Ramblings From the Ragged Crumbling Edge Of The Reality-Based Community

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Winter Storm Warning Friday Night Thoughts 

-- For those of us who do not play golf, who have no interest in learning to play golf unless retirement affords the time to do so, and who have watched PGA telecasts about as much as we have watched episodes of "Lost" or "American Idol" (in other words, not at all), there is one question: Is there some emotion we should feel at the news that Tiger Woods is going on an indefinite hiatus from playing golf? OK, so maybe there are two questions, the second being: Why the hell should we care whether or not Tiger Woods is embarking on a journey to patch up his marriage, since we didn't really care that he was married in the first place?

-- Since both the heavy lifters and well-paid minions of the NCAA Football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) insist that a playoff system would be an overpoweringly oppressive burden on the academic endeavors and travel plans/costs of both the student-athletes involved and all those other non-athlete students, alumni, and hanger's-on whose fees and contributions help pay for the gold-plated football programs in those six most God-blessed conferences comprising the BCS, does that mean that students attending the colleges competing in the FCS (formerly known as NCAA 1A) playoffs are inferior academic institutions? Are schools like Montana, William & Mary, Appalachian State, Villanova, Stephen F. Austin, and New Hampshire somehow lesser institutions of higher learning than schools in the Pac-10 or Big 10 or the SEC such that they can make the sacrifices necessary to have a college football playoff system? What about NCAA Division II schools? Or Division III schools?

-- When the clock struck midnight last evening, I became fully eligible for retirement. It is a strange and slightly embarassing circumstance to find oneself in, mostly because the FedBorg establishes its retirement-eligible age at a full 10 years earlier than the usually understood retirement/Social Security age of 65 that pretty much all the rest of working America works with. I sit here this evening, unretired, marveling at the idea that anyone would consider making such a move at this age. There is still work to do; there are still battles to be fought, and a quick glance over my shoulder reveals that a rather brutally casual bipartisan disregard over the last couple of decades for adequate funding to pay for the kind of work that I do has resulted in there being nobody back there behind me to carry on the good fight. It doesn't matter anyway, because my financial advisor - who also doubles as the mother of my children - has assured me that the concept of retirement need not enter my decision space as long as those children insist on attending post-secondary institutions of learning...

-- It is almost sad, but certainly understandable, that tonight's snow and freezing rain in the southern Willamette Valley are creating the sort of winter driving conditions that seem over the top there but would look like just another winter day over here in Southern Central Orygun. I would like to think that all those people out there driving around with me are sufficiently skilled to handle snow and ice, but I live in an area through which many thousands of people who are unfamiliar with such driving skills pass every year; unfortunately for me and mine, a pretty good percentage of those other drivers are in one way or another examples of those West-siders who experience a Stage V melt-down at the very sight of road ice. Thank God for a furnace, a well-stocked fireplace, and no place that I need to go on a night like this....

I Ask Myself Why 

...from Politico, we learn that the Ol' Maverick, John McCain, has assumed an odd sort of leadership role - or at least that of leading spokesman - for the Republican party. It's an odd position for him to be in not the least because he has never been all that much a figurehead in Republican circles, in large part because of his maverickiness or irascibility or hard-headed contrariness or whatever it was that has made him stake out positions in the past that at least looked to be a departure from the party line, even if some of those apparent schisms were barely skin deep...

There is, of course, the obvious question: Why John McCain? Why the guy who was decisively rejected by American voters just over a year ago? And I'm not asking "how
dare he?", but rather why does the media keep rolling him out there week after week, day after day, to share his observations about all that is wrong with the Obama administration (complete with the occasional repudiation of McCain's own past positions on the issues)?

Actually, this line of questioning can threaten to go meta if one dwells on it just a bit. What we are seeing right now is that the only three voices belonging to people who have some - if occasionally limited - background as actual politician types that can be heard through the drone of all those fabulously paid talking heads on radio and TV are McCain, Sarah Palin, and "Big Dick" Cheney. Think about
that: a guy who got his head handed to him in the last election cycle, the running mate that helped to bring him down and appears to thought by a strong majority of US citizens as stone cold crazy, and a former Vice President who left office being held in slightly lower esteem by his fellow Americans than an anesthetic-free root canal; these are the three authoritative voices that are brought to the fore by the MSM...

Is there a point at which the Powers That Be of the Party of No decided that a failed presidential candidate, a person who did more for Tina Fey and Saturday Night Live than for her party's electoral prospects, and perhaps the least popular vice president in American history should be the troops to carry the fight against the Democrats? The truth may be that is there isn't any such thing as 'the Powers That Be' behind the Republican curtain; the Keystone Cops nature of the Republican side of the New York 23rd Congressional district special election arguably suggests that may be true. I suppose, as Dr. Thompson might once have said, even the rancid cream rises to the top, and when your other choices are people like a faux-hiphop walking verbal time bomb like Michael Steele or Mr. Narcolepsy himself, Mitch McConnell, you're not working with a very deep bench to begin with...

But still...really? It's McCain, Palin, and Cheney whose pearls of wisdom are cast before the MSM to provide what is essentially the Republican viewpoint on war, the economy, and climate change. I admit it's entertaining to watch, but I ask myself "Why?"...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Tramps Like Us At Teh Kennedy Center 

...back in the mid-1970's, there was a constant anthem providing the musical background to all those smoky Friday and Saturday nights that I and some of my friends were living in a couple of local college hangout bars in Moscow, Idaho. It was Bruce Springsteen - The Boss - along with the E Street Band that at one point or another during the night would be blaring out of the corner speakers, inviting us to draw a parallel between Asbury Park, NJ, and the relatively remote PacNW wheat-farmer/cowtown lives we were trying to escape.

Tonight, Springsteen and four other Giants (including Dave Brubeck, who informs another part of my musical life) will be honored at the Kennedy Center. I and my buddies are all mid-fifties curmudgeonly old farts now, but - even without calling them to verify their opinions - I can guarantee that this is what we would have wished those nights would have looked like:

(edited to make the obvious title change)
(and Clarence Clemons is still a God)

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