Monday, May 31, 2004

A Helpful Guide

Here's something that some of you guys (*cough* bk *cough*) may find helpful: "Single Man's Guide to TV Dinners"

Cool Music

I've been experimenting with quite a few new bands lately and have been surprised by the amount of quality music out there:

Modest Mouse - "Moon & Antarctica": Virtually every song on this album kicks ass!! The singing is pretty bad but I can't get enough of the spacey instrumentals. I've lost count the number of times I've played "The Stars Are Projectors"

Fiona Apple ("The First Taste"): A lush, powerful voice combined with ethereal instrumentals make it one of my favorite songs of all time.

Sleater-Kinney ("One Beat" and "Oh!") and Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Maps," "Y-Control" and "Modern Romance"): Once again, the singing could use some help, but the hard-charging, ass-kicking riffing/beats more than make up for it.

Ilya ("Bellissimo"): Yes, it's from that Revlon commercial with Halle Berry in it, but it's still a hauntingly beautiful song.

Remy Zero ("Save Me"): Title song to Smallville. Best listened to on an iPod while walking into dark alley at night.

Postal Service - "Give Up": This album has been either praised as one of the coolest electronica/indie records to come out recently (recently being 2003) or condemned as pretentious, horrid, hipster poser crap. I have to agree with the former. Electronica that's not super repetitive and boring.

The Flaming Lips - "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots": Didn't care much for it when I first heard it last year, but now I find it absolutely brilliant, especially "Fight Test."

Kill Bill V1 and V2: Tarantino has such impeccable taste in music it's ridiculous, or even unfair. I would kill to get his playlist.

The Shins ("Caring is Creepy"): Thanks Sachin!

William Hung - "Inspiration": Just kidding. Hung is really the paragon of sexiness toward which every Asian man strives: bad hair, crooked teeth, heavy accent, broken English, atrocious dance moves, and worst of all, he's so damn nice and earnest!

Yet More Treachery

The Washington Post has an article dissecting a leaked tentative White House budget proposal for 2006. Among the proposed changes:

But the cuts are politically sensitive, targeting popular programs that Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. The Education Department; a nutrition program for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeownership, job-training, medical research and science programs all face cuts in 2006.


The administration has widely touted a $1.7 billion increase in discretionary funding for the Education Department in its 2005 budget, but the 2006 guidance would pare that back by $1.5 billion. The Department of Veterans Affairs is scheduled to get a $519 million spending increase in 2005, to $29.7 billion, and a $910 million cut in 2006 that would bring its budget below the 2004 level.

Also slated for cuts are the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the Transportation Department, the Social Security Administration, the Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers.


The Women, Infants and Children nutrition program was funded at $4.7 billion for the fiscal year beginning in October, enough to serve the 7.9 million people expected to be eligible. But in 2006, the program would be cut by $122 million. Head Start, the early-childhood education program for the poor, would lose $177 million, or 2.5 percent of its budget, in fiscal 2006.

The $78 million funding increase that Bush has touted for a homeownership program in 2005 would be nearly reversed in 2006 with a $53 million cut. National Institutes of Health spending would be cut 2.1 percent in 2006, to $28 billion, after a $764 million increase for 2005 that brought the NIH budget to $28.6 billion.

Even homeland security -- a centerpiece of the Bush reelection campaign -- would be affected. Funding would slip in 2006 by $1 billion, to $29.6 billion, although that would still be considerably higher than the $26.6 billion devoted to that field in 2004, according to an analysis of the computer printout by House Budget Committee Democrats.


The LA Times has a comprehensive article that debunks many of the misleading claims in campaign ads made by both sides. Unsuprisingly, Bush wins the Strawman Award convincingly:

Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.

The assault on Kerry is multi-tiered: It involves television ads, news releases, Web sites and e-mail, and statements by Bush spokesmen and surrogates -- all coordinated to drive home the message that Kerry has equivocated and "flip-flopped" on Iraq (news - web sites), support for the military, taxes, education and other matters.


But Bush has outdone Kerry in the number of untruths, in part because Bush has leveled so many specific charges (and Kerry has such a lengthy voting record), but also because Kerry has learned from the troubles caused by Al Gore (news - web sites)'s misstatements in 2000. "The balance of misleading claims tips to Bush," Jamieson said, "in part because the Kerry team has been more careful."


Scott Reed, who ran Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign that year, said the Bush campaign has little choice but to deliver a constant stream of such negative charges. With low poll numbers and a volatile situation in Iraq, Bush has more hope of tarnishing Kerry's image than promoting his own.

"The Bush campaign is faced with the hard, true fact that they have to keep their boot on his neck and define him on their terms," Reed said. That might risk alienating some moderate voters or depressing turnout, "but they don't have a choice," he said.