Grab bag: Mostly presidential edition

A Shadow’s on the Sundial: initial notes

My copy of the Virginia Glee Club‘s 1972 record, A Shadow’s On the Sundial, arrived today. I haven’t listened to much of it yet, but a quick scan of the first few tracks on the first side and a review of the liner notes (transcribed) provide the following observations:

  1. This is a completely different group than the rough-hewn group from 1951 (or was it 1947) that recorded Songs of the University of Virginia. No monophony here, no vigorously gasping phrases, no mediocre baritones. Don Loach should rightly be credited with introducing the tradition of countertenor singing to the Glee Club, as evidenced in the first four madrigals, and for generally setting a high level of musicianship. When I joined the group, in the second year after he and the group parted ways, much of the musical philosophy of the group was still proceeding in the fundamental direction laid down by him.
  2. Only four of the Summer Songs, settings written by the group’s conductor David Davis of poetry by the group’s student business manager, Michael B. Stillman (class of 1963), are included on the recording—not included is the oddly funny “Little Polly Ethylene.”
  3. The record’s liner notes reveal the identity of the mysterious Harrison Randolph, who in 1893 broke it out of the Glee, Mandolin and Banjo Club and set it on its path of independent existence: he was the organist in the University Chapel.

More notes as I finish listening to the record…

Grab bag: Convention’s over

Grab bag: Palin, Palin, Palin

Virginia Glee Club 1972 European Tour

Continuing this week’s back to school theme (hey, in the fall I get a little nostalgic for UVA), I did a little more spelunking through the broken Cavalier Daily archives and turned up a review of the Glee Club’s 1972 European tour. Check out Around the Western World in Eighteen Days: A Glee Club Diary, and marvel at the thought that college students could once visit the Hofbrauhaus on a University-sponsored trip.

New Dorms replacement project underway at Virginia

It’s great to find out about happenings at my alma mater through Wikipedia. In this case, an edit on the University of Virginia article tipped me to some new developments on Grounds: a new style of dorm that will end up replacing the “New Dorms” that were my home in my first year at UVA.

I like that the new dorm is named “Kellogg House” after my late professor, Robert Kellogg. It’s the first time that one of my professors has had a building named after him.

The dorm looks pretty fancy, but of course the important question is unanswered: what sort of view do the Kellogg kids get into the windows of Balz? And how long will it be before all the dorms are converted over? And how long until the kids start hiding contraband behind the panels in the dropped ceilings shown in the photos? I am deeply envious of the view, but not of the hike that the kids in Kellogg must have had on move-in day…

Grab bag: What an interesting day to release a new browser.

Sarah Palin’s morning in America

So far, John McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin on the basis of a 15 minute interview is proving to be the best illustration of why you should carefully vet vice presidential candidates–particularly those who haven’t run for national office before.

I’m still trying to figure out whether this choice of McCain’s is desperate or brilliant. The arguments for both:

Desperate: This has the appearance of an appointment made in haste. It’s been established that Joe Lieberman, McCain’s first choice, was not acceptable to the Republican base, and it appears that Palin was picked very late in the game. All the indications are that Palin’s vetting was shallow; indeed, Talking Points Memo indicates that the Republican team has just now hit the ground in Alaska to do the deep digging. And certainly the ongoing information suggesting that Palin used her office to try to force the firing of her sister’s ex-husband, and that she did fire his boss when she couldn’t get the ex-brother-in-law fired, suggests that McCain’s team was not aware of this abuse of power on Palin’s part. As does the unfortunate situation with her daughter. As do her misleading statements about her support for the Bridge to Nowhere (brief: she supported it before she condemned it). As does her apparent past membership in the Alaska Independence Party.

Brilliant: McCain needed to differentiate himself from Obama while seizing hold of the “change” meme to pick up independent voters, but he also had to play to his base, who were late to fall in line behind the one-time “maverick.” Picking Palin on the basis of who she was (conservative, anti-choice, pro-guns, a short history as a reformer) helped shore up the base.

But more than this, maybe there’s a new calculus in play, a short-term thought process that says that the American people are going to be more likely to think whether a candidate for the second highest office in the land is “like them” than they are to worry about the person’s fitness for the job. In this short-term way of thinking, someone can be good to vote for simply because they are empathetic, because the voter wants to be that person. It’s kind of a “politician as celebrity” play.

Whether the choice, which looks to me like pandering, will work is still at play. Gallup and Rasmussen both show Obama widening his lead over McCain after the pick, primarily by picking up undecided voters. But polls have been wrong before.

See also: Why Palin should be taken seriously (Scripting News).

Update: Illuminating in light of the above: McCain campaign manager Rick Davis says “This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” So in other words, the McCain camp is betting on the celebrity view of politics that I describe above. Which is ironic, given their ads bashing Obama for being a celebrity.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred

Shaking off the weekend (and a very nice weekend it was!), we’ll get things started slowly today, with a little meme. Thanks to Estaminet for the tag. Looks like I’m hitting 89%, so contrary to past expectations I don’t truly eat everything.


  1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
  2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
  3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
  4. Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The List

  1. Venison
  2. Nettle tea
  3. Huevos rancheros
  4. Steak tartare
  5. Crocodile
  6. Black pudding (in London and Dublin)
  7. Cheese fondue (a childhood favorite)
  8. Carp
  9. Borscht (a favorite recipe of my late aunt)
  10. Baba ghanoush
  11. Calamari (any way I can)
  12. Pho
  13. PB&J sandwich
  14. Aloo gobi (curried potatoes and cauliflower)
  15. Hot dog from a street cart
  16. Epoisses (how on earth did I miss this? I really love a good stinky cheese)
  17. Black truffle
  18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (rhubarb!)
  19. Steamed pork buns (nyaaghm!)
  20. Pistachio ice cream (Tosci’s)
  21. Heirloom tomatoes (is there another kind? not on a biscuit, there’s not)
  22. Fresh wild berries
  23. Foie gras
  24. Rice and beans
  25. Brawn, or head cheese
  26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (I guess what I’m trying the next time I make Thai food)
  27. Dulce de leche
  28. Oysters
  29. Baklava
  30. Bagna cauda (I think this calls for a little fondue/bagna cauda party!)
  31. Wasabi peas (favorite office snack ever)
  32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (overrated)
  33. Salted lassi
  34. Sauerkraut (the best was my grandmother’s, usually buried outside in the winter to cure)
  35. Root beer float
  36. Cognac with a fat cigar
  37. Clotted cream tea
  38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (alas.)
  39. Gumbo
  40. Oxtail
  41. Curried goat
  42. Whole insects (not any time soon, either.)
  43. Phaal (anyone know an Indian restaurant around Boston that serves this? Sounds like a challenge)
  44. Goat’s milk (not knowingly, anyway)
  45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
  46. Fugu (not yet.)
  47. Chicken tikka masala
  48. Eel (mmm, unagi)
  49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
  50. Sea urchin
  51. Prickly pear
  52. Umeboshi
  53. Abalone
  54. Paneer
  55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
  56. Spaetzle
  57. Dirty gin martini
  58. Beer above 8% ABV (oh yes)
  59. Poutine (not yet!)
  60. Carob chips (although not on purpose)
  61. S’mores
  62. Sweetbreads (mmm, thymus!)
  63. Kaolin (in all likelihood, but not on purpose)
  64. Currywurst
  65. Durian (I had to look this up)
  66. Frogs’ legs
  67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (or all of the above!)
  68. Haggis (I really want to. Preferably with a stiff Scotch nearby)
  69. Fried plantain
  70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (I’ve always been curious about the chitlins preparation though)
  71. Gazpacho
  72. Caviar and blini (thanks, Caroline and Russ!)
  73. Louche absinthe (thanks, Dan and the Cheeselords)
  74. Gjetost, or brunost (yay, European breakfast buffets)
  75. Roadkill (nope. I’m Southern with Appalachian roots, but not that Southern or Appalachian.)
  76. Baijiu (sigh, another unique alcoholic beverage to try)
  77. Hostess Fruit Pie
  78. Snail (oh wow. Jetlagged plus escargot = sublime)
  79. Lapsang souchong
  80. Bellini
  81. Tom yum (I make a mean tom yum)
  82. Eggs Benedict
  83. Pocky
  84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
  85. Kobe beef
  86. Hare
  87. Goulash
  88. Flowers (rose gelato and fried zucchini flowers ftw!)
  89. Horse (not knowingly)
  90. Criollo chocolate
  91. Spam (spam spam spam)
  92. Soft shell crab
  93. Rose harissa (sounds good)
  94. Catfish (every summer Friday growing up–thanks, Denbigh Methodist Church)
  95. Mole poblano
  96. Bagel and lox
  97. Lobster Thermidor (I like ’em better just steamed)
  98. Polenta
  99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
  100. Snake

Tagging: Tin Man, JPixl, Jenny.