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July 2004 Archives

July 5, 2004

Over The Hump

Okay, now that we're officially in part two of the calendar year, I plan to live up to my semi-New Year resolution to post to this blog more regularly. I've got a backlog of stuff: highlights of travels abroad, my take on current cinema offerings, etc. Stay tuned . . .

July 6, 2004

Pot Pourri

In an effort to catch up on my lapsed blogging, what follows is an assortment of quick takes on a variety of topical subjects.

John Edwards: Kerry made what was probably the safest choice for a vice-presidential nominee, but one that I think ultimately will help him in November. Yes, the pollsters will tell us that Edwards may not move any of the swing states into the Kerry column--not even North Carolina, probably--but he represents an articulate, charismatic presence on the ticket that could be reassuring to swing voters in various demographic categories that will be crucial in what should prove to be a close general election. The Tar Heel senator has a fascinating life story, coming from humble origins and facing genuine adversity along the way. Of course the GOP immediately attacked Edwards this morning as lacking the experience for the vice-presidency, what with only six years in the United States Senate. This is laughable, given that the man at the head of the Republican ticket boasted exactly six years experience as governor in a state in which that office held little real political power. Moreover, Bush was more or less a failure at everything he attempted in his life before his political career, in spite of all the advantages conferred by Poppy and his friends. In contrast, Edwards was a self-made millionaire who fought corporate wrong-doing and then distinguished himself in Congress by co-sponsoring sweeping reforms such as the Patients' Bill of Rights.

John McEnroe's talk show: Tomorrow night CNBC debuts a new talk show featuring former "Super-Brat" John McEnroe. As an adolescent tennis fan, I always rooted for Mac's greatest rivals: Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. (Though I never warmed up to Ivan Lendl, so McEnroe occasionally enjoyed my support!) I must admit that I've come around on McEnroe over the years. Maybe he's mellowed; maybe I have. When he started as an announcer on tennis telecasts I found him occasionally amusing but fairly undisciplined as an analyst. Nowadays he's refreshingly insightful, more open-minded (while still refreshingly honest and opinionated), and is capable of substantial slef-deprecating humor. So I am looking forward to seeing what he'll bring to the table as a talk show host. Mac seems to have become something of a polymath, with genuine interests in art, music, politics, sports, etc. He can do no worse in this new role than Dennis Miller, whose show is in the adjoining slot on the cable network; Miller is someone I used to enjoy immensely before his gradual transformation into a right-wing crank (which corresponded fairly precisely with his becoming more or less unfunny).

Spider-Man 2: This film deserves the box office success it has enjoyed the past week. It won't change the world and it not quite perfect, but it's a pretty spiffy summer popcorn flick. Have fun with this one.

Farenheit 9/11: On the other hand, this movie--also a relative box office champ--might, in fact, change the world. Michael Moore's documentary skewers "W" and company pretty effectively. For the most part Moore avoids the heavy-handedness that made me feel sorry for Charlton Heston in Bowling For Columbine. That's not to say there is no point of view here; quite the opposite, the director has conceded. He wears his politics on his sleeve and is unabashed about presenting his opinions on the Bush Administration, the war on terror, the Patriot Act, and the current Iraq misadventure. But for the most part, Moore himself maintains a lower profile in this picture, instead letting the objects of his derision condemn themselves on camera.

Wimbledon 2004: In spite of the seemingly endless rain (that kept me from getting out to the All-England Club while in London during the opening days of the fortnight) this was one of the best Wimbledons in recent memory. Finals weekend was particularly satisfying, with the coming of age of the charming and talented Maria Sharapova in the ladies' championship and the enjoyable and highly competitive Federer/Roddick tilt on Sunday. The sport needs a few more majors with the excitement we saw in SW19 the past two weeks.

Sting in concert: I caught the former Police front man in an outdoor show at Jones Beach last week. He was in exceptionally good voice, sharing the bill with Annie Lennox. I knew it would be a good show when the second song played was one of my Police faves, "Synchronicity II."

Whither Euro 2004? While I was ambling around Paris, Scotland, Ireland, and London in June, I could not escape the football frenzy surrounding the European Cup soccer championship. Every day, there was wall-to-wall coverage in the newspapers and on television. Upon returning to the States, I was struck that highlights of the tournament merited hardly a mention in our papers.

July 9, 2004

Tour de Lance

I thought the televised distraction of transatlantic sporting spectacle would end last Sunday with the conclusion of Wimbledon, but now that I have digital cable, I get the Outdoor Life Network, which means I can watch the extensive coverage of the Tour de France once I get home from class. The drama of the peloton snaking through bucolic France is surprisingly seductive.

July 10, 2004

Wi-Fi Wonder

I am writing this on my Dell laptop, sitting outside Memorial House on the Choate campus on a pleasant midsummer evening. I recently had this computer rigged to take advantage of the wireless Internet zones gradually appearing all over this campus and elsewhere. Apparently I can pick up a half-decent signal from the Humanities Building while sitting on an Adirondack chair in front of it. So here I am outdoors, checking my e-mail, working on the CRH Cross Country web site, updating a sports schedule database using FileMakerPro, and posting to the blogosphere. Geek heaven!

July 11, 2004


(Thanks to defectiveyeti.com)

July 12, 2004

TV soundtracks

Lately I have been listening to an iTunes playlist of music from the first season of Alias. It's a great mix of tunes; check it out here.

In the nostalgia category, the short-lived Freaks and Geeks show has an awesome mix of songs from when I was in high school.

Dog Found

(Thanks to defectiveyeti.com)

July 13, 2004

Things That Make You Say "HMMM."

Read this. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

July 14, 2004

It's come to this . . .

Apparently I am in this month's Teen Vogue magazine. For real. I wouldn't make this up. (Well, actually I might, but I am not in this case.) I haven't seen the issue myself, but I've heard about it.

Good News From The Keystone State

This analysis will warm the hearts of Democrats (thanks to the mydd.com political web site for this tidbit):

Pennsylvania in the Bag?

by Chris Bowers

Hard to imagine, but the latest Qunnipiac Poll suggests that my state may be out of reach for Preznit:

July 6-11, 1500 RV, MoE 2.5, June 24 numbers in parenthesis Two-Way Trial Kerry: 49 (49) Bush: 42 (43)

Bush Job Approval
Disapprove: 52 (53)
Approve: 45 (45)

This seems like no big deal. Kerry leads, but not something that Bush would be unable to overcome. However, look at these numbers:

Bush: 42 (42)
Kerry: 28 (30)

Central NW
Bush 34 35
Kerry 32 31

Philly NE
Bush 62 41
Kerry 14 31

Not only is Bush getting crushed and making negative progress in the unfavorables department, Philadelphia shows that Bush is actually over-performing. The city of Philadelphia, with 1/8 of the state's voters, regularly gives Democrats around 85% of the two-party vote. Bush is way down, and Philadelphia has not even maxed out yet. This is because Bush is behind in the two most Republican areas of the state: central and northwest PA. He is down by ten in lean-Republican Northeast PA. Actually, Bush's unfavorables are higher than Kerry's in every part of the state!

While this is only one poll, it suggests Pennsylvania is a rout in the making for Kerry. Also, remember that both campaigns are not advertising as heavily here as they are in almost all other swing sates. Perhaps they both know something. If Kerry wins PA, he only needs either OH or FL to nearly seal the election. Things are looking goooood.

Update: I didn't notice the first time I looked at the poll, but Bush has a 37-59 approve / disapprove among independents in this poll, while Dems and Reps are 82-16 mirrors. Further, Bush's unfavorables among indies are at 46, while Kerry's are at 19. These are nail in the coffin type numbers.

July 15, 2004

The Electoral College

There's a really cool web site that enables you to calculate the effect of various states falling into either the Bush or the Kerry columns come November 2. Click here to see for yourself.

July 16, 2004

Climb Every Mountain


The 2004 Tour de France has entered the Pyrenees and Lance Armstrong was simply amazing to watch as he steeled himself for an ascent up La Mongie, decimating his major rivals on the steep uphill climb at the end of a 123-mile ride. Though tomorrow's ride brings more fierce mountain climbs, the American may have given himself a huge psychological boost by leaving the greatest threats to a sixth straight Tour crown in his dust. This is FUN to watch.

July 17, 2004

Fashion Accessory Du Jour


Lots of folks around here have been wearing the yellow wristbands supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the fight against cancer. The publicity Lance is getting during the 2004 Tour de France--he won today's stage after an absolutely grueling climb up Plateau de Beille, the seventh (!) climb of the 128-mile Stage 13 ride--seems to have peaked interest in his fortunes in the Tour, in the sport of cycling, and in his favorite charity.

This is a worthy cause and I've got extra "Live Strong" wristbands on hand for the asking.

Programming Note

One of my summer projects is to upgrade my web pages to CSS (cascading style sheets) technology. Click here to see what CSS does if you are unfamiliar with the term.

(By the way, this blog page and my message boards already operate on CSS, but I installed both on this site as ready-to-go packages.)

First I will be converting the syllabi for my fall term courses and the new Choate Cross Country web site. The transition will probably take the remainder of the summer to implement, but I expect "the new look" to be up and running by September.



The funniest man on television returns to HBO tomorrow, Sunday, at 10:30 p.m.

I saw the ads for the Brit comedian's season on HBO when it first aired but was not impressed enough to tune in. Big mistake. In the winter my friend Julie Goodyear loaned me a DVD of Ali's six U.S. episodes; it took me a couple months to finally drop the disc in the player, but after fifteen minutes of trying to figure out what was going on, I was HOWLING with laughter and wishing it wouldn't end.

Don't miss it. Booyakasha!

July 18, 2004



Watching golfer Todd Hamilton survive a playoff to claim the claret jug trophy for winning the British Open at Royal Troon earlier today brought back memories of my time in Scotland last month and two years ago. I flew in and out of Prestwick International in June; the airport is just a couple of miles away from the golf course and planes were visible flying over the tournament all weekend. I also took a ferry from Troon to Belfast in 2002.

On my last trip a few weeks back I met recent Choate grad Jack Fennebresque and his father Kim for an enjoyable evening of conversation and dinner at the scenic Loch Lomond Golf Club north of Glasgow (the club hosted the Scottish Open in 2004). I continued on north to the Isle of Skye where I reconnected with Dan Otto--a friend since the third grade whom I hadn't seen in over twenty years. We had a great time getting reacquainted, though I almost got swallowed whole by a Scottish bog while hiking back from kicking the soccer ball around in the hills.

I snapped the picture above while driving through the Highlands. The scene of a bagpiper doing his thing in front of a spectacular waterfall overlooking a picturesque valley would have been thoroughly charming had it not been for the hat left out to collect the odd quid and the handful of tour buses that had stopped on the roadside with me.

Last thought on Scotland: while rushing back through Glasgow to catch a flight to Ireland last month, I passed a liquor store with what may be the all-time best name for a retail establishment I've ever seen: Ministry of Booze.

July 19, 2004

New Toys I


The school issued me a brand new laptop: this is being written on a shiny Dell Inspiron 600m. It's pretty nice (for a PC) and seems sturdy and powerful. It's also rigged for wireless, so I can be a bit more mobile while computing. (The only current problem is that I forgot to pack half the power adapter for my trip to D.C., so while the dorm room at Georgetown U. in which I'm staying has Internet access, I'll have to parcel out my time on the machine carefully.)

July 20, 2004

New Toys II


The new iPods are here. Nifty cover story in this week's Newsweek.

By the way, I entertained a bus full of kids with a 7-hour playlist--courtesy of iPod and iTunes--while driving down to D.C. yesterday for the Kennedy Institute's Washington session.

July 21, 2004

Off To See The Wizard


Every July, I drive about a dozen students from Connecticut to D.C. as part of the John F. Kennedy Institute program. As we approach Washington, there is a sight that never fails to thrill me. The view of the above structure--a Mormon temple, actually--looming over the highway as we approach it in the early evening each summer is pretty striking, as it's lighted such that it glows an iridescent greenish hue. I'm not the first to think it's a pretty fair substitute for the Emerald City from The Wizard Of Oz. In fact, for years an overpass near the temple displayed a pretty clever spraypaint job: SURRENDER DOROTHY. As we reach the crest of a hill and the spires of the temple appear over the Beltway, the kids on the trip finally realize why I kept referring to "lions and tigers and bears" for the last couple of hours.

July 23, 2004

This Is Progress

The New Jersey Turnpike has made a major improvement to the EZPass system of paying tolls. The EZPass Express lanes make it possible to cruise through the gates without really slowing down. Since the machinery has been upgraded to collect information from the EZPass transponders as traffic passes through at 55 miles per hour, my trip up the Turnpike earlier today was just a bit more pleasant.

July 24, 2004

The Ultimate iPod Accessory


My new InMotion speakers, made by Altec Lansing, arrived in this morning's mail. These are designed for the iPod and provide superb sound for such a modestly sized package (the contraption folds neatly into the size of a paperback book, making it ideal for travel). Moreover, the speakers recharge the iPod as it sits in the cradle and also provide a port for an auxiliary audio line (for a CD player or anything else you want to plug in). Power is supplied either by plugging into a wall socket or inserting four AA batteries.

The InMotion speakers retail for $149 but I got a set for $99, including free shipping, from Buy.com; that's a steal for such a well-made iPod accessory.

This Is Why We Have The Internet

A few folks sent me this link, which is well worth checking out: www.jibjab.com/

This is VERY funny and skillfully assembled.

July 25, 2004

An American In Paris


It's a wrap. This Texan is now a six-shooter, with a half-dozen consecutive wins in the Tour de France under his belt. Watching Lance tackle the uphill finishes in the Pyrenees or the time trial up L'Alpe d'Huez was nothing short of inspirational.

July 26, 2004

The Democratic Convention

Here's an interesting snippet from Chris Suellentrop's piece posted today on Slate.com:

Even a casual viewer of Hardball knows that the first rule of an election that involves a sitting president is that it's a referendum on the incumbent. This election, however, has turned out to be the opposite. It's a referendum on the challenger. Kerry probably isn't responsible for this turn of events, but he's benefiting from it: The referendum on the incumbent is over. President Bush already lost it. This presidential campaign isn't about whether the current president deserves a second term. It's about whether the challenger is a worthy replacement.

Click here to read the entire article.



No surprise at this point, but Bill Clinton hit one out of the park in his Convention speech tonight. The man is magic before a crowd.

July 27, 2004


Like most people, I hate opening up my e-mail every day only to be assaulted by countless unwanted "spam" messages. Choate's e-mail system supposedly filters out a lot of it, but a fair amount still gets through. The problem is that the spammers have programs that prowl the Internet, searching various web pages for e-mail addresses to harvest. Of course, I want to put my e-mail address on some of my web pages, such as my course syllabi or the Choate Tennis home page (www.choatetennis.org), as there are all sorts of legitimate reasons for people viewing those sites to contact me.

Fortunately, as part of a general upgrade to my web site, I have finally figured out how to list my e-mail address on a web page without having it available to the spam harvesters. Check it out here. Any of you making your own web sites will find this a very easy way to foil the spammers.

July 28, 2004

A Star Is Born


Not often that a relatively obscure state official gets to deliver the keynote address at a major political party's national convention. It's even more unlikely that such a figure would upstage the golden-tongued 42nd President of the United States. As good as Bill Clinton was the night before, Barack Obama was even better. There was a lot of hype before his speech but the Illinois candidate for the U.S. Senate lived up to it and then some.

In 1988, a little-known young governor from Arkansas regarded as "the future of the Democratic Party" also delivered a much-hyped keynote address, but Bill Clinton fell flat on that occasion, with a rambling and uninspired delivery that was far too long. This missed opportunity was one more obstacle for "the Comeback Kid" to overcome in the course of his successful 1992 presidential bid.

Clearly Obama has a future in American politics. The pundits were nearly as enthusiastic in the wake of his speech as the delighted throngs of delegates were during it. The excitement in the Fleet Center was almost palpable, even on television.

July 29, 2004

Book Of The Week



In the last few days, I've been leafing through this recent book by cartoonist Ted Rall: Wake Up, You're Liberal!: How We Can Take America Back from the Right. It's a heftier tome than I expected and Rall manages to find a voice that is strident without being angry, passionate without being overly ideological. For those fellow travelers enjoying the sights and sounds coming out of the Fleet Center this week, I recommend this work.

You can also check out Rall's excellent cartooning work online here.

Help Is On The Way


Oh, good. He accepted. Whew!

July 30, 2004

Music At The Convention

I was struck by the power of Springsteen's "No Surrender" before Kerry's speech last night and then U2's "Beautiful Day" immediately afterward. There's a good piece on the use of pop songs at the Democratic Convention this past week here.

July 31, 2004

Very Funny

Jon Stewart and his ensemble have been bloody brilliant in their take on the Boston sonvention scene this past week. No cows are sacred. Just damned funny stuff. I hope they are equally on form in New York in a month's time, too.

About July 2004

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in July 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2004 is the previous archive.

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