Sunday, April 29, 2007

Random weekend stories/thoughts

  • Great weekend in Marietta for the wedding of a friend from my first-year dorm at UVa. Good to see the old crew, looking no worse for the wear after all these years.
  • Why do we still let people smoke in bars?
  • I was called a "good looking brother" by a barfly on Friday night. I love the South.
  • Something really needs to be done about infants on planes. I sat beside a grandmother who held a six month old that screeched for the vast majority of the 4 1/2 hour flight back to San Francisco from Atlanta. It didn't help that the child had soiled himself and grand ma ma didn't do anything about it. To top it off, the TWIN of the screeching six month old, who was seated behind me, also screeched the entire time, terrorizing the entire back of the plane.
  • Purchasing beer at 11:50 p.m. from a Shell station on Saturday night to bypass the slow service at the hotel bar was the best move of the weekend.
  • It is very, very strange to see a former flame happily married.
  • Throw up that W...Warriors up 3-1 on the Mavs!
  • Should you ever end up in Marietta, Ga don't walk back to the Conference Center from Hemmingway's bar.
  • What's gotten into the San Francisco 49'ers? Two great draft picks in the first round AND they scored D Jax in a trade from Seattle. I love it.
  • I get to do the wedding thing again this coming weekend in Chico, CA. I've heard so much about this place had better deliver.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Westside, Westside to the Coast

Robert Farley is right and Matt Y very wrong about sports viewing on the West Coast vs. the East Coast.

As Farley notes, you get out of bed on a Sunday morning and there's a NFL game on. NFL Sunday's in Cali are the BEST. Games at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and the "night" game at 5:30, which is pretty much perfect. An entire day wasted between CBS, FOX, NBC and obsessive compulsive viewing of fantasy football scoring updates.

West coast viewing becomes slightly problematic during college basketball season (with games starting at 4 p.m. PCT multiple days of the week), and during college football season (Thursday games at 4, some bowl games starting at 5 p.m.), but otherwise it's not an issue. Missing the first quarter of a regular season NBA game? Who cares?

The West side superiority becomes apparent when Monday Night Football is put into the mix. Every now and again, you get one of those outrageous games (like the Cards vs. Bears last season) that demands you stay up for the finish. On the East Side, that game is probably veering close to a midnight finish...out here, that same game is over between 9 and 9:30.

[Edited to add]: College football Saturday's are like manna from heaven. Games at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4:30/4:45 p.m., and 7 p.m. Literally all day long. Unbeatable.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Bay is in the House

Stealing one in Dallas to take the lead in the series 1-0.

Baron Davis with 33!

A Weekend of Good Eating

Friday night, steaks with Heidi at El Raigon. A fine celebration for Heidi getting into nursing school.

We started with the Empanadas Caseras and the Provoleta El Raigon (baked cheese FTW)! Heidi had the Ojo de Bife (rib-eye) and I had the Entrana (skirt steak). We both agreed that the skirt steak was the better of the two; it was very juicy and flavorful.

Saturday night found us at Farmer Brown for the April Supper Club. Despite the slow service, the meal was quite good. We ordered the hand cut fries and the angel biscuits to start and we happily devoured those along with the house cornbread. Among the six of us, we had the chicken and dumplings, the pulled pork sandwich, the catfish, and the bass. Too full for dessert, we shuffled out into the rain to Dalva and Elixir for a nightcap.

Newt Gingrich

Still an idiot.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Atheism and the V.T. massacre

Dinesh D'Souza has been on quite a roll recently. First he released his utterly repugnant (and throughly discredited) book, The Enemy at Home - The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. Now this week, he has decided to use the killings at Virginia Tech as an invitation to smear atheists.

D'Souza's comments are beyond the pale, and bloggers across the political spectrum have ripped Dinesh. However, the best response comes from a diary over at Daily Kos. An atheist and professor at V.T. responded with some fantastic remarks which can be read here.

I should say that I'm not an atheist. I was raised a Christian, and am still one at least in name, but I can say I am far more sympathetic to the views of agnostics and atheists than I have ever been previously. Along those lines, I want to highlight a particular comment from the Kos diary. The author writes:

I don’t need to live forever to live once and to live completely.

That's some powerful stuff and worth remembering.

"My Love is Your Love"

I just thought about this song tonight, but the chorus reminded me of how we can all bond together to get through the tough this one's to the folks in Blacksburg..."it would take an eternity to break us".

Friday, April 20, 2007

To honor V.T. today

The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund

I just gave. You should too.

The School

C.J. Chivers, a freelance writer for Esquire, has just been awarded the Michael Kelly Award for his masterful account of the terrorist takeover of a school in Beslan, Russia in 2004. It is a tragic but vital piece of reporting.

It's a little unsettling that Chivers' story, which deals with terrorists brutally killing innocent people, was recognized now, given recent events. It does serve as a reminder, though, that unspeakable acts can occur even in the most bucolic of settings.

Here, in full, is Chivers article:
"The School"

Who is this man?

And how did he become Leader of the Free World?

Candidates for 2008

McSweeney's gives you the pro's and con's.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"That Was the Desk I Chose to Die Under"

A gripping and must-read narrative of the Virginia Tech shootings by David Maraniss of The Washington Post.

I doubt I will read a better piece of reporting this year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Continuing Evidence That Surveys Are Useless

Via SFist, I've come to find out today that San Francisco is one of the, "Top five cities to find a mate."

Not to toot my own horn, but one of my first posts on this blog was about dating in San Francisco, and I'm more or less convinced that it's still on target.

My question they actually ask real live people who live in San Francisco about this?

More Imus

Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite writers. He's pretty much willing to say anything and he has no problem killing sacred cows.

With that said, here's his take on Imus-gate. Not for those who hew to myopic points of view (or are afraid of bad language).

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Day After

It is surreal to be writing a "day after" post on the same evening an unspeakable tragedy is still playing out, but, for me at least, this is how I have to attempt to make sense of what happened on the campus of Virginia Tech today.

We're told that "the day after" something like this happens, maybe the healing can begin. But, in reality, most of us know this isn't true. For at least 32 people, there will be no tomorrow. Young men and women going to class, some of whom were about to graduate, others perhaps looking forward to a summer working and living in Blacksburg with good friends, had what matters most, their futures, ripped away in one of the most cruel fashions imaginable.

Tomorrow, there will be no resolution or peace for those left to wonder "why?". In a very real sense, for some of the families and friends of the victims, their lives ended today as well.

I can't pretend to be able to effectively sympathize with what this feels like. Never have I had someone taken from me so coldly and quickly, their physical existence removed from this earth for reasons that could never be explained. In the most selfish part of my heart, I truly hope that I will never find myself going through such an experience. I take no pleasure in admitting that, but I would be fooling myself if I did not say so.

In any case, my thoughts have been squarely focused on the quiet rolling foothills of southside Virginia all day. I grew up about 90 minutes from the V.T. campus in Martinsville, Va. I had two cousins play under Frank Beamer. Several classmates from high school went to Tech. I am proud to count many Hokies among my best friends in San Francisco. We are nominal rivals in sports, as I went to the University of Virginia, but, as I said to my mom when we spoke today, everyone in Virginia, especially where we're from, knows someone who went to V.T. I've attended Hokie/Hoo weddings. The ripple effect of this depraved act will spread itself over the entire Commonwealth. I pray for my state tonight.

As anguished as I am about the shootings, I feel an equal amount of anger at those who are already seeking to politicize this moment. Today is not the day to have a "conversation" about gun control. Today is not the day to speculate about arming citizens in an effort to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. To the people who want to go down that road today, I have two simple words:


Tomorrow, there will be time for questions. Tomorrow, we can ask what in our society has gone so awry that a young man felt that the only way to deal with his problems was by arming himself and slaying innocent people. Tomorrow, the day after, we can start this conversation.

But not tonight.

Shootings at Virginia Tech

This is horrible

I grew up near V.T and had cousins that played football there and I know and am friendly with many, many Hokies.

CNN is reporting at least 20 dead on the campus. I feel numb...I don't even know what to say.

Afternoon update:
New York Times is reporting 32 dead in what is being called, "the deadliest shooting rampage in American history".


Sunday, April 15, 2007


At the moment I'm watching a huge Hanjin container ship make it's way out into the San Francisco Bay, floating slowly by Alcatraz before fading out of sight. Turning at my kitchen table, I can see Coit Tower and North Beach spreading out to the east, drenched by the last light of the day as the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge. American flags on nearby rooftops whip in the wind. Besides the trickle of the koi pond in the neighboring back yard, it's virtually silent. It could not be more perfect.

America in 2007

Your land of civil liberties.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

MJ. Rosenberg on David Brooks, Israel, and Palestine

Fantastic read on how conservatives seem to have their heads in the sand in regards to why Arabs are continually angered by the stall in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian people.

An excerpt:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only issue about which all Arabs (and, in fact, Muslims) are in general agreement. Sunnis and Shiites may not agree about much but they all want the post-’67 occupation to end. The Arabs Brooks encountered want to talk to Americans about it because the United States is Israel's number one backer in the world. Arabs understand that without US involvement in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will simply not end.

I imagine that the reason Brooks was surprised is that, like so many Americans, he does not take Arab and Muslim concern for the Palestinians seriously.

People like Brooks believe that Palestine is a pretext. For Brooks, it is not, it cannot be, the main reason so many Arabs and Muslims have such strong antipathy to the US government.

And the fact is that the Palestinians have often been used as a pretext for incitement against Israel and Jews by the same forces that have done virtually nothing to ease the Palestinians’ plight. And also, of course, as a pretext for war. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah professed love for the Palestinians while he was attacking Israel last summer and killing Palestinians along with their Israeli neighbors.

But, for the most part, Arab anger about (and sympathy for) Palestinians is utterly genuine. Why wouldn’t it be?

Saturday Afternoon Music Blogging

I've just started to get into Canadian artist Feist. Her music is a mash up of styles. She can do pop, bossa nova, and who knows what else. Anyway, here's a profile from the New York Times and check out the video for her new song, "1234". It was done in one long continuous take and I actually almost got motion sickness watching it...good stuff though.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Follow up to "Love isn't a Black or White thing"

Via Matt Yglesias, a report of a surge of a very different (and most welcome) sort.

What a week...

Some Friday links:

Paul Wolfowitz is in trouble at the World Bank for helping his girlfriend get a nice raise and transfer. There's also a huge profile of Wolfowitz in last week's New Yorker.

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that the White House might have lost e-mails regarding Attorney-gate.

Imus-gate...probably the topic of the week. There's been so much written already, but allow me to link to some of the better pieces:

Gwen Ifill does a take down of Imus in the form of an op-ed in the New York Times.

Jason Whitlock, sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, argues that the controversy over Imus is just another way for the black community to avoid facing its own issues.

Jonathan Weiler has two long (but fantastic) posts on the topic over at new sports blog, The Starting Five.

Kurt Vonnegut, counterculture author of the classic Slaughterhouse-Five, passed away at 84.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Love isn't a Black or White Thing

Frankly, I don't look at the society pages in the New York Times. There's no reason that I would have to especially look at them under any normal set of circumstances.

However, due to this post over at the RBC, I feel compelled to link to the same story in the "Vows" section of this past Sunday's paper. It gives me hope that we're slowly but surely moving to point in our society when race matters less and who you are matters more. And, as is noted in the original post, the picture that accompanies the article is essentially perfect.


The declining black population in San Francisco gets the front page treatment in today's San Francisco Chronicle. Having lived here for over 7 years (!) this is certainly not new news. I've lived by Union Square, in Noe Valley and Russian Hill over that time span, and I don't think I've ever had more than a few black people on any given block that I lived on. San Francisco's major industries (banking, law, advertising, medicine) don't typically have large numbers of African-Americans among their ranks (though my sister and several of her friends are attorneys).

As is mentioned in the article, there's really no easy way to fix this (if it can be fixed at all). The Bay Area is prohibitively expensive in many ways and there's no simple way to "create community". Communities grow through a largely organic process and an important part of any community is its shared history. Historically black neighborhoods like the Fillmore have seen the many lively jazz clubs and other haunts close in favor of upscale restaurants and botiques (this isn't about to turn into an anti-gentrification screed; the influx of the middle class can do good things).

The only thing I can think of off the bat would be for the city to aggressivly promote affordable housing initiatives to see if that would spur any action.

More PB & J

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Up Against the Wall"

My favorite song from the incredible "Writer's Block" by Swedish pop stars Peter Bjorn and John. I can't wait to see these guys live next month.

Guess I should have caught your call
But I just had to waste the phone forget it all
Bones are trembling hands are cold
You don't know how it feels you've got me up against the wall

Maybe we could make this work
But now you start to leave before it's getting worse
I don't know what you came here for
It's almost that I wish we hadn't met at all

Your slap just like a wake-up call
The bruises on my face don't bother me at all
Bones are trembling hands are cold
It's almost that I wish you had me up against the wall

If you're in the mood for something a little more upbeat, try "Young Folks".

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Being scared

Fear can either be a tremendous motivator or a remarkably paralyzing force. To this point in my life, it has definitely been more of the later than the former. I don't know how, but I think it's time for me to finally face down some of my demons. I've seen too many opportunities pass me by and left too many things unsaid because I was afraid...not anymore.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sam Harris and Rick Warren on God

Thought provoking conversation in the current edition of Newsweek between well-known atheist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith - which I've started, but not finished - and Letter to a Christian Nation, and Rick Warren, pastor at the 25,000 strong Saddleback mega-church and author of the The Purpose Driven Life.

Harris comes off in this interview like he comes off in his books; he's combative and not especially welcoming of differing points of view. That may be due to the fact that he seems to be truly scared by the threat he attributes to religion. I doubt reading the conversation will change anyone's mind on the topic, but it's an interesting exercise in any case.

Note to you: Your writing sucks

A little harsh, but true.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Shamesless Self Promotion

Some thoughts I posted over in the comments section at the great Sports Media Review were elevated into a follow up post. The original,unedited comments can be found in the thread on O.J. Mayo, the West Virginia prep basketball phenom who is headed to USC this fall, here.

(I would be Mike P.)

"This Low"

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (A.K.A. The Swell Season). The song feels like a dream. Amazing.

We made a plan that was subject to change
So whatever was it works out we both get the blame
In the arms of this low
And you took the wind right out of my sails
By sweating me out on all the little details
In the arms of this low
In the arms of this low

So thread the light
So thread the light

We made a choice and we knew we would pay
For stealing the joy and trying to escape
From the arms of this low
And if by some chance you break from the pack
You know I'll be waiting to welcome you back
Into the arms of this low
In the arms of this low

Thread the light,
Thread the light,
Thread the light,
Thread the light,
Shine the light,
Don't hide the light,
Live the light,
And give the light,
Seek the light,
And speak the light,
Crave the light, and brave the light,
Stare the light,
And share the light,
Show the light,
And know the light,
Raise the light,
And praise the light,
Thread the light,
And spread the light


Congrats to the Gators, first back to back national champs since the '91-'92 Duke squads. OSU kept it respectable this time around (after a 26 point blowout earlier this season), but still couldn't get over the hump. Greg Oden, in probably his final college game, gave one of his better performances, going for 25 and 12. If Oden were to come back, he and Conley, Jr. might be able to lead the Buckeyes back to the Final Four next season.