They’ve Got Palin Covered

It took me over 2 months of research to put together my list of 100 reasons why I didn’t think McCain would be President post. It’s taken Kos only a few hours to come up with 49 (so far) reasons why Sarah Palin was a poor choice for McCain’s running mate. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Palin was not vetted properly by McCain’s team prior to him selecting her. He only met her once before he made his choice and the cracks are starting to show. Some of my personal favorites from this new list are:

2. – She advocated AGAINST mine safety / pollution control

29. – She was a bad mayor who left her town’s economy in tatters.

30. – She originally supported Obama’s energy plan.

42. – She supports the outlawed aerial hunting of wolves.

48. – There have been discussion of witness tampering and possible impeachment hearings related to charges of her abuse of power.

We’re hearing a great deal about how Palin has re-energized the Republican base. McCain has generated a lot of cash since the announcement, but this really is to be expected. It happens every time there is a major milestone in a campaign. I suspect the further along we go, the more unpleasant things we’ll learn about her. And even if that doesn’t happen, her conservative stance on the issues will simply serve to magnify the “four more years” argument for voters. There’s other stuff on the horizon as well, but it’s too early to tell about that. Yet.

UPDATE: Turns out undecided, independent voters are picking up on her downsides pretty darned quickly. Check out this video of GOP pollster Frank Luntz’s attempt to see how well Palin will bolster McCain’s popularity. That is, until the majority of the people in the room tell him just the opposite. You can almost see him literally start to squirm half way through. Obviously this poor focus group performance will somehow be good news for McCain. Somehow.

Building Bridges

There were many parts of Obama’s acceptance speech tonight that were really appealing, but near the end he spoke about common ground and our need to move into the future, not dwell on the politics of the past. I was very proud of him for not shying away from the issues that Republicans have used like so many blunt weapons in recent elections. Barack grabbed them and addressed them as only he could. He speaks to the “better angels of our nature” and as Marla Erwin said on Twitter tonight, if we do not elect Barack Obama as our President, then we do not deserve him. I agree 110%.

“We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This, too, is part of America’s promise — the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

Sing Me A Story

I threw out a fun idea for a group blog post today on Twitter and received a lot of positive feedback. A number of talented bloggers took me up on a simple proposal – What are some of your favorite “story songs”? Everyone loves music, but often times songs that tell a story stand head and shoulders above the rest. The musical tales these songs tell turn them into either one hit wonders, or classic generational hits. Which artists write the most loved story songs and is there a consensus on the best one of all time? We just may find out.

The rules for the group blog post are easy. Choose up to 5 of your favorite songs that weave a story and simply tell us why they made your list. You can be as detailed or generic as you would like, but be sure to keep your picks secret until the group post. Then, on Wednesday, September 3rd, publish your blog post along with with links to the other bloggers who are participating. We’ll get a peek inside your musical tastes and just might discover some new songs to fall in love with in the process.

Anyone is welcome to join in the fun (the more the better!), just leave your name and blog URL in the comments below. In the meantime, here is the list of bloggers who have so far agreed to participate. In no particular order, they are:

David Miller (@davegobe)
Living in the Now

David Schultz (@dvsjr)
The (mis)adventures of a macintosh administrator

Mike Schramm (@mikeschramm)
MikeSchramm.com

Dave Caolo (@panache)
Hardcore Geek

Von Glitschka (@vonster)
Glitschka Studios

Andy Rudkin (@mizaru)
mizaru.me.uk

Christina Warren (@film_girl)
ChristinaWarren.com

Austin Heller (@austinheller)
AustinHeller.com

Mason Sklar (@zargap)
masonsklar.com

Allen Emory
A. Emory

Alain Edouard (@alainedouard)
alainedouard.co.cc

Mark Goody (@marramgrass)
marramgrass

Jamie Parkins
The Sound of Silence

I’m turning Japanese!

A few months ago I came across a great website called Cooking Cute. The site gives tips and tricks for creating imaginative and beautiful bento box lunches. I’m a big fan of all things Japanese and am fascinated by the level of detail and creativity on display there.

One of the typical ingredients in a Japanese bento box are hard boiled eggs, but not just any old eggs. Cooking Cute shows how to use plastic egg molds to shape your lunch into cute objects like cars, fish and stars. Turns out you can’t get them in the U.S. (at least that I found) and so I turned to eBay and ordered them directly from Japan. Click the image to visit my Flickr page and see how the whole thing turned out.

The process is relatively simple and straight forward. Hard boil some eggs as you normally would, but peel them while they are still hot. This turned out to be the most difficult part. You have to get the eggs into the molds as quickly as possible, while they are still pliable. Be careful not to burn yourself! This part should definitely not be done by children. Next, stuff them into the molds and lock them shut. If there is overflow, don’t worry, you actually want as much egg in the mold as possible. Next, float them in an ice water bath for about 10 minutes to set and cool them. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have a cute bunny where a plain old egg used to be!

Egg molds can be great fun, especially if you have children in the house. It’s a nice project that isn’t nearly as messy as creating Easter Eggs. Just be sure you buy extra large, jumbo eggs. If you don’t, some of the parts of the mold don’t get filled and you’ll end up with failed eggtemps (sorry!). Check eBay for the latest egg molds and then get ready to bring a little slice of Japan into your kitchen.

100 Reasons Why McCain Won’t Be President of the United States

For years I greatly admired Senator John McCain. He had a reputation for being a political maverick and seemed to vote with his conscience instead of with his party. When it came down to choosing between what was right and what the GOP wanted, John McCain more-often-than-not chose what was right.

Then he set his sights on the White House.

During the past year I’ve watched McCain’s positions on things like tax breaks for the rich, a woman’s right to choose and keeping social security strong, morph and change. He went from calling Jerry Falwell an “agent of intolerance” to speaking at his university’s graduation address. Most disturbingly he created a moral exception in his own mind that it was okay for the CIA to torture U.S. detainees, even after years of working tirelessly to end all forms of U.S. held torture.

As a way to vocalize the ways John McCain has lost much of the respect progressives like myself paid him, I’ve compiled a list of 100 reason why I don’t think he’ll ever become President. The most ironic part about compiling it was that so many of the items were first mentioned on conservative websites. McCain was never a friend of Republicans, that is until he became their nominee. I sincerely hope McCain makes an effort to rediscover himself, his values and his voice once the election is complete. If this list is any indication, his influence will still be felt for years to come, just not from Pennsylvania Avenue.

• • •

100. He has trouble selling fundraiser tickets in his own state.

99. One month after 9/11, McCain made unfounded claims that the anthrax used in the deadly attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, might have come from Iraq. McCain’s assertions, based soley on his personal beliefs, not the government findings, helped bolster the case for the invasion of Iraq.

98. He voted with Bush 95% of the time in 2007 & 100% in 2008.

97. John McCain has flip-flopped on a number of important issues including windfall profits for big oil, social security privatization, the estate tax and many others.

96. Has a lifetime rating of only 24% from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). By contrast, Barack Obama, has a rating of 86%.

95. He mistakenly has said that “Iran is training Al-Qaida”.

94. Giving prepared remarks is not one of his strong suits.

93. McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February of 2008.

92. By mid 2007, he had missed 10 of the past 14 votes on Iraq.

91. Rather than support Jim Webb’s 21st Century G.I. Bill to greatly expand educational benefits to vets, McCain skipped the vote. Both Hillary & Obama voted for the measure.

90. Later, when Webb’s G.I. Bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate 92-6, McCain had the audacity to suggest that he both supported the bill all along AND that he voted for it, when in fact, he did not.

89. The GOP Congressional Group refuses to back him.

88. His campaign is tied to dozens of lobbyists, particularly from telecom companies, an industry he helps oversee in the Senate.

87. When asked, he didn’t know what kind of car he drives.

86. Angered the Catholic League after accepting the endorsement of evangelicalist John Hagee who called the Catholic Church “apostate”, the “anti-Christ” and a “false cult system”.

85. McCain has said that he would consider Dick Cheney for a post in his administration.

84. Has said that Vladimir Putin is the president of Germany.

83. Early polls show Bob Barr taking away enough votes from John McCain to give Democrats a chance to win states that should be safely Republican.

82. In 2007, McCain worked with the Bush Administration on the so-called “amnesty” bill for illegal immigrants, angering the conservative base in the process.

81. McCain wants to give the majority of tax breaks to the richest Americans instead of the working class. The majority of Americans (those who earn $38K-$66K) would save only $319 under the McCain plan. That number jumps to $1,042 under Obama.

80. McCain has stacked town hall meetings with only those people who supported his own viewpoints then has denied it to media outlets.

79. McCain is trying to float the privatization of social security once again, only this time he’s calling it “personal accounts”.

78. While the victims of Katrina were drowning, McCain ate cake.

77. McCain helped propose the “Gas Tax Holiday” that would save drivers an average of only $2.35 every time they fill their tank.

76. His campaign used music without the artist’s permission.

75. According to a June CCN poll, 63% of Democrats are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year. Only 37 percent of Republicans feel the same way and 36 percent of Republicans say they are not enthusiastic about voting.

74. When it comes to energy policy, he has a tendency to contradict himself.

73. McCain opposes comprehensive sex education.

72. McCain was the only senator to skip voting on Amdt. No. 3035, a Hate Crimes Amendment that would have expanded the definition of hate crimes and the government’s ability to investigate and prosecute them.

71. McCain voted on numerous occasions from 2003-2007 against additional funding for Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

70. McCain favors teaching the Christian religious doctrine of the Ten Commandments in public school systems.

69. McCain’s tax returns reveal that he annually collects over $58,000 in tax exempt funds as part of a “disability pension”. A spokesman for McCain said this is because of his “limited body movements due to injuries as a POW”.

68. McCain now sides with the Bush Administration to help end the off-shore oil drilling ban of 1981, a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign.

67. McCain wrongly claimed that 401ks are taxed by the capital gains tax and used this to further his point that “[Obama] obviously doesn’t understand the economy.”

66. McCain voted against Amdt. No. 2634 which was to provide additional funds for the mental health of veterans.

65. He skipped voting on the Lieberman-Warner climate change legislation that would have have included tax breaks for solar power. McCain said he skipped the vote because it didn’t finance the nuclear industry enough and he was busy running for President.

64. McCain is overly superstitious.

63. Thinks a $300 million prize to develop a better car battery is a sufficient amount of money compared to the $720 million dollars the United States spends in Iraq every day to wage war.

62. McCain has seven times fewer online followers on the leading social networks than Barack Obama.

61. McCain voted against Reed Amendment 2737 which would have repealed a capital gains tax that would have funded American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

60. John and Cindy McCain have failed to pay taxes on a California property they own for the past four years. Only after a reporter inquired about the bill with the McCain campaign did they send San Diego County a check.

59. McCain was for talking with Hamas before he was against it.

58. John McCain’s understanding of eminent domain is flawed. In May, 2008 he said: “There is a very clear standard in the Constitution requiring not only just compensation in the use of eminent domain, but also that private property may NOT be taken for public use.” In fact, the rule of eminent domain, as outlined in Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, states that private property can indeed be taken for public use if proper compensation is issued.

57. McCain doesn’t know if condoms help stop the spread of HIV.

56. McCain praised President Bush in 2001 when he said he could trust Putin because Bush had “looked the man in the eye” and got “a sense of his soul.” Asked by Chris Matthews how Bush did in his Russia trip, McCain replied, “I–I give him an A. I’d give him an A.”

55. McCain received only a 20% approval rating from the Disabled Veterans of America.

54. He scolded the U.S. Congress for taking the 4th of July holiday weekend off, but has seen fit to miss more votes than any other Senator in the 110th Congress.

53. When the incident between Russian and Georgia irrupted, McCain said that it was the ‘first serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.’

52. On at least three separate occasions, McCain made references to Czechoslovakia, a country that hasn’t existed since 1993.

51. Polling data suggests that John McCain may not be able to carry his home state of Arizona in the upcoming election.

50. Rolling Stone magazine reports that McCain’s campaign schedule is “relaxed” to say the least. Unlike traditional candidates who usually put in multiple appearances each day, McCain limits himself to one event per day.

49. John McCain supports huge tax breaks for the oil industry, but not for wind power.

48. In an interview with CBS News, McCain said that Iraq (and not Afghanistan) was the “first major conflict since 9/11″ for the United States.

47. Days after McCain’s reversal on the subject of off-shore oil drilling, Multiple oil company executives gave huge contributions to electing him. The total collected from the Hess family alone was $285,000. Total contributions from the oil industry to McCain’s campaign jumped from $208,000 in May to $1.1 mil. dollars in June.

46. At the Saddleback Church, McCain famously said that a child’s right to life begins at the “moment of conception”. Yet despite this firm position, McCain supports forms of embryonic stem cell research.

45. McCain campaigns on a promise of fiscal responsibility, and yet he and his wife carry more than $100,000 in credit card liabilities as of 6.13.08.

44. McCain compares the conflict in Iraq with the historical conflicts of South Korea, Japan and Germany and has said that America might be in Iraq for “100 years” and that it would be “fine with me.”

43. Thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. They do not.

42. McCain’s foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, has been linked to controversial businessman Stephen Payne who was caught trading money for access to President Bush in the construction of his Presidential library.

41. McCain graduated fifth from the bottom from his Naval Academy class.

40. In recent weeks both President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have moved away from McCain’s stated position of not setting any kind of deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq. Indeed, as reported by USA Today, the U.S. & Iraqi governments are close to completing a security agreement that tentatively calls for U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn from Baghdad and other cities by summer of 2009.

39. McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, has attended zero of his committee’s six hearings on Afghanistan over the last two years.

38. McCain received a grade of “D” from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

37. He can’t decide if he’s a Baptist or an Episcopalian.

36. McCain now says that gay and lesbian couples “should be able to enter into legal agreements” but not be able to marry. But last year McCain campaigned in his home state of Arizona for Proposition 107, an expansive amendment so broad it would have overturned local decisions by school districts, cities and counties to give benefits to unmarried couples – straight or gay.

35. McCain has said $5 million is the line between being considered middle class and “rich”.

34. McCain regularly turns to ex Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for advice on economic matters. Fiorina was forced out of her position at HP under charges of mismanagement.

33. When asked by a reporter how many homes he and his wife Cindy own, he could not give a number and said he would have to have his staff get back with the answer. Politico later reported that the McCain’s own at least 8 properties, but that it could be as high as 12.

32. Despite a smear campaign that George Bush and Karl Rove launched against McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary, years later McCain would forgive the lies that were spread in his name and give Bush “the hug”.

31. McCain consistently calls Obama an “elitist”, but admits that he “doesn’t know the price of gas“, and can’t remember the last time he bought any himself.

30. McCain voted against Florida Everglades restoration.

29. At the start of the US invasion of Iraq, McCain told NBC that “the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.”

28. McCain has admitted that he didn’t really love his country until he was 31 years old.

27. Over a seven month period, John McCain used a corporate jet owned by a company headed by his wife instead of paying full cost for normal airfare, effectively giving his campaign a “discount” on air travel. This use of Cindy McCain’s corporate jet violates the spirit of campaign finance laws that McCain himself helped pass.

26. McCain can’t seem to connect with young voters.

25. While on the campaign trail in 2000, McCain said “I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.” The term “gooks” is a racial epithet that has historically been used to demean all Asians.

24. McCain consistently has a problem remembering the difference between Shia and Sunni.

23. During his 1986 run for Senate, John McCain used an assumed name to make over $225,000 in renovations to a house owned by his father-in-law James Hensley, presumably to avoid perceptions that he was carpetbagger.

22. McCain used an unauthorized image of General Petraeus to help promote his fundrasing material which was done without Petraeus’ knowledge or approval.

21. Has admitted he “needs to be educated” about economics.

• • •

The Top Twenty

20. John McCain opposes net neutrality. Barack Obama supports it.

19. He doesn’t understand the legal term “habeas corpus”.

18. John McCain leads every politician in the amount of funds accepted from “Big Oil”, to the tune of $724,000 through 5/08.

17. He voted against the Martin Luther King holiday in 1983.

16. McCain claims he “supported every investigation” into the government’s role regarding Katrina, when in fact he twice voted against an independent commission.

15. He favors warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

14. He professed that Baghdad was “safe enough” to stroll through a market as any normal person would, but neglected to mention his trip was accompanied by 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters and 2 Apache Gunships.

13. He has a long, problematic history with fits of anger.

12. McCain admitted in his memoir “Faith of My Fathers” that he was unfaithful to his first wife Carol, who had been disfigured in a near-fatal car accident on Christmas Eve, 1969. McCain recounts the events leading up to his divorce and says it was “my own selfishness and immaturity. … I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the [stress of] war. The blame was entirely mine.” In return for giving him a divorce, McCain agreed to pay for his ex-wife’s medical care for the rest of her life.

11. McCain has implied that the Iraq war was fought over oil.

10. In 2002, McCain criticized preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” but later changed his mind, giving the graduation address at Falwell’s Liberty University in May of 2006.

9. He doesn’t know how to use a computer.

8. In May of 2008 John McCain said: “I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.’’ But the fact of the matter is that Reagan did negotiate with Iran, albeit unknowingly, through Oliver North. Acting under the Reagan administration, North traded arms for hostages as Reagan later admitted. McCain is either lying or he is ignorant of the historical facts of the Iranian hostage incident.

7. Believes in appointing judges that would help to over turn Roe v. Wade and take away a woman’s right to choose.

6. McCain voted against the Webb amendment calling for adequate troop rest between deployments.

• • •

The Top Five

5. Corruption: John McCain was part of the Keating Five scandal accused of corruption in 1989 in conjunction with the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.

4. Age: Although age shouldn’t be a factor for determining the next President of the United States, in the eyes of voters, it is. If he were to win the Presidency, McCain would be inaugurated at the age of 72, making him the oldest person ever elected. POTUS is the most stressful, demanding job on the planet and McCain has a history of health problems including multiple treatments for skin cancer. McCain has already outlived both his father, who died at the age of 70, and his grandfather, who died at 61.

In addition, McCain has made numerous gaffes while on the campaign trail, more than can be explained as mere accidents. He’s had trouble with geography (Somalia for Sudan, Iraq’s borders, etc), he’s re-written history, and made several of these mistakes on several separate occasions. Critics are starting to notice the mistakes are piling up.

Finally, while he claims to be fit enough to “hike the Grand Canyon”, he also sees nothing wrong with collecting tax payer funds in the form of a POW “disability pension” (see #70). Despite claims to the contrary, McCain’s age has become a legitimate campaign issue.

3. Torture: Himself being a former POW, he believes that prisoners of the United States shouldn’t be subjected to various forms of torture including water boarding. That is unless they are being held by the CIA, in which case, they can be. His decision to flip-flop on this key issue, one with which he has fought long and hard against, has cost him dearly with independents, moderate Democrats and even some Republicans who see the shift as hypocritical.

2. Money: McCain has had an extraordinarily hard time raising funds for his campaign. In March, McCain raised a mere $15 million dollars to Obama’s $40 million. For every dollar McCain raises, Obama raises 3. Such a massive financial advantage will allow Obama to compete in more states than McCain and force him to defend states that should rightfully be Republican wins.

Although the Republican National Committee helps make up for McCain’s fundraising shortfalls, it none-the-less can’t keep pace with the Democrats and Obama. Diverting cash from the GOP coffers to McCain’s fight for the White House will have detrimental effects on other, smaller GOP races. Obama has more than 1.5 million donors while McCain has just a few hundred thousand.

1. Bush: By any metric chosen, clues point to voters favoring Democrats in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House this fall. President Bush’s approval records are at an all-time low, hovering around 28%. Democratic voter registration is 2-3 times higher across the country than their GOP counterparts. And for the first time in 3 election cycles, Democrats are raising more money than their right-leaning counterparts. In addition, wedge issues which were so effective against John Kerry in 2004 such as gay marriage have taken a back seat to topics like Iraq, the economy and energy.

John McCain has attempted to distance himself from the Bush administration, while at the same time aligning himself with the majority of his critical policies. From Iraq and his tax proposals, to his flip-flop on women’s choice and the types of judges McCain would appoint, there is virtually no difference between the candidate and Bush. Obama easily fills entire stadiums with voters hungry for change, but McCain must be content with relatively small gatherings of loyal, core followers. McCain may make a go of the election through the use of fear, misinformation and doubt, but in the end, signs point to an Obama victory, due in part by Bush weary voters.

Fear & Loathing Illustrated

In an effort to underscore just how much the right fears Barack Obama, I’ve put together this helpful info graphic. Inspired by something Britt Whitmire said this morning on his radio show, I decided to check out the total number of entries for both Obama and McCain at Snopes.com, a non-partisan website that tracks urban legends and scam emails. They say animals that are cornered tend to go on the attack, so judging from what’s happening at Snopes, one could theorize conservatives are feeling “trapped” this election cycle.

Emails, rumors and media reports filled to the brim with misinformation about Obama have been circulating for months in an effort to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the Senator from Illinois. This might have worked in 2004 against John Kerry, but Obama is being proactive with sites like Fight The Smears and surrogates that counter media lies at every possible opportunity. It’s about time too because, like millions of progressives in this country, I’m tired of the Democrats running defense these last eight years. The recent flap over McCain’s multiple homes is just the sort of thing Karl Rove would unleash on Obama if he had the chance. Don’t believe me? The data at Snopes doesn’t lie.

This Isn’t Monopoly

I’m listening to Brad & Britt this morning as callers phone it to voice their support for John McCain since he can’t seem to remember how many properties he and his wife owns. For the record Politico says 8, but it could be as high as 10, but what’s a few million dollars between friends anyway? What I love the most are how McCain supporters on the radio and over at Ed Cone’s blog seem to think this epic blunder doesn’t really matter. I think I could slice the hypocrisy with a knife it’s so thick! These are the very same people that have been trying to make Obama out to be an ivy league, real estate swindling, Paris Hilton hob-knobbing celebrity for the past few months, and now they say that just because John McCain can’t remember if he has 8 or 10 homes, it doesn’t mean he’s any more elitist than you or I.

I’ve got news for all of you. 99.9% of Americans will never own multiple houses, let alone just one. I’ve actually never met anyone who owned more than one, and I’m sure that if I did, they’d know exactly how many properties were on their balance sheet. McCain doesn’t handle his finances, his wife does, so what does THAT say about his credibility when it comes to handling the economy of this country? Oh, and all those people who are trying to make Obama out to be just as much of a rich elitist as McCain – Obama earned his money with a best selling book (which he wrote himself), he didn’t marry into it. He left college with piles of debt which he just recently paid off thanks to old fashion hard work. So the next time you claim Obama isn’t “one of us” just remember that Obama doesn’t own Park Place and Boardwalk. McCain does.

Banana Splits Redux

See ya later Hannah Montana! Shove off Spongebob! Cartoon Network has announced that The Banana Splits are bursting back onto the small screen starting in September. Variety reports that Warner Brothers is getting ready to tap into yet another aspect of baby boomer and generation x nostalgia by airing Splits shorts, music videos and DVD tie-ins. While aimed squarely at kids and their parents, the new wave of promotional material will most likely be eaten up by 30-somethings like myself. I fondly remember Bingo, Drooper, Fleegle and Snorky as they would introduce cartoons all while fending off the dancing go-go girls of the Sour Grape Bunch. Although there have been attempts to re-launch the Banana Splits before, this one is the first effort to really take off. So keep your eyes peeled (sorry!) for all new Banana Splits merchandise and be sure to tune into the Cartoon Network sometime after September 2nd to find out what all the fluffy, fuzzy fun is about. And awaaay we go!

Beijing Takes Home the Gold

I’ll admit that I never really got into the 2004 Athens Olympics. If I watch the games at all, they’re usually the winter variety, but this summer something is different. The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics have sparked the interest of people across the globe and grabbed hold of me like never before. There are a number of great things being done by the host country, the IOC and NBC’s coverage that have set these games apart from any I can remember. Here’s a list of just some of the things I’ve throughly enjoyed this time around. Bravo Beijing!

The Opening Ceremonies

Right from the start I knew the opening ceremony of the 2008 summer games was going to be something special. I distinctly remember how disappointed I was with the start of the 2004 Athens games and so I almost didn’t tune in this time. Boy, am I glad I did. The artistry, depth and intricacy of the spectacle set the bar far above anything I’ve ever seen. From the huge animated scroll, to the wonderful 2,008 Tai Chi demonstrators all moving in unison, Beijing did the Olympic tradition proud and put on a visual feast that won’t soon be forgotten.

Incredible HD Coverage

The Beijing games are the first Olympics I consider to be truly broadcast in high definition. There are hundreds of hours of HD coverage from NBC and her sister networks and it is simply wonderful. Watching the opening ceremonies, the epic spanning shots of Beijing and the incredible sports action in the pool and on the track in HD cannot be beat. If we can’t be court-side for beach volley ball or high up in the Bird’s Nest for the parade of nations, NBC’s Beijing HD broadcasts have to be the next best thing.

The Design

I love the look of these games. Every single visual aspect of the 2008 Beijing Games has been masterfully designed to evoke emotion, Chinese tradition and technical perfection. From Herzog & De Meuron’s famous “Bird’s Nest” stadium and PTW Architects’ exciting “Water Cube” swimming center, to the elegant design of the wave pattern employed on banners, posters and even the medals themselves, Beijing looks simply stunning. By contrast, London’s designers come off as hacks.

Compelling Athletic Drama

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are all in play in Beijing. I’ve really enjoyed watching Michael Phelps make Olympic history with his eight gold medals. I’ve also been rooting for the Chinese every chance I get from rowing (they won their first golds!) to women’s beach volley ball, the incredible women’s marathon and beyond. And who could forget Usain Bolt’s incredible and cocky performance in the men’s 100 meter dash? The 2008 Summer Games have been a dream come true for sports fans around the globe, and it isn’t over yet.

The Commercials

Yes, even the ads kick ass. The commercials during the games have put those over-hyped, over-priced train wrecks we see during the Super Bowl to shame. I especially love VISA’s simple, narrated ads with Morgan Freeman and the always inspiring creations of United Airlines. Between the games and the commercials, I can barely break myself away from the TV long enough to grab a snack!

Greensboro Apple Store Update

Back at the end of July I took a picture of what I was sure was the future home of the new Greensboro Apple Store. Unlike my first guess, I was sure this time I had the actual location of the retail space and submitted it to The Unoffical Apple Weblog. The fine TUAW folks indulged my Jimmy Olsen fantasies and posted the picture to the cheers of Triad Apple fans. Unfortunately, last week Talos found out that the store in the picture will in fact be a new William Sonoma and not the Apple Store. So much for that Pulitzer Prize I was gunning for. Now comes this video from Greensboro WXII News 12 stating that the Greensboro Apple Store is indeed delayed until February of 2009. A major bummer to be sure, but if what the reporter in the piece is saying is true, then we have a good reason for the delay. I’ll take a larger Apple Store if it means we have to wait a bit longer. Must. Be. Patient.

It’s a Science Experiment!

Inspired by a recent episode of Mythbusters, I’ve decided to undertake a small science experiment. I want see how many more miles I can get out of a full tank of gas simply by changing my driving habits. It’s a documented fact that the more aggressively you drive, the more gas you waste. As Kari, Grant and Tori showed on Mythbusters, driving stressed out or angry used up to as much as 1/3 more gasoline as when speed limits, traffic signs, etc. are obeyed. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an overly aggressive driver, but I do exceed posted speed limits from time to time, and if you ask my wife, she’ll gladly tell you that I take corners rather hard. So when I filled my tank on August 8th, I made a mental note that I was going to “go to my happy place” while driving around town. I would then compare my average milage during my experiment with what I’ve been getting over the last 10 fill-ups. Fortunately, I’ve been keeping track of my average miles per gallon since May for just such an occasion.

Using the data I’ve collected over the last ten weeks I’ve determined that I get an average of 258 miles to a single tank of gas which is about 21 miles per gallon. I rarely do highway driving so my around-town trips fall squarely at the low end of Honda’s 21-23 MPG rating for the Civic. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, I can increase my average miles per gallon simply by becoming a more responsible driver. Even if I don’t manage to get much more bang for my mileage buck, I can say without a doubt that I’ve actually enjoyed driving more these past few days than I usually do. Since I know I can’t speed, I plan my departure accordingly and give myself plenty of time to be places. This results in a more relaxed pace and a more enjoyable experience behind the wheel.

One unexpected side-effect of my experiment is that I can see how I must have been driving. When not on my bumper or passing me at dizzying speeds, other motorists have been generally cranky as I obey traffic signs and speed limits. It’s funny because I drive along and think “there but for the grace of God, go I”. As of today, my fuel gauge is reading half empty and my odometer says I’ve gone 153 miles. Pretty good, but as a friend pointed out to me, my car’s fuel tank is not symmetrical so the lower half of the tank probably holds less than the upper. This means we’ll have to wait for the experiment’s conclusion to see just how I did. I’ll be sure to do an update when I have the final results.

When this trial is over, I’ll probably go back to my lead-footed ways, but if I can get 10-20 more miles out of a tank of gas simply by obeying posted speed limits, I may take up permanent residence in my driving “happy place”. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Well the results of my experiment are in. After running all the way past “E”, with no extra highway driving, I managed to get a full 278 miles out of my fill-up. That means that simply by obeying speed limits and curbing my aggressive driving, I managed to get a full 20 more miles from my car than normal. I increased my average miles per gallon from 21 to 23 which just about equaled an extra gallon of gas. Hooray for science!

New ‘Dinner’ Is Impossible To Swallow

Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible used to be one of my very favorite shows on television. The reality series about chef Robert Irvine tackling increasingly difficult culinary challenges with absurd time limits made for great drama. The show was a bright spot in a network lineup filled with Americanized knock-offs of genuine hits and talentless hacks who think big boobs and native pronunciations pass for cooking ability. Then, early in 2008 it was revealed that the show’s host, Irvine, had padded some of the more impressive parts of his culinary resume. This, combined with some bad business decisions by Irvine surrounding two new St. Petersburg, FL restaurants, led Food Network to can Irvine in favor of Michael Symon of Iron Chef America fame.

Viewers got a taste of the new Dinner: Impossible on July 20th, with a special advanced viewing of Symon as host. The results were not encouraging. Symon stumbled through his first challenge like a freshman CIA student, all the while annoying us with his goofy giggle. You might be tempted to chalk this unpleasant outing up to beginner’s nerves. But Symons deals with high pressure cooking situations every time he does battle in Iron Chef America’s Kitchen Stadium. No, it seems clear that Symons isn’t compelling or likable enough to shoulder Impossible without Alton Brown riding shotgun.

Even though Robert Irvine didn’t actually work on Princess Diana or Prince Charle’s wedding cake, it turns out he was perfectly skilled to host Dinner: Impossible. Irvine was a tough, but fair chef who brought out the best (and worst) in those he worked with. Whether he was cooking in -30 degree temperatures for the ice hotel episode or giving a set of his prized knives away to soux-chefs who inspired him, Robert Irvine made Impossible what it was. I don’t particularly care if Food Network didn’t bother to check his credentials before they hired him, I throughly enjoyed watching him cook under pressure. The suits that canned Irvine have proven once again that what viewers want, and what network executives want are two very different things.

The official start to season 5 of Dinner: Impossible with host Michael Symon starts August 20th, 2008. However, the show’s producers had better get Symon’s buns in gear or they may find viewers souring on DI, permanently. Personally, I think they should have given the gig to Guy Fieri. He turned in a fun and memorable performance as a guest chef on Dinner: Impossible last season and would strike the perfect balance between challenge completion and humor the show so desperately needs. Even an aging Emeril Lagasse would have been a better choice than Symons to helm the show. If I had to choose between Emeril’s “Bam!” and Symon’s silly cackle every week, “Bam!” wins hands down. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Sushi In LEGOs

This is the kinda thing you wish you had thought up first. The incredible creation seen here combines two of my very favorite things: LEGOs and sushi! LEGO master “Big Daddy” Nelson says this took him about a day to put together. I just love the detail of the shrimp and the realism of the tray and chop sticks. Click the photo to surf on through to his Flickr page to get a better view. Bravo Big Daddy!

Hat tip: Fanboy.com

Hey McCain, Send Me My Tire Gauge. Please!

I really have to laugh at the way John McCain has run his presidential campaign. First he says that he wants to take the high road and stick to the issues – no attacks on character or low-brow stuff that Bush threw at him in the South Carolina 2000 primary. Then he goes comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears (Paris has an excellent retort out this week BTW). Then when Obama says a simple thing Americans can do to help reduce demand for oil and drive down the price (the reason why oil is back to $120 recently is because demand is down between 2-4%) is to keep their car’s tires inflated to the proper pressure, McCain pounces and claims this is the main focus of Barack’s energy policy. It is not, it never was and they know it. No, they are so desperate to attack Obama they’ll pick any little thing, even things that every expert agrees would indeed help. Obama responded to this asinine GOP stance this week:



So until I can get my 2009 Honda Fit with its built in pressure sensors, Mr. McCain, PLEASE send me my free tire gauge. I could really use it. See, I love my country and I want to help reduce dependency on oil, BOTH foreign AND domestic and until I can buy my electric car, I’m looking for ways to use less gas. A tire gauge would really come in handy. It’s a pity you don’t realize that because that’s what being the leader of the free world is all about, knowing what’s really important and what is just noise. I’m reminded of Michael Douglas’ speech at the end of The American President. America has serious problems and we need serious people, and McCain’s 15 minutes, with his “politics as usual” approach, are up.

Waiting for the 2009 Honda Fit

So the lease on my 2005 Honda CRV was up this past July and like millions of other Americans who are dealing with high gas prices, I started looking for a smaller car this time around. Enter the Honda Fit. One of the best selling cars in its class, the Fit seemed just like what I was looking for both in gas mileage and price. I set up an appointment to test drive a Fit and found that I really did like it. Surprisingly it drives much more like my CRV than I expected. I thought I would feel very low to the ground, but I didn’t. And when Honda says the Fit is one of the roomiest cars for its size, they are not kidding. I didn’t feel cramped at all. There’s only one problem – a new model is coming in just a few months.

After a quick bit of research, I’m glad the sales person at Crown Honda didn’t manage to pressure me into walking off the lot with the current model. The 2009 Honda Fit has improvements in almost every area that make waiting worth it. Here’s a list of just some of those improvements:

• Tire pressure monitoring system

• Voice activated GPS

• Apple iPod adapter now standard

• Two new engines: a 1.3 liter i-VTEC or a 1.5 liter i-VTEC

• Overall length, width and wheelbase have been increased

• Windshield moved forward, A-pillar is smaller for better visibility

• More storage space

With all of the focus on gas mileage these days, I was really happy to see that the Fit includes a built-in tire pressure sensor. That small addition should help owners immensely when it comes to getting the most miles from each fill up. The Fit also forgoes the standard addition of a spare tire and includes a tire patch kit instead. By doing so, the car frees up space for other things like those wonderful “magic seats” while also lightening the load, again increasing gas mileage. You gotta give Honda credit, in today’s world every bit helps.

I’ve also noticed some nice things about the new Fit that Honda doesn’t tout, but are none-the-less important to a CRV driver like myself. One of these features is the ability to control the sound system from the steering wheel. I’ve really grown to love this feature in my CRV and every time I climb into my wife’s Civic, I instantly miss it. These controls are absent on the current Fit, but you can see in close-ups of the 2009′s dash, that they are there. Another is the modified gauges including a non-recessed speedometer. I really don’t like the current “sports” look of today’s gauges with deep wells that hold the instrumentation. While the 2009 Fit doesn’t totally remove these recessed gauges, the primary one is once again flat and easy to read which is a big help. Lastly, there is an extra storage well on on the passenger’s side above the glove box and a swing down storage tray between the front seats. Both are obviously lifted from the design of the CRV which is just fantastic.

if I didn’t know better, I’d swear Honda had designed the new 2009 Fit just for me. Of course, there are always downsides to any car and advanced reviews suggest that the car’s pick-up isn’t as good as the current model. This, combined with higher levels of noise at highway speeds seem to dictate an informative test drive is in order before I make my final decision. For now, I’m happy going month-to-month on my current lease and biding my time. Of course, when the new models arrive, they’ll probably be in short supply, so that “autumn” release may eventually turn into a winter purchase. If the 2009 Fit turns out to be 1/2 as good as it looks however, I think I’ll have made the right decision. Wish me luck!

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, Honda decided to release the new Fit a month early. It’s being released to dealers on August 26th so if you’re in the market, prick up your ears people!