December 27, 2008


The 14-year-old has had a good Christmas. We refused to get him the IPod Nano he was begging for because he lost his last one through carelessness (and dishonest friends, one of whom took off with it after he left it behind where he was skating), but we did get him a bunch of expensive clothes at the emo-punk skater kid mall store. How ironic that all of these counter-culture long-haired parent-hating kids must rely on the parental units to provide the funding for the clothes and skateboards that are the integral part of their lifestyle.

Anyway, so this morning we were taking back some stuff that was the wrong size, and I looked at the pile of silly looking (to me) skater clothes and shoes in his hands, and I said, "You know, that's basically the equivalent to the IPod you wanted so badly..." Since we had the receipt, I just put the clothes back on my card and told him we could go to the Apple store and get an IPod nano for him if he wanted. It took him about 15 minutes of agonizing before he finally said that's what he wanted to do.

I told him as we left the mall, "I guess those $10 skinny jeans from JC Penney don't seem so bad now, huh?"

Posted by Observer at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2008


Back from vacation, and most of our Christmas is now done. Just a few more loose ends to tie up tomorrow. It was fun, but we were actually in the hotel room having to go down and ask for an extra 30 minutes to check out because M*chelle was still working on something she had to finish up before we got home. We really did use every minute we had for something productive, if you use a very broad definition of that word. Heh.

Our 14-year-old is being stupid again, unfortunately. We already busted him smoking in his room and now have him living in a little formal dining room off the kitchen (our library) on a mattress on the floor. While we were gone, he snuck some old flavored rum off the top shelf of the pantry and apparently helped himself to some of it. Maybe he has been sipping it for a while because several ounces are gone from the bottle.

I had a talk with him today about experimentation and how, even if he hates our guts, he needs to figure out a way to express that without putting himself and his accomplishments in danger. I figure if he's stupid enough to smoke, he's stupid enough to try drugs of various kinds, and that could put him in the ER quick if he takes a bad pill or sniffs the wrong crap. Only time will tell if we are able to talk any sense into him. In the end, if he really wants to do something stupid, I don't know that there's a whole lot we can do other than handcuff him to one of us or something ridiculous.

I also pointed out that if one of his goals is to return to having his own room and some privacy, he's going about it in exactly 180 degrees the wrong direction by sneaking alcohol. At least he admitted doing it when confronted (could've been any of the three older kids, in theory, but I was 99% sure of the culprit), even if he wasn't 100% honest about the circumstances. That's a start.

Posted by Observer at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2008

They Really Like Him

We're on vacation. Actually, it is more of a Christmas retreat. We've both been so busy that we really needed to get away from work and the kids so we could get our shopping done and also have some relaxation time before the three-day whirlwind of Christmas hits for us. It has been so nice to just be in a quiet place for a while, to be able to sit and read or wrap presents or do anything without being interrupted every five minutes by someone wanting a snack or what have you.

I'm glad last night's Cowboys game wasn't on TV where we are. It would've been too painful to watch. I listened to it. We watched the first quarter from an Outback steakhouse, but I hate watching games in bars or restaurants so we left. Today is our last full day here, and like the other day and a half, it will be very busy but also fun.

I've been keeping up with the news a little, and I'm glad to see it looks like the recounting in Minnesota is almost done and we'll soon have a Senator Franken. I'd love to see him win just to watch O'Really blow a gasket, but aside from that, I imagine he'll make a good senator.

Posted by Observer at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2008

Still Working

Blog not broken, just been busy this week with finals. Most of my free time has gone to messing around on the Day Trader application on Facebook, actually.

Posted by Observer at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2008

Beginning of the End?

Looks like my MT-Blacklist has been disabled, and this may be a signal that it is time for me to move on to something that is a bit better at avoiding spam. I can't even delete comments with this silly interface, so I'm just editing the ones that get through the various filters down to nothing. Hence the funny looking recent comments area.

Posted by Observer at 06:19 PM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2008

The Chicago Way

I really like Rahm Emanuel, quoted here speaking to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich:

RAHM EMANUEL: This is Rahm.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Hey Rahm, yeah it's Rod.

EMANUEL: Uh-huh. What's going on governor, I'm busy.

BLAGO: Well, it's about that Senate appointment...

EMANUEL: We already gave you the list of people we like.

BLAGO: Yeah, I been looking the list over. Interesting names. Good people. How's the transition going?

EMANUEL: It's going fine, governor. Are you calling to fucking tell me anything, or what, cause I--

BLAGO: No no, I'm just wondering if you have all your picks already made. I heard something about Dashle for HHS--

EMANUEL: I'm not gonna discuss ongoing deliberations, gov, you know that.

BLAGO: Hey, come on Rahm, let's not act like I'm a stranger here.

EMANUEL: Did I call you a stranger? If I thought you were a stranger, you think I'd be interrupting my important fucking business to take this fucking phone call?

BLAGO: Hey you don't have to get curt with me, Rahm.

EMANUEL: This isn't me being curt, Gov, this is me being fucking busy. Now what did you call about?

BLAGO: I'm just feeling you out, seeing if Valerie [Jarret] still wants that Senate seat, just wondering what kind of priority that is for the President-Elect.

EMANUEL: Actually, it's not a priority. Valerie's had second thoughts about the job.

BLAGO: What, she doesn't want it anymore?

EMANUEL: She's having second thoughts. You want more details, you ask her.

BLAGO: She won't take my calls.

EMANUEL: Big fucking surprise.

BLAGO: What's that supposed to mean?

EMANUEL: Um, I don't know, what's it supposed to mean governor? A.) You're a fucking crook. B.) You're a fucking asshole. C.) All of the above.

BLAGO: I'm clean Rahm, you know this. You think that fucking Fitzgerald would being twiddling his fucking thumbs if he had shit to go on?

EMANUEL: I gotta go, Gov. You appoint who you want, we really don't give a shit.

BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?

EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We'd appreciate it, I'm not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.

BLAGO: "Appreciate it"? Come on, this is a senate seat we're talking about. It's worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.

EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you're asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.

BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.

EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you're fucking joking.

BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?

HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?

BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?

[Whirring, shredder noise]

HARRIS (muffled): I did.

EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?

BLAGO: It's in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.

EMANUEL: Hold on a sec -- you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?

BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You're shit, you hear me? Don't come back to Chicago Rahm, it's not your town any more.

EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.

BLAGO: I'll put someone in the senate who will fucking fuck you. I might even put myself in there, how you like that Rahm? How you gonna explain that to fucking Barack, every time he's gotta call me up for my fucking vote. He'd have to take my calls then, wouldn't he?

EMANUEL: [Screaming] I said pick up the FUCKING phone!

BLAGO: [Picks up phone, speakerphone off] I got your attention now, didn't I?

EMANUEL: Shut the fuck up and listen to me for one second Rod. And I want you to listen carefully, because this is the last time I'm ever going to talk to you. You are fucking dead to me. You been fucking dead to Barack since '06, now you're dead to me. Know what that means? That means you're dead to my people in Chicago, Daley on down, and all these friends you think you have aren't gonna touch you with a ten foot fucking pole.

BLAGO: Oh now you're the fucking Godfather? Fuck you.

EMANUEL: No fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

BLAGO: Fuck you!

EMANUEL: Listen up asshole. The shit's gonna hit the fan, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, and when Fitz finally brings down the hammer it's gonna be my name that's going through your head. You won't know the hows or the fucking whys, but it's gonna have my fucking fingerprints all over it. Have a great life fatso.

BLAGO: Hey fuck--

EMANUEL: [Click.]

If only the West Wing had been on HBO, you know?

No, the transcript isn't real, but it is fun to imagine it.

Posted by Observer at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2008

Romo Defense

Apparently, some fans around here (and even a couple of stupid receivers) are apparently unhappy with Tony Romo. They're thinking he's some kind of horrible turnover machine who can't win a big game.

What. A. Load. Of. Crap.

A very sportsy radio guy around here who I link to in my sidebar is Bob Sturm, and he has written a very nice defense of Romo with some eye-popping numbers that SHOULD make any stupid fan think twice before wishing Romo were elsewhere.

These are great times to be a Cowboys fan. We might not make the playoffs this year. We probably won't, in fact. We have to win our last three games, pretty much, and I don't think that's likely since we face the Giants and Ravens at home and then travel to Philly to close the season. I wouldn't mind us not making the playoffs because it would mean getting rid of Wade and getting a Jimmy-like whip-cracker in here. It doesn't HAVE to be Bill Cowher, but I have no doubt that Jerry Jones will write him a check for whatever he wants if he'll come. Would Steelers fans ever forgive the guy?

Anyway, the biggest reason I think we'll miss the playoffs is injuries, but a close second is the grab-ass player-friendly environment we've seen here for the last couple of years. It worked okay signing knucklehead players like TO when Parcells was here and could control them, but not without a strong leader. Now that we have a few knuckleheads on the team, there are too many distractions that aren't being stifled.

So if we need to miss the playoffs to get Cowher or someone like him in here, then fine. We fans can afford to be patient because we've got Romo here for the next 10 years or so at least, and so every year we're going to have a chance to be good. And that's about all you can ask as a fan. As long as Romo is back there, the team is going to be fun to watch.

Posted by Observer at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2008


Back when Patrick Fitzgerald was attempting to build a case and prosecute Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice, I was led to believe by wingnuttia that he is a partisan, frothing-at-the-mouth angry liberal who just hates Bush and is on some kind of vendetta. Nothing like the honorable, righteous and upstanding Ken Starr, mind you.

Now that Fitzgerald is pursuing Blagojevich, I'm glad to hear now from talk radio that Fitzgerald is an American hero and a great prosecutor. I guess he must have lost his mind when he thought a Republican in the Bush administration might be doing something illegal!

Posted by Observer at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2008

Another Reason to Like Obama

Illinois governor, now probably federal prisoner, Rod Blagojevich, was apparently shopping around for the best deal when deciding which person to appoint to replace Obama. Blagojevich asked Obama for Obama's preference and if Blagojevich would get anything in return:

The charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that President-elect Obama wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.”

Isn't it nice to have a White House where you can have some confidence that cronyism and corruption isn't Job One?

Imagine for a minute the shitstorm that would engulf the nation for the next eight years in wingnuttia if Obama had offered an ambassadorship or some such token. Oh my God we would never hear the end of it.

Do you think we'll hear anything about this from right-wing radio now? Is "fair and balanced" Fox News going to cover Obama's honorable and lawful behavior as much as it would have piled on him if he had tried to give Blagojevich something besides appreciation?

Posted by Observer at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2008

Let It Go

This Obama birth certificate story is really an interesting one to me because it represents a sort of wingnut litmus test. Here's the theory: Obama wasn't really born in Hawaii, and so he is ineligible to serve as president. Go ahead, ask any wingnut. If they are truly wingnutty, they'll go off on a long rant about socialism, terrorism, Islam, Kenya, and hey, you know, I think his birth certificate is a fake and he shouldn't even be eligible to serve.

One of the wingnuts has tried to get a judge to listen, and not even the Supreme Court is willing to do so. To appease these people, the Hawaii secretary of state has personally checked out the story and provided various people who have asked to see it a look at the original birth certificate, which has a raised seal and seems just as authentic as any other birth certificate.

According to this story, has even dug up a copy of a 1950's era Honolulu newspaper which has the birth announcement published by Obama's parents with their correct home address and everything. Of course, the wingnut will say the Honolulu newspaper is in on this and has gone back and "fixed" the microfiche or something. I just wonder at what point will the true wingnut give up on this one?

Sadly, I know better than to get into this argument with anyone. Even if you manage to go down that long road toward convincing the troll of the facts, they'll just jump to the next. Well, yeah, ok, maybe his birth certificate is legitimate, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a Muslim and he and Ayers want to blow up the White House and blah blah blah kill me now. No. I limit myself to wingnut observation only. Interaction isn't worth it.

Posted by Observer at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2008

Benefits and Drawbacks

This semester has been so busy at the office that I made an executive decision early on when I got a rash of people missing a particular exam for various reasons in my big survey class. I just decided since I didn't have time to schedule so many make-ups (many people claim they can't make my office hours, but I'm skeptical of that when I offer three per day all week at various times of day), I would just push them all back to the end of the semester during study days when NO ONE can claim that they have a class conflict.

So it has been a very peaceful semester as far as that goes, a big thorn in my side removed. Of course, now I have to write all of these makeup exams. Turns out that for every single exam I've given this semester in every class except the first exam, I've had someone who needs a makeup, usually (but not always) for what I consider to be good reasons. So this weekend, I've had to write 18 different exams. Some of them are versions of exams I'm giving this week, but the rest I wrote and keyed are makeups.

Actually, though, I didn't mind so much. It was nice just piling all the effort into one week, and I plan to do it this way from now on. We'll see if everyone shows up to the makeups like they are supposed to...

Posted by Observer at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2008

How Obama Got Elected

Nate Silver at has been doing a very unappreciated and unrecognized job of debunking a popular wingnut video, and it just fits right in with the kind of thoughtful, intellectually honest stuff he's been doing throughout the election cycle (his accuracy in predicting the election is proof of that).

What this wingnut talk radio guy has done is essentially ask a bunch of Obama voters if they are familiar with mostly Fox News talking points. When they say they aren't or they get a question wrong, he puts them on the "How Obama got elected" video so that he can make it appear as though Obama got elected because Obama voters are stupid.

I won't argue with one point: the American people *are* stupid, but they're stupid on both sides. Of *course* if you ask a bunch of McCain voters about William Ayers, they'll give you chapter and verse while Obama voters will wonder why it is a big deal and not really know or care about who Obama met with 20 years ago. Likewise, if you ask Obama voters where Palin got her clothes or how much she spent, Obama voters will know the whole story, and McCain voters will have likely ignored it and won't know details. It's not a function of how much information you have, but instead it is a function of where you get your information from and what you consider "significant".

I guess one good thing that might come out of all this: wingnuts might think that they really are on the right track and can just keep doing the same thing and ultimately win elections if only they can "enlighten" enough people. You keep doing that, wingnuts, and let us know how it turns out.

Posted by Observer at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2008


Survivor was pretty good this season for the first half, then the producers put one too many twists in and really screwed over the better, more likable tribe by separating them and allowing a couple to get picked off when they were suddenly in a minority. Now we have to watch the losers get all egotistical and cocky like they're a better and more deserving bunch while most of who I consider to be the good guys (or at least the more entertaining guys if not "good") are sent packing one by one.

The only positive aspect of it is that I know once the numbers get whittled down enough, the bad guys will have to start eating their own, but that doesn't help much because barring a miracle, one of them is almost certainly going to win. There are plenty of seasons where a really cool person emerges as a winner, such as Tom Westman and Yul in seasons past, people who play a good game and keep the screwing over of their fellow human beings to an absolute minimum. I wish it would happen a little more often, though.

Posted by Observer at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2008

Nelson Laugh

It's a small thing, but genius. Obama has held five press conferences now, and he has taken questions from CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the NY Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Associated Press, etc. Just not Fox.

What's great about this is not that he's being petty. It's that he is just drawing attention to Fox. He's showing that the media can do its job just fine without a Fox reporter getting a question in. He's also continuing what he's done from the start of his campaign, pretty much, which is to say, "Why should I do anything for Fox? They only exist to tear me down."

I'm sure he will eventually take a question from Fox in a month or two, and by then, everyone will be paying attention to what kind of question it is. If it is a partisan question, Obama looks justified. If it isn't a partisan question, everyone will laugh at Fox for being cowards. The less often Fox gets to ask questions, the more people will pay attention to the merit of the questions. That's exactly what needs to happen to those jackals.

Posted by Observer at 07:32 AM | Comments (1)

December 02, 2008


Michael Moore has a good point here:

You could buy ALL the common shares of stock in General Motors for less than $3 billion. Why should we give GM $18 billion or $25 billion or anything? Take the money and buy the company! You're going to demand collateral anyway if you give them the "loan," and because we know they will default on that loan, you're going to own the company in the end as it is. So why wait? Just buy them out now.

Posted by Observer at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2008

Cabinet Building

I watched the press conference today as well as Obama's introduction of his "national security" team. Wow, the difference between Obama and Bush in dealing with such an event just boggles the mind. After eight years of "I'm the commander guy," we've got a president-elect who speaks in a measured, intelligent tone and looks to be able to handle just about any question. I don't doubt McCain would have been similarly impressive. Hell, just about anyone would be in comparison to the Chimperor in Chief.

I can understand why people are uneasy about Hillary Clinton being Secretary of State, but I'm not. I thought Bill Clinton's foreign policy was great. It is clear that his top priority upon leaving office was Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan, and is isn't his fault that the Bush people came in and basically declared "opposite of Clinton" day every day. I'm sure Hillary will use Bill's experience to her advantage, and we also need to remember that we've been looking at Hillary for the last 16 years through the lens of the deeply twisted traditional media in the US.

Around the world, Hillary is well-respected and admired, and I think she'll do a great job. Plus as a bonus, she pretty much agrees with most of Obama's policies and will surely be a good trooper. I still don't think she could ever be elected president, but a solid eight year term (or six year term) as Secretary of State is probably the best she could do to build up her credibility and make people forget the goddamned blowjob her husband got, or least stop obsessing over it.

Posted by Observer at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)