Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here It Comes

The view from somewhere on the mountain to the lodge at Bogus. No stopping it now, I guess. One of these days I'll embrace it--though if this picture doesn't get me excited, I don't know what will.

Colbert on Lieberman

Joe Lieberman Is a True Independent
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Banh Mi

An embarrassment of riches, suddenly. We've got 2 places in Boise serving Vietnamese deli-style sandwiches. Pho Nouveau downtown, and now a place that's apparently called Baguette Deli Vietnamese Sandwiches.

Cathy just brought me the beef sandwich above, and it's delicious. Great baguette with a really nice slightly tacky crust, strips of pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, and chile, cilantro on the stem, and grilled beef. Absent is the tons of mayo-y gunk standard at many of these places, which is okay, and the pate, which they were out of but I'm dying to try.

I've always complained at the lack of Vietnamese food here. No more!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Co-Opted Out?

Andrew Sullivan's got an interesting take on the opt-out public option about to make a splash in the Senate.

The genius of the opt-out is that it coopts the states' rights argument (just as ending the prohibition on marijuana does); it has the potential to make "liberalism' popular again; it has easily demonized opponents - the health insurance industry; and it forces Republicans not to rail against socialism in the abstract but to oppose actual benefits for the working poor in reality.

It's not my favorite plan, but I think he's right. On top of that, I have a hard time imagining that businesses or corporations would balk at setting up a new shop in a state that's opted out of the public option, when they could set up in a state that has it, relieving them of the sole burden of providing health insurance. What politician will want to be responsible for that?

This opt-out thing is looking smarter and smarter. So far, anyway.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Know Better Learn Faster

I feel like I've been a bit light on the music side of this blog for a while, so I vow to make a better effort at it. That's why I started this thing in the first place, so.

Thao Nguyen's new record is a great place to start. I sort of stumbled onto her first one by accident, and it was indeed a grower, the jittery folky rhythms, her strained and odd voice, the childishly insightful lyrics all brought me back for repeated listens and, in the end, big payoffs.

Know Better Learn Faster, though I wouldn't have said it on first listen, might even be better. A few days ago I'd have said it was good, but it didn't have any immediate killers like "Beat" or "Bag of Hammers," both great singles off the first record (We Brave Bee Stings and All).

But then I listened some more, and it's quite possible that the title track "Know Better Learn Faster" is her best song ever. The lyrics are urgent and meaningful if sparse, the repeated calls to do what the title says, for them to be "better than me" and me to do "better than you" seem to speak to the experience of advancing generations in America in a way that many of us fail to consider.

There are tons of gems to be mined from these songs, from the opening oddness of "Clap" and jangle of "Cool Yourself" to the grrr of "Fixed It!" and the wistfulness of ""The Give." And the more you listen, the better it gets. Her band, the Get Down Stay Down, are solid here, too, bringing more of the energy and force of the live show to this record.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Public Option

I am not MoveOn's biggest fan. But this is a pretty good ad. We NEED the public option for health care reform to mean anything. This says why.

Monday, October 19, 2009

NY Times Cuts Newsroom Jobs

The latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the death of the newspaper.

The New York Times plans to eliminate 100 newsroom jobs — about 8 percent of the total — by year’s end, offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily, the paper announced on Monday.
It just gets worse and worse. I admit, I haven't subscribed to a print newspaper in many years. (I live in Boise, so the quality of the Idaho Statesman does give me an excuse, albeit a lame one. But that doesn't change the problem that, as physical papers continue to decline, what happens to the type of journalism they've long been home to?

The model is changing. We don't know yet what it'll change into, but let's hope Huffington Post and Drudge Report are not it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Andrew Bird + St. Vincent

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This kind of thing is what's so cool about the ease of sharing media via the Interwebs. Andrew Bird and St. Vincent are touring together, and here we get a half hour of the two of them playing to a small group of people, in a small room, in France.


Wanna lose your mind? Count the missed opportunities for the US in this video.

And with Davies out due to injuries from a car accident and Onyewu being hauled off the pitch on a stretcher during this match, the team's immediate prospects are not exactly golden. But we've got time.

And for now, kudos to them for tenacity and for taking the title with a last-minutes draw with Costa Rica. Next up: 11/18 v. Denmark

Flying Lotus + Burial

There's no video in this You Tube video clip, but there's something better. This is a collaborative track from Flying Lotus and Burial, two of my favorite downbeat electro geniuses. It's dark, it's full of clacking beats and swirling sounds, and it showcases the strengths of both these dudes pretty well.

Apparently there are no plans for this to see the light of day any way besides this, so enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

McChrystal and Afghanistan

Dexter Filkins' article, in NY Times Magazine, is a thorough and engaging piece on where we stand in the war in Afghanistan and where, under General McChrystal, we need to go.

I don't know as much as I should about this conflict, but this article does a good job of educating about the status of our effort, the enormity of the challenge ahead, and the failings of our involvement there to date.

The main point here is that the US is at a crucial junction in this war, and the importance of the decision being weighed with due diligence by Obama and his advisers--whether to send in about 40,000 more troops and step up the effort, or to scale back our troops there and focus more on training Afghans to take on the Taliban themselves--can't be overstated.

If we consider the fate of the Afghan people, both those who have crossed over to help us and those who have not, scaling back doesn't seem possible, but for other reasons it's a very attractive option.

Read this piece. This war deserves more of the public's attention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pavement ist Rad

I'm watching Slow Century tonight. It's only up for a few more days, I think, so check it out. Good prep for next year's tour. Anyone wanna rent a motorhome and go full on Pavementhead for a few months?

Just Like Heaven

Got this from Paste. Awesome of the day, indeed.

Finn Riggins

They held their CD Release In-store at the Record Exchange last week, and the new tunes they trotted out for this show were pretty great. As is the new record, Vs. Wilderness, which you should buy.

Check out this vid from the in-store.

Green Chile

Green Chile, on State St., has been a number of things in the past few years, most notably a pretty decent taco joint whose name escapes me at the moment.

But now it's a New Mexico-style taco joint, and it's a pretty dang good one. Tex Mex is more my specialty than the variety that comes from New Mexico, but I'm a fan of anything with chiles, and these folks, though they're a bit dainty with the heat, know what they're doing.

After an arduous trip to the Laundry-Mutt on Saturday, Cathy and I stopped in. I had a beef torta that was good though unlike any other torta I've had--chunks of beef stewed and served on ciabatta in gravy with mayo, lettuce, jalapenos, and tomato. Served with fries. Tasty and cheap, if a bit weird.

Cathy got a bowl of green chile, which was really good. And we shared a bowl of posole, also really delicious, more the clear greenish broth (which I prefer) than the oily red.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Best Run Ever

Sunday morning felt a bit too chilly for a mountain bike ride, so I decided on a run. And considering that lately the dogs aren't too interested in keeping up with me on trail runs, I went solo. And boy am I glad I did.

I took off from the Five Mile Gulch trailhead, ran up 5-Mile, across the Watchman's Trail, down 3 Bears to Rocky Canyon Road, and back up to the trailhead.

The legs felt great, the pace stayed up, and the trail was in perfect condition. I had it all to myself, just about, on this gorgeous fall day. Great trail, amazing run.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy Friday

Yo Barack, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Wangari Maathai was one of the best Nobel Peace Prize winners of all time.


Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

We all woke to this absolutely surprising, ultimately inspiring news this morning. Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Diplomacy. The reactions are understandably loud and varied, with many calling on him to refuse it, and many calling that a terrible idea.

Predictably, perhaps, I fall into the latter camp. It seems to me that refusing this award would be not only an insult to a venerable international institution, but would also miss the point.

He should accept the award as the American President, on behalf of the American People, for the change that we all have promised to pursue and will eventually bring about. The award is symbolic (and yes political), and so should his acceptance be.

In other words, work it. Take full advantage of the attention and added prestige it brings to further his agenda of international diplomacy.

I happen to think that the change Obama's brought about in the national psyche and the international dialog warrant this award. Here's the full citation:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the United States is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

This is a wonderful thing. Congrats, President Obama.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Read This Op-Ed

Kristof nails it today on Congress' refusal to provide health care reform. Read this piece. It's very important.

Health care has often been debated as a technical or economic issue. That has been a mistake, I believe. At root, universal health care is not an economic or technical question but a moral one.

We accept that life is unfair, that some people will live in cramped apartments and others in sprawling mansions. But our existing insurance system is not simply inequitable but also lethal: a very recent, peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Public Health finds that nearly 45,000 uninsured people die annually as a consequence of not having insurance. That’s one needless death every 12 minutes.

When nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, we began wars and were willing to devote more than $1 trillion in additional expenses. Yet about the same number of Americans die from our failed insurance system every three weeks.

Endless Summer

I'm sorry, I can't help myself. Rode to work in the frosty dark this morning. I'm just not ready.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dead Hearts

Dead Man's Bones is the musical project of Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields. This is a video for their song Dead Hearts, a surprisingly affecting piece about a wishbone pulling a giant machine through a dreamlike landscape. It really is beautiful.

From PFork TV.

Because They Are Lily-Livered

Monday, October 05, 2009

Die Quickly

Here's what all the echo-chamber fuss is about.

Politics of Spite

Krugman has it right in today's column.

Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

Where's all the talk of patriotism? America first? Or is that only when there's a white Republican in the White House?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Happy Friday

Wilford Brimley kicks it for the diabeetus. Awesome.

(Thanks to AS)

Sometimes, Brooks

Once in a while David Brooks finds the exact right words. I'm in complete agreement with him in today's NY Times column. His lesson goes:

So what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

Radio blowhards like Limbaugh &c make lots of noise, and get lots of attention. Teabaggers and Town Hallers do likewise, outrageously. But the evidence doesn't bear out their supposed influence. Really, they're loud and obnoxious so they make good TV, but they are definitely the minority. A small, crazy minority.

But still, the echo chamber is a scary thing, and it makes the frail nervous (see: Baucus, Conrad, etc). It's just a shame these people don't understand that it's not the will of the people being shouted at them, it's just the will of the noisy few.