Monday, October 6

The Strange Case Of The Post-Coital Pup

Peter Baker, "Tom Davis Gives Up". October 5

Martin, if dirt were trumps, what hands you'd hold!

--Charles Lamb

I'M worn out; if by some malfunction you looked in on this blog six or seven times this weekend you might've seen twelve or fourteen different layouts. I'd actually settled on one Friday night, tweaked it into the wee hours to get rid of the obligatory graphic tattooing and do what I could about the awful leading and just-off-desirable line length, added some of that patented Doghouse whimsy, and fell asleep reading a book. The next morning the remaining graphic elements had disappeared, the result, it turned out, of their linked pages exceeding bandwidth limitations. Repeated attempts to host them on my own, or manage some other workaround while remaining hopeless with Blogger's CSS were in vain, and I was reduced to actually trying to learn how to do what I was doing, which was only slightly more successful. I think the problem is more the scattergun fashion in which the producers of free Blogger templates write their code, and not the fact that dirt and I were born on the same day, but I remind you that I had finished matriculating before the first personal computer hit the market, and that prior to that time I had been given the choice of spending five credit hours per semester "learning" French, or spending five credit hours "learning" FORTRAN, but getting three credits for it, and that the former classes were filled with coeds, while the latter were filled with secret Star Trek admirers, since in those days no one with the slightest concern for being taken seriously would have openly admitted it. I ask you. And I remind you that the adolescents who chose the latter course, for reasons inexplicable beyond a soul-bending fear of the opposite sex, or, likely, any sex at all, now rule the world.

I eventually found the good people at Our Blogger Templates, whose stuff seems to come, so far as I could tell, mostly Tattooing Optional, and who've written clear code that takes advantage of New Blogger's tweakisms, for which I thank them sincerely. But it's still not something you do halfway, and I'm still tweaking away as I find things, though at least now it's tol'able and I didn't have to create a new blog just to test it.

So at some point early this AM I figured the thing was at least legible, exceeding my personal standards, and tried to go to bed, but my knees didn't want to. My current reading, Charles Van Doren (yes, that one)'s  A History of Knowledge, which had been missing between late 1996 and last week, when it was discovered on my Poor Wife's office shelves, marked in several places with her post-it note placemarkers (this despite the fact that I've mentioned to her my complete bewilderment over where the thing could possibly have gotten to at least four times in the intervening years; I suppose this suggests how she's managed to stay married to me) was far too heavy, physically heavy, for my weary bones to hold up properly. So I grabbed the Times, in an effort to see if any of their columnists had come up with something to say. Still no luck there, excepting Maureen Dowd, if for "something to say" you substitute "making gurgling sounds and blowing bubbles in the manner of an infant or someone recently shot in the throat". That done I picked up the Magazine, and found Baker's piece on Representative Davis, which saved me from Lisa Belkin's musings on Sarah Palin and parenting choices.

Or maybe "saved" is too strong a word. The two-page opening spread, 70% of which is a view of Davis through his propped-up shoes (there's a good image for ya, Tom. I vaguely remember Adlai Stevenson, sir. And you sir, ain't.) carries the subhead in 96 pt. type:

He was a star
in the Republican Party.
Now, like dozens
of his G.O.P. colleagues,
he's quitting
Congress, fed up with
his party, his president and
the process

Please don't get ahead of me; I was busy making sidebar color choices while you were snug in your beds, or someone else's. There's a big blank space above that type, and I'm all for good graphic design, but maybe someone could have worked in "quitting Congress two years after his promised Contract with America pledge to limit Congresspersons to twelve years of service." Or 'service'.

And maybe someone--I really don't expect it to be the same guy who writes the article, not in the Times Magazine, especially--could take more than a cursory glance at what Davis has been up to for the span of seven elections?

Well, for starters--almost literally--he voted for the Citizen Legislature Act, before ignoring its provisions when his own time came (he'd have been grandfathered out anyway. I know, shocking, ain't it?). Voted for the three articles of Impeachment which passed, then said that maybe Republicans had "overplayed their hand". This is the voice of moderation, folks, and a guy who's now leaving The People's House because things have grown so ugly an' partisan an' trivialized an' all. Bush tax cuts (do we need to ask?): yea; huge deficits and impending fiscal collapse: pooches were screwed! Iraq war? Well, it wasn't a vote for war, exactly, and besides, you stand behind the President when he demands that sort of thing. And you keep standing behind him as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee (Davis is the guy who removed "Oversight" both from the title and the body), where you resolutely refuse to allow any questions about where the blank checks you kept signing had been cashed. How'd that one work out, you ask?  Davis just ruefully directs the questioner's gaze in the direction of Poochy.

And thank you, Tom Davis, moderate Republican, for being the reliable party functionary when Tom DeLay needed someone to subpoena Terri Schiavo and her attendant medical apparatus! Run, Poochy, run! "There are costs to being a leader," Davis notes. "You're not an independent actor." I was merely issuing orders!
The party has taken such a beating because of Bush and Congressional scandals that Davis took it upon himself to sound the alarm last spring in a 20-page memo to the Republican leadership, calling the atmosphere “the worst since Watergate,” even worse than 2006. “Failure to fundamentally change the G.O.P. brand can lock us into a long period of minority status,” he warned. The memo became public, and some Republican colleagues were irked with Davis. But none, he says, disputed his analysis.

He sounded the alarm last spring. Musta come as quite a shock to the rest of them Congressional Republicans.  You belong as the permanent minority party, Tom.  If you belong at all.
For Davis, who is 59, the decision to leave came after a series of personal blows. The loss of the majority in 2006 cost him his chairman’s gavel. His wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, lost re-election as a Virginia state senator in 2007. And he gave up his ambition to run for the United States Senate this year when his state party decided to choose its nominee by a convention dominated by conservatives rather than a primary open to Davis’s independent supporters.

I guess they didn't hear the alarm.

C'mon, really. I need a nap, badly, but there's a difference between low-hanging fruit and slimy crap rotting on the ground with worms crawling through it an' shit. Being a major cog in the Republican Radical Wealth Re-Distribution Upward Scheme precludes one from being called "moderate", no matter how many stem-cell restrictions one voted against and, especially, no matter what guilty appeals one makes to reality now that the collapsed beams of the house are crushing his vitals. Piss off, Davis. That's as moderately as I can put it. If you'll notice, we're in deep shit now because of you economic, American exceptionalist, laissez-faire boondoggery, international adventurist Republicans who took marching orders from George W. Bush and Tom Fucking DeLay because That's How It Works.  That Jebus faction whose votes you been collecting for thirty years, and which most everybody the other side of the Piedmont already knows as crazy?  Not so much.  


Brendan said...

Don't know if you're ready for feedback on the new look yet, but if you are, here's one request: I like narrower columns when reading long passages of text.

Possibly, this is specifically one of the things you didn't like about your old layout, but if you're not dead-set on the new width, I hope you'll consider this.

Possible alternative: specify the width for the main body portion of the page as a percentage, rather than as a fixed number of pixels. That way, people who feel as I do have the option of resizing the browser window to create a more comfortable column width.

Doghouse Riley said...

Thanks, brendan; I was looking for slightly wider columns, but I haven't gotten to the leading yet, which would make them easier to read. I'll try out the percentage deal there--do you now that Blogger can do that?

Julia said...

Maybe the metatags could go below the sidebar pictures? It would really help the width of both on my screen (Firefox).

His wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, lost re-election as a Virginia state senator in 2007.

Damn, it's hard out there for a moderate. Or maybe folks just didn't want to vote for a woman who handed out the contents of her opponent's wife and kids in an attack flier.

Oddly, Mrs. Davis, who sucked so much money out of various Republican campaign funds at her husband's disposal that they got their own CREW report, also asked to be seen as not so much a Republican but an Independent.

It's probably pretty hard to hold your slot in the leadership after that.

Anonymous said...

I like the new look.


arghous said...

...the latter were filled with secret Star Trek rule the world.

Well, not quite. It's those who hit the bifecta of being both Star Trek and Barbara Walters admirers.

I, although a bit later than you, learned FORTRAN, but as apparently like you am more of a Aoi Sora fan, I rule precisely squat (well. I and Wells Fargo do rule a small house).

ignobility said...

I was taken in by the subheading, also, but when I read Newt Gingrich's name in the first paragraph, I knew I'd been taken for a sucker. Yeah, poor Tom Davis. I guess the wealth re-distribution isn't so hot for Republican Congressmen anymore.

Brendan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendan said...


... I'll try out the percentage deal there--do you now that Blogger can do that?

It seems to me that most Blogger-specific templates that I've looked at tend to specify widths in absolute terms, but I think this is mostly because design-oriented people are the way they are -- less interested in numbers, less interested in solving general problems, more interested in specifying their visions unambiguously, whatever the case may be.

However, given that one can modify the code of any Blogger template and that Blogger accepts all standard HTML and CSS, I don't see why replacing pixels with percents wouldn't work. You might look for a site that offers templates for more general applications -- most of them seem to have bought into the idea of multi-column layouts in terms of percentage, or at least, as a mixture of fixed and floating (e.g., fixed sidebar, fluid main content). These other templates could probably not be imported as-is directly into Blogger, but they should give good ideas on how to specify things in percentage terms.

At risk of stating the obvious, but just in case it just didn't occur to you, I'll make one more suggestion: Start another blog to test design changes. You can export your entire template to your local machine, create a new Blogger blog, import the template into the new blog, and fiddle with it to your heart's content. When you like what you see, you can reverse the process -- export the new template from the test blog and import it into the real blog. If nothing else, this allows you to experiment without fear of anyone losing access to your real content.

James Stripes said...

I like the wider columns for reading long articles. The less scrolling I must do with the rodent, the more likely I'll read all the way through. The columns in my blog may be too wide, but yours now seem about right--much closer to book page width.

Calling Tom Davis a moderate Republican is part of the general tilt that left Barry Goldwater near the middle some time back, and convicted felon John Dean writing in Conservatives Without Conscience (2006):

"Where power was once decentralized among committee chairmen who had earned their posts and fiefdoms through seniority, Gingrich eliminated the seniority system and had chairmen selected by the leadership, concentrating power in the Speaker's office. But while Gingrich was autocratic (answering to no one else), he was not dictatorial (imposing his will on others). Dictatorship in the House would not occur until DeLay held full sway, which occurred with Gingrich's departure."

These days Nixon is a RINO, as was John McCain until he selected Sarah Palin as his running mate.

heydave said...

Nice place you got here. Really shame if anything happened to it, you know? Brown paper bag, out back; nothing gets hurt.

And yes, I weep bitter tears for those poor repubs. They didn't mean to be assholes.

scott said...

Davis a moderate? That's like McCain being a maverick. It's a creation, nothing more.

I lived in the NVA district next to his so got a *lot* of that asshat.

He's a classic crony capitalist. Much of his "government reform" reputation stemmed from his rampant desire to outsource most of it to companies in his district.

Fucking. Asshole. Good riddance.

Brendan said...

James Stripes:
I like the wider columns for reading long articles. The less scrolling I must do with the rodent, the more likely I'll read all the way through. The columns in my blog may be too wide, but yours now seem about right--much closer to book page width.

I take your point about columns widened to book width. I was actually trying to decide if that's what I was looking at before I saw your comment. I'm not going to dork out and start measuring or counting words; I'll just leave it at this: my impression is that the current column width is wider than a standard book page, especially when you consider the book's margins. And in any case, the ideal for any web page is to let the viewer be in control as much as possible, which means that resizing the browser window ought to cause the lines in an extended block of text to rewrap.

I completely agree with you that every time I have to reach for the mouse, God kills a kitten. At the risk of saying something you might already know, I'll point out that one can scroll down in a browser window by tapping the space bar.

Brendan said...

Oh, and shift-spacebar to scroll up.

Okay, I'll go away now.

James Stripes said...


I didn't measure it either and won't. Our impressions differ. Of course, books come in all sizes. The new width on my monitor looks comparable to a standard hardback book. The typical blogger template width looks close to a pocket paperback. How much the eye can take in varies from one reader to another. It is a product of reading habits, and for some of us, how recently the bifocals prescription has been updated.

My hand hardly ever leaves the mouse and I use the roller--it gives me more control than the keyboard because I can move it the distance I like. Resizing the window is an option only when it's not already at full screen--rare for me. If my wife would buy me a large screen TV for my new computer monitor, I would use resizable browser windows. Alas, she keeps saying no.