Archive for April, 2008

Marching for babies

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Loyette, Becky, Casey (visiting for the weekend from Rochester) and I went on the March for Babies this morning on UT’s campus. It was fun!

That’s Becky pushing Loyette’s stroller above, and Casey next to her. Here’s a photo of Loyette and me, relaxing after the walk:

My t-shirt, if you’re wondering, says, “Fatherhood: the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

Anyway, thanks again to everybody who sponsored us! We ended up exceeding our goal, with $620 in donations!

If you didn’t sponsor us, but would still like to donate to the March of Dimes, why not sponsor the Neudorffs? They’ll be marching next weekend in Rochester.

After the jump, some more photos of today’s march here in Knoxville.

UPDATE: Welcome, No Silence Here readers! If you didn’t know, “Loyette” is our baby’s blog nickname, not her actual name. :)

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Ah, the tabloids

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Well, at least it's equal opportunity scandal-mongering. And hey, maybe ABC can have another debate and ask the candidates about these crucial issues. :)

Thanks!!

Friday, April 25th, 2008

A big thank you to everyone who has donated to our March of Dimes “March for Babies” fund! As you can see at right, we’ve reached our goal of $500. A blog reader’s donation of $65 this evening put us over the top. Woohoo! All that money will go toward research to help sick babies. Good work, everybody!

The march is tomorrow. I’ll try to get a cute picture or two for the blog. :)

And a Trojan shall lead them

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Fellow "Irish Trojan" Katherine Kirkpatrick, who, like me, attended USC for undergrad (she’s even a Daily Trojan alum), and who is now a rising 3L at Notre Dame, was elected NDLS’s new SBA president in a runoff election last week. She will be inaugurated on Sunday.

A Trojan at the helm of the Notre Dame Law School student body: I love it!! Finally, Operation: Trojan Horse can proceed as planned! ;) Just kidding. Seriously, congratulations, Katherine!

In addition, an anonymous tipster informed me that A.J. Bellia and Lloyd Mayer — the latter being my former Election Law professor and adviser for my Electoral College paper, the former being one half of the school’s recent professorial retention coup — finished tied in the initial balloting for NDLS Professor of the Year. That led to a run-off, which Professor Bellia narrowly won. Congrats to him, and to Professor Mayer for his close second-place finish; they’re both great professors, and well deserving of the recognition.

A question for Tennessee radio listeners

Friday, April 25th, 2008

I’m traveling to Denver from May 4-6, and will be landing at the Nashville Airport (Southwest doesn’t fly into Knoxville) at 8:25 PM on Tuesday the 6th. By that time, of course, results from the Indiana and North Carolina primaries will be coming in; indeed, winners may well have been declared before I land. Alas, I didn’t think about this when I scheduled the trip.

Anyway, during my drive back to Knoxville, I’d like to listen to live coverage of election-related news on the radio. Hence, my question for Tennessee radio listeners: Are there any radio stations (presumably AM) in the Nashville area that would have this? What about in the no man’s land between Nashville and Knoxville? And for that matter, what about in the Knoxville area? I almost never listen to the radio for this kind of thing, so I don’t know.

So which team are you going to root for now, Brendan??

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The Connecticut legislature reached a compromise with UConn that will allow the university’s football team to schedule a six-year series against Notre Dame, even though none of the games will be played in Connecticut. The Irish balked at playing at the Huskies’ 40,000-seat home stadium, Rentschler Field in East Hartford, insisting instead that UConn’s "home" games played in larger stadiums elsewhere, most likely in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and/or New York. However, Connecticut lawmakers were unimpressed with the idea of UConn outsourcing its home games to other states. In the words of State Rep. Michael Christ,
D-East Hartford, who proposed an earlier bill that would have
required UConn to play all its home games at Rentschler, "Many of us felt we already had a beautiful facility in
Connecticut and it was built for UConn."

The newly announced deal requires UConn to play six home games at Rentschler Field each year, "as long as the NCAA rules permit a
12-game season and permits a team to use one Football Championship
Subdivision win per season as a bowl-eligible win." It also reduces the length of the series between UConn and Notre Dame from ten years to six. "I
believe we have crafted a reasonable solution," said Christ, who added that he hopes UConn can persuade the Irish to play at
Rentschler Field in the future. (Ha! Fat chance.)

The series will start in the 2011 season and go through 2017.  The three home games for the Irish will, of course, be played at Notre Dame Stadium.  The deal still needs to be approved by Notre Dame and venue officials.  Connecticut and Notre Dame already have a separate deal to play next season in South Bend.

UPDATE BY BRENDAN:  Rep. Christ wrote a scathing op-ed about this topic last week in the Hartford Courant. My dad suggested the headline, "Christ to Notre Dame: Screw you." Heh.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

Loyal Husky fans flock with family and friends to Rentschler for every home
game, rain or shine, in support of their beloved team. There are hundreds of
stadium workers who depend on a game day payday from parking cars, working
concessions and post-game clean-up. Many local school bands and clubs as well as
charities also use games to bolster fundraising. Should all those benefits move
to Massachusetts? I say no!

If Rentschler Field is too confining for the
Leprechaun army the Fighting Irish deploy each week, how come the similar
capacity stadium of the Boston College Eagles (formerly of the Big East) is not
too small? That series alternates between South Bend and Chestnut Hill,
Mass. …

There is no question Notre Dame will remain the "Wal-Mart" of college football as long as it is able to keep its national television
network deal. However, UConn officials can come out of this looking like heroes
both here in Connecticut and nationally by saying "no thanks." They could brag
that no one, not even the legendary Notre Dame, can tell Connecticut where to
play its home games. Even if the Fighting Leprechauns, after a few more years of
two-win seasons
, do eventually find their television revenue dried up and are
forced to finally join a conference, it is very possible that the Irish will
abandon their pseudo Big East affiliation and join the Big 10 anyway.

Ahem. It was a three-win season, thank you very much.

Incidentally, to answer the question posed by the title, I will, of course, root for Notre Dame, my alma mater. But as I said in comments, "if I had to pick one game (other than USC) for ND to lose, it would be
the UConn game. Imagine what a huge win that would be for the Huskies
program."

That said: Gooooo Irish! Beeeeeat Huskies! :)

A rueful I-told-you-so post

Friday, April 25th, 2008

TNR‘s Michael Crowley makes two excellent points. First:

With about 95 percent counted around
midnight [Tuesday] night, Hillary was leading by 10 points. But now, with
99.44 percent counted, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State shows her
winning 54.6 to 45.4. That’s only 9.2 points–less than her 10.3 margin in Ohio, and less than the 10.5 bar that all-powerful CW-arbiter Mark Halperin had set for her.   

Yet no one cares. The storyline is clearly that Hillary had a decisive victory which keeps her campaign alive.

Why
isn’t the reality of single digits a bigger problem for her? One reason
is that the final margin often matters less than the presumed margin
when people like Russert go to bed
.

That’s absolutely true, and is something that I anticipated on Monday: "I maintain that a double-digit win is necessary for Clinton to really
claim an unalloyed ‘victory’ … Though, the state of the race at around 10:00 or 11:00
PM Eastern time probably matters at least as much as the actual final
numbers
, since the media usually decides its transitory ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ before bedtime on the East Coast."

And, speaking of things that make me say I told you so:

Another reason–one an Obama
aide was just grumbling to me about–is the weird havoc exit polls play
with the media’s primary-night storylines
. Yesterday’s early exit polls
had suggested a nail-biter that suggested Hillary might be finished.
Yet, much like Super Tuesday, Hillary made a "comeback" over the course
of the night, as her vote margin gradually widened. Why, it was almost
as though Obama had Hillary on the ropes and she fought him off with
pure grit and determination. Impressive! She’s back!

If I were a
Machiavellian Obama operative, next time I might consider leaking some
phony exits showing misleading strength for Hillary.

As I said repeatedly before
this completely predictable occurrence happened, there’s absolutely no
excuse for the media to be fooled by that exit poll nonsense anymore,
because Obama always does better in the leaked exit polls than
he does in the final results. ALWAYS!! It’s happened over and over and
over again: New Hampshire, Super Tuesday, Texas & Ohio, and now
Pennsylvania. Will these idiots never learn?

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Karl Rove reads Barack Obama’s mind!

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

It turns out Karl Rove isn’t just an evil strategic genius. He’s an evil telepathic strategic genius, as he demonstrates in an Obama-bashing WSJ column today:

Mr. Obama has not been a leader on big causes in Congress. He has been
manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues.
He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance,
thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his
colleagues, mildly amused at their to-ing and fro-ing
.

He knows how to deceive the electorate, debase public discourse, win elections, and read minds. Is there anything Karl Rove can’t do?

P.S. If you’re looking for a less mendacious take on the Clinton-Obama race, Time‘s Joe Klein has a comprehensive — and depressing — look at what Pennsylvania hath wrought.

Reality check

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Josh Marshall:

I think I’ve said this a hundred times, as have many others.  But this article in Thursday’s Times
is a good moment to revisit the point. As Patrick Healy explains, it is
simply a fallacy to claim that winning a state’s Democratic primary
means you’re more likely to win that state in the general election or
that your opponent can’t win it. …

That’s not to say there isn’t a difference between the two as general
election candidates — at least in their current incarnations. There
is. It’s just not this big state nonsense.

Indeed.

Megan Fox named world’s sexiest woman

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

FHM has named Megan Fox the sexiest woman in the world. (Hat tip: Jen Featherston.)

In other news, I’m stopping at Borders after work and buying the new issue of FHM. :)

Comcast, me, and the long arm of Jeff Jarvis

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

I figure I owe y’all an update on my Comcast Internet saga (previous posts here, here, here and here). What? You don’t care? Well, I owe it to posterity, then. Or something.

Thanks to the intervention of Comcast corporate in Philadelphia, it appears our long national apartmental nightmare may soon be over. (Knock on wood!) A team of cable techs is scheduled to come over at around 3:00 PM today to replace the entire series of tubes wires that runs from the cable "tap," over to the "lockbox," up to the attic, and down into our apartment, nothin’ but net. (Er, scratch that last part. There’s been very little "net" to speak of in recent weeks!)

There are no guarantees, but the hope is that this re-wiring will fix our long-standing, worsening, intermittent connectivity problems (about which, details after the jump). And, crucially, they’re doing it free of charge — contrary to the company’s ridiculous standard policy of holding apartment dwellers financially responsible for necessary repairs to the wiring outside the four walls of their apartments. (More on that, too, after the jump.)

I mentioned the "corporate intervention" angle, and that’s probably the most interesting aspect of this saga. It all started with my offhanded expression of bloggy frustration on April 3, after the cable guy never showed up for an appointment that I’d left work early for. (The phone rep had written down my area code wrong, so the tech couldn’t reach me by phone to confirm that I was home, so he never came.) That post triggered an e-mail from Frank Eliason in Philly (Comcast’s corporate home base), who filed a "corporate complaint" on my behalf. (Frank also commented on a later blog post.) Frank’s complaint, in turn, spurred a full-court press by the local Knoxville office to get my problem fixed, which culminated in today’s appointment.

What’s interesting is, Frank’s intervention isn’t an isolated incident. It’s part of a broad Comcast initiative, of which Frank is the point man, to improve the company’s image by reaching out to bloggers, Twitterers, and others who use their online platforms to say nasty things about Comcast. The Philadelphia Inquirer had a front-page story about this effort in Saturday’s paper, which revealed:

Under siege for customer-service woes detailed on Comcastmustdie.com and other blogs, the Philadelphia cable giant has gone on the offensive, trawling the Internet for Comcast chatter. Eliason’s assignment is very specific: If someone has a Comcast problem and is talking about it online, he contacts that person and offers help.

If Eliason thinks it’s an emergency that could spiral into unpleasantness, like an expletive-loaded blog bomb, he gets on the phone and cuts through the corporate red tape. …

Eliason’s blog spotting is part public relations and part acknowledgment that the Internet is playing a broader role in defining company brands. Technology companies woke up to this fact after "Dell Hell" postings by blogger Jeff Jarvis in 2005.

Ha! The arm of Sauron Jeff Jarvis is long!

Of course, it goes without saying that one shouldn’t have to pose a P.R. threat in order to get good help from a company that one pays upwards of $100/month to. Nevertheless, this is a smart thing Comcast is doing.

Moreover, I give credit where credit is due: in contrast to my dismal experiences* with Comcast’s customer service last spring, almost everyone I’ve dealt with this time around — not just the corporate people, but the techs and phone reps, too — has been professional, courteous, and competent (wrong-area-code lady being an obvious exception). That, too, is apparently symptomatic of a broader effort by Comcast to, well, stop sucking at life, basically.

More on that effort — and on my issue — after the jump.

*The linked post, incidentally, was Instalanched, but triggered no response whatsoever from Comcast corporate. That was last June. So they’re clearly getting better at the rapid-blog-response thing.

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Phoenix UFOs were elaborate prank

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Heh:

A Phoenix man says he caused the red light display that mystified thousands of people as it floated across the north Phoenix sky Monday night.

The man, who did not want to be identified, said he used fishing line to attach road flares to helium-filled balloons, then lit the flares and launched them a minute apart from his back yard. He said he believed turbulence created by a passing jet caused the balloons to move around.

Best! Prank! Ever!

P.S. But what about the Florida UFOs? Was this a coordinated, two-state prank?

UPDATE: Apparently the Florida lights were caused by sky lanterns released from an Asian wedding.

Or, you know, aliens. One or the other.

Obama: the next Samuel Tilden?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

A crazy thought occurred to me this evening. And what are blogs for, if not for airing crazy thoughts?

In November, Barack Obama will most likely spur unprecedented turnout in urban areas like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, due to his appeal to African-American voters. The result of this high turnout will be to build larger-than-usual popular-vote edges for the Dems in several “blue” states — totally meaningless for Electoral College purposes. Obama also seems likely to reduce, but not overcome, the GOP’s advantage in a number of southern and western “red” states. Again, this is electorally meaningless, but it will reduce the GOP’s popular-vote cushion.

At the same time, it appears that Obama may be vulnerable to possible narrow defeats at the hands of John McCain in key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. While I don’t want to lend credence to Hillary Clinton’s mostly bogus “big states” argument, there is some legitimate reason to worry about Obama’s ability to carry these states.

Put it all together, and Obama starts to sound like a prime candidate for another inversion between the electoral and popular votes, like in 2000. But that’s not the crazy thought. The crazy thought is this: is it possible Obama could lose an electoral-vote squeaker to McCain despite winning the popular vote by a meaningful margin — like, 2 or 3 percent, as opposed to Al Gore’s half-percent — and become the first candidate since Samuel Tilden in 1876 to lose the presidency despite winning a majority of the popular vote?

P.S. From the Irish Trojan Assignment Desk: somebody look at the 2004 state-by-state margins, adjust them as needed, and construct a plausible scenario where this occurs. :)

Procedure is destiny

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Washington Monthly‘s Josiah Lee Auspitz provides a detailed (and entertaining) look at the degree to which both parties’ nomination contests have been fundamentally shaped by the arcana of party delegate-selection rules. I love it.

A mini-backlash?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Hey, maybe there was a backlash, after all! John Judis writes:

Clinton seriously damaged her own cause by going negative on Obama during the April 16 debate–and probably, too, by her subsequent ads. ABC moderators George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson had already done sufficient damage without Clinton piling on. According to the exit polls, 68 percent of Pennsylvania Democrats thought Clinton attacked Obama unfairly, and they backed Obama by 55 to 45 percent. It’s hard to know for sure, but these tactics probably cost her among white college-educated voters who don’t like to think of elections as prize fights.

Maybe if Hillary hadn’t gone so negative, she actually would have won by double digits, instead of a mere 9.2 percent. :)

P.S. Let the record show that I’m actually rather skeptical of Judis’s conclusion. Given the final numbers, I doubt there was much of a meaningful, measurable backlash. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like Clinton’s negative ads hurt Obama very much, given that her margin was actually smaller than in Ohio, and she lost ground with key demographics. Bottom line, I don’t think the negativity had much effect at all, in either direction (or whatever effects it had cancelled each other out).