Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Starbucks World Domination Plans

cover Virginia Postrel points out a recent Newsweek article on Starbucks and their real estate grand strategy. And judging by the article, Starbucks is really just getting started. Evidence here in North Vancouver is the upcoming opening of a new location near Lonsdale Quay at The SeaBus terminal - they just took over the coffee location, literally, right on the landing of the SeaBus. (Already staffers at the brand new Bean Around the World - soon to be strategically places between the two - are suggesting this could be a money move.)

Now here's a little business question. So you are The Second Cup and you vacate a location that Starbucks then jumps on and takes over. As Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh!" Who made that call Mr. Second Cup. (Ed: Um, maybe the lease was up and they had no choice? Never mind, that is still simply business suicide.) Throw him to the wolves Trump style. Terrible business decision.

*Starbucks Gossip blog

Quote of the day: A Little More Jackson

"Jesse Jackson has signed up as an advisor to Kerry. And not a moment too soon. After all, the one thing the Kerry campaign has really lacked all this time is enough egomaniacal consultants." - Jonah Goldberg, NRO

First in War, First in Peace and finally back in the MLB

cover Baseball is returning to Washington D.C. for the first time in 33 years. Take that John Kerry! Bush presides over the reclaiming of the Expos back to America from Mini-France - outsource that!

Of course the 31-month MLB investment in les Expos is an ongoing project. ESPN's Darren Rovell reports that the $120 million investment will pay off big time on the sale of the franchise, while Jayson Stark wonders how long will they continue to own it, what will they call it (Has to be the Senators, non?), who will buy it, who manages it, and what happens to Expo mascot Youppi?

Blogging on the Hudson

cover Okay, second building/real estate post. I've been walking past this new building - and when I say building, I really mean to say giant hole - pretty much daily. The Hudson - a new residential property being constructed at 610 Granville. Billed as "the one-and--only address between Robson & Pender, Granville & Burrard ever to be zoned for residential and live-work use."

Well that's just great. The first thing you'll see during the ridiculous flash presentation - besides the terrible cheesy music - is the amount of steps to various "important" landmarks - like, hey, 20 steps from Starbucks. Well whoopadee do buddies - you can say that about every place in Vancouver. Now looking at the building and not just the giant pit at Granville St., it looks pretty lame - mostly since the thought of 427 units is, well, terrifying. Good luck with that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fox News Goes to Canada

The Wonkette says it better than I could about Fox News coming to Canada (...Finally): "Just what Canada needed: Fox News. It's like broadcasting the Playboy channel into a nunnery. All that screaming! And opinions! Bill O'Reilly alone will send them into seizures -- thank God they've got national health care."

Paris Underworld

Anytime an article can work the word "scoundrel' into it you know you are reading something worthwhile. According to this interesting article the 185-miles of underground beneath Paris is full of life these days.

"Cataphiles have haunted the Paris underworld for decades, but the Aug. 23 discovery by police of the cinema, set up by an urban explorers' group calling itself The Perforating Mexican, revealed just how sophisticated life below ground has become.

The cinema seated about 30 people on benches carved from rock - and covered with wood for comfort, according to Kunstmann. The complex included a bar, a restaurant and some annex rooms for privacy."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Run the Numbers: Washington Post/ABC Poll

cover The newest '04 poll is the WaPo/ABC numbers out tonight. Bush is leading 51% to 45% among likey voters and 51% to 44% among registered voters.

Meanwhile - and this is just priceless - CNN doesn't even like the results of the poll. The poll they helped pay for, even. Here's their headline: "Bush apparently leads Kerry in pre-debate poll." This is a poll showing Bush ahead 52% to 44% of likely voters. (Via The Corner) Over heard in the CNN newsroom: King Arthur : "A scratch? Your arm's off". Black Knight : "No it isn't".

Conan to Tonight Show in '09

What good does this do? Anouncing that Conan O'Brien will take over The Tonight Show in 2009 September of 2004? Does this simply keep Conan from jumping ship to another network? Worst of all - does anyone really care NBC? Didn't they want to try to get something remotely funny? Maybe try to lure Jon Stewart and Co. with barrels and barrels of beautiful cash fresh from the suits at GE to the big network or something else mildly creative?

PS: is that 'Insult Dog' part of the package? It should be.

The Defamer describes the whole non-story as a weak stunt: "It's a brilliant one-time ratings ploy, just like the time Daffy Duck put on a devil costume and drank a gas-can full of nitroglycerin to upstage Bugs Bunny." In short nobody really cares now, the 5-year countdown clock won't help matters.

Priceless Jimmy Carter Blogging

The new blog "The Diplomad" (by career US Foreign Service officers) has an amusing must-read Jimmy Carter post today.

"Thanks to H.E. Drudge we learn that Jimmy Carter has declared that Florida's electoral arrangements do not meet "international standards." Bush must be way out in front if the Carterman is this worried. This is the same Carter, by the way, who gave away the Panama Canal, allowed Islamic fundamentalists to destroy Iran (a major US ally), gave the Soviets the impression that we would put up with anything, and virtually destroyed the US military -- oh, and he certified as legit the bogus referendum recently held in Venezuela. Boy I am glad he's not on our side!"

'04 Ad War

The newest Bush-Cheney '04 ad (watch it here) called "Searching" is probably the best ad of the election cycle thus far. Start with sun-in-your-face Bush. Cut to: the many, many, John Kerry's and their various position on Iraq. Add up the Electoral Votes come November - Repeat. And it so nicely ties in with Bush's live performances when he tells audiences that Kerry, "could probably spend 90 minutes debating himself." Ouch! Is it possible to win a debate before it even starts? [Ed: Don't get too cocky kid.]

And if you watch Kerry's last ad the difference is obvious. Actually the Bush ad blows there Kerry one out of the water. No wonder Kerry now wants to end the Advertising war.

The Hitch on Kerry

Christopher Hitchens breaking down the real center of the Kerry Campaign problems - Basically, "unless he conclusively repudiates the obvious defeatists in his own party (and maybe even his own family), we shall be able to say that John Kerry's campaign is a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida."

Read the rest - it's a good one.

Sulu Against Bush

Nerd Post alert! Not that anyone cares about Sulu from Star Trek, but actor George Takei has now come out against President Bush. WWJTKD? You have to ask yourself one thing, 'Would what James T. Kirk do' Mr. Sulu?

All that time with Kirk, and you just don't get it.

Holding Back the Dark

The Belmont Club - which, by the way, is always required reading - gives a great reason to pick up the WSJ (I don't have an online subscription) today. Here is what the grand strategy of the U.S. needs to be currently: "It is not to find "an exit strategy from Iraq", as if there were somewhere on the planet it could hide from terrorism; nor is it simply to find Osama Bin Laden as some, ever anxious to reduce the current conflict to a law enforcement problem, would claim as a goal. It's task is to hold back the dark until a new global civilization can find its footing."

That is the sumation of an article by the great Robert Kaplan.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Good News in Iraq?

Is there such a thing as good news in Iraq? Arthur Chrenkoff has his weekly round-up of just that in the WSJ's Opinion Journal. He starts off with the continuing bad news, "The past two weeks continued to be tumultuous in Iraq. More hostages taken, more hostages beheaded, more suicide bombings, more sabotage, more fighting." That said, Chrenkoff uses this to set up his contention that the media is coming undone as this is, "all unfolding against the background of an increasingly bitter U.S. presidential election campaign and a chorus of intelligence experts, politicians and pundits expressing grave doubts about the future of the country."

There is plenty of good stuff and must-read links in this article. Go there now.

Media Moneyball

Catching up on a lot of reading today and this Baseball Crank post seemed pretty excellent to me. I mean whenever a pundit can mix in Bill James references it is a good thing anyways. In this case Baseball Crank demonstrates that your average blogger can figure out tomorows real pundit talking points months earlier.

In light of the "Rather Gate" you would have to imagine that news organization might consider playing some media Moneyball themselves and look to pick up some qualty writers and newsmen with better on base percentages than some of the over paid media royalty. Just a thought.

Canadian Position on Sudan

Is this really Canada's official position on what is happening in Sudan? Basically a Jedi mind trick version of events? "Nothing to see here. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along." Colin Powell has said it is, and yet our government's Minister for International Cooperation (why we need a minister to be in charge of International Cooperation is unimaginable, but I digress)Aileen Carroll says on national television, "We're supporting very strongly the Security Council resolution calling for an independent investigation of the possibility of genocide" adding "The decision to use that word may still be premature."

This sounds more nuanced than either Bill Clinton's definitions of the word sex or John Kerry's endless changing positions on the war in Iraq. If you haven't already read David Brook's latest piece on the situation in Darfur in the NY Times you should. Here's the money quote:

Confronted with the murder of 50,000 in Sudan, we eschewed all that nasty old unilateralism, all that hegemonic, imperialist, go-it-alone, neocon, empire, coalition-of-the-coerced stuff. Our response to this crisis would be so exquisitely multilateral, meticulously consultative, collegially cooperative and ally-friendly that it would make John Kerry swoon and a million editorialists nod in sage approval.

And so we Americans mustered our outrage at the massacres in Darfur and went to the United Nations. And calls were issued and exhortations were made and platitudes spread like béarnaise. The great hum of diplomacy signaled that the global community was whirring into action.

Meanwhile helicopter gunships were strafing children in Darfur.

What a travesty.

And now some good news

Sure, Iran and North Korea are trying to flex their muscles with their nukes, and the situation in Iraq is a long, long, way from peace and prosperity. But the good news, (via is that virtually every single day something like this is happening (Washington Post):

KARACHI, Pakistan, Sept. 26 -- Security forces on Sunday killed a Pakistani fugitive accused of organizing the kidnapping and killing of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist, in 2002 and carrying out two unsuccessful attempts on the life of Pakistan's president late last year, according to senior police and military officials.

Officials said Amjad Hussain Farooqi, described as Pakistan's most wanted fugitive and an associate of the al Qaeda network, died during a two-hour gun battle in Nawabshah, a town in the southern province of Sindh. Two other men were arrested in the raid, which was carried out by a special military team formed in March to track down Farooqi after officials determined he was behind the attempts to kill Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, in December.

I'm tired of not hearing about this stuff - about any good news. I'm tired of people walking around places like Vancouver mocking the war on terror and the war in Iraq. This conflict is going to get worse before it gets any better, but it will get better. It has to.

Bad News First

David Warren gives a sobering look at the nuclear ambitions of our buddies in North Korea and Iran and what it all means. He calls the column "Some Bad News" (that's the understatement of the 21st century) and it is pretty disconcerting at best. The order, by Israel, of 4,500 bunker buster bombs from the U.S. might be a open declaration to Iran to cease and dissect before Israel does something about it.

Again, and as Warren notes, the United Nations is completely incapable of doing anything about this. "The United Nations' IAEA and their chief European trading partners have given the Tehran regime until the middle of November to make good on previous promises to stop the yellowcake and other production that is obviously intended for nuclear weapons. But there is no credible threat behind that; at worst the ayatollahs would be dragged before the Security Council's perpetual coffee clatch, to discuss trade sanctions that only the U.S. would have the guts to apply. In the final encounter between loaded and cocked nuclear missiles, and empty talk, I should expect the nukes to prevail. And Iran would not have to use them, only to demonstrate they were ready and able, to change the entire geopolitical situation across the Middle East."

Warren ends his piece speculating on what Israel might have to do with those bunker busters and when they might have to do it. Question: how many positions could Kerry have potentially on this issue? Just asking.

That could be the bad news. For some better news read his September 22nd article on "Some Good News"

More Iran:

Volcanic Unrest

If you ever wondered what volcanic unrest was, this press release on some current activity at Mount St. Helens might be interesting. It could be nothing, but you can also see what is happening at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument website.

The Cult of Che

cover I've recently spoken to a few people about the current Vancouver Film Festival. Back in 1995 I think I saw about 40 films. And the first one I've seen in a few years was last year's The Snow Walker. This year there isn't much - anything really - that I need to see.

One film I've heard people express interest in, and it's probably the highest profile selection at the festival is The Motorcycle Diaries. It is the story of the Che Guevera - billed as a sort of "On the Road meets das Kapital" story. Thankfully Paul Berman in an article over at called "The Cult of Che - Don't applaud The Motorcycle Diaries" breaks down the glorified idea of this socialist icon.

Here's the most damning part: "Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a free-thinker and a rebel."

cover I can't wait to see somebody on the seabus or bus in the next few weeks talking about how great this movie and Che are. Hopefully I'll still have my copy of P.J. O'Rourke's "Peace Kills" book out - which has gotten more than a few raised eyebrows in the past week.

One Last Grape...

In the New York Times this afternoon there is an interesting article about the new trend in winemaking. They call it lifestyle or brand wines, but these trendy and cleverly labeled wines are really just the logical next step in bring us the Two Buck Chuck and the Coca-Cola-ization of wines.

cover The fact that the Robert Mondavi corporation is going to sell off all of its luxury business and focus entirely on the mass market wines is just a sign. How long could American winemakers see the Aussies squish some grapes, throw an interesting label on the bottle and sell 7 million cases a year. And that is just Yellow Tail. Mondavi's answer to Yellow Tail are newer wines - something called Papio - and really who doesn't like the idea of a Monkey playing the drums?

I can't really see anything wrong with this. You need to have decent, and cheapish wines about the house. You can totally see what Gallo is doing here with this new Red Bicyclette wine. It's wine, it's French-ish, and everyone just loves a good bagette right - especially while riding a red bike.

And last but certainly not least my good friend Dan will appreciate my linking to the Cork Amnesty website - a company offering cool solutions to the cork shortage. Basically they make screw caps that don't look like screw caps. RH Philips seems to be making it their hallmark product fact. (Via Hugh Johnson's World of Wine Blog)

The Aberdeen

cover Construction is taking place in earnest on the Aberdeen Block of Lonsdale in North Vancouver. The Aberdeen is the new live/work town homes that are being finished inside the facades of the old building (Built in 1910-11) that once housed Paine Hardware - the great old hardware store which was destroyed in a fire way back in 1998.

At any rate they seem pretty cool. What's amazing is how long this took to come to be finished. It's at a cool location directly across from getting schnitzel at the Jagerhof, which is excellent.

Start the machine & four-spiced doughnuts

We'll be getting back to regularly schedule programming later, but first some other stuff. Last night my friend Dan and I - after a pretty awesome mess of schnitzel at the Jagerhof and I'm sure my choice of the Sante Fe schnitzel was against the Bavarian purity code of - checked out The Years at The Red Room (formerly the drink). They were playing with The Rolling Blackouts and Fu Manchu. The Years went on early so we missed some of their set, but they were, as always, solid.

cover I was surprised by how interesting The Rolling Blackouts were - a kind of funky groove and weird mix of punk, White Stripes, and I detected a subtle homage to the Violent Femmes especially the lead singer's voice. And these guys were interesting enough to watch. Quite literally punk-rock.

As for Fu Manchu, well, hey, I shouldn't have been surprised that any band billing itself as basically 'stoner rock' would not have been up my alley. But it was a pretty good evening. And after the show we kicked it up one more notch at Wild Rice. We had some wild boar (wild boar tenderloin medallions with mission fig reduction, minced green apple and four-spiced doughnut - doughnuts and boar? What are you doing Tim Hortons?), spring rolls, and potstickers which were all excellent. It went down pretty well a glass of Garry Oaks Fetish merlot. That was pretty tasty even though just the thought of all those hippies on Salt Spring makes me crazy. Hippies aside, the wine was tasty.

We also had a Mandolin Zinfandel for some reason or another before heading back to the north shore. Schnitzel, punk, and wild boar. Not bad.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Timely Larry King Episode Tonight

No. I didn't watch, honestly. Who throws a shoe? But seriously, who thought an hour with Ellen DeGeneres was a programming coup with all that is going on this world? Honestly - hawking the DVD from the first season of her defunct sitcom.

You can't tell me that this isn't the biggest waste of resources ever. Fine, go ahead and try see if I care.

John Kerry is back in action! Everything he touches turns to excitement!

Here's my question of the day. Does the Kerry Campaign team really believe that they can sling mud with Karl Rove and the Republicans? Okay, today's "W is for wrong" meme is pretty much not on the radar in terms of mud slinging. But if you were to analogize this Cold War campaiging of mutually assured destruction you would have to think Goldfinger vs. James Bond. "James Bond : Do you expect me to talk? Auric Goldfinger : No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die."

And yeah. I know, Bond always wins - whatevs. Thinking that this tactic will be a winner for Kerry is about as plausable as the title of this post. PS: Cheney could be a pretty decent Goldfinger.

Monday, September 06, 2004

W on the new John Kerry Campiagn position

"After voting for the war, but against funding it, after saying he would have voted for the war even knowing everything we know today, my opponent woke up this morning with new campaign advisers and yet another new position."

- President George W. Bush (September 6, 2004 - Missouri)

Pretty much sums up the Bush answer to Kerry's latest Iraq position. And don't think that it isn't twice as strong.

The Clintonization of the Kerry Campaign

Bill Clinton - in the hospital for his bypass surgery - gave John Kerry 90 minutes worth of free campiagn advice. The result, it would appear, is more Clinton people on the Kerry team. But here's the thing.

It's not the James Carvilles, Paul Begalas, or Dick Morris's - the heavy hitters - but Joe Lockhart and some other less well knowns. Actually, it is Begala and Carville in some form - and get this, Begala says he's keeping his CNN job too. Pick a career buddies. I think, for the first time, people give Clinton to much credit. In 1992 it was a three way race - and not like Nader here - with Perot doing major damage to Bush 41. In 1996, it was Bob Dole. Nice man, but come on we all knew he was going to lose right? So is more Clintonistas on the campaign team really going to help? Well it couldn't hurt.

Others are suggesting Dukakisization is in full swing.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sunday Talking Points

Earlier today I heard Rep. Richard Gephardt, and Kerry advisors Joe Lockhart, and Tad Devine all speaking off the same talking points. Good for them, for getting their story straight. Now, that should be a good thing right? First off, giving their due, this line isn't too bad. All about the $200 billion being spent in Iraq at the same time as the increased Medicare premiums. But one thing struck me as being a bit odd.

The line(s) is/are that Bush's speech is too "morning in America" and that everything is fine (they say it isn't that 5.4 unemployment was good enough for Clinton, but Bush is wrecking everything) - that all of his acceptance speech domestic items are warmed up leftovers from 2000. (The other big talking point was the 143 lies Lockhart has documented from the RNC.) Then they ask, "where has the President been for the past 4 years?" Now, I could be wrong, but the President has been working on responding to 9/11, securing the homeland, and invading Iraq. Does Kerry/Edwards really want to let Karl Rove and Bush/Cheney respond to this by saying they've been fighting a global war while Kerry has been flip flopping all over the place on the issue of international affairs and defense. It doesn't, to me, seem like much of a winning strategy.

The Kerry August Collapse detailed by Chris Lynch of "A Large Regular"

Thursday, September 02, 2004

September Kerry Push Back

Waiting just minutes after Bush finished speaking - and roughly midnight on the East Coast Kerry and Edwards retooled and got back on the stump. At least that was the plan. All night long, Chris Mathews was wondering who the Democrats (Kerry) has to battle Karl Rove. Well, what's interesting is that Team Kerry has been on their heels for much of August, the Republican Convention was near flawless, and they need to push back.

So is the new strategy to make incoherent unscripted speeches? Is this a scheme to lower expectations for the next 60 days? Plus, as Joe Scarborough just noted, he can't add. The Red Sox really are still 3 1/2 games back. Ouch is Boston in play on November 2nd?

PS: Either Cheney is a wussy who took five deferments during Vietnam, or he is the NeoCon Lord Vader and leader of Evil Haliburton. Is it possible to flip flop during a fiery critique of your opponent?

RNC Final: Bush Speaks

President Bush wraps up the Republican convention tonight with probably his second best speech ever - third best if you count the one in New York on the pile of rubble.

James Lileks wasn't that impressed with the first half, but the second half made him think, "1943. Between the dark beginning and the first cracks of light. 1943."

Cliff May wraps up the convention with this, "Terrorists this week slaughtered Russians, Nepalese and Israelis. Does anyone believe they would not have murdered people in New York if they could have managed it? The fact that this convention – and the Democratic convention in Boston, too – proceeded without incident has to be seen as a victory. The fact that we haven’t had another attack on American soil since 9/11 is a victory. Will we get through the third anniversary of 9/11 and the first week of November unscathed? I don’t know. I do think there is reason for hope."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Day Three of the RNC: Miller Time

Sen. Zell Miller's Keynote speech was fun for the whole family - it was even better listening to the chattering class figure out if it was too harsh, just the right amount of red meat, or a barn-burner. Insert your own cliche here. Jonah Goldberg finds the hidden power of the speech: he's still got the "D" beside his name. And others believe it will be just the first shot across Kerry's bow. [Ed - You mean it could get worse than this?]

But the topper - like the cherry on the sundae - had to be Miller's on-air spat with MSNBC's Chris Mathews. That was fun! It's not every day that a Senator wishes that you could still duel in America. Okay, double cherry. Let's not forget the "spit ball" line.

Tonight's Karl Rove angle? Putting up Zell Miller and then Cheney. As someone said tonight, he made Cheney look warm and fuzzy. Andrew Sullivan's reaction may explain this - he hated the harsh speech. Advantage Cheney! Glenn Reynolds has more on this. Related Question: Can Kerry even - or should he - refute Miller's speech? Democrat vs. Democrat. See also: Rove.