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Hope That There’s No Confrontration in Crimea…

[ 0 ] December 19, 2009 |

I don’t understand how I had missed this:

H/t Chet.


The Golden Slates

[ 1 ] December 18, 2009 |

LGM is proud to announce the 2009 nominees for First Annual Mikey Kaus Award For Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence in Contrarianism:

  • Jonah Weiner: Creed may be the greatest American rock band since Limp Bizkit (alas, Nickelback, being Canadian, don’t count.) I think you can understand why I think music criticism is a waste of time.
  • Armond White: Bandslam is one of the great achievements of American cinema.
  • Robert Harris: A rapist’s family members should have veto power over whether said rapist is subject to legal sanctions.
  • Lucinda Rosenfeld: If you expect your friends to not leave you unconscious in a gutter and then perhaps offer to pick you up from the hospital after you’ve been slipped a roofie, you need to lower your standards.
  • Levitt and Dubner: Passim. [See also.]

This year’s lifetime achievement awards:

Further nominations are what comments are for…

*I’ll admit that this probably crosses the arbitrary line where “contrarianism” just becomes straightforward “whoring for your powerful friends.” But I’m leaving it in because anything-for-a-buck and sucking up to powerful interests are generally integral to Slate-style contrarianism…

Bowl Mania Reminder

[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

Today is the last day to join the LGM Bowl Mania league, or to fill out your bracket if you’ve already joined. Remember: READ the instructions, or you might find yourself ranking the games in exactly opposite the manner you intend.

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Password: zevon


[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

I, for one, am delighted by the decision to trade a bag of moldy Fritos for Milton Bradley. I appreciate that Bradley rather goes beyond the typical “difficult player” tag, but damn, he can hit. Maybe they think that having Griffey in the clubhouse will help keep him in check?

Random Text Exchange of the Day

[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

Yesterday, I received a text on my US cell that read:

“Hi, I need your address xoxo.”
Fairly certain that it wasn’t from a creditor, yet completely uncertain about the source (the area code is south western Florida, and I don’t think I know anybody who lives there) I replied:
“Uhh, I’m not sure I know you.”
In English, that is usually perceived as an invitation to supply a name or something similar, right? This is what I received in response (names changed to protect the guilty):
“Love, I have had Track in the hospital i’ve never been so tired i’m broke n Todd and I are over”.
This mystery was followed by a picture message, which I can’t view as I use an ancient phone for my US cell that I originally obtained while still living in Holland back in 2002.
I’ve only had this US number for about six months or so, and I don’t circulate it all that widely, so I’m 99.99% confident that I don’t know this person. If it was my British mobile, maybe it was from someone whose number I deleted five years ago or something, but this is a mystery to me. The previous owner of my number didn’t exactly notify all of her people that her number had changed, so I received a string of calls for her for about two months. This may be of that genre.
At least Cliff Lee is still a Mariner, there’s a rumored Carlos Silva – Milton Bradley swap in the works as well (will the brilliance never cease?), and I’m eating Christmas cookies for breakfast, so some semblance of sense still remains in the universe.

English to Gibberish Translator

[ 3 ] December 18, 2009 |

This is just creepy:


[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

usually it’s the Michele Bachmanns and Glenn Becks of the world who afford me with soft, juicy targets, but the bloody BBC?

And watch in stunned silence as Liliane Landor, the BBC World Service acting head of Africa region, tries to cover her ass: “The programme was a dignified exchange between people who have differing beliefs”.

This isn’t even on the road approaching the suburbs of dignified.

At least both my license fee and the Foreign Office funded this exchange, so I have the pleasure of having paid for it twice.

Exchanges that Make My Month…

[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

At the CNAS holiday party last night:

Me: General Dunlap, it’s an honor to meet you; my name is Robert Farley.

Major General Charles Dunlap, USAF: [Looks at my head] Really? Robert Farley? You don’t have horns!

Anti-Choicers: We Still Believe Life Begins At Pregnancy And Ends At Birth

[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

Indeed, it’s still true. And it’s true that even if the votes he casts are much more inevitable than those of Lieberman, Nelson merits a substantial amount of contempt.

The Higher Nagging sinks to new lows.

[ 0 ] December 17, 2009 |

I am, most likely, the only person on earth currently taking a break from the serious work of reading and writing about comics by reading a novel whose cover declares that it “only [could] have been devised by a literary team fielding the Marquis de Sade, Arthur Edward Waite, Sir James Frazer, Gurdjieff, Madame Blavatsky, C.G.Jung, Aleister Crowley, Franz Kafka.” But because academics are not allowed to take vacations, the World reminds them of what they should be doing at all times—the idea being that if you can make words, you must be making words that count.

I thought that this Higher Nagging would absent itself from my current project, but clearly I was wrong. There I was yesterday, next to a stack of unread comics, and because I had the temerity to be reading a thick late-modernist novel, the World retaliated:

“I found myself in France a little more than six weeks after I enlisted. I had no aptitude with the rifle. I could not even bayonet an effigy of Kaiser Bill convincingly. But I was considered ‘sharp’ and they also discovered that I could run quite fast. So I was selected as company runner, which meant I was also a kind of servant, I forget the word …”


“That is it.” (123)

Which is precisely what I was thinking (albeit with a bit more bluster) as I hurled the book across the room. But as the trolls will quickly remind me, I live a privileged life that allows me to do whatever I want whenever I want to, because guilt has never motivated anyone to do anything that made them miserable.

Throw grandma down the well

[ 0 ] December 17, 2009 |

So your taxes can be free.

The current estate tax mess is a story of almost mind-numbing greed and legislative incompetence. A quick summary: In 2001 Congress greatly decreased the (already tiny) number of estates subject to taxation, by gradually raising the exemption to its current level of $3.5 million per individual ($7 million per married couple), while lowering the tax rate on the non-exempt portion of estates from 55% to 45%. This by far the most progressive tax in American law, as it currently affects less than 1% of taxpayers while raising, even at the current radically reduced rates, tens of billions per year.

Because of various procedural manuevers, the law was scheduled to sunset in 2010, and then spring back to legal life in 2011, at the 2001 rates (individual exemption of $1 million/$2 million for married couples; 55% rate). This meant that if nothing was done there would be no estate tax in 2010. For the No Billionaire Left Behind wing of the GOP, this created a long lusted-after opportunity to eliminate the tax altogether (at a modest estimated cost of $1.3 trillion over the first decade after elimination, i.e. the price of one extra medium-sized Middle East war, which explains why the Neocon wing has been quietly opposing repeal. Or, if you prefer, the cost of one health care reform bill).

Still, nobody outside one of Grover Norquist’s more elaborate onanistic fantasies really believed the tax would be allowed to lapse altogether. A couple of weeks ago the House voted to make the 2009 rates permanent, with every single Republican present voting no (along with 26 Democrats).

Well today the Senate refused to go along, meaning that as of now there will be no estate tax next year. (One ironic consequence of this is that instead of subjecting a tiny handful of families to estate taxes, the disappearance of the tax will impose capital gains taxes on more than 60,000 heirs who would otherwise avoid them, thus proving that our leaders remain willing to tax the sort of rich if the only alternative is taxing the ultra-rich).

Blanche Lincoln and Jon Kyl are working on a compromise proposal that will raise the estate tax exemptions to $5 million individual/$10 million married couple with a 35% rate beyond that, but it now looks like any such measure will have to be applied retroactively to 2010 estates — a move which seems likely to trigger quite a few lawsuits. So at least trusts and estates lawyers (not to mention their richest clients) will be happy.

The Mustache of Understanding

[ 0 ] December 17, 2009 |

Wow. Just, wow. Whatever our disagreements about Taibbi’s polemical style, I think we can all agree that if there are any flaws in this classic they result from not going far enough…