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Month: May 2009

Limbaugh Calls Sotomayor an Angry Racist Bigot

Limbaugh Calls Sotomayor an Angry Racist Bigot

While watching this morning’s news I saw a clip of Rush Limbaugh calling Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist.

Media Matters has the full quote from Limbaugh’s radio show:

“…she’s an angry woman, she’s got a — she’s a bigot. She’s a racist. In her own words, she’s the antithesis of a judge.”

Really?  Of all the people who could attempt to get away with saying something like that, Limbaugh would be last on the list.  I guess that kind of makes him the antithessis of an informed political commentator.

Good White Wine Should Not Be Served Too Cold

Good White Wine Should Not Be Served Too Cold

Many years ago I did not drink much wine.  I drank a lot of good beer – gallons of Grant’s Ale.  Wine just did not interest me.  Looking back I am pretty sure that’s because I wasn’t drinking very good wines (Thunderbird at Lake Padden!  Need I say more?) and some very sweet, syrupy wines at my parents’ house. 

I also remember going to a wedding reception at a very swanky bar at the top of a hotel in Bellingham where I was served slightly warm white wine in a plastic cup that was incredibly tart and sour.  It was a bad wine that could only be enjoyed, if at all, ice cold.

Now I drink wine all the time, and I enjoy it immensely.

One important variable to remember when serving wines is to serve them at the right temperature.  I’ve found that most reds are best when served at around 55° to 65° F.  Many people prefer to serve white wines at refrigerator temperature – usually around 40°F.  I have found that my favorite white wines taste best when they warm up to around 50° to 60°F. 

The last two bottles of white wine I’ve drank at home; 2007 Pinon Vouvray Silex and 2007 Waldschütz  Gruner Vetliner Stangl, just got better and better as the wine warmed up.  Why is that? 

This article from Food & Wine by Pete Wells asks The Question:

“Why do we drink white wine cold?”

“That’s a good question,” Dan [Australian-wine importer and a contributing editor to F&W] said. “I don’t know.”

“Really?” I said.  This seemed like such a basic query that I couldn’t believe somebody who made his living in wine wasn’t able to answer. I couldn’t have been more pleased if he’d handed me a hundred-dollar bill.  At last I had achieved a kind of parity with someone who knows a lot about wine. It wasn’t that I knew something he didn’t know—that would be asking too much.  No, it was enough that I didn’t know something he didn’t know either.  From that moment on, The Question became a kind of protective device, something I could whip out when confronted by a wine expert the way hikers carry walking sticks for chance meetings with rattlesnakes.

Whenever I bump my head on the ceiling of my culinary knowledge, I turn to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, which lays out the scientific basis for just about everything edible. This is what McGee has to say on The Question:  “The colder a wine, the less tart, sweet and aromatic it seems.” I read that sentence a second time, and then a third.  The flavor of white wine comes primarily from just these three elements: acid and sugar, which you taste on your tongue, and aromatics, which have to evaporate before your nose can detect them.  When you buy a bottle of wine, you’re paying for flavor (and alcohol, of course).  If chilling masks the main flavor-producing elements, then every time you chill white wine, you’re throwing money away. Suddenly, I had visions of starting a consulting business that was sure to make me absurdly rich. For a modest fee I would pay a visit to your house and improve your white wine by taking it out of the refrigerator.

While I wouldn’t rule that out, it’s more likely that many Americans first encountered warm white wine the way I did—at parties, in plastic cups filled with the kind of Chardonnay that moves across the country in tanker trucks.  This wine is a menace at any temperature; after sitting in a plastic cup for 10 minutes, it deserves to be thrown in jail. I suspect that this is why, when I ask many people The Question, they look at me like I ought to be kept away from sharp objects before saying, incredulously, “Have you ever tasted warm white wine?”

Anyone bearing the scars of an early bad-wine trauma is going to make it tough for sommeliers to pour wines at the temperatures the sommeliers themselves prefer.

Clark Smith, who teaches winemaking in Napa Valley and makes WineSmith and CheapSkate wines, is rarely at a loss for words. But when I asked him The Question, he threw up his hands and reeled back, like an old gunslinger who’d just taken the bullet with his name on it. It was most gratifying. Then he said, “Well, let’s think of what we use white wine for. We use it to refresh, first of all.”  Terry Theise, who imports German and Austrian wines, gave me a similar answer: “It’s partly the function to which we put white wine. In particular crisp white wine is a water substitute, if you will, a thirst quencher.”

This explanation would have satisfied me back before I’d felt the power of The Question.  But now I was ready to take on even the meanest, baddest wine expert.  Before long, whenever one of them gave me the Refreshing Response, I had a comeback:  Do we drink whites cool because they’re meant to be refreshing, or are they refreshing because we drink them cool?

I’d have to say a little of both is the correct answer.  Drink the not-so-good ones cold and the very good ones just barely chilled.

Liberals and Conservatives have Different Moral Values

Liberals and Conservatives have Different Moral Values

If you have spent a great deal of time with someone on the opposite end of your political spectrum, then you know that there’s something quite different about their world view.  Sometimes their positions are so incomprehensible that you get very aggravated and have to dismiss them outright lest your head explode.  Well in today’s New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof, he explains that what separates liberals from conservatives can be attributed to different moral codes:

How’s this: Would you be willing to slap your father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit?

And, second: Does it disgust you to touch the faucet in a public restroom?

Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.

The upshot is that liberals and conservatives don’t just think differently, they also feel differently. This may even be a result, in part, of divergent neural responses.

One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust.

Psychologists have developed a “disgust scale” based on how queasy people would be in 27 situations, such as stepping barefoot on an earthworm or smelling urine in a tunnel. Conservatives systematically register more disgust than liberals. (To see how you weigh factors in moral decisions, take the tests at

I visited the website and found that the survey is very extensive.  There are twenty-six sub-surveys in two categories:  Basic Morals and Political Decisions.  I have completed two of them, and guess what?  I am a LIBERAL!

I’ll bet that didn’t surprise you…

“Liberty” University Bans College Democrats Club

“Liberty” University Bans College Democrats Club

from Fox News:

RICHMOND, Va. — Liberty University has ordered its fledgling College Democrats club to shut down, saying the group stands against the conservative Christian school’s moral principles.

Club president Brian Diaz said he was shocked to be notified by e-mail last week that the club was being banned by the private university in Lynchburg founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The university first recognized it in the fall.

Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said the club’s previous recognition by the school was “an oversight by an administrator” who didn’t thoroughly consult school policy.

He said he likes the group’s members and knows they mean well, but that the university has received “lots of complaints from parents and donors” about the club’s existence.

The 30 members of the Democratic club, which was started in October, canvassed neighborhoods to promote Barack Obama’s presidential run and called voters from phone banks. Diaz said it’s natural to wonder if the group was somehow being penalized for those activities.

Jerry Falwell should do the right thing – rename his school Hidebound University.

Yes, Waterboarding is Torture, so says Erich “Mancow” Muller

Yes, Waterboarding is Torture, so says Erich “Mancow” Muller

Everybody who doesn’t know already wants to know if waterboarding is torture.  They simply aren’t satisfied with what our own courts have decided or what Jesse Ventura said on the Larry King show not long ago:

Larry King: You were a Navy S.E.A.L.

Jesse Ventura: Yes, and I was waterboarded [in training] so I know…It is torture…I’ll put it to you this way: You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

Nope.  They have to figure it out for themselves.

Today was Mancow’s turn.  He agreed to subject himself to waterboarding thinking he could tell all his listeners that it’s really no big deal.  Some water on the face… a little up the nose… no big deal.  Well, here’s how it went down:

Listeners had the chance to decide whether Mancow himself or his co-host, Chicago radio personality Pat Cassidy, would undergo the interrogation method during the broadcast.  The voters ultimately decided Mancow would be the one donning the soaked towel and shackles, and at about 8:40 a.m., he entered a small storage room next to his studio that was compared to a “dungeon” by Cassidy.

“The average person can take this for 14 seconds,” Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, ”  He’s going to wiggle, he’s going to scream, he’s going to wish he never did this.”
With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand,  Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.  
Turns out the stunt wasn’t so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop.  He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.
“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,” Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child.  “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.

Okay then… another convert.  WATERBOARDING IS TORTURE! 

Oh but they say it’s not if it’s not for very long.  How long is that?  Six or seven seconds and Mancow saw the light.  Watch the video on The Huffington Post.

Next up?  I nominate Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney (although he is not human, so it would not affect him like it did Mancow), Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, and Stephen Bradbury.  Line them up in their orange jumpsuits.  There’s plenty of water to go around and there are Marine seargents ready and waiting to torture the assholes that authorized it.

Friday Night Videos – Nick Cave, Flunk, and Wilco

Friday Night Videos – Nick Cave, Flunk, and Wilco

On Tuesday of this week the newly remastered first four albums by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were released by Mute Records.  Each album also comes with a DVD that includes the album in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound plus extra tracks and “a specially commissioned short film made by acclaimed UK artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.” 

I’ve been listening to the CDs for the past couple of days, and there is a noticable improvement in the quality of sound and the mix.   Nick’s vocals are just a little more up front, and the instruments all seem to be more separate and clear.  So to all of you fans of Nick Cave:  What are you waiting for?  Go buy the new releases!  Go to your local record store or click on one of the Amazon icons for the albums that you see on this page.

With that said, here is a video of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performing “Tupelo” from the album, The Firstborn is Dead.


I’ve been listening to Flunk quite a bit since I first heard them on KEXP a couple of months ago.  Here’s Flunk doing “On My Balcony.”


The song “California Stars” by Billy Bragg and Wilco was my son’s favorite song a few years back.  Here’s a live version from Sessions on West 54th.

Hot for Teacher Night with your host Mary Kay Letourneau!

Hot for Teacher Night with your host Mary Kay Letourneau!

You think I’m kidding right?  A convicted child rapist hosting a night at a club with her former victim, 26 years younger and now husband, spinning Top 40 dance tracks? 

hotteachernight3-194x300 Hot for Teacher Night with your host Mary Kay Letourneau!

Not kidding… KOMO News reports:

SEATTLE – The odyssey of Mary Kay Letourneau, which began years ago when she was a 34-year-old teacher who raped a sixth-grade student, has now evolved into “Hot for Teacher” night at a Pioneer Square bar.

But the bar’s owner says the event is all in fun, and he hopes people take it in the right spirit.

Letourneau, who eventually served time for raping her former student then later married him after her release from prison, will be hosting the event Saturday at Fuel Sports Eats & Beats on Washington Street.

Letourneau’s former student, Vili Fualaau, will be there, too. He’ll be the DJ, spinning Top 40 and club classic hits all night.

The couple first met when Fualaau was in the second grade. Their relationship became sexual when he was 12 and she was a 34-year-old married mother of four, a teacher at a suburban elementary school.

Letourneau was pregnant with Fualaau’s first child when she was arrested in 1997. She pleaded guilty to second-degree child rape and was sentenced to 7½ years in prison, with all but six months suspended.

I wonder what songs Vili will be spinning besides the obvious “Hot for Teacher.”  Perhaps Nirvana’s “Rape Me” or “Polly.”  Gorby recommends “Teacher Teacher” by Rockpile.

Feel free to add your own suggested tracks in the comments section.

Fascist Republicans Lose Bid to Rename Democrats “The Democratic Socialist Party”

Fascist Republicans Lose Bid to Rename Democrats “The Democratic Socialist Party”

An unusual thing happened today.  The moderate wing of the Republican Party prevailed over the far right wing.  A week after the Republican National Committee drafted a resolution to rename the Democratic Party the Democratic “Socialist” Party, the resolution has been dropped.

The moderates argued that if they passed the resolution, the public would view them as a party so devoid of new ideas that all they can do is resort to petty schoolyard name calling.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele was against the resolution all along.  His side prevailed over the unruly children in his party who still claim that “the proposal was good for the GOP.”

“It has generated the debate we had hoped for,” said Indiana committeeman James Bopp. “It was an effort to educate the American people, and it was successful.”

Yes, it was about as successful as a DNC resolution to rename the Republican Party as the Republican “Fascist” Party would be. 

I’ve made the case a few times on these pages for why the Republicans are fascists, but renaming their party?  Why bother?  They have Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney in the spotlights reinforcing my view every day.

Sunlight + Dog Water Bowl + Wood Deck = Fire

Sunlight + Dog Water Bowl + Wood Deck = Fire

This is weird.  The probable cause of a Bellevue house fire last weekend was sunlight shining through a glass dog-water bowl that acted like a magnifying glass focusing the Sun’s rays into a point on a wooden deck.  The Seattle Times reports:

After ruling out other possible causes, investigators for the Bellevue Fire Department blamed the blaze in the 17100 block of Northeast Fifth Street on the dogs’ glass water bowl. The partially-filled bowl apparently concentrated the sun’s rays like a magnifying glass, said Lt. Eric Keenan, the department’s community liaison officer.

“It’s very unusual, but it’s not unheard of,” he said.

The 11-inch-diameter bowl was elevated above the wooden deck in a wire stand, Keenan said. “There was nothing else in that area that could be identified as a fire source — no smokers, no electrical devices.”

No one was home when the fire started just before 3 p.m. Neighbors called in the alarm when they noticed flames and smoke.

The deck was destroyed and the adjacent kitchen badly burned. Total damage was estimated at about $215,000.

The family’s two dogs were both apparently unhurt, Keenan said.

University of Washington atmospheric scientist Steve Warren says the dog-bowl theory sounds far-fetched, but not impossible. “The shape, the height and the angle of the sun would have to be just right,” said Warren, whose research involves measurement of solar radiation.

Want to know more?  This website has instructions for how to build a camera from household items and it explains how water in a clear bowl acts like a lens that focuses light rays.

water-bowl-lens Sunlight + Dog Water Bowl + Wood Deck = Fire
Convex lens made of water