Tobin’s First Prize Hots

I lived a little dream. One stage in my investigation of the NY hot. This may seem odd to those that do not know me but I like this sort of stuff. I find it very interesting to have a very basic food item which in Canada would not be the focus of a restaurant and would really be considered a kids food here but in the states is more like getting a pizza slice. It’s a hold over perhaps.

The street Tobin’s sits on is a poorer street in a poorer part of town. Down the way there are a few very small bars each probably sustained by a side street or two. I mentioned this street to portland once and he, too, had noted it as being an American classic of a sort: run-down sure but also a neighbourhood which had likely seen far better days yet which still acted like a neighbourhood, if a hard one. In Tobin’s itself there were five or six people plus two pleasant staff sharing five or six counter stools and maybe three table. There was still wainscotting walls, narrow tongue and groove lathe ceiling with one small grill at the back with the burgers (each a “Whimpy”) and hots. It likely looked like that in 1949 and 1974.

Off To Canton

Off to do my part for NPR by helping NCPR think about what it might do with the internet. I am really looking forward to this but I am a bit worried about my Cantonese.

On the up side, I have established where the ales are, have scoped out First Prize Hots for the way home and also plan to buy some tickets for the big game against Yale on the 20th. It has been two years since we were there for a game.

Trucks On Sand Dunes

From Dirk von Zitzewitz’s Blog and Dakar 2005.

It is that week again and the channel formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network is playing the Lisbon to Dakar rally as a four night summary. Apparently on Saturday there is a four hour repeat broadcast starting 2 pm, a festival of broken drive trains and motorcycles flying mid-air into jagged rock faces.

Last year I promised myself to take this on by moped. This year I renew that pledge for 2007 but with sidecar mopeds. Vintage experimental Italian ones.


Yesterday was a big day. Sunny. Plus five or so by the eastern edge of the big lake. I found myself at an auspicious point hydrographically speaking. All around there were shards of ice packing together for chill as if to to keep themselves. Ususally ice like this would be far across the lake, deep within the cap, holding back the big lakers until spring, keeping commerce at bay. Todays rains will melt whatever is left.

Short short slow loading and uncompressed .AVI silent but entirely lovely movies of the same: #1 [13 MB], #2 [8 MB], #3 [10.5 MB]. The sound was like a gymnasium filled with tinkling crystal glassware. Click on any pic for larger scale.

Where Do You Place 9/11?

That great voice of contemplative thought, the NYT op-ed, published a really interesting essay yesterday by Joseph J. Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College. Entitled “Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History”, it posed that interesting question from a historical perpective. What caught my eye most of all was that, even though we are four and a half years past 9/11, we may be only read these sort of thoughts now. Here is the full essay in a non-subscription-only format:

Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility. Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so.

His last point is interesting. The terrorists would like the US and other free nations to fall into the belief that freedom is at risk. This is different that saying freedom is under attack, of course. But reacting as if it is at risk creates the real danger, Ellis argues:

It is completely understandable that those who lost loved ones on that date will carry emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. But it defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.

Of course, there is nothing as interesting as someone who agrees with something you have written before. In the fall of 2003, I was very surprised to find that the relative fear level of 9/11 was considered greater than in the Cold War, the latter end of which framed my youth. In March 2004, I thought about it again and did so again in October 2004.

Where do we stand now that we have learned that 9/11 will not be repeated annually, that we have seen great changes or perhaps only admissions as to the way we are watched and interogated when suspected, that we now know that giving people the right to vote will not ensure those people will vote for what you want? I don’t mean this as a telling “gotcha” sort of comment so much as an invitation to ask yourself it is now acceptable to consider and perhaps reconsider given almost half a decade of subsequent history.

#6 – 103 On The Edge Of The Abyss

I would only ever say this to the others, of course.  In complete confidence.  That is to say, the level of confidence we attach to our more enthusiastic, brandy-fuelled  discussions  of our various mistress’ amourous preferences.

But the truth of the matter is that 103 seats belies our weakness at this point.  The party is a shambles.  The creditors are basting us with increasingly scalding red ink.  The vast majority of our rank-and-file are more interested in the game of power, played at whichever level their own competence affords them, than in ideas of policy.  The elite – the former elite, I should correct – have lost the common touch that was the key to admission into the upper echelons of political society in the first place.

Twenty two seats short of The Despised Ones, and it may as well be two hundred and twenty two for all the good a tight result did us!  Until we repair our finances, our ideology, our standing with the voting public,  we are nothing but a paper tiger.  Until we choose a leader to bring us out of this horrid hole into which we’ve fallen – God, my head pounds just thinking of the necessary carnage that process will unleash! – The Unwashed will have a free reign.

The worst part is that they know it, too.  It’s humiliating, enough to make the bile rise in my throat.  And I’m not alone – I can see the anger covering the shame in all of our eyes.  We were Ministers of The Crown, for Christ’s sake!

God, I hope it goes to their heads.  I hope every redneck of them bullies us on the other side of the House.  Upset as our friends are with us at this moment, the fourth estate will surely not let that pass.  A government with so many enemies beyond their reach cannot afford cockiness, but if the fates smile upon us, these cowboys will be too simple to realize that until it is too late.

We can only hope.  Well, hope and lay careful foundations…