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04/02/08 06:37 - 35ºF - ID#43877

In Other News... FROM HELL

Thats right - I have a fresh news update from hell. Mariah Carey has now trumped Elvis Presley's previous record for #1 singles.

The thing is, I don't appreciate Mariah Carey for her singing voice - I appreciate the fact that at 40 years old she looks amazing and I'd pretty much do anything to her that she asked me to do. A woman like Mariah Carey makes me realize how naughty I actually am.



As a music fan I'm concerned, but as a horny single guy I say, "congratulations!"
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04/02/08 10:36 - 29ºF - ID#43874

I am not a Yankees fan... but!

But - I can appreciate and acknowledge the place in American history and culture that Yankee Stadium holds. This year, after 85 years of operation, Yankee Stadium will be closing its doors. This may not mean a whole lot to many people who would otherwise read this journal, but I know how intellectually curious you lot are. You may be surprised when a well of nostalgia gets dredged up after checking this out - ESPN really did a great job with this timeline. Click on the "timeline" link below the picture.



Many iconic moments in sports and civic matters that have ended up transcending American culture have occurred at this very place - from Babe Ruth in 1923, Lou Gehrig making his emotional announcement in 1939, countless iconic boxing matches, the place where Knut Rockne gave his "win one for the Gipper" speech at halftime, NFL championships that pre-date the league as we know it now, Roger Maris and his 61th home run, two papal visits (Paul VI and John Paul II) attended by 80,000 parishoners, a speech by Nelson Mandela after he was released from prison, to an interfaith memorial service after 9/11. Mets fans may have chosen to forget that for two years, while the crumbling Yankee Stadium underwent renovations, the Yankees played their home games at Shea Stadium!

Typically when you mention the New York Yankees to baseball fans they look like they want to stick their finger down their throat. Its hard to blame them. For many the Yanks represent everything wrong with American sports. Their home, however, should be appreciated for what it is - an American cathedral by another name.

I'm not a Yankees fan... but I'll be sad when they turn the lights out.
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03/31/08 11:54 - 46ºF - ID#43843

The World's Greatest Coffee Machine

I just mentioned this in a comment that I left Mr. Beatty, but I think it is so awesome that it deserves its own journal entry. Plus, I wanted to do my part in the effort to bloat the journal count to 23,000 with more frivolity!

A little background - this is a microroaster from San Francisco called Blue Bottle Coffee. I heard about them 2.5 months ago when I was in town after reading the food section of the SF Chronicle. They are part of a growing coffee culture that is looking for the next level of quality in coffee by selecting very carefully the beans that they buy, and roasting is done in small batches. Organic is assumed - where the hairs split is whether or not we are talking about wet or dry processed, shade grown, melange roasted etc. but freshness is paramount. If the coffee was roasted longer than 48 hours ago they generally won't serve it. They also will not grind your beans for you, since they strictly adhere to grinding before use and insist that you do too. Blends are only mixed after each coffee has been separately blended - you'd be amazed at how lazy some roasters are and the difference in quality can be drastic. This is why I will not buy Mexican Chiapas anywhere but Blue Bottle.

They make blends for some of SF's best restaurants, who do serve Blue Bottle Coffee only under the agreement that they do so using a french press or ceramic drip filter (a fancier version of what I use and 4x more expensive, but functionally identical). They do a great mail order business as well - I pay $17-$18 a pound (including shipping) and my coffee comes roasted no later than 8 hours prior to shipment. Once I find a local microroaster that I like (yet to find even one, honestly) I will be happy to recommend them.

For locals to SF - I would find it hard to believe if you haven't at least thought about checking out their new cafe! Their kiosk in Hayes Valley is small but supposedly serves lattes that only dreams are made of and they are equally anal about the espresso drinks in general, but where the really interesting stuff happens is the cafe. They are the only US owners of an incredible machine from Japan. Reading about what it took for the owner of Blue Bottle to get one of these machines makes it seem like he was getting a black belt in jujitsu or something.

Slideshow -



Corresponding article -



All those cafes who bought that Clover machine and thought they were sweet have been put to shame!
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03/26/08 10:38 - 37ºF - ID#43795

Proof

See? I was at Dyngus Day.

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I also wanted to debut the Michael McDonald limited edition iPod 4GB Nano -

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Josh
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03/19/08 11:24 - 43ºF - ID#43728

Obama's lead over Clinton evaporates

Wow - first Rasmussen and now Reuters/Zogby.



For me polls only signify trends... it is too imperfect of a science to rely on the numbers as if they are statistically accurate. Still, in this instance looking at the polls it cannot be denied that Barack Obama got smoked this past month.

Oh - and some of the more reliable elements of the media deep throats Barack Obama after the speech, just as I predicted. We all know the media has generally handled Barack Obama like an innocent child rather than a presidential candidate, but comparing him to JFK could have an unintended irony in the sense that JFK was a president whose fame largely rests on a cult of personality rather than tangible accomplishments. Nobody, not even Reagan, brought our country closer to nuclear war than JFK and his brother did during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But hey, let the comparisons fly. This article was borderline embarrassing in its gushing approval.



This is in the minority, however. I think many of you may be interested in know that most of what I've read today - and that includes several traditionally liberal editorials and news magazines like Newsweek - that while they generally thought it was a good (even great) speech the enthusiasm is tempered. Its as if they are holding their breath to see what happens, which I suppose is a rare shot of pragmatism in the media.

I've read in the LA Times today a writer highlighting a blatant contradiction in what Obama has said concerning his former pastor - he had previously stated that he never personally heard inflammatory stuff while "sitting in the pews," but during his speech he directly admits that he's heard the negative stuff in person. If Hillary were smart she'd seize on that. Honestly, if the Clintons can't find a way to seize momentum here, then she'll never find a way to seize momentum.

Maureen Dowd, a woman who is serially annoying, wrote what I consider a short but devastating piece.

She writes, "The candidate may have staunched the bleeding, but he did not heal the wounds. His naïve and willful refusal to come to terms earlier with the Rev. Wright's anti-American, anti-white and pro-Farrakhan sentiments - echoing his naïve and willful refusal to come to terms earlier with the ramifications of his friendship with sleazy fund-raiser Tony Rezko - will not be forgotten because of one unforgettable speech."

If Maureen Dowd can see it and writes about it, then I'm afraid for Obama's chance at sweeping this episode under the rug and moving on without skepticism heading his way.

I'm even more astounded by my having read groups of Democrats commenting on LA Times articles, and I swear if I'm lying I'm dying on this one... actually agree with Rush Limbaugh when he highlighted that we do not live in the 50's and 60's anymore and that Barack Obama can't credibly pretend as if we still live in those times... and neither can a 20-year confidante, even if he lived through that divisive, incredibly wrong and racially heated time.

They also both agree, apparently, that Obama is missing the distinction between the private fears in his grandmother's mind of black guys as she walks down the street and the quite public and radical anti-american, anti-white rhetoric of his former pastor. There is also an assumption of large scale ignorance concerning those not in absolute blind love of Obama regarding how black churches conduct their sermons that nobody really buys when looking at the example that has been provided.

That is a very good point - you cannot excuse suggestions that the government created AIDS to kill blacks or that we live in the US of KKKA today by saying that it was because of how he was treated yesterday, because in the end its not justifiable under any conditions. I'm not sure people are going to buy it, and Obama and the media are wondering about that exact same thing. People are still going to wonder about why he stuck with such an obvious America hater for 20 years - I can't see one element in his speech that would persuade the people that his critics are wrong about the issue of how he exercises his judgment. Personally, I think this is one of the reasons why the media isn't jumping for joy over the speech.

I haven't read any conservative punditry yet (I do have to work today...) but you can imagine how that is leaning. I found out about the Rush stuff from the article itself, although if anybody wants to get Rush's opinion on the matter in his own words (highly unlikely here) you can visit his site and read the transcripts.

I am not sure that the criticisms about his judgment or character are going to change much, and if you look at the polls Obama hasn't just flatlined but has fallen backwards.

I think all of this is immaterial to his suitability as a potential president. In the end he's going to have to defend his character while trying to sell America on his lack of experience, as well as the pursuit of tax hikes and punitive measures for businesses during a recession, spending increases and expanded government... aka classic liberalism. Still though, it continues.

In the Boston Globe today I read an article that dared to mention the seemingly superficial nature of his candidacy and that supporters hoped that this speech would add gravitas. The irony in the Globe article is that if Obama's candidacy is indeed superficial, the media can take a huge chunk of the blame for having facilitated it all this time. Based on what his own supporters say, I'm not sure. Here is an example -

"To say that the man is outlining a great opportunity in the history of our age is recognizing the truth about this moment charged with so much potential - so much possibility - that we can move mountains if we come together to embrace our diversity as the cause for our strength. To say that he is the most eloquent orator of our time is stating the obvious. I hope and I pray, from my heart of hearts, that he becomes president of this great land, and leads it to the greatness that is ours to loose."

This is nonsense, guys, and people that do not support Barack Obama are lampooning it all - even Democrats. Its simply not good enough when weighing who should be the most powerful politician on earth.

Exploring our limitless potential because of our diversity, embracing each other, and hoping for the ubiquitous but yet-to-be-defined-for-the-American-public-in-a-major-speech change isn't going to solve our deepening economic problems, bring a conclusion to the Iraq war in a way that we can all support or stabilize the middle class. This is why when he says he is a unifier I suspect that he is not - I think we all agree that we should come together and have more honest discussions about things, but the logical conclusion of that agreement IS NOT the establishment of a liberal, socialist style governmental scheme.

Its too bad - I admire his ability to move people with words. Still though, it is what he doesn't say that interests me and will interest the rest of us when the formalities are over and the real campaign begins.
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03/17/08 07:49 - 35ºF - ID#43709

Recent Artvoice Article

The Bad First - Sorry!

Today I locked myself out of the apartment and had an hour and a half to kill, so I hung out at Spot and read Artvoice cover to cover. I think this week's issue is one of the better ones they have released in recent memory. Granted, it is, as always, loaded down with the predictable - hifalutin non-starters such as the Bruce Fisher article about spending $26 billion to clean the Great Lakes, which Democrat is going to suggest this (news flash - none of them), and the coup de gras - its Bush's fault that the Great Lakes are still dirty! I could spend an hour picking the article apart and highlight the fact that Democrat politicians that have been firmly entrenched in the Rust Belt political system ignored this problem for 40 years, including Dennis Kucinich when he was mayor of Cleveland and every single Mayor of Buffalo of the 20th century.

To suggest that this is a Bush problem is laughable. So is the suggestion of economic benefit from the investment - according to Fisher, the $26B expenditure will yield $80-$100B in economic benefits. Where will much of the money come from? C'mon guys - you've heard me say it for years so say it with me - higher taxation. This time, they say it with their own words. In particular, the investment and local cleanup would create higher property values, which would in turn generate more tax revenue for the local government. Thats right - the "economic benefit" would be coming out of your pocket. Only a Democrat would spend your tax money in order to attempt to take more of your tax money. These people foolishly believe such an idea would be a boon to our local economy - in fact it would only be taking even more desperately needed money out of the pockets of working people, while simultaneously exacerbating a problem that is already devastating our region - yet higher taxes which make companies laugh when considering locating here.

This is one of the reasons why our area is fucked and will never recover. People actually believe suggestions like this are good ideas, most of all the local politicians. As usual, they don't consider the consequences because the importance of the action (in this case, environmental cleanup) trumps any devastating consequences. Add a little dash of payola and you have Buffalo politics. Stupid people coming up with stupid ideas that will ultimately have long running negative consequences, and quite literally the only group to benefit is the government. The least capable people of the bunch. Byron Brown is a fucking joke - I can't even get started on him. All I have to say is that I didn't vote for him, so a big thanks to all the people who ushered him into office.

These people talk about constituents as if they are sources of revenue. They never talk about making the area hospitable to job creation. Job creation is a far more efficient, and for that matter a far more ethical way of raising tax revenue. Their answer to the "brain drain" is to raise taxes on some of the most taxed and economically disadvantaged people in the entire nation, instead of finding ways to attract jobs to the area.

I'll have left Buffalo long before things get really ugly because I love the city and can't bare watching this slow death. Sort of like my dear grandpa - I'd prefer to remember him when he used to bring Jay and I to McDonald's as 10-year olds than remember him as that emaciated dead man on the hospital bed when I was 24. I am the sort that would love to get involved and help our area, but if I am working with these types who are so utterly misguided and wrong about literally every single ill that has befallen our city, how can honest people with truly good ideas get any support here? Our area's system is too entrenched and I see it as irreversible as our state government. Forget climate change - it is Buffalo that is in irreversible decline. For now, I'll just make sure that my block is clean and safe for residents and visitors, make sure dog owners clean up their pet's shit and occasionally hose off the sidewalk in front of the house to remove cigarette butts from the cracks in the blocks.

My message to local politicians and would-be local economists - you and your ideas are the problem, not the solution, and your insistence and persistence with these bad ideas are going to force me to leave the region. I love Buffalo but not enough to deny myself a better standard of living, better job opportunities and less government hands in my wallet. I'm not the first or the last - get your shit straight or you are going to be smaller than Syracuse or Rochester in 50 years. What happens when most of the young people are gone and all the old people die? Who are going to pay all the taxes? I love Buffalo in the same way that James Joyce loved Dublin - it will always be a part of me but I'll be writing about it from afar rather than while I'm here. YOU are making it impossible for young people who have Buffalo in their hearts, that would otherwise stay here, to actually stay here. You are indeed offering NOTHING to us and are guaranteeing a harrowing future for our city. You sat by and did nothing during the supposed economic boom of the 90's and had the embarrassing nerve to ask why nobody helped us out. When we do leave, we don't want to return during Christmas and see visible proof that we were right. I don't want Buffalo to become merely the place I plan to bury myself when I'm gone.


There is another article worth reading about how local corporations, including Kissling Interests, are taking advantage of the Empire Zone rules to create luxury housing that gives rich people tax breaks for being able to afford living there. Kissling isn't the first (hi Carl Paladino) and you can hardly blame them for using the rules to their advantage - after all, when the guys who voted for the Empire Zone legislation were too naive to see obvious loopholes (I'm talking to you Sam Hoyt so stop apologizing) who is more at fault - the businesses following the law or the people who created the law to begin with?

I'm scared for our city - this sort of disturbing corruption extends itself through all services, including public education. To see what I mean, read the blurb in the "recent news" section highlighting the nonsense at the Board of Education.

The Good - As Promised

This Wednesday at 8pm, on WNED, you'll find a production involving 26 students filming their impressions of the city of Buffalo. I think its an interesting concept, but I hope that it would be good enough to be valuable to an outsider. I'd like for something that shows why it is that we love and stick up for this old, worn out sweater we call home. Still, I'll approach this collective pseudo-documentary with a clean canvas. I'm really interested in seeing our city through the eyes of other residents. Our politicians suck, we live in one of the highest taxed counties in the single highest taxed state in the union, our jobs pay less than in other areas unless you are a slip and fall lawyer - but damn it, we do have each other. I can't wait to see how other Buffalonians view our city... particularly young people. Maybe you don't share that enthusiasm but I least wanted to let you all know about this upcoming show on WNED. There will be a replay on ThinkBright TV on the 23rd I believe, in case you wanted to see it but missed it.
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03/11/08 03:17 - 33ºF - ID#43623

Hey guys - my iPod will look like me now

Ha!

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Josh
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03/09/08 07:21 - 22ºF - ID#43595

Chinese death camp for cats...

I wish I were kidding - congratulations to the people that run the Olympics for being a bunch of fucking assholes. I love people who reward historically proven brutality against their own people and now apparently animals.

I'm not gonna lie - this is disturbing.



Josh
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02/29/08 04:50 - 28ºF - ID#43510

Communist Paradise

Viva la revolucion!



Watch the video too.

You won't be hearing about any of this on Radio Havana Cuba, by the way.

Josh

EDIT: Interesting story about Obama's leftward-leaning economic policies and how even people sympathetic to him are beginning to worry - - I told you people he is naive.
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02/27/08 06:49 - 15ºF - ID#43486

William F. Buckley, Jr.

1925 - 2008

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Today is a sadder day in American life if you are into political and civic discourse. William F. Buckley, Jr. is one of the people that influenced my interest in politics. For many years he hosted a debate program on PBS called Firing Line, which was the best debate show on any network before or since. He routinely hosted legends of political, cultural, intellectual, political and academic persuasions - the roster of his past guests is without peer and is pretty impressive.

He was the only conservative in American public life for many, many years. He is generally credited with laying the groundwork for the modern conservative movement, which is something the evangelical conservatives have utterly, utterly bastardized and twisted around into an embarrassing mishmash of bigotry, hypocrisy and hubris. Buckley was famous for denouncing the John Birch Society and he was criticized by conservatives for doing so. If he's the grand poobah of the conservative movement, if you ask me which side I'd pick in a debate I'll take the guy who was the grand poobah of it all. He and Barry Goldwater were virtually identical in terms of political and philosophical outlook, although in Goldwater's case what he lacked in eloquence he made up for in humor.

Buckley was a Connecticut WASP, Yale educated and spoke with an aristocratic patois that you'd certainly pin to his upbringing... and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. What people do not know is that English was Buckley's third language that he had learned by the age of 7. He had spoken Spanish and French prior to that, having lived in Mexico and France with his parents at an early age. As a result, his English accent was idiosyncratic and sounded somewhere between northeastern WASP and English. During his life he routinely described himself as a libertarian or a conservative, which in the absolutely purest academic sense of conservatism that he subscribed to, could ultimately be interchangeable terms although in today's society what it means to be a libertarian is defined a hundred different ways. When Bill Buckley was around, conservatism and the church were not intertwined as it is now.

Hands down - the best debater to ever have appeared on television. He was an intimidating person to debate against because of his deep intellect, verbosity, steely gaze and sometimes uncomfortable line of questioning. The Hoover Institution at Stanford University has archived his past television shows; links to 5-minute clips from various shows have been provided. Many of the shows topics are provocative and at least one should pique your interest. Click here -

In London they now charge $15 or so if you want to drive a car into the city center. A lot of people think its a great idea. Guess who proposed that 43 years ago when he ran for mayor of New York? He also proposed installing bike lanes. Bloomberg has been suggesting ideas like this for New York these days and people think he's a genius. Buckley finished third in that race.

The main reason why we are poorer for his passing today is because he was the last remaining credible debater/pundit who insisted on intelligent, polite, civil public discourse in our society (with the possible exception of the Gore Vidal debacle). The days where we could simply talk to each other seem so long gone when you watch Firing Line. We don't talk to each other like this any more. Buckley showed that it was good, even great, to argue with each other if we're going to thoughtfully consider the issues in our society. What makes him different from most is that he maintained great personal friendships with people he had vehement philosophical differences with. Its an incredibly telling thing, when you are greatly loved by people who otherwise would be considered an "enemy."

I don't know if we'll ever have people like this anymore. Its a shame because our country needs more people with the same outlook on how to proceed with civic discourse as he had. I hope its our generation that returns to this way of thinking and talking. And why can't we be funny about it? Buckley was interviewed in Playboy in the late 60's/early 70's and people wondered why he agreed to appear in a bawdy publication such as that. His response was classic - "to communicate my views to my son!"
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