Damn, that man can woo a crowd

We just got done watch­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion: Night of the Elder States­men. Al Gore spoke, and both Tiffany and I won­dered why he didn’t pull this speak­ing style out when he was cam­paign­ing for Pres­i­dent. So much went wrong with his cam­paign, but so much seems to have gone right for him since then. He was look­ing elder-states­man­ly, was glib, unforced, fun­ny, and rous­ing.

Jim­my Carter also did his best, though he real­ly doesn’t have the tim­ing or the chutz­pah that Gore seems to have found in the last four years. He spoke, as he does these days, about a com­pas­sion­ate world screwed up by George Bush… then we fast-for­ward­ed the TiVo.

But last among the elder states­men was Bill Clin­ton. And again, we only wish he could run against George W. Bush, because he would clean up. He was artic­u­late, homey, inci­sive and encom­pass­ing. He blast­ed George Bush and the Repub­li­can Con­gress, and hit on all the things I (we) hate about the cur­rent Admin­is­tra­tion. But just by being him­self, intel­li­gent, calm, appeal­ing to our bet­ter side, he remind­ed us both of how much we hate George W. Bush him­self.

Tiffany had to go to bed she was so worked up about the Right. I think I might have actu­al­ly seen flames in her eyes.

I hope John Edwards is giv­ing his run­ning mate some tips on pub­lic speak­ing.

Press pause on the pretty redesign

I had hoped to re-design this site soon, but a cou­ple of things are con­spir­ing to pre­vent me. Work, it turns out, actu­al­ly requires me to work. Home also requires me to work. Plus, Mov­able Type, the com­pa­ny that makes this soft­ware I’m using, just announced that ver­sion 3.1 will be avail­able by the end of Sum­mer. So, I don’t expect to work on the design of the site until then. Of course, I’ll keep blog­ging.

Next (next) iPod?

I start­ed writing/thinking about this post before Apple released their lat­est iPod (I believe they refer to it as iPod with Click Wheel, oth­er peo­ple call it the 4G iPod). Now that they are out, I have to admit, I am under­whelmed. But I see room for hope.

I was look­ing for­ward to an iPod with a wire­less con­nec­tion. An iPod with which I could stream music to an Air­port Express con­nect­ed to the stereo in the liv­ing room. Or even cool­er, an iPod that would con­nect to the iTunes Library on my Mac in the base­ment, and con­trol play­back from there, even if play­back was hap­pen­ing on the stereo in the liv­ing room. The stereo with the real­ly nice Mirage Bipo­lar speak­ers.

But the iPods that were released had none of that. They have a Click Wheel and some neat-o soft­ware perks. Whoop dee.

But there’s hope.

Toshi­ba, in a now infa­mous inci­dent, said that Apple had ordered a huge batch of their new 60 GB mini hard dri­ves (the 20 Gb and 40 GB mod­els are being used in the new iPods) for deliv­ery this sum­mer. Apple offers no com­ment.

Anoth­er com­pa­ny, that pro­vides the wire­less chipsets for Apple, announces a new, low-pow­er ver­sion of their 802.11b wire­less chips. The pow­er con­sump­tion is low enough to be fea­si­ble for an iPod.

The rumor mill ran ram­pant with spec­u­la­tion about a major iPod announce­ment in late August, only to fiz­zle with some lame notice about, “Oh, that’s going to be about the iPod mini,” when the new iPods were released last week.

The prices of the two new iPods are the same as the low­est two prices for the pre­vi­ous trio of iPods, leav­ing room at the top for a prici­er mod­el.

Maybe a prici­er mod­el with added fea­tures, like a larg­er hard dri­ve, and wire­less capa­bil­i­ties? To be announced some time in late August, once pro­duc­tion ramps up with the brand new Toshi­ba dri­ves?

You heard it spec­u­lat­ed here first, boyo.

Petland

A cou­ple of years ago in Iowa City, a new pet store opened in a part of town near our house. It was called Pet­land, and I was inter­est­ed. The only decent pet store around was a Pet­Co all the way up in Cedar Rapids. I took a look online, and dis­cov­ered a whole new world of ani­mal wel­fare issues. It appears that there are a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als ded­i­cat­ed to boy­cotting Pet­land. They allege that Pet­land buys their pup­pies from pup­py mills.

See the end of this post for links to infor­ma­tion about pup­py mills.

Pet­land argues, in var­i­ous places, that they do no such thing. Instead, they will tell you that they get their pup­pies from “local breed­ers” or “bro­kers.” The Pet­land boy­cotters argue that when pressed, Pet­land own­ers rarely pro­duce breed­er names, and those that are giv­en out turn out to be “vol­ume breed­ers” with sev­er­al hun­dred dogs. Pet­land nev­er sug­gests that they don’t buy from bro­kers, just that these sources aren’t “pup­py mills.”

I vol­un­teered at the ASPCA ani­mal shel­ter in NYC when I lived there. I worked in adop­tions, and it was one of the most dif­fi­cult things I have done. Before you start vol­un­teer­ing, you are required to attend an ani­mal euthana­sia pro­ce­dure. I’d always been an ani­mal lover, but my time at the ASPCA cement­ed in me an anger at peo­ple who would abuse or neglect an ani­mal. Still today it turns my stom­ach and makes me see red.

It does not mat­ter to me if Petland’s sup­pli­ers are pup­py mills in the strictest def­i­n­i­tion. I would nev­er buy a dog from a pet store because they treat their ani­mals like com­modi­ties. Not healthy enough, throw it back. Didn’t sur­vive being trucked from Mis­souri, well too bad. At least it was cheap. Oh, and they offer to let you return the dog if you’re not sat­is­fied. Like a vac­u­um clean­er. That bla­tant dis­re­gard for life, that is abuse, in my book.

I refuse to even set foot in the store.

What should you do? Edu­cate your­self with the links below. Go to Pet­land and take a good look at the ani­mals, the con­di­tions they are kept in, ask some ques­tions about where they came from, and where those peo­ple got them.

And if you just want to play with the dog­gies, remem­ber that the shel­ter lets you do that, too.

Exten­sive link­ing is expect­ed with this kind of issue, so here we go.  These links were updat­ed on March 31, 2008.  Pet­land Rockford’s site had dis­ap­peared, and Petland’s Offi­cial site had changed.  Some oth­er links were updat­ed, too.

The best links: See: Inside a Pup­py Mill Video and: How to buy a dog and: 5 Easy Steps to Avoid Pup­py Mills

Petland’s side of the sto­ry See: Petland’s Pet Wel­fare Ques­tions and: Pet­land Rock­ford used to have an “Ani­mal Extrem­ists” page (now via Way­back) but now they have a san­i­tized Pet­land Brand web site.

Anti-Pet­land opin­ions See: The Voice For Dogs — Pet­land Cam­paign and: The Voice For Dogs — Sto­ry of Tiva and: The Voice For Dogs — For­mer Pet­land Employ­ee and: IDA’s Boy­cott Pet­land Site and: Recent news arti­cles on Pet­land and Pup­py Mills

Gen­er­al Pup­py Mill Infor­ma­tion See: Facts on pup­py Mills, from HSUS and: Stop Pup­py Mills, by HSUS and: What is a Pup­py Mill and: Pris­on­ers of Greed

Why Bush will lose

I have a new index by which to mea­sure Bush’s chances of win­ning in the Fall. Bumper stick­ers. Call it the Index of Bumper Cov­er­age. I live in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka. And yet, I see more bumper stick­ers declar­ing that Bush must be beat­en than I see Bush sup­port­ers. Hm. Unless,of course, you include all the Amer­i­can flags around town. On cars, bumpers, poles, trucks, win­dows, you name it. Dogs, even. Yes, you can be a Patri­ot and still dis­like the Pres­i­dent, but that don’t usu­al­ly hap­pen ’round here.

Flipping a toothpaste tube

Go forth and pro­cure your­self a tooth­paste tube. Full is bet­ter. Hold it in one hand, name side up, cap point­ing away from you. Flip it end over end so it makes one rev­o­lu­tion, and catch it. The tube will have rotat­ed, so that the name side is down. This works nine out of ten times. If I try real­ly hard, I can get it to flip with­out rotat­ing, but the nat­ur­al ten­den­cy is to rotate.

I don’t under­stand it. Any­one?

How to keep a girl

It is sim­ple. Keep your bath­room clean. And when I say clean, I don’t mean “clean enough to find the toi­let.” I mean sur­pris­ing­ly clean. Maybe even shock­ing­ly clean. “It actu­al­ly took me more than half-an-hour” clean. If you do this, your girl will stay. And she’ll put up with a lot of oth­er stuff you inad­ver­tent­ly do to dri­ve her away.

Plus, noth­ing says “man­ly” like chlo­rine smell on your fin­gers.

Bush-Powell 04? Run screaming into the woods!

In the car this morn­ing, Tiffany and I were dis­cussing the sug­ges­tions that Cheney may be bow­ing out of this elec­tion. The specter of anoth­er, more mod­er­ate, vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date scared us sil­ly. Bush-Pow­ell 04? Bush-McCain 04? A tick­et like that would crush Ker­ry-Edwards 04.

Some­one I read or heard yes­ter­day (I know, car­di­nal sin of blog­ging, not remm­ber and link­ing your ref­er­ences, sor­ry) was point­ing out that George W. Bush is a very loy­al man. It is not in his DNA, this per­son said, to push Cheney off the tick­et. But then he added that it is also not in his DNA to lose. If it came down to los­ing the elec­tion or dump­ing Cheney, I think he’d take the lat­ter option. Though it will, of course, be couched as Cheney’s doc­tor sug­gest­ing that he might not be healthy enough to run again.

Because we don’t want to apol­o­gize to our con­stituents for select­ing an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive, cor­rupt, pow­er-mad, (pot­ty-mouthed), bel­liger­ent career oli­garch as our Vice-Pres­i­dent, do we? That would look un-Pres­i­den­tial.

Who then, to replace him? Hell, he could pick Howard Dean as his run­ning mate, and Bush’s ultra-right con­ser­v­a­tive base would still vote for him (who else is going to give them chest-beat­ing and tax breaks?). And he’d get a lot of mod­er­ates and fence-sit­ters to vote for him.

If Ker­ry-McCain 04 was a dream tick­et, how much more­so Bush-McCain 04? Though reporters were quick to point out last week that while McCain did turn Ker­ry down recent­ly, he turned Bush down back in 2000 (and we were left with Cheney…)

I’m so depressed.

Mystic River

Yes­ter­day, after Tiffany got home from her trip to Iowa City, we went out and rent­ed Mys­tic Riv­er for the evening. We put Aidan to bed, washed up, and set­tled in with some trep­i­da­tion. Since hav­ing Aidan, we haven’t felt that we were real­ly emo­tion­al­ly ready for pow­er­ful dra­mas, how­ev­er good they might be. We’ve been avoid­ing House of Sand and Fog, for exam­ple. Mys­tic Riv­er was anoth­er one of those.

I’m hap­py to report that we can han­dle it. The movie was very good, with fine act­ing and excel­lent direct­ing, but I got­ta say, it wasn’t as wrench­ing as I had been led to believe. Oh, it was plen­ty dra­mat­ic, no doubt. And the pay­off real­ly came in the last few scenes of the movie. The scene where Jim­my and Sean meet on the street and Sean tells Jim­my that they’ve caught his daughter’s killer starts a roller coast­er of fan­tas­tic scenes… that one ends with Sean tak­ing a long await­ed phone call that trans­forms him and seals Jimmy’s free­dom, and the trans­for­ma­tion is sub­lime. And the next scene, between Jim­my and his wife (Lau­ra Lin­ney) is chill­ing­ly Mac­beth… and the­fi­nal scene at the parade, when they all see each oth­er again… I found it only a shame because Tim Rob­bins wasn’t there… and he did such an excel­lent job in this movie.

Real­ly very good. Much rec­om­mend­ed.

Best version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah?

I have three ver­sions of Leonard Cohen’s Hal­lelu­jah in my iTunes library. The first is, of course, the orig­i­nal by Leonard Cohen. The ver­sion I have is off of one of his great­est hits albums, The Essen­tial Leonard Cohen, and includes a cho­rus, his usu­al lugubri­ous deliv­ery, and a some­what sev­en­ties-ish elec­tric ban­jo sound. Now, I have to say, I think leonard Cohen is a fan­tas­tic song­writer. I love his voice, too, but some of his best songs are com­plete­ly screwed up by ridicu­lous arrange­ments. This is one of them. When I first heard this song, bril­liant as it is, I prob­a­bly skipped to the next track. I doubt I lis­tened to it all the way through even once before dis­cov­er­ing it as sung by some­one else.

The sec­ond, and prob­a­bly best known ver­sion, is by Rufus Wain­wright, and appears on the sound­track to the movie Shrek. This is a good cov­er of the song, cer­tain­ly it treats the piece like poet­ry (unlike Cohen’s carnival/church ren­di­tion), and the piano is well played. But even Wain­wright cites Jeff Buck­ley as an influ­ence on his musi­cal career.

While watch­ing an episode of With­out a Trace on CBS, they played Jeff Buckley’s haunt­ing ver­sion from his album Grace, and I didn’t rec­og­nize the song at all. I actu­al­ly had to go do a search on the Inter­net to dis­cov­er what the song was, and that I already had a copy. Do your­self a favor: go buy, down­load, or steal this song and have a lis­ten, stereo cranked up, lights down, cur­tains drawn, loved one snug­gled next to you. Buck­ley, who died in an accident/suicide in 1997, pours so much emo­tion into this song that you can’t pull your­self away. Lis­ten­ing to this, you can’t escape the unmis­tak­able pow­er of Leonard Cohen’s writ­ing. The poet just need­ed a dif­fer­ent mouth­piece.

Tiffany and I will stop what­ev­er we’re doing when this song scrolls around on the iPod. We only do that for a few songs, and while those few tend to change month to month, Jeff Buckley’s Hal­lelu­jah always makes us pause to lis­ten.

I keep look­ing for that sec­ond strike of light­ning, but have yet to find anoth­er Jeff Buck­ley song that I even like a lit­tle bit. I do want some­one to put togeth­er a disc of Leonard Cohen cov­ers, though.