Saturday, September 30, 2006

get my hog on

I was told recently that some of my so-called friends ridiculed me mercilessly behind my back for my recent post about the slang trend I've started. According to them, the slangy construction "get your ______ on" is so five years ago.

But then, I just rembembered, that great Dr. Dre song where he says, "Get my drink on, and my smoke on, and go home with somethin to poke on," and I thought, with my new slang it'd be: "Get my drink on, and my hog on, and go home with somethin to blog on."

Of course, that Dre song is at least seven years old.

But still. You can't deny that my version is on point. I mean, who would've thought of hogs and blogs in 1999.

saturday funnies

Take a break, and check out some LOL videos of little animals. Like this one:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

dumbass county

I think it's only fitting that a new mural at Jackson County's executive offices will include portraits of both former county leader Harry S. Truman and current county leader Katheryn Shields. As my friend Brad says, Sooo Kansas City.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a leader as significant as Truman would rise out of a place like this. Kansas City is America, I think; a nearly even blend of almost all its regional influences. We're the heart. The Every American. The average. And, whether or not you like his effect on history, it's hard to deny that Truman played the plain-old-schmoe role better than anyone. Came natural to him. And that, if nothing else, demands respect, I think.

Still, he's out of character for this place. An anomoly.

I would argue that Shields is a truer representation of Kansas City, and Jackson County, Missouri.

She's adept at playing the game of power, sort of basking in the entitlement of office, accomplishing a splashy accomplishment here and there, and wasting our money, while not actually doing the shit she's supposed to do. (And she's so vain that she ordered up special printings of that article, thinking it was a glowing profile rather than a sarcastic, backhanded slap.)

She's been in the KC political game since the mid-1970s -- really in it since the late 1980s, when she got elected to city council for the first time. In that time, the heart of Kansas City has basically rotted out while our dumbass leaders have floated one stupid big-ticket item after another in their attempts to abate the ruin (and keep their developer and attorney campaign contractors flush with tax dough). And they keep doing it -- like drunks at a bar at midday, thinking one more whiskey sour is gonna make the day ok.

Yep, Shields is as good a symbol for our sorry "public servents" as any other. Might well be the best.

central high

This, sadly, is far too common a story.

I was telling a newspaper reporter today that Central has gotten worse since I my first visit there in Spring 2001.

And I was kind of taken aback as I heard myself say that.

It sounded perposterous.

When I first visited, the school had been recently deemed academically deficient, and its principal had been demoted. Yet the difference between that school and the one today is like the difference between Yale and Penn Valley Community College.


That said, there is a lot of buzz on the school district wire of late. I heard that seven top administrators were axed yesterday, and that the new superintendent has vowed to fire anyone who has presided for more than five years over a program that has not performed well or improved. Hopefully that includes principals (and, more importantly, assistant principals) at schools like Central.

Worse (and this might be total conspiracy theory), word has it that the district has lost its Title 1 status. For those who don't know, Title 1 is a federal program that brings extra money into the district to help poor, at-risk and special ed kids. According to the current chatter, the district has misspent that money so many times that the feds have finally said enough is enough.

If this is true, the district is in a major bind.

Honestly, sounds a little far-fetched, like a tidbit of truth that's been distorted on the rumor mill. You've gotta practically kill people to get the feds to completely cut you off.

But still, a tidbit of truth is tidbit of truth.

I have no doubt that the district cronies have been mishandling the money.

It'd be a surprise if they weren't.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Once again, I'm a little late on the week's buzz.

There's been much ado about Clinton's recent appearance on Fox. I saw the actual clip before any of the spin on it. My first impression was that Clinton came off looking great, that he really put the Fox weasel in his place.

But, of course, I'm out of step with the rest of America, who, if the daily media folks are any indication, thought he came off like a raving lunatic.

I just thought it was good debate, and Clinton smoked him.

I especially loved how the interviewer was wimpering at the end, begging to throw some softball questions.

Clinton's on my mind lately, as I'm slowly working my way through David Remnick's massive profile of him. My favorite part so far is:
It was Lincoln’s “toughness” at Cooper Union that Clinton seemed to admire most, and which led him to a theme he kept returning to all week: the need for the Democratic Party to “lean into” Republican attacks. He made no secret of his feeling that the Democrats had lost winnable elections in 2000 and in 2004; Al Gore and John Kerry were “a couple of honorable men” but had been “tarred” as men of low character, and their campaigns failed to fight back effectively. Kerry, after the so-called Swift Boat veterans, with the tacit encouragement of the Republican campaign leadership, started smearing him, “should have challenged Bush and Cheney to a town-hall debate on their respective Vietnam records. Bush and Cheney were like me—they didn’t go. Kerry was a genuine war hero!” In the gloom of the cabin, Clinton jabbed his finger to emphasize his point. The Kerry campaign was “like a deer caught in the headlights.”

Again, it's just good debate.

At Central, I'm always telling the kids that debate is a game just like any other. You gotta have the ball in order to score. You gotta be on offense.

In debate, the ball is what you make it (if you'll permit extention of a tenuous metaphor). What I mean is, if you're gonna win, you have to establish right up front what the debate is about, what matters and why it matters, and how and why and for whom the whole thing's gonna be decided.

Political campaigns are the same way. They're just big, long, expensive debates.

Obviously, Clinton's a good debater, having won the national title twice.

It must be killing him to watch Karl Rove & co. kick his team's ass.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Still working my way through the 50-hour audiobook of David McCullough's Truman. I've got about ten hours to go. I'm at the part where he fired McArthur. Bastard had it coming.

The story of Truman's election in 1948 is classic American history. It should be required reading for all Democrats who have so much as a pinky in the national fight.

McCullough's depiction of Dewey reminded me quite a bit of Kerry and Gore and the Democrats' national image in general -- aloof, elitist, intellectually snobby. They aren't carbon copies of the man everyone expected to win, but whom nobody seemed to like. Not by any stretch. They're not the kind of folks, for example, who would hurumph and leave the shades closed on the train windows when told that a crowd of supporters had gathered outside (though I have a feeling Hillary might). But the arrogant ghost of Dewey seems to haunt their images, despite the gap across generations and party lines.

Meantime, I couldn't help but think of Bush when I heard the account of Truman's plainspeak, his every-man ethos. Of course, Bush's schtick is a sham. He's the ultimate born-on-third-base senator's grandson. He would never take a whistlestop tour across the U.S., allowing any and all to come and cheer or boo. He's the anti-Truman in so many, many respects.

But still, he manages to seem normal, and that gave him the edge against the wonky smarty-pants (well, one of them anyway; he needed the Supreme Court for the other).

I recently heard a pundit on C-SPAN say the Democrats need to channel the spirit of Truman, to come up with speeches like his "Turnip Day" classic in '48, when he called the Republicans' bluff with a special summer session of Congress, daring them to act on their campaign promises before Election Day. That pundit was on point, I think.

I hate to say it, but the Democrats need to dumb down a bit.

Or wise up.

Same thing.


My friend Mark at gave me a nice review. Thanks Mark!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

more baker & stone

Apparently, Geoffery and Dominique won every single round where they debated on negative. Said they got a solid strqategy. So I pulled up the caselist coming out of the tournament. And here's what I fiind:
Oklahoma BS (Baker & Stone)


Fuck system

Fuck it again….

And again….

One more time…

To the tenth power….

Yeah, and fuck the system

A little radical. Like, here's the notes on the negative strategy for Emory's top team, the only one that went undefeated:
Emory MP (Miller & Pramanick)


T – explicit overrule – no new grounds

Judicial federalism
Williams 2006, Maryland LR
“studies have shown … involvement of state costs”

Impact – Williams 2006, “As John Kincaid has observed…outside the courts will follow”

Link – “under the precedent of recent… to abortion cases in Ohio”
Natalie Wright 1993, Ohio State Law

Mass v. EPA DA – Same as Gonzaga case list

State Courts CP

Law K –
Knowledge not centralized
Brian Crowley 1999 – “but in the Hayetian… wide ranging order”

Alt – decent/free legal system
Hasnas 1995 – “uniformity no matter how… be radically different”

Oklahoma's approach certainly seems easier to understand. Pretty straight forward. Ahem.

killer start

In their college debut, at one of the biggest tournaments in the country, KC Central alums Geoffery Stone and Dominique Baker went 5-3 in prelims and cleared to the trophy rounds. Check out the company they're keeping this weekend. This is the list of all the teams that cleared to outrounds:
Bard College SW 5-3
Baylor LT 5-3
CSU Fullerton MM 7-1
Dartmouth CO 6-2
Emory MP 8-0
Emory HH 6-2
Emory SS 5-3
George Washington SW 6-2
Georgia CR 7-1
Harvard AM 6-2
Harvard DZ 6-2
Harvard LP 6-2
Harvard MR 6-2
Kansas BJ 5-3
Kentucky ST 7-1
Miami MV 6-2
Michigan State DR 7-1
Michigan State LR 5-3
Michigan FK 6-2
Michigan VZ 6-2
Missouri State KO 6-2
Missouri State MM 6-2
Missouri-Kansas City FG 6-2
North Texas CS 5-3
Northwestern BW 6-2
Northwestern CS 6-2
Oklahoma BS 5-3
Oklahoma CJ 6-2
Wake Forest GL 6-2
Wake Forest LP 7-1
Wayne State University MT 7-1
Wyoming CJ 5-3

Not bad for a couple of freshmen!

I talked to them both on the phone tonight. Dominique told me, "I got ridda them racist demons, and I got my act together!"

(Inside joke.)

Seriously, this is a really kick ass first impression on the college scene. Great start. A harbinger of big thiings to come.


A surfer from Omaha wound up at my site after Googling:
'Focus' A giant but pops up farts Sabotage!

Glad to be of use!

Friday, September 22, 2006

fund raiser


Some loved ones recently surprised me with a nice boost package to help me with my travel expenses as I go about promoting this book. But Allie and I sat down with our ledgers tonight and we realized our ends don't quite meet. So I'm offering a dozen early copies of my books for sale for $25 (a buck off the cover price!). I'll sign them for ya. (If you're outside KC area, I'll need an extra $3.50 for postage.)

If anyone is interested, please shoot me an e-mail at gobodog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Cross-X by Joe Miller

organic intellectual

Allman wrote in 1988:
Gramsci saw the role of the intellectual as a crucial one in the context of creating counter hegemony. He was clear that the transformation… required mass participation… All people are intellectuals, but not all people have in society the function of intellectuals… Each social group that comes into existence creates within itself one or more strata of intellectuals that gives it meaning… What he was really trying to convey is that people have the capability and capacity to think. The problem is how to harness those capabilities and capacities. Gramsci saw one of his roles as assisting in the creation of organic intellectuals from the working class and the winning over of as many traditional intellectuals to the revolutionary cause…

Gramsci’s insistance on the fundamental importance of the ideological struggle to social change meant that this struggle was not limited to consciousness rising but must aim at consciousness transformation…

The creation of working class intellectuals… helping to create a counter hegemony that would undermine existing social relations.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

jesus camp

Allie and I met some friends Tuesday night to see Jesus Camp. All in all, I thought it was an outstanding film.

Not surprisingly, the film is taking some heat from the Christian right, who say it's slanted. In Salon, one of the film's creators, Rachel Grady, denies this, telling Salon, "We really took pains to show this community with our point of view out of it as much as possible, and also with compassion." And I would agree, except that I think they betrayed their own opinions by adding a creepy musical score to the scenes where the kids were overcome with the Holy Spirit. I've witnessed moments like this recently, and I think they're odd enough without enhancement. So I thought that was manipulative.

Which is fine. I would agree with Allie that this made for a better movie-going experience, at least for folks like us. But don't steadfastly claim objectivity when doing something that's so obviously not.

As I read the Salon story today, I was struck by the inaccuracies and misconceptions,, even by the filmmakers. It stated on several occasions that the film focuses on a very obscure subset of evangelicals, the Pentecostals, and as such it might distort reality.
"We want to be clear," says Grady, "that the people in our movie are part of a subset, you might say, of the evangelical world. I would not use the word 'fringe,' because I don't want to dismiss them. But the entire evangelical world might be 100 million people.

The truth is that Pentecostalism is the fastest-growing segment of Christianity in the world, with nearly half a billion adherents internationally.

Put another way, it's America's number one spiritual export.

What's more, I would argue that the present-day strength of the Christian right is firmly rooted in the history of the Pentecostal movement, which is now a mere 100 years old.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

thank you!

I've been blessed by a bitch.

Shark Fu's is one of the best blogs in the blogosphere. Never let's me down.

Like today, when she wrote:
I don’t know if God wants folks to be rich. This bitch chats with her all the time, but we don’t talk about shit like that.

But I do feel a call to stand up against injustice and hatred…to welcome those in need into my life and offer them what I am able to…to embrace the ill as I was once embraced…to help my neighbor without the expectation that she will help me…to participate in my community and not sit back bitching about it from afar as if I don’t live here too.

Or when she shares a story, like yesterday.


I hope to meet her when I'm on the east side of I-70 next month!

Cross-X by Joe Miller


Allie baked a delicious dessert, and I wanted to eat a lot of it, so I said, "Would you mind if I get my hog on with this stuff?"

Then it occurred to me: That's brilliant!

I think this will be the next big slang. Rap stars will say it.

I know there are some young people who read this blog. You know what to do. Tell people you're going to get your hog on. Make it spread. Change the lexicon.

Cross-X by Joe Miller

Monday, September 18, 2006

reasonable loser

Al Gore reportedly signed a deal for a new book, the title of which seems to underscore what I wrote last week about Bush.

Logos. Reason. If not the same thing, then definitely cousins.

If smart, left-leaning folks want reason to get more credence in this day and age (which, by the way, I think is a good thing), it would seem a better strategy to find ways to make it seem unreasonable. That is, skip the normative bluster, and try to find ways to inflame passions. Try leaving the brain alone once in a while and go for the gut.

(Apologies for the headline. I know Gore won. But in the end he lost, because Bush's people were unreasonably committed to taking Florida.)

antique spam

Today I hand wrote 43 letters about my book to 43 high-falutin' hoopty-do people. Most of the letters said exactly the same thing. It took me hours and hours.

The idea is that they'll open up the package with the book and they'll see this handwritten note on personal stationary and they'll stop for a second because it's so rare to get something handwritten. It'll be a split second of intimacy between strangers. And hopefully one or a few of the words I wrote in those notes will resonate in that instant of attention so that the famous or powerful recipient will be inspired to give the book a little bit longer look. Maybe they'll read the blurbs on the cover. Or perhaps open up to the first page, skim the first paragraph. The might even get hooked, and stay up until 3 a.m. reading.

One can only hope.

But the point is, all this for some relatively sloppy handwriting. Are we all that automatized? Is handwriting now that precious?

Cross-X by Joe Miller

Sunday, September 17, 2006

big number

This is amazing.

I wish they'd provided a link to the number, just to scroll through a 9.8 million digit number. I wonder how far it goes. Is there a pattern to it all?

Reminds me of one of the best magazine articles ever written.

Cross-X by Joe Miller

Saturday, September 16, 2006

snake oil


I'm so frustrated with my wireless service because the coverage is spotty in my house. The calls often drop. So I find myself standing out on the sidewalk to talk with folks on the celly.

I've called Verizon a couple of times to bitch. The first time, they had me reprogram my phone. Didn't help. Then last week I barked my way up to a manager and I got them to send me a new phone. Free.

But here's the catch: 15 days from when I activated the phone, I I'll be locked into a two-year contract with Verizon.

So I get the phone. And it's much nicer than my current, scratched-and-beat-up thingy. It's one a them Razrs.

But the signal's no different.

The prudent thing would be to return the phone and suffer until next July, when my contract ends I'm free to start over with whomever.

But that would mean parting with the new toy.

That's how they get you.


down south

I'm on this antarctica kick lately.

If you check my blogroll, down at the bottom of the right sidebar, you'll notice I've added a few blogs from people living on the bottom of the world. I subscribe to all of them on the RSS feed.

Antarctica seems the closest we have to life on another planet.

I started out by reading Phil Jacobson's blog regularly. He's a dishwasher at McMurdo, which is apparently the closest thing to a city on the continent. All summer I've been reading about his trevails through a southern winter. The sun recently rose down there for the first time in months.

I guess I got caught up in Phil's enthusiasm for the sun, because I started hunting out more blogs from the ice cap. Let's see, there's:
  • A Brooklynite on the Ice

  • Antarctica!!!

  • Julius' Travels in the South

  • Dave Down South

  • Life in Antarctica

  • The cool thing is they all post pictures. It's a pretty land.

    I guess that's what makes blogging such a great development in the world of media. I can get a real sense of a place I might never visit. A truer sense than I'd get from a feature in any paper or magazine.

    Friday, September 15, 2006


    I'm in this month's Pages. You can't get it online.

    It's a nice, short article by Jenna Schnuer. She interviewed me earlier this summer for about an hour via phone. I really enjoyed talking with her. Good questions. She's the only one so far who's really picked up on what I'm trying to say about race with Cross-X.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006


    I added a few things to the sidebar, including another tour date (Seattle!), a bunch more blogs, and recommendations for a book DVD and moozik. Check 'em out!


    On Monday night, when President Bush interrupted my TV watching, I told Allie to turn it off. Didn't want to hear it.

    But she insisted to leaving it on. She said she was in the mood to hear his idiot drawl.

    So I listened while playing a stupid Internet game. And after awhile I start thinking, Damn! This is pretty good.

    I haven't been paying attention to the news. I don't know how the pundits scored the speach. But from my perspective it was beautifully written, and delivered with an almost perfect mix of authority, thoughtfulness and down-home plain talk.

    Of course, I knew it was mostlly bunk -- all the stuff about how the war in Iraq is vital to our freedom and all that. But that's not the point. Presidential speeches aren't really about reality. They're about framing the debate. They're about persuasion.

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as we gear up for the new debate season. We're running an argument this year about the importance of persuasion, about the need to strike a balance between ethos, pathos and logos inorder to affect just about anything.

    They're keys to power.

    Some of our primary evidence is the last two presidential campaigns. Both Gore and Kerry were both almost entirely logos-centered, we argue. Little real emotion, no clear sense of their characters. Bush, on the other hand...

    Bush's cowboy, or barbecue buddy schtick might be complete hooey, but it works.

    Good speech. That's where the opposition needs to be.

    menage å troi

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    really kick ass reporting

    I don't think I have the guts it would take to pull off an interview like this, with the President of the United States in my face all Lyndon Johnson like, in his office, with all the power and history it conveys. I'm not a huge fan of TV news, and the Today show. But this was an excellent job by Matt Lauer.

    lane switch

    This book has been like a slow train coming down the track. For a while I thought it had BESTSELLER written across the top.

    The train seemed to have made its way around every bend on the way to Bestseller land, seemed to be chugging up all the steep hills.

    But in the last week it's been rerouted. And now it seems more like one of those rickety old pump-cars you see in the old cartoons.

    The snags?

    First, the New York Times Book Review has opted not to review it. Apparently this is an especially crowded fall season, with heavy hitters like Charles Frazier throwing new books into the mix. Then I found out that the early nibbles we got from the TV talk shows have all apparently ventured off for bigger prey.

    So I'm in full-on hand-to-hand-combat marketing mode. I'm sending out dozens and dozens of personally written, unique e-mails to any and all people I can think of -- bloggers, news reporters, activists.

    Agent Lydia said yesterday that she always believed this would be a "grassroots book."

    Well, I'm not at all scared of yardwork...

    (metaphor overload, I know, but it's a blog for Godsake.)

    Monday, September 11, 2006


    The only pepper plant that did well this year is the habanero I planted (with more than a little fear). Turned out to be a good deal, as salsa making has been my top summer conquest.

    Here's a pictoral recipe:

    Pick one a these...

    And some a these...

    Chop them in half with onions and garlic and sweet pepper and put them on a flat pan...

    These are like little atomic fuel packs...

    Then burn them in the broiler...

    Put them in the spinning thing...

    Steamin' hot...



    Let me tell you. That shit is righteous!!

    bad check

    We don't need no stinking paper shredders!




    it arrived!



    Friday, September 08, 2006

    another date

    I'll be giving a reading at The Raven in Lawrence on October 25. I'm going to put a full calendar in the sidebar.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006


    I was telling Allie how great I feel now that I'm running all regular like, and I started thinking how weird running is, you know, when you really think about it. Like, I'm just running. Around. With an iPod.

    I said to her, "I wonder if running is like the hunt."

    She smiled and nodded, knowing I was referring to my caveman instincts.

    I added, "And the iPod is the spear."

    kick ass journalism

    via Salon

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    take two

    Keith Oberman is really rocking lately.

    via Salon


    When I read this morning that City Council Member Sandra McFadden Weaver has asked the city's ethics commission to investigate her fishy real estate deal, my first thought was, Ha! That ethics commission is a joke!!

    Some gainfully employed reporter oughta call Harry McLear, the ethics commission's chairman, and ask him what he thinks about the commission's clout.


    There's been a lot of stuff I've wanted to blog about over the last few days, but I've been too busy to get it done.

    Like, I watched John Stossel's report Stupid in America, about public school. I usually think Stossel's a tool. And this report did include some of his ethically dubious tricks. But I have to say I agreed with him on a lot of points.

    Of course, it was a thrill to see images of Central High, which Stossel used to illustrate his point that money won't solve the problem. I agree, to an extent. Money poorly spent won't solve the problem. I never hear anyone who sends they're kids to Pembroke Hill say that money's a problem over there.

    I'm still working my way through the audio recording of Truman. I'm starting to like him. He's kind of like an average Midwestern schmoe who aimed high and hit way higher than he aimed. He just dropped the bomb, and now he's struggling mightily with economics. I still got a long way to go. It's like 50 hours.

    Allie and I have been watching season three of The Wire. I'll just go ahead and say it: Best TV show ever made. I should do a series of blog posts about this show. I really should. It's just so deep.

    Been making frozen goodies with a present Allie's mom and pop recently gave to us.

    The fall crops have sprouted.

    Debate practice started yesterday.

    I get interviewed today about my book.

    Sorry for the boring grab bag.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    for the ladies

    Yesterday I got this touching message from Geoffery:
    I feel like you've made me a better debater, speaker and researcher and I get along with feminist now thanks for every thing

    you my nigga

    So when Geoffery wins a national championship for the University of Oklahoma, I guess I can share in some of the glory.

    Meantime, all you independent women in Norman can thank me.

    (And bell hooks.)

    on point

    I haven't been following the news, so I wasn't aware of the Rumsfeld speech that is the target of the above editorial. Here's an excerpt:
    One of the most important things the American Legion has done is not only to serve and assist and advocate, as you have done so superbly for so much of the past century, but also to educate and to speak the truth about our country and about the men and women in the military.

    Not so long ago, an exhibit — Enola Gay at the Smithsonian during the 1990s — seemed to try to rewrite the history of World War II by portraying the United States as somewhat of an aggressor. Fortunately, the American Legion was there to lead the effort to set the record straight. (Applause.)

    Your watchdog role is particularly important today in a war that is to a great extent fought in the media on a global stage, a role to not allow the distortions and myths be repeated without challenge so that at the least the second or third draft of history will be more accurate than the first quick allegations we see.

    You know from experience personally that in every war there have been mistakes, setbacks, and casualties. War is, as Clemenceau said, “a series of catastrophes that result in victory.”

    And in every army, there are occasional bad actors, the ones who dominate the headlines today, who don’t live up to the standards of the oath and of our country. But you also know that they are a very, very small percentage of the literally hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women in all theaters in this struggle who are serving our country with humanity, with decency, with professionalism, and with courage in the face of continuous provocation. (Applause.)

    And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

    It's a remarkable speech, certainly. For instance, the implied shock in the line about the U.S. being "somewhat the aggressor" during WWII, when a former secretary of defense recently admitted that we'd committed war crimes in our repeated bombing of civilian targets in Japan -- even before we dropped the big one.

    But it's the last line in my excerpt, the one I bolded, that I find particularly chilling.