April 27, 2005


Even Weird Al loves to read! Hmm, I wonder what he's been up to. The world is a dim, dark place indeed without him to brighten our lives with his crazy antics.

Shades of Mediocrity has a great post about the ALA's celebrity advertising campaign.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:20 AM

George and Abdullah

Finally, George has met his match. We've had our differences in the past, but I guess I can say I'm truly happy for him. So funny.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:04 AM

April 26, 2005


Caption: "A herd of buffalo got loose in Pikesville, Md., disrupting traffic and alarming homeowners before officers managed to corral them in a tennis court."

Look! The buffalo(es? bison?) are loose on the tennis court!


Posted by smit2174 at 5:48 PM

Up, up and away!

Possibly the greatest political candidacy website ever...

"Lift with Tifft"

If I lived in the 8th Ward, I'd definitely support Dennis Tifft for City Council. He's just so dang optimistic! I especially like his "Lift Initiatives":

Lift Initiatives are innovative plans and programs for improving livability in the Eight Ward and Minneapolis . They include: a Graffiti Strike Force to take proactive steps at controlling this blight, a Home-based Business Consortium to support and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit within neighborhoods, a Rehab Resource Initiative to assess what the City can do to help property owners preserve and protect residential housing stock, and Places to Be Me, a program to develop constructive alternatives to drugs, gangs, and violence for teens and adolescents.

Graffiti Strike Force... go!

Posted by smit2174 at 5:25 PM

April 25, 2005

Quote of the day

adding to our (my) earlier discussion of poll results, I proudly present:

...in addition to a 80% disapproval on this issue among Democrats, and 70% among independent voters, Republicans are split evenly at 48/46. That's not just bad, that's baby-eating bad. (And by that, I mean Dick Cheney could eat a human baby on live TV, and you'd see Republican numbers not much worse than that.)

--Hunter, on Daily Kos, writing about poll results showing that the vast majority of Americans disagree with Republican efforts to use the "nuclear option" to get rid of the filibuster.

I demand more quotes about eating babies! Dead baby jokes are always in order, as well.

Posted by smit2174 at 10:41 PM

UDFL election

Just got back from our final UDFL meeting for the year, in which we elected a whole new slate of officers. Here's the list, in the unlikely event that you care... at all...

President: Max Page
Vice President: Kelly Kubacki
Secretary: Noah Seligman
Treasurer: Monica Heth
Affirmative Action Coordinator: Chris Montezon
MSA Representative: Adam Engelman

Should be a good year next year. We have a lot of work to do, though. But here's some good news (shamelessly cribbed directly from Armando at Daily Kos):

A new WaPo Poll shows Bush's approval is in fast descent:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling:

Approve Disapprove
A. Social Security 31 64
B. Iraq 42 56
C. Economy 40 57
D. Terrorism 56 41
E. Energy Policy 35 54

A lot of other stuff, but this one is my favorite:

Which party better represents your personal values?

Dems - 47%
GOP - 38%

The Democratic Party, the Party of Values. Can I get an Amen for that?

This squares with polls from last week: CBS had Bush's approval at 44% and disapproval at 51%, while Harris Interactive had "44% positive, 56% negative."

I'd imagine that those numbers are even better (worse for Bush) among college students. But we still have a long way to go towards getting more young people active and enthusiastic about politics. I think we did a great job of this during first semester with the energy that people had towards getting rid of Bush, but things definitely slid during Spring semester. Rock the Cauc and the campaign for Emily and Colin went well, but other than that, I can't really think of anything we did that was very successful. Here's hoping that UDFL revs it up this fall.

Posted by smit2174 at 7:33 PM

April 24, 2005

Bad news from Iraq

I have received the same photoshopped picture in two seperate emails in the past week. I'd just like to point out how idiotic it is. (No offense to those who sent the picture, but I have to disagree that Iraq is "safe.")

Here is the pic:


Well, it's not even that funny to begin with. It's even less funny when you look at recent news from Iraq.

From Newsweek:

In Madaen and villages nearby, corpses bobbed to the surface of the Tigris River until police counted 60. Hashimi and his friends photographed 55 of the bodies and delivered the pictures and lists to Baghdad. Shiite politicians accused the insurgents of ethnic cleansing, and demanded that the caretaker government act. Insurgents in another town near Baghdad, Haditha, responded by kidnapping 19 Shiite fishermen and National Guardsmen, lining them up against a wall in a sports stadium and shooting them dead. Then, during Friday prayers, a suicide car bomber in east Baghdad hit the Shia Al Subeih mosque, killing nine and wounding 20.

From the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 24 - Twin car bombs killed six Iraqi police officers and injured at least 30 at a police academy in Tikrit today. In Baghdad, 15 people were killed and at least 57 were hurt in two bomb blasts near a Shiite mosque, as insurgents continued their campaign of violence against Iraqis.


The military also reported two deaths at the hands of insurgents: On Saturday, a sailor assigned to the Second Marine Division was killed by a homemade bomb while conducting operations in Falluja. The Marines released no other details. In eastern Baghdad, a soldier from Task Force Baghdad died just after dawn today when his patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device.

You can track the grim news from Iraq here. Or, if you know how to use RSS feeds (I sure as hell don't) you can get a constant stream of Iraq news here. But you might not want to. It's kinda depressing.

Maybe you guys should email this photo instead.

The caption: "Insurgents in Haditha executed 19 Shiite fishermen and National Guardsmen in a sports stadium."

Posted by smit2174 at 5:56 PM

April 20, 2005

Condi-- Come to the U!

I thought this was kinda funny, seeing as I'm taking Russian myself...

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried out her rusty Russian in a Moscow radio interview Wednesday, only to get caught out by a question on whether she might run for president.

"Da (Yes)," Rice answered in Russian, before realizing her misunderstanding and hastily adding "Nyet" (No) -- seven times.

Hmm. And we thought she was a "Soviet expert," "fluent in Russian." What happened? Maybe it was just a Freudian slip, sorta like when she called George W. her husband. But wait-- there's more...

Rice, in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, started out in English. "It is an opportunity for me to come back to Russia, a place I love very much. I love the culture and the language."

She then switched into Russian, but quickly hit trouble.

Apparently meaning to say that she would like to do her next interview in the language of her host, she chose a verb that sounded more like "to earn money" than the Russian for "to do."

"You understand it will be very difficult because I am out of practice, and in your language there are these awful cases!" she continued. "It's very difficult for us, and it is very difficult to talk without making mistakes."

Ah. Trouble with cases, eh? Yeah, I get that, too. Well, Ms. Rice, I have a solution... perhaps you should enroll in some classes here at the U of M. Take RUSS 3001. I'm in the 10:05-10:55 class with Schweikert. It might be kind of nice to have a "famous person" in our class. Maybe you and Professor Schweikert could swap some stories about the bad old days in the Soviet Union.

More about this here.

Posted by smit2174 at 6:51 PM

April 19, 2005

Sober mutant

I've been getting a lot of weird emails lately. Emails that are a little too weird. So, naturally, I suspected them of being viruses... and I was right!

Security experts today warned of a newly discovered variant of the Sober worm that is spreading using a relatively sophisticated social engineering attack.

The Sober N worm arrives as a ZIP file attachment in an email in either English or German. The email claims that the sender has been receiving your emails and has enclosed 10 in a file for your attention.

So be warned!

Posted by smit2174 at 8:47 AM

April 18, 2005

Long lost twins?

I thought this was funny...

Do you have my stapler?

Oh, P.S., John (Milton?) Bolton sucks.

Posted by smit2174 at 4:39 PM

April 17, 2005

I'm glad I'm not Catholic.

From the New York Post via AMERICAblog:

A "fuhrer" furor is dogging the papal candidacy of Germany's top Roman Catholic cleric — over revelations he was a member of the Hitler Youth.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger — a favorite to become the next pontiff — joined the Nazi children's corps in 1941 as a 14-year-old and was later an anti-aircraft gunner.

At one point, he guarded a factory where slaves from a concentration camp were forced to work. He was later shipped to Hungary, where he reportedly saw Jews persecuted.

Ratzinger, a staunch conservative dubbed "God's Rottweiler," has said he joined the Hitler Youth when membership became compulsory. He and his brother were later drafted but deserted. The cardinal claims he never fired a shot and that resistance would have meant death.

Not so, Germans from his hometown of Traunstein told The Times of London.

"It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others," recalled Elizabeth Lohner, 84. "The Ratzingers were young — and they had made a different choice."

WWJD? Join the Hitler Youth?

Posted by smit2174 at 10:27 PM

April 14, 2005

Walter Joe O'Rourke

There are certain people you just admire and want to meet. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Walter Joe O'Rourke of New Jersey.

From the NYT:

There are train buffs, and there are train buffs - and then there is Walter O'Rourke.

On a recent evening in Pennsylvania Station, Mr. O'Rourke, a New Jersey Transit conductor, opened the doors to his train, and a river of elbows and briefcases, knapsacks and newspapers rushed in.

His gendarme cap crooked, his glasses bobbing off his nose, Mr. O'Rourke smiled and said, "There's no place else I'd rather be."

He wasn't kidding.

In fact, there are plenty of other places Mr. O'Rourke, 65, could have been. He could have been at his log cabin in Townsend, Del., which sits on 140 acres. He could have been in one of his two Florida homes, or at his insurance company there.

Heck, Mr. O'Rourke could have been off running his own railroad, the one he owns in West Virginia. But there he was, a millionaire from business, real estate and insurance investments, punching tickets on a suburban train full of tired faces, bouncing from shoulder to shoulder like a pinball.

No place else he'd rather be.

"I don't need the money," Mr. O'Rourke explained. "I need the job."


"I realize that some people, especially some of my co-workers, might see me as a strange duck," Mr. O'Rourke said, feeding his new engine a drop of oil. "But where does it say that a man can't love what he does for a living?"

What a great man. Read the whole article. Maybe you'll learn something!

Posted by smit2174 at 12:13 AM

April 13, 2005

The fruits of boredom

I couldn't make this work exactly (you need to be using Blogger), but I copied the email I sent myself onto my blog. So it sort of works.

This is my soundtrack for the evening as I've been doing laundry, skipping my intramural soccer game, working on an astronomy paper, and taking a very pleasant break to observe the moon.


Check out this playlist I made using Rhapsody:

"Another Day In Paradise" - Phil Collins
"Leslie Anne Levine" - The Decemberists
"Eli, The Barrowboy" - The Decemberists
"Coming Up Roses" - Elliott Smith
"Cherokee" - Clifford Brown
"Cortez The Killer" - Neil Young
"Powderfinger" - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
"Tired Eyes" - Neil Young
"Helpless" - Neil Young
"Galang" - M.I.A.
"Life On Mars?" - David Bowie
"Caroline Goodbye" - Colin Blunstone
"Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground" - White Stripes
"Que' Onda Guero" - Beck
"Poor Little Fish" - The Jayhawks
"Wuthering Heights" - Kate Bush
"Hounds Of Love" - Kate Bush
"Hounds of Love (new mix)" - The Futureheads
"Clash City Rockers" - The Clash
"I Wish It Would Rain Down" - Phil Collins

To listen, just click the link and Rhapsody will start playing the playlist automatically. If the link is not clickable, then you can copy it into the "Address" field in your browser.

If you don't have Rhapsody, you will be directed to a website where you can download it, or you can go to

Remember: to hear this playlist in its full-length glory, you will need to be a subscriber. Not a subscriber yet? Start a FREE TRIAL today to listen to this playlist and thousands of CD-quality albums instantly!

Enjoy the music.

Oh yeah, don't look for a link, because there isn't one. I couldn't make it work. Sorry. :(

Posted by smit2174 at 10:37 PM

April 11, 2005

I love my Republican Senator-- MN State Senate edition, part 1

From this site via this site vis-a-vis Take a Left...

The Crazy Antics of the Honorable Senator Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater)...

Apparently, keeping those "homos" in their place is so important, it is no longer enough to harass them with a discriminatory Constitutional amendment. Marriage is in peril... desperate times call for desperate measures... desperate measures such as hiding behind a bush and spying on a gay rights rally. Take a look at the pictures. It's kinda hard to definitively ID her, considering that she's hiding in the bushes, but I totally think it's her... the bodyguard gives it away. Also, note clue #2-- her fashionable color scheme. Sky-blue slacks, white sweater... always a classic.

Those crazy Republicans... what will they think of next?

Post your favorite Republican's wacky antics in the "Comments!"

Posted by smit2174 at 5:05 PM

Thoughts on the DFL Ward 2 convention

Well, I could sum it up myself, but I'll just let you read what the Minneapolis Observer's Ballot Box has to say...

After a tense, four-ballot struggle this afternoon, Cara Letofsky won the DFL endorsement for City Council in the 2nd Ward. Letofsky, who we considered the favorite when she entered the race, took 41 percent on the first ballot, with challengers Dan Miller garnering 31 percent and Bill Svrluga taking 28 percent. Svrluga lost ground in the second ballot and withdrew. On the third ballot, Letofsky’s total jumped to 53 percent, with Miller getting 45. But on the pivotal fourth ballot, Letofsky attracted 55 percent of the vote and Miller graciously conceded. In a brief acceptance speech, Letofsky acknowledged the coming race against Green Party candidate Cam Gordon and pledged to work with all residents of the ward.

Afterward, the exuberant, but slightly shaken Letofsky told us that the convention vote “went the way I was hoping it would go.” From our vantage point, her campaign workers did a great job maintaining Letofsky’s considerable base and slowly bringing the Svrluga delegates into the fold. They took nothing for granted. Of her coming campaign against Gordon, Letofsky noted that she and Gordon are friends and that she expects a lively and civil campaign. “I think I have a good chance to win in the fall,” she said.

Though he didn’t prevail today, Miller proved to be the strongest speaker of the candidates here and did a marvelous job of mobilizing his U of M campus base. We expect we haven’t seen the last of him.

[Emphasis mine.]

I have been looking at other media for their convention stories, but I've come up with nothing. I guess they don't do a very good job covering local politics. Not even the Minnesota Daily, which ran at least three or four articles (all basically the same) about Dan Miller's campaign, gave it a mention.

So I guess I will add my own take on the convention. It was interesting, but at the same time incredibly boring. But, in the end, I'm glad I went. It was "an experience."

Poor Dan Miller. At first, I supported him because I think we need young people to get elected to office if things are ever going to change in this country. Think of the things he could do if he were elected to the City Council at age 25. However, as I got more informed about the race, and listened to all the candidates, I came to really believe that Dan was the best candidate and would make the best councilmember.

He definitely showed that he was the best politician out of the three candidates. His speech was great, and he was successful in the Q&A sessions. He was the only candidate that succeeded in connecting local issues with national issues and the identity crisis in the Democratic Party. He showed he had a good grasp of all the issues, especially in the Q&A segment-- especially compared to Letofsky, who sometimes stumbled and looked unconfident, and then tried to cover it up with lame jokes. Svrluga did OK, but he just didn't connect with me. The entire crowd seemed receptive to him, but whereas both Cara and Dan got huge cheers from their respective delegations, old Bill only received polite applause.

I believe that the main thing that killed Dan's campaign was that he relied too heavily on students. The third and fourth ballots were very close, with Letofsky getting 53 and 55, while Dan remained at around 45. If he had just been able to turn out a few more students... who knows what would have happened? I don't believe that the delegates in that gymnasium truly represented Ward 2. Cara Letofsky succeeded because she had a hardcore, dedicated base that did the thing that was most important-- they showed up, got themselves elected delegates, and then showed up at the convention.

Who knows how many students were unable to attend precinct caucuses, or became delegates and then couldn't make it to the convention, or discovered just how excruciatingly boring a DFL convention truly is and left halfway through? I know quite a few people who fit into one of those categories.

Dan Miller really connected with students, but he couldn't reach out to the older demographics as well. (Although I did see one elderly couple who were very enthusiastic Miller supporters, and it made me happy.) People just didn't take him seriously. I saw a good example of this when talking to a middle-aged, pony-tailed, probably ex-hippie delegate, who didn't even seem to recognize that Dan was a serious candidate. He kept referring to "both" candidates, meaning Letofsky and Svrluga, implying that they were the only two in the race. It's sad, but I guess people like that couldn't get past Dan's youngish appearance. (It also didn't help that someone started spreading the ludicrous rumor that Dan had interned for George W. Bush in Washington, D.C., a rumor which, he claimed, he had to repeatedly deny. Apparently this race wasn't as "clean" as some thought.)

Well, that's my take on the convention. We'll have to see if Cara Letofsky can defeat Cam Gordon, a founding member and the former state chair of the Green Party of Minnesota. Who knows, maybe I'll write more on this later. Right now I'm just disappointed with the local Democratic party, and I need to go to class.

Posted by smit2174 at 1:17 PM

April 8, 2005

Great moments in movie quotage, part 1

I have to write about this real quick before I forget.

So, today, we watched Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon in film class. It's a really good movie. It makes very interesting use of storytelling and structure. You should all check it out.

I just wanted to highlight one quote from the film that I thought was just... well, see for yourself:

Priest: "Thanks to you, I think I can keep my faith in man."
Woodcutter: "Don't mention it."

I don't know if that is insanely ridiculous or earth-shatteringly profound. What are you supposed to say when someone says you've restored their faith in humanity? "Don't mention it?!" I took it from the subtitles, so perhaps it was different in the original Japanese. I just don't know what to make of it.

Posted by smit2174 at 4:24 PM

April 7, 2005

Cat blogging

Hey! Exciting news! So, you know how we had to put my old cat, Miguel, to sleep? It was a sad day. He was older than me. I basically grew up with him. We had him ever since I was a baby, except for the time when he ran away for an entire spring and summer after we got Buster, the bad dog German shepherd. He was a great cat. I miss him a lot. I feel we had a special bond, because he would always sleep on my bed, and he would spend most of his time with me. He was a constant companion when I was reading and doing homework.

Well, I guess I don't have to be sad anymore! My family has adopted a stray kitten that showed up on our neighbor's porch. I haven't been home to see her yet, but they sent me a picture:

cat 003.jpg

She still needs a name. Help us out! Post it in comments if you think of anything amazing.

Posted by smit2174 at 8:49 PM

April 4, 2005

A graph is worth a million bajillion words... or about 4.5 degrees Centigrade...


Not much you can say.

I found it here.

Posted by smit2174 at 10:55 PM

April 3, 2005

Two underdog stories

I'm a sucker for the underdog. I always root for the underdog in sports, which was why I didn't really care that my NCAA March Madness bracket was screwed after the first weekend-- there were some great upsets! If an underdog were an actual type of dog, you can bet I would have one.

I'm guessing there's more out there like me. What's more American than the underdog? Why do we love Horatio Alger and Rocky and Paul Wellstone? Because, for the longest time, America itself was the underdog. Or, at least, that was the mythology. (Today, it's a different story-- that's why I root for Cuba. ;) Naw, j/k. But seriously.)

So here are two underdog stories to make you believe in something again. (As Dan Miller would say. And as it just so happens, Dan Miller is story #2!)

Story #1
Remember the Minnesota Twins? The greatest professional sports team on the planet? Valiant almost-Yankee-killers? The team that does the most with the least money?

Well, I was recently informed that ESPN.com predicts that they will win the World Series. Wow! And they have them currently ranked 4th out of all the MLB teams.

We remember it well:

And the Yankees were, in fact, in big trouble. Nobody remembers it anymore, thanks to the trouble the Red Sox wound up dealing them. But the Yankees were two outs away from trailing the Twins in the Division Series, 2-0 -- and about to head to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4.

Asked how often he thinks about how close his team came to plummeting into that canyon, Yankees manager Joe Torre laughs.

"All the time," he says.

He thought about it all winter. Now he can think about it again all summer -- because six months from now, after the Yankees and Red Sox have finished obsessing about each other, the Twins figure to be waiting for one of them again, hiding out innocently in baseball's October minefield.

I got that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when Gardenhire sent Nathan back out for another inning in Game 2. And that sinking feeling is never wrong. But you know what? I'm over it, Joe. Just get out there and win us that World Series.

So, hopefully, our first underdog story concludes this way:


Story #2
As promised, Dan Miller is our second bedtime story of the night. (Sorry, ladies. This is a non-sexual bedtime story. We know that you all "want on" Dan Miller. Seriously, try to contain yourselves.)

So, Dan Miller came to Middlebrook tonight for a little "meet 'n' greet" with some students tonight. It was fun. There was pizza. And we got to be "dictators of Minneapolis." (We didn't get to dress up, though.) In my fascist state, I decided, I would crank that gas tax ALL THE WAY up so people would: a)buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars; b)invest in alternative energy technology; and c)take public transportation more.

Anyway, it was a really cool session. Just a handful of students sitting around, discussing ways to change our city and our nation, from the ground up, and how to get youth interested in politics and empowered.

Dan has some really great ideas, like setting up an endowment for Minneapolis schools. He threw out the statistics that the schools are 69% underfunded, and frankly, if that's true, than it is not only bad, it's criminal. (And possibly unconstitutional. Which is why, he said, some groups might sue the state to provide more funding for the public schools, a strategy that has worked well in other states such as New York. It would be a handy way to get around those obstructionist Republicans that control our state and their "no new taxes.")

Another idea I liked was to have the city stop taxing wind power as it taxes other forms of energy. Right now, you can pay Xcel Energy a little more per month and get all of your power from wind. It's not like it's any better than electricity you get from oil or coal, so a lot of people probably just say, screw it, I'm not paying extra. But what if we didn't tax it? Then, says the prophet Dan Miller, wind power would actually be cheaper than other forms of energy. Do you think people would start signing up for it then? What if the entire city of Minneapolis decided to "go wind?" That would be a huge chunk of demand, and Xcel would have incentive to build more wind turbines. I thought this was a great idea that could help us impact energy policy even at the local level, something you don't really think about too often.

Well, cool. But what makes this an underdog story, rather than just an excuse to talk about (my hero) Dan Miller some more? Well, Dan Miller would seem to be a very extreme underdog. No one expects him, a 25-year old (or so) kid, just out of college, to win against a grizzled old guy who's done pretty much everything impressive you could do with your life, besides being President or the First Man on the Moon, or a middle-aged hippie lady who hasn't done so much but seems to be a prototypical white Minneapolis Democrat with a lot of rock-solid support in her own neighborhood.

But guess what? According to Dan, he's actually winning! He has the most support, at least according to his informal polling. (Derived by personally calling the delegates and asking who they're voting for. We can't trust Zogby anymore. Remember "Kerry 311, Bush 213?" Bah. I'd rather not remember.) He doesn't have a majority, but his prediction was that Bill Svrluga (I literally jumped at this-- I would have expected Svrluga to be dominating the race) would have to drop out after the second ballot, and then it would come down to which candidate could pick up the most of Svrluga's supporters. So, the convention could be really interesting. And hopefully our second underdog story concludes this way:

2005 - ?

To infinity... and beyond!

Well, that's all for now. I must sleep. Goodbye devoted fans.

Posted by smit2174 at 11:55 PM