Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Roots drag Jimmy Fallon's show down into the depths

I happened to turn on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night and was surprised to see Michele Bachmann as a guest.  And they seemed to be having a good, friendly conversation; it was enjoyable to watch.

That was before I learned about the message that Mr. Fallon's house band, The Roots (yes, I know they're famous for more than just being his house band, but that is what they are in regard to the show) sent with their intro music.  As most people who watch late night television know, guests occasionally are greeted by the band with some sort of fitting music.  Usually, it's pretty funny.

But it is certainly not funny to greet Michele Bachmann (or, really, anybody) with Fishbone's "Lyin' A** B****".  (No, the real title does not have any asterisks in it)

Tasteless.  Classless.  I would not condone this type of behavior toward anyone.

And this was not a random occurrence.  No, it was planned, per the tweet of Questlove of The Roots (and yes, this tweet was sent before Ms. Bachmann appeared):

Since this has come out (apparently most of the people I follow on Twitter aren't familiar with songs like this one, and neither am I), reaction has been swift on conservative fronts, at least.  For example, Dana Loesch wrote, "I can’t wait for the day when progressive males can evolve to a higher intellectual level and debate conservative women on facts, not on sex."  She then compared this incident (which, from what I have seen, has generated no reaction whatsoever from the MSM) with all the hand-wringing over the booing of Michelle Obama at a NASCAR event.  Which is worse, booing someone or calling someone a bitch, really?

And Glenn Beck, for all his over-the-top antics, hit it on the head in his calling for Mr. Fallon to fire his band.  Video courtesy The Right Scoop:

Do you think any other conservatives would want to be a "guest" on a show in which the band is going to be flat-out hateful?  I don't.

And what does Jimmy Fallon have to say about this:  not much.

I'm sorry, but I think there needs to be more said.  An apology during tonight's monologue would be a good start.  But only a start.  It's time for a message to be sent that this type of behavior is not going to be blindly accepted anymore.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cap Metro does something helpful!

From the "credit where credit's due" department:

Capital Metro, Austin's occasionally decent but oftentimes maligned public transportation service (for examples of maligning, see here, here, and here) has finally done something that has caused me to give them a few kudos.

The backstory to my kudos starts here:  during a recent vacation (recounted, with some perspective, here), we used a local transportation service that had a feature that we really liked:  by texting a stop ID to a certain number, we could be texted back the next three stop times.

As the loss of the vehicle on that vacation has forced me back onto Cap Metro buses, I thought more than once about how having the ability to get stop times for my particular stop texted to me would be a great asset.  And then I thought that there was no way in the world that Cap Metro would do something, you know, that might actually help their riders.

Which shows what I know:  Cap Metro is doing exactly what I saw on my vacation.  From their blog:

Here’s how it works: every bus stop in the system has a unique ID number.  The bus stop at 11th and Guadalupe is #504, for example. With your phone and that ID number, you can:
Text: Text the bus stop ID number to DadnabTM at (512) 981-6221, and receive a reply text with the next scheduled bus arrival times for the buses that serve that stop.

Cap Metro's blog goes on to mention other ways of getting schedules.  I did notice that in connection with this new notification, the price of their schedule book ("Destinations") is going up to $3.  Whatever.

My main concern with this new texting method is this:  is it possible for the times texted back to the waiting rider to be adjusted based on the bus's real-time position?  It's all well and good, for example, to know that the #3 stops near my office at 5:29, but when the bus comes 20 minutes late, as it did on Friday afternoon, that information is not going to help me very much.  The transportation service that we used on our vacation definitely adjusted its upcoming stop times (I checked).

(Aside:  yes, it was indeed 20 minutes late, and I got no explanation when I called Cap Metro's "MetroLine".  There was actually another #3 that came by prior to the one that stopped, but the first bus had taken the route number down and wasn't picking anyone else up.  So why, at 20 minutes late, were we?  We were actually passed by the later #3 bus because we stopped to let everyone on.  That doesn't seem right, somehow.)

All in all, this is a good move for Capital Metro, but with some tweaking, it could perhaps be even better.

Update 11/22/11:  Apparently Destinations has been $3 for a while now, so nothing is changing there after all.

Sarah Palin on Congress's incredible double standards

Despite the hopes of many, Sarah Palin is not going away.  She has had a couple of prominent speeches since her announcement that she is not running for president, and in Friday's Wall Street Journal, she lets members of Congress (on both sides of the aisle) have it in a column entitled "How Congress Occupied Wall Street".  Very quickly, her tone is set as she refers to "this permanent political class in all its arrogant glory" in her discussion of a new book by Peter Schweizer (a foreign policy advisor for her PAC) called "Throw Them All Out".*  (I gotta say that I really like that title.)  She continues:

Mr. Schweizer answers the questions so many of us have asked. I addressed this in a speech in Iowa last Labor Day weekend. How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires? How do they miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us? How do politicians' stock portfolios outperform even the best hedge-fund managers'? I answered the question in that speech: Politicians derive power from the authority of their office and their access to our tax dollars, and they use that power to enrich and shield themselves.

"The money-making opportunities for politicians are myriad," she goes on, and as it turns out, a good portion of this is because the laws that apply to us little people don't apply to members of Congress, including laws regarding whistleblowing and FOIA requests.  It would seem to breed a fair amount of corruption.

And Governor Palin knows a thing or two about corruption:

I've been fighting this type of corruption and cronyism my entire political career. For years Alaskans suspected that our lawmakers and state administrators were in the pockets of the big oil companies to the detriment of ordinary Alaskans. We knew we were being taken for a ride, but it took FBI wiretaps to finally capture lawmakers in the act of selling their votes. In the wake of politicos being carted off to prison, my administration enacted reforms based on transparency and accountability to prevent this from happening again.

She goes on to argue for real solutions that "transcend political parties".  Hopefully this is a call that is heard by the American people.

Her entire column is worth a read.  Check it out.

* Disclaimer:  I get paid if you buy through this link.

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Online Red Kettle, and other ways to help out this holiday season

As I have taken some time today to remember what's truly important, I have remembered that this is a time of year when a lot of people think of others.  And so, I am repeating almost word for word what I said last year.

As has been my wont for the past three years, I am once again hosting an Online Red Kettle for the Salvation Army, for those who have either already finished their shopping or want to plan out their donations in advance.

So, if you would like to donate through my virtual kettle, you can do so by clicking the kettle below:

(Image courtesy The Salvation Army)

A couple of other ways to help out this holiday season (and, really, any time) are as follows:

If you are in the Austin area, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, where, according to what they have said, your monetary donation can go about five times as far as a food donation, as they can buy in bulk and save money.  They do a lot of good work, and we've supported them before.

Also, my online friend (though we disagree politically) Kim Doyle Wille supports (and I believe I have as well, by participating in one of those retweet-this-hashtag-and-we'll-donate-money schemes) Feeding America, which is a more national program than our local food bank, obviously.  (Feeding America appears to be matching donations until Thanksgiving.)

All of these options are well worth your support.  Regardless of your where your political and religious affiliations lie this holiday season, let's all help someone out who needs it.

What's important again? Part 2

No, my second long hiatus from blogging in a month and a half is not related (this time) to the announcement by one Sarah Palin that she is not running for President.  No, this hiatus was related to my taking the family on a cross-country trip.  And honestly, it was good to step away from the computer every so often and reevaluate things.  And did I ever get the opportunity to reevaluate.

See, while most of the trip was quite enjoyable (we visited a certain cartoon mouse and friends), one member of the family became very ill, and we feared for that member's survival. 

I refer, of course, to our vehicle. 

On the way out, the vehicle informed us that we were leaking oil.  And we were leaking it badly.  As we had already traveled several hundred miles and did not want to blow multiple days by waiting for the vehicle to sit in a shop in the hopes that they could fix the leak (as opposed to, say, visiting a cartoon mouse), we pressed on, keeping a sharp eye on the oil level.  The leak was not getting any worse, but it was bad enough that we were adding a quart every 100 miles. 

Once we reached Cartoon-Mouse-Land*, the vehicle was allowed to sit and not cause us any grief until such time as we left to return home.  And for two days of driving, we continued to add oil and hope that everything would go well and that we could get the vehicle into the shop once we were back in Austin.  We already were fearing that the cost of repairs would be more than we were willing to pay, given the age and mileage of the vehicle, and we were okay (though certainly not thrilled) with what we expected to come.

What we did not expect was for the vehicle to die on us, with (as we learned later) a non-functional fuel pump.  Between that and the oil leak, this vehicle is not worth the cost of repairing it to make it run again, and so we began the grieving process (which, as one might expect, is harder for the 5-year-old) to say goodbye to the vehicle.

So what does all this have to do with reevaluation?

I have not refrained from mentioning on this blog that I am a Christian.  Honestly, though, I would argue that American Christians don't always think about reliance on God.  With a gimpy vehicle, though, I thought about it quite a bit.  We prayed to make it back home safely, and at first, when the car broke down, I was a little frustrated...after all, we were stuck on the side of the road.  But, really, I now think that our prayer was granted.

See, what I did not mention was that the car broke down less than ten miles from our house.  We drove over 2700 miles on this trip, and the car could have died anywhere along that route.  (And anyone who has driven Interstate 10 knows that there are some long, desolate stretches.)  We were able to get a tow truck for the vehicle, as well as a taxi to get Mrs. Snowed back to pick up our family's other vehicle to come get us and the stuff, at a very late hour, and not only that, but both the tow truck and the cab arrived at the same time, so that we could coordinate everything perfectly.

Obviously, I'm not saying that everything went perfectly, but God was definitely watching over us on this trip.  I don't know that I'd say that something like this would happen like this again, as God is going to do what he chooses to do, but in this case he chose to get us home, and the way it all turned out was a great reminder for us to put our trust in him.  And that is much more important than any of the petty political things about which I normally blog.**

*In accordance with the wishes of Mrs Snowed, the chances of any pics of the family at Cartoon-Mouse-Land showing up on this blog are about the same as the chances of the Indianapolis Colts running the table and winning the Super Bowl this season.  If you want to see pics, you might want to talk to me in a location in which I don't use a nom de plume.

**Not that I'm gonna stop tweeting about the political stuff.  I mean, my snark has to have an outlet somewhere.