Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
The State Theatre, Arlington VA
February 25

It wasn't actually that warm, but by the 2nd or 3rd song, the outer shirt was off. Welcome to a Trombone Shorty show.

I first saw Trombone Shorty in the summer of 2007, at an outdoor concert on the Hudson River. I remember we were told, um, this is a high energy act, so you're going to have to get up off of your picnic blankets. We did.

The group is touring extensively this winter/spring with an album coming in April.

They led off with Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and were soon on to a rendition of American Woman. I forgot a bit that the group does their own take on some quite popular stuff (Let's Get It Started (?!)). Sometimes I wish there were a little more emphasis on the original, and maybe we'll hear that in the new album.

But in the end what they are, at least for live shows, is a dance party band. And their line-up keeps the crowd quite pleased, myself included.

Troy Andrews and the rest of the band are quite young, mostly in their younger to mid twenties; it's amazing to think most of them have been touring for a few years. The only thing they're missing is the keyboard guy they had a while ago. But the band, including a new alto sax guy who looks like he can't be out of his teens, are all awfully good, and played together seemingly effortlessly.

The show moved toward New Orleans toward the end, with a little Aaron Neville mixed in and then the Saints.

More than two and a quarter hours after we started, we were exhausted. But we had sure got our money's worth.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow on the way

As of midday Wednesday, forecasters are still being cautious about what's coming our way -- where the storm will go and where the rain/snow lines will end up. For now, here's an accumulation forecast map from the Weather Channel:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tom Goldstein makes supreme court retirement predictions

Of course, no one really knows, but SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein’s record of predictions is impressive. He says Stevens will probably retire and Ginsburg won’t; left groups will support Diane Wood but Obama will nominate Elena Kagan.

Erik Wemple leaving City Paper to run new local news site

See City Paper, DCist. It's going to be a big deal here.

Canned whole chicken?


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Is Obama's White House Like Bartlet's? Here's Why That Would Be Bad

The left wants Emanuel out, and I think we're probably mostly correct.

What's wrong with the White House is spelled out in this piece by Edward Luce of the Financial Times. He paints a picture of an administration controlled to a strong extent by four key staff -- Axelrod, Gibbs, Emanuel and Jarrett. It is the political team, not the policy experts, who ultimately make the decisions.

We already knew this, but Luce spells it out in more detail. For example, his sources say that on the China trip, it was this team that was by Obama's side throughout -- not the people from State or NSC or whatever who actually go to work each day and do our China policy.

Cabinet secretaries are, in many cases, left with surprisingly little power. Now, not wanting Ken Salazar to go on TV, that I can understand. But we're talking about whole agencies being effectively micro-managed by a small political team.

Does this all sound familiar?

Yeah, you could say the Bush Administration had power concentrated in a small group of people, but even many of those villians (Rumsfeld, etc) were at least public figures at the agencies, slightly more scrutinizable (can you remember Bush's two chiefs-of-staff off the top of your head? Didn't think so. Not overly important figures).

What this really reminds me of is more the Bartlet Administration. In that case, the decisions were made by a small political team in the White House, presumably because it made good TV. It wouldn't work to try to show the cabinet secretaries more, because that'd be less time with Josh and CJ and crew, who are the main characters.

But back to real life. If the Obama Administration really is run this way, it's not good. I mean, it'd be one thing if the political team were making the right decisions, but it really seems they aren't even doing that.

Oh no there was snow so there must not be global warming

But seriously. This was the latest in a series of attacks on the science of global warming. And that this one got traction in most of the big US media last week -- even if some of the stories do explain the science further down -- shows just how much the right wing sets the debate.

CJR's Curtis Brainard had a good piece on all this, focusing largely on John Broder's front pager in the NYT. Brainard argues that the piece was "undoubtedly another well-intentioned attempt to explain how people will distort the difference between weather and climate to suit their own ends" but that "As a result of the political bend, the top half of Broder’s article contains little more than banter."
What readers needed was a much more straightforward story about the limitations of discerning climate trends in weather. But, as Yulsman put it, “I’m guessing that if Broder had approached the story in this way, it never would have made it to page one.”
One of the latest examples of the ugliness is now in the Economist.

I'm not a huge fan of them, but I will say what sometimes makes them -- and many other business publications -- useful is that they don't waste time with he-said-he-said stories. As Joe Romm explains in that link,
Memo to The Economist: If you feel obliged to report on the anger of the anti-scientific crowd, you still can’t leave inaccurate or inane assertions entirely unrebutted.

A small step toward justice in Brad Will case: court forces release of activist Moreno

A federal court in Mexico ordered the release Thursday of Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, a left wing activist accused by authorities of killing American Brad Will in Oaxaca in 2006 (see NYT, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International).

The case against Moreno had been a disgrace from the beginning: abundant physical evidence and eyewitness testimony pointed not to him but to state agents -- seen in Will's video recording -- wielding guns.

From AI:
"Juan Manuel has been used as a scapegoat by the Mexican authorities to claim there has been progress in the investigation around Brad Will’s death."
The news this week is an embarrassment for Mexican prosecutors. But unfortunately it doesn't mean they're necessarily going to alter course and suddenly pursue the killer.

The Obama Administration has not publicly shown signs that it is going to do anything about the matter. Obviously it's a bit of a diplomatic problem if agents of an American ally -- and now major aid recipient -- in fact murdered an American citizen. It's convenient to just avoid the issue.

Previously: Three years later, no justice in Brad Will murder (10/09), In Brad Will case, Mexican government moves ahead with its farce (7/09) and Grim but expected development in Brad Will case (10/08).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Grist's Tom Philpott writes on the state of food politics in the news:
Obesity, it seems, is the popular frame for looking critically of the food system: it’s the respectable pathway through which public figures can criticize industrial food. I wish there were another one. While the expansion of the American waistline is a material fact, emphasizing it, obsessing over it, repeating it endlessly, I fear, reinforces our national obsession with skinniness, unintentionally stigmatizes the very people who have been failed by the food system, and opens space for the food industry to respond with new products speciously marketed as weight-loss panaceas. As a nation, we have a tortured and schizophrenic relationship with food and body weight; a bevy of public figures fixating on fatness underscores that unhappy fixation.
I watched much of the Katie Couric / David Kessler / Eric Schlosser interview thing that he features there and it's pretty good.

I am starting to get driven crazy, though, by the word "processed." I think it's probably not an effective word for the food movement folks to be using. I really doubt very many people know what it means. We need a word that is more specific, more understandable, and probably slightly more evil sounding, because "processed" just doesn't sound bad at all.

"Traveltalks - Glimpses of Peru" (1937)

Via The View from Peru, this basically, I dunno, defies description:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NYTimes notes Wesleyan chalking ban again

I missed this. But last week, in one of their many follow-ups on the fatal power plant construction explosion in Middletown, CT, the NYTimes managed to mention the chalking ban. The article, "Connecticut Town Chafes at Return to the Spotlight," begins:
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — There was the college-wide ban on students' sidewalk scribblings, which set off a First Amendment debate at one of the country’s more progressive campuses. There was the faculty-led seminar, “Pornography: Writing of Prostitutes,” which raised questions over the role of sex in undergraduate curriculums.
Here's the NYT's Nov 2002 Metro-front article on chalking at Wesleyan, and their May 2003 follow-up on the ban.

Monday, February 15, 2010

That was the Metro that was

At Greater Greater Washington, David Alpert has posted an animation showing the evolution of DC's Metro, from how the map of the system looked at the beginning to where it is today.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Exclusive inside tour! New Century Travel's garage

BSOM was given an exclusive nighttime inside tour of New Century Travel's bus repair garage in Philadelphia.

The inside:

I can reveal that the garage is located on South Swanson Street, near the intersection of West Porter Street, across from the elevated highway.

(Outside image via Google Street View)

By exclusive inside tour, I mean my bus the other week stopped there for a bit, got washed, gassed up, and then we kept going.

Monday, February 08, 2010

DC is basically still a shit show

For the out of towners, an idea of how life is working here:

The federal government was off today, Monday, and many employers follow their decision. Schools were off today and just about all of them are off Tuesday too. DC city government was the big thing open today. Businesses are open, but sometimes with limited hours, and there are an awful lot of employees who have gone through great lengths to get to work.

The Metro continued to be in very limited service today -- just underground stations, and only every half hour. No word yet on Tuesday. There was very limited bus service today.

If Metro trains and busses aren't widely expanded for Tuesday, it's hard to imagine the federal government or very many employers will be open for Tuesday. No word yet at 6:30pm.

The weather was nice today (and yesterday) and lots of people have shoveled out cars. Others haven't.

CWG earlier forecasted 3-6" for the next storm, but then upped to 5-10". NWS declares 10-20".

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Why we root for the Saints

LATimes columnist Bill Plaschke:
America has rarely needed a sports champion the way it needs New Orleans to beat Indianapolis for the NFL title.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Dupont Afternoon of Snowmageddon

Photos from Saturday afternoon, in the Dupont area.

This snowball fight will be covered live. Obvi.

"They're from New Jersey!" was heard. All cars rounding the circle were pelted, I should say. Because.

Connecticut Ave.

DCist has photos of the Dupont snowball fight and the streets in the area, and City Paper has great photos of the one at Malcolm X park. WaPo has a big lovely gallery here. Including a number of photos of cute dogs.

Time-lapse view of some dude's car getting covered in snow


MSNBC: "BREAKING NEWS" on Snowstorm from DC

This shot from today comes courtesy my friend KPd, who doesn't live in this area and was watching MSNBC's national coverage. Here's the urgent news they picked up from DC's NBC affiliate:

I'll just add that cross country skiing in this storm is last night's news.

Midnight ski on Wisconsin Ave

I swear, I only went skiing at night because my housemate is taking his skis to work in the morning.

Wisconsin Ave.

If you need gas, Shell is open.

Made it home. Bed time.

Friday, February 05, 2010

WaPo sends a Beijing reporter to SichuanXinjiang for panda story, and finds:

And finds this:

Updated map

Very useful updated snowstorm map.

Flight times and arriving "on time"

Scott McCartney has a superb column in the WSJ, on how airlines have increased the scheduled time for so many of their flights. This way, you can, say, wait 45+ minutes to take off and still get to your destination "on time."

The notion of comparing year-to-year "on time performance" is pointless, because the figures don't factor this in. So you could (and do) have one particular flight regularly taking longer than it used to, with on time performance said to have gone up.

Among the losers in this whole situation: the airlines themselves. For various reasons, they have scheduled more flights than can currently actually be handled, even in perfect weather (particularly at the three NYC airports and Philly). Having their planes sitting on the ground waiting to take off is very expensive for them. They're willing to do it because they can still pretend the planes are "on time" -- and because it's in part a collective action problem that, for some of these airports, no one has forced them to solve.


Oh, actually, I took this earlier this week.

But, it has started snowing.

On team Google-NSA

The notion that we should trust the NSA requires us to ignore history.

See Noah Schachtman's piece on why the Google-NSA partnership is worrying.

WaPo sends out weekend section early

The Washington Post sent out some weekend sections, including the magazine, with Friday's delivery. Smart move.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The night before: Scenes from the store, update on Det. Baylor, and It's Snowing Already!

The snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, what have you, approaches.

Everyone calm down, there is still salad dressing!! Just not some other things.

Actually, I should have some journalistic integrity here and note that many of the aisles at Tenleytown Whole Foods were doing just fine:

Of course, that was just before close, after they had already stopped letting people in.

People were totally buying soy milk for the first time. Maybe they'll like it.

In other news, as talk of more big snowball fights emerges again for this storm (this one promises free hot chocolate!) DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in an interview today that the investigation into Detective Baylor, the dude with the gun at the snowball fight last time, is complete. No word yet on the results, though.

Last thing before signing off for the night: the snowstorm has already started!!! Check it out:

Oh. Silly b-roll.

Post: 16-26" for DC and Baltimore regions


You know the Olympics are coming up when...

There's a story about the local authorities kicking the homeless people off the street. I mean they could practically just cut and paste it from prior major events and I wouldn't complain.

The Guardian has the story on Vancouver.

By, Tai Shan

Photo gallery on DCist of Tai Shan being shipped away this morning.

Pew study: blogging down among teens

For the teens, Facebook is hot as ever. Twitter hasn't caught on. And blogging is less common than it used to be.

See USAToday.

What should this storm be called?

There are some great ideas here.

I like Snowbowl or #SnoWTF or "The Great 2010 Less Than 2, 2 to 6, 6 to 12, 12+, Check Back Tomorrow Snowcastrophe."

"Recidivism" part 2

The Washington Post's headline in Wednesday's print edition:
"Drop cited in recidivism among former detainees"

So the Post has now decided it considers these 540 or so men to all have committed crimes?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Obama administration uses word 'recidivism' to discuss released detainees

The Obama Administration this week is continuing to use the word "recidivism" to discuss whether released Guantanamo detainees commit crimes or not.

The problem is that we're talking about people who were never convicted of a crime. In fact, in many cases, these are people who we know quite clearly were innocent civilians picked up off the street.

Justin Elliott has a good short write-up on the issue today.

BriWi does Yiddish

Last night, Jon Stewart and Brian Williams yucked it up again, with a lot of Yiddish from each. Video.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Breaking at WaPo: The Silverdome is sold!

Monday's Washington Post fronted "Where a $56 million dome couldn't fetch 600 grand; Pontiac ponders whether the sale could kick off a rebound" by Dana Hedgpeth.

It's a decent article telling the story of struggling Pontiac, Michigan (I feel slightly bad reading Michigan-is-dying-porn articles, and there are a lot of them these days, but they're still interesting).

A main theme of the article is the sale of the Silverdome, once the Lions stadium, for $583,000.

But funny thing, the Christian Science Monitor's Mark Guarino had this story back when it happened -- in November.

To its credit, the Post notes, mid-article, that the auction was back on November 16th. But with the sale of the Silverdome as the main theme of the article, you'd expect it was something that happened the other day. And to front something that another national paper already covered at the time? Just seems a bit unimpressive.

(h/t on noting the CSM article back in Nov: @bethsc)

Kudos to Matt Lauer on the Toyota story

Here's the deal. As this story of the Toyota defect has grown and grown in the past months, finally getting huge in the last week with the stop-sale announcement, ABC has been one of the leaders on the story (LAT, Detroit Free Press and some others have been great too, but ABC has been the one breaking parts of the story on TV).

So when the company finally did an interview in the U.S., they wanted a friendly setting (the head of the company internationally is (or was) at the WEF in Davos, dodging reporters).

The Today Show sure sounds like a good choice to me. Today even has a partnership with the "Toyota Concert Series." Hmm.

But Matt Lauer's interview this morning with Jim Lentz turned out to be really good. He was well prepared and didn't let Lentz spin or slither away. Three cheers.

On ABC, meanwhile, team Brian Ross did a well-executed ambush interview, which isn't that common these days (outside of O'Reilly and the celebrity press). This situation certainly seems a fair time for it.

Block those Iranian missiles!

Sunday's NYT fronts"U.S. Speeding Up Missile Defenses in Persian Gulf" by David Sanger and Eric Schmitt. It says:
The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.
Ok why do they have to do this anonymously? Anyway, the article later tells us:
By highlighting the defensive nature of the buildup, the administration was hoping to avoid a sharp response from Tehran.
And therein lies the problem.

A missile defense weakens or eliminates the other country's deterrent capability. That means we can attack them without worrying that they will shoot back. Whether we then attack them or not, they are understandably freaked out.

It's hard to imagine that Sanger and Schmitt don't understand the very basics of weapons proliferation, seeing as they cover this stuff, and don't get that just about any missile defense system is inherently, even if not on purpose, an offensive move (while also a defensive one). Yet they say nothing about it, reporting that this is just a defensive move.

(The NYT isn't alone here, though they were given the story first; see also Reuters, WSJ. The Independent gets it -- "likely to fuel concerns of an arms race among mutually suspicious regimes in the region.")

The whole point is that even if, let's say, the Obama Administration doesn't plan on bombing Iran, maybe some future administration would. This 'defensive' action is, on purpose or not, a long-term offensive threat to Iran.

One potential implication is that Iran, in response to an increased threat, would work to overcome that threat by building more weapons. This isn't how-crazy-dictators-think; hardly. It's more like international relations 201.

In fact, you could even argue that if Tehran didn't act in response to this action, it'd be crazy, and threatening the safety of its people.