Forty-one miles per gallon

I filled the Jetta last night for the first time since I bought it.  Diesel's running the same price as gasoline in the Twin Cities.  I got 41 mpg in mixed highway/city driving.

This is going to be nice. 


From brilliant satirist Andy Borowitz:


Bill O'Reilly named Secretary of Defense 

One day after being named the new White House spokesman, former Fox News pundit Tony Snow announced that a deal merging Fox News and the Bush White House had been successfully completed.

"The merger between Fox News and the White House can be summed up in one word: synergy," Mr. Snow said. "The two entities have been working in lockstep for five years now and this merger is a formal acknowledgment of that fact."

While many Beltway observers had long assumed that a merger between the White House and Fox News was inevitable, not until reporters saw workmen hanging a "Fair and Balanced" sign from the White House portico this morning did they know a deal had finally been struck.

According to those familiar with the deal, the final sticking point in the negotiations was ironed out late last night when President George W. Bush agreed to report to Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch.

Moments after the merger was announced, Mr. Snow introduced the latest member of the Bush Cabinet, Secretary of Defense Bill O'Reilly.

In his first official act as Defense Secretary, Mr. O'Reilly called CNN "a gathering threat" and added the cable news network to the Axis of Evil.

Mr. O'Reilly's comments drew sharp criticism from Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del), who told reporters, "I don't see how CNN can be considered a threat when their biggest weapon is Larry King."

Elsewhere, when asked how it felt to publish her first novel and then be charged with plagiarism, author Kaavya Viswanathan said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."


by Sean at Hiding in the Backwaters  

In a recent column in the Opinion Journal, Daniel Henninger talks at some length about the prevalence of vulgar language in the blogosphere and wonders at the trend of “disinhibited language” in society.1 I am hardly innocent of waxing vulgar in my own blog, and I really don’t have any problems with vulgarity judiciously applied. I do think there comes a point, however, when vulgarity only shows you don’t have anything more intelligent to say and the frequent use of, shall we say, colorful metaphors just makes me want to tune the speaker, or writer, out.

Case in point: Mr. Henninger talks about “The Sopranos” (indeed pretty much any of HBO’s serials) as a prime example of the “disinhibited volcabulary” acceptable in society today. I don’t have HBO, so I couldn’t watch their shows if I wanted to, but from the one or two episodes of “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood” I’ve seen, I wouldn’t want to watch them if I could. I find the language overbearing and don’t care to wade through the vulgarity to find whatever story might be hidden behind it.

While Mr. Henninger and I probably have broadly similar concerns about a society’s descent into the vulgar, what really caught my attention was the following statement.

The human species has spent several hundred thousand years sorting through which emotions and marginal neuroses to keep under control and which to release. Now, with a keyboard, people overnight are “free” to unburden and unhinge themselves continuously and exponentially.

It never ceases to amaze me how the conservative male conflates his class with humanity at large. Who really defined appropriate language in our society? The landed and the educated, in other words, the wealthy elite. Language was one badge of the aristocracy and a key indicator of social class. In fact, it still is. How often do you hear someone with a thick accent and your first impulse is to assume they’re uneducated if not outright dumb? The assumption is an education would have weaned them from their vulgar2 language. You can dress up someone from the lower classes in fine clothing, but their language will betray them every time. Even in societies where personal restraint is paramount, such as Asia, I suspect there are still class differences in personal expression. The point is, it has hardly been humanity who has made these determinations, but the ruling classes, a rather small percentage of “the human species.”

I have to wonder if the root of many conservative causes wasn’t (and isn’t) so much any kind of true morality as it is a concern that the aristocracy is losing its power to exert its will on society at large. The aristocracy in the U.S. may not be as blatantly oppressive as it was in feudal days of yore, but it still exists. Think on this: Only one in four Americans have a college degree. The Internet has certainly given people from all walks of life a public outlet for self-expression, something once regulated by society via editors and review boards of all different stripes.

I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing. I’m certainly not in favor of dumbing down society, but I’m not sure what else people to expect to happen. Not only do educational opportunities remain out of reach of the lower classes, but they are often actively discouraged from pursuing them.

1Henninger, Daniel, “Disinhibition Nation”, Opinion Journal, April 12, 2006,

An honorable house…

You scored 72% Slytherin, 20% Ravenclaw, 20% Gryffindor, and 28% Hufflepuff!
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
These cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.

Slytherins are known for their ambition, guile, and Machiavellian sensiblities.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 98% on Slytherin
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You scored higher than 24% on Ravenclaw
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You scored higher than 4% on Gryffindor
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You scored higher than 27% on Hufflepuff
Link: The Sorting Hat Test

How much for a ticket in sardine class?

Standing room only seats on commercial airlines?  Don't laugh.  Add it to your list of bad ideas from Europe:

The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How many passengers can be squeezed into economy class?

A lot more, it turns out, especially if an idea still in the early stage should catch on: standing-room-only "seats."

Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.

Holy cow!  Pay attention….to airlines to avoid.

Hat tip: Americablog.

Doing the limbo

How low can he go?  That's the question du jour.  A CNN poll puts Bush's approval rating at only 32%.  Sixty percent disapprove, and a solid 8% are just happy to be alive…

But it's kind of scary to think about.  Look at this line from the CNN article:

Dissatisfaction with their leader appears to parallel Americans' unhappiness over gas prices. More than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) said recent increases in the cost of gasoline have caused them hardship, with 28 percent saying they have not, and 1 percent saying they have no opinion. 

Oh gimme a break.  Everything going on and they're pissed off about gas prices?  Sheesh people…. 

OK, I hate high gas prices too.  But if that's the only thing driving Bush's numbers down, then people are a lot more disengaged and a lot more stoopid in general than I'd dare believe.