself quite well and had plenty of policy to back up his soaring rhetoric.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. Since that the field is down to two, each candidate is rolling in new endorsements. Now that we seem to have exhausted our supply of Kennedys, each campaign racked up an endorsement that can only be described as... WTF?

[Cut to a sold out Madison Square Garden. A ring sits in the center of the arena. Standing in the ring, a tuxedoed Howard Finkel grabs the mike.]


FINKEL: Ladies and Gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for 22 falls, unless they do not produce a clear winner. In that event, we will have a rematch at PRIMARY OF DEATH next month in Ohio and Texas!

Fighting out of the Blue Corner, representing Barack Obama, he is a Real American Hero who wants you to take your vitamins, say your prayers, and believe in yourself. He is...



The Immortal HULK HOGAN!!

And fighting out of the Red Corner, representing Hillary Clinton,* she is the Duchess of Darkness, the Spawn of Satan, the Invader of Countries, Killer of Leaders, and Converter to Christianity...



ANN COULTER!!

-------------------------

Now be honest. Who saw those coming?

* About 45 seconds into the video, we get gems like, "Yes, I'll vote for her," "I'll campaign for her if it's McCain," and "I was touched when she cried." Whoa! Even more reason to hope for Obama v. McCain. The Republicans know they'll get owned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

He Probably Does

Lou Dobbs - so-called pundit, real racist

Matt Yglesias at The Atlantic wonders, "Lou Dobbs refers to 'the so-called Latino vote.' What does he call it?"

Suggestions found in the comments:
  • The Wetback vote
  • Get off my lawn!
  • The Vote for Pedro Vote
  • The Imigranofacist Vote
  • The Taco Bell Vote
  • The Mow My Lawn, Then Leave My Country Vote
  • The Spic Pick
  • The Beaner Ballot
You think people have figured out that Dobbs hates Latinos?

[Editorial Note: The point of the article is that Dobbs is obviously a racist/fearmonger and people have picked up on that. I don't hate Latinos. If you needed to read this note to figure that out, poor you.]

In Related News - Black is White, Up is Down

I never thought I'd see the day when I sided with the New York Post over something as opposed to the Times, but that day has come.


[D]on't forget the Clintons' trademark political cynicism. How else to explain Sen. Clinton's oft-contradictory policy stands: She voted for the war in Iraq, but now says it was a bad idea. She'd end it yesterday - but refuses to say how.

It's called "triangulation" - the Clintonian tactic by which the ends are played against the middle.

Once, it was effective - almost brilliant. Today, it is tired and tattered - and it reeks of cynicism and opportunism.

Full endorsement here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snap!

Hillary won the Florida beauty contest (say what you will about Edwards, but I do not want to see him in a bikini for the swimsuit competition). What are people saying? According to The Caucus over at the Times, it sounds something like this:

Keith Olbermann: “What is this a celebration of?”

Andrea Mitchell: “It is a celebration of the fact that this is not South Carolina.”

Meanwhile, in Spain... (Part II)

I voted today. Susie came home from the university and found our absentee ballots in the mailbox. Jeez, I thought I was just going to pick a candidate for president and be done with it. DuPage County had other ideas.

I voted for:
DEMOCRATIC nominee for president (including Dodd, Biden, Richardson and Kucinich)
DELEGATES to the DEMOCRATIC convention (along with which candidate they support - didn't I just vote for that?)
DEMOCRATIC nominee for IL-6
DEMOCRATIC nominee for county board
-and-
Do I favor a DuPage County quarter-cent sales tax raise?

I actually ended up abstaining from a couple of the choices, since I didn't have enough information to cast an informed ballot, but according to my tabulation, in the delegate rich state of Illinois, Barack Obama leads all challengers 1-0-0 with 0.0% of precincts reporting.

Also, Illinois is a closed primary state, so I'm officially a member of the Democratic Party, though I strongly considered affiliating myself with the Party Party.

I don't know what it is about voting, but it always makes me feel good. I feel like I'm helping to steer the course of America, or something. Yeah, it's nerdy in that patriotic sort of way, but it's why America rocks. That's why I get bent out of shape with Hillary trying to steal delegates or Dubya stealing the election.

Oh, and if you ever wonder why states like New Hampshire and South Carolina still say 99% reporting, it's apparently because of us dumbass expatriates. Some of us don't vote in a timely manner/foreign post can be kind of spotty, so teacher gives us an extension, even though you can drop your ballot off at the nearest consulate for free postage back to your home state. To combat our idiocy, the Democrats are having a Democrats Abroad online primary this year, but it's only good for 11 delegates. I'll vote in Illinois, thank you.

Meanwhile, in Spain... (Part I)

Okay, I know some of you (Yvonne) have been complaining that this blog is Jake and Susie in Spain, and I would point out that you are correct. At some point, Susie went kinda AWOL on the project, and my life here is boring/routine enough that things in America have grabbed my attention and, thus, the attention of this blog.

But not today! It's been such a crazy 36 hours here in the BCN that I can relate goings-on that are worth reading. Let's start with yesterday, when I woke at the crack of 8:00 to go to the bank and change our bank accounts. Before you scoff, 8:00 is early by Spanish standards, so it's more than the fact that I hate getting out of bed.

Why change bank accounts? La Caixa (conveniently "The Bank" in Catalan) has been doing an excellent job. Well, it turns out that once you're a resident, you need a resident's account, rather than the weird tourist/illegal alien account we must have had. If we hadn't switched, they could have frozen our funds, which would make it difficult to pay our rent on Friday.

Once I was done with that, it was back to the apartment to wait for the handyman. Our pipes in the kitchen were backing up where the flexible dishwasher line went into the larger, inflexable sink pipe. Also, the light in the spare bedroom, which is now in use since we have someone living with us, didn't work.

So the handyman shows up at 10:30 or so and asks to see the light. We have ten foot ceilings and I had stood on a dresser to get to the light. Not happening with this guy - he's like fifty. Of course he wants to know how to get up there, and he asks if he should fly. So, back to the shop for him (fortunately right across the street), and back with a ladder. Of course he thinks that we're idiots and we just need to change the bulb, since that's probably fifty percent of his business. If I could charge 32.50€/hr, I'd change lightbulbs all day long. But, the contacts for the bulb are broken and needed to be repaired. That was the simple part.

Next, onto the pipes.* Turns out there's a fundamental design flaw with our kitchen. The drainpipe is designed for one thing to drain into it. We have three (two sink bowls and a dishwasher), so this is apparently going to be a big problem for the rest of time. Since we're not going to live here for the rest of time, I just want to be able to wash dishes without my feet getting wet. Solution? First, clear out the pipes. The previous tenants had shoved food down the drain and it was causing much of the backflow. (We don't have a disposal.) Second, attach an adapter to the dishwasher pipe so that it locks firmly into the drainpipe.

It turns out there's a different way to clear pipes here in Spain. Rather than breaking out the pipe snake, they use air pressure to force the blockage down the pipe using an air gun. Imagine if God had a Super Soaker. That's about all I can say.

I don't think I can describe the physics of the whole situation to you unless it were in person, but the handyman unexpectedly caused a seven foot geyser of water/decomposed food to fly out of our sink. Yes, I had just cleaned the kitchen less than a week previous, including scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees. Yes, it smelled awful. Yes, it got everywhere, including walls, the ceiling, and dishes that had been washed less than twelve hours earlier. Yes, I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen.

Then I ate sushi. Everything is better after sushi.

-------------------------

*Pipes in Spanish is tubas. That's right, that giant instrument that every polka band leans on is just called The Pipe. It's the worst named instrument this side of the shakuhachi, which is Japanese for "fifty two centimeters". At least if you play the tuba you play THE pipe. Take that, trombone.

Finally, Someone With Clout Noticed

Remeber my post about Hillary trying to steal the nomination through backdoor shenanigans?

The simple fact is this is a threat to democracy and could tear the Democratic Party apart. But I'm not the only one who noticed, and finally, coverage has escaped the blogosphere. The New Hampshire Union Leader published a rather nice editorial today regarding the whole mess, and reads (emphasis added):


COURTING VOTERS in Iowa and New Hampshire, last August Sen. Hillary Clinton signed a pledge not to "campaign or participate" in the Michigan or Florida Democratic primaries. She participated in both primaries and is campaigning in Florida. Which proves, again, that Hillary Clinton is a liar.

Clinton kept her name on the Michigan ballot when others removed theirs, she campaigned this past weekend in Florida, and she is pushing to seat Michigan and Florida delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The party stripped those states of delegates as punishment for moving up their primary dates.

"I will try to persuade my delegates to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida," Clinton said last week, after the New Hampshire primaries and Iowa caucuses were safely over.

Clinton coldly and knowingly lied to New Hampshire and Iowa. Her promise was not a vague statement. It was a signed pledge with a clear and unequivocal meaning.

She signed it thinking that keeping the other candidates out of Michigan and Florida was to her advantage, but knowing she would break it if that proved beneficial later on. It did, and she did.

New Hampshire voters, you were played for suckers.

She really will say anything or do anything to get the nomination. That smell is the smoke from all the bridges she's burning.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Routed

I haven't seen a route like this in the South since Sherman's March to the Sea. With 98% reporting, it looks like this:

Obama 55.3%
Clinton 26.6%
Edwards 17.7%

That's 2:1 over Clinton and almost a 30 point spread.

Keep in mind that going into today's voting, Obama's poll numbers had him up 10-15-ish. Once again, the polls were wrong.

Also, Mike Gravel, who is technically still running for president, was beaten by Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich, who have dropped out of the race. Lest we forget Chris Dodd, he's currently (as of 9:44 ET) tied with Gravel, 239-239 for 0.0% of the vote. It's kind of sad to watch someone who performed such a great service for our nation, releasing the Pentagon Papers, get beat by four men who aren't even running anymore, but I don't think anyone can argue that he's least qualified to be President out of the whole field.

Context

I love pictures that are taken at exactly the right moment and suggest something that probably didn't actually happen. Take this picture, for example. I have no doubt that Bill Clinton is politely, but fervently making a point while discussing politics with the gentleman in the foreground. But that's not what the picture looks like by itself, sans context.

Clinton angry. Clinton SMASH!!

The picture is from Ezra Klein's blog at The American Prospect, from an article discussing the pros and cons of Bill's campaigning. Apparently, one of the points involves Bill punching old dudes.

Also, I don't think I was the only one to pick up on the humor of the photo's timing. When I saved the picture to my desktop, it saved as punchingbill.jpg.

Exactly

The Atlantic has a reader comment that pretty much captures my anger at the Democratic nominating contest in a nutshell. Good thing they took down their pay wall. The letter reads:

For the last six years, I’ve watched a fear-mongering fool manipulate us, ruin our standing in the world and abuse our principles. It’s been hard to feel good about our country. But when Obama won Iowa and surged in the New Hampshire polls I thought I’d underestimated us. For the first time in my lifetime, my cynical generation was turning out heavily to vote. We were choosing, above all else, to be inspired.

Now, the Clinton campaign has gradually and expertly eviscerated him, and it turns out we’re not that country. We’re still easily manipulated; we’re still scared; and we’re still a little racist. It’s hard not to resent her for that.

I couldn't agree more. I've been active in politics since the 2000 election (strangely pulled in by watching the first Gore/Bush debate in an emergency room waiting area while my at the time girlfriend was examined for a sports injury), and constant discussion and debate with my friends has kept me interested and involved. But the entirety of my experience has been defined by the Florida recount, Republican fearmongering, scandal after scandal, swiftboating, and a Democratic majority that seems like it doesn't remember how to be a majority. But something seemed wrong with this picture.

My friends, liberal and conservative alike, all want America to be a better place and generally believe in the inherent good nature of our fellow man. Why, I wondered, was that what my friends and I saw, while politics itself was gamesmanship and dirty tricks? Could it be because we were college students/recent graduates who were still holding onto idealism? Barack Obama seemed to say that it wasn't us. It was possible to be an agent of the political system and still believe in the good nature of America and the transformative power of believing that we can work together, rather than being involved in some Red State/Blue State civil war.

Watching Hillary Clinton take apart the Democratic Party to win the nomination is like watching a brain surgeon at work. It's cold, calculated, and ridiculously effective. The problem is, it tears the nation further apart. If she wins the nomination like this, who will she govern? The half of the Democratic Party that now wants nothing to do with her? The half of the country that disliked her to begin with? George Bush proved in 2000 that you don't need a majority to win, but I never thought I'd see anyone go to these extremes, let alone a Democrat.

Talky Talky Eaty Eaty

I just thought of the best name for a dinner/discussion group ever. Repast & Riposte. Delicious food, engaging discussion, and (of course) wine. Because, as Christopher Hitchens says, "a day without wine is like a day without sunshine."

Who's with me?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Underhanded

Apparently, Hillary won't just say anything to win, she'll do anything. (Though why this surprised me, I can't really say.)

Because "the people" are screaming bloody murder that the Michigan and Florida delegates have been removed by the DNC (they're not, by the way), Hillary is going to fight to make sure they are counted. Keep in mind that when Michigan was stripped of its delegates, Obama and Edwards removed their names from the ballot, leaving Clinton to compete with Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. No candidate has campaigned in Florida, leaving the race largely up to name recognition, a clear advantage for the Clinton campaign.

Now that the nominating contest will be a delegate collecting race, she is literally trying to game the system. The fact that the Clinton camp did not have their name removed from the Michigan ballot now smacks of premeditation. This type of behavior disgusts me as someone who believes in the true voice of the people and is no better than President Bush's shenanigans in the Florida Recount. This is reason enough not to vote for Hillary, and if she is the nominee, as much as I would have never thought I would say this, I plan to take a long, hard look at the Republican nominee.*

TEXT OF HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAIL SEEKING FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN DELEGATES:

I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

-----------------------

*If the nominee, by some freak of nature, is Pastor Mike, I don't know what I'll do. I'd rather jump into a spiked pit than vote for that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just Wanted To Let You Know We're Not Dead

The local Guárdia Urbana (the badass ones with berets and billy clubs, not the Mossos d'Esquadra with day-glo vests) busted some Islamic Fundamentalist types last weekend in el Raval who were trying to repeat the Madrid tomfoolery of 2004. Haven't they learned from Tina Turner? Comebacks just don't do well. But, since they tried to bust up my city, they (and you) should know the following:
  • I'll still ride the Metro
  • Barcelona is still safe
  • People should visit
  • We're not afraid
  • F*ck those guys
Oh, and on a related note, stop trying to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali!

Dan Savage Has A Challenge

Do you know what santorum is? (If you have an ounce of desire to maintain any innocence you have left, don't click that link. You have been warned.) Dan Savage of Savage Love fame is at it again, just in case Mike Huckabee sticks around for more than the next two weeks.

From this week's Savage Love:

You helped take out Rick Santorum by naming a sex-related term after him, and now the time has come for you to do the same for GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee. He has compared homosexuality to bestiality in an interview, just like Santorum, and more than once. Huckabee most recently came out against changing "the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."

So what do you think, Dan? Isn't it time for a contest to name a sex act the Huckabee?

Dave In Olympia

Every time someone says something idiotic in public—myself included—I get letters from readers angrily demanding that Ann Coulter, Stephen Harper, Dick Cheney, Antonin Scalia, myself, et al., get the "santorum treatment" (which sounds almost as disgusting as the substance itself). Honestly, this is the first time I can say that I've been tempted. But Huckabee remains a long shot for the GOP nomination, DIO, so it's entirely possible we'll be rid of him in a few weeks' time—hell, he could be out of it before this column gets printed.

But just in case Huckabee is the nominee—hey, you can't be too careful—I'm going to invite my readers to send their suggested definitions for the Huckabee to huckabee@savagelove.net.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Dream Lives On

But it's still a dream. Closer to reality, perhaps, but not yet reality.

Some of you have pointed out that this blog is Jake and Susie in Spain, but it doesn't do to have a day honoring Dr. King without calling attention to the man that he was and the cause he fought for.

In 1963, blacks and whites struggled with the meaning of equality in America. It is a discussion that continues today. But new voices have been added to the chorus. America has expanded her rainbow. A hundred years ago, the Irish, the Italians, and the Catholics were discriminated against not because they weren't white, but because they were the wrong kind of white. Today, blacks have yet to achieve full equality, both in America and on the world stage. Our companions in the journey to a better life are branded as illegal, as if a person very nature could be illegal. We are stereotyped and pigeonholed according to our race and our creed, our citizenship and our gender.

But let us not, as Dr. King said, wallow in the valley of despair.

Let us remember, on this day and on all days, that we have come far. But there is work to be done. And let us commit ourselves to working to day when we are judged not by the color of our skin, as Dr. King said, but on the content of our character. If you believe, like I do, that this life is all you have, make it count.


He had a dream. Don't let him down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Interesting Primary Statistic

Now that all of the pundits are talking about a long slog to the convention, people are starting to sit up and take notice of the delegate counts that candidates have. The entire process is kind of fuzzy, with committed delegates and superdelegates (played by Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and the dude from Smallville).

I was looking at CNN's politics page after reading about Barack's backdoor victory in Nevada. When you add them all up, Hillary Clinton is about sixty delegates ahead, due to her early stockpiling of superdelegates.

Wait a minute, you say. What about the primaries? Hasn't she won two out of the three that have been held? Isn't that what would give her a lead?

Interestingly, when you add up the states that have had meaningful primaries (sorry, Michigan), Obama is up by one.

Iowa
Obama - 16 elected delegates, 2 superdelegates - 18 total
Clinton - 15 elected delegates, 3 superdelegates - 18 total

New Hampshire
Obama - 9 elected delegates, 3 superdelegates - 12 total
Clinton - 9 elected delegates, 2 superdelegates - 11 total

Nevada
Obama - 13 elected delegates, 1 superdelegate - 14 total
Clinton - 12 elected delegates, 2 superdelegates - 14 total

This is not, I would argue, the winner take all, Obama on the ropes picture that the media is trying to paint (Obama must win in South Carolina, they say). Nor, in retrospect, was the Clinton campaign on the ropes after Iowa. The only person quickly receding into the background is John Edwards, who hasn't won a delegate since Iowa and polled 4% in Nevada.

Now, could Super-Duper-Mega-Giga-Tsunami-Zeitgeist-Katrina-Tuesday-of-Destiny blow the race open for someone? It could, I suppose, especially if the same person takes New York and California by large margins. But Hillary's superdelegate lead comes almost exclusively from New York and New Jersey, so if Obama somehow manages to come out ahead in California and plays it close in New York, this could be one hell of a fight/brawl/battle/imagery invoking violence.

Haha! Cliché.

They Both Win?

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus by about a 50-45-4% margin, as I'm sure you're aware. But apparently, Barack Obama also won the Nevada caucus, claiming 13 at large delegates to Hillary's 12.

Huh?

As Political Radar explains,

The Obama campaign is claiming this delegate victory because of the proportional manner in which Nevada awards district delegates, especially in the state's rural 2nd Congressional District.

On a conference call with reporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and Obama director of delegate selection Jeff Berman explained that Obama had the majority in districts where there were odd numbers of delegates and therefore he won the majority of delegate seats.

Clinton won in areas where there were even numbers of delegates by a narrow margin and so those delegate seats were split evenly.

I'm starting to understand the case for a national primary. This is confusing.

For those of you keeping score, it's Clinton 203 - Obama 148 (including superdelegates).

Haha! Superdelegates.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Maybe That's Why He's Sticking Around

The Caucus is reporting on a National Journal story suggesting that nothing will be settled on Super-Duper-Mega-Tsunami-Ultra-Zeitgeist-Giga-Tuesday-of-Destiny.
One theory emerging among this crowd: John Edwards, who is running third in the polls behind Senators Clinton and Barack Obama, will be able to rack up enough delegates to play kingmaker.
I know I've been critical of Edwards not getting out of the way, but if I could play kingmaker, I'd stick around, too.

Haha! Brokered convention.

Oh, Huck - Huckdate

Update on my last Huckabee post. AFP has an interesting story on Pastor Mike's interview with Beliefnet.com.* Here are the highlights:

"Well, I don't think that's a radical view, to say we're going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."

and

"The Bible was not written to be amended. The Constitution was."

--------------------

*In the interest of fairness, Beliefnet is not a Christian website, it just covers religion in general.

Oh, Huck

Mike Huckabee's at it again. You may have heard that he recently said, "I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."

Now, we have the separation of church and state, so obviously he's not suggesting inviting God into the U.S. Government, right? After all, comments such as this led Republican speechwriter Lisa Sciffren to call Huck "the best advertisement ever for the ALCU."

But wait. Let's check the tape. Has the Huckster said anything else that might shed some light on the situation? It turns out he has. He once wrote a book, Character is the Issue, in which he claims "When two irreconcilable views emerge, one is going to dominate. Ours will either be a worldview with humans at the center or with God at the center ... The winning worldview will dominate public policy, the laws we make, and every other detail of our existence."

He also wrote Kids who Kill with Christian Reconstructionist George Grant. What is reconstructionism? Well, it's pretty modest, really. Its aims are, among other things, "to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. We are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government ... our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society," according to Dr. James Kennedy.

This works, say reconstructionists, because the Bible is "the final measurement and depository of certain fundamental facts of reality and basic principles that God wants all mankind to know in the sphere of law, government, economics, business, education, arts and communication, medicine, psychology, and science. All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true, right, and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible," according to their Manifesto for the Christian Church.

Turns out, it's basically the Christian version of Sharia law. Wrongdoing is punished by Old Testament Biblical justice. Wrongdoing is, of course, determined by the "inerrant word of God" from said Bible. That means death by stoning for murder (but not of slaves), adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, and cursing your parents.

If Huckabee wins, I would invest in the manufacture of stones. Well, I would actually run the hell away, but barring that, invest in stones.

Don't believe me? Here are Grant's own words from The Changing of the Guard:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less...
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.
These are the people Mike Huckabee hangs with. God, if this guy wins, bin Laden would probably wet himself with joy. I wonder if Iowa Republicans have any idea what they voted for.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Most Dangerous Place

Editorial note: So it seems that the quotes I attributed to Hillary Clinton were actually made by Bill. Good thing I'm not an actual journalist. But still, that's pretty embarrassing for me and I hope you'll accept my apology.

There's an old political saying that the most dangerous place you can be is between Chuck Schumer and a microphone. But, as one internet political blogger (Matt Bai of The Caucus) pointed out, it looks like the most dangerous place you can be is between Hillary Clinton and elected office.

She's really starting to worry me. It seems like she'll stop at nothing to get power, and when Karl Rove starts singing your praises, I think there's an underlying assumption that you sold your soul at some point. Consider the Nevada caucuses. According to ABC's Political Radar, Hill Bill went postal in a California radio interview when the caucus lawsuit came up, saying,

"Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give everybody who voted in a casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct? Did you know that? What happened is nobody understood what had happened."

The implication being that the state Democratic party is run by a bunch of idiots who didn't bother to read the caucus proposal or something.

But, in a stunning example of journalistic integrity, ABC actually points out that Clinton is wrong, rather than say "the facts are disputed" or some such parsing. Political Radar goes on to say (emphasis added):

Clinton is being disingenuous, however, when he makes it sound as if this feature of the Nevada caucuses was only recently discovered. It's been known for months.

What has changed is knowledge that the Culinary Workers, the union which represents the casino workers, is backing Barack Obama.

Clinton also criticized the casino causues saying: "This is a one-man, one-vote country."

What Clinton left out, however, is that it's not just the at-large casino caucuses which is at odds with "one-man, one-vote."

The regular Democratic precinct caucuses in Nevada are also at odds with "one-man, one-vote."

In rural parts of Nevada, five people are needed to produce one delegate.

In Clark County (home to Las Vegas), 50 people are needed to produce one delegate.

Democrats in Nevada and Iowa structured their caucuses this way in order to encourage candidates to campaign in rural parts of the state.


No one had a problem with Iowa, right? Iowans reading this blog, did anyone freak out during Iowa's "unrepresentative" caucus? Oh, wait. Hillary thought she would win Iowa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For the RSS Junkies

Susie thinks my love of RSS is beyond geeky. Whenever I mention it, she scrunches her face up like a nerd with braces and asks in an Urkel-like voice, "Does this blog have an RSS feed?" I would point out that she [redacted story about Susie's geeky tendencies].

Touché.

Anyway, my new Twitter-ma-bobber (or whatever the kids call it), has an RSS feed.

http://twitter.com/statuses/friends_timeline/12317462.rss

Tweet Tweet

I set up a Twitter account today after hearing about it again, this time on NPR.

Yes, I'm a nerd.

But it's pretty cool, and I' definitely going to give it a whirl. Any one else have one? If not, set one up; apparently, we can interact in new and glorious ways (or something).

On a side note, I went with bcnjake rather than jakesta007. I kind of feel like I left a part of me behind, since I've been jakesta007 for so long. Am a total freak for feeling that way? Is this how women who change their name feel?

Love Fest

Apparently, last night's Democratic debate was something of a love-fest, according to the New York Times' David Brooks:

"Their discussion constituted a repudiation of the old Boss Daley of Chicago, who famously said that politics ain’t beanbag.* Apparently politics is beanbag, because that’s all the Democrats threw at each other tonight. I’ve seen more conflict at a pacifists’ stir-fry."

As Phil Ken Sebben would say, "Ha, ha! Stir-fry."

*Beanbag is the Chicago version of Washers

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Glad I'm Not The Only One Who Noticed

You can now dock your iPod with everything and Bluetooth is everywhere. Don't believe me? Check out Penny Arcade's take on this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

Sadly, I saw a blender like this at El Corte Ingles

Monday, January 14, 2008

End of an Era

I thought about this now that the Rolen for Glaus deal is official. Anyone could have said that the Cardinals are in a rebuilding mode, but it's kind of strange to think that they're only one season removed from being World Champions. I mean, look at the roster for the 2006 World Series Championship season:

Starting Lineup
C - Yadier Molina
1B - Albert Pujols
2B - Ronnie Belliard
SS - David Eckstein
3B - Scott Rolen
LF - So Taguchi
CF - Jim Edmonds
RF - Juan Encarnacion


Starting Rotation
Chris Carpenter
Jeff Suppan
Jeff Weaver

Anthony Reyes*
Jason Marquis

Relievers
Josh Hancock
Randy Flores
Braden Looper
Brad Thompson*
Adam Wainwright
Jason Isringhausen
Josh Kinney
Tyler Johnson

Bench
John Rodriguez
Gary Bennett
Preston Wilson

Scott Spiezio
Chris Duncan

That's thirteen players gone since the end of the '06 season. And the area of the team that is most intact is the Cardinals awful bullpen, even accounting for Wainwright's move to the rotation. I doubt this season will bring another Commissioner's Trophy, but it sure will be entertaining.

*Denotes trade bait. Likely will be with another team come opening day.
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