Archive for January, 2005

Houston is all right; I-45 is all blight

January 31, 2005

Kevin Whited is right that Joel Achenbach is wrong.

I wish, though, that visitors to Houston would have a better introduction to the city than I-45 between downtown and Bush Intercontinental Airport. I have never seen an uglier stretch of road, and it reinforces all of the inaccurate stereotypes.

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On gathering intelligence

January 30, 2005

During [the Teheran conference of 1943], Roosevelt had a private talk with Stalin and Molotov for the purposes of putting them in possession of certain essential facts concerning American politics. It was a cause of wonderment to the President that the Russian leaders appeared to be so inadequately informed as to conditions in the United States or the character of public opinion. They had their full quota of diplomatic representatives and the members of numerous wartime missions to furnish intelligence—in addition to which there was, presumably, the entire membership of the American Communist party. It could only be assumed that, as was so often the case with the most extensive intelligence systems, Moscow believed and trusted those agents who reported what Moscow most wanted to hear—whereas those who sent in objective and sometimes discouraging reports which approximated the truth were suspected of having been contaminated by their capitalistic environment and were transferred to less attractive posts, such as Siberia.

— Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (Harper & Bros., 1948), pg. 796.

Today’s iTunes purchases

January 30, 2005

“Millennium” by Robbie Williams

“New York Groove” by Ace Frehley

Saturday evening at Autry Court

January 29, 2005

After work tonight, I headed down to Rice to catch one of the last games that San Jose State, my dad’s alma mater, will play in Houston. (Rice and San Jose State will no longer be in the same athletic conference after this year.) The Spartan women’s basketball team made it worthwhile, snapping the Owls’ 16-game home winning streak with a 63-52 upset win.

Unlike many Houston sports fans, I like Autry Court. For me, Autry is as good a place to watch a game as Toyota Center—from any seat, you are close to the court and have a clear view, and the place has an old-timey, “Hoosiers” feel to it.

The game was an enjoyable match-up of two teams with very different strengths.

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The patronizing of the “blogosphere”

January 27, 2005

One thing I never see mentioned in these [“mainstream media”]-vs-blogs stories is how completely positive, ecstatic, and fawning the old media coverage of blogs is. The bloggers’ own claims that they are transforming the media, empowering the individual, making the old fogies at the newspapers and TV stations quake in their boots, etc., are always taken at face value when newspapers or TV news shows do a blog story (and that kind of perfunctory reporting could itself be seen as a form of condescension if bloggers had a lick of sense). […] I’ll know the blogs are making a difference when The New York Times does a blog story about how the blogs are all a bunch of parasites on the old media.

Tim Cavanaugh

What is reality?

January 26, 2005

From a professor I know:

This morning I gave a guest lecture about modeling. My slide about the modeling process starts with an amorphous cloud labeled “Reality”. Naturally some wise-acre asked “What is reality?”. I told him it’s that which doesn’t change to suit our beliefs.

Bending it?

January 26, 2005

I saw a young Muslim woman today wearing a head scarf and a David Beckham England jersey.

On the spot

January 25, 2005

ESPN’s “The 10 Spot” actually made me laugh today:

9. As a result of the Patriots’ victory over the Steelers in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, Heinz will send 1,200 bottles of ketchup to Gillette employees in Boston as part of a wager between the teams’ stadium naming-rights partners. Even so, some despondent Steelers fans are hoping Gillette will still come through with the razor blades.

Americans and battle casualties

January 25, 2005

[T]he Germans drew the first American blood in the Battle of the Atlantic […] a U-boat torpedo hit the U.S. destroyer Kearny and eleven of her crew were killed. […]

Even this “incident” was taken pretty much as a matter of course by the American people who always have considered the men in their regular armed forces—Navy, Army and, most of all, Marine Corps—as rugged mercenaries who signed up voluntarily, as do policemen and firemen, for hazardous service; it was, of course, tough luck when any of them were killed in the line of duty in a Central American revolution, or on an accidentally sunk submarine or on a deliberately sunk gunboat, like the Panay, but it was still all in the day’s work. There was little or no self-identification of the normal American civilian with the professional American soldier or sailor. In the case of the drafted men, however, the attitude was entirely different. They were “our boys” who must be kept out of harm’s way at all costs. Since there were no drafted men in the Navy at that time, there was no great popular indignation against Hitler for the attacks on the destroyers; but what is most important is that neither was there any serious popular indignation against Roosevelt for his responsibility in thus exposing our ships.

— Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (Harper & Bros., 1948), pgs. 380-381.

The ’70s frighten me

January 20, 2005

Could someone do me a big favor?

1. Find a copy of the song “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day (it’s available on iTunes).

2. Listen to it closely.

3. Then explain to me how Americans in 1977 liked it enough to make it a #1 song.

That is one creepy, weird song.

I blame Jimmy Carter.