Monday, December 25, 2006

Next: A Levi's commercial featuring "Big Bottom"?

A couple of LA blogs say this commercial was first aired on news radio, but now it's on TV:

An American Express commercial using "Gimme Some Money" as incidental music.

At last, the royalties will allow the Thamesmen to retire in comfort.

Meantime, here's a photo I took today near the casa. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm baaaack

For awhile, anyway. It's been a fun and interesting year, and more on that later. Now, though, just a note to let anyone who's interested know that blizzards are beautiful and quiet and really suck. It started snowing here at about 5 Wednesday morning. The forecasts were for anywhere from 3 inches to 2 feet in the metro area, depending on where the storm settled.

I took my normal route to work -- drive to a side street near the downtown Littleton light rail station, take the train downtown, walk to work. (More on the Rocky's amazing new digs later.) Snow picked up during the day and the newsroom made arrangements for workers who might be stranded to stay in a hotel. Most of my colleagues and I decided to head home, figuring that we could take the train or a bus this morning.

(You are wrong, mass transit breath!)

The Regional Transit District announced that buses would stop running at 7 p.m. and trains would operate on a limited service -- meaning fewer trips. So we peeled out a bit early. Walking empty streets in downtown Denver during rush hour should be amazing, but it was cold and snowing and I had places to go.

Fortunately, my colleague Steve Oelrich was on the train with me, and his wife Jane picked us up at the station and drove me to my car. The drifts had made digging out the windshield an adventure, but between Jane's snow shovel and both our snow brushes, it only took a couple minutes to clear the glass. And because the snow was dry and fluffy, I was able to power out and head home.

I figured that getting to work would be an adventure, but possible. After all, there's a bus stop adjacent to my apartment complex, and while it takes more time to ride the bus and transfer to the train, it's doable.

Wrong again. Today, no buses. Light rail is closed, until the afternoon, anyway. Passengers can't get to the trains from the bus stops and park-n-rides. So in about an hour, I'm going to see if I can move my car from the parking lot to the main street (Mineral Ave.). If so, I'm golden to get to work. Which is essential, because we still have a few production-related things to do for the Friday and Sunday papers.

Tomorrow is supposed to be better. I haven't measured the snow, but the official reading for Littleton is 21 inches. Drifts can be much higher, of course. In other good news, a storm like this hits Denver only about once every decade.

UPDATE: The train ride last night was surreal, too. Every time it snows, there's always a risk that the doorways to the cars will get clogged with snow or just freeze. The only way to clear them is for the drivers bang on the doors and loosen the slush. Last night, with drifts and wind and temps in the mid-20s, more and more of those doors (there are three sets per car) became paralyzed. At one point, all the passengers were moved from the rear cars to the lead car because the doors were starting to stick. Wouldn't that be fun -- stranded on a rail car! Passengers had to enter and exit from the front door, each of which connects to a ramp that's handicapped accessible, and I believe also can be opened manually if necessary. It was fun, fun, fun.

UPDATE 2: The guys who were clearing snow from our parking lot made a couple of extra scrapes near my bumper, so I was able to get out and go into work. (Good thing; it snowed another foot or more after I got home last night.) The roads were covered with snow but passable. It took about 40 minutes to take the 12-mile drive in. It stopped snowing about noon, giving the gummint time to scrape the roads a few more times. The test will be tomorrow. It's supposed to be about 12 degrees when I get up. If the buses are running (they weren't today), I may just take one to the light rail.

Meantime, here are a few photos:

From my apartment:

The geese never get too cold; see the flying V in the distance:

The deck:

This is the main road to work:

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vegas showdown

Interesting though incomplete L.A. Times story about the "merger" of the two dailies in Las Vegas, including my former employer, the Review-Journal. Incomplete, because to get the whole story, read the take of my friend Steve Sebelius, who worked at both papers and now edits the alt-weekly in town. The Greenspuns' naked (and insufficiently disclosed) self-promotion is beyond belief.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Crunchy or soggy?

My first bylined story for the Rocky: a contrary view of Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons, a book that asks how people with conservative political view can also live more "organic" lives. (The short version of my view -- they can, and they don't have to renounce the free market to do so.)

Rod's "point" is here.

My "counterpoint" is here.

I actually let Rod off with a stern warning, compared with the treatment he gets from his friend and former colleague Jonah Goldberg here. Then again, Jonah's writing for the congregation, not a more-general audience. Still, I'm with him.

If you're interested in the "movement," which Jonah calls a journalistic invention, NRO has established a blog for crunchies and their critics. All I can say is, if you're having doctrinal disputes over whether it's OK to buy gourmet coffee beans that aren't locally roasted, you're really not comfortable discussing Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Da game

It's tonight. If you don't understand the Carolina-Duke rivalry, this piece by a righteous Tar Heel alum (in National Review, again) tells it all. The comparisons of Roy Williams and Coach K are terrific. BTW, those of us in the Denver Carolina Club really can't figure out how fervently we'll pull for Team USA in the '08 Olympics, because, you know, that guy's the head coach.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

First sports post in awhile

I've been quiet, particularly about the Tar Heels because a) I'm just superstitious enough to not want to jinx them and 2) I have a fractured wrist, dammit.

Anywho, if Roy Williams is not selected national coach of the year, I'd hate to be one of the no voters. Imagine the e-mails. From my understanding, no D1 team has ever lost its entire starting five (let alone those guys and its top two bench players), and yet the defending nationl champs have been ranked 10 of the past 12 weeks and could finish second in the ACC. This, on a team that starts two freshmen and two former walk-ons, and plays a 6'-6" guy at power forward ... and is getting nearly 9 more rebounds than their opponents per game.

They turn the ball over too much, they can get smoked by teams with super-quick guards, and some games they can't hit jump shots.

Even so, Roy has been more than us life-member alums could have asked for as a coach, recruiter, teacher, and steward of the program. (And I was a skeptic early on.) Go Heels.

As for baseball, I expect the Braves to make it 15 division titles in a row. Roger McDowell will demonstrate the only coaching skill that eluded the amazing Leo Mazzone -- building confidence in a young but talented bullpen. The Mets again overspent and will underperform. No one else in the East will compete. And the Rockies will be lousy, but I'll watch them play at Coors a few times. Even when the Braves aren't in town.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I have a plate and several screws in my left wrist. The pain has been negligible, thanks to rest, ice, elevation and excellent meds. The test comes Monday, when I return to work. I'll have to type with one hand for a week. But if all's well, on the 28th I will be fitted with a removable splint and will regain limited use of my dominant hand -- with full recovery expected in five or six weeks. High marks to everyone involved in this procedure.

Speaking of high marks ... check out the weekly column by Rocky Mountain News Publisher John Temple on reaction to our decision to publish a host of offensive cartoons last Sunday, along with a pro/con about the role of the press. (Check the Islamic cartoons link here.) The encouraging news: Most readers cheered the move.

Meantime, The Washington Post gives Danish editor Flemming Rose his say. Tom Paine and Patrick Henry would be proud.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The iceman falleth ...

and breaketh his wrist. I've been too busy soaking in the Front Range to discuss the future of the blog with my bosses (and having too much fun working and writing again to make this a priority). But, long story short, Denver is wonderful.

Except ...

I slipped on ice Friday night and broke my left wrist. I'll find out Tuesday whether surgery is in my future. The fall was painful. So was everything until I was splinted. Top ratings, though, to the folks at Highlands Ranch Urgent Care and the ER at Littleton Hospital. They took great care of me, sent me home relatively comfortable and with adequate pain drugs. Tuesday I see the orthopaedist again ...

The good news? He wants me to keep my left fingers active, so I'll be writing throughout my recovery. Whatever happens, I'll spend the next couple of months becoming a right-hander.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What's in a name?

How has every network news show and most mainstream reporting and commentary labeled Bush's NSA surveillance program? Domestic spying. Except it may involve few if any calls that took place in the United States at all. How do we know? Just read James Risen. That's right, the New York Times reporter who broke the story in advance of his book State of War. Excerpting the book, lawprof Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy suggests strongly that "most of the new surveillance program was not about domestic surveillance at all; most of it was about the surveillance of entirely international calls and e-mails that just happened to be routed through U.S. networks in the course of delivery." Kerr is hardly a Bush apologist. In this follow-up post, Kerr says he still can't decide whether the program violates the law. (I'm with him, and with today's editorial in the Rocky Mountain News -- I don't work there yet -- which suggests that if the law had to be broken to keep the program going, it's time to revisit the law.)

But media reports have clearly misrepresented how many communications were intercepted within U.S. territory -- abetted, I must say, by the Times and by Risen himself, who continues to claim that the leakers were righteous whistle-blowers and that the program is an outrage. I'm willing to bet a substantial amount of money the MSM will never willingly acknowledge the distinction between intercepting phone calls within the United States and snooping on international calls that route through U.S. networks. Nor will they drop the "domestic spying" shtick.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Confused cons

Check out the back-and-forth at The Corner between (mainly) Rod Dreher and Jonah Goldberg over "crunchy conservatism," Dreher's formulation that a growing number on the right have grown dismayed with a mindless worship of market capitalism and are willing to burn the blazers, wear Birkenstocks, and shop at Whole Foods. No, seriously. This is an emerging movement! Dreher's Sunday Times essay promoting his forthcoming book launched the back-and-forth at NR. Goldberg's criticism of Dreher (which dates from 2002) is golden. His main points: Only a handful of inconsequential libertarians (or hidebound Objectivists) pretend that market economics is an all-encompassing philosophy of life; Friedman and Hayek never attempted to explain beauty or spirituality on purely economic grounds. Dreher and his crunchy mates are in fact promoting a 21st century version of Yuppie-style consumerism -- show your class consciousness: eat organic food!

This debate began more than a week ago (keep scrolling, and be sure to follow the links) in response to this essay by longtime NR editor Jeffrey Hart, lamenting the triumph of "free market utopianism" -- now there's an oxymoron, for anyone who knows anything about markets or Utopia -- and the boorishness of today's materialistic conservative political movement.

Dreher seconds Hart's complaints, but he veers into a knee-jerk embrace of localism that sensible keepers of the WFB tradition smartly reject. For one thing, extreme localism can easily lead to grassroots tyranny; it was, after all, Washington that forced local and state governments in the South to dismantle Jim Crow. (For a concise summary of Dreher's confusion, read this post.)

But I digress. What Dreher fails to completely comprehend is that Whole Foods symbolizes a triumph of free-market capitalism, not its antithesis. (More thoughts on Whole Foods here.) Thanks to America's continent-wide free-trade zone, it's possible for organic farmers to gain the distribution networks they need to sell their wares to a larger group of consumers; at the same time, expanded markets keep prices low for consumers while letting the farmers earn a living. The public trading of Whole Foods shares on major financial markets has allowed the chain to expand throughout the nation; otherwise, John Mackey could never have raised the capital to expand beyond a handful of stores in the Bay Area.

As Goldberg says, "crunchy cons" may be nothing more than 21st century Yuppies. But there are policy implications in the agrarian-tinged technocracy Dreher is flirting with, and they're hostile to the Burkean "little platoons" Dreher claims to embrace. Virginia Postrel has eloquently refuted such critiques of plenitude here and here, among other places. Dreher says he would reject government edicts to mandate his preferred way of life. Yet he continues to argue that the marketplace must be shackled, or he could never maintain his lifestyle. I look forward to the continued debate on The Corner, and I'll probably read the book, so long as I can keep my blood pressure in check.

Back in the 'sphere

The cats and I trekked across the mountains and have landed safely in the Denver Metro area. We await the furniture, hoping that the movers were not waylaid by winter storms. The weather here has been wonderful, a bit breezy but sunny and unseasonably mild (60 degrees or higher every day). SoCal did all it could to keep me. I took my final bike ride in the 'hood on Christmas Eve. It was 84 degrees with brilliant sunshine and just enough breeze to cleanse the smog and reveal the gorgeous mountain vistas. I'm glad the elements cooperated so I could enjoy that ride.