Archive for October, 2008

I’m so often wrong…

October 31, 2008

I’m so often wrong about how the public reacts to a political candidate or event, that I feel the need to highlight the times I am right.  Here’s what I wrote the day after McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin.

1. The next month will be about her, not about him.  It will be about her experience, her troopergate investigation, the possibility of perjury, the certainty of making false statements to the public, the fact that she has a four month old baby with Downs syndrome, four other kids and a husband who’s on a fishing boat four months out of the year, but is leaving them all behind to go campaign (Sure – it’s a double standard.  But it’s a real double standard.)

2. When attention gets back to him, it will be all about his judgement.  And lack of it.  Can you imagine the Biden – Palin debate?  Five will get you ten that “scheduling difficulties will ensure it never happens.  And then that will be the story.

3. And, as we near the election, a growing chorus of resentment will come from the very people this was designed to attract – the Hillary supporters who felt their seasoned upper middle aged woman candidate had been passed over for a less experienced but charming and sexy man.  It will take a couple of months, but it will finally sink in to the general public that McCain passed over the seasoned upper middle aged women in his part to go after the young, vivacious woman with much less experience.  And when that meme starts playing, his treatment of his first wife can’t be far behind.

Overall, I can’t think of a better pick… for Obama.

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Finishing the Marathon

October 28, 2008

Well, I made it.  I held my goal pace for about 14 miles,  and then gradually slowed to decrepitude, but I did make it. And like a future junkie, I spent the last few miles thinking about future training strategy, and how to get the endurance I need to make it the whole way running.  I am truly insane.  Before the race, my future goal was to work on speed, and then think about running another marathon in 10 years.  Now, I figure if I can get my speed up, I could think about doing it again in two years.  The training time commitment is just too big to try it again next year.

Anyway, thanks to all the well wishers.  Feel free to try to talk me out of doing it again.

Canadian Independent Music

October 22, 2008

So I’m putting together a list for a reader who asked about the tunes I’ve bought after listening to the CBC Radio 3 podcast.  Here’s the list:

  • “Love This Town” by Joel Plaskett – Great tune, I loved it when I first heard it, then loved it even more when I heard Plaskett on the Podcast talking about how he had stayed in his hometown even as other  musicians moved away.  And how one night he went into a local bar and saw a guy sitting by himself looking downcast.  The bartender poured him a drink, no payment, then came back and told Plaskett that he was drinking for free because his house had just burned down, leading to the completely mood-setting line “There’ll be drinks on the house when your house burns down.”
  • “Nowhere With You” by Joel Plaskett and the Emergency.  Necessary to show Plaskett and friends can rock when called for.
  • “Reunion” by either Jason Collett or Stars (I can’t tell from the iTunes info).  What a great song to run to.
  • “See You On The Moon”, by the Great Lakes Swimmers.  This is actually from a kids album, but as Grant Lawrence pointed out, nonetheless a great song.  The Podcast had a whole show with kids singing various Canadian Independent songs.  Really cool. And indicative of the type of things Grant and Chris are willing to try.
  • “Failsafe” by the Choir Practice.  Cool on many levels.  First, because this is the only Rock choir I’ve ever heard of.  Second, because the words just get in my head and spin around there.  I don’t know how many times my kids have heard me start singing “Ready to bolt at the first sign of failsafe” and wondered what the heck I was talking about.  And third, because Grant put three versions of this song together, along with interviews with the performers, and a history of how the song came about.  I love all three, but unfortunately only two are available for purchase.  The third is from a demo tape or something, from the depths of CBC Radio 3’s music vault.
  • “Horse Soldier” by Corb Lund.  Great tune. Something I really love about independent music is that you get songs written about the oddest things.  This is about the lot of the horse soldier, from ancient times to the Special Ops riders in Afghanistan.
  • “Requiem” by the “No Luck Club”.  Instrumental, I really like it, and the group consists of two brothers in their basement, if I recall correctly.  Another group that falls into the category of writing completely unexpected songs.
  • “La Poste” by Navit Confit.  The occasional French song sneaks in and this one sounds cool and is great to run to.
  • “The Dugout” by Ladyhawk.  Another great running song.
  • “The Beatboxer Who Broke My Heart” by Hey Ocean.  I love this band! This is the song that Grant played, but all of their songs are this good, with a huge variety to their sound.  Great musicians too.
  • “Mr. No Show” by Ghostkeeper.  I can’t tell you why I like this song so much, other than it’s another one that gets in my head and stays there.
  • “That’s That” by Cass McComb.  This is not a song I would normally go for, but there’s something about that rolling bass line that captivates. And helps the miles roll by too.
  • “A Million Dollars” by Joel Plaskett and the Emergency.  Starts slow, then punches it.  And I swear there’s a flute in there somewhere.

iTunes

October 22, 2008

Comment to independent musicians everywhere – I fall into that fading category of music fans who still pay for the tunes I listen too.  If they are available on iTunes, no problem.  But if I have to buy a CD off a website, or go through some other service to download, I’ll probably skip it. I don’t know how typical I am, but take it for what it’s worth.

Training for the Marathon

October 20, 2008

Last weekend, I think I had the most perfect run of my life.

Two years ago, I woke up with my middle aged knees and back throbbing and said, ‘What the heck, babying them hasn’t worked, I may as well run them into the ground’, and with that, I vowed to run a half marathon in 2007 and a full one in 2008.  Lo and behold, as I trained (and let me tell you, it was pathetic in the beginning), the knees felt better, the back felt better, and I was clicking off the miles.  In October, 2007 I finished the Albany, NY Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon (I’m not making that up – in this Halloween themed run some of the participants run in gorilla suits and guys with chainsaws and hockey masks chase you along the trail), not realizing it was an OFF-ROAD half until I got there.   A twelve year old boy and and a seventy four year old man beat me, but damned if I didn’t finish it running, hills and rocks and mud and all.

This year I’ve been training hard for the Marine Corps, headphones blaring, listening to CBC Radio 3’s podcast (independent Canadian Music). Last Saturday, I came to my last ‘long’ run before the Marine Corps Marathon, actually just a taper-off of seven miles.  I ran the first mile on a beautiful crisp fall morning with my eleven year old daughter, who set a personal best for that mile, and thought about how great it was that we could do this together.

Of course, after dropping her off at home, I then spent the next two as I often do, watching myself whine and piss and moan about how hard this all is, and how I’ll never be able to run 26, and who am I kidding.  Then the news podcast I was listening to finished and I remembered I had a new CBC Radio 3 and lo, it was “Sweating to the Indies”, their once a year podcast dedicated to the exercise maniacs among their listeners, and as the perfectly beat matched tunes started blasting I felt my pace steady and the energy come back and by the time I was on the stretch leading back to my car I couldn’t keep myself from accelerating, tapering off be damned.  By the time I was done I was flying.  So I don’t know that I’ll be able to finish the Marine Corps Marathon running, but I know I’ll finish it.  And in no small part, I owe that to two years of the Canadian Independent music scene. (Who woulda thunk it?) Thanks guys.

P.S. If anyone would like my personal “Canadian Independent Music’s Greatest Hits” just leave me a note in the comments.

Self driving cars

October 14, 2008

I’m following a post on Kevin Drum’s site about self driving cars, but I think the commenters are missing the boat on just how profound such a change would be.  So let’s say we get self driving cars.  You stumble out of bed at 5:00 am, and roll into your car, recline all the way back as your autopilot heads towards work.  You sleep three more hours, then get up, do a towel bath, brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, finishing just as you reach work.  You leave the office at 3:00pm, open up your computer and cell phone and get three more hours work done.  Read the paper and you are home at 6:30, having commuted from say, DC to western West Virginia, where houses cost $1.57.  It’s hard to even get my head around the tectonic shifts involved in such a way of commuting.

Bob Herbert

October 14, 2008

Bob Herbert is one of the more solid New York Times columnists.  He is sensible and usually right.  But I never knew he could be snarky (in a good way).  This quote, buried in an otherwise sensible and solid column made me laugh out loud:

American culture does not value talent in math very highly. I suppose we’re busy with other things, like text-messaging while jay-walking.

Read the whole thing here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/14/opinion/14herbert.html#

Cash is Trash?

October 9, 2008

A reader asks:

how about the view that your investments are no good if they do not keep up with the rate of inflation…I disagree with that concept totally…the risk is not always worth the “possible” return. Why not just save more…yes, your dollar will not be worth as much in 20 years but why should it be and why do people assume the risk to get it there when they have seen so many have failed…that it might be better to accept less risk, make less money and possibly have “more” money in 20 years than you would if you took the risk???

I see her point, but don’t know if I entirely agree.  Certainly, you are better off getting 1.5% on T-Bills than losing 30% on stocks.  But if inflation is 6%, you are still losing ground.  In the late 70’s, early 80’s, inflation was in the teens.  There were investments that beat that, or at least maintained ground, but if you were in pure cash, with no interest, your net worth was heading down.  There is no difference in losing half your value to inflation over three years and throwing half your money in the toilet and flushing.

Put another way, in 1974 an apartment cost $150/month, a loaf of bread cost 29 cents, and a pair of jeans could be had for ten bucks.  Those exact same items cost twice as much a half decade later.  Since the items are the exact same, it must be your money that dwindled.

But I do agree that investing in money market or government bills may be a wise choice over the long term.  I’ve never really been satisfied with the assurance that over time the stock market does better than anything else.  After all, if a company you are invested in goes bankrupt, it really doesn’t matter what the Dow did that year – you lost everything.

The Road to … $25,000,000?

October 5, 2008

Why $25,000,000?  Some background.

Everyone’s heard about Palin’s famous “opposition” to the Bridge to Nowhere (she supported it until Congress killed it, and then opposed it once it had no chance), and many have heard about her less famous Road to Nowhere.  She authorized and had built with US taxpayer dollars the approach road to the Bridge to Nowhere even though the bridge is no longer to be built.  The approach road now goes, well, nowhere, but being just over 3 miles long the mayor of the town assures us it will be used to run 5k (3.1 mile) and 10K (to Nowhere and back again) races.

This 3 mile gravel road cost $25,000,000 to build.  That would be roughly $500,000 for every resident of the town.  Why does a 3 mile gravel road cost twenty five million dollars?  It’s not like they had to knock down houses and businesses to do it.  For that matter, you could knock down every business and house on the island and it wouldn’t total that much.  To give a comparison, Amtrak is building a 3 mile stretch of railroad track through Virginia at a cost of $10,000,000.  I don’t know the details but I would assume they would have to build a gravel road beside it for the duration of the construction, and that the cost of that is a few hundred thousand dollars.

So, I come back to it. 25 million dollars.  Who exactly are the checks being written to?