Thursday, December 08, 2005

Need to buy a present for a feeble-minded three-year-old, but can't think of any ideas? These folks have the answer. Highlights include the "Twisty Thing, That is Red," and the "Freedom Dinger" (with its accompanying "wood stick that can be used as a remote control").

Who's stupider: Ann Coulter or her UConn audience? CNN wants to know.

John Tierney, strangely enough, has a good idea:

Instead of just financing NASA's plans for Mars, Congress and the White House should make it compete against engineers like [Burt] Rutan. It could offer a prize, to be awarded by the National Academy of Engineering or the National Research Council, for the best plan on paper for a manned mission to Mars.
I don't think we should decrease NASA's funding, and I certainly don't think we should force it into any sort of "earn-your-dinner" competition for appropriations; on the contrary, I think it's a shame we don't spend more money on NASA. But without getting into that debate, surely it wouldn't be too hard to shift around a couple of non-NASA budget line-items and come up with $10 or $20 million (which, for reference, is about one-eighth of the cost of a new F/A-22) to give some private-industry types the incentive to get involved in the space program. The X-Prize proved that you didn't need to spend a gazillion dollars to get people excited; the winning team (led by the above-mentioned Rutan) spent about $25 million to win the $10 million award. So let's put some money out there, give people some time, and see what happens. It can't hurt.

Kooky Christians - determined to be unhappy until either A) theirs is officially declared the best and only religion in the world, or B) the rapture - are pissed off that the White House [holiday] card says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."
And then later:
At the Catholic League, Donohue had just announced a boycott of the Lands' End catalogue when he received his White House holiday card. True, he said, the Bushes included a verse from Psalm 28, but Psalms are in the Old Testament and do not mention Jesus' birth.
Do these people hear themselves speak?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sen. Bob Menendez? I have no particular objection to Menendez (other than that awful picture), but 2006 is going to be a heck of a challenge.

Mark Warner (the article conveniently features a creepy picture of him, in case you don't know his face) raises $2.5 million with a single meal. To put that in terms you little people can understand, that's exactly $2,500,007.56 more than I raised during my gala dinner at Subway last night. Mark Warner 1, Mike 0.

Handicapping the World Baseball Classic. Because why the devil not?

Round 1
Pool A: Ichiro, Matsui, and the entire Japanese Major League, playing six home games in a row? Japan's coming out on top, no question. The second spot will go to Korea in a squeaker over Chinese Taipei. Sorry, China.
Pool B: U.S. and Canada, barring something surprising from Mexico. The sheer starpower of the American team makes it easy to worry about a basketball-style Dream Team meltdown, but Buck Rodriguez will whip them into shape, no problem. U-S-A, U-S-A!
Pool C: Puerto Rico comes out of this bracket smelling like a rose (the savvy reader will note that the home team has yet to lose), with the second spot hotly contested by Cuba and Panama. Panama will win it, but Cuba will put up a fight. (And those poor bastards on the Netherlands team are going to be playing, essentially, "Who gets to carry Andruw Jones's bat during practice?")
Pool D: Finally, some excitement: Venezuela v. Dominican Republic (no home team this time). That'll be a great game, but there's no real pressure: they're both advancing to Round 2. Speaking of which....

Round 2
Pool AB: Canada and Korea are great countries, I'm sure, and they are each notable for producing literally tens of thousands of baseball players more talented than yours truly, but there's no reason to expect that they'll be advancing beyond Round 2. Nice talkin' to you; onward and upward.
Pool CD: The Latin explosion! Puerto Rico, Panama, Venezuela, and the Dominicans, all in the same pool. Sweet Jesus, that's a lot of talent for one body of chlorinated water. Expect some early-inning shutouts and some late-inning slugfests, but when the dust settles, Venezuela and the D.R. will be moving on.

Semi AB: Japan v. United States. The Japanese team's looked pretty good up to this point. They'll have played the U.S. twice, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they've won one of those games. But no way they win the rubber match; the U.S. is just too powerful. U.S. beats Japan, 4-2.
Semi CD: Venezuela v. Dominican Republic. Venezuela's going to put up a great team, but in the end, they'll fall to the Dominican Powerhouse. The only way Venezuela can win is if the D.R.'s divas go overboard ("just Manny being Manny" doesn't fly when the entire team does it), but the coaching staff knows to expect it, and they'll be on the lookout. The Dominicans whomp the Venezuelans, 8-3.

U.S.A. v. Dominican Republic, PETCO Park. Otherwise known as "The 2006 All-Star Game." Seriously, of the 2005 All-Star Game's 18 starters, 11 have announced which country they'll play for, and 8 of those 11 will be in this game (A-Rod will make it 9 of 12, once he decides which of these two teams he'll be playing for). The U.S. team is impressive, but for big bats, there's no one in the world who can top the Dominicans: Pujols (1B), Soriano (2B), Tejada (SS), Vlad (RF), Manny (LF), and Ortiz (DH) - plus a possible A-Rod (3B) - all in the same lineup? Christ. The U.S. pitching staff is good (Buehrle, Clemens, Halladay, Sabathia, Sheets, Smoltz, Willis, Zito), but they can't all pitch at the same time. The Dominicans win the World Baseball Classic in a shootout, 11-7. You heard it here first, folks.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mark Warner, (off the record) at Saturday's Gridiron dinner:

"That's why, if I do run for president, I may ask Senator Allen to be my running mate. Think about it - what's more presidential than this: I'm a red-state governor, who failed at a couple of businesses, and I liked to party too much in college, and I recently got in a well-publicized bike accident. He's a guy named George who's done nothing more than live off his dad's legacy. Together we wouldn't just get elected president - together, we already are the president."

During a recent speech, former Somebody Tom Daschle - a man who lost a 2004 Senate race to a certifiable lunatic - expressed "some frustration with the way Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts ran his campaign for president last year."

The pot; the kettle; the name-calling... it's too much! Too much!

Weekend Update on Saturday (courtesy of The Hotline):

Tina Fey: "A new study suggests that middle-aged adults who go on periodic drinking binges may face a heightened risk of dementia later in life. The study is entitled, "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ted Sorenson and Arthur Schlesinger come out swinging:

What did we not hear from President Bush when he spoke last week at the United States Naval Academy about his strategy for victory in Iraq?

We did not hear that the war in Iraq, already one of the costliest wars in American history, is a running sore. We did not hear that it has taken more than 2,000 precious American lives and countless - because we do not count them - Iraqi civilian lives. We did not hear that the struggle has dragged on longer than our involvement in either World War I or the Spanish-American War, or that by next spring it will be even longer than the Korean War.

And we did not hear how or when the president plans to bring our forces back home - no facts, no numbers on America troop withdrawals, no dates, no reference to our dwindling coalition, no reversal of his disdain for the United Nations, whose help he still expects.
"Because we do not count them": nice.

An interesting - if surprising - column by Nick Kristof, advocating deer-hunting:

As for deer, partly because hunting is perceived as brutal and vaguely psychopathic, towns are taking out contracts on deer through discreet private companies. Greenwich, Conn., budgeted $47,000 this year to pay a company to shoot 80 deer from raised platforms over four nights - as well as $8,000 for deer birth control. Look, this is ridiculous.
He's got a point, but it's hard to get past that whole "brutal and vaguely phychopathic" thing. I wonder if there have been many academic studies on whether hunters are systematically more... well, brutal and psychopathic than their non-hunting brethren. If I was a little less lazy, I'd do some research, but I'm not, so I'll just speculate idly.

Letterman writer Tom Ruprecht uncovers several instances of political résumé-padding in the wake of Gov. Bill Richardson's (D-Oakland Athletics D-N.M.) admission that he was not, in fact, drafted by the Oakland Athletics:

Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, announces he's no longer sure he was actually the first man to walk on the moon. The admission comes after years of acrimony between Senator Reid and Neil Armstrong. "You look at photos of the moon landing and it sort of resembles how I think I would kind of look in a spacesuit," Mr. Reid says. "People tell me that all the time. I do have very vivid memories of seeing the earth from high above, but I now realize I may have been on a Ferris wheel."

Colbert the other night (in the midst of a pro-death-penalty rant):

Most disappointingly, my own Catholic church is against the death penalty. Well that's pretty hypocritical, considering they wouldnt even have a religion if it weren't for capital punishment.