Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 Clarinda Lighted Christmas Parade

The Clarinda Lighted Christmas Parade commerates the Page County Courthouse fire, which was put out saving the historic courthouse with help from the volunteer fire departments of several neighboring communities. The pararde is held in Clarinda, Iowa annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving, this year November 26, 2010.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Sunset over Clarinda, Iowa

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pac Man Pumpkin Pie

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Red Berries at Nodaway Valley Park

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Britain's Prince William to Marry the Girl Next Door

Prince William gets nine of ten points in our book for his engagement to Kate Middleton, which was announced Tuesday.

(1) Kate along with several other students was one of William's housemates in college, so she very literally was the girl next door.

(2) William is beginning to lose his blond hair, so he showed good judgment by waiting until that was apparent so as to give Kate ample opportunity to dump him before he proposed.

(3) Kate has long brown hair, supporting our long held view that blonds may have more fun but brunettes are more beautiful.

(4) Both William and Kate turned age 29 in 2011 and are rumored to be fulfilling a pact to get married before they turn age 30. Yes, a marriage pact.

(5) Kate proved at the press engagement announcement that she knows how to wear a blue dress.

(6) The blue saphire engagement ring William gave Kate may break the diamond engagement ring racket, and reusing the ring your father gave your mother could break the new jewelry racket altogether.

(7) William's full name and title is Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales and he is actually living in Wales with Kate where he serves as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

(8) Kate is no member of royalty or even nobility. Her parents are entrepreneurs who started a mail order firm selling stuff for children's parties (not a .com but a .uk). They are, very literally, in trade. There was a time when that wouldn't do for a royal.

(9) Kate's full first name is Catherine, the name of one of my sisters. Of course, there may not be room in this world for two Queen Catherines and my sister had the title first.

There is one point we can't award yet:

(10) The thing that would make their marriage perfect is if Prince William abdicates in favor of a republic. That, however, probably has to wait until his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and father Prince Charles have passed away.

And why do we care whether Great Britain is a kingdom or a republic? Well, our neigbor Canada is a monarchy too, and shares the same sovereign. As a neighbor, we have the right to butt into the succession. At least that is how it always worked in Europe. No monarchies is in the Americas, that's our policy. And yes, we do have our eye on the Netherlands too.

In the meantime, we will observe that William and Kate may not become King and Queen of the United Kingdom for 20 to 30 or even 40 years. Plenty of time for a royal wedding and a tea party or two.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is Our Friend Aleister at American Glob Running for President in 2010?

We are waiting for comment from Aleister at American Glob.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just What Are They Growing at the Harvard Community Garden?

The Harvard Community Garden, this is what it has come to at Harvard University during the greatest recession since the Great Depression. It's all about sustainability.

That's lettuce. That's right, Harvard students are growing their own lettuce.

We don't know what this is, but we can identify the hay bales leaning against a Harvard building in the background. We didn't see any haymaking on the Harvard grounds this summer, so we have to remark that this is not sustainable.

We also see that the garden is all in raised boxes, so we wonder where Harvard got the soil for those boxes. Home Depot is our guess.

It's good to see the Harvard students getting some dirt under their fingernails, but I remember my grandmother's vegetable garden and the Harvard Community garden is small in comparison. And I'll bet they don't do any canning or freezing. Harvard still has a thing or two to learn about sustainability.

Cambridge Gives David Halberstam a Square

I was walking down Mount Auburn Sreet in Cambridge last weekend and came upon some plants in the middle of the street in front of Claverly Hall. At first I thought it might be a Harvard Lampoon prank, as the trail or plants leads to the Lampoon castle.

But it turns out that the City of Cambridge has designated a new square between the front drive to Lowell House, Claverly Hall, and the Lampoon building.

And just who is David Halberstam? He arrived as a reporter for the New York Times in Vietnam in the early 1960s, during the period the Kennedy administration was sending advisors but after The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955) and The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer (1958).

The Best and Brightest in the Kennedy administration and later in the Johnson administration had to learn the lessons of Vietnam all over again. And Halberstam made his career documenting and explaining that hubris to the American people.

The stone inscription reads:

David L. Halberstam
Member of Harvard's Class of 1955
Managing Editor of the Harvard Crimson
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist for the New York Times
Author of twenty books and public intellectual
He appealed to America's conscience on the issues of civil rights and unjust wars

A small irony is that the Harvard Crimson and Harvard Lampoon are big rivals, and now the Lampoon has a memorial to a Crimson editor just beyond its front doorstep.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That's Where I Call Home Too

Country music up-and-comer Jara Johnson shot a music video this past summer on her family's farm near Clarinda, Iowa. Who can resist a taste of honey waiting down the dusty road. That's what I call home too.

Jara is another in growing line of musicians and writers coming out of Southwest Iowa these days. For years now George McGargill has been the singing farmer from Iomogene. Bedford author James Lucas published Birth in a Chicken House in 1999. And now two authors with local connections have just burst onto the Christian Lit scene.

Local Shari Barr who has been sending Camp Club Girl McKenzie on mystery adventures in Montana and Oregon, and soon to Missouri and Iowa.

Married-to-a-native Rachelle McCalla has set her Holyoake Heroes series in Southwest Iowa. Out on a Limb came out in Septmember 2010. Danger on Her Doorstep comes out in January 2011 and Dead Reckoning in July 2011.

You can find all three newcomers at Jara Johnson (also iTunes), Shari Barr, and Rachelle McCalla.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Go on Sale

Who is the Republican Party going to run against Barack Obama in 2012?

We'll find out soon enough, but in the meantime the Spalding GOP Store is selling campaign buttons, t-shirts, and other electioneering material for the following potential candidates:

Sarah PalinAlaska GovernorShe's a political rock star but many people have written her off as a loser, quitter, and nincompoop
Mitt RomneyMassachusetts GovernorMasterminded the Massachusetts health care reform that was used as the blueprint for Obamacare
Newt GingrichU.S. House Speaker, Georgia CongressmanThinks his Contract with America invented the Tea Party
Mike HuckabeeArkansas GovernorStill has support in Iowa, but is host of most boring show on Fox
Rudy GiulianiMayor of New York CityCan Republican voters get past that he is prochoice?
Ron PaulTexas CongressmanWill sit out in favor of a future run by son newly elect U.S. Senator Rand "Aqua Buddha" Paul
Bobby JindalLouisiana GovernorBlew his 15 minutes of fame giving the Republican response to Barack Obama's first State of the Union speech
Haley BarbourMississippi Governor, RNC ChairmanHe can whistle Dixie
Jeb BushFlorida GovernorIs America ready for a fourth Bush term?
Rick SantorumU.S. Senator, Pennsylvania CongressmanThe left would commit him to a sanitarioum
Mitch DanielsIndiana Governor, OMB DirectorI knew Dan Qualye, Mitch Daniels is no Dan Qualye
Tim PawlentyMinnesota GovernorNo one knows him outside Minnesota
John ThuneU.S. Senator, South Dakatoa CongressmanNo one knows him outside South Dakata

There are a few other names being talked about, but they aren't on sale yet at Spalding:

Jon GreensponMontana BusinessmanAs the first announced candidate he aready has his own website and online store
Fred KargerCalifornia political consultant and gay rights activistHe has a website but nothing to sell, and gay rights will be a very tough sell to Republican voters
Chris ChristieNew Jersey GovernorWould have to turn his back on his governorship in the middle of his first term
Rick PerryTexas GovernorSays he doesn't want run, might prefer to be President of Texas
Jim DeMint U.S. Senator for South CarolinaSelf-proclaimed Tea Party kingmaker may want to be king
Mike PenceIndiana CongressmanJust gave up his House leadership position but may intend to run for Governor not for President
Paul RyanWisconsin CongressmanKeeps updating his Roadmap for America's Future
John BoltonU.N. AmbassadorHe'd have to shave his mustache if he wants to be taken seriously as Mr. Right for America
Donald TrumpBusinessmanCouldn't get elected Mayor of Atlantic City but may secretly dream of telling Barack Obama, "You're fired!"
Herman CainRadio Talk Show HostConservatives love him on the radio, but how many votes will he get in Virgil Caine country?
Michele BachmannMinnesota CongressmanTea Party Caucus organizer was passed over for House GOP Leadership

Update 1/7/2011: added Herman Cain.
Update 1/21/2011: added Michele Bachmann.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Republicans Have a DIfferent Mandate Than They May Think They Have

The Republicans won nationally on November 2. Well, they won the House of Representatives but not the Senate. They needed independents, and they got them in a lot of races but in others they didn't.

Can Republicans win again in 2012? That depends, because it took a lot of independent voters across the country to win in November 2010. Those independents may stick with the Republicans, or may go back to Barack Obama and the Democrats as they did here in Massachusetts in November 2010.

So listen up Republicans. The narrative that is running around in your head is not why you won. The narratives that are important are the ones running around in all the heads of all the independent voters all around the country.

Looking back over my adult lifetime, here is the narrative I remember:

1980 - Jimmy Carter is a downer, Ronald Reagan is an upper
1982 - Ronald Reagan maybe isn't working out
1984 - Ronald Reagan is working, let's try that again
1986 - Ronald Reagan could use some more oversight from Democrats
1988 - Mike Dukakis is a guy who will raise our taxes
1990 - Stay the course with the Gulf War looming
1992 - George Bush broke his promise on no new taxes
1994 - Bill Clinton let Democrats in Congress raise taxes again
1996 - Bob Dole is too old and his pal Newt Gingrich is too cranky
1998 - Shut up already about Monica Lewinsky
2000 - Something is just a little off about Al Gore
2002 - George Bush needs a little more support in the war effort
2004 - John Kerry won't bring the war to a quick and successful end
2006 - George Bush isn't bringing the war to an end either
2008 - George Bush put the economy into the ditch
2010 - Barack Obama hasn't gotten the economy out of the ditch

What Happened to the Scott Brown Vote in Massachusetts?

Was it just this past January that Republican Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley in the U.S. Senate race?

We wondered how Scott's majority voted on November 2. There were no Republican winners in any of the major races across Massachusetts. Did they just disappear?

Here are the results from January:

1,168,107Scott Brown (R)
1,058,682Martha Coakley (D)
22,237Joe Kennedy (I)

In the Governor's race, 38,000 more people showed up to vote but that about equalled the Green Party vote for Jill Stein. A lot of Scott Brown voters went for independent candidate Tim Cahill rather than Republican candidate Charlie Baker. And maybe 40,000 to 50,000 Scott Brown voters went for Democrat Deval Patrick:

1,108,028Deval Patrick (D)
962,671Charlie Baker (R)
183,892Tim Cahill (I)
32,816Jill Stein (G)

In the Treasurer's race, Democrat Steve Grossman picked up 145,000 Scott Brown voters:

1,203,647Steve Grossman (R)
986,768Karen Polito (D)

By contrast, in the Auditor's race, there was a big drop off in total votes, but the winner Democrat Suzanne Bump didn't get much bump from Scott Brown voters:

1,015,616Suzanne Bump (D)
976,014Mary Connaughton (R)
108,333Nat Fortune (G)

But a big beneficiary of Scott Brown voters in November was none other than Martha Coakley herself. She picked up around 354,000 Scott Brown voters in her reelection race for State Attorney General (no hard feelings?):

1,412,959Martha Coakley (D)
837,616Jim McKenna (R)

An even bigger beneficiary was Democrat William Galvin who picked up 357,000 in the Secretary of State race:

1,416,166Bill Galvin (D)
718,138Bill Campbell (R)
60,948Jim Henderson (I)

Most of these Scott Brown voters who switched to Democrats and other candidates in November are independents, and the mind of a independent voter is a curious thing. And if it doesn't make sense to the political parties or outside observers, it does make sense to the independent voter.

What is the lessen here? If you want to keep the independent vote, you have to win it all over again in every election, in every race. Take it for granted, and it's gone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Electioneering Against the Tea Party in Harvard Square

The newspaper boxes in Harvard Square got pasted up with a few electioneering signs.

It's best to match the language of the poster with the language of the newspaper. Just an opinion.

Someone forgot to close quote on the Tea Party. Next time, I guess.

Stuffing the Ballot Box at the Cambridge Armory

The guy in front of me at the Cambridge Armory had about 25 ballots which he was feeding one at a time into the ballot box while chatting with the cop on duty. They were absentee ballots, but still it makes you wonder ...

Newtowne Market in Front of Grendel's Den Gets Plowed

It seems a little late in the season for reseeding, but what do we know?

Fall Finally Arrives in Harvard Square

Random Election Day Musings on November 2, 2010

Some random election day musings from friends on Facebook:

GAME DAY. To all my friends fighting the good fight: Go. Fight. Win.

Gotta remember to take out the trash tomorrow.

Yes, Bring our state back to it's christian roots and vote out those that stand opposed to the ideals 99% of us were brought up with.

Only a half day of work! Only 2 days 23 hours and 52 minutes until the ship pulls out!!!

congratulates the S.F. Giants for winning the World Series!

OK, now what do I do with all the candy left over? I wonder if I can freeze it for next year:).

...and so hibernation begins...just keep the library open please....oh, and the coffee shops with wifi to have a place to read or use the computer that relieves cabin fever. Thanks!

To all my friends posting "Alcohol is more lethal than heroin" articles: I suppose you won't mind if next time I come over, I bring my works and some fine brown sugar instead of my usual Rosso di Montalcino. Or if instead of going for drinks, we head to a local shooting gallery instead.

Whoppers! The girtty center, bathed in waxy, faux chocolate, polished to an unnatural sheen- no wonder thet pakage them together with Reeses and Kit-Kat. It's the only way they can get rid of the things.

I will say this Democratic candidates: Please try not to be on the verge of losing your job every two years. Please try to do better so I can vote for a 3rd party candidate who more accurately reflects my beliefs every once in a while, and not feel compelled to do this lesser of two evils things to save our country's ass from the likes of Carly Fiorina.


thinks Nicholas Kristof's advice to America to NOT "allow economic malaise to cloud our judgment and magnify America’s problems in ways that become self-fulfilling" is the wisest that he has heard in this boisterous election season.

Newt Gingrich keeps calling me, and I keep hanging up on him. You'd think he'd get the hint...

Obama called my Moms house last night! She tried to interrupt him cause we had a couple questions but she couldn't get a word in lol!

We got an extremely folksy call that sounded exactly like a Sarah Palin impersonator ... but was in fact a recording of the real thing.

Thinking of writing political ad scripts, they go like this: (Dark, foreboding music) My opponent is evil, stupid, and selfish. He/she is only interested in money and special interests. (Music changes to bright, cheery stuff). But I'm "insert name here", and I'll work hard for you.

Final Words from the 2010 Candidates for Governor of Massachusetts

Deval Patrick:

Charlie Baker:

Tim Cahill:

Jill Stein:

Keith Olbermann No Longer the Worst Person in the World

MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann has announced that he is discontinuing his "Worst Person in the World" segment. This in response to the Jonathan Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity on the Washington Mall this past weekend.

Keith did not much like Stewart's implication that MSNBC is just as bad as Fox News. He put Jonathan Alter in the guest chair to argue that there is a false equivalence that confuses reason and fact with emotion and opinion, with MSNBC supposedly offering reason and fact, while Fox News offers emotion and opinion.

We'll be the first to agree that Fox News does fight like a girl these days. Have you watched Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck lately? They even have girl names, Foxy ladies that they are. But just because Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC fight like men and not like girls, that doesn't make them better than the Foxy ladies.

By the way, Keith only promised to discontinue the segment for the time being, which means he's only promising temporary sanity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Control of the U.S. Senate May Come Down to My Nephew in Washington State

I am looking at the polls going into Tuesday's election, and it appears to me that the fight between Democrats and Republicans for control of the U.S. Senate may come down to my nephew, who is a college freshmen in the state of Washington.

The Republicans start with 41 Senate seats, and need to pick up 10 Senate seats to wrest control from the Democrats. A 50/50 tie would make Vice President Joe Biden Democrat as the tie-breaker for Democrats. So Republicans need 51 seats.

Republicans are on track to easily pick up Senate seats in Arkansas, Indiana, and North Dakota. That's brings them to 44. Of 11 battleground states, Republicans stand a very good chance to pick up Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. That would be 49. Democrats lead in the battleground states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, and West Virginia, but we'll assume Republicans win won of those, which would bring them to 50.

That leaves Washington State, where Republican Dino Rossi and incumbent Democrat Patty Murray are essentially tied, with some polls showing one ahead and other polls showing the Murray. An election that close could come down to a single vote.

And how is my nephew going to vote in this his first election? I know he proudly wore a Barack Obama t-shirt 2 years ago as a high school junior in Oregon. On the other hand, he may not even be registered to vote in Washington.