Friday, May 22, 2009

Who is Elisabeth Hasselback? And why should we care?

So, I was watching Jesse Ventura's evisceration of Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "The View" the other day and couldn't help but wonder why anyone would possibly care about her political insights - or relative lack of them.

Unlike Matt Yglesias, I can at least understand the fascination with Meghan McCain. She's the daughter of a prominent U.S. politician, she spent a good bit of the past year campaigning for her father, she occasionally says sensible things and she can be charming on occasion.

However, I really need someone to explain Hasselbeck's ascendancy to me. I know that she is married to a former NFL quarterback and that she was once a finalist on a very popular reality TV show.

Then again, I don't see anyone taking Hoopz's thoughts about abortion, the Iraq War or torture all that seriously.

Even compared to the relative career accomplishments of the other panelists on "The View," Hasselbeck comes up short. And that includes Sherri Shepherd.

I don't really begrudge Hasselbeck her success. I just want to know how it happened, and why people continue to engage her in serious political debate.

Post-script: Ventura also did quite a number on Sean Hannity. Check it out. Continue Reading »

Withdrawal: Better than nothing?

Possibly, according to a recent study via Feministe:

A new commentary, “Better Than Nothing or Savvy Risk-Reduction Practice? The Importance of Withdrawal,” by Rachel K. Jones et al., published in the June 2009 issue of Contraception, highlights that withdrawal is only slightly less effective than the male condom at preventing pregnancy. Yet there is a general reluctance among health care providers and individuals alike to consider withdrawal as a viable method of contraception—even as a backup to more effective methods or as an alternative to not using contraceptives at all—which likely stems from misconceptions about its effectiveness at preventing unintended pregnancy.

The best available estimates indicate that with “perfect use,” 4% of couples relying on withdrawal will become pregnant within a year, compared with 2% of couples relying on the male condom. More realistic estimates suggest that with “typical use,” 18% of couples relying on withdrawal will become pregnant within a year, compared with 17% of those using the male condom. In other words, with either method, more than eight in 10 avoid pregnancy.

My first thought is that I sincerely hope no horny teenagers get wind of this new information.

Secondly, there's a reason withdrawal is known in some quarters as "pull and pray." As Rachel notes, "even the best-intentioned person can lose their head (yeah yeah yeah) in the heat of the moment."

I'm all for couples in long-term, monogamous relationships using withdrawal if it's the method that works best for them. But beyond that, I - and the authors of the study - understand the reluctance of health care providers and educators publicly pushing withdrawal as a viable method of contraception.

Though the study focuses on the relative efficacy of withdrawal, it's quite obvious withdrawal does nothing to protect partners from exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. I'm also interested in figuring out what constitutes "perfect use" of withdrawal - is there really such a thing?

However, I also can't see how more education would be such a bad thing. I'm all for everyone being aware of their options. And if withdrawal is one of those options, and it's truly better than nothing, then I'm cool with it if it means a reduction in unplanned pregnancies.

Because we all know abstinence is the best option. But best, of course, works better in theory than in the backseat of a Honda Civic. Continue Reading »

Pushing daisies

As Michael Steele promised, the Republican National Committee is going out beyond the cutting edge - like sometime around 1964 - to highlight the Democrats' division over the future of Guantanamo Bay.

See for yourself.

It's all strategic.

h/t Oliver Willis. Continue Reading »

C.J. Hilton

Is it me, or does this dude have a little Marvin Gaye in him?

Continue Reading »

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh snap! Guess what I saw?

Have I mentioned lately how much the new Heineken commercial drives me crazy?:

I was never a huge fan of "Just a Friend" - I'm more of a "Vapors" sort of dude - but these ads and the renewed popularity of the song have pretty much sealed the deal.

Also, I was lurking on Free Darko's draft diary (thanks again, G.D.) the other night when blogger Dr. LIC mentioned that "No white girl knows the non-chorus words to 'Just a Friend.'"

Could this possibly be true? Somehow, I doubt it. Even if it's only this woman.

But if Dr. LIC is right, what other songs does this hold true for? I would have to think the list looks something like: "Baby Got Back"; "Big Poppa"; "Gin & Juice"; and "In Da Club." Continue Reading »

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Jacksons

A question, apropos of nothing other than the fact that I was listening to - and loving - "I Can't Help It" this morning: is it possible that Michael Jackson is still the most famous Jackson alive?

I think so. And it might not even be close. Here's my list:

5. Randy Jackson - the American Idol judge, not Michael's brother and member of The Jackson 5.

4. Samuel Jackson - he plays a crackhead better than anyone not named Dave Chappelle.

3. Jesse Jackson - I struggled with whether to put him over Sam but, man, he was the first serious black presidential candidate and he was there on that balcony in Memphis. It's a damn shame that he's not No. 1.

2. Janet Jackson - the woman who pretty much sent me into and through puberty.

1. Michael Jackson - unfortunately, his name is associated more with "Jesus Juice" than good music. In time, I think that will change. As long as he stays out of the spotlight - and the courtroom.

Honorable mentions: Bo Jackson, one of the greatest athletes of my lifetime (if this was 1990, he might have been No. 2); O'Shea Jackson, otherwise known as Ice Cube; Freddie Jackson, "You Are My Lady" is one of my all-time favorites; Shar Jackson, first babymama of Kevin Federline and one-time star of Moesha; DeSean Jackson, for all you Eagles' fans; Alan Jackson, a country music star that I've sort of heard of; Keith Jackson, the voice of college football for the past few decades; and Tito, Jermaine and LaToya are all in there somewhere.

So in the end, Joe Jackson really couldn't have been all that bad.

And I really find it amazing that Michael Jackson is still far-and-away the most recognizable Jackson on the planet.
Continue Reading »

Lost One

En route to the gym last night, I was having a running conversation with a friend about possible landing spots for top NBA draft prospect and former Oklahoma star Blake Griffin.

All things considered, we decided Oklahoma City would be a nice place for Griffin to start his career: he could play close to home; he would give the Thunder some much-needed muscle on the frontcourt; and, at least to me, Oklahoma City is an underrated place to live.

But minutes later, I got a text message from the aforementioned friend:

Blake Griffin's career over before it starts. Lol.
Somehow, without even asking, I just knew.

In the name of Danny Ferry, Bo Kimble, Michael Olowakandi and all that's good about the NBA, why did this have to happen to such a promising talent like Griffin?

Here's some required reading for anyone interested in learning about what awaits the great freckled one on the wrong side of the Staples Center.
Continue Reading »

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Commute Sucks

It really does.

On an average day, assuming there's no traffic or road blockages, I spend about two hours commuting to and from work. It's much the same for the First Lady.

There was no real choice in the matter - I work an hour away in one direction, she works an hour away in another. Our apartment is almost exactly equidistant from the two points.

Having grown up in Houston and worked there for almost two years, I thought I had grown used to an unusually long commute. In fact, I sort of took a perverse pleasure in guzzling all that gas - I listened to my satellite radio; I handled all my phone calls; and I had plenty of time to come up with great story ideas.

But in the past year here in Florida, the almost endless driving has - in the words of Yglesias - slowly grinded my spirit into dust. To say nothing of my paycheck - last summer's gas prices nearly drove me insane and broke.

I really wish I could walk or bike to work, which almost certainly means that I'm officially no longer a Texan.

Anyway, I can certainly relate to the good people who've taken to the Internets in an effort for better public policy regarding transportation. Though I'm skeptical about the efficacy of an online petition, I really like the idea of having more non-driving options.

If you're like me, check out Transportation for America's site. Continue Reading »

Does dogfighting work?

The Phliadelphia Inquirer's new columnist:

PHILADELPHIA - The publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer is defending his decision to make former football player Michael Vick a regular columnist who will write about breeding and raising dogs.

Vick was "the key figure” of an extensive unlawful interstate dogfighting ring operating over a period of five years that critics call cruelty to animals. One critic of the Inquirer’s Vick columns says it’s like having O.J. Simpson write about the criminal justice system.

Inquirer Publisher Brian Tierney says that’s a silly comparison. He says Simpson has been found liable for wrongful death of a human being and Vick had been through no such legal process.

As Tierney put it: “Speech that is most important to defend is the speech that you hate; it’s easy to defend the speech that you like.”

I tried very hard not to laugh at this. But I failed.

That said, I think it's time we cut Vick a break and let him ball when the time comes. Whether people - or PETA - are satisfied with the sentence or not, Vick has paid a very serious debt for his crimes.

I have rarely, if ever, seen this sort of sustained derision reserved for an athlete accused of spousal abuse, DUI resulting in a death or any of those dozens accused of assault and battery or drug possession. Then again, public outrage directed at professional athletes who run afoul of the law very rarely has any sort of rhyme or reason.

At some point, we have to start integrating our ex-cons back into society if we're serious about the alleged rehabilitative goals of incarceration. And that includes Vick.

h/t Atrios Continue Reading »

Apropos of nothing

As always, the daily police reports are both a headache and a source of endless amusement. The following nugget of info came from a shoplifting arrest late last night at a local 7-Eleven:

Staff member [Name redacted] advised that a white female had taken a Big Mama pickled sausage and placed it inside her pants.
I'll never be too old to laugh at that.

Post-script: In case you hadn't noticed, I was completely off the grid yesterday. Posting might be sporadic throughout the week because my to-do list seems to grow by the hour. But I'll still be making an attempt to keep things coming. Thanks for sticking around. Continue Reading »

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Birthday

To my father. He turned 62 today. To celebrate, I'm sure he worked out this morning, had a light breakfast and settled in to read the Sunday newspaper. I hope he enjoyed it all.

On a day like today, the absence and the distance are a bit more acute. The Houston Rockets' Game 7 showdown with the Lakers this afternoon reminds me that I watched almost every significant sporting event of my childhood with my father.

And with the Rockets again heading into L.A. with hopes of closing out an improbable playoff victory, I'm taken back to a night 23 years ago when I was sprawled across my parents' bed and sowing the seeds for a serious basketball jones.

Robert Reid and Ralph Sampson - the other Twin Tower - will always be heroes in my household. But my father will always come first - and it's not even close:

I'll never forget the sweet, sweet sight of Michael Cooper flopping onto the ground at the buzzer. It makes up for what happened in Boston in the Finals. Sort of.

Also, I'm remiss if I didn't note the Stevie Wonder turned 59 last week. This probably deserved its own post. But to make it up, I have to provide a link to the latest, can't-get-this-out-of-my-head single from Raphael Saadiq, which features some beautiful harmonica from Stevie. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

Briefly about "amazing" and Game 7

Amazing does not look anything like the following:

When I was a kid growing up in Houston, few things worked my nerves more than a Game 7 involving the Rockets. It's both sort of sad and a relief that I can just take in the game this afternoon without being so emotionally invested.

That said, them boys still got the heart of a champion. Even if they lose.

h/t Deadspin. Continue Reading »