Fun with replacing 28 mentions of earmarks in last night’s Republican debate with “earmuffs”

"As president I would oppose earmuffs."

JOHN KING: Now, earmuffs, the pork barrel spending, it’s a tiny slice of the budget. I think we all know that. But if you talk to a Tea Party activist, they think — an example, a gateway to corruption.

Senator, you have said there are good earmuffs and bad earmuffs. And you have talked about your earmuffs in the past. Any that you specifically regret? And why have you criticized — why do you think the money that went to Governor Romney for security at the Olympics, why was that a bad earmuff?

SANTORUM: I didn’t suggest it was a bad earmuff. I voted for it and about half the money — a little over half the money that went to the Salt Lake games.

But Governor Romney asked for that earmuff. That’s really the point here. He’s out there on television ads right now, unfortunately, attacking me for saying that I’m this great earmuffer, when he not only asked for earmuffs for the Salt Lake Olympics in the order of tens of millions of dollars, sought those earmuffs and used them, and he did as the governor of Massachusetts, $300 million or $400 million. He said, I would be foolish if I didn’t go out and try to get federal dollars. Continue reading


This trade in “presents” grows larger every year.

It has become the custom of publishers to make their heaviest issues of books during the holidays. This custom is largely the result of the great growth of the habit of making holiday presents, a general result of which is that everything suitable for presents is manufactured expressly for the holiday trade. This trade in “presents” grows larger every year and shows no sign of falling off. Continue reading

In which a shady link-for-pay schemer offers me links but no pay. (Go to for more info and great deals!)

A few weeks ago, Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan wrote a fascinating post about how a shady marketer had offered him cash on the side in exchange for simply including a single link “in context” in an article. As Nolan explained it, the broker contracts with companies like Motorola and Dell to pay writers to insert links (like that) into their content, without sharing the pesky details with their editors. The companies expand their web presence, the writers get some pocket money in exchange ($175 per post in Nolan’s case!), and no one’s the wiser because the links are included “in context” — subtly, in the middle of otherwise untainted content. “We generally meet with resistance when dealing with editors,” the broker wrote to Nolan, “but bloggers aren’t paid as well and most are willing to make some extra money.” The reason he “meets with resistance” from editors is because his business totally undercuts the fundamental principles of journalism, no big whoop. Needless to say, if Nolan had gone ahead with this it should have gotten him fired.

ANYWAY. So that was interesting to me at the time.

This morning I got an email with the subject line “Free copywriting offer for Public Road.” The email was from a self-described freelance writer asking me if I ever use other people’s content on my blog, and offering her own work. She attached some clips and said if I liked what I saw, she could write something for me — for free! Continue reading

Excerpts from the depressingly defensive “About Hooters” page on

Is something bothering you, Your corporate “About Us” page is the most awkwardly defensive corporate document I’ve ever read. Relax, you’re a multimillion-dollar company. You don’t have convince all of us to love you! Step 1 to improved self-esteem: Your description of yourself shouldn’t read like a how-to on letting the haters get you down:

Claims that Hooters exploits attractive women are as ridiculous as saying the NFL exploits men who are big and fast. Hooters Girls have the same right to use their natural female sex appeal to earn a living as do super models Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell.

To Hooters, the women’s rights movement is important because it guarantees women have the right to choose their own careers, be it a Supreme Court Justice or Hooters Girl.

The chain acknowledges that many consider “Hooters” a slang term for a portion of the female anatomy.

According to ever-increasing sales figures, the Hooters concept must be acceptable to a large majority of American consumers. Hooters believes critics of the concept are a vocal minority of politically correct minded individuals.

Sex appeal is legal and it sells.

Pantyhose and bras are required.

Finally, the rousing conclusion!:

The company has no plans to alter the concept and feels doing so would be a tremendous disservice to its franchisees, employees, and customers.

Geez, that is grim. Cheer up, Hooters! Your wings are the Playboy articles of mediocre bar food!

Oh, yeah, my blog.

Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there.

It’s been almost five months since I posted here. Whoops. In those five months I have:

1. Gotten married.

2. Gone on a 6-week road trip.

3. Moved to rural New Hampshire from Brooklyn, my home of 8+ years.

4. Started working as a full-time freelance writer and editor.

5. Found a cure for cancer, the secret to world peace, and a jeans pattern that perfectly flatters every woman in the world, then buried all my research because it will be more satisfying for you if you figure it out on your own.

So, I’ve had a bit on my plate. And speaking of plates, now that I’m all rural and domestic, I must daily resist the urge to turn this into a dull home-cooking blog. I find myself desperately wanting to tell you about this perfect cornmeal pie crust I made this weekend; the trick to getting the consist…HEY! WAKE UP!

So, I (probably) won’t do that. But hopefully I’ll be back with something funny or strange or road-trippy or political or literary or revolting in less than five months. And if all else fails, I’ll teach you how to make beer-can chicken and embroider your own dish towels.

A scene from this summer.

Guest post from a 12-year-old boy.

Today the New York Times published a story that was either about a golf tournament or an epic orgy. As Dave Barry might say, I’m not making this up.

Limping, Tiger Woods Withdraws After 9 Holes

“I was trying to draw that ball out there just a little bit; I pushed forward and just didn’t feel good.” – Tiger Woods

“Everything started getting tight.” – Tiger Woods

“I’m having a hard time walking.” – Tiger Woods

“Woods said he was surprised he had to withdraw.”
Continue reading

Department of small pleasures.

I chose the email address rugraham2 @ because I was a late adopter of Gmail, and decided to use the same prefix as my old Hotmail address, blah blah blah. I have regrets in life, and this is one of them. “Rugraham2” is a terrible email prefix. I constantly have to spell it out, explain that it’s “the number 2,” etc. OH WELL.

Anyway, today it became clear that my entire decade of having this horribly clunky address occurred so that the following exchange could take place on March 29, 2011:
Continue reading