Friday, September 30, 2005


It thought it freaky when Tom DeLay the other day said of his indictment, "This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history." Really, all of American history? That sounds a bit self-centered. But he's completely lost is nut now. This guy in a leadership position in the U.S. government? Cue the Twilight Zone music.

Prison Bitches

Be sure to visit DownLeft and take his new poll:

Pick your prison bitch
Which of these Republicans is
most likely to end up in

I'd like to have had more choices. Where's Limbaugh? Where's Rove? Abramoff? Jeb Bush offspring?

Friday Beer Blogging: Tom DeLay Edition

In honor of the Tom DeLay indictment (may there be many more) I showcase the beer most commonly associated with his home state and home of his indictment, Lone Star.

Come to think of it, I’m not at all sure I’ve ever had a Lone Star. Hmmm…

Well, here’s to Tom. I’m kinda hoping he finds himself sent away to a place where he can’t get a Lone Star or any other beer.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Joke of the Day

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying:

"Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH, NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands, crying quietly.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, "Just how many is a brazillion?"


Eric Zorn points us to a list of the 100 most often mispronounced words and phrases. It's funny even if its not intended to be.

However, TEH friend RM notices something in the list:
Funny stuff, but the proofreader in me can't help it -- I already found an error there. "Duct tape" really did start out as Duck tape. It was a military invention to help keep powder and ammunition dry -- It repelled water, hence the "duck".

Take that, language snobs! Next up: nookular.

Pardon Me?

Does this happen all the time and is just never reported (unless it involves Bill Clinton)? Apparently, President Bush yesterday pardoned 14 people convicted of crimes. None of the crimes look to be all that major but I wonder how routine this is and how one gets on the list. Can the president take care of speeding tickets too? Maybe I need to reconsider my political allegiances.

Hat tip to Tom Tomorrow.

The 'Not As Bad As Bennett' Defense

I don't know if Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin ever said anything racist or not, but no one is even suggesting he uttered anything like what recently came out of the mouth of Moralist-In-Chief Bill Bennett:
...I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.

Holy crap.


I thought it was just me. The other day, the White House claimed to have killed the“second-most-wanted Al Qaeda leader in Iraq” for what seemed to me about the tenth time.

Turns out, I'm not so crazy:
...veteran counterterrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann said today there are ample reasons to question whether Abu Azzam was really the No. 2 figure in the Iraqi insurgency. He noted that U.S. officials have made similar claims about a string of purportedly high-ranking terrorist operatives who had been captured or killed in the past, even though these alleged successes made no discernible dent in the intensity of the insurgency.

“If I had a nickel for every No. 2 and No. 3 they’ve arrested or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d be a millionaire,” says Kohlmann, a New York-based analyst who tracks the Iraq insurgency and who first expressed skepticism about the Azzam claims in a posting on The Counterterrorism Blog ( While agreeing that Azzam—also known as Abdullah
Najim Abdullah Mohamed al-Jawari—may have been an important figure, “this guy
was not the deputy commander of Al Qaeda,” says Kohlmann.

Of course, Al Qaeda wouldn't be in Iraq at all had we not totally destabilized the country by invading it and then having no plan for the aftermath.

As for the abundance of #2 guys, I will say this in the administration’s defense: if indeed the current Mr. 2 is killed or captured it only makes sense everyone else under him moves up. Which is precisely the problem with this whole idiotic "flypaper" strategy (which is really a rational and not a strategy anyway). When you kill a insurgent or "terrorist" there is always going to be one or more to replace him. There is not some finite number of "terrorists" that just need to be found and disposed of. Our very presence there guarantees an endless and ongoing supply. So doing-in the latest #2 accomplishes nothing but give the illusion of some sort of "progress" in a never ending war of our own choosing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Popularity Contest

Not to be outdone by AbeLog blogger Jim Leach, I too went out to Technorati to find my ranking in the world-wide blogosphere. I'm pleased to report I have the 104,660th most popular blog (as of this morning). Strange, that was exactly my popularity ranking in high school too.

GOP Soon = Gang of Prisoners?

Boy, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Republican under a legal cloud these days:

There's Frist
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday he had no insider information when he sold stock this summer in HCA Inc., the hospital company founded by his father and brother.

The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into the sales.
And DeLay
WASHINGTON -- A Texas grand jury's recent interest in conspiracy charges could lead to last-minute criminal indictments _ possibly against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay _ as it wraps up its investigation Wednesday into DeLay's state political organization, according to lawyers with knowledge of the case.

Conspiracy counts against two DeLay associates this month raised concerns with DeLay's lawyers, who fear the chances are greater that the majority leader could be charged with being part of the conspiracy. Before these counts, the investigation was more narrowly focused on the state election code.
And Limbaugh
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Prosecutors want to question Rush Limbaugh's physicians in their probe of the conservative commentator's possible
"doctor shopping" for prescription painkillers, according to a motion filed Tuesday.

Prosecutors believe Limbaugh illegally deceived multiple doctors to receive overlapping prescriptions for painkillers.
And Ryan
CHICAGO - A jury of 12 Chicago-area residents was tentatively selected
Tuesday in former Gov. George Ryan's federal racketeering trial, which is
scheduled to begin in earnest this morning with opening statements.
And Abramoff
Fort Lauderdale police said yesterday that they charged three men in the 2001 gangland-style slaying of a Florida businessman who was gunned down in his car months after selling a casino cruise line to a group that included Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

...Abramoff is at the center of a federal investigation into lobbying for Indian tribes and influence-peddling in Washington.
And that's just in the last 24 hours.

UPDATE: It keeps getting better:
WASHINGTON - A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment
that could force him to step down as House majority leader.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More Typical White-Boy S--- From Griffin

Oh, the priorities.

So Sacred Heart-Griffin is suing the ISHA. From the SJ-R online Breaking News section:

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School joined 30 other Illinois private schools in asking a judge to reverse the "multiplier" provision, a tactic the Illinois High School association implemented to try and level the playing field between the state's public and private school athletic programs.

The lawsuit was filed today in Chicago.

The multiplier is a formula that boosts enrollment figures for private "non-boundaried" high schools with more than 450 students by 65 percent. That figure is then used to determine what classes teams should be in for tournaments.

The multiplier was adopted last spring after critics complained private schools were winning a disproportionate share of state titles, especially in football.
Well, the critics are right. The private schools do have an advantage. SHG actively recruits from wherever they damn well please. It isn’t fair. I admit it and I’m a typical white-boy Griffin alum.

I don’t know what this is costing SHG but it’s more than need be spent. I guess they can always raise the price of the mostacholi next March to cover it.

Still, I think this is a reasonable compromise that SHG and the other schools can live with given the advantages they already have.

And, hey, it’s only freakin’ high school sports. Quit cloggin’ up the courts with the same kind of frivolous lawsuits I’m sure many of you typical white-boy Griffin alums like to complain about.

Would You Believe...I'm a Righteous Headline Writer

Or at least this Canadian blogger thinks so.

My Don Adams tribute post "We'll Miss Him by THAT Much" made the list.

We'll Miss Him By THAT Much

Hey, why are all the obits for Don Adams crediting Get Smart primarily with the catch phrase "Would you believe..."? I've always thought "Missed it by that much..." was the most famous line from that show. I still occasionally use it.

Well, as a kid growing up in the 60s, my favorite part of Get Smart was the opening and ending sequences where Max (Don Adams) enters/leaves CONTROL headquarters.
Entry to CONTROL (a spoof on the tailor shop entrance seen on the spy adventure THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) was accessed by walking down a corridor filled with a series of automated steel doors which opened both horizontally and vertically. At the end of the long hallway, a lone phone booth provided access to the entrance to CONTROL headquarters. The agent stepped into the booth, inserted a coin, and dialed the phone and then dropped out of sight through a trapdoor. At conclusion of each episode as Agent Maxwell Smart exited CONTROL, he noticed that the final door did not close properly. Stepping up to investigate, the door shuts on his nose. Ouch, that's Smarts!

Heh, I loved that.

For some reason, just the other day, I was wondering what TV show would have been the most fun to work on. I thought maybe Seinfeld or Laugh-In (not SNL, I've heard too many bad things) but now I'm thinking Get Smart would have been a riot. Just look at some of this.

What's that Supposed to Mean?

Wow, there's something for everyone to be offended about in the Mayor Davlin deposition story.

I even found a quote in today's SJ-R story that offended me!

Alderman Frank Kunz is quoted by the paper as saying:
"I've been around Tim Davlin enough drinking and stuff that I don't believe
he's a racist. I don't believe he said it. Of all the guys I've been around with
after hours, Tim never has said the typical white-boy s--- from Griffin (High
School alums) you usually hear."

OK, the grammar is offensive enough but is Kunz suggesting Griffin High School grads are largely racist? It's hard to tell for sure from that inarticulate quote but is sure sounds like it.

As a Griffin alum let me just call "bullshit" on that statement. In my life, I have not detected any more (or less) racism among those who attended Griffin. But maybe I just don't associate with the purveyors of "typical white-boy shit".

Monday, September 26, 2005

"Go troops, beat the terrorists."

Boy, the Dope really tears into the anti-peace crowd today. Actually, it wasn't an anti-peace crowd so much as a small gathering of a few hundred compared to the more than 100, 000 that showed up in Washington alone for a peace rally.

Don't Make Me Ralph

Oh, the irony.

I was reading about Saturday's large anti-war protest in Washington when I nearly fell off my chair when I read that Ralph Nader was one of the speakers. Uh, Ralph, has it occurred to you there would be no need for the protest had you stayed out of the 200o presidential race?

Thanks again, Ralph!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Time Tunnel

Rich Roeper’s column in last Thursday’s Chicago Sun-Times is ostensibly about the coming-soon name change of Chicago’s landmark department store from Marshall Field’s to Macy’s. Lots of Chicagoans are upset about the change and Roeper examines the “issue” but has a brilliant insight near the end of his column. I say it’s brilliant because he hints at something I’ve been trying to wordsmith in this space for some time. Here’s what he says:

Part of it has to be that for some people, the departure of Field's is yet another sign that time mercilessly rolls on, and that the iconic images of our most prolific years will eventually disappear -- as will we. One day you're a 20-something, brimming with enthusiasm and rarin' to take Chicago by storm -- and the next thing you know, you're walking down the street with much younger people, explaining that that parking lot was once a nightclub, and that store used to have a different name, and those condo lofts used to be a factory, and . . . they're barely listening to you. Of course, one day they'll be in your shoes.

We're angry at the world for turning so damn quickly, and we take out our anger on the out-of-town suits that don't respect the names that are synonymous with our city, our youth.

It's not entirely rational, but it's perfectly understandable.

I’d like to expand on this a bit. The way I see it, there is a part of your very early adulthood, say between the ages of 17 and 25 roughly, when you establish a sense of “normal”. That is, the way things are during that part of your life are as they should be and to some extent you expect they will be, even if only unconsciously. As you travel through time, things inevitably change and, as Roeper so eloquently points out, it is somewhat unsettling when the world morphs, in slow motion, into something increasingly different from what it was in early adulthood.

At 45, I often find it disquieting to look around and not see and hear and feel what I did 20 or 30 years ago. Roeper, who by the way is the same age, I think feels it too. He can just articulated better.

This also brings up a related topic I’ve wanted to get to. A month or so ago I was listening to the Mike Wilson Show on WMAY. Wilson was yammering on about how it was a bad deal for Ashton Kurcher to be dating or marrying that that old hag Demi Moore who is in her early 40s. Well, maybe. I’m sure Ashton will be OK but it got me thinking about how his (Wilson’s) comments reflected on his age. He’s what, 27, I think. At 27, early 40s looks pretty damn old AND pretty far away. I know I thought so when I was 27 (and in radio shooting my mouth off too, I might add). But here’s the thing, the numbers are deceptive.

The distance in years between 27 and 40 is 13 years. The same as between 14 and 27, right? Well, no not really. Going from 27 to 40 happens REALLY fast. Going from 13 to 27 takes a long time and is full of new experiences and life changing events. Actually, that’s precisely why 13 to 27 seems like such a long time while you are living it. But going from 27 to 40 takes no time at all. It’s truly shocking. In your late 20s you are still very much attached to “youth”. By the time you cross the 40 year line, you’re deemed “middle aged”. That was culture shock for me. Except for some worsening eyesight that everyone goes through at about 40 (you can’t read the dates on coins unaided anymore), I was the same person and didn’t feel older. So I would just offer this caution to late 20-somethings that think 40 is old: it’s going to happen to you very soon. Really.

UPDATE: Be nice to Mke Wilson tomorrow. I just saw where this happened. Poor Ashton. Poor Mike.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Little Decorum, Please

I'm sorry, but some things just don't need to be blogged about.

Singing the Blues

I’m convinced different kinds of memory are stored separately in different parts of the brain. I can’t remember names for anything. I have a hard time remembering what I did yesterday. But other things come to mind easily.

Last night I was in my car listening to WQNA when the Moody Blues song “Melancholy Man” came on. I have not heard that song in 20 or 25 years. Last night I knew the lyrics perfectly, didn’t miss a word. How is that possible after all this time? I used to hear the song quite a bit because it was on the Moody’s compilation This is the Moody Blues released back in the mid-1970s. Apparently, everyone my age had a copy in high school. When I went away to college, we were all surprised that virtually every guy on my dorm floor had a copy. Who knew.

The Moody Blues’ new material got really, really lame by the late 1970s and I’m not sure the old stuff really holds up that well these days either. Still, I’ve wanted to get a copy of This is the Moody Blues for some time and after last night I want to more than ever.

Friday Beer Blogging: Black Beer Edition

I was introduced to Xingu Beer from Brazil this week while dining at Springfield's Cafe Brio. I was at a group function and my friend next to me ordered this stuff off the menu. He told me Cafe Brio carries Xingu because the owner likes it.

Image hosted by

I thought it looked like just another dark beer. I'm not a huge fan of dark beers; they're too heavy and I just never acquired the taste. But my friend assured me Xingu is different.

I already had my beer (an Amstel Light) but he allowed me a sip off of his glass. It definitely wasn't your typical dark beer. It was very smooth and didn't have that dark beer bite to it.

I think I'm going to look for this at Friar Tucks or maybe wait until I eat at Cafe Brio again to give a whole Xingu a try.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just a Stones Throw Away

I was having an email conversation with my old friend (he is almost 3 months older than me!) SG the other day. He was torn about taking his daughter to the upcoming Rolling Stones concert. His daughter, who is 13, has a real love of the great 60s British Invasion bands and wants to see one of the last of those great acts still performing. But SG is worried about the cost. It is a lot and the cheap seats are gone.

I told him to go for it. She may not get the chance again. Of course, that's easy for me to say; it isn't my money. Still, as I told him, I often kick myself for having passed up easy opportunities to see acts that I now whish I had made the effort to see. One of my biggest regrets is not having seen the Ramones when they played at SIU while I was there. Tickets back then were dirt-cheap and I can't remember now what lame reason I came up with not to go. (SG, demonstrating his superior wisdom, did go to that show by the way).

I was smart enough to go see the Stones twice in my life (1981 and 1994). And tonight while looking for something else, I came across this picture I took before the 1981 show:

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Wow! Look at the prices. Talk about inflation.

Maybe SG can print out the tickets pictured above and try to scalp them to offset the cost of going this year. Either way, he should take his daughter, don't you think?

Mr. Equi Knox Has Arrived

Fall The autumnal equinox, ushering in Fall, occurs at 5:23 this afternoon.

With temps in the 90s today it sure isn't very Fall-like.

Fascism By Any Other Name

A study of fascist regimes of the past has revealed a number of commonalities. Recognize any of these items:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

(Source: The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003, Free Inquiry)

We do not have a fascist government. However, we have fascists both in our government and in society in general. Some of them have talk shows, some write letters to the editor and others simply harbor these tendencies quietly. Fascism is a kind of societal primal base. It's easy to fall into the fascist mindset when the world becomes too much or too scary. For those who are already there, there may be no hope. It is up to the rest of us to defend against this mindset and rebut those who speak for it.

More Gas Pains

Well, now that I've topped my car's gas tank, I urge you to do the same. Rita may cause another (hopefully) temporary spike in gasoline prices. I paid the low, low price of 2.67/gal. last night. says prices may hit five bucks a gallon this time as the latest monster hurricane takes aim on the Gulf oil refineries its sister Katrina missed.

Or maybe it won't happen. It was that told me that gas prices were going to hit $4.00/gal. in the wake of Katrina. They didn't go that high, not here anyway, but they did go up sharply.

Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Dope Does Beer Blogging

The Inside Dope tries his hand at beer blogging but I think his focus might be on something(s) unrelated to the brew in the mugs. True beer blogging requires purity of mind.

Give Us Our Snark, Our Daily Snark

I was happy to see the one of the world’s largest wind farms is one step closer to becoming reality on land east of Bloomington:
McLean County Board members unanimously approved construction of High Trail Wind Farm in the Saybrook, Arrowsmith and Ellsworth area. There was no discussion Tuesday, but the project, which is expected to pour millions into landowners' pockets and tax coffers, drew little opposition in previous public hearings.

The 275-turbine farm is expected to generate enough electricity to power 120,000 homes.
I was saddened to see I will soon be paying much, much more for electricity here in Springfield:

Electric rates will rise 34.1 percent over 2 1/2 years, starting with a 9 percent hike Nov. 1, to finance a new 200-megawatt power plant, the Springfield City Council decided Tuesday.

The vote was 8-1, with Ward 1 Ald. Frank Edwards voting "present," to approve the series of six rate increases. Ward 8 Ald. Irv Smith voted "no."
All of which leads me to wonder why we can't build our own huge wind farm in the City Council chambers. (Ha, ha. I'm channeling the retired Toby McDaniel!)

Son of a Gun

A student at Springfield’s Blessed Sacrament School reportedly found a loaded gun on the playground Monday (the SJ-R has no online link to the story that I can find other than the .pdf of the front page here). I attended BSS for nine years, K-8 so this story had some interest to me personally. But I only had one thought when I first heard the news yesterday on the radio: A kid brought the gun to school. I still think that.

Now, I have no inside knowledge and this is just speculation but I think someone brought the gun to school, chickened out (either out of conscience or peer pressure) and ditched the gun or had a brave classmate turn it in and play dumb. Someone thought it would be cool to show off a gun he (it’s almost certainly a he) found in his dad’s closet. However, once he got to school, he realized he was way over his head in potential trouble.

Here’s my story from BSS. It was maybe 7th grade, give or take a year, and my friend “Pete” thought it would be fun to bring to school a condom he found in his parents dresser drawer. This was the early 1970s and condoms were only whispered about not advertised on TV. So this was really a risqué thing, especially at a Catholic grade school crawling with ruler armed nuns.

“Pete” did bring the prophylactic to school opened it at some point and showed it to a few of the guys. But as the day went on, ‘Pete” grew increasingly paranoid about having it and decided he needed to get rid of it. “Pete” was a pretty fearless guy so for him to get worried about a stunt was saying something.

Anyway, “Pete” decides he will drop the condom down through a grate covering a basement window well, the bottom of with was, if memory serves, about four or five feet down. Down it goes. “Pete” is relieved. But not for long. Soon he realizes you can still see the condom through the grate. Panic sets in again. However “Pete” has an idea: we will cover the condom by dropping thing through the grate that will cover it.

At some point, when no one is looking, “Pete” and I are tearing sheets out of a notebook and slipping them through the bars of the grate. Sheet after sheet floats down –and misses the condom. W learned a lot about aerodynamics and paper that day. Finally, one sheet landed atop the offending object and life resumed again, lesson learned.

I know a condom isn’t a gun but I think the same psychology might have been at work. In fact, I would bet that if “Pete” had found a gun in his parent’s dresser instead of a condom, he would have brought it to school. And at some point, one of out buds might have suggested that it wasn’t cool to bring a gun to school and “Pete” might have freaked out and ditched the gun at he edge of the playground (say, by the ball diamond where this week’s gun was found).

I may be totally wrong; the gun may have been dropped by some bad guy/criminal but I’m still betting a kid was involved.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Apollo on Steroids

NASA officially unveiled it's plans for a return to the moon yesterday. I have conflicting feelings about the idea. Space exploration/colonization is a natural extension of man's journey into the frontiers. On the one hand, it's hugely expensive and we are in a period of lots of government spending (Iraq, Katrina, Iraq, Medicare, Iraq, Bridges to Nowhere, Iraq) and revenues that aren't keeping up (tax cuts for the wealthy, tax cuts for the wealthy).

Above all, space exploration is just really cool. And I think that is ultimately why we even have a space program. So, not surprisingly, NASA has provided us with some rally great graphics to show off how really cool going back to the moon really will be.

Check out this site for all the good space coolness NASA is proposing. I particularly recommend the video and slideshow.

The one thing I noticed was how similar the proposed spacecraft look compared to the original Apollo moonships. NASA admits this with one official saying, "Think of it as Apollo on steroids."

MD = MisDiagnosis

Although this story first appeared in the SJ-R over two weeks ago, I just read it yesterday online. It's a story written by SJ-R employee Rosalynne Harty who recently lost her battle with ovarian cancer. The tale she tells in this first of two stories (the other is here) is one of almost unbelievably bad doctoring by her physicians. It's incredible how long it took her to get a proper diagnosis. Time that allowed her tumors grow unchecked. I think this goes on more then we want to believe. All I can say is, don't ever put up with a dismissive doctor or a diagnosis that comes off as being a guess to get you out of the doctor's office.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Trucker Bombs

I love stuff like this. Yes, we need to know the latest from Washinton, what's going on in the world and what political shenanigans are happening in State government, but when a reporter gets down and dirty and goes after the little-thought-about tidbits of everyday life, I really appreciate it.

Today's Bloomington Pantagraph:

BLOOMINGTON -- Jim Woolridge runs over garbage of all sorts when he's mowing grass along the state highways and interstates in McLean County. But the gallon milk jugs and 20-ounce soda bottles make him cringe.

Woolridge, one of 36 state workers who mow the right-of-ways in the Bloomington-Normal area, has been soaked by an all-too-familiar warm mist when his industrial mower chops one of the plastic containers.

The reason? The containers -- nicknamed "trucker bombs" -- sometimes are filled with the urine of passing motorists who prefer to bypass rest areas and instead take aim at an empty jug.


But there's more:

The trucking industry can safely be blamed for most of the urine containers, said Mark Gillis, supervisor of IDOT's maintenance office in Bloomington. While the majority are found at exits and on-ramps, his workers come across a large number of urine containers and even plastic bags filled with feces near truck weigh stations.

The jugs are "disgusting, especially after they've been laying out there in the sun cooking for days," Woolridge said."I got hit one time when I was mowing down on (U.S.) 51 near Heyworth. I got drenched that day. I was all stenchy after that."
AAARRRGGGGHHHHH!! Breakfast is on the rise.

Let's take one more peek:
In Illinois, someone caught littering usually is fined $75 under the general litter statute, said Illinois State Police Sgt. Rick Hector. No state law specifically addresses waste containers as dangerous litter.

Gillis, whose clothes were ruined a few years ago by an unexpected shower, said you only need to be hit once to realize harsher penalties are needed.

"I haven't been hit as bad as some of the other guys. It's something we don't like to talk about," Gillis said. "I think people should use the proper facilities and have the personal pride not to do that. There's just not enough police or manpower to stop them."
I love it. Well, I love that I don't have to do that job but I also think Brett Nauman is the man for getting this story. Hopefully, he will now be promoted from the poop desk.

Potato Weekend

Two kinds of potatoes came my way over the weekend.

First, my father-in-law sent up a bucket of home grown spuds from his garden. An earlier batch, cooked with a roast, provided some of the best taters I've ever had. Who needs Idaho, my own private or otherwise.

The tomatoes are from the same source but that's a post for another day.

My second potato encounter was with one of the couch variety. I caught my two-year-old studying the ways of the American male in its natural habitat: on the couch, in front of the TV. Note the remote is only nearby and not in hand. He's still learning.

Wearing the shades and having one shoe off I think demonstrates some good improvisational sloth. The boy has talent.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Eyewitness News

For those of you who have not been following it, you must go read Jim Leach's three-part blog series on his recent visit to the New Orleans area with the Illinois National Guard. Some good bloggity reporting there. Part 3 of his series is here and it has links to the first two segments.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Behold The Harvest Moon

Step outside and be bathed by the light of the harvest moon. And harvest some crops or something to get the full effect.

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What is a Harvest Moon? NASA knows.
The Harvest Moon is no ordinary full moon; it behaves in a special way. Throughout the year the Moon rises, on average, about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox, which comes this year on Sept. 22nd, the day-to-day difference in the local time of moonrise is only 30 minutes. The Moon will rise around sunset tonight--and not long after sunset for the next few evenings.

That comes in handy for northern farmers who are working long days to harvest their crops before autumn. The extra dose of lighting afforded by the full Moon closest to the equinox is what gives the Harvest Moon its name. In the southern hemisphere, this week's full Moon behaves in exactly the opposite way: there will be an extra long time between moonrises from one evening to the next.

And speaking of the moon, look at this.
WASHINGTON – NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday on its plan to spend $100 billion and the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the Moon by 2018.
A trip to the moon for only half of what it costs to either rebuild Iraq or New Orleans. And there are no hurricanes on the moon. Nor are there any WMD (but there weren't any in Iraq either so never mind).

Read the whole article, it even has an artist's conception of the new moonship.

Operation Yellow Elephant: North Carolina Edition

From a Cindy Sheehan post over at the HuffPo:
Today in Raleigh, NC at the University, there were some Young Republicans who support the President and support the war. I tried to get one of the many recruiters who were on campus to go over and sign them up for the service, but they wouldn't even look at me. I think the recruiters missed a golden opportunity to swell the ranks. I have a feeling that the Young killing supporters wouldn't be willing to go over and put their money where their mouths are. One of the fine young American baby chicken hawks told one of the members of our tour whose brother was killed in Iraq that: "someone has to stay in school and employ people."
So there you have it, this brave, brave student and war supporter is being denied -DENIED - the opportunity to serve because they are stuck propping up the economy! Boy it sure sucks to be him (or her).

New Orleans Rising

Last night President Bush gave the best line of any speech he has ever given (that’s not setting the bar very high, I know). He said, “And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.”

I flew off the handle when I read the very irresponsible comments of Speaker of the House Denny Hastert who, just days after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, questioned whether New Orleans should ever be rebuilt.

The reason I was so upset was expressed nicely by the president last night. New Orleans is an integral part of the United States. It is part of the personality, the soul of this nation. To hear Hastert and others casually write-off New Orleans as just too much trouble, was very disturbing. It had all the seemliness of a parent discarding a sick child.

New Orleans has been around longer than the United States itself. Its acquisition, along with the vast stretches of territory added to our nation through the Louisiana Purchase, added culture, resources and a new frontier to the young nation. Benefits we, as a country, continue to enjoy today.

After closing the book on New Orleans, would we then write off San Francisco or Los Angeles after the next big quake WHEN (not if) it happens? How about the mid-Mississippi valley after the New Madrid fault let’s loose? Maybe depopulating Logan County might be a good idea since it seems to attract tornados. For that matter let’s get rid of trailer parks.

New Orleans is unlike any other city and yet it is very American. Let's nurse it back to health and then revel in its greatness. I can not imagine my country without New Orleans and shame on those so ready to give up on it.

Friday Beer Blogging: Reconstruction Brew Edition

New Orleans area beer, Abita, has announced a special brew to help raise money for Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery:

Abita Beer's “Fleur-de-lis Restoration Ale”

We began crafting this new beer from the moment we saw our brewery had been miraculously spared any major damage from Hurricane Katrina. We are proud to be a Louisiana company and feel blessed that we are still able to produce our product and keep our employees working.

Why the name Fleur-de-lis?

The Fleur-de-lis name and symbol were chosen for this very special beer with a dual purpose in mind. It’s a well recognized symbol of New Orleans, but it is also a symbol of light and life. The Fleur-de-lis was adopted long ago by ancient warriors who safely found their way through treacherous waters by following the water lilies. This golden ale’s label is decorated with purple and green combining colors historically representing justice, hope and generosity.

When is it available? How much goes to charity?

This golden ale brew should hit store shelves the week of October 3rd. For every six pack sold Abita Beer will donate $1 to the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation

Can you describe the brew?

Fleur-de-lis Restoration Ale is made with English Pale, Lager, Crystal and Cara Pils malted barley. We liberally hopped and dry hopped our Ale with American Cascade and Centennial hops and fermented it with California Ale yeast. The result is a brilliant gold ale with a rich body, mild bitterness and a snappy fresh citrus hop flavor and aroma.

I'm just hoping the Abita folks aren't using the area water in their brewing process. I haven't seen the beer, but if you get a six and notice an oily substance floating on the top, well, just remember you've helped out and then take your bottle to the nearest hazmat facility. (I kid: I'm sure it's fine! Really.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The "F" Word

OK, what's a four letter word starting with "F" that brings out shock and anger in those who hear it?

That's right, FEMA. (Alright, it's not a word but an acronym, so sue me).

I love this quote from Slidell, Louisiana Mayor Ben Morris:
Trying to get any relief from FEMA, [Morris] added, "is like urinating on a
violin to make it sound better".

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Would That Be #1 or #2, Mr. President

My first thought was, this is too silly to be real. But no, Reuters caught George Bush writing a note at the United Nations indicating he needed to go potty.

The caption under the full picture on the Reuters site says, in part:
U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005.
Really, he was telling Condi he couldn't hold it anymore?

Another thing: in the first part of the note he writes, "I think I may need a bathroom break?". That's a declarative statement Mr. President, no question mark needed. Also, you only get a C+ for penmanship.

Hat tip to Atrios for the pointer.

Record Breaking

I overheard a co-worker who is in his early to mid twenties say to another co-worker, "Not to sound like a broken record but...".

Does he even know what that phrase refers to? I'm not sure I would if I were his age.

It reminds me of the day in my childhood when I suddenly wondered why we called our refrigerator an "ice box".

Haven't We Already Seen This Movie

Here we go again:

[My Hyperventilating Headline]

We just went through this a few years ago with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, the way I understand it, today's ruling is simply based on the precedent set by that Appeals Court that says you can't have "a coercive requirement to affirm God." It's not the Pledge itself so much as it is the state sanctioning a religious message. Or something.

Never mind though, the wingnuts will be howling and I'm not looking forward to it. Finally, something they can chew on where they can resort to their usual victimhood at the hands of the oppressive and all powerful liberals. Finally, a change of subject that doesn't revolve around one of George Bush's failed policies.

I think the whole issue is way overblown no matter what position you take on the pledge.

On the one hand, the Pledge does remind me of some sort of totalitarian regime's requirement that demands a daily verbal outpouring of loyalty to the Fatherland (or Homeland, whatever). We had to recite the Pledge every day in grade school and I can assure you it was simply a rote ritual that had no meaning to any of the kids. The words all just ran together at some point and it was written off as merely time spent better than having to do school work.

Having said that, the Pledge just isn't that big a deal. This "issue" has to be like number 5,236 on my list of public policy items that need to be addressed. Now, public debate will be focused, for whatever amount of time, on this nonsense. I hope to live in a world someday where we can debate such things and not take away from more important matters.

Extreme Supreme Kabuki

I really hate to say this but Kevin Drum expresses what I was thinking yesterday while listening to some of the John Roberts confirmation hearings.
The thing is, the hearings are so obviously a Kabuki dance that I just can't get excited about any of the details. Is there anyone who seriously thinks that Roberts will sustain any damage during the hearings or that he won't sail through confirmation?

At this point I think it's all for show, but I'll open it up for comments in case someone disagrees. Can anyone provide a plausible argument that there's even a tiny chance of Roberts not getting confirmed?
I know that sounds very jaded but I don't think Kevin is wrong. The fact is, Roberts just has to hold his own and he's in. He really doesn't have to be all that forthcoming and it's in his interest not to be. Dahlia Lithwick writing over at Slate puts it best:
[Roberts] completely understands that he needs only to sit very quietly, head cocked to signal listening-ness, while senator after senator offers long discursive rambling speeches. Only when he's perfectly certain that a question has been asked does he offer a reply; usually cogent and spare. Here's a man long accustomed to answering really hard questions from extremely smart people, suddenly faced with the almost-harder task of answering obvious questions from less-smart people. He finds himself standing in a batting cage with the pitching machine set way too slow.
I'm sure I'll loathe many of Chief Justice Roberts' decisions but I don't think there is a practical way to stop his confirmation given the general lack of political will (and ability) on the part of the only opposition party we have -the Democrats. So excuse me if I don't piddle away any more of my valuable time on these hearings.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Blame Game

So, the president is taking "responsibility" for the very screwed up federal response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina. I have to go with John Kerry's call on this one:
"The President has done the obvious, only after it was clear he couldn’t get away with the inexcusable."
This finally accepting some blame comes after weeks of recreating this scene from The Blues Brothers:
Mystery Woman [played by residents of the Gulf Coast]: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me.

Jake [played by George Bush]:
No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.
After all, George Bush is on a mission from God. Just ask him.

If Only I Could Write Like That

For the true connoisseur of cynicism -- and I'm talking about myself here -- the past few days have been about as good as it gets: the political equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet at a Mobil five star restaurant. Everywhere you look, you can see mounds of mouthwatering hypocrisy, steaming heaps of juicy lies, fat slices of self-serving spin, and, of course, a bottomless tureen of hot buttered bullshit, fresh from the White House lavatory.

All of it served up by a horde of obsequious GOP waiters eager to fill your plate with deep fried nonsense and pop open another bottle of ridiculous excuses (Chateau du Bush, '05) -- until even the most fastidious eater starts to feel like Mr. Creosote.

But, curse my luck, my stupid, boring and totally pointless corporate day job has kept me tied up doing equally stupid, boring and pointless busy work, limiting my ability to stuff myself silly.

There's much, much more to that post but just that part alone makes me feel I should still be back in freshman comp.

This Old House

The SJ-R has a story today on the impending demise of the Adams House. Originally built in the 1850s it was around when Lincoln walked the streets of Springfield.

Basically, if someone doesn't take the house off their hands (i.e. move it), the new owner, the Illinois Audubon Society, is going to tear it down. That would be sad.

Maybe they should call Freecycle.

Great Aunt Takes a Nap

I'm putting my Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging on hiatus for a while, if not forever. There is still a lot of material in the scrapbook but most of it is the same old cartoons bashing Harry Truman done by the same cartoonist or newspaper articles. I thought about transcribing some of the articles but I'm not sure how interesting that is. All of them say about the same thing: Truman, Communism = bad. Some other writings are more interesting. For example, last night I read a column written in early 1952 that marveled at how much the world had changed in the prior ten years (Pearl Harbor happened just 10 years and a few months earlier).

The other issue is the condition of the scrapbook. Since I have been doing the Great Aunt Blogging feature, the condition of the scrapbook has noticeably deteriorated. That's my fault as I have manipulated the book to get it on to the scanner. Most of the items are securely pasted into the book so there is no way of copying them without manipulating the whole thing.

So, I'll see. Maybe I will revive the feature later , perhaps less regularly.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chicago Likes Us! They Really Like Us!

Hey, the Chicago Tribune gives the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum a good review. Something must be up. Chicagoans covet our state capital, you know. Are they lulling us into a false sense of mutual respect?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Springfield Blogger

Bill Lewis has a new local blog called American Patriot Legion. The blog's stated purpose posted on the site...
My number one goal for this site is to open people's eyes to the often overlooked civil liberties issues here in Springfield and around the country.
It looks good so far. Welcome to the Springfield blogosphere Bill!

The Mullen Parallel

Ever since I first heard about Cindy Sheehan and her quest to meet with President Bush to discuss the matter of for what her son died in the Iraq War, I could not help but remember Peg Mullen. Mullen was an Iowa mother who lost her son in Vietnam in 1970. She became an anti-war activist after trying to find out how her son died only to be lied to by the military which tried to cover-up the fact that her son had been killed by so-called “friendly fire” while he slept. One thing led to another and soon Mullen was an anti-war mom from the farms of Iowa.

I first learned of Peg Mullen’s story when I read the book “Friendly Fire” in college. It was a deeply moving story of a grieving mother’s quest to hold her government accountable for its misguided policies that led to her son’s death. About the same time, I was reading the book, a 1979 made-for-TV movie based on Mullen’s story was broadcast. Carol Burnett gave a great performance as Peg. The two, the book and the movie, left a deep impression on me so when Cindy Sheehan surfaced in the news camping out near the president’s made-for-TV “ranch”, I immediately thought of Mullen.

There is a part in the Friendly Fire book that describes Mullen’s first journey from Iowa to Washington DC to take part in an anti-war protest. This post today on the Huffington Post Blog brings it all home again.

Illinois GOP Hypocrisy

The SJ-R's Doug Finke today rightly dumps on the Illinois GOP and it's hypocracy on term limits:
U.S. Rep. JOHN SHIMKUS, R-Collinsville, has decided that term limits aren’t such a good idea after all and will violate his pledge not to serve more than 12 years. Gee, what a surprise.

For years, Republicans in this state have been hypocrites about term limits. Remember JERRY WELLER, the congressman from Morris? He signed the famous “Contract With America,” the 1994 GOP claptrap that endorsed 12-year term limits for congressmen. A vote on the issue failed, of course, and Mr. Weller - endorsement of term limits notwithstanding - is expected to run for re-election in 2006, trying to return for years 13 and 14.

U.S. Rep. TIM JOHNSON, R-Urbana, said he would serve only six years in the House, if elected. He didn’t even finish one term before deciding that his term-limit pledge was a “good faith mistake.”

(RAY LaHOOD of Peoria isn’t the same as Weller and Johnson. He never signed the Contract With America, nor did he pledge to limit his service. Still, he did vote for the 12-year term limit amendment, which indicates he saw some value in supporting the idea. He, too, will be running for years 13 and 14 in 2006.)

Last week, Shimkus finally saw how the GOP does things in this state, and, in language eerily like Johnson’s, declared that his pledge to serve only 12 years was a mistake. Closing in on a self-imposed retirement helps one see one’s mistakes.

Besides, the whole idea of term limits was to get rid of all of those long-serving Democrats clogging up Congress back in the 1990s. Who needs them now?
Term limits are a bad idea. Period. But once you've committed to it and then "change your mind", you're showing opportunistic bad character. You're just untrustworthy as hell and your word means nothing. The fact that these guys keep getting reelected demonstrates that politics does trump morality for these guys and their supporters. So the next time a hardcore GOPer tries to beat you over the head with their "I'm so morally superior" act, remind them what a bunch of liars they have in their midst.

It irks the hell out of me that theses guys get it both ways: they can garner votes initially with the term limits pledge and then use the incumbency to overcome any negative consequences that might be incurred by reneging on that same pledge. This does nothing but add to the publics cynicism toward politicians. It irks me even more that this is standard operating procedure for much of the modern Republican party.

UPDATE: It occurs to me how politically brilliant this tactic is. You can only gain votes by being FOR term limits going in. At the other end, you have nothing to lose by reneging. I mean, if you keep your word, you're out by default. If you "reconsider" you might lose reelection but still have a great chance of holding your seat. It seems like a calculated, and cynical, win-win situation for a politician.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Worst President Ever

I just want to say, "I told you so." Link.
Poll: Bush approval at 39 percent
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's job approval has dipped below 40 percent for the first time in the AP-Ipsos poll, reflecting widespread doubts about his handling of gasoline prices and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Nearly four years after Bush's job approval soared into the 80s after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush was at 39 percent job approval in an AP-Ipsos poll taken this week. That's the lowest since the the poll was started in December 2003.

The public's view of the nation's direction has grown increasingly negative as well, with nearly two-thirds now saying the country is heading down the wrong track.
The man-child is not fit to be president and never has been. It's nice to see the nation is finally taking notice.

UPDATE: Sheesh, the poll numbers are falling so fast I can't keep up. Dear Leader is now down to 38% according to Newsweek.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Convention Relief

Ummm...I don't mean to be cynical (not me!) but doesn't this come across as a little self-serving:
Springfield offering space for Gulf Coast-area conventions

Last Updated 9/9/2005 2:00:59 PM

Springfield is joining a list of cities nationwide offering space to conventions and meetings displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The director of sales of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau said Friday an initial round of e-mails already has gone out to groups that had meetings planned this month in New Orleans and other areas struck by the hurricane. Another round will go out next week.

Local incentives include free meeting space and up to $1,000 to help cover costs of relocating, such as printing new programs and brochures, said Gina Gemberling.
I certainly think there is nothing wrong with trying to attract the business but I'm not sure it should be couched in humanitarian/relief effort terms. The city and its businesses do stand to still make money.

D-Day Museum Update

As you know I have been trying to track the fate of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. A New Orleans based blog had this update yesterday:

The Museum's web presence will be back shortly. Steve G. from was just up here to fetch some rails for the server. He reports that the Museum took minimal storm damage but was broken into by looters. Somehow the exhibits were not infiltrated though. Tom Brokaw will be broadcasting from that location tomorrow night.
I'll have to look for Brokaw's report, time permitting (I'm going to be gone most of the night).

Here's the thing, there really isn't much a looter is going to want in there. If I'm looting for profit, I'm hitting the stores with TV's not old uniforms and letters to loved ones.

The museum really doesn't lend itself to looting anyway. The first floor is mostly auditoriums and a few large displays (tanks, amphibious craft) while the second and third floors have the smaller items. However, those upper floors have no windows to speak of making it pitch dark if there is no electricity. So whoever broke in probably left quickly, maybe after discovering there was no cash the Sherman tank wouldn't start.

Friday Beer Blogging: Foreign Aid Edition

FBB gives props to Mexico for helping in the post-Katrina relief effort.
MEXICO CITY (AP) - An army aid convoy headed toward the U.S. border on Wednesday was due to become the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846. It carried water treatment plants, mobile kitchens and supplies to feed the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Large Mexican flags were proudly taped to many of the 35 olive-green Mexican Army trucks and tractor trailers as they rumbled northward out of Mexico City Tuesday morning.

The office of President Vicente Fox said the convoy was due to cross into Laredo, Texas, early Thursday.

Radio talk shows and newspapers buzzed with excitement at this turning of the tables for Mexico, which has long been on the receiving end of U.S. disaster relief, and which lost half its territory to the United States in the 1846-48 Mexican American War.

"This is the first time that the United States has accepted a military mission from Mexico" for such work, said Javier Ibarrola, a newspaper columnist who writes about military affairs in Mexico. "This is something that's never happened before."

So here's a Mexican beer salute...

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Welcome to our brothers from south of the border. Sorry about that whole Mexican War thing and don't be lured into a Taco Bell -you'll regret it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Battle of the Forecasts: We Have a Winner

Earlier, I set up a weather forecast cage match between the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel. The results are in.

But first, I must say by 4:00 this afternoon both sides had blinked. The NWS, which had earlier predicted a 30% chance of rain, moved it up to 40%. TWC went from 80% to 60%.

In the end, we got rain. Not a whole lot and the storm had diminished a lot before it got here but we did get rain. So, since The Weather Channel was more adamant about it earlier, I declare them the winner. (Note that a commenter on the original post agrees with me noting that TWC came closer on temperature as well.)

Watch this space for the upcoming grudge match.

Faster Than a Speeding Jet

Nope, that didn't take long. The governor's appeal in the 183rd Fighter Wing realignment matter was 'shot down' today. The SJ-R online Breaking News has the details:
A divided U.S. Court of Appeals this morning denied an emergency appeal that Illinois officials filed to prevent a restructuring of Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing that would involve transferring 15 F-16 jets to Indiana.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan, acting on behalf of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, filed the appeal Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago.

I think we're screwed, eh gov?

Battle of the Forecasts!

I've been trying to decide for a while who has the more accurate forecasts (or least inaccurate), the National Weather Service or The Weather Channel.

Most of the time the two services are on the same page so its often a draw. But today we have a contrast.

This Afternoon: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high around 88. North northwest wind between 3 and 5 mph.

Tonight: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 63. Northeast wind at 5 mph becoming southeast.


Today: Thunderstorms. A few storms may be severe. High 92F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.

Tonight: Thunderstorms likely, especially this evening. Low 64F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.
OK, the National Weather Service says it is unlikely (30% chance) it's going to rain while the Weather Channel folks almost guarantee it (80% chance).

Gentlemen, start your atmospheric convection.

Volunteers of America

A recently issued memo to Central Management Services employees:

Message from the Acting Director:

As you know, the State of Illinois has been actively assisting hurricane relief efforts throughout the Gulf Coast. CMS has played a critical support role in telecommunications and procurement. I am proud of your efforts and will share a recap with all of you later.

Right now I’m looking for volunteers. The State of Louisiana has requested 75 volunteers to assist with clerical duties and data entry to appropriately catalog and route social services information. The information will be coming from CMS provided mobile command posts. Volunteers are needed for one to two weeks of deployment and depart via bus this Saturday September 10, 2005.

Obviously, this is a major commitment that should be discussed with family and work supervisors. You will be paid during your time away from work. Contact XXXXX XXXXX at 217-XXX-XXXX or e-mail XXXXXXXXXXXX.

Thanks for your help in this time of great need.

Let's hope a lot of CMS personnel can make a decision quicker than Jim Edgar and go down to lend a hand.

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead

Err...I mean, Jim Edgar still hasn't decided if he is going to run for governor of Illinois:
The two-term Republican governor offered little indication which way he is leaning as he met with reporters in downtown Chicago. Edgar took questions in the wake of a new opinion poll, commissioned by a GOP ally, that reportedly puts him nearly 13 points ahead of incumbent Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"I don't have all my questions answered at this point," said Edgar, who wouldn't give a timetable for a decision. "As I said, it'll be sooner rather than later."
OK, this is boring me so I'm going outside to watch the grass grow.

UPDATE: Just a random thought - If or when Jim E. decides to run and if or when he wins, it's comforting to know that hurricanes and levee breaks don't effect us much here in Illinois, cuz I just see this guy dithering about in a way that would make even FEMA look good.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Red Pill, Red Tape

Here is a special guest rant from Mrs. TEH:

This morning I wrote a note to my daughter's school to request that they give her a cold medicine at lunch time today. I just received a phone call from the school nurse explaining that they would give her the medicine today, but that the school policy doesn't allow them to dispense any kind of medicine without a doctor's note. Not even over the counter medicine.

How silly of me to think that I had the authority to decide when my child needs an over the counter medication to help alleviate symptoms she's experiencing so she can get through her day. I guess I forgot my place as the parent and tried to over-ride authority and buck the system.

What in the world do they think? I'm going to try to pump some drugs into my child that she doesn't need for the fun of it? For crying out loud, if I were going to pump drugs into my child for some reason that wasn't ethical, moral, or even legal, I wouldn't be doing it blatantly in front of witnesses that have to record everything they give her. I also wouldn't go to the trouble and expense to package it in sealed packaging from the manufacturer.

I attempted not to get upset with the nurse over this. After all, she's just doing her job and following the rules set before her. She has a family to take care of too. However, I did explain to her that when I have to get a note from the doctor, it's not as simple as they think. I have to call the doctor's office which usually means waiting on hold. Once I get through to the receptionist, then I have to wait on hold for the nurse's line. Sometimes I might get through after several minutes of holding (if I'm really lucky that day - like today, thank goodness), other times it is 10, 15, or 20 minutes. I have waited more than an hour and a half before! You might think this is a problem with my child's doctor's office that should be addressed with them, or maybe I should switch offices. However, I think they are busy taking care of patients in the office and answering calls, for which they are not being paid, as they can. As I understand it, this office is really no different than any others. Not only that, I like our doctor.

Anyway, after I get through to the nurse at the doctor's office, I then have to explain the situation and ask them to write a note. The school nurse advised a "carte blanche" note that says she can xyz as needed. This note should last for the year.

In a way this is no different than ibuprofen which I send in for her at the beginning of the year. She must have a doctor's note for that as well, however, I thought that was because it is ongoing and is to be allowed whenever she has a headache or other ache or pain. She has had frequent headaches in the past and I trust her to know when she needs one. She only gets one at a time and the doctor's office told us to let her have it as needed several years ago. Each school year I get a new note for that.

I am miffed that I can't just send in a cold medicine to alleviate her symptoms for a few days for a simple thing like a cold or sore throat.

The school nurse also stated that I could have the doctor's office fax the note to them so they could have it on record right away today. I explained to her that the doctor's office won't do that anymore. They cannot (will not?) fax to third parties. The school nurse seemed surprised about this. I explained that this makes it even more difficult because we have to stop by their office to pick up the note.

So, now I have time on the phone and time to pick up the note involved. Of course, this would be much worse if I couldn't have the doctor's office write a note for an "as needed" basis, then I would have to go through this every time she needed something. At least this way I can do it once a year.

However, the note is generic - no specific medicine listed. It's like the doctor is writing a permission slip for me to send in medicine to the school for her - as long as it's related to specific symptoms. It's almost as if it's not a note for my daughter, but to authorize me? Which brings up a good point. Now my daughter could bring in any cold medicine or cough drop she wanted and it would be covered under the doctor's note. She could become addicted to them and hide them from me and take them in to the school and have them during the day, couldn't she? At least with a note from me, it is authorized with the specific medicine each time she actually needs it. I always sign and date the notes and make them for specific days. I guess she could also forge a note from me too if that was all that was required.

I just wonder, what is the point? Why can't I be the parent any more? Since when do we not allow over the counter medications to be authorized by parents?

Also, along those lines, I have to get a doctor's note to have my children taken out of school or even an extra cirricular activity. If I sign them out for the appointment and/or back into the office for the appointment, why isn't that enough? Why must I bother the doctor for yet another note? Maybe in high school when they are driving and they could just take off on their own for an appointment, but why when they are so young and must be escorted by a driving adult? Do that many parents really skip school with their kids that they can't be trusted to take their own children? I mean, we are the parents and we can take them out if we want to anyway, can't we? I know they need an education and all, but are there really parents out there who are saying their kid went to the doctor when they were really just plain skipping school?

I must either be very nieve or stupid.

Mrs. TEH

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging: Demagoguery Pays Edition

My great aunt, not surprisingly, appears to have feared and loathed the Red Menace. This clip from her scrapbook is kind of interesting. The headline provides an insight into the political atmosphere of the time. This columnist (love that picture) recognizes that being against communism is a political plus!

Of course, it was, and its modern cousin is, cheap political posturing. 55 years ago campaigning on fear of foreign boogymen proved to be a winner. Things haven't changed much.

Well, That Sucks

I thought I had survived the Ch. 20/Ch. 17 network affiliate switch pretty painlessly until I just discovered WICS is showing Nightline a half hour later at 11:05 pm. Entertainment Tonight is on before it at 10:35.

That's it, switch back. Now.

There Was a Hurricane and All I Got Was This Stupid Shirt

T-shirt blogging returns...

Kind of plain but kind of true.


Bob Denver (aka Gilligan, Maynard G. Krebs, et al) has died at age 70.

Aren't Russell Johnson, Tina Louise and Dawn Wells now the only remaining castaways? C'mon Professor: Ginger or Mary Ann? Give it up.


Rep. Joihn Shimkus had made it official: he's reneging on his term limits pledge. This from the SJ-R's online Breaking News section.
Shimkus broke the news at a Republican fundraiser Friday evening in Marion. He's in the running for another two-year term in 2006, but his decision means he could run again in 2008 and beyond.

The Marion Daily Republican quoted Shimkus as saying that “When the president of the United States and the majority of your constituents urge you to run, how can you not.”

Shimkus was “is not doing media interviews specific to this topic,” said his spokesman, Steve Tomaszewski, on Monday.
Yeah, I bet he doesn't want to talk about it.

Look, this really isn't anything new. Very few "term limits" Republicans actually put their money where their mouth is. But it is very disrespectful to voters who narrowly elected him back in 1996 partially on this issue. Hell, I don't even like term limits but I like blatant manipulation and dishonesty even less.

Here is the link to the Marion Daily Republican story. And while Shimkus isn't saying anything today about his decision he is quoted in the Marion paper as saying:
"When the President of the United States and the majority of your constituents urge you to run, how can you not."
Except that anyone could have made that same argument in 1996 when he decided that was not a good reason. Whatever, John.

The Republican party really has become totally desensitized to any notion of hypocrisy.

End of the Line

Heard on the news (WMAY) over lunch - a federal judges has, in effect, thrown out Illinois' suit to prevent the removal of the 183rd Fighter Wing from Springfield.

It's over, folks.

More details and a link when available.

UPDATE: OK, here's more including the guv saying it's still not over. From the SJ-R's online Breaking News:
U.S. District Judge Jeanne Scott on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed last week to try to block the transfer of the 183rd Fighter Wing's F-16s from Springfield to Fort Wayne, Ind.

She cited a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court decision in determining that Blagojevich had no legal standing to sue.

In a statement, the governor said his attempt to keep the jets in Springfield “is certainly not over.”

Monday, September 05, 2005

Aldermen: Take Note

Today's SJ-R has some important polling data on the issue of a smoking ban in Springfield:
Nearly two-thirds of registered voters in Springfield support a ban on smoking in all indoor workplaces, according to a poll commissioned by the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association of Illinois and Iowa.

The results could boost an effort to prohibit smoking in most public places in the city. Ward 10 Ald. Bruce Strom has said he plans to propose a citywide indoor smoking ban, and a coalition of health and social service agencies also is supporting the idea.

Sixty-five percent of the 401 registered voters polled supported a prohibition on smoking "in all indoor workplaces, restaurants, bars, public buildings and other public places in Springfield."

I wonder if this news will reassure some alderman who might be squeamish about taking a stand for a smoking ban. I'm sure it will have no effect on Mayor Tim Davlin who seems determined to retain as much smoking in Springfield establishment as he can get away with.

Anther interesting factoid to come out of the survey: only 17 percent of Springfield residents are smokers, the second lowest number in the state behind Urbana-Champaign. This may help explain the support the proposed smoking ban is receiving.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

D-Day Museum: Not the Review I Promised.

I had previously committed to posting a review New Orleans' D-Day museum some time after I returned from that city a month ago. I had started working on it but just never got around to finishing the post. Then came Katrina.

I was curious how the museum was faring. This is about all I found after a brief web search:
...reports indicate that the National D-Day museum directly across the street from the Confederate Museum has been "gutted and trashed by looters."
I have no information confirming or refuting that. It's worth noting, however, that the area where the museum is located is, at least, dry.

The museum's website is silent on the disaster and hauntingly still headlines an international conference on World War II scheduled to be held next month in New Orleans.

Why Doesn't This Surprise Me

The federal government's response to the post-Katrina relief effort has been a large clusterfuck from the beginning. That's why this doesn't surprise me:
Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.

The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.

“We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let helicopters fly,” O’Shea said Friday afternoon.

The food was expected to be in the hands of storm survivors after the president left the devastated region Friday night, he said.
I hope the President got a good photo-op out of it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Really Cheap Gas Found!

Head over to Look Back Springfield for some energy eye candy courtesy of Russ. Now that's what I call nostalgia.

Note: I've been neglecting LBS mightily lately due to lot of other commitments (vacation, surgery, the Fair, kids, work, this blog, etc.) but I'm going to get back to it soon.

Time to Give Back

From the blog KD5QEL Hurricane Katrina Info:

... every place I know and love intimately at street level, and have known since 1964, is gone or not likely to be back.

Buildings are empty shells without people. We in New Orleans love our old buildings with rabid passion. We take perverse civic pride in our decaying Victorians and meticulously restored French Quarter buildings. But I worry about the people. My people. We in New Orleans, in Southeast Louisiana, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in Mobile, are a nation in the strictest sense of the word. We are a culture that is poorly understood by outsiders, caricaturized offensively by Hollywood, and desperately poor on the whole.

Yet we do the nation's dirty work. We drill the oil in your SUVs. We refine the chemicals (and suffer the cancer) that creates all manner of plastic, gasoline, and other necessities that you use each day. We catch the shrimp and the oysters and the fish that you eat. We move your truckloads of consumer items into and out of ships and trains and trucks. We entertain you with the very best music on Earth. We are eager to share our special times with you--Carnival, all our festivals and celebrations. We love to play host to you and show you around.

Now, we need you. We need you more than ever. Wherever you are in the world, think of the millions affected by this storm. We are poor people and desperate, but we are proud people. Some few of us have, either through character defect or sheer human hunger and desperation, have broken into stores. You have seen their images. So many more of us are dispersed across the country, now out of money, gasoline, cell phone time, medicine, diapers, and hope. We are in your town, in the motel off the interstate, in the local shelter, in our cousin's or sister's home, and we have brought our entire family with us. We are traveling light with the clothes on our backs. We also are traveling heavy under an invisible burden of memory and misery.


2000 Light Years From Home

While wandering around New Orleans during my recent trip there, I found myself in Washington Artillery Park on the river. I stopped to listen in to a walking tour in progress. The tour guide was talking about the history of the park and how it pays tribute to the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard. She described how the 141st was one of the oldest units in the U.S. military and then, almost swooning, she said the unit had continued its great tradition of service by having just been deployed to Iraq. It was about this time I moved on trying not to be an obvious (and non-paying) tour parasite. But here comments stuck with me.

Fast forward to this week. The city of New Orleans, having been spectacularly failed by the state and federal government, is in desperate need of troops on the ground to maintain order in the city. I’m not sure how much the 141st could have helped but being in Iraq they sure can’t do anything. I suspect many members of that unit are now wondering where they really would be doing more good.

BONUS: 100 blog points to anyone who can tell me what the title of this post refers to.

If Only it Were Arlington Heights

From Kos:
Where the top Republican in the House kvetches about rebuilding New Orleans
while happily funding the rebuilding of Iraq. Seemingly without worrying himself
that reconstruction estimates for New Orleans -- $25 billion -- equals just three months of funding for the Iraq quagmire.
So, who is it that hates America?

Friday Beer Bloging: Remember New Orleans Edition

Last night I posted a few pictures from my recent visit to New Orleans. I did so as a tribute to the city's beauty and vibrance. Hoping this is not too tacky in light of the human suffering going on there right now, I continue by sharing a couple of beer related pics taken one night on Bourbon Street.

First, I had to laugh at the over-the-top, stand-out-in-the-crowd promotion of this hole in the wall selling large cups of domestic draft beer.

Second, I had to get me one of those

Yes, that's me holding a Huge Ass Beer while putting on my best Austin Powers smiley face. (No, I wasn't wearing a mask; you are looking at a masterful touch-up of the photo that I'm sure had you fooled.) But that is me and the smiley does bear a striking resemblance.

And yes, the cup says "Huge Ass Beers".

I still have the cup. I hope to go get another one someday.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Talk Like This Pisses me Off

This guy is the Speaker of the House? A national "leader"?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

"It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Fuck you, Hastert. How much do we spend a day "rebuilding" Iraq, asswipe? Maybe if New Orleans was more like Arlington Heights you would reconsider your statement, putz.

I just can't say it enough, fuck you Hastert.

And as much as it pains me, fuck you too Eric Zorn.


I've been wondering this for a day or so and I'm now starting to hear others (here and here) ask this question too. Why no airdops of supplies (food and water) to the stranded victims of hurricane Katrina? I'm not just talking about New Orleans where such an operation might be somewhat problematic given the compactness of the area, limited airspace being used for rescue and a ground covered with water. I'm thinking about all the small communities in Louisiana and Mississippi that were devastated. I watched people on the news yesterday in these places asking where the FEMA trucks were. They had had nothing to eat or drink for a couple of days. Couldn't a few C-130s have been loaded with emergency supplies to be dropped on these communities? I know the Coast Guard has such planes as do a number of Air National Guard units.

I'm not trying to be overly critical (yet) of the relief effort but I'm starting to see some real deficiencies.