Wednesday, January 31, 2007

COM: Blogarithmic #208

Deep sadness here over the loss of Molly Ivins. She was a gutsy, brilliant woman, and won't soon be replaced.

While i had occasion to meet her and speak briefly with her, my coolest memory of her is from one late, late night in an Austin bar in August 1997. I was competing in the National Poetry Slam and was onstage when they announced the judges for our bout. One was the mayor, but i was far more flabbergasted to find Ivins judging too. She was part of the highest score i received that week, and i always fancied that we were on some sort of frequency plane. She later autographed my notebook, after which how i placed made no more difference.

Back to the home court, ITM's One-Act Play entry, The Taming of the Shrew, is in wonderful shape this early in the season. I suspect it's going to be a dynamite piece of work. Starring Irec Hargrove and Cadi Hawkins as the leads, with superb turns by Taylor Danielson, Kanah Bradshaw, Chris McCrae, Wade Ivy, Hilary Bunker and Garrett Whitten, among many other fine talents. The first competition is at Wimberley's Lone Star Theatre the last weekend of February. More info to come.

There's been a flock of 9-10 Ring-necked Ducks bouncing from pond to pond here on the ranch since mid-December, but in the last couple of weeks they were joined by three hen Canvasbacks. Pretty bizarre to look out my window and see Cans! Here's a look at part of the group.

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OBT: Molly Ivins

More to come as news is posted, and a personal remembrance . . .

Syndicated Columnist Molly Ivins Dies
Noted Texas Liberal Molly Ivins Dies After Battle With Cancer at 62

AUSTIN, Texas Jan 31, 2007 (AP)— Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political establishment and referred to President Bush as "Shrub," died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

David Pasztor, managing editor of the Texas Observer, confirmed her death.

The writer, who made a living poking fun at Texas politicians, whether they were in her home base of Austin or the White House, revealed in early 2006 that she was being treated for breast cancer for the third time.

More than 400 newspapers subscribed to her nationally syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views and populist-toned humor. Ivins' illness did not seem to hurt her ability to deliver biting one-liners.

"I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't make you a better person," she said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News in September, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann Richards.

To Ivins, "liberal" was no insult. "Even I felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there's nothing you can do about being born liberal — fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed," she wrote in a column included in her 1998 collection, "You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You."

In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq.

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"

Ivins' best-selling books included those she co-authored with Lou Dubose about Bush. One was titled "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush" and another was "BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush's America."

Ivins' jolting satire was directed at people in positions of power. She maintained that aiming it at the powerless would be cruel.

"The trouble with blaming powerless people is that although it's not nearly as scary as blaming the powerful, it does miss the point," she wrote in a 1997 column. "Poor people do not shut down factories,... Poor people didn't decide to use `contract employees' because they cost less and don't get any benefits."

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COM: The Holy Blitz

The holy blitz rolls on
The Christian right is a "deeply anti-democratic movement" that gains force by exploiting Americans' fears, argues Chris Hedges. Salon talks with the former New York Times reporter about his fearless new book, "American Fascists."
By Michelle Goldberg, AP

Jan. 8, 2007 Longtime war correspondent Chris Hedges, the former New York Times bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans, knows a lot about the savagery that people are capable of, especially when they're besotted with dreams of religious or national redemption. In his acclaimed 2002 book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," he wrote: "I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of Southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo with deafening rounds of heavy artillery that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments." Hedges was part of the New York Times team of reporters that won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting about global terrorism.

Given such intimacy with horror, one might expect him to be aloof from the seemingly less urgent cultural disputes that dominate domestic American politics. Yet in the rise of America's religious right, Hedges senses something akin to the brutal movements he's spent his life chronicling. The title of his new book speaks for itself: "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." Scores of volumes about the religious right have recently been published (one of them, "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," by me), but Hedges' book is perhaps the most furious and foreboding, all the more so because he knows what fascism looks like.

Part of his outrage is theological. The son of a Presbyterian minister and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Hedges once planned to join the clergy himself. He speaks of the preachers he encountered while researching "American Fascists" as heretics, and he's appalled at their desecration of a faith he still cherishes, even if he no longer totally embraces it. Writing of Ohio megachurch pastor Rod Parsley and his close associate, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, he says, "[T]he heart of the Christian religion, all that is good and compassionate within it, has been tossed aside, ruthlessly gouged out and thrown into a heap with all the other inner organs. Only the shell, the form, remains. Christianity is of no use to Parsley, Blackwell and the others. In its name they kill it."

I first met Hedges at last spring's War on Christians conference in Washington, D.C., where Parsley, a wildly charismatic Pentecostal who loves the language of holy war, electrified the crowd. ("I came to incite a riot!" he shouted. "Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!") It was shortly before the publication of my book, and as Hedges and I spoke, we realized we had similar takes on our subject. Both of us relied on Hannah Arendt's analysis of totalitarian movements in their early stages, and on some of the concepts that historian Robert O. Paxton elucidated in his book "The Anatomy of Fascism." But where I, anxious not to be seen as hysterical, tried to treat these ideas gingerly, Hedges is unabashed and unsparing. His rage and contempt for the movement's leaders, though, is matched by sympathy for its followers, because he understands the despair, the desperate longing for community and even the idealism that often drives them.

Hedges spoke to me on the phone from his home in New Jersey.

Let's start with the title. A lot of liberals who write about the right see echoes of fascism in its rhetoric and organizing, but we tiptoe around it, because we don't want people to think that we're comparing James Dobson to Hitler or America to Weimar Germany. You, though, decided to be very bold in your comparisons to fascism.

You're right, "fascism" or "fascist" is a terribly loaded word, and it evokes a historical period, primarily that of the Nazis, and to a lesser extent Mussolini. But fascism as an ideology has generic qualities. People like Robert O. Paxton in "The Anatomy of Fascism" have tried to quantify them. Umberto Eco did it in "Five Moral Pieces," and I actually begin the book with an excerpt from Eco: "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt." I think there are enough generic qualities that the group within the religious right, known as Christian Reconstructionists or dominionists, warrants the word. Does this mean that this is Nazi Germany? No. Does this mean that this is Mussolini's Italy? No. Does this mean that this is a deeply anti-democratic movement that would like to impose a totalitarian system? Yes.

You know, I come out of the church. I not only grew up in the church but graduated from seminary, and I look at this as a mass movement. I give it very little religious legitimacy, especially the extreme wing of it.

You say they would like to impose a totalitarian system. How much of a conscious goal do you think that is at the upper levels of organizing, with, say, somebody like Rod Parsley?

I think they're completely conscious of it. The level of manipulation is quite sophisticated. These people understand the medium of television, they understand the despair and brokenness of the people they appeal to, and how to manipulate them both for personal and financial gain. I look at these figures, and I would certainly throw James Dobson in there, or Pat Robertson, as really dark figures.

I think the vast majority of followers have no idea. There's an earnestness to many of the believers. I had the same experience you did -- I went in there prepared to really dislike these people and most of them just broke my heart. They're well meaning. Unfortunately, they're being manipulated and herded into a movement that's extremely dangerous. If these extreme elements actually manage to achieve power, they will horrify [their followers] in many ways. But that's true with all revolutionary movements.

The core of this movement is tiny, but you only need a tiny, disciplined, well-funded and well-organized group, and then you count on the sympathy of 80 million to 100 million evangelicals. And that's enough. Especially if you don't have countervailing forces, which we don't.

If there's a historical period that's analogous to the situation we have now, it would come close to being the 1930s in the United States. Obviously we're not in a depression, but the situation for the working class is very bleak, and the middle class is under assault. There has been a kind of Weimarization of the American working class, and there's a terrible instability in the middle class. And if we enter a period of political and social instability, this gives this movement the opportunity it's been waiting for. But it needs a crisis. All of these movements need a crisis to come to power, and we're not in a period of crisis.

How likely do you think a crisis is?

Very likely. The economy is not in healthy shape. I covered al-Qaida for a year for the New York Times. Every intelligence official I ever interviewed never talked about if, they only talked about when. They spoke about another catastrophic attack as an inevitability. The possibility of entering a period of instability is great, and then these movements become very frightening.

The difference between the 1930s and now is that we had powerful progressive forces through the labor unions, through an independent and vigorous press. I forget the figure but something like 80 percent of the media is controlled by seven corporations, something horrible like that. Television is just bankrupt. I worry that we don't have the organized forces within American society to protect our democracy in the way that we did in the 1930s.

Since the midterm election, many have suggested that the Christian right has peaked, and the movement has in fact suffered quite a few severe blows since both of our books came out.

It's suffered severe blows in the past too. It depends on how you view the engine of the movement. For me, the engine of the movement is deep economic and personal despair. A terrible distortion and deformation of American society, where tens of millions of people in this country feel completely disenfranchised, where their physical communities have been obliterated, whether that's in the Rust Belt in Ohio or these monstrous exurbs like Orange County, where there is no community. There are no community rituals, no community centers, often there are no sidewalks. People live in empty soulless houses and drive big empty cars on freeways to Los Angeles and sit in vast offices and then come home again. You can't deform your society to that extent, and you can't shunt people aside and rip away any kind of safety net, any kind of program that gives them hope, and not expect political consequences.

Democracies function because the vast majority live relatively stable lives with a degree of hope, and, if not economic prosperity, at least enough of an income to free them from severe want or instability. Whatever the Democrats say now about the war, they're not addressing the fundamental issues that have given rise to this movement.

But isn't there a change in the Democratic Party, now that it's talking about class issues and economic issues more so than in the past?

Yes, but how far are they willing to go? The corporations that fund the Republican Party fund them. I don't hear anybody talking about repealing the bankruptcy bill, just like I don't hear them talking about torture. The Democrats recognize the problem, but I don't see anyone offering any kind of solutions that will begin to re-enfranchise people into American society. The fact that they can't get even get healthcare through is pretty depressing.

The argument you're now making sounds in some ways like Tom Frank's, which is basically that support for the religious right represents a kind of misdirected class warfare. But your book struck me differently -- it seemed to be much more about what this movement offers people psychologically.

Yeah, the economic is part of it, but you have large sections of the middle class that are bulwarks within this movement, so obviously the economic part isn't enough. The reason the catastrophic loss of manufacturing jobs is important is not so much the economic deprivation but the social consequences of that deprivation. The breakdown of community is really at the core here. When people lose job stability, when they work for $16 an hour and don't have health insurance, and nobody funds their public schools and nobody fixes their infrastructure, that has direct consequences into how the life of their community is led.

I know firsthand because my family comes from a working-class town in Maine that has suffered exactly this kind of deterioration. You pick up the local paper and the weekly police blotter is just DWIs and domestic violence. We've shattered these lives, and it isn't always economic. That's where I guess I would differ with Frank. It's really the destruction of the possibility of community, and of course economic deprivation goes a long way to doing that. But corporate America has done a pretty good job of destroying community too, which is why the largest growth areas are the exurbs, where people have a higher standard of living, but live fairly bleak and empty lives.

In the beginning of the book, you write briefly about covering wars in Latin America, the Middle East and the Balkans. How did that shape the way you understand these social forces in America? What similarities do you see?

When I covered the war in the Balkans, there was always the canard that this was a war about ancient ethnic hatreds that was taken from Robert Kaplan's "Balkan Ghosts." That was not a war about ancient ethnic hatreds. It was a war that was fueled primarily by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. Milosevic and Tudman, and to a lesser extent Izetbegovic, would not have been possible in a stable Yugoslavia.

When I first covered Hamas in 1988, it was a very marginal organization with very little power or reach. I watched Hamas grow. Although I came later to the Balkans, I had a good understanding of how Milosevic built his Serbian nationalist movement. These radical movements share a lot of ideological traits with the Christian right, including that cult of masculinity, that cult of power, rampant nationalism fused with religious chauvinism. I find a lot of parallels.

People have a very hard time believing the status quo of their existence, or the world around them, can ever change. There's a kind of psychological inability to accept how fragile open societies are. When I was in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, at the start of the war, I would meet with incredibly well-educated, multilingual Kosovar Albanian friends in the cafes. I would tell them that in the countryside there were armed groups of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who I'd met, and they would insist that the Kosovo Liberation Army didn't exist, that it was just a creation of the Serb police to justify repression.

You saw the same thing in the cafe society in Sarajevo on the eve of the war in Bosnia. Radovan Karadzic or even Milosevic were buffoonish figures to most Yugoslavs, and were therefore, especially among the educated elite, never taken seriously. There was a kind of blindness caused by their intellectual snobbery, their inability to understand what was happening. I think we have the same experience here. Those of us in New York, Boston, San Francisco or some of these urban pockets don't understand how radically changed our country is, don't understand the appeal of these buffoonish figures to tens of millions of Americans.

But don't you feel like the tipping point is still quite a way off? Speaking personally, when I've read about totalitarian movements, I've always imagined that I'd know enough to pack up and go. That would seem to be a very premature thing to do here.

Well, most people didn't pack up and go. The people who packed up and left were the exception, and most people thought they were crazy. My friends in Pristina had no idea what was going on in Kosovo until they were literally herded down to the train station and pushed into boxcars and shipped like cattle to Macedonia. And that's not because they weren't intelligent or perceptive. It was because, like all of us, they couldn't comprehend how fragile the world was around them, and how radically and quickly it could change. I think that's a human phenomenon.

Hitler was in power in 1933, but it took him until the late '30s to begin to consolidate his program. He never spoke about the Jews because he realized that raw anti-Semitism didn't play out with the German public. All he did was talk about family values and restoring the moral core of Germany. The Russian revolution took a decade to consolidate. It takes time to acculturate a society to a radical agenda, but that acculturation has clearly begun here, and I don't see people standing up and trying to stop them. The Democratic policy of trying to reach out to a movement that attacks whole segments of the society as worthy only of conversion or eradication is frightening.

Doesn't it make sense for the Democrats to reach out to the huge number of evangelicals who aren't necessarily part of the religious right, but who may be sympathetic to some of its rhetoric? Couldn't those people be up for grabs?

I don't think they are up for grabs because they have been ushered into a non-reality-based belief system. This isn't a matter of, "This is one viewpoint, here's another." This is a world of magic and signs and miracles and wonders, and [on the other side] is the world you hate, the liberal society that has shunted you aside and thrust you into despair. The rage that is directed at those who go after the movement is the rage of those who fear deeply being pushed back into this despair, from which many of the people I interviewed feel they barely escaped. A lot of people talked about suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide -- these people really reached horrific levels of desperation. And now they believe that Jesus has a plan for them and intervenes in their life every day to protect them, and they can't give that up.

So in a way, the movement really has helped them.

Well, in same way unemployed workers in Weimar Germany were helped by becoming brownshirts, yes. It gave them a sense of purpose. Look, you could always tell in a refugee camp in Gaza when one of these kids joined Hamas, because suddenly they were clean, their djelleba was white, they walked with a sense of purpose. It was a very similar kind of conversion experience. If you go back and read [Arthur] Koestler and other writers on the Communist Party, you find the same thing.

This is a question that I get all the time, and you've probably heard it too: Do you think Bush is a believer, or do you think he and his administration are just cynically manipulating their foot soldiers?

I think he's a believer, to the extent that this belief system empowers his own arrogant sense of privilege and intellectual shallowness. When you know right and wrong, when you've been mandated by God to lead, you don't have to ask hard questions, you don't have to listen to anyone else. I think that plays into the Bush character pretty well.

I think there are probably other aspects or tenets of this belief system that he finds distasteful and doesn't like. But in a real sense he fits the profile: a washout, not a very good family life -- apparently his mother was a horror show -- a drunk, a drug addict, coasted because of his daddy, reaches middle age, hasn't done anything with his life, finds Jesus. That fits a lot of people in the movement.

What do you think of the argument, exemplified by David Kuo's book, "Tempting Faith," that this administration has duped the Christian right and hasn't really given them much in exchange for their support?

It's given them a lot of money. It's given them a few hundred million dollars. I wouldn't call that nothing.

Kuo's argument is that Bush promised $8 billion for the faith-based initiative but that there was actually very little new funding. What's missing in what he says, I think, is that while there was little new money, there was a massive effort to shift money that was already appropriated from secular social services to evangelical groups. But if you believe, as Kuo apparently did, that compassionate conservatism really meant helping the poor, then Bush hasn't really done anything to further it.

Well, [Bush] never wanted to help the poor. That was just to sell us on a program -- he didn't have any intention of helping the poor.

Did you start out to research this book with the intellectual framework that comes from Hannah Arendt and Karl Popper in mind?

Yes. I studied a lot of Christian ethics, a lot of Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth, that's how I was formed, so when I covered conflicts as a foreign correspondent, the peculiarity of my education made me look at those conflicts a little differently. I was always very wary of utopian movements because I had it pounded into me that utopianism is a dangerous phenomenon, of the left or the right. I was very critical of liberation theology because it essentially endorsed violence to create a Christian society. The way that I articulated that was really through writers like Popper and Arendt. I needed Karl Popper and Hannah Arendt to get a lot of the despotic movements that I was covering, to give myself a vocabulary by which to explain these movements to myself. Even when I teach journalism classes I tend to make them read "The Origins of Totalitarianism" because I think it's such an important book. I've read the book seven or eight times.

When did you see its relevance to the Christian right?

Because of my close coverage, or close connection with movements like Hamas or Milosevic, or even some of the despotic movements in Latin America like Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala, I'd already been conditioned to smell these people out. And then of course coming out the church and coming out of seminary, the combination was such that as soon as I came back from overseas, I had a sense of who these people were. There was a strange kind of confluence from my experience as a reporter and my academic background that came together and gave me a kind of sensitivity to the Christian right that maybe other people didn't have immediately. I don't know how much it's apparent, but it's an angry book.

That's very apparent.

Good. My father remains the most important influence on my life, and he was a Presbyterian minister, a devout Christian. I quote H. Richard Niebuhr saying, "Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people." I wouldn't describe myself as particularly pious but I certainly would describe myself as religious. And when I see how these people are manipulating the Christian religion for personal empowerment and wealth and for the destruction of the very values that I think are embodied in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I'm angry.

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COM: Molly Ivins in grave condition

From Thom Woodruff, via Debbie Russell:

I'm sorry the news I bring is so dire, but many are wondering: Molly Ivins is indeed losing her fight with cancer. She's out of the hospital and back at home, on life support with organ failure. She is lucid some of the time, and spending her last hours with close friends and relatives.

She asks that no more flowers or cards be sent as she is overwhelmed, and certainly visitors are a burden at this point (she knows you are with her in spirit). Please send prayers, love, good wishes (I'm attempting to get and send to her a copy of video of Sat.'s rally where 1500 of us collectively sent it in a giant yell!) and if you want to honor her, instead of gifts, she asks that you give to the ACLU or the Texas Observer/Texas Democracy Foundation in her name. I would imagine a 3rd alternative is giving to a cancer org. of your choice.

Giving to Observer:
Giving to ACLU:

Note: I'm told the Observer received a HUGH grant recently and with a giant donation from Molly, are getting closer to making the match to it (I believe they have $50,000 to go).

Namaste, Ms. Molly.

From Harvey Wasserman:

We love you, Molly
January 29, 2007

Our beloved sister Molly Ivins is fighting for her life against cancer, and all we can do is try to send her even a fraction of the brillliance, joy and love she has given us for so many incomparable years. This genius daughter of Texas turmoil has stood alone for so long as a voice of clarity, wit, common sense and plain-spoken conscience that it’s hard to know even where to start.

Perhaps most important to remember is that she has not been just a writer. From her modest but gracious home in the heart of Austin, she has done anything but sit back and snipe with that unique penetrating wit of hers. She could have done it. She could have just gone to that keyboard every day, blown them all away, and built her national reputation from the sheer genius of an insulated ivory tower.

But Molly has always been a firm believer in hands-on non-violent combat, which in hands like hers is the ultimate weapon. She puts her heart and soul where her convictions are. She’s fought tooth and nail for The Texas Observer and whatever other worthwhile publications there are that can muster an audience in the Lone Star State. She’s worked with the great Jim Hightower in his climb to elected office. She supports candidates. She goes out of her way. She works hard. She makes her presence felt wherever she thinks it’ll do some good, no matter what the personal cost.

All the while being our very premier writer/humorist. If Mark Twain has a female counterpart on today’s political and journalistic scene, it is Molly Ivins. She has that miraculous ability to slice and dice an entire raft of political horse-dung with a single simple sentence, laced with wry, seeded with sweetness, and so often utterly cleansing and clarifying.

We can all be thankful that our lucky stars have placed her—where else but—in Austin. Throughout the entire horrific nightmare of George W. Bush, whom she has somehow known personally for decades, it has been Molly and only Molly who’s been on the spot to say exactly what needs to be said in exactly the right Texas tone with precisely the right down home balance of horror, outrage and utterly human wit. Nobody else could be doing it as she does, from the inside out, from the high ground lifting up the low. Could we ever INVENT anyone better suited, with a sharper wit and better sense of the jugular? Except with Molly, it’s the spiritual center that’s the bullseye. With that wry, beautiful smile of hers and that insanely musical Texas twang, she never fails to aim for higher ground. When her eyes roll at the latest unbelievable insanity from this ghastly crew, she still manages to twinkle with that huge, heavenly light that’s only Molly’s.

In her personal life Molly has always been every bit as gracious as you can tell she is from her writing. Last time she carted me around Austin, it was in her obligatory pickup. The thing seemed a bit naked without a gun rack. But Molly behind the wheel was armed aplenty, always willing to drive the few extra blocks, even if you are willing to walk. Her southern grace just won’t think of it, no matter how many better things she has to do. And we know there are plenty.

To hear her speak is to be dazzled by the music of a true national treasure. To see her heart is to be warmed by a truly magnificent woman who embodies all this country can and should be. That she has been on the job for so long, with such persistence and valor, is something for which we can all be joyously thankful.

Molly, we are with you, and we need you, and we love you, as we have needed you and loved you now for so many years now. Get well soon!

In Molly’s honor, some of us are sending contributions to the Molly Ivins Fund for Investigative Reporting at the Texas Observer; 307 West Seventh Street; Austin, TX 78701; This was first posted at the Texas Observer web site,

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ENV: Red-necked Grebe

These are pictures of the RNG Scotty Lofland found at Lake Kickapoo on 1/28. Pictures were taken by David Holbert.

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COM: Blogarithmic #207

From Soccer America:

YOUTH: U.S. U-18 headed to Mexico tourney
The U.S. U-18 men's national team, coached by Bob Jenkins, will train for three days at the Home Depot Center before heading to Mexico for a 24-team tournament Feb. 3-10 where their first-round opponents will be Atlas, Saprissa, Necaxa, Estudiantes de la Plata and Santos.

U-18 U.S. national team roster:
GOALKEEPERS: Warren Gross (Greenfield Center, N.Y.), David Meves (Arlington Heights, Ill.).

DEFENDERS: TJ Cyrus (Virginia Beach, Va.), Greg Eckhardt (Orange Park, Fla.), Blair Gavin (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Colin Givens (Troy, Mich.), Hunter Jumper (Plano, Texas).

MIDFIELDERS: Jalil Anibaba (Davis, Calif.), Danny Barrera (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Jose Gonzalez (Soquel, Calif.), Ian Kalis (Dallas, Texas), Stephen McCarthy (Colleville, Texas), Evan Raynr (Calabasas, Calif.), Jimmy Simpson (Warrenton, Va.).

FORWARDS: Ross Labauex (Chicago, Ill.), Peri Marosevic (Rockford, Ill.), Demitrius Omphroy (Alameda, Calif.), Cesar Romero (San Diego, Calif.), Michael Stephens (Naperville, Ill.), Casey Townsend (Traverse City, Mich.)

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

COM: Blogarithmic #206

Random people i saw around town today and yesterday -- Jimmy and Vicki Hawkins, Lance Lidiak, Reagan Michel, Mike Walker, Kathleen Hudson, Sam McKee -- great to see all of them.

This is some kind of random uber-deja vu. When i was a kid i had this brilliant idea see -- you take a spoon and add tongs to the end to make a combination spoon and fork. Being as i was notoriously lazy, i thought changing utensils in the middle of a meal wasted time and effort. Of course, i did nothing with my idea, and before long i was picking one up at a Wendy's or somewhere, cussing under my breath that i'd missed becoming a millionaire. Well today i ran across something even more startling -- this little tidbit: "A combined spoon, fork, and knife closely resembling the modern spork was invented by Peter S. Gallucci and issued U.S. Patent 147,119 in February, 1874." What it means i don't know, but i have goosebumps.

Steve Peters passed these random wordplays along:
Here is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational, which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

The 2006 winners are:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying (or building) a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
3 Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize that it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
12. Karmageddon: It's when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes and it's a serious bummer.
13. Decafalon: (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
14. Glibido: All talk and no action.
15. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
16. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
18 . Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the
fruit you're eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. And the winners are:
1. Coffee, (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted, (adj.) appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate, (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade, (v.) to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-Nilly, (adj.) impotent.
6. Negligent, (adj.) absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph, (v.) to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle, (n.) olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence, (n.) emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash, (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle, (n.) a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude, (n.) the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon, (n.) a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster, (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism, (n.) the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent, (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Some randomness i got from a fellow Ag in a facebook group:
15 Things to do at Wal-Mart...when you're going to be in there for a long time:
1. Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they aren't looking.
2. Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.
4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, " 'Code 3' in lingerie".... and see what happens.
5. Go the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M's on lay away.
6. Move a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.
7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you'll invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.
8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"
9. Look right into the security camera; & use it as a mirror, and pick your nose.
10. While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk if he knows where the anti - depressants are.
11. Dart around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.
12. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna look" using different size funnels.
13. Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, say "PICK ME!" "PICK ME!"
14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream . . . "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"
15. Go into a fitting room and shut the door and wait a while; and then yell, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here! '

NCAA Division I semifinal Virginia topped the NCAA's final Division I men's RPI rankings -- the Ratings Percentage Index used as an aid in selecting and seeding of the teams for the NCAA Tournament and taking into account a team's winning percentage, its strength of schedule and its opponents' strength of schedule.

ACC teams claimed the top three spots -- No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Wake Forest and No. 3 Duke. National champion UC Santa Barbara was eighth in the rankings. Runner-up UCLA was fourth.

1 Virginia ACC 17-4-1
2 Wake Forest ACC 18-3-4
3 Duke ACC 18-4-1
4 UCLA Pac-10 14-6-4
5 Indiana Big Ten 15-4-3
6 SMU Conference USA 17-2-4
7 Maryland ACC 16-5-1
8 UC Santa Barbara Big West 17-7-1
9 West Virginia Big East 15-3-3
10 Lehigh Patriot 15-2-3

NCAA Division I women's champion North Carolina and runner-up Notre Dame also finished 1-2 in the NCAA's final Division I women's RPI rankings -- the Ratings Percentage Index used as an aid in selecting and seeding of the teams for the NCAA Tournament and taking into account a team's winning percentage, its strength of schedule and its opponents' strength of schedule. UCLA and Florida State, the other two Women's College Cup participants, finished 3-4.

1 North Carolina ACC 27-1-0
2 Notre Dame Big East 25-1-1
3 UCLA Pac-10 21-4-0
4 Florida St. ACC 18-4-4
5 Santa Clara WCC 15-5-1
6 Penn St. Big Ten 18-5-3
7 Texas A&M Big 12 17-6-1
8 William & Mary CAA 16-1-4
9 Portland WCC 17-4-3
10 Colorado Big 12 14-6-4

BEST YOUTH CLUBS: 2007 Soccer America Top 20 Boys Clubs
For the third straight year, the Chicago Magic is first in the Soccer America Top 20 boys rankings, edging the Dallas Texans. Arsenal FC of Southern California is the third team on the podium.

2007 Soccer America Top 20 Boys Clubs
1 Chicago Magic (Ill.)
2 Dallas Texans (Texas)
3 Arsenal FC (Calif.)
4 Real So Cal (Calif.)
5 Sockers FC (Ill.)
6 FC Delco (Pa.)
7 Baltimore Bays (Md.)
8 Scott Gallagher (Mo.)
9 Vardar Stars (Mich.)
10 Solar FC (Texas)
11 CASL Elite (N.C.)
12 FC Greater Boston (Mass.)
13 Bethesda SC (Md.)
14 PDA (N.J.)
15 Nomads SC (Calif.)
16 Irvine Strikers SC (Calif.)
17 Texas SC (Texas)
18 Colorado Rush (Colo.)
19 Schulz Academy (Fla.)
20 Real Colorado (Colo.)

BEST YOUTH CLUBS: 2007 Soccer America Top 20 Girls Clubs
Thanks to a record-setting 2006 season, the Eclipse Select emerged as the top team in the Soccer America Top 20 girls rankings, taking over the top spot from the Dallas Texans.

2007 Soccer America Top 20 Girls Clubs
1 Eclipse Select (Ill.)
2 Dallas Texans (Texas)
3 PDA (N.J.)
4 Michigan Hawks (Mich.)
5 Slammers FC (Calif.)
6 Colorado Rush (Colo.)
7 Mustang Soccer (Calif.)
8 St. Louis SC (Mo.)
9 Edmond SC (Okla.)
10 So Cal Blues (Calif.)
11 Real Colorado (Colo.)
12 Freestate SA (Md.)
13 Bethesda SC (Md.)
14 Real So Cal (Calif.)
15 San Diego Surf (Calif.)
16 Eagles SC (Calif.)
17 Pleasanton Rage (Calif.)
18 World Class (N.J.)
19 Laguna Hills Eclipse (Calif.)
20 Irvine Strikers SC (Calif.)

You are Spider-Man
Spider-Man 85%
Green Lantern 80%
Hulk 70%
Catwoman 65%
Iron Man 60%
Batman 55%
Superman 50%
Wonder Woman 47%
Robin 45%
The Flash 45%
Supergirl 42%
You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.

Okay, but 47% Wonder Woman?

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Friday, January 26, 2007

COM: Blogarithmic #205

Is anyone else in my coterie secretly praising global warming. I don't do cold and, as Brush Freeman wrote, "I hate winter". So the climate change, regardless of whether it is man-induced or a natural cycle, is also apparently changing the breeding range, winter distribution and vagrancy of lots of birds and bugs. It's exciting from the discovery standpoint, and of course it is expanding ranges of critters at a time of enhanced extinction rates (although presumably ranges of more northern latitude birds may be shrinking).

Saw Chad Ahrens and wife Amy and baby and her parents, the Houstons, at Chili's the other night. Word is Philip is working on his second baby, another little girl. Donna and James have four granddaughters now or on the way.

Going to see The Queen, so i'll finally have an actual Oscar nominee on my "seen" list for the year. All the other candidates i saw didn't make the cut (although many actors did for parts i'd agree with).

Both filming schedules and recording schedules are off for the weekend due to critical folks being unable to make it. Rescheduling for next weekend.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

MRF: Diogenes/Dionysus Scene 42a Rough

Here's a rough clip from last week's shoot, without sound editing or soundtrack. With Lillian Beaudoin, Chris McCrae and Taylor Danielson.

© 2007 Milk River Film

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COM: Blogarithmic #204

Local kids made good!

OLH sophomore earns berth in TAPPS state meet
By Bill Begley, The Daily Times, Published January 22, 2007

Hannah Sprado might have been the only person in the Hill Country happy to see the ice and snow last week.

“All the snow and ice gave me a week off to rest,” the sophomore swimmer at Our Lady of the Hills said. “It was nice to get the break.”

Sprado made the most of that rest, qualifying for the TAPPS Division II state championship meet.

Sprado won the 100-meter backstroke and the 100-meter breaststroke in the TAPPS South Regional meet at the University of Houston on Saturday.

She posted personal-best times in both events, winning the 100 backstroke in 1:06.86 and the breaststroke in 1:16.16.

“I’ve been practicing a lot with my (club) team,” the member of the Kerrville Swim Team said. “We’ve been practicing a lot, like 10 times a week.”

Sprado, who also qualified with her club team for the USA Swimming South Texas Championships, is not a stranger to the TAPPS competition, placing in the 200 Intermediate Medley and the 100 breaststroke as a freshman.

“It helped a lot,” she said. “I was familiar with how fast it was going to be. I felt a lot more confident because of going and doing well last year.”

The state meet will be held Feb. 3-4 in Austin, and Sprado already has her training plans in place.

“The week before I’ll rest a little and make sure I eat right.”

It’s worked before.

Also: Ben Solder (10 boys) won the 25-yard and 100-yard backstroke.

'Dreamgirls' Picks Up Most Oscar Nods

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Jan 23, 2007 (AP)— The peppy musical "Dreamgirls" led Academy Awards contenders Tuesday with eight nominations, but surprisingly was shut out in the best picture category for which it had been considered a potential front-runner.

The sweeping ensemble drama "Babel" was close behind with seven, including best picture and acting honors for two newcomers to U.S. audiences, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi.

Other best-picture nominees were the bloody crime saga "The Departed," the World War II spectacle "Letters From Iwo Jima," the road-trip comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" and the monarchy-in-crisis chronicle "The Queen."

Going into nominations day, the best-picture competition looks unusually wide open, with no consensus on a favorite. With "Dreamgirls," a Golden Globe winner out of the race, the best picture competition was even more up for grabs.

But front-runners in all four categories nabbed nominations and seemed poised to come home with Oscars on Feb. 25: Helen Mirren for best actress as British monarch Elizabeth II in "The Queen"; Forest Whitaker for best actor as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland"; and Eddie Murphy and former "American Idol" finalist Jennifer Hudson as soulful singers in "Dreamgirls."

The other nominees for best actor are Leonardo DiCaprio for "Blood Diamond," "Ryan Gosling" for "Half Nelson," Peter O'Toole for "Venus," and Will Smith for "The Pursuit of Happyness."

List of 79th Annual Academy Award Nominations
By The Associated Press

- Complete list of the 79th Annual Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif.:

1. Best Picture: "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen."

2. Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"; Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"; Peter O'Toole, "Venus"; Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"; Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland."

3. Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"; Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"; Helen Mirren, "The Queen"; Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"; Kate Winslet, "Little Children."

4. Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"; Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"; Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"; Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed."

5. Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza, "Babel"; Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"; Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"; Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel."

6. Directing: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"; Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"; Clint Eastwood, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Stephen Frears, "The Queen"; Paul Greengrass, "United 93."

7. Foreign Language Film: "After the Wedding," Denmark; "Days of Glory (Indigenes)," Algeria; "The Lives of Others," Germany; "Pan's Labyrinth," Mexico; "Water," Canada.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines and Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips, "Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"; Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, "Children of Men"; William Monahan, "The Departed"; Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, "Little Children"; Patrick Marber, "Notes on a Scandal."

9. Original Screenplay: Guillermo Arriaga, "Babel"; Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Guillermo del Toro, "Pan's Labyrinth"; Peter Morgan, "The Queen."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Cars," "Happy Feet," "Monster House."

11. Art Direction: "Dreamgirls," "The Good Shepherd," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "The Prestige."

12. Cinematography: "The Black Dahlia," "Children of Men," "The Illusionist," "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Prestige."

13. Sound Mixing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Dreamgirls," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

14. Sound Editing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

15. Original Score: "Babel," Gustavo Santaolalla; "The Good German," Thomas Newman; "Notes on a Scandal," Philip Glass; "Pan's Labyrinth," Javier Navarrete; "The Queen," Alexandre Desplat.

16. Original Song: "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth," Melissa Etheridge; "Listen" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven; "Love You I Do" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett; "Our Town" from "Cars," Randy Newman; "Patience" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Willie Reale.

17. Costume: "Curse of the Golden Flower," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Dreamgirls," "Marie Antoinette," "The Queen."

18. Documentary Feature: "Deliver Us From Evil," "An Inconvenient Truth," "Iraq in Fragments," "Jesus Camp," "My Country, My Country."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Blood of Yingzhou District," "Recycled Life," "Rehearsing a Dream," "Two Hands."

20. Film Editing: "Babel," "Blood Diamond," "Children of Men," "The Departed," "United 93."

21. Makeup: "Apocalypto," "Click," "Pan's Labyrinth."

22. Animated Short Film: "The Danish Poet," "Lifted," "The Little Matchgirl," "Maestro," "No Time for Nuts."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)," "Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)," "Helmer & Son," "The Saviour," "West Bank Story."

24. Visual Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Poseidon," "Superman Returns."

Academy Award winners previously announced this year:
HONORARY AWARD (Oscar statuette): Ennio Morricone
JEAN HERSHOLT HUMANITARIAN AWARD (Oscar statuette): Sherry Lansing

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Monday, January 22, 2007

ENV: Winter orioles

These photos of a male and female oriole were passed on today by Jim Stevenson. They're both attending feeders in Galveston County. The male is a brilliant Bullock's. Jim believes the female may be a Baltimore. Anyone with comments should post them to TexBirds or send a message directly to Jim.

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ENV: Small loon

Jim Stevenson also forwarded this picture of a small Common Loon from Brazoria Galveston County that has been the subject of discussion on TexBirds today. Commentary is best posted to TexBirds, or directly to Jim. Clicking on the picture will take you to a larger, better version.

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ENV: Small Goose Identification

Scotty Lofland has provided excellent photos of the two small geese he discussed earlier on TexBirds. I took the liberty of cropping them to focus on the particular individuals and these are posted below. Comments on these photos are probably better posted to TexBirds than to the comment section below. This is a permanent link and will remain in place, until/unless Scotty wants them removed.

Branta hutchinsii cf. hutchinsii

Branta hutchinsii cf. minima

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Friday, January 19, 2007

COM: Blogarithmic #203

I hate it when people say "you have to see this . . ." I don't have to anything.

BUT, if you have a minute . . . This story might be worth it.

Thanks to the pusher for this link-junkie, the ever fruitful Clicked.

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COM: Blogarithmic #202

Old Vistan Kyle McGee is doing the Texas music thing lately himself. He has a chance for a recording deal if he gets enough votes. Check him out and vote here.

Went to see Children of Men last night. Very interesting film, worth seeing, but i'm still chewing over what i saw. It has some wonderful character arcs, it has a storyline, it has some twists along the lines of you-never-know-who-to-trust-when-the-world-has-come-to-an-end, it has some mid-apocalyptic landscapes more similar to what i would envision than the average apocalyptic film. But i'm not sure it has a plot. It's more like one long scene from beginning to end. You know how and where it will end. It seems to be just about the ride getting there. So, i'm still thinking about it and how i might rank it among the other big films of the year (CoM has been getting much press as an Oscar-contender that will likely be overlooked). At least the fauna was appropriate (lots of background from Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, and Curlews).

Saw John Holt yesterday in Kerrville. Haven't seen him in a year and a half, and it was nice to run across him. Also saw Nathan Tiedemann in town. They'd just finished beating Memorial for their first district win. They're at Fredericksburg tonight. Everyone has back to back games because of the ice storm earlier this week.

Also stopped in for a brief look at Nobody's Perfect at The Point. Very definitely has potential. Sarah Tacey is directing, Justin Shotts, Emily Houghton, Graydon Vaught, Sloan Frierson and Charles Bryant make up the cast.

Also saw Ingram lose a tough one last night to Llano 42-37. They played well in spurts, but just couldn't overcome those five points. I thought Jeff Achee (who played all but a couple minutes) had an exceptional game, scoring six or eight points for ITM.

Mike Quinn did another of his fine services to Texas Lepidoptery with this nice website on Day-flying Moths.

Here's a note from Dana Cooper:
Just a quick message about Dana's new dates here at the beginning of 2007. (Happy New Year, by the way!!) Also included are a couple of Songwriting Workshops - a great opportunity to see the process behind Dana's award winning songs. Enjoy group sessions, as well as the chance to ask questions one on one. There's not much time left to register for the Dallas Songwriters Association workshop, so hurry up before the spots fill up! (Call 214-750-0916 ext 2 for reservations) These workshops are great for beginners and seasoned pros alike!

1/19 at 9:30pm Bluebird Cafe/Alive Hospice Benefit
w/Kim Carnes, Matraca Berg and Friends Nashville, TN
1/25 at 7pm Americana Unplugged at the La Ville Inn Davis, OK
1/27 at 8pm Labyrinth Walk Coffee House Dallas, TX
1/27 at 12pm Workshop/Dallas Songwriters Association Dallas, TX
1/28 at 8pm The Blue Door Oklahoma City, OK
2/2 at 9pm BB Rovers Austin, TX
2/2 at 4pm Austin Bergstrom Int'l Airport
Hill Country Bar Austin, TX
2/3 Private Party Houston, TX
2/20 at 9pm The Bluebird Cafe
w/Annika Fehling, and Jesse Winchester Nashville, TN
2/22 at 8pm The Coffee Gallery Backstage Alta Dena, CA
2/24 at 8pm Trinity Backstage Santa Barbara, CA
2/25 at 1pm Santa Barbara Songwriting Workshop Series 2007 Santa Barbara, CA

Some soccer news from Soccer America and the National Team Players Association:
Ohio Wesleyan men's coach Jay Martin received the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Honor Award at the NSCAA's Awards Banquet held on Friday in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.

In his 30 years as coach of the Battling Bishops, Martin has led his teams to seven NCAA semifinals, a pair of runner-up finishes and the 1998 national championship. He reached the 500-win milestone faster than any other men's coach.

Martin (career record: 515-99-41) also served as the chair of the Department of Physical Education for 17 years and as athletic director for 19 years. He also coached lacrosse for eight years, posting a 104-34 record with six NCAA tournament bids. He was the NSCAA president in 1996 and became editor of the NSCAA's magazine, Soccer Journal, in 2003, becoming only the third person to hold the title in the 51-year history of the publication.

Other coaches honored for their long-term contributions to soccer:

Anson Dorrance, University of North Carolina (Bill Jeffrey Award)
Bill Holleman, Peachtree Ridge, High School, Ga. (Robert W. Robinson Award)
John Ellinger, Real Salt Lake (Youth Long-Term Service Award)
Jeff Vennell, Cranbrook School, Mich. (Mike Berticelli Award)
Lothar Osiander, San Ramon United, Calif. (Walt Chyzowych Award)

CONCACAF U-20 QUALIFYING: Akpan hat trick ignites USA

Harvard University freshman Andre Akpan scored a hat trick as the USA defeated, Haiti, 4-1 Wednesday night in their opening match of the 2007 CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament in Panama City, Panama.

Akpan scored on passes from Anthony Wallace and U-20 veteran Danny Szetela in the first half and from Heerenveen rookie Robbie Rogers in the second half. Akpan's dummy set up Wallace, the FC Dallas draftee, for the fourth goal on a pass from Rogers in the 49th minute.

Haiti's lone goal came in the 74th minute when Etienne Yveson scored a penalty that was awarded for a foul by U.S. right back Quavas Kirk in the penalty area.

Host Panama was held to a 1-1 tie by Guatemala in the second game. The USA faces Guatemala on Friday (TV: GolTV, live, 6:30 ET) and Panama on Sunday (TV: GolTV, delay, 7 pm ET).

Jan. 17 in Panama City
USA 4 Haiti 1. Goals: Akpan 26, 40, 62, Wallace 49; Yveson pen. 74.
USA -- Seitz, Kirk, Sturgis, Valentin (Igwe, 85), Ward, Wallace, Szetela (Beltran, 75), Adu, Zizzo, Smith (Rogers, 67), Akpan.
Haiti -- Occenat, Exume, Aveska, Natouz, Siri (Scifaite, 71), Saitilus, Saul, Maddy, Norde (Renaud, 90), Yveson, Walson (Joseph, 63).
Referee: Lee Davis.

Madrid chief slammed for Beckham comments
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Associated Press
Posted: 1 day ago

MADRID, Spain (AP) - Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon was criticized Wednesday for making a series of comments about David Beckham and the rest of the team a day earlier.

Sections of the Spanish media called for Calderon to resign, describing his outburst as "an unforgivable mistake" and "the umpteenth time he has put his foot in his mouth."

Calderon, with coach Fabio Capello and sports director Predrag Mijatovic, met with players after Wednesday's training to explain his remarks.

In a statement on its Web site, Madrid said the players had offered their reactions, while Calderon had replied that his words had been taken out of context and "in no way corresponded to his thoughts or his real sentiments."

Madrid said the team's captains would hold a news conference about the matter on Friday.

Calderon's remarks came Tuesday during a visit to university students that was broadcast by national radio station Cadena COPE without his knowledge.

He said Madrid's players displayed "egotism and vanity," were uncultured and believed they were all "superstars."

"They don't pay anywhere they go and they earn €12 million (US$15.5 million)," he said.

Calderon said Beckham was a Hollywood movie-star hopeful who only agreed to join the Los Angeles Galaxy after being spurned by most of the world's top soccer teams.

"The proof that our technical staff was correct not to retain him has been borne out by every other technical staff in the world not wanting him even though he was out of contract," he said.

Calderon also said midfielder Jose Maria Gutierrez had failed to capitalize on his ability, while he used goalkeeper Iker Casillas' €9 million (US$11.6 million) annual salary as an example of the "enormous gulf" in wages at the club.

Calderon also criticized Madrid's fans for failing to get behind the team and suggested former club president Florentino Perez had deliberately obstructed a bid to sign AC Milan midfielder Kaka in the offseason.

In a statement on its Web site earlier Tuesday, Madrid criticized Cadena COPE for making Calderon's comments public.

The president later apologized for his remarks, saying they "could have caused annoyance."

However, it didn't assuage the media reaction to his outburst.

"This demonstrates that Ramon Calderon is completely unsuited to preside over a club like Real Madrid," Jesus Alcaide of daily El Mundo said.

Julian Redondo of newspaper La Razon said Calderon's role was supposed to be as a pacifier, "not to raise storms."

"He should consider the possibility of resigning and leaving but I know he doesn't want to," Redondo added.

Calderon's position is also threatened by a dispute over postal votes which overshadowed his election victory last July.

Allegations of vote-rigging persuaded a judge to provisionally disallow 10,511 postal votes two days before the poll brought Calderon to the presidency. But a legal hearing to decide whether these votes will count in the result will be held on Jan. 29.

If these are included, Calderon could be replaced.

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OBT: Dave Vanole

"David Vanole was one of the pioneers at the start of a new era for U.S. Soccer. I remember very well his impact on the team at the 1988 Olympics and in helping the United States end a very long World Cup drought in 1989. He should be remembered for that right alongside the other early stars of the sport in our country."
-- U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati on David Vanole, who died on Monday at age 43.

Back in the late 1980s, a group of young players brought American soccer out of the hinterlands.

Most accounts of that era highlight names such as Paul Caligiuri, Tab Ramos and John Harkes.

But anyone close to the U.S. national team in those days will never forget the large, jovial goalkeeper who brought a big smile and small American flag to field.

Called "Dino" by his teammates, David Vanole played in five qualifying games for the 1990 World Cup - three wins and two ties.

Early in the campaign, he saved a last-minute penalty kick against Costa Rica to preserve a 1-0 win for the USA. Vanole played two more games - making crucial saves in a 2-1 win over Guatemala - and the USA went on to qualify for its first World Cup in 40 years.

He stayed on the bench at the World Cup finals in Italy - Tony Meola had won the starting spot late in the qualifying campaign. But crucial to seasoning the American team - made up almost exclusively of players without pro experience - for the World Cup qualifiers were the 1988 Olympic Games.

Vanole started every Olympic qualifying game and all three games in South Korea, which included ties with Argentina and the host.

Vanole became part of the national team after helping UCLA to the 1985 NCAA title.

After his playing career, which included stints with the Los Angeles Heat (WSL) and San Francisco Bay Blackhawks (APSL), Vanole coached college, youth national team and pro ball.

Most recently, he served as goalkeeper coach for MLS's New England Revolution (2004-06).

For six years, Vanole served as assistant coach at his alma mater, for both men's and women's UCLA teams. He mentored goalkeeper Matt Reis, star of the Bruins' 1997 national championship team, and reunited with Reis at the Revs.

In 2003, he was goalkeeper coach at D.C. United, whose starting keeper at the time was Nick Rimando, also a keeper under Vanole at UCLA.

Vanole was assistant coach of the U.S. men's U-20 team (1997-99) and of the U.S. women's team (1999-2000), including at the 2000 Olympic games.

He was assistant coach of the Women's United Soccer Association's Washington Freedom in 2001-03.

Vanole died on Monday at age 43 in Utah, where he was on a family ski trip, of an apparent heart attack.

Late last year, Vanole's father, Ray, also died of heart disease.

David Vanole is survived by his wife, Kerry Tatlock.

Services will be held in New York City Jan. 20 and Manhattan Beach, Calif., Jan. 28.

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ENV: Penguins endangered

Bird on 'endangered' list

The Fiordland crested penguin has been added to the Department of Conservation's nationally endangered list along with several other southern species of birds, fish and reptiles.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter yesterday announced the release of the second edition of the publication the New Zealand Threat Classification System lists, first released in 2002.
The new list updates the threat classification status of 5819 of New Zealand's native animals and plants.

Human-induced threats and the introduction of predators and pests continued to plague native species.

The updated threatened species list would be used for priority setting and future management of threatened species, he said.

DOC had pinpointed 40 species considered to have genuinely worsened in status in the past three years.

Among them was the Fiordland crested penguin, which was reclassified from gradual decline to nationally endangered.

In the early 1990s a population survey found 2260 penguin nests, giving a conservative population estimate of fewer than 5000 mature individuals.

The grey duck also moved into the nationally endangered category, because of continued hybridisation with introduced mallard ducks.

A species that had recently disappeared from Stewart Island-Rakiura, the South Island rifleman, was reclassified from not endangered to gradual decline. There was anecdotal evidence the species had disappeared or become less conspicuous in some South Island lowland forest areas.

On a brighter note, the status of the Codfish Island fernbird had improved, going from nationally critical to range restricted classification. "(The) birds are now much more abundant than before the rat eradication took place.

"A second, healthy population has also been established on another pest-free island using translocation techniques."

The Campbell mollymawk, also know as the New Zealand black-browed albatross, had improved from nationally vulnerable to range restricted.A native fish species known as Southern galaxias was reclassified as being in gradual decline – because of increases in threats to water quality related to land use in Southland.

The Otago skink was moved from the nationally endangered to nationally critical list. The species faces a severe threat of extinction within 10 years but the Central Otago Ecological Trust is working on a recovery plan in Alexandra.

A rare aphid, found previously only in Dolamore Park, near Gore, and in the Nelson Lakes area seemed to have disappeared from the latter site. It had been moved on to the nationally critical list.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

COM: Blogarithmic #201

In my goofy 2006 (near-death, job change, residence change, total lack of free time), blogging was the biggest loser for me. Despite the fact that i still manage to manage the Circus of the Spineless, i myself have had precious little time to devote to either my research or to blogging about it or the natural world i cherish so much. So, my great gunghoedness for this in 2005 kind of suffered in 2006. I'm not here to tell you that i would like to better that for 2007 because my schedule looks as intense as ever -- even if i would like to spend more time at it -- but that all that to say that a new book has been published "The Best of Science Blogging 2006" and is being put out by, and includes many of, the friends i developed over the last couple of years of doing this sort of thing. And further, the announcement post even includes mention of Circus of the Spineless as a monitored blog for appropriate posts. My webfriend Bora appears to have done a fine thing in putting this together and i can't wait to see the end result. More info here at A Blog Around the Clock.

All of that leading to this -- the Inaugural Science Blogging Conference.

Was stuck in the pit until noon today. The cabin where i live is in a deep depression at the back of the ranch. to get out, anywhere, even to work, requires a drive up a steep hill. There are two ways out, and one of them climbs to the top of a hill, so leaving also means coming back down a steep hill. It's completely impassable. No one has driven it since Monday. The other option requires someone smashing the ice on the gravel road so that a grip can be maintained. Yesterday someone tried climbing that hill about 30 times, sliding back down each time, beforethe road was grippable. Today, no such luck. I had to wait until the temp warmed to the freezing range, enough to melt some and weaken the ice layer before i could climb out, and even then had to do it in 4-wheel low in the jeep.

Returned to the office to feeders loaded with birds: American and Lesser Goldfinches, Chipping and House Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, a Bewick's Wren, a Myrtle Warbler, Slate-colored Juncos, a pair of Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, Black-crested Titmice, and in the surrounding field, a herd of White-tailed Deer, a Common Raven, a Norhtern Flicker, an Eastern Phoebe, and lots of American Robins, with a couple of Hermit Thrushes thrown in. On the pond beyond were four Ring-necked Ducks. Lots of good film of these guys up close.

Everything in town is closed, shut down. No school for the second straight day, even the banks are closed. We just don't have the collective memory to handle ice storms.

A few things at the feeders, including Northern Cardinal and American Goldfinches.

This is the storm squarely overhead. Funny how it even looks cold on radar.

Among the things we don't know how to do here: walk on icy sidewalks, stock up on food, drive, get to town.

Having said that i was able to get to town for a short wihle this afternoon. There were 48 semis parked at Wal-Mart. That's a huge number, but likely only a fraction of the trucks in town considering that Wal-Mart is deep into town. I suspect the old Wal-Mart lot, the mall lot, and perhaps a few other places were loaded as well. This is all because I-10 is closed down for 300 miles, from just east of us well out into west Texas. Kerrville is about the last sizable town on the highway for about 600 miles (that would be El Paso), and that makes it a convenient shutdown spot for the highway department. So it's been closed for a couple days now, suspect it'll repoen tomorrow about noon, if the forecast is right. Speaking of forecasts, at noon today they said there'd be a gradual warming trend after this afternoon, and the last band of precipitation would pass through this afternoon also. Right now though (6:20 pm CST) the forecast has changed to include rain through Sunday. Yippeee! It'll be wreck city here for the next few days.

A paraphrased little note i sent to ABC Newsw today. I complain pretty regularly about errors in their P1 stories.

In a single article and its captions here:
you state that the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed "at least 20 million" "upward of 40 milllion" and "roughly 50 million". I grant that the actual number is likely unknown -- but a range of 250%? I suppose some arrogant writer might say that each of these is technically correct and non-contradictory, and so be it, but they make you look mathematically stupid.

And this statement within the article is simply ludicrous: "Just like the Jurassic Park DNA slipped out of science's control" -- nothing escaped science, it escaped actors in a fictional film. Puhlease.

here are the paragraphs in question:
"In this 1918 photograph, influenza victims crowd into an emergency hospital at Camp Funston, a subdivision of Fort Riley in Kansas. The flu, which is believed to have originated in Kansas, killed at least 20 million people worldwide."

"The flu virus that killed roughly 50 million people worldwide in 1918 is alive and still very deadly. New research sheds light on how the 1918 Spanish flu virus might have killed so many people so quickly — and opens new horizons for researchers who hope to avoid a flu pandemic today."

"The 1918 Spanish flu was the deadliest human plague of the 20th century. The pandemic was unusually severe, causing upward of 40 million deaths worldwide — including 675,000 Americans. Most of the victims were healthy people in the prime of life.

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ENV: Kokako ssp. extinct

South Island kokako declared extinct

Conservation officials today formally declared the South Island kokako extinct, saying there had been no confirmed sightings for 40 years.

Rod Hitchmough, a scientific officer at the Department of Conservation (DOC) told a press briefing in Wellington that the kokako decision had attracted controversy.

"But the definition of extinct is that we are absolutely certain the last individual has died," said Mr Hitchmough, who compiled DOC's latest lists of threatened species, including six native insects and snails also declared extinct.

"It was last seen on the South Island in 1967," he said.

There had been further reports on Stewart Island in 1987 and other more recent sightings, but these had not been corroborated.

A panel of bird experts which drew up the previous list of the threat status of native animals and plants in 2002 had not been able to decide with certainty whether it had died out.

"There have been more recent sightings recorded but they have been less well-documented," Mr Hitchmough said.

"Now, given there have been no further convincing records, the panel decided to bite the bullet and list it as extinct.

"But it was probably extinct years ago".

Less than a year ago, veteran searchers seeking signs of the kokako unsuccessfully searched a valley east of Puysegur Point in Fiordland National Park for signs of the grey bird with orange wattles at each side of the beak.

That South Island kokako investigation team included Christchurch researcher Ron Nilsson, who has spent 20 years searching remote valleys in Nelson, Westland, Fiordland and Stewart Island.

Other searches have been made in Granville State Forest in the West Coast's Grey Valley and further north in the Paparoa Range near Charleston.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter told the Wellington briefing that the new threatened species list updated the "threat classification" status of 5819 of New Zealand's native plants and animals, and 44 had been given a change in status.

Almost half of those were listed in one of the seven threatened categories, and the rest required further research to determine if these were threatened or not.

"Some have improved, like the crested grebe and black petrel, others, such as the grey duck and riflemen are more endangered," Mr Carter said. "It's a wake-up call for us, as a country".

"Human-induced threats and the introduction of predators and pests continue to plague our native species," he said.

"The species that make up our country – the unique bird, reptile, plant and insect species that are endemic to these islands of ours – are what helps to make us New Zealanders, give us a unique place in the world and give us our identity," said Mr Carter.

Settlement of New Zealand by Maori and Europeans had made an incredible impact on the nation's biodiversity, Mr Carter said.

The total number of threatened species reported in the new list rose by 416 to 2788 – in many cases because new information had become available since the lists were last reviewed in 2002.

Another 984 species have been listed as "data deficient".

He said the list would be used to prioritise management of threatened species.

The battle to retain biodiversity was not only about resources – for which conservation had to compete with spending on areas such as health and education – but was also dependent on expertise in developing management plans and providing the science for managing threatened species.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

COM: Blogarithmic #200

Ice is the word for the day. Took an hour to get less than a mile from the back of the ranch to wrok this a.m. And it's just plain wintry outside.

UPDATE: It's snowing here! Really snowing.

Update again: I just went through the rather incongruous process of filming Lesser Goldfinches feeding in the driving snow.

We are working on another recording session this weekend to add tracks for the new CMP CD. So, you guys who were part of the backup choir a few weeks ago, we'll need you again. I'll check with you at rehearsals in the next couple of days. Also plan to get some D&D filming done this weekend, probably Sunday, and will be looking for crew. Let me know.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Com: Blogarithmic #199

I've got a new site/blog up for Diogenes/Dionysus. It has some short, preliminary bios for cast and crew, and scheduling info. More to come.

It's at

Michael Hawkins showed me the way to Sean Kendrick's new website this weekend. It's just an opening page, but it's a great flash graphic. Can't wait to see the rest.

Speaking of Michael, he finished the rouhg mix of his new CD with Tony Young this weekend, and it sounds great. We made some MP3s so maybe he'll post some on his music site -- that's -- once he does a mixdown with Tommy Spurlock, he'll be having them mass-produced and they'll be available at a venue near you.

Our now weekly/annual gathering to watch 24 (the only TV i watch except for occasional sports events) met for the first time last night for the two hour opening. Two more hours tonight. I'd found what seemed like a fun game -- playing bingo with anticipated events (things like Jack disobeys a direct order, and Jack convinces another CTU agent to disobey a direct order), but it turned out to be pretty lame. For one, no one wanted to spend the whole show comparing the events on the tube to the squares on the paper, AND it took the whole first hour for Jack to escape and figure out he was on the loose (key line "I don't know how to do this anymore" after which of course he proved that he did indeed know how to do it anymore). Big phrase for the night, and probably the key to the series this season -- "I don't want to die for nothing." We'll be chasing Fayed for months now i guess. And to top off the night, we were using digital record to pause while we attended to a wonderful dinner, but there was a record session already programmed in and we missed seeing the last five minutes of the show. Thank you-know for little catchup previews they do on each show; tonight we'll find out what happened. So while searching to see if i could figure out the ending i came up with the following ditty that rings a chord -- the kind that reminds me that if i were a TV-watcher, i might not get anything done, ever.

Commentary: I've got series DVD-itis

By Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- A few nights ago, just into the 97th hour of my exhaustive, exhausting quest to watch every existing episode of "24" before the new season starts this weekend, there was one of those big payoff moments.

It was a sit-up-straight-and-gasp surprise, the kind you wait for in this adrenaline-fueled series about a counterterrorism unit -- more unexpected because it happened in the first moments of the fifth season, almost as the credits rolled. Former President David Palmer -- pensive, strong, seemingly indestructible -- was standing calmly by a window when an assassin's bullet crashed through and killed him. Whoa.

It would have been even better if I hadn't known it was coming.

That's one big problem with watching TV shows on DVD, months or years after the show has actually aired. You risk finding out things you don't want to know, merely by glancing at a newspaper or stumbling onto a Web site or chatting with another human being. In this case, some TV critic spoiled the Palmer surprise for me, as many others have been spoiled -- even by my own colleagues. And now, undoubtedly, I'm spoiling it for someone else.

But that's not even the main problem with gorging on 120 hours of one show. The real issue is: Who the heck has time for this sort of thing?

Certainly not those of us who have full-time jobs, kids with busy schedules and other such pesky distractions from our TV viewing. Little did I, a moderate TV-watcher ("Grey's Anatomy," "The Daily Show," some late-night CNN), know what I was getting into a year ago on New Year's Eve, when two fellow journalist friends -- they know who they are -- recommended that my significant other and I check out "24."

I added the first disc to our Netflix queue. It sat for months on top of the TV set, waiting in line behind some erudite foreign film that we'd been sort of avoiding, like homework. (DVD guilt: That's a whole other column.)

But eventually we watched that first episode, and an obsession was born. It became an unspoken contract: We were going to watch the whole thing, no matter what -- even if we stopped liking it, even if it got boring. Why? Would it be trite to say "because it was there?" Leaving the job half done, as federal agent Jack Bauer might say, was "not an option."

We started going out less. Magazines went straight to the "read later" pile. Dinner became a regular date in the living room: us and Jack, that square-jawed, resolute, impossibly loyal yet subversive federal agent played by Kiefer Sutherland. And, like Jack himself (yes, we're on a first-name basis by now), we had good days and bad, but we were pushing through the pain, single-minded in our pursuit.

There were, necessarily, breaks for business trips or vacations. And there were countless times when one of us annoyed the other mightily by falling asleep mid-episode (because of the late hour, not the content) -- meaning we had to rewind and start over. Woe to the one with drooping eyelids. Me to him: "Open your eyes!" Him to me: "Sit up straight!" Or, the most evil weapon: forced feeding of Haagen-Dazs, as an emergency sugar injection. Somehow, we got through four seasons and counting.

All of which begs the question: Is this good for us, or for anyone? All this available entertainment content, waiting to be devoured? Every week a new series comes out on DVD, dozens and dozens of hours of it. Now we have our childhood favorites back, too -- "Bewitched," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Get Smart." These days, picking a new show is a major investment. Or as a colleague sighed, when I encouraged her to try "24": "Sorry. It's just too much of a commitment." Another friend did try, but told me she was too "intimidated." Give it a few dozen hours, I advised.

Obsessive TV-viewing has been around as long as the medium itself, according to TV historian Tim Brooks. In the late 1940s it was Milton Berle, "Mr. Television," the first real TV icon. In the '50s it was "I Love Lucy." Of course, back then, there was only one way to watch. "When 9 p.m. on Monday came around, you'd better have been in front of the TV," says Brooks, also an executive at Lifetime.

Now, a half-century later, you don't need to know what day or time your favorite show airs. With DVRs, DVDs and downloading from the Web, it's virtually irrelevant.

DVDs supplanted VHS tapes in the late '90s, but it's really only in the past five years that TV shows, as opposed to feature films, have become established in the format. Now, says Netflix Inc. spokesman Steve Swasey, they're a huge part of the online DVD rental giant's business: fully 20 percent of the 7 million DVDs it sends out per week are TV shows.

"The real phenomenon is people renting a whole season or an entire series," says Swasey. "They'll have a 'Lost' weekend" -- pun intended -- "watching the whole thing straight through. I know people who had a 'M*A*S*H-athon,' wearing fatigues, stethoscopes, the whole thing." Among the most popular series? "Entourage," "Lost," and of course, "24."

So back to our own ticking clock: We're at 107 hours, and coming down the home stretch. We have 13 hours to get through by week's end. Unless we really pace ourselves, that last day could be, as Jack himself would say, one of the longest days of our lives.

And while nothing topped the novelty of the first season, the suspense is still there, although you quickly learn certain immutable rules of the series. Rule No. 1: Jack will never die. (Sutherland has a long-term contract, silly.) But he comes close all the time, and no one else is safe. That's Rule No. 2.

With the end in sight, and only a weekly smattering of "24" to anticipate this season, we're kind of wondering what will happen in our household. Will we start watching our foreign films again? Get caught up on the bills? Clean out my desk? "Maybe," my viewing partner mused the other day, "we'll have to start talking to each other again."

Here's what he doesn't know: I've already ordered the first season of "Lost."

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