Monthly Archives: November 2012

Friday Night Music: So Far Away

Mark Knopfler + Emmylou Harris = Awesome:

Friday Night Music: So Far Away

Mark Knopfler + Emmylou Harris = Awesome:

The Bloc Blah Vote

From Album4

Not exactly news, but if anyone had any doubts

A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.

To add a personal note, when I lived in Wisconsin, I was usually part of the annual August 15th migration (you can google “Madison August 15” if you’re not familiar)…I’m pretty sure I registered on-site for every election I voted in up there. It was very easy, very effective…and if Scott Walker has his way, no longer an option.

Malaka Of The Week: Susan Collins

The Susan Rice farce continues anon. I remain gobsmacked that John McCain’s
personal pique is driving the whole story as well as getting Senators who
allegedly know better involved. The Senator in question isMaine’s
Susan Collins
. I am avoiding the usual modifier applied to her,
“moderate,” because I’m not buying it, and I’m sick and tired of
hearing her called a moderate when on vote after vote after vote, she toes
the party line. The late Senator Jake Javits of Noo Yawk was a genuine
GOP moderate, Senator Collins is not. That is why she is malaka of the week.

Collins has added *another* specious concern to this mess: Rice’s role in the aftermath of 1998 bombings
in Tanzania and Kenya when she worked for the Clinton administration. This is preposterous: it never came up when
Rice was nominated for her UN post and Senator Moderate Malaka voted *for* Rice
but now it suddenly matters.

I don’t give Collins’ complaints about Rice’s “political role”
after the Benghazi fiasco any weight whatsoever. I have a policy of
disregarding and mocking any pol who criticizes someone else for playing
politics. Every act by every administration is political even when they deny
it. There is no separation between politics and government, and there never has
been, and never will be.

The worst that can be said about Ambassador Rice’s alleged offense is that
she lied for her country and her President, which she didn’t, and even if she
had, it is the essence of diplomacy. Just ask Henry Kissinger.

I was strongly in favor of John Kerry being appointed as the master of the Foggy
Bottom bureaucracy; until this week, that is. I think the President needs to go
ahead and appoint Rice, and fight for her nomination unless she declines it in
disgust. Who could blame her?

Hell, I’m not even one of those people who believes in the Scott Brown
restoration theory as the explanation for this surreal episode. That’s too
rational. This whole thing reeks of the irrationality and personal pique that
drives every action by Senator Walnuts. I think he’s predominantly pissed off
at Rice because she made her comments on a Sunday show. That’s McCain’s safe
place, y’all. I admit that that’s a crazy notion but who’s crazier and pettier
than John McCain?

Senator Collins, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for stooping to McCain
and Little Lindsey’s level when even Holy Joe would not go along with them. I
used to think you were okay, but now I see you for what you are: a fake
moderate and a real malaka.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Charlie Chan in Egypt

I have more guilty pleasures than any mere mortal should have. One of them is (are?) Charlie Chan movies. They are laced with ethnic stereotypes, broad humor and Scandinavians playing Asians but, lord help me, I love them.

I recently watched Charlie Chan in Egypt for the first time in many years. It is simultaneously good and campy. It features an Egyptian dude who calls everyone “effendi,” the fortune cookie wisdom of Warner Oland as Charlie Chan and the antics of Lincoln Perry aka Stepin Fetchit. The story is swell but every time Oland and Perry were onscreen together I started riffing about duelling ethnic stereotypes: the positive versus the negative. I suspect you can figure our which is which.

Anyhoo, here’s the lobby card. Btw, Rita Cansino is the *very* young version of future screen goddess, Rita Hayworth who was a Latina playing an Arab. She was pretty darn cute as a brunette too:

Charlie chan in egypt

Race to the Bottom: College Edition

I have somewhere between three and six degrees, depending on
how the universities I attended are attempting to count them.

And, no matter how you slice it, none of those degrees make
me smarter, better, more intelligent or anything else when compared to people
who don’t have them.

If I am better or smarter or anything else, it comes from
what I actually LEARNED in doing the degrees.

This is whythe recent moves by governors Larry, Moe and
Curly to create “McYugo” degrees
has me wondering if I’ll eventually just wear
a paper hat to class and ask, “Welcome to the university! How may I help you
today?”

Florida’s Rick Scott announced earlier this week his plan to
create four-year degrees at institutions of higher learning that could be had
for $10,000
. By the end of his call to action, seven institutions, including
educational powerhouses like Valencia College, Daytona State College and
Broward College all said they were up for the challenge.

If this attempt to create a cheap alternative to actual
learning sounds familiar, it’s because Texas braintrust Rick Perry thought of
it first.
During a statewide address, Perry called for colleges and
universities to keep the costs down, even pitching the idea of a $10,000
degree. Other awesome ideas these two Ricks agree on include collecting data on
faculty to see how many students they are teaching and how much grant money
they are raising, limiting state appropriation increases and providing
funding-based incentives based on how many kids a college can graduate.

Nothing says quality education quite like the “charge ‘em
cheap, stack ‘em like cordwood and shove ‘em out the door quick” model.

If it’s a bad idea about higher education that is being
poorly executed by Republican idiots, it’s a safe bet that my governor, “Scotty
Doesn’t Know” Walker, will be quickly following suit in a more disconcerting
and less compelling fashion.

Instead of pitching a “We’ll paint your car for $99” degree,
Walker helped push out the “Flexible Option” degree this week. This will allow
people who think they already have a pretty good handle on book learnin’ to
show those skills to other people who will be incentivized to make this program work so
they can get a jumpstart toward an “almost bachelor’s” degree at various
institutions.

The bonus? Although the people involved don’t know how much
this will cost, it will be cheaper than going to school for a traditional
four-year degree.

At some point, we, as a society, must start to figure out
what it is we are valuing here: Is it the degree or is it the knowledge?

It used to be theorized that one begat the other and the
other reflected positively upon the one. Now, it’s a “Git Er Dun!” approach
that makes educators become “providers” and students become “customers.” People
want degrees faster, cheaper and easier.

As the proud holder of more degrees than most, I can tell
you with absolute certainty that degrees don’t matter worth a crap.

The doctorate was cool for about five minutes. I passed my
defense, called a restaurant and ordered reservations for “Doctor” me. After
that, it really didn’t do much. However, that stats class I killed myself in to
learn how the hell to do research mattered. The assistantship I took that
forced me to teach really smart kids how to be smarter and encourage really
weak kids to apply themselves and learn something mattered.

If you want to dial it back even more to my master’s and
bachelor’s degrees, I can’t say I learned a whole hell of a lot from the tests
and quizzes, but rather the experiences.

Being “forced” at the time to take courses in ethnic
studies, sociology and other areas helped me figure out who I was and how I fit
into a puzzle of many other pieces.

Taking speech, even though I’d been speaking competitively
for four or five years, helped me see what other bad speakers did that I needed
to avoid and what other good speakers did to help me want to better myself.

Being on campus didn’t hurt either, as I got to meet people
from other races, ethnicities and sexual orientations and realize they ran the
gamut of “full of shit” to “really fucking awesome” just like everyone else. I
got to ask questions and give answers regarding who we all were and why people
could or couldn’t get along.

(Speaking of questions and college, here’s my best one ever:

I’m in a room at age 19 with my journalism TA and four other guys who were also
gay and we were all drunk as shit on margaritas.

One guy asks, “So you’re straight?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Him: “I gotta know. What’s a woman’s … y’know… like?”

Before I can answer, Stereotype Gay Guy chimes in with
“Honey, I’ve been there. It’s like a wet, loose handshake.”)

Not one of those things (not even the “handshake”
discussion) led to a degree. As the years went on, I realized that the degree
was pretty much a by-product of the learning.

My father would probably lose his damned mind if he heard me
talking about this, and not just because he’d figure out that his 19-year-old
son was shithammered on tequila in some guy’s apartment watching “Priscilla,
Queen of the Desert” on VHS.

Dad was a big believer in the power of the degree. He spent
his whole life in one factory and he was often passed over for improved
positions due to his lack of a sheepskin. He was a foot smarter than anyone
around, but that four-year degree held an almost mythical power over those who
doled out promotions.

If he said it once, he said it a million times: “Your mother
and I have done pretty well for ourselves, but let me tell you…” he’d pause and
a wistful look would creep across his face. “If I only had that damned degree,
we would be a lot better off.”

On more than one occasion, he referred to my degree as “your
generation’s union card.” When he found out that I kept the actual diploma in a
box of crap under my bed, he looked at me like I’d used it for toilet paper.

The sheepskin didn’t matter. The stuff in my head did.

I try my best to pass that along to my students each day I
teach. If you’re here for a grade, I explain, you’re cheating yourself. Some
nod, others don’t, but I think a lot of them figure it out. It’s my hope that
they figure this out a lot faster than I did and that they vote for people who
understand it as well.

Still, every semester, including this one, I have a painful
email conversation with at least one kid that usually starts like this:

“I’m supposed to graduate next week and I just noticed I’m
failing your class. Can I get some extra credit or something? My mom and dad
are coming out for graduation and we’ve got a party planned, so I need those
points.”

Friday Guest Catblogging: Mr. Coco

My pal Christy Brackhack works at a swell critter place on Freret Street in New Orleans, Zeus’ Place. This is one of the kitties they’d like to find a good home for, Mr. Coco:

Mr. Coco

Dig those crazy Michelle Bachmann-type eyes. Or are they Bette Davis Eyes?

Giving thanks for Mrs. Kaim

Her name was Ellen Shoshany Kaim and she taught me the
secret to life while we were waiting for a park board meeting to commence.

A blizzard was pounding Madison, as wind swept across the
isthmus from what seemed to be every direction. It was the kind of day where
you wanted to sit home and do nothing. In my case, I had to work at the
newspaper and I was praying for a quiet night of making cop calls and writing
briefs out of the briefs bin.

For reasons past my understanding, the dayside editor had
received pressure from the upper management to get more work out of the
nightside reporters. In an attempt to appease someone or other, he had me
slated to cover a park board meeting.

Nothing of importance ever comes out of a park board meeting
and nothing of importance was expected to come out of this one either. My boss
had circled three minor agenda items and told me I could patch together a
byline story out of them. As I listened to him tell me what he wanted, I stole
glances out the newsroom windows, which were being buffeted by angry
snowflakes.

The drive was about six or seven miles, but I was driving a
1991 Pontiac Firebird. This car took to snow like oil took to water. It had no
back end weight and often fishtailed out of control, despite the fact I’d
dumped my dad’s entire collection of weightlifting equipment into the trunk in
an attempt to improve the traction.

The snow had been falling for about two hours at a rapid
pace and the streets department wasn’t clearing the roads. The theory was that the
folks with the plows would wait until most of the snow had fallen and do one
good clearing because what kind of idiot would be on the road in this crap?

I got to the meeting with about ten minutes to spare, only
to find that no one from the board was there yet. The only thing in the empty
room was a microphone and a small, rumpled woman who looked to be about 900
years old. She sat quietly among the chairs in about the fourth row.

When I entered the room, she looked back at me with a smile spreading
across her wrinkled face. “Why are you here?” she asked me in a very thick
European accent that I couldn’t quite place.

I told her the newspaper sent me out here to cover the park
board meeting and I wasn’t sure if the meeting was still on. She explained that
the board members had an event or something downstairs that was still ongoing
and it had been delayed because of a ridiculous amount of snow. She said she
had taken the bus here much earlier in the day and had been waiting for the
board.

“I came to talk about my rock,” she said.

Given the accent, I wasn’t sure I heard her right, so I
repeated what she told me. She greeted the response with a perfunctory nod of
pride and agreement.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I told her. “Your rock?”

Her eyes lit up as she realized I was a trapped audience of
one. She explained that she had saved about $30,000 and was donating it to the
parks department to create a memorial to the Holocaust. She was having a giant
boulder put into one of the area parks with a plaque on it to remind people of
what had happened all those years ago. Two benches would face the boulder and
would be dedicated to two men I had never heard of who, like Oskar Schindler, had
aided Jews in their survival.

She didn’t look like she had a pot to pee in or a window to
throw it out of. She also had taken the bus here, lived in an apartment in a
less-than-stellar part of town and seemed a bit off. The idea of her having
$30,000 and just giving it to the city for a giant rock didn’t seem plausible.
As a reporter, I’d heard all sorts of stories over the years and I had learned
to be wary of stuff like this.

As I was pondering all of this, she seemed to see a look of
quizzical doubt creeping across my face.

“I do this because there is guilt in surviving,” she said.
“You have to help people remember. We aren’t many left.”

She then told me the tale of how she came from a family of
well-to-do German Jews in 1930s Berlin. As Hitler rose to power, her father was
warned to find a way out of the country. A week before the military started
closing down the borders, she was ferried out of Germany along with the rest of
her immediate family.

They made their way to America, where she grew up and
eventually met a nice Jewish boy she wanted to marry. His trip to this country
had been sidetracked by a stay at the Bergen-Belsen Death Camp.

The camp took on many stages of use, ranging from a POW camp
to a “shoe” work camp. Eventually, the former leaders of Auschwitz took over
and converted it to a death camp. Although the camp lacked the traditional
tools of death associated with these facilities, such as gas chambers,
approximately 50,000 people died there, mainly due to typhus. The camp gained
notoriety in 1945 after images of the liberated camp become public and it remained
in the collective conscience when it became known that Anne Frank had died
there.

She spared me the details I’m sure her husband shared with
her over the years. The one thing she did tell me was that she married him in
the late 1960s and until the day he died, he slept with his arms folded and his
hands placed on his shoulders. He never moved an inch during sleep. She
explained that was how he was forced to sleep in the camps and despite his best
efforts, he could never shake the habit.

The Nazis cost her aunts, uncles, cousins and more. As the
years went by, she found that more people showed more doubt about the stories
she shared and information that emerged. She kept saying to me that it was
important for people to remember and for the people who saw and experienced
these things to keep finding ways to remind people so it never happened again.

I found myself taking notes, forgetting all about why I was
there in the first place. I then asked her name and asked if I could tell her
story. After three attempts to have her spell her name for me and me screwing
it up, I handed over my reporter’s pad and she printed out “Ellen Shoshany
Kaim.”

The park board had found its way into the meeting room at
this point and its members were shuffling through their paperwork. Mrs. Kaim
and I settled into our seat and got ready for the meeting to start. I was
looking toward the front of the room when I felt a tug on my arm. I looked down
and saw her gnarled hand.

She had a small twinkle in her eye and asked, “Would you
like to know what I have found to be the secret to life?”

“Yes, please.”

She beckoned me in with a bony finger and I leaned in close,
as to not have her voice disrupt the meeting as it was called to order.

“Spend all your money on education and travel.”

I gave her kind of a strange look.

She answered my stare.

“Those are the two things no one can ever take away from
you.”

The meeting began and Mrs. Kaim took to the front of the
room, explaining the rock and her plans for it. The board passed it with no
trouble at all. I had to duck out of the meeting early to make my deadline.
When I got back, I explained to my boss what I had found and that, yeah, sure I
could do the three boring briefs or I could tell this story. She not only
agreed to let me do Mrs. Kaim’s story, but she managed to carve out a premier
spot for it. The story drew praise from the dayside crew as well.

About a year or so later, I got an invitation from the park
board to come to the unveiling of the boulder. I was about two weeks from
leaving the state for what would be a decade, so I skipped the ceremony without
much of a thought.

Still, I often found myself replaying that moment in my head
and her secret to life: education and travel.

I hated travel, but I did get about as much education as
possible. When my formal degrees had reached their end, I tried learning about
other things. I learned how to work on cars, small engines and other mechanical
items. I taught myself how to refinish furniture and how to cane chairs. I
learned how to use different computers and various programs. I also dedicated
myself to teaching people so that I could share what I had learned and maybe
find a way to help other help themselves.

Over the years, I’d bump into a copy of the story I had
written on her and the note my boss had scrawled across it, complimenting me on
a job well done. I could still recount, practically word for word how she
explained why she was giving the city a “rock.”

About two weeks ago, during a break in one of my classes, a
couple kids were yammering on about a chance to take an interim class on travel
photography and how cool it would be and how great it would be to go to all
these places and photograph them and…

“So go,” I piped up, drawing the attention of everyone in
the room. It was as if E.F. Hutton had shown up or something. “What’s the
problem?”

The young lady shot back, “Uh… It’s called MONEY! I can’t
spend all that money on a trip for something like this.”

“Spend all your money on education and travel,” I told her.
“Those are the two things no one can ever take away from you.”

She paused. “What?”

I told her the story of Mrs. Kaim and the rock and the
secret to life. The kid paused and pondered and then said, “I wonder if I can
use some of my student aid for this.”

She then looked at me. “Whatever happened to that lady?”

“I really don’t know,” I said. “I’ll see what I can find
out.”

The rest of the day, I Googled the terms “Shoshany Kaim” and
“obituary,” figuring on her being dead. Nothing came up, so I started going
through various guides and online phone books. No luck there either.

I saw that her rock was listed on the website of a Jewish
community center near the park, so I emailed the office and asked for any
information on her. I received a perfunctory email about an hour later:

“Mrs. Kaim passed away a number of years ago.

If I can be of further assistance please feel free to
contact me.”

A follow-up inquiry directed me to an obituary in the paper
I used to work for. She died about four or five years ago. I hadn’t really
thought about her in years other than when that moment comes up to talk about
education or travel. Or when I want to tell kids about how sometimes a great
story can just fall right into your lap. Or when I have to explain how some
things just stick with you, like the image of a man sleeping with his hands on
his shoulders…

Or on this Thanksgiving, where I realized that a park board
meeting and a chance encounter gave me the gift of perspective and a sense of understanding.

Good night, Mrs. Kaim. And thanks for everything.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Mr. Coco

My pal Christy Brackhack works at a swell critter place on Freret Street in New Orleans, Zeus’ Place. This is one of the kitties they’d like to find a good home for, Mr. Coco:

Mr. Coco

Dig those crazy Michelle Bachmann-type eyes. Or are theyBette Davis Eyes?

Thursday Night Music: Oh Effendi

This tune sprang to mind for two reasons. First, the Guardian recently had an extensive interview with 10cc’s fab four of Creme, Godley, Gouldman and Stewart. Second, it’s been in my head since I saw the Egyptian bloke in Charlie Chan in Egypt call everyone “effendi.” It is not for the easily effended.<ba-boom>


There’s also a pretty swell live version on the YouTube but it’s not embeddable. Here’s a link.

Thursday Night Music: Oh Effendi

This tune sprang to mind for two reasons. First, theGuardian recently had an extensive interview with 10cc’s fab four of Creme, Godley, Gouldman and Stewart. Second, it’s been in my head since I saw the Egyptian bloke inCharlie Chan in Egypt call everyone “effendi.” It is not for the easily effended.<ba-boom>


There’s also a pretty swell live version on the YouTube but it’s not embeddable. Here’s a link.

Quote of the day: Crazy old coot edition

It comes from former Senator and legendary loose cannon, Alan Simpson, during an appearance on Hardball the other day:

“So how do you deal with someone who comes to stop government? … Grover
wandering the earth in his white robe saying he wants to drown
government in the bathtub. I hope he slips in there with it.”

Tweety was briefly speechless, which is quite an accomplishment. Here’s a vid of the entire surreal interview:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Charlie Chan in Egypt

I have more guilty pleasures than any mere mortal should have. One of them is (are?) Charlie Chan movies. They are laced with ethnic stereotypes, broad humor and Scandinavians playing Asians but, lord help me, I love them.

I recently watchedCharlie Chan in Egypt for the first time in many years. It is simultaneously good and campy. It features an Egyptian dude who calls everyone “effendi,” the fortune cookie wisdom of Warner Oland as Charlie Chan and the antics of Lincoln Perry aka Stepin Fetchit. The story is swell but every time Oland and Perry were onscreen together I started riffing about duelling ethnic stereotypes: the positive versus the negative. I suspect you can figure our which is which.

Anyhoo, here’s the lobby card. Btw, Rita Cansino is the *very* young version of future screen goddess, Rita Hayworth who was a Latina playing an Arab. She was pretty darn cute as a brunette too:

Charlie chan in egypt

It’s Never Time to Fight Back

I can’t tell you how many people have voiced the opinion in the past couple of weeks that the ongoing US union uprising is just so terribly badly timed:

In any event, the $989 million in pension liabilities Hostess ended up owing various union funds, according to its bankruptcy filing, didn’t accumulate in secret, like termite damage. It accrued because Hostess and its sister bakeries judged their retirement obligations to be relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Now that the bill has come due, Hostess blames the workers for demanding what they were promised.

So rude. How dare they ask for what they were told they could expect? Why don’t they just sit down like good little boys and girls and let the adults cast lots for the spoils of their labor? In fact, why don’t they go away entirely? Their presence is an uncomfortable reminder that we once told them they could live like human beings. They’re being so uncivil. They’re being so loud. They’re being so insistent. Don’t they know everything is just a big ironic joke now? Why do they have to get so upset? It’s not like this matters.

You know, 90 percent of all of our political and cultural problems, I am starting to think, come from getting mad at the person pointing out that THE WORLD IS ON FIRE instead of grabbing a bucket and joining the fire brigade.

First you have to prove that the world is on fire, and then that you have a legitimate right to speak up in the meeting to alert people to the fire, and then you have to prove you didn’t start the fire in the first place, and meanwhile livestock is fleeing the danger zone and the temperature’s approaching molten-lead levels, but we’re still debating whether you’re enough of an expert on incindiaries to make us put down our morning coffee.

A.

Kaiser Rhymes With Liar

Remember my open letter to Andrew Cuomoabout former Katrina Kaiser (as opposed to Kay Kyser) Ed Blakely? I kept wondering why there was no confirmation from Noo Yawk and when the Sandy Commission was announced, the pompous Dr. Blakely’s name was missing.Here’s how the Gambit covered it:

Brad Penuel, the co-chair of the New York Hurricane Sandy commission to which Dr. Ed Blakely claimed he had been appointed last week, told Gambit by phone today he wasn’t familiar with Blakely — and in a subsequent email, added, Just received confirmation that Ed Blakely will not be serving on the Commission.”

Blakely — the Hurricane Katrina “recovery czar” who had been
appointed under former Mayor Ray Nagin — made big waves last week when
his new employer, the University of Sydney in Australia, issued a press release saying Blakely had been appointed to the Respond Commission. Blakely gave an interview on the subject to an Australian radio station, confirming the appointment.

The Respond Commission is one of three announced by the state of New
York to analyze the response to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
Penuel, its co-chair, is also director of the Center for Catastrophe
Preparedness and Response at New York University,

An official press release released an hour ago from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s
office announced the commission’s makeup and made no mention of
Blakely, although it noted “Additional appointments may be made to the
commissions.”

Penuel, though, made it clear that Blakely would not be one of them.

I’m not sure if the flack from NOLA caused a retreat or Blakely just lied about it. My money is on the latter. Kaiser Ed has never been part of the reality based community and he’s too old to start now.

Quote of the day: Crazy old coot edition

It comes from former Senator and legendary loose cannon, Alan Simpson, during an appearance onHardball the other day:

“So how do you deal with someone who comes to stop government? … Grover
wandering the earth in his white robe saying he wants to drown
government in the bathtub. I hope he slips in there with it.”

Tweety was briefly speechless, which is quite an accomplishment. Here’s a vid of the entire surreal interview:

Kaiser Rhymes With Liar

Remember my open letter to Andrew Cuomoabout former Katrina Kaiser (as opposed to Kay Kyser) Ed Blakely? I kept wondering why there was no confirmation from Noo Yawk and when the Sandy Commission was announced, the pompous Dr. Blakely’s name was missing.Here’s how the Gambit covered it:

Brad Penuel, the co-chair of the New York Hurricane Sandy commission to which Dr. Ed Blakely claimed he had been appointed last week, toldGambit by phone today he wasn’t familiar with Blakely — and in a subsequent email, added, Just received confirmation that Ed Blakely will not be serving on the Commission.”

Blakely — the Hurricane Katrina “recovery czar” who had been
appointed under former Mayor Ray Nagin — made big waves last week when
his new employer, the University of Sydney in Australia, issued a press release saying Blakely had been appointed to the Respond Commission. Blakely gavean interview on the subject to an Australian radio station, confirming the appointment.

The Respond Commission is one of three announced by the state of New
York to analyze the response to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
Penuel, its co-chair, is also director of the Center for Catastrophe
Preparedness and Response at New York University,

An official press release released an hour ago from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s
office announced the commission’s makeup and made no mention of
Blakely, although it noted “Additional appointments may be made to the
commissions.”

Penuel, though, made it clear that Blakely would not be one of them.

I’m not sure if the flack from NOLA caused a retreat or Blakely just lied about it. My money is on the latter. Kaiser Ed has never been part of the reality based community and he’s too old to start now.

Marvin Miller, R.I.P.

Flood-Miller
Curt Flood and Marvin Miller in 1970.

Marvin Miller was always a controversial figure in his time as the head of
the baseball players union. He was a die-hard union man who came to sports from
the United Steelworkers. In this era of overpaid free agents and millionaire
bench warmers, it’s easy to forget that ballplayers used to be little more than
indentured servants. Marvin Miller was the one who changed that.He
died today at the age of 95.

Despite being one of the most consequential off-field figures in baseball
history, Miller is not in the Hall Of Fame. I suspect that being the scourge of the
owners may have something to do with that. That’s as good a reason as any for
his enshrinement but the real reason is that he changed the game in a major way.

As much as I grumble about overpaid players, Miller’s legacy is a positive
one: ballplayers have the right to control their own careers, which brought the
American way to the National Pastime.

It’s a pity that most current players know little or nothing about the man
who made them rich and spared them from having to get a j-o-b in the off-season.
I have some nostalgia for those days: it was always cool when an announcer told
you what a player did in the off-season. Richie Hebner, who played for the
Pirates, Phillies, Mets, Tigers and Cubs had my favorite ballplayer job: he was a gravedigger.
I am not making that up.

Update:I just read Keith Olbermann’s post about Miller’s passing.It’s a good ‘un. I’ve missed Keith even if he is a bit of a malaka but he’s *our* malaka…