Friday, October 24, 2008

Bring on the Opie Jokes

Ron Howard says he's "feelin' pretty desperate these days." Damn.

It wasn't easy growing up a red-haired kid while Opie was still on the tube--new shows, as well as reruns. (Not to mention that annoying kid on Family Affair.)

I try not to know or care what entertainers think about politics. But, if Ron Howard is willing to put on Opie clothes to help Obama win, then I'm definitely showing a lack of initiative. I'll even dress up as Opie, and endure the taunts if that's what it takes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pickin' and Grimacin'

As a musician, and as someone with Parkinsonism in my family, I find Eddie Adcock to be an inspiration.

The three-part surgery, termed Deep Brain Stimulation, involved implantation of electrodes into the brain as well as insertion of a palm-sized battery-powered generator within the chest wall, plus lead wires to connect the two. The technologically-advanced procedure was performed in multiple stages over the month of August in Nashville, Tennessee, at Vanderbilt Medical Center, a teaching and research hospital which is a world leader in neurological studies and surgeries.

Those neurosurgeons were eager to operate on Eddie, with his life-long high level of musical accomplishment and the unique requirements related to his fine motor skills. During the brain-implantation stage of the surgery, he was kept conscious in order to be able to play his Deering GoodTime banjo and assist the team of surgeons in directing the fine-tuning of their placement of electrodes in the brain -- an operating-room 'first'.

Eddie Adcock the Bionic Banjo Player

Adcock has played with Mac Wiseman, Bill Monroe's bands, and the Country Gentlemen. (Not that I knew that before today.) Frankly, I don't think I'd heard of him before at all, but I'm going to buy something of his today.

(Note: Although Deep Brain Stimulation is mostly known as a treatment for Parkinsonism, the article quoted above refers to Adcock as a "non-Parkinsons musician.")

Powell's Endorsement and it's Blithe Dismissal

Colin Powell provides a rationale for his endorsement of Barack Obama, as succinct as any that I've heard:

Only to have his reasoning reduced to racial favoritism by right wing crackpot Rush Limbaugh, as well not-so-crackpotty wingers George Will, and Pat Buchanan. Buchanan chipped away at my grudging admiration. Powell, on the other hand, has recovered some of my respect that he tragically lost for carrying water for Bush's case for Invading Iraq.

John McCain had a well-rehearsed response, that didn't sound like "ouch" at all. Really.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Today I thought I'd take a look at, and was saddened to see that site is no longer a straight-faced parody of a computer company--one that makes PCs out of wood. The domain is now in the unironic hands of someone who might not even know the meaning of the word.

Fortunately, the original site lives on at the Internet Archive--best viewed at a screen resolution of 640 X 480 pixels!

The fun apparently ended in 2005. Since then, the domain had been repurposed for a stupid pay-per-click page (2005), and then a directory of travel agencies (2005), before finding use in the service of IGE "The Leading MMORPG Services Company"--as though there are any Luddites playing World of Warcraft .

Well, maybe there are. There are (or were) people who played DOOM "Gandhi Style"--meaning "barehanded, without harming any monsters." Perhaps there are also people in WoW who want to overturn the oppressive virtual world and wake the gamers up to real life. (Sounds like a cross between The Matrix and WALL-E.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's (Still) the Derision, Stupid

Attack McCain, not McCain supporters.

I just came across this video from Blogger Interrupted (via Boing Boing), where a cameraman interviews McCain-Palin supporters inviting them to expose their ignorance. (Not unlike similar videos made to denigrade Obama supporters.) It brought back sad memories, and a lesson I hoped Democrats would have learned four years ago: It's never hard--and never wise--to find a moron who disagrees with you, point at them and say, "Now there's a prime example." The morons don't need your help proving that they are morons, and it just makes you look like a dick.

I worked my ass off for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004, when I still lived in Maryland. During that time, I got to know many hardcore Democrats. Some of them were assholes and ignorami--but most weren't I hasten to add.

After Kerry conceded, I wrote a piece called It's the Derision, Stupid. It circulated around by e-mail, and I put it on my first attempt at a blog.

Here is most of it (some of the links have expired):

Greetings Mourners,

Are you just about done with your soul searching, blaming, and looking for the silver lining? Good.

Over the past few months, I volunteered a lot of my time to the Kerry-Edwards campaign. I spent many hours riding on buses, and knocking on doors in Pennsylvania. (And we WON Pennsylvania! )

However, if I had a dollar for every time I heard one of my fellow volunteers degrade Bush or his supporters, I could have donated up to the legal limit.

"Bush is an idiot"
"Bush supporters are stupid"
"Republicans are morons"
"Middle America is mindless"


Yes, even amongst yourselves: Stop it!

If we are to take back this country, we need to start by questioning our superiority. Yes, many of our ideas and policies are superior, but that doesn't make us superior as people.

Start by changing the way we talk about Bush supporters. Change the way we think about them. Change the way we talk TO them.

You are not superior to the citizens who supported Bush in this election. No you're not. No... you're... not. As long as you think you are, it will show. And trust me, it shows. On more than one occasion, I found myself having to apologize to a Bush supporter for the behavior of my Kerry-supporting companions.

Make no mistake: This is not a lecture on reconciliation or moderation; Bush and his ilk are the enemies of freedom, peace, justice, and democracy. The Bush agenda needs to be fought and resisted with intensity. We need to minimize the amount of damage that Bush and the Republican majority in Congress can do over the next four years.

I'm not talking about changing the substance of your politics. However, you must change your mindset about the people who elected Bush. "Shed [the] core belief that Bush voters 'are fundamentally stupid or evil.'"

"The conservatives demonize us. We're the elite, left-wing, fag-loving, anti-American traitors who want to sell American honor to the French for a glass of red wine and some brie.

"And we've demonized them. They're ignorant, gun-toting, woman-hating, crazed Christian rednecks whose ideology blinds them to their own self-interest.

One of the most important lessons I've learned from living and working with people from other cultures is this: When other people fail to behave in the way you think they should--even when they've been given plenty of information--the defect is rarely in the other people, the defect is in your understanding of their values and motivations.

That's right, smartypants, the defect is in YOU. If we fix that defect, we'll start being more persuasive--and maybe start winning elections.

Political campaigns are largely about language and effective communication. The next time I hear someone whine, "They've turned 'liberal' into a negative word," I might scream. Yes, they have turned it into a dirty word. And there's no taking it back, not in the near term. Let it go.

Everybody is now talking about how the election was about "moral values" and what that means for progressives. I want to add this to the discussion: Denigrating half of the country's voters is not moral. Furthermore, it's anti-democratic. The charges of elitism will stick to you as long as you continue to act like the self-superior elitist jerks that conservatives say you are. Attack Bush, not Bush voters.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"The Awakening" at National Harbor

"The Awakening," a popular sculpture formerly at Hains Point in Washington DC, was moved to a new location at National Harbor earlier this year.

When Josh visited me in DC in 2006 with his friend Stephen, they loved the statue so much they visited it twice.

Their second visit was with my former neighbors, Daphne and Craig, who entertained Josh and Stephen while Cyd and I had a grown-up date.

Daphne and Craig recently visited the giant in his new home, and sent these photos.