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Archive for August, 2008

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Remember when the President could talk?

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

From my post yesterday:

President Bill Clinton speaks tonight and is a) looking for something to talk about and b) quite adept at drilling down into policy points.  His job tonight, in my opinion, is to provide the “why” to Hillary’s “what.”  If he succeeds in that regard, then Obama can accept the nomination and segue right into a policy-rich speech that tells America what he’d do as president, in more specific terms than “hope” and “change.”

Well, it’s good to see that the Clintons read my blog.  Bill Clinton did exactly what I described – he went into significant detail about why Obama is stronger on the key issues of the day than McCain.  He used terms like “torture” and “foreclosure.”  And he did it in a way that only he’s capable of – without talking down to the people.  Definitely playing to his strengths.  Also, he had the best line of the convention so far, IMHO:

People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

In a less media saturated world, I think that line is right up there with “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  But maybe that’s just me…

Clinton also did the requisite “cheerleading” that the punditry demanded of him – unequivocally endorsing Obama and reinforcing Hillary’s admonishment to her (their?!?) supporters to vote for him.  So he can check that box, I guess.

I only had two problems with the speech.  First, he tried to mitigate concerns over Obama’s experience by pointing out that Republicans called him (Clinton) too young and inexperienced when he was elected in 1992.  A very clever technique, but I think trying to paint Obama as experienced enough to be President (especially against John McCain) is a losing battle.  They’re better off talking about Obama’s strengths in areas like problem solving and critical thinking, and emphasizing the strength of the people that Obama is surrounding himself with (like Joe Biden, for instance, who continued Clinton’s detailed assessment of the policy issues that Obama will be stressing – a perfect setup for tonight’s mega-speech at Mile High Stadium Invesco Field, if you ask me).

My other problem was actually not with the speech, but with the introduction.  Representative Kendrick Meek of Florida said this:

President Clinton presided over the longest economic expansion in American history.  That meant more than 22 million new jobs; higher incomes at every income level; the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years; the lowest poverty rate in 20 years; the lowest crime rate in 26 years; the smallest welfare rolls in 32 years and the highest home-ownership in history.

This is a summary of the introduction Bill Clinton received when he gave his “farewell” speech at the 2000 convention.  It stuck in my mind because that “highest home-ownership in history” claim is precisely what we’re struggling with right now – many of those people bought homes they couldn’t afford, using sub-prime mortgages they never should have signed up for.  I’m surprised no one has tried to lay this crisis at Bill Clinton’s feet in recent months, and very surprised that Rep. Meek chose to repeat it in last night’s introduction.


Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

Updates from yesterday…

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Just to follow-up on my posts from yesterday:

Hillary Clinton hit the ball out of the park.  She not only did what Terry McAullife and Co. said she had to do (be enthusiastic, bash John McCain), but she also did what I said she had to do (direct her supporters toward the issues she was championing in her campaign and make the case that Obama is better on those issues than McCain).  There wasn’t a lot to substantiate her claims, but that’s OK – it’s a convention speech, not a dissertation.  What she did was set the stage – her husband, President Bill Clinton, speaks tonight and is a) looking for something to talk about and b) quite adept at drilling down into policy points.  His job tonight, in my opinion, is to provide the “why” to Hillary’s “what.”  If he succeeds in that regard, then Obama can accept the nomination and segue right into a policy-rich speech that tells America what he’d do as president, in more specific terms than “hope” and “change.”

So Hillary Clinton hit a homerun.  Alas, Alex Rodriguez did not.  Repeatedly.  And in the most timely of situations.  In the first of ten “must win” games for the Yankees last night, Alex went 0-5, grounding into two double plays, both of which involved him as the tying or go-ahead run.  He also made an error in the field.  I can’t imagine a worse game (at a worse time) for Alex Rodriguez, and the fans at the stadium let him know it with increasing loud boos every time he failed to be their “28 Million Dollar Man.”

It’s funny – I went and gathered some stats on A-Rod, expecting to make a point here about what a poor performer he is in the clutch.  Certainly, in his time in New York, he’s developed the reputation of not coming through when it really matters, despite all his big numbers.  In post-season play, for instance, he has a career average of .279, but even that’s misleading.  In his three post-season appearances with the Mariners and Rangers (1997, 2000, and 2004) he hit .313, .371 and .320, respectively.  In his there post-season appearances with the Yankees (2006, 2007, and 2008) the numbers are just ugly:  .133, .071, and .267.

The thing is, day in and day out, he’s actually just as good in the clutch as he is any other time.  His lifetime average with runner in scoring position is .303 (versus .306 overall).  Since coming to the Yankees, it’s a bit more lopsided (.288 with RISP versus .303 overall), but still – .288 is nothing to sneeze at, and certainly better than 0-5 with two double-plays.

A-Rod is one of the best players to ever play the game of baseball.  I’m glad he’s a Yankee, and I hope he stays in New York until he retires (at it currently looks like he will).  Ironically, though, it was he who missed the chance to keep the 2008 season alive last night.

I wonder if Hillary Clinton can hit a curve ball…

Categories: Political Rantings, Sports Talk | No Comments »

WKRP in Cincinnati Theme Song – Extended Version

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Hey, did anyone know that the classic theme song from WKRP in Cincinnati had an extended version? (Apologies – it’s one of those YouTube videos that has “Embedding disabled by request.” Who’s request, I wonder?)

At any rate, there are three verses and an extended guitar solo!

Who knew?

Categories: Primetime TV, Words about Music | 1 Comment »

Sincerity is key – once you can fake that, the rest is cake…

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

My opinion of the Democratic National Convention has been severely stymied by the fact that I fell asleep last night just before Michelle Obama began speaking.

I blame Michael Phelps and Bela Karyoli.  If the Olympics didn’t keep me up well past midnight every night for the last two weeks, I’d have more stamina to watch the Democrats in Denver.  I wonder, in fact, if the convention’s ratings will suffer because of this Olympics-induced “virtual jet lag.”  But that’s another blog post.

This blog post is about the grand cacophany of noise I’ve been reading about the Democrats’ need to show a “united party” at the convention.  When Hillary delivers the keynote speech tonight, all eyes will apparently be watching her level of enthusiasm.  She needs to convince us (and by “us,” I mean the professional punditry covering the event – I read somewhere that there are 5,000 delegates and 14,000 members of the media in attendance) that she really wants her supporters to support Obama, as opposed to just saying so because it’s the “party line.”  Perpetual Clinton cheerleader and former campaign chair, Terry McAuliffe, summarizes it well:

She’s going to thank her supporters and then, most importantly, she is going to tell her supporters we all have to come together to support Barack Obama.  She is going to fire ‘em up and she is going to draw some distinctions too, and she is going to talk about what John McCain will mean for this country and how we can’t allow him to be president.  She knows what she has to do tonight.  She is going to do it.

So, basically, to use language my 5-year old understands, “Yeah, Barack!  Boo, McCain!”  If she performs sufficiently, then Bill Clinton will presumably pass through the same gauntlet tomorrow night when he gives his address.

As it stands right now, only 66% of former (Hillary) Clinton supporters are backing Obama, down from 75% in June.  27% of those people are now saying they’ll vote for McCain, up from 16% in June (source).  Not quite the “convention bounce” Obama was hoping for…

Here’s the thing:  I think the easiest way to make the party appear united is to have the party actually be united.  It’s as if no one has even considered the possibility that these “defectors” are choosing McCain based on his positions vis-a-vis Obama’s, as opposed to voting for McCain in protest of Hillary losing the Democratic primary. 

If this weren’t the case, then Hillary’s goal tonight wouldn’t be enthusiasm and McCain bashing, but rather a discussion of the issues that were core to her campaign (healthcare, foreign policy, etc.) and why she believes that Barack Obama is stronger in those areas than John McCain.  If her supporters were supporting her because of these issues, then her best bet would be to convince them to back Obama because of these issues

This bothers me for two reasons.  First, it’s style over substance – what Doris Kearns Goodwin calls our “People Magazine” culture, where personalities rule over issues and ideas.  Second, it’s evidence of that thing that’s always bugged me about Hillary Clinton (and, to a lesser extent, her husband) – this feeling that she needs to talk down to the public.  To assume the least common denominator approach, rather than appealing to some sense of what’s really important and bringing the rest of us along in that direction (also known as “leadership”).

All of which is a very long-winded way of saying what Gary Trudeau can say in four panels:

(as Wil Wheaton would say, click to embiggen)

Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

For the Yankees, the second season begins tonight

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

OK, here’s where we stand:  With 32 games to play, the Yankees are 9.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East, 5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the American League Wild Card, and 3.5 games behind whoever’s losing between the White Sox and the Twins for that same Wild Card slot.

The Rays apparently did not receive the memo that outlined how they were supposed to be an interesting story up through the All Star break and then fade away into the background so the big boys could work out the post season.  Some people just don’t know how to cooperate with others…

At any rate, that leaves the Yankees, the Red Sox and the White Sox/Twins fighting for that coveted Wild Card playoff slot.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Of their remaining 32 games, the Yankees have six against the Red Sox and four against the White Sox.  Those with advanced math skills will note that six is awfully close to five, and four is awfully close to 3.5.  In other words, if the Yankees do anything other than win all ten of these games, then their ever-dwindling hopes of making the playoffs will depend on them beating another team, and another team beating the Red Sox, White Sox, or Twins.

Game #1 against Boston is tonight.  Do or die, boys – do or die…


Categories: Sports Talk | No Comments »

Olympic Uniforms

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

OK, one more post about the Olympics, then I’ll stop. I promise.

This one’s about the uniforms. We start off with the Brazilian women’s beach volleyball team. Like all women’s beach volleyball teams, they basically wear bikinis when they play. The United States team has bikini tops that read “USA.” Makes sense, no? So the other day, they’re playing the Brazilian team, and I read what their tops say. Seems much more descriptive than the Americans, I think…

We move on to the Spanish synchronized swimming team. It seems they showed up at the Olympics with skimpy swimsuits that had waterproof lights sewn into the fabric. Swimming’s world governing body (yes, that’s right – banking and health insurance are handled country by country, but swimming has a world governing body) said the sport was too conservative for swimsuits with lights and refused to let them wear the suits in competition. But here’s my favorite part: the quote from the swimmer about the suits:

It got very sophisticated because obviously the battery doesn’t last long and then we had to look at circuits and interrupters, so we have been working on it around two months with a crack team.

Ya think anyone on that particular team appreciates being called “a crack team?” Nah, me neither.

Finally, we all saw this “uniform” coming, so here it is. It suddenly occurs to me that we could have much more parity in the world of swimming if every swimmer had to swim each race while wearing the medals that he/she has already won. Michael Phelps, of course, would sink to the bottom.

Categories: Sports Talk | No Comments »

Danny Kaye does Louis Armstrong…

Monday, August 18th, 2008

For my money, they just don’t make musicians like this anymore:

My only complaint is watching Satchmo hold that trumpet & never once put it to his chops & blow…

These were (are) the grand masters. If your foot’s not tapping when this song is over, call your doctor. There’s a good chance you’re missing a pulse…

Categories: Words about Music | 1 Comment »

Did POP3 suddenly stop working on your Yahoo mail account?

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Consider this part public service announcement, part documentation for myself in case I need to refer back to it later:

Yahoo recently changed the way they handle mail for their GeoCities Pro customers (and possibly for others, as well.  I’m a GeoCities Pro customer, so that’s all I know).  At any rate, it used to be that if someone sent mail to your Yahoo-hosted custom domain e-mail address (brian@familygreenberg.com, in my case), all it really did was redirect it to your Yahoo e-mail account (xyzxyz@yahoo.com), where it would be available for viewing or downloading (via POP3) to your Outlook client (or whatever mail program you’re using).

Over the last week or two, Yahoo has rolled out a change to this strategy to make the custom domain address function as it’s own account on Yahoo.  So now, you suddenly have two mailboxes (one for xyzxyz@yahoo.com and one for your custom domain’s e-mail address).  The e-mails they’ve sent to their customers about it have correctly stated that nothing really changes about how you access your mail after this change (you can still go to http://mail.yahoo.com to read your mail, but now there’s a dropdown at the top of the screen where you can select the two different addresses, and see the mail sent to the yahoo address separately from the mail sent to the custom address.  (Truth be told, you can also now go to http://mail.customdomainname.com for your mail too, but you don’t have to do that, so it doesn’t really change anything for most people).

For POP3 users, though, this is actually a pretty big change.  If you’re like me (and it’s very likely you are, since this is the recommended way to set things up), your local mail client (e.g., Outlook) is setup to download incoming mail from your Yahoo account, but your custom domain address is the one you tell all your friends, family, and business associates about.  So, very little (non-spam) mail is actually sent to your Yahoo account, and most of it is (or was…) automatically forwarded there by Yahoo for download to Outlook via POP3.  With the change, you now have to reset your POP3 mail settings to download mail from your custom domain e-mail account if you want to continue downloading mail sent to your custom domain e-mail address.

All of the above too technical for you?  Let me boil it down this way:  if you use Yahoo for web hosting, and Outlook was downloading your mail correctly before, but isn’t now, make the following changes and everything will work (unless you’ve got another problem, of course…).

Here are the changes:

Setting Old Value New Value
Incoming Mail Server (POP3): pop.mail.yahoo.com pop.bizmail.yahoo.com
Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP): smtp.mail.yahoo.com smtp.bizmail.yahoo.com
User Name: your Yahoo user id (without the “@yahoo.com” suffix) your custom domain’s e-mail address (e.g., brian@familygreenberg.com)
Incoming Server (POP3) Port: 995 995
Outgoing Server (SMTP) Port: 465 465
SMTP Port requires authentication?: Yes Yes

One important caveat:  If you do distribute your Yahoo e-mail address to anyone, and you want to receive those e-mails in Outlook as well, I believe your best bet is to setup two Outlook profiles (one with the “Old Value” values above and one with the “New Value” values), and have them both download e-mail to the same Outlook mail file.  This will work, but you still have to login to Outlook under each profile periodically to get all your mail.

Any questions? Suggestions on improved strategies?  Drop a note in the comments so everyone can share.  If I can help out, I’ll certainly chime in.

Good luck!

Categories: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

Today’s Trivia Question…

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

I’m not sure why this popped into my head all of the sudden.  But it did, so here it is:

We know for a fact that at 51-57, rue de Courcelles, Paris, France, there is a hotel owned by the Hilton company.  We also know for a fact that Paris is a very popular tourist destination, and quite the romantic one at that.  And so, it stands to reason that many young couples travel to Paris each year, perhaps even on their honeymoons, and that some number of them stay at the Hilton at 51-57, rue de Courcelles.  It also stands to reason that for many of these couples, the man has been intimate with his wife/girlfriend/date/etc. while staying in the hotel.

And so, with all of this logic clearly behind us, I get to ask the perfectly reasonable question that will send my Google search results through the roof:

How many men have had sex in the Paris Hilton?

Like I said, no idea why this suddenly occurred to me, but there you have it…


Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 1 Comment »

House Pictures Return!

Friday, August 15th, 2008

For those who’ve noticed that I haven’t updated our House Construction Photoblog in a while (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s all over the news…), your interminable wait is over.

Click on the photoblog in the left sidebar (or on the link above) and check out the last few pictures. Highlights include a (mostly) finished deck, a hot tub, and (drum-roll…….) walls!

Also, I’m here to tell you that once the big decisions about the house are done, the little ones come along, and it’s those that take up all the time (or at least enough time that it becomes tough to maintain a photoblog). I think we’re getting over the hump, though, so I’ll try to be better about providing updates…

Categories: Family Matters, Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

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