Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 YearEnder

On the 4th Anniversary of this Blog, I'll give y'all a hearty taste of the YearEnder that I send to friends and family. Merry Merry 2009 to all.
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2008 – The Year in Politics
This YearEnder establishes a new feature. My “YearEnder PoliTicker” – a gauge of various folk that floated through the political mainstream in ’08, viewed through a thoroughly unscientific stock-picking mechanism. Invest wisely based upon these recommendations. And please bear in mind that almost all stock-picking shtick is shallow, confusing and utter nonsense. Kinda like anything you might hear on CNBC or its mutant twins on any given day.
- Barack Obama (HOLD) – he was the Man of the Year and the biggest political story of our generation. But with what he’s facing, I’d sit on the Hope you’ve already got at least through 2009.
- Joe Biden (BUY) – the anti-Cheney will soon become a surprisingly necessary asset to keep the Cabinet in check. And now that he won’t be taking the train back to Delaware every weeknight, expect the Bidens to be all up in the grill of the DC social scene.
- Hillary Clinton (HOLD) – the perks that come with being Secretary of State are huge. Hillary's stock peaked well over a year ago. But she's one to HOLD for the long run that she surely thinks still ain't over yet.
- John McCain (SELL) – he’s been a gracious loser, but this campaign kicked the crap out of his infamous stamina. Going back to the Senate as a gelding Republican sounds about as much fun as heading to San Francisco as a young Mormon missionary to knock on doors in the Castro.
- George W. Bush (BUY) – most believe that he couldn’t possibly head anywhere but further down down down. But near the end of the 2009, I expect there will be a retro movement to bring him out of mothballs. What’s a satirical society without a disgraced figure to chuck a few shoes at? Call this a risky BUY, but one worth adding to your portfolio. Besides, it's an extremely cheap BUY.
- Sarah Palin (SELL) – she’s now a different type of GILF (Grandmother, rather than Governor). Look for a concerted effort within her own Party to trash Grannie Palin. After all, everyone secretly hates a Beauty Queen. Even in Wasilla. Dump her stock while you still can.
- Nancy Pelosi (HOLD) – I love Nancy. But she’s been frustratingly ineffective. She needs to go public with the vitriolic bitchiness I know she’s been hiding. Don’t be surprised if it happens. But don’t hold your breath.
- Harry Reid (BUY) – I don’t love Harry. He’s been totally ineffective. But he used to be a boxer. If Senator Al Franken manages to get under his skin, Harry just might come out swinging this Year. Take the risk and get a bit o’ Harry.
- Mike Huckabee (BUY) – amazingly, SkinnyHuck is making the BigBucks. He’s charming, funny and a complete disaster on the issues. In other words, he’s golden on FOX News. BUY by the bushel.
- Mitt Romney (SELL) – the only politician actively campaigning for 2012. He will become a fixture on cable news to deliver the Republican’s single talking point on the economy (“it’s Obama’s fault”). Dump all your Romney. A share of him is more toxic than a bushel of Lieberman.
- Elliot Spitzer (BUY) – being an alleged do-gooder publicly disgraced by a stunning prostitute isn’t the most inglorious way to end a political career. After all, Spitz is already writing a column for “Slate” about ethics. Expect that rebranding to expand. It won’t be long before he’s all over the place, being considered a big brain with tragic insight. Especially after Ashley Dupre` breaks down and does her overdue million-dollar nude spread for a greasy porn mag in the next handful of months.
- Rod Blagojevich (SELL) – if ever there was a guy prepped to tell a reporter to “BLEEP off” during a live press conference, it’s Blago. He’s managed to go from tragedy to comedy right back to tragedy again. If life was a Scorsese film, he’d already have been popped. Essentially a penny stock. Still, dump all your Blago and remove guilt by association from your portfolio.

2008 in a Snapshot
- The worldwide economic meltdown. Massive housing depreciation. The collapsing American auto industry. A shady $700B Wall Street bailout. Unemployment spikes during the biggest hiring season of the Year. Gas and oil prices boomerang all over the place. Anarchy in the credit markets. Where will it end? No, seriously – I’m asking. Where does it end? Ba dump bum.
- The Detroit Lions managed to further depress Detroit unlike anything since the last Bob Seger reunion tour.
- Alaska and Hawaii were finally noticed the year before their 50th anniversaries of Statehood by the traveling campaign press corps. Which assignment do you think was more sought after? (Hint: pack a bikini, not a parka).
- Among those that passed away this Year were three of my personal favorite people – Paul Newman, George Carlin and Tim Russert. They will be missed.
- William Ayers and Joe the Plumber entered the political lexicon. One by slander, one by inexplicable ego.
- David Letterman showed just how funny he can still be when he piled on McCain’s imploding campaign.
- Robert Downey Jr. had more fun than anyone on the planet.
- Larry Craig's "wide stance" ruined a perfectly good bathroom in the Twin Cities airport.

Comeback of the Year
Pirates. No, not the Pittsburgh ones.

Quote of the Year
“That one.”

Trend of the Year
Vampires – Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight”, HBO’s “True Blood”, Vampire Weekend (my runner-up for Album of the Year), Tom Cruise’s rise from the dead only to return again to his crypt after the failure of “Valkarie”. The undead were everywhere. And I’m bloody sick of it.

A Few Picks for the Best o’ ‘08
- Movies - There are loads of new films I’ve not yet seen. But “Slumdog Millionaire” was the best movie I saw all year. I consider it the single most hopeful, romantic, allegorical story to counter the terrible tragedy that Mumbai suffered recently in real life.
- Music - Bon Iver (the pseudonym for the musician Justin Vernon and his collaborators) recorded the stunningly beautiful album “for Emma, forever ago” at a cabin in northern Wisconsin. The location arms me with an obvious bias. But if you can listen to this album and not consider the brilliance required to make magic in such sparse recording conditions you’ve not been to the same cabins that I grew up enjoying.
- Books - Richard Price’s novel “Lush Life” features hard-edged, distinctly real-feel dialogue that masterfully transports the reader to places they'd never knowingly choose on their own. Richard Price's work is good enough to whet the appetites of those still crestfallen now that “The Wire” is no longer on HBO.
- TV - “The Daily Show” continues to be the most essential show on any level. Sure, it’s a safe-sounding pick. But if anything else was on top of our TiVo recording list for 8-years running, it would have instead earned this accolade. And I believe Jon Stewart should have become the new moderator on "Meet the Press".
- Radio - Likewise, “This American Life” is essential radio listening. Especially in the case of two of their shows this Year dedicated to analysis of the economic meltdown. “The Giant Pool of Money” and "Another Frightening Show About the Economy". Both are infinitely better than any other economic reporting I saw during this difficult Year. Download the podcasts. Please.
- Sports - Michael Phelps swam like a dolphin. Maybe he's not a bad guy. But he’s becoming a Paris Hilton-like celebrity. Did anyone really think he was ready to host "Saturday Night Live"? Cancel that – the NY Giants winning the Super Bowl last January was the best sports moment of the Year.
- Killer App - Facebook became the single most effective way of locating largely-forgotten personal ghosts since the invention of the Private Eye. Sign up if you haven’t already done so. And crack out your old address books. You’ll be amazed who you’ll bump into. Maybe a bit scared, too.

2009 Largely Baseless Predictions
- Condi Rice comes out of the closet. Translation: she actually voted for Obama.
- Al Gore drops the whole global warming shtick for a more innovative new cause – hydroponics.
- Miley Cyrus starts dating Lindsey Lohan. The editorial offices of four tabloids soon thereafter spontaneously combust.
- New Orleans finally gets what it needs to begin a real recovery after Governor Bobby Jindal realizes he actually has a shot at the GOP nomination in 2012.
- Karl Rove shoots himself in the face on a hunting trip. The media rushes to indict Dick Cheney who was nowhere near Rove at the time, as evidenced by sworn statements that he was a 1000 miles away at the time shooting another man in the face. (Note: "Dick Cheney shoots someone in the face" predictions never get old)
- Ford buys GM and eliminates a bundle of divisions. Chrysler folds. But andthefamilybuick.blogspot.com survives and thrives. Check it out.
- The U.S. is truly, sadly the last foreign military presence in Iraq after Britian pulls out their last soldiers in the early summer. Widespread unwillingness to return for yet another tour of duty hobbles our military. We’re reluctantly down to 50,000 soldiers deployed there by 2010. Iraq becomes Bosnia. Translation: no one cares anymore as the World turns a deaf ear on yet another unresolved tragedy.
- Gitmo is closed and all prisoners are transferred to a prison in one of the reddest of red states. Oklahoma? Idaho? Wyoming? Utah? Yea, payback’s a bitch.
- Two new Supreme Court slots surface when John Paul Stevens and David Souter announce their retirements. Bill Clinton is spotted in Georgetown getting preemptively measured for a robe.
- The Gaza Strip is renamed the Gaza Smoldering Median.
- The Bush Legacy Project concentrates its energy on Phase One – a formal effort to change the pronunciation of "nuclear".
- The next Governor seized by scandal? Vermont’s Jim Douglas. It turns out that he’s been mislabeling his sugaring operation’s Grade B maple syrup as Organic Grade A maple syrup. His political career is OVER.
- The increasing wave of retail bankruptcies finally finds a way to make me smile – the nationwide decimation of high-end dog treat boutiques.

So where do we go from here? Forward (the official motto of the State of Wisconsin). I still find great reasons to have confidence in our Nation and I look to 2009 with focused, open eyes. May yours be a blessed Year ahead. Thanks for reading. Rock on.

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