Monday, October 31, 2005

Media Coverage of WWII Better than Iraq Coverage

You never know what you’re going to learn reading blogs. Or in the case of something I read today, realize something I already knew but never connected the dots.

Following the links at the speed of light through the blogosphere, I came upon this post by Terry at the blog Nitpicker. Among other things this well thought-out and written piece destroys the argument from our wingnut friends that somehow modern media coverage is bad for their war effort, in this case Iraq. Their argument is something like, Americans were not demoralized by pictures of carnage and dead American troops in, say, World War II, like they are today becuse the media didn't feed them negative images of the war. I always dismissed this whithout even getting into the details because it was typically simplistic and irrelevant to the issues surrounding the war.

But what I missed was the very foundation of that argument is false. Look, as Terry points out, by the middle of the war, the restrictions on showing dead Americans had been lifted.
In 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually decided to treat Americans as adults. The War Department lifted restrictions on photos of American losses. They argued that Americans needed to get a more complete picture of the war. Photos of wounded soldiers began appearing in newspapers and magazines.
And that’s true. As a student of WWII, I’ve seen the magazines and newsreels and read the stories from the front. But compare that to today. How many dead Americas have you seen in the main stream media? I can’t recall any. And there are official restrictions on the returning caskets being photographed.

Additionally, Terry excerpts writings from people like the famous WWII reporter Ernie Pyle that would be shouted down today by conservatives as treasonous.

The bottom line is, despite vastly superior media technology and availability we are actually seeing, hearing and reading a lot less of the bad stuff than we did during the Second World War.

Go read the whole post, there’s much more to it

The Anti-Family Man

Wow, read all about how Bush's lastest nomination to the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito, is really quite out of his mind. He once ruled against the Family Medical Leave Act.
In 2000, Alito authored an opinion in which he ruled that the FMLA was an instance of unconstitutional congressional overreach. In particular, he said that the FMLA was unconstitutional because there was no evidence for the notion that women are disadvantaged in the workplace when they are not allowed to take family leave.


Alito's idea that women are not disadvantaged when they can not take maternity leave seems absurd, both intellectually and factually. Even William Rehnquist, who wrote the Supreme Court's 6-3 opinion in 2003 overturning Alito's ruling, found Alito's argument deeply flawed.

In the Supreme Court majority opinion, Rehnquist cited the extensive evidence that was presented during the debate about the FMLA in Congress, and that clearly documented the pervasive discrimination implicit in unregulated family leave policies. Furthermore, Rehnquist argued that the FMLA was an entirely appropriate remedy to this subtle form of discrimination.
This nomination is only a few hours old and already it's giving off a stink. Stay tuned, it's only going to get worse.

Thanks to Atrios for the pointer.

The Voice of Conviction.

I just happened to think that there must be a talk radio job waiting for "Scooter " Libby once he does his time for all his lies and cover-ups. I mean, that's the natural order of things; convicted Republicans are rewarded with high paying radio shows (see G. Gordan Liddy and Oliver North). Perhaps Libby will be out in time to take Rush's time slot when he's finally put away on a drug conviction. The conservative ecosystem is very highly evolved - I mean created.

What a Dick

October's death toll (so far) for American troops in Iraq is now the second highest (91) for any month this year (so far).

Sure, Dick Cheney is deeply involved in the Valerie Plame scandal and hopefully he'll be nailed for it, but his most reprehensible lie this year was to claim that the Iraqi insurgency is in it's "death throes". What a piece of shit that man is. And to think he’s running our government.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Heart of Darkness

I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity today to once again rail against the switch back to Standard Time. Setting our clocks BACK? You’re shitin’ me. We should be setting them FORWARD –about two hours. The sun should not be setting any earlier then 8:00 PM. Making things worse by setting clocks back is for moles and vampires.

For those of you new to the program, you can catch my earlier rants and reasonings here and here. Ignore any detracting comments from a woman I live with. I'll deal with her in due time.

Anti-early-sunset blogging soul mate (has anyone EVER been called that before in the history of man?) Kevin Drum also has a post up today on the subject and points us to yet another blogger (Jim Lindgren) who is also thinking correctly.

The Real Meaning Of Fitzmas

Every year there are those who cut through the crass commercialism of Christmas to remind us all of what we are really (supposedly?) celebrating. In that tradition, Jim at AbeLog cuts through the crass schaedenfreude of the Patrick Fitzgerald indictments to remind us of what is really at stake.

Welcome Blevins

While DownLeft rides off into the sunset, Spingfield has a new lefty blog to fill the void: Blevins Blog. Bookmark now.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Night of the Coughing Dead

Dan has another good post up. Beware of displaced smokers Springfield!

Libby To Appear In Court With Arrow Through Head

I’m so pleased the to hear Scooter Libby is going to use the Steve Martin defense. It gives me an excuse to trot out a portion of one of my favorite Martin bits from back in his standup days:
Now.. you say, "Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You.. have never paid taxes'?" Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!" How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I forgot armed robbery was illegal." Let's suppose he says back to you, "You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, 'I forgot'?" Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!"
And speaking of “Scooter”, how come Libby can be referred to as “Scooter” but no one in the media wants to refer to Karl Rove by his Bush-given nickname “Turd Blossom”? It can’t be that the media thinks it’s childish. How can anyone, including hardcore Republicans, not be totally embarrassed by Bush and his administration?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Baseball "Riot" at Southern

From the Southeren Illinoisian:
CARBONDALE - As Carbondale Police Chief Steve Odum described it "about 300 people ended up taking a walk" through the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus and parts of Carbondale Wednesday night.

Incidentally, most of them were Chicago White Sox fans.

Sue Davis, director of Media and Communications Resources at SIUC, said a group of about 50 students grew to about 100, then swelled to what campus police estimate at between 300 and 400 individuals, many of them students.


She said 14 light poles were knocked down across campus and a Pepsi machine near the parking garage was overturned. Two motorcycles at Thompson Pointe were knocked over - Davis said whether it happened by accident or on purpose has not
been determined. The fuel tank on one of them was punctured. Carbondale fire fighters used a chemical to clean the resulting gasoline spill.

The fire fighters were also called to handle a small grass fire caused by an arcing 9-1-1 safety light pole that had been pushed over.

A group of students intent on pushing over the goal posts at McAndrew Stadium were thwarted by a police line. A group of about 100 people headed toward Charlotte West Stadium softball field. Davis said one student was Maced and arrested when he climbed the fence to the stadium.
I hate Illinois baseball riots.

Sulu Is Gay

Stunning intergalactic news:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- George Takei, who as helmsman Sulu steered the
Starship Enterprise through three television seasons and six movies, has come out as a homosexual in the current issue of Frontiers, a biweekly Los Angeles magazine covering the gay and lesbian community.
I always thought Sulu seemed a little too disinterested in those female yeomen in the short skirts.

Friday Beer Blogging: Halloween Edition

Anheuser-Busch has come out with a new beer just for Halloween. It's called Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale.

Image hosted by

According to Anheuser-Busch, Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale is "a wicked blend of Golden Delicious Oregon pumpkins, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves". I've come out against adding fruit to beer so do I need to be consitent and denounce putting vegetables in a brew? How about spices?

Anheuser-Busch also says, "Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale [is] the first in a series of four new Seasonal Draught beers that will be introduced throughout 2005-2006."

I can't wait for the Groundhog Day beer. I'll start examining my stance on beers containing bits of small burrowing animals now.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Underrated ER

Marie at Disarranging Mine has a post about tonight’s (repeat) episode of ER. It had her in tears.

I started to watch the show tonight but begged off after I saw it was a repeat I had already seen. However, it was a very powerful episode. Here’s what I wrote in Marie’s comment section:
I saw that show when it originally aired last season. It was an amazing performance by Ray Liota. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it again tonight however. Too painful.

While we see his life as tragic at its end, we also are forced to examine our own life choices.

ER can often fall into the primetime soap opera mode but it also occasionally has some really excellent drama.

The show’s treatment last season (or the season before) on the realities of African civil wars and the AIDS epidemic there were more informative and revealing than a hundred 60-second cable news segments.
There are tons and tons of crap on primetime network television and I’ll be the first to admit ER has its share. But I’ve always been impressed with that show’s ability, when it tries, to very effectively present thought-provoking stories. It often also takes on political issues and brings them home in ways no documentary could.

Fitzmas Eve

It's beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas...

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A curious and twisting episode that began in the sixth paragraph of a 2003 newspaper column could culminate Friday in criminal charges reaching to the top echelons of the White House.

The special prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation, Patrick Fitzgerald, is expected on Friday to announce the results of his probe, including whether a federal grand jury will issue any indictments, an attorney involved in the case told CNN.

Two lawyers involved in the case also have told CNN that as his investigation winds down the prosecutor is focusing on whether Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist, committed perjury. Rove testified four times in front of the grand jury.

I'm dreaming of an indictment Fitzmas
And the taking down of Karl Rove
Where the handcuffs glisten
And jurors listen
To hear his jail cell close

Merry Fitzmas to all, and to all good night.

UPDATE: Late word that it might only be Libby for now but Karl is still under investigation. So, um, just substitute Libby for Rove above where appropriate.

The Second (hand smoke) City No More

Chicago is now well on its way to having an indoor smoking ban (Trib story here). The arguments, pro and con, are familiar to us here in Springfield.

DownLeft Done Left

Sad Springfield blogging news: DownLeft is calling it quits.

I always hate to see this happen but it's not unusual for blogging to give way to other more pressing matters. All of us think about giving it up from time to time.

DL will be missed. He had good original reporting and plenty of progressive opinion.

He gives his reasons for leaving in his final post but I suspect it has more to do with Trent Lott's announcement he will never look at a blog.

Good luck, DL!

The Last, Last Chance - Gone

The Bush administration's decision to move the jets of Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing was ratified by the U.S. House of Representatives. From the SJ-R's online Breaking News page
WASHINGTON -- The House voted overwhelmingly today to allow the first round of U.S. military base closures and consolidations in a decade, clearing the way for facilities across the country -- including Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing -- to start shifting resources or shutting their doors as early as next month.

In a 324-85 vote, the House refused to veto the final report of the 2005 base-closing commission, meaning the report seems all but certain to become law in mid-November. Targeted facilities then would have six years to close their doors and shift forces as required under the report.

Both the House and Senate must pass resolutions rejecting the report to stop the Pentagon's sweeping restructuring of its far-flung domestic base network. But, as expected, the House effort by Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., failed. And there's no similar attempt under way in the Senate.
Thanks agian, George! The presidency that just keeps on giving. Worst. President. Ever.

Oh, and Springfieldians, can you think of another decision that has detrimentally affected the city more in recent years? I can’t. Maybe it’s time to rethink blind Republican loyalty in 2006 and 2008.

A Little Cheese With That Whine?

Senator Trent Lott (R-Missing Front Porch) is stamping his feet and holding his breath over the mean, mean treatment he’s gotten from the all-powerful bloggers. He’s so upset he’s simply not going to even make eye contact:
“Bloggers claim I was their first pelt, and I believe that. I’ll never read a blog.”
Oh, whaaah! Gosh, Trent, the blogosphere might just fold on that news. Speaking of pelts, how’s that hairpiece holding up?

Thanks to Atrios and Think Progress for the pointer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


It took 88 years for a Chicago baseball team to go all the way again.

The guy on Fox just said the Sox are "the second team from the Second City, no more". Sorry, no one around here is going to give a shit about the White Sox come next year. It's still Cubs and Cards, baby!

Salmon Days

If you're a Boston Legal fan like me you will appreciate this. Alan Shore, played by James Spader, has hilariously taken up the very real cause against farm-raised salmon. Well, there is a real-life lawsuit in Wisconsin involving farm-raised salmon and Wal-Mart. Alan Shore should be in Madison.

Attorney Shore's research on the subject a few episodes ago led to one of the most classic, even if brief, exchanges I've ever seen on television. It involved Spader's Allen Shore character and co-star William Shatner's iconic Denny Crane:
While basking on the resort's deck Alan and Denny met another lawyer who told them he was going to Port McNeill to fight against another fish farm license.

"I came out here to enjoy nature, don't talk to me about the environment," said Denny to the lawyer.

Later that night Alan enjoyed some bedtime reading about the fish-farm generated sea lice that many claim is causing the deaths of the wild salmon. "They call them cling-ons." he told Denny.

"Did you say...Klingons," said Denny, as Shatner took an extra few seconds to savor in the Star Trek reference.

Shatner's timing was impeccable in that scene.

By the way, Shatner's role in this show is the best of his career. That's not a very high bar I'm setting, I know, but it truly is great.

How Bad Were the Lies Going to Be?

An interesting question is raised by a commentor over at Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo:
Regarding the Colin Powell speech to the U.N., Powell--and now his former Chief of Staff--have said that they threw out much of the draft speech given to them by the White House. Yet, even as delivered, the speech had several falsehoods. My questions: how much worse was the first draft and why can't we see that draft? Nobody can says it's classified because it was exactly what the White House wanted Powell to tell the whole world.
If Powell’s lie-ridden presentation to the U.N. was the more acceptable (to an already wary State Department) version, how embarrassingly idiotic must the first draft have been? I sure hope this comes out. I’m sure it’ll be entertaining as much as it is damning.

Monster Story

Halloween is on the way and the Southern Illinoisian marks the occasion with a scary tale from the southern part of the state:
MURPHYSBORO - There are two dates from 1973 in Murphysboro that still leave some haunted - or at least curious.

The two police reports dated June 25 and June 26 relate the sighting of an unknown creature.

It was in those two evenings that reports came in of a loud, tall, white-haired creature caked with mud being spotted in the woods on the outskirts of town near the Big Muddy River.

It was later dubbed the Big Muddy Monster because of its indefinable features and mysterious presence. It set off a media frenzy after the initial reports on those two days, said former patrolman and retired Murphysboro police chief Ron Manwaring.


There are only two cases that remain unsolved in Murphysboro, Manwaring said, but after 32 years the case on the Big Muddy Monster still remains open.

"It's an unsolved case because I can't tell you what it was," he said.

Having retired three years ago and having not seen the Big Muddy Monster police reports in years, Manwaring is still able to recount those haunting evenings as if they had happened just yesterday.
Oooo, scary on. Boo!

Sexist Me

I kind of felt sorry for the perpetrator (a girl) in this story. But would I have been as sympathetic if this was a boy we were talking about? I admit, I don’t think so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


That's the number of U.S. troops who have now died in Iraq.

That figure doesn't include:

Hundreds of U. S. civilians (mostly contractors) who are dead

Hundreds of dead troops from other nations

Thousands upon thousands of Iraqi troops and civilians gone

Over 15,000 wounded U.S. service personnel
Thank goodnes the president is planning yet another speech to explain why.

And Democrats aren't being much help either.

Just Like a Chick Flick

We wound up at another chick flick over the weekend. Our (Me and the Mrs.) attendance was the perfect storm of movie start time, time available to see a movie and theater (we like the new ShowPlace West 12). To be clear, I wasn’t looking for my second chick flick in as many weeks –it just happened that way. So, what the hell, here’s my review for those who aren’t inclined to go to these things but find themselves needing to go anyway.

We saw Just Like Heaven staring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. It’s a story of a young woman (Witherspoon) who is involved in a major auto accident and haunts/falls in love with the guy (Ruffalo) who rents here old apartment. Lots of relationship stuff blah, blah, blah, happy ending, blah, blah, blah.

So what’s in it for those with a general chick flick aversion (i.e. guys)? Well, Reese keeps all of her clothes on and there is only a brief scene where some horny hottie neighbor of Our Hero (Ruffalo) tries to come on to him. Of course Our Hero rebuffs her aggressive advances, even as she is naked in his bed, because he’s too devoted to his ghost and, presumably the memory of his dead wife (don’t ask).

What did appeal to me was the San Francisco setting. This movie made me want to go back to that city as soon as the movie was over (well, sooner but never mind). The haunted apartment in which much of the movie takes place has an awesome view and many scenes feature breathtaking San Francisco backgrounds. I really enjoyed this aspect of the movie.

Another other positive was the soundtrack. Good songs that usually had a direct connection with what was happening on the screen. It wasn’t until the credits at the end that the obvious was played, Just Like Heaven by The Cure, one of my favorite 80s tunes (it sounds like The Cure’s version in the movie but the soundtrack lists it as a cover by Katie Melua, whoever that is).

Oh, and there was one performance I really liked –Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame. He plays an employee (owner?) of an occult bookstore and shows up several times in the movie. He’s pretty funny.

Just Like Heaven also touches on, I think somewhat inadvertently, a political issue that I don’t want to get into because it gives away an important surprise in the movie’s story. It over simplifies and greatly misrepresents the realities of this issue. But this movie is too much fluff to take any message too seriously.

Anyway, he story is kind of dumb but at least it’s positive and has a good backdrop and soundtrack. It could be a lot worse.

By the way, I will continue reviewing the chick flicks I see as a public service. Guys, they're like prostate exams, not a lot a fun but sometimes necessay.

This Old House

Great news! The SJ-R reports the Adams House will not be torn down. The Audubon Society has decided to build-on rather than destroy the structure and start anew.
The board of directors of the Illinois Audubon Society has decided to save Springfield's Adams House from demolition.

Instead, the organization will build a 3,000-square-foot addition onto the back of the original 1850s-era farmhouse at the 27-acre Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, 2315 Clear
Lake Ave.

With Saturday's vote, the board reversed an earlier decision to demolish the late Margery Adams' house to clear the way for a brand-new state headquarters building.

The public outcry at the decision to raze the house led the Audubon Society to reconsider, board member Carolyn Taft Grosboll said Monday.
Three cheers for public outcry. I’ve been outcrying here on the issue from the beginning.

The Cosby Show

Can anyone, ANYONE, stand to listen to MSNBC's Rita Cosby? If so, how? She has the single worst broadcast voice ever. And she's pretty dumb to boot. I know she comes from Fox News so you can't expect too much, but still. I really get the feeling that if anyone pointed out to her that she has a horrible on-air sound she would break down and cry. And she has a great crying voice. So my theory is, no one wants to subject themselves to the pain of that pathetic crying scene. Therefore, no one will fire her and no one will turn her down for a job.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Intelligent Design

Is neither intelligent nor design. Discuss.

And everyone loves Raymond...


Another American Hero Gone

She was the Rosa Parks of her day.

(I'm going to hell)


I guess I'm not going to see David McCullough tonight after all. It seems the lecture is sold out and I didn't get advance tickets. You snooze, you lose. Still...bummer.

UPDATE: Jerome Prophet made it and photoblogs the event. I heard Jim Leach on WMAY this morning say he was there so expect some comments from him too. I feel too stupid for words not getting advance tickets.

TEH Exclusive! New Fed Chair Revealed

The Eleventh Hour has learned that President Bush will name 23 year-old Andrea Johnson as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, replacing the retiring Alan Greenspan. Johnson, who has been Bush’s bank teller for two years, is said to have been the president's second choice after he was informed his favorite automatic teller machine would not be eligible for the position.
Bush is reported to have said his choice was based on Johnson’s superior money-handling abilities. “You should see her count back my withdrawal money, it’s awesome”, Bush told monetary advisors at a recent White House meeting.

UPDATE: I guess Bush had a third choice in mind. Maybe Andrea was busy or something.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Jerry "The Man" Mandering

I have the blog Uggabugga in my blogroll for a reason. Ugga has a great way with graphical representation of information. As a visual person, that's something that benefits me greatly.

About a week ago, Uggabugga posted a great graphical depiction of how gerrymandering can be used to manipulate control of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ugga's point is to come out against a proposition in California, put forth by Gov. Ahnold, that would require Congressional districts to be "compact" and not meandering geographical entities.

Here's Uggga's presentation:
Start with a population of 24: 12 blues, 12 reds.
Congressional seats: 4
A city (at the left) which is 100% blue, and suburban/rural areas with a red:blue distribution of 2:1

In a fair (re)districting, one that has the congressional representation mirror the population's political orientation, we would have two blue seats and two red seats. A districting plan that would attain that goal might look something like this: (note the city at the left has multi-districts)

But if the priority is to create compact districts, along with the avoidance of multi-district cities, you could end up with a redistricting like this:

Instead of two blue and two red seats, we now have one (very solid) blue seat, and three red seats. So while Schwarzenegger's plan sounds reasonable, the devil is in the details, and it turns out to be not so fair after all.
Now, either of the major parties can use gerrymandering to gain an advantage like this. This really shouldn't be a partisan issue. However, Republicans have been particularly egregious of late in this sort of thing of late but Democrats are not without sin.

The other issue is that of "compactness". I'm not sure what the advantage is. Who cares how aesthetically pleasing a Congressional district appears on the map. I'm more concerned about proportional representation. And given the form of representative government we have, that's the best we can hope for.

Minimumest Wage

I think this graph tells an interesting tale:

Yes, increasing the minimum wage will destroy business and throw people out of work. ..just like it did in 1978.

Source here where there are some other informative charts.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Reminder: McCullough Monday

Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough is speaking this Monday evening at the Sangamon Auditorium on the UIS campus. Illinois Times has this background bit:
McCullough turns the stuffy prose of history textbooks into blooming narratives covering likely and unlikely heroes of yesteryear. His biography of John Adams — our second president, who tends to be overshadowed by the first — topped out at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and new book 1776, a story of the Declaration of Independence, rests comfortably at No. 5 in the bestseller list’s hardcover-nonfiction category. Unlike most authors, McCullough can boast that none of his books has ever been out of print, and he’s one of the most respected, sought-after wordsmiths of our day.
Tickets are only $10. I can’t wait.

Beer Athletics

Dan Naumovich beer blogs with the best of us.  I must have missed the origins of beer pong in the 1980's.  As a college student, quarters and beer backgammon were about as far as I got in beer sports.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Blog Spin-Off

My other, less attended to blogging project, Look Back Springfield, now has a spin-off thanks to LBS co-blogger Russ.

Russ had undertaken a very interesting project he calls Springfield Rewind. Stop everything and go take a look. And be very encouraging in your comments as I'd like to see more.

You photobloggers will be especially interested in this.

Smoke Signals

Jim Leach has a good roundup of last night’s Springfield smoking ban hearing. He also makes a number of excellent points in favor of the ban. I would like to follow up with a few comments of my own on the issue.

When approaching this subject you have to remember smoking is not new and the proposed ban is not happening in a vacuum. Smoking in many public places is, and has been, the norm. As such, it is hard for non-smoking to make inroads. There is a certain inertial that has to be fought to get smoke-free environments. What the bans do is hit the reset button. Or at least that’s how I would like to see it used. Let’s clean the slate, let the smoke-free establishments become the norm. From there, perhaps years down the road, maybe we can consider some limited number of smoking establishments. Maybe the city could issue special licenses to Cigar Bars much as they grant 3:00 AM liquor licenses. Perhaps there could be other exceptions as well. But that’s just the point; we need them to be the exception not the rule. Right now, the equation is reversed.

Smoking (in public places) advocates might argue that voluntary smoking restrictions have worked in retail settings. Even though I lived through it, I’m not sure how it really came about. I do remember working at a bookstore in the newly opened White Oaks Mall my senior year in high school (1977-1978) and every night sweeping the dust and trash off the floors including dozens of cigarette butts. Back then, it was normal for people to walk around stores smoking. Somehow retailers were able to break the public of this habit by initially posting No Smoking signs which were later removed as people understood you just don’t smoke in stores. But restaurants and particularly bars show no sign of doing this other than setting up very ineffective non-smoking areas. While the non-smoking sections began to pop up about the same time as the decline in smoking in retail stores, there has been almost no progress since then. They need a little (OK, a lot) of encouragement.

I find it incredible today that people in the recent past, my past, did smoke in clothing stores, hair salons -barber and beauty shops as they were called back in the day, airplanes, buses, offices, food stores, etc. 20 years from now, as smoking bans continue to come into effect everywhere, it will seem particularly strange that there was ever smoking allowed in restaurants.

And one final point. Those who deny there is any long term health risk to inhaling second-hand smoke probably aren’t going to be dissuaded from that position because it is hard to demonstrate. But let’s assume for a minute that there are NO long-term health effects associated second hand smoking. There are, undeniably, short term effects: nasal irritation, lung irritation, eye irritation (I’m particularly sensitive to this), and your hair and clothes stink to high heaven. I can’t think of any other activity that has these kinds of short term effects on others that is considered socially acceptable.

Friday Beer Blogging: Freda Beers Edition

FBB is not above letting others do its work. This week The Daily Show, the world’s greatest source for news and, well, news, reported recently on the miserable, dare I say wretched, state of beerness in the state of Alabama. Beers are so repressed in that state a resistance movement has sprung up to battle the forces of beer suppression.

It turns out Alabama has real limits on what beers can be sold in the state. For example, no beer can have an alcohol content over 6% and it can’t be sold in containers larger than 16 oz. Oh, the shame! I call these the Beer Crowe laws. Sadly, I hear its historical roots go back to the Civil War when Springfield's own Abraham Lincoln saw fit to free the slaves but cruelly left beer lovers to languish under the boot heel of Southern justice.

The resistance movement of which I speak operates under the name of Free the Hops and has a clandestine web site here.

One page on the site gives us a brutal glimpse of the harshness of beer life in Alabama. Below is a picture of beers that cannot be obtained anywhere in Alabama. They have, in effect, been exiled. Refugees in the beer wars. The picture isn’t pretty:

The caption on the Free the Hops web site reads:
Here's a sampling of beers that are currently illegal in Alabama. This list is not exhaustive, only illustrative.
Yes, look on the huddled, illustrative, forlorn beers with their empty souls…hey wait…its not just empty souls, many of the bottles themselves are empty of beer. It’s almost as if some one at Free the Hops gathered these beers for this photo and then drank them before taking the picture. Hmmmm.

But never mind that. The Free the Hops site is a virtual treasure trove for beer blogging. They even have a Beer Blog. Oh, I nearly swooned.

God love these brave freedom fighters. They are bringing freedom to the evildoers of the Axis of Sobriety. I suggest you support the “troops” by getting some Free the Hops gear like this shirt quoting Springfield's own beer apostle Homer Simpson:

Don’t think you’ve heard the last of these Johnny Rebs on this site. Nope, I plan to support them here by lazily ripping off their site for my beer blogging gain.

Oh, and here’s the original Daily Show segment that so moved me to blog the name of Free the Hops.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What a Mug

Cue Dragnet music...Bompa Bomp-bomp.

Republican Representative Tom DeLay was booked today in Texas on state conspiracy and money-laundering charges. But look at this mug shot...

Ha, ha, ha, ha...

Are you allowed to smile in police mug shots? Or do only really stupid people smile during their booking? Hell, he still doesn't get it. Hubris run amok. Oh, and nice suit, Tom. It'll go nice with the ink on your fingers.

Too bad he bonded out on $10,000. I was hoping he'd get a little of what he's been doing to the nation while sharing a cell with "Perty-Mouth" Bubba.

Chili Cage Match: The Battle of the Joes

I’ve wanted to try the (relatively) new Joe’s Chili Bowl in the Town and Country Shopping Center for some time and finally did today. Admit it; it’s a good day for Chili.

Sitting down at the counter (their only tables are outside, it’s in the old Fannie May candy store) I knew I was going to wind up comparing it to Joe Rogers’.

By they way, did you know the Joe Rogers restaurant’s full name is Joe Rogers’ Original Recipe Chili Parlor? I didn’t until I looked it up in the phone book for spelling purposes. Maybe I’m just not reading the signs in the store.

Anyway, we ate at the counter. I had the chili and tamale while Mrs. TEH had a chilidog and a bowl. They have three levels of hotness: mild, medium and hot. We both chose medium figuring we could calibrate our choice for next time if it was too mild or too hot. As it turned out, I thought the medium was a bit mild so I may go for hot in the future.

The chili was good and while I would have to say Joe Rogers’ is slightly better but not by much. It seemed to me Joe’s chili was a bit meatier and had less grease (which I often have to spoon off a bit from JR’s chili). For what it is worth, Joe’s and JR’s tie in tamale taste but it seemed like Joe’s was larger. Or maybe it’s just tamale envy.

The one item that I think Joe’s has JR’s beat is the chili dog. Mrs. TEH let me try only a bite of the dog she ordered so I may not have had enough to judge. However, the Mrs. is of the opinion that Joe’s does indeed have the superior chili dog.

So I don’t know, I guess if the stores were right next to each other I probably would still head into JR’s (unless I wanted a chili dog) but if it looked even a bit more crowded I wouldn’t hesitate to belly-up to Joe’s counter.

The Unreal World

Funny + pathetic + creepy + sad. But she doesn't give you any sass!

Then & Now: Rockers and Presidents

The Inside Dope has the side-by-side.

I Can Live With That - Literally

Well, the SJ-R is reporting that a smoking ban in Springfield is pretty much a done deal. And we are talking an across the board ban here –a best case scenario in my view.

As the Springfield City Council begins hearings tonight on whether to ban smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces in the city, a clear majority of the aldermen, including all five Republicans, are leaning toward a total ban.


The proposal by Ward 10 Ald. Bruce Strom calls for smoking to be banned in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants, taverns and bowling alleys. Smoking would be permitted in hotel rooms, private homes and nursing home rooms where all residents agree to permit it. Strom has yet to introduce the ordinance.


Other than Edwards and Strom, Ward 5 Ald. Joe Bartolomucci, Ward 7 Ald. Judy Yeager, Ward 8 Ald. Irv Smith, all Republicans, and Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney, a Democrat, said they lean toward supporting a total ban.

Of the other Democrats, Ward 4 Ald. Chuck Redpath said he wants to ban smoking in restaurants but not taverns, which he believes could be forced out of business by a ban; Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil is leaning against a ban but plans to listen to what happens at the public hearings; Ward 9 Ald. Tom Selinger said he hasn't made up his mind either way; and Ward 3 Ald. Frank Kunz opposes a smoking ban of any kind.

I’m not sure why this article obsesses about political party affiliation in this matter. Is it because Republicans are supposed to want to limit government regulation?

Anyway, I’m thrilled the ban will include the bars. I was willing to make an exception in the name of compromise but screw it, let’s go for the gold. I wish the ban was retroactive so I could nullify all the secondhand smoke I inhaled over the years, particularly in bars (I know, I know, it was my choice to go in to the smoky establishments at the time). I rarely see the inside of drinking establishments anymore (outside of restaurants) but it’s a great development nonetheless.

And if you think your elected representatives don’t listen, check this out:

[Alderman] Yeager said a "vast majority" of the calls she has received were in favor of the ban.

"It took some time, but I've seen the light," she said.
Gosh, I’m so proud of our city leaders, even Mayor Davlin for softening his position (even if it was in the name of political expediency).

There is a public hearing on the smoking ban proposal tonight at 6:30 at the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, 1800 Martin Luther King Drive.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Radio Free Blogger

The hour on I spent on The Mike Wilson Show this evening went pretty well, I think. The panel consisted of host Mike Wilson, American Patriot Legion’s Bill Lewis, AbeLog’s Jim Leach and myself. It seemed we hardly touched on the all the subjects surrounding blogs. And here I was wondering if there would be enough to talk about to fill an hour. After it was over, I felt I still had way more to say.

I wasn’t able to work in a plug for Look Back Springfield or properly compliment many of the excellent bloggers here in Springfield. For example, photo-blogs Jerome Prophet and Disarranging Mine are worthy of an hour unto themselves.

Many thanks to the other bloggers on the panel for their compliments on my blog. I’m not worthy! Really.

One point of clarification. Mike asked the panel what made us feel our blogs were a success. That is, at what point did we feel satisfied with our blogs. I started out by saying something about quantity mattering to me. That came out wrong. Rather than quantity per se, I simply meant I like to have enough posts to have a covered a variety of ideas or news items or otherwise interesting or humorous things. Having a lot of posts covering a lot of ground is gratifying to me.

One other follow-up on blogging in general. Blogging is getting some pretty good coverage in the mainstream media (MSM) because people working in the MSM are exactly the kind of people who would enjoy blogs. That is, to one degree or another, they are information junkies. I love blogs. I read many. I’m an info-junkie. My wife doesn’t like blogs all that much. She’s not an info-junkie. Info-junkies make up only a small percentage of the population. We’re not normal.

To me, this indicates that while blogs will have a continued influence on, and continue to blend into, the MSM, I don’t see blogs ever becoming a major source of information for a large percentage of the population. Radio, television and even some print media require less effort for those who bother at all to try to figure out the world around them.

But I could be wrong.

Thanks to Mike Wilson for having me on. It was nice to meet both Mike and Bill Lewis. We had some good conversation on and off the air. Also a big thanks to Jim Leach for joining in by phone.

Arrested Development

Got to love the internet. Here's a copy of Tom DeLay's arrest warrant. I may print it and frame it. Much, much love to Josh Marshall for the pointer.

Wednesday Ex-Beatle Blogging

Claire has a good day. The excitement is infectious.


Man, this looks like a great TV show in the making. I just can’t wait…
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Actor Ashton Kutcher, whose May-December romance with screen star Demi Moore has riveted the tabloids for months, is producing a Fox
TV sitcom pilot inspired by the couple's recent real-life marriage.

The show, about a man closer in age to his eldest stepdaughter than his bride, is "loosely based" on Kutcher's new blended-family life, 20th Century Fox Television spokesman Chris Alexander said on Tuesday.

The show, tentatively titled "30-Year-Old Grandpa," would be set in Chicago, and neither of the two lead characters are entertainers. Instead it centers on a 30-year-old nightclub owner and a 40-something businesswoman who get married and discover they're expecting a child.

At the same time, the woman's 22-year-old unwed daughter announces she is pregnant and plans to move home to raise her baby -- turning the show's leading man into a grandfather overnight. The woman's younger daughter, who had been living with her father, decides she, too, wants to live with mom and the new stepdad.
How wacky! Television just gets better and better.

On another note, how is Moore being in her early 40’s qualifying her as “December”. I always thought May-December relationships involved a much, much older person playing the part of “December” (December being at the end of the year much as the person would be at the relative end of their life). But what the hell do I know. Well, I know this: we 40-somethings AREN’T OLD even when involved with someone in their mid to late 20s. Ageist asswipes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Beer Tease

Anyone who saw The Daily Show tonight already knows what's in store for Friday Beer Blogging this week.

Writers on Drugs

Wow, the pharmaceutical industry wants to terrorize you. In this bizarre story, Big Pharma commissions a novel to be written about how terrorists poison Americans by contaminating “Canadian” drugs.
Work began in April [by] veteran ghostwriter Julie Chrystyn. Her story concerned a Croatian terrorist cell that uses Canadian Web sites to murder millions of unwitting Americans looking for cut-rate pharmaceuticals.

PhRMA has vigorously fought all efforts to legalize the purchase of cheap drugs from Canada. Even though the lobby has found some success, the underground business still takes an estimated $1 billion in annual profits from American drug behemoths.

Chrystyn titled her thriller-in-progress "The Spivak Conspiracy," an homage to her friend Kenin Spivak, an L.A. telecomm entrepreneur and onetime Hollywood exec.

Spivak said he became Chrystyn's co-writer after she delivered the first 50 pages, and PhRMA made several editorial suggestions.

"They said they wanted it somewhat dumbed down for women, with a lot more fluff in it, and more about the wife of the head Croatian terrorist, who is a former Miss Mexico," Spivak told me.

Apparently, women are among the most loyal buyers of Canadian drugs.

"They also wanted to change the motivating factor of the terrorists to greed, because they didn't want it to be politics," Spivak said. "They wanted lots of people to die."

Spivak told me that since PhRMA pulled out - and he and his colleagues rejected the lobby's offer of $100,000 to kill the project - he and Chrystyn have finished a revised version, "The Karasik Conspiracy," due early next year.
Yes, and be sure to make it understandable to those dumb women! Corporate terrorists.

Hat tip to Ezra Klein.

We Got 30s, Do I Hear 20s?

Down, down, down. Even Gallup has Bush falling below 40 percent approval.

(CNN) -- President Bush's job approval rating continues to plummet, with 39 percent of Americans surveyed in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll supporting his performance, compared to 58 percent expressing disapproval.

The approval rating was the lowest the poll has recorded during Bush's presidency, down from 45 percent in a survey taken September 26-28, and the disapproval
rating was up from 50 percent.

Thing is, even if Bush were running of a third term, the Democrats would probably be able to nominate someone who would just barely lose to him.

Wireless Africa

This really isn’t news since I’ve been reading about it for years, but I’ve always found it interesting. Africans have skipped traditional landline telephone technology and moved right to cell phones. The poorer nations that make up much of the continent never had the economic wherewithal to create anything close to universal phone systems. The wires and poles needed for the phone infrastructure was too costly.

Then came cell phones:
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Amina Harun, a 45-year-old farmer, used to traipse around for hours looking for a working pay phone on which to call the markets and find the best prices for her fruit.

Then cell phones changed her life.

"We can easily link up with customers, brokers and the market," she says, sitting between two piles of watermelons at Wakulima Market in Kenya's capital. Harun is one of a rapidly swelling army of wired-up Africans -- an estimated 100 million of the continent's 906 million people.


As cell-phone relay towers sprout on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti plain, providers are racing to keep up with their exploding market.

The numbers are staggering.

Cell phones made up 74.6 percent of all African phone subscriptions last year, says the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union. Cell phone subscriptions jumped 67 percent south of the Sahara in 2004, compared with 10 percent in cell-phone-saturated Western Europe, according to Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese who chairs Celtel, a leading African provider.

An industry that barely existed 10 years ago is now worth $25 billion, he says. Prepaid air minutes are the preferred means of usage and have created their own
$2 billion-a-year industry of small-time vendors, the Celtel chief says. Air minutes have even become a form of currency, transactable from phone to phone by
text message, he says.
I see all of this as a positive for Africa. The better communications is bound to give commerce a leg-up, maybe helping pull the poorer nations out of desperate poverty. Of course, this positive development is swimming against the current of bad news like AIDS and other diseases, war and famine.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rocket Man

I was sad to see this:
FARMINGTON, Connecticut (AP) -- Charles Rocket, a comedian and actor who appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and had roles in a variety of movies and television series, committed suicide, the state medical examiner has ruled.


Rocket was a cast member on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" during the 1980-81 season, a tumultuous year that followed the departure of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" and founding producer Lorne Michaels. Rocket gained notoriety when he was fired from "SNL" for swearing on the air.
Rocket's career was perhaps permanently short-circuited by inadvertently uttering the "F" word live on SNL. He was dismissed from the show following that incident. I saw that show 25 years ago but somehow missed "the word". Still, back then, I thought it was kind of cool he did it. There was little to no swearing on TV back then and to get the big one on network TV was just downright radical. Yet, had Rocket not said what he said, would he have gone on to much better things like many other SNL alumni? We'll never know.

Ah, another piece of my past is gone.

There is one other interesting thing in this story. It's the very last paragraph:
His movie credits included "Earth Girls are Easy," "Dumb and Dumber" and "Dances With Wolves," according to the Internet Movie Database.
This is an AP story using, and crediting, an internet information source -The Internet Movie Database. I use the IMDB all the time and have linked to it many times here. But still, this is the AP. They have their own resources, right? Well, maybe not so much anymore. The times, they are a changing.

Blogger Radio Love-In

Springfield bloggers are gathering on WMAY's The Mike Wilson Show Wednesday evening at 5:00. I'll be there. Got blog? Go here.

Updated Blog Roll Again

I added, in a word or two:

Drone1047 - Smart-ass!, I like it

The Mike Wilson Show - Actually re-added after a brief absence

Springfield Trivia - Speaks for itself

Talkback Now! - WMAY's Pamela Furr, ummm, says stuff

Brainwashed - Grooviest teen blog ever (in the Illinois section but really she's across the Mississippi in STL)

Catie Sheehan Post for Catie Searches

I get a lot of hits on this site from people searching for WCFN newsperson Catie Sheehan through MSN Search. They get this post of mine from long ago. So to please Catie fans I have this new post. I have stolen the same Catie picture DownLeft used in this post of his. Let the Catie-fest begin:

So as to attract the maximum number of hits from Catie searches, I offer these items: Catie Sheehan WCFN, Catie Sheehan WCIA, Catie Sheehan Springfield, Catie Sheehan News Babe, Catie Sheehan Naked, Catie Sheehan Gone Wild, Catie Sheehan Missile Defense System, Catie Sheehan Mail Order Bride, What Happens With Catie Sheehan in Las Vegas Stays in Las Vegas, Catie Sheehan and Donald Trump, Catie Sheehan NASCAR, Catie Sheehan Jet Packs (that one for Jerome Prophet), Catie Sheehan Don Hickman Comparisons, Catie Sheehan Jagermiester, Catie Sheehan Picture on Wyoming Quarter, Catie Sheehan Lens Crafters, Catie Sheehan Abraham Lincoln Was Gay.

Loami Woman Makes National News

Well, sort of. In a story about tourists returning to New Orleans, the Associated Press finds a Loami resident to talk to:
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- Jeanie Reavis has come for Mardi Gras and Jazzfest and Creole Christmas, dozens of trips to the city she loves. She will head to New Orleans again Monday, undeterred by the destruction she witnessed on her TV screen from 700 miles away. She says she has to.

"Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but everyone that knows me knew that as soon as it was open I'd be getting down there," said the 54-year-old secretary from Loami, Illinois, near Springfield. "I really need to see it."


Reavis will visit New Orleans with her husband, as they have more than 30 times before, though this time will be more a pilgrimage than a vacation.

"For me, New Orleans is my favorite place in the world," Reavis said. "My only reservation is that I'm sure I'm going to cry when I see it."
OK, Loami, Jeanie is 54 no matter what she's been saying. The AP says so.

Cubs vs. White Sox: A Downstater’s Primer

With the Chicago White Sox headed to the World Series, downstaters are examining why there is no local following of Chicago’s better baseball team. After all, there are large numbers of Cubs fans here, why not so for the Sox? And while we all examine our lack of interest in the Sox, we wonder about the seemingly strange phenomenon of the Cubs-Sox rivalry in the Chicago area.

Growing up here in Springfield, I was completely unaware there was such an intra-city rivalry until I started coming into contact with large numbers of Chicagoans in college. It became even more clear at my first post-college job in Northwest Illinois where I worked with two Chicago transplants –one a diehard Cubs fan and another a Sox true believer.

These guys would go at it constantly and it never made any sense to me. I would step into the middle of their insult-fests and remind them, too logically, that their teams never even play each other in the regular season (this was in the mid 1980’s). They didn’t play ANY of the same teams. Their leagues even had slightly different rules. Under those circumstances, I would argue, how was it even possible to determine which was the better team. I would go on to tell them about a REAL rivalry, one I grew up with, between the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Now THAT was a rivalry, said I. Sometimes my coworkers would listen to me politely before getting back to their my-team’s-best-a-thon. Most times they would momentarily unite to dismiss my lack of understanding of one of the great conflicts of nature.

Now, of course, these days the teams do play each other and there is some inter-league intermingling. But that means little to Chicago fans. The rivalry is as it always has been. My only explanation is that it is similar to the Cubs/Cards rivalry here. We gain our loyalties through family and friends without regard to any logical reasoning. In fact, logic might dictate we not waste so much time on a fairly boring spectator experience.

UPDATE: I just realized there is a potential Cubs fan rivalry brewing. Say the Cardinals win the playoff series and go on to meet the White Sox in the World Series. In this instance, downstate Cubs fans will be rooting for the White Sox while their Chicago brethren, hating the Sox, will favor the Cards. A house divided.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Congrats White Sox

They're going to the World Series.

It's strange how little a following the Sox have here downstate. Aside from some Chicago transplants, I don't know any fans in Springfield. While I lived in Chicago, I would occasionally take in a Sox game with good friend Dave "Animal" C. to have a little fun drinking beer and paying way too much for hot dogs and nachos. In fact, the only grand slam I've ever witnessed live, outside of Denny's, took place at Comiskey Park (before it was US Cellular Field).

So good on the Sox, as much under appreciated as they are here.


What absolutely fabulous weather this weekend. Fall is such an interesting season and when the temperatures are warm, the sky clear and the trees coloring, you just have to love it. I could go on about Fall around here but Jerome Prophet does it much better than I ever could.

Abe-y You Can Drive My Car

I saw a car in town today with the license plate "ABE ABE". You just can't get enough of Abe in this city. Anyone got "ABEBABY" or "ABETOWN" or "GO ABE"? I think the city should subsidize anyone who gets a plate with ABE in it. C'mon, it's a great idea. Tourists will be entertained by the abundance of ABE plates and they will know we really take our Abeness seriously. I'm taking "ABE NUT" and "ABES HO" for me and the Mrs (we'll fight over who gets which later). Who else is in?

Friday, October 14, 2005

GOP Police Beat: Friday Edition

They keep on comin'...

The Government Accountability Office has concluded that the Education Department engaged in illegal "covert propaganda" by hiring Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act without requiring him to disclose that he was being paid. More here.

Karl Rove was before the grand jury for a fourth time today.

Tom DeLay's phone records have been subpoenaed.

Dame Frames

Since Atrios is man enough to admit he saw (and then reviews) the movie In Her Shoes, I'll 'fess up and admit I saw it too this past weekend. If you have to see a chick flick, and guys you know you sometimes do, this one isn't too bad. As a bonus, if you're into Cameron Diaz, she's half naked through much of the movie. I disagree with Atrios that it wasn't predictable -it was. However, there were some good performances.

A Grave Matter

Ha, here's an Illinois man who won't stop battling the forces of darkeness even in death:
"Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service-related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans."
Keep those acerbic cards and letters coming.

Hat tip to Bill in Portland Maine via Kos

Music by Osmosis

Jim over at AbeLog, in his weekly Friday Beatle Blogging post today says his kids are have developed an interest in Beatles music from him:

Here's a great gift idea for the kids this Christmas: a new book that tries to help
teenagers understand why the Lads from Liverpool were, and are, such a cultural
watershed. "A Teenager's Guide to the Beatles" explains not only the music, but
also the controversies and social innovations the Fab Four created.

I'm blessed to have two children who, by osmosis, have already developed an appreciation for the Beatles. If you are not so lucky, this may be your opportunity.

I’m pleased to hear this is possible even though I’m already familiar with the phenomenon. Former TEH college roommate and all around good guy SG has a daughter, Claire, with a developed interest in the loveable mop-tops from Liverpool. That interest came straight from her dad, a lifelong Beatles fan.

Claire is also now has a blog called brianwashed. In fact, her latest post is Beatles-related. She just scored Paul McCartney tickets and seems pretty pleased about it. Brainwashed is a smart and fun without the typical gossipy “oh-my-god” valley girl-esque stuff you get from the usual teen girl blog. Go check it out and say hi.

This all gives me hope I might be able to influence my son, now only two, in a similar way. This is all kind of a foreign concept to me since I’m of the generation that had absolutely nothing in common with their parents in regards to pop music. That’s too bad but, thanks to the musical revolutions of the 1960s, I think that’s not as much of a problem anymore. And I think that’s kind of neat.

Friday Beer Blogging: Infusion Edition

I was interested to see the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale student newspaper, The Daily Egyptian, now reports on beer. They should do this regularly. I do and I’m just a stupid blog. A college paper should have a beer editor and a beer beat staff.

Anyway, this article in the DE fills us in on what will surely soon be a campus (well, off-campus) rage –infused beer. Specifically, the article tells us how Carbondale’s famous Pinch Penny Pub has been chosen by Anheuser-Busch to test market infused beer.

What is infused beer? It seems to be beer that the put stuff into including much more alcohol. Something hard drinking college students have been denied apparently.

Allow me to parse the DE article:

It has twice the alcohol of a normal beer, three fruit flavors and an availability limited to Pinch Penny Pub and very few other bars nationwide.

Whoa, stop right there. Beer is NOT fruit flavored. Those are called wine coolers.

Served in an irregular-shaped acrylic occasionally ice-filled glass, Anheuser-Busch's new Michelob Infusion Drafts are the latest attack in the war between beer companies and mixed drinks

War is hell. War between alcoholic drinks results in a lot of spilled beverages.

"It's targeted more to the non-beer drinker than the traditional beer drinker," said James Kelly, general manager of Carbondale's Anheuser-Busch distributor, Venegoni Horrell Distributing Inc.

Seems to me a non-beer drinker would be more inclined to just not drink beer. I don’t like cauliflower. “Infusing” it with a fruit flavor still wouldn’t get me to eat it.

James Karayiannis, the general manager of Pinch Penny Pub, said mixed drinks capture more drinkers every year. Beer, once a bastion of good times, has been mysteriously losing its appeal among the younger crowd, Karayiannis said.

“Once a bastion of good times”? Who writes this shit? Oh yeah, college students who really do live in a bastion of good times.

Bottles of beer are being replaced by plastic cups filled flavored vodkas and drinks with fancy names, such as "Sex on the beach" or "Long island ice tea.

Uhhhhh…those “fancy” drinks have been around as long as I’ve been able to legally sit on a bar stool. But a good Long Island Ice Tea really will f*** you up

As times change, the beer industry is adapting right along with it.

Yes, 9/11 changed everything. Drink infused beer or The Terrorists™ win.

"They're trying to change things up, be creative and have fun," Karayiannis said. "Because life isn't just as simple as Bud Light or Jack and Coke anymore. Young people are interested in trying something different

Young people today are more sophisticated drunks. Fruitier smelling puke is less assaulting on one’s senses.

The Infusion Drafts come in three flavors: Tropical Fruit, Spicy Mango and Blueberry. The bartender places the cup under the special Infusion tap, presses the flavor button and a computerized system releases the proper amount of fruit flavor into the glass. The bartender then pulls the tap ˜ releasing a Michelob test beer with almost twice as much alcohol as a normal draft. The fruit-beer hybrid is garnished with a slice of fruit

I’m sorry, but that’s the gayest beer experience I think I’ve ever read.

Until recently, Pinch Penny Pub was the only bar in the world offering the new concoction. Anheuser-Busch has sold the drafts in their Busch Garden theme parks for some time, but his bar was the first in the world to offer the drink, Karayiannis said.

Sounds pretty impressive until you read…

The distributor chose the bar because it liked the atmosphere in the pub's beer garden, and also because Karayiannis was willing to buy the Infusion machine that cost about $2,500, Kelly said.

PPP was chosen because they paid for it. Truly revolutionary.

"The thing with Pinch Penny Pub is the Infusion takes a pretty substantial investment in the equipment and they were willing to pay," Kelly said.

Uh-huh, like I said.

For Karayiannis, a life-long Cardinals fan and a Budweiser drinker by association, sacrificing the cash for a test beer was an honor. He was thrilled when Augustus Busch III, chairman of Anheuser-Busch's board of trustees, personally visited the beer garden to talk beer.

Well, all right, that’s pretty cool. But I wonder if the new Busch Stadium will be infused with a fruit flavor. I like my baseball with twice the alcohol and taste of Spicy Mango

While the leader of the world's largest beer company only stayed in Carbondale a few hours, the visit was productive, Karayiannis said.

Oh, I see…we don’t want to loiter around a dumpy Southern Illinois college town. Mere commoners might infect one with cooties.

"Immediately the following day all the upgrades we suggested through customer feedback were taken care of," Karayiannis said. The recommendations ranged from making the beer heavier in alcohol content to fancying up the glasses, he said.

“More alcohol, more alcohol,” chanted the 1:00 AM crowd, “Oh, and more fruit, please”.

While some initial tests have been positive, Karayiannis also acknowledged Infusion is not for everyone. "It's not designed for the everyday beer drinker," he said.

Well, maybe,” he added, “if you like a hangover every day as well.”
More on Anheuser-Busch’s infused beer Frankenstein here.

Sorry no beer centerfold this week.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stupid On-line Polls

I think has the worst. Here's one from tonight:

Oh, oh, I know the answer! It's "Eat me". Really, what the hell kind of question is that?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bad News/Good News

OK, natural gas prices are going up -way up- this winter. That's the bad news.

I just watched a gentleman from NOAA on C-SPAN, recorded earlier today, who presented NOAA's estimation that winter here (in Central Illinois) is going to be warmer than "normal" (which is really "average" but whatever). That's the good news.

Much higher heating costs coupled with a cold winter would be a great hardship. Higher prices with a slightly warmer than average winter is better news.

Now all I have to worry about is the Avian Flu devastating humanity and high gasoline prices wrecking the economy. I feel slightly less doomed.

Best Blog Post Title of the Day

Glengarry Glen Rove

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

GOP Police Beat Tuesday

More GOP misadventures with the law:

Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas was arrested for drunk driving

Dick Cheney involved in Plamegate investigation?

More of Bill Frist’s investments come under scrutiny

One Flu Over the Cookoo's Nest

Sobering flu talk from a guy in Jerome.

I don't know what to think. I just hope the worst doesn't come to pass. That's not much to hang my hat on though.

Read All About It

Props to the SJ-R for paying more attention to late breaking news on its web site. In recent weeks more and more timely breaking news has been appearing at the SJ-R online.

The Breaking News section has multiple links every day now. I think this makes the SJ-R a more credible and reliable source of news.

Phony Baloney

So the New York subway terror threat was a hoax. Even before it was revealed to be untrue, this incident had me thinking about how easy it is to be a terrorist when those you seek to terrorize are so jumpy or paranoid or, say, deliberately kept in a state of perpetual fear for political reasons.

The perpetrator of the “hoax” had only one weapon: his mouth. Yet he successfully “terrorized” one of the largest cities in this country. He could only do so because the fear of what he threatened preexisted and he was given a wider voice by authorities and the media.

Being diligent is one thing but the constant overblown rhetoric, alert codes and phony associations made to terrorists (cough- Iraq -cough) leads to a state of fear that allows the otherwise powerless to terrorize. Those that facilitate this fear seeking political gain (cough- Bush administration -cough) are also terrorists in a general sense or at least facilitators of same.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Time on the Run

This is hilarious. They have invented an alarm clock that runs away from you and hides after you hit the snooze. And the name of this product is just as good – Clocky.It sounds like the nickname President Bush would give his living room clock.

Anyway, here’s the product description:
Clocky is an alarm clock that runs and hides when you presse the snooze. The alarm sounds, you press the snooze, and he will roll off of the beside table, fall to the floor, and wheel away, bumping mindlessly into objects until he eventually finds a spot to rest. When the alarm sounds again, the sleeper must awaken to search for Clocky. Clocky is programmed to find new resting spots everyday, creating a hide- and-seek game with the offending over-sleeper.
And Here's the picture:
It looks like a cylindrical clock with wheels and covered in shag carpet.

Hat tip to tristero over at Digby's place for the pointer.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Beneath the Music of the Apes

You know who I'm really liking and really need to get their latest CD? Gorillaz

Having Damon Albarn of Blur as part of the band helps.

Even more on the strange tale of this "cartoon band" here.

West Side Story

Its’ been true for a while but lately it’s become clear to me that the far west side of Springfield is now pretty much a community of its own now. I live in West Springfield™ and I can assure you, with the exception of going downtown for something a bit more eclectic, there is little reason to venture east of Chatham Road.

I grew up in the south central part of town near Blackhawk School but I almost never see that part of the city anymore. No need. The town of West Springfield™ has me covered. I live there, I work there and I shop there.

I don’t say that with any pride since West Springfield™ is devoid of any discernible personality. Treeless subdivisions flow into chain-store-filled strip malls and box stores. It’s often bland, mostly sterile, sometimes convenient and above all -safe!

But, hey, it’s home and only a short drive from Eastside™, Northenderland™ MacArthurton™ and Leland Grove. Did I forget anyone?

Cock of the Walk

We can’t have been the first parents to run into this problem unexpectedly. Trying to do a little car sing-along with our two-year-old today, Mrs. TEH was winding her way through all the farm animals in a rendition of Old McDonald’s Farm. When she came to the rooster, which says cock-a-doodle-doo, she had to stop short (and then laugh her ass off). It's a little like singing "The Name Game" using Chuck.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Rubbish From Dear Leader

Juan Cole has a great take-down of President Bush’s ridiculous talk yesterday on the Great War on Terror. I’d say Cole’s rebuttal is brilliant except it isn’t and doesn’t have to be because its target is such an easy one. Bush, playing on most American’s childish, grossly uninformed (read: totally ignorant) understanding of the world, misrepresents and makes up facts, confuses details and builds an army of strawmen. So Cole’s work is actually easy even if lengthy.

Friday Beer Blogging: Bottomless Beer Glass Edition

I don't spend much time in bars anymore but here's something I know, back in the day, would have been a great thing on those nights when I was particularly, ummm, thirsty. I'll let the BBC tell the story:
An intelligent beermat that alerts the bartender that your glass is empty could feature in pubs of the future.

Like an ordinary mat, it absorbs drips; but the gadget also has hidden sensors.

The device will detect the weight of the drink above it, working out how much is left before sending a signal to the bar for a refill.
When drinks are low, a blinking light at the bar could let the waiter know to check that table for a top-up.

Because the mat can also sense being picked up and flapped around, customers can signal an order - with the urgency judged by the speed it is moved.

Another feature is that drinkers can say how many drinks they would like to order by stacking of a number of mats in one hand.
Ahh, the future of bars looks bright: Beer Mats and, coming soon (hopefully), no smoke!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"F11 And Be There"

I remember that quote from a photography appreciation course I took in college. I think it was attributed to the late, great crime photographer Arthur “Weegee” Felig, but I could be wrong. The point not being your aperture setting so much as that to get a good photograph you have to make the effort to be at the right place, at the right time.

Marie at Disarranging Mine recently paid bloggity tribute to the Springfield photoblogger extraordinaire Jerome Prophet. He’s been doing a fantastic job with his photobloging. Is there anyone else in any medium documenting Springfield like this? I don’t think so.

It’s interesting how JP's blog has evolved so quickly into the Springfield photoblog of record. The sad part is, it, like all local blogs, is relatively unknown. I think if people knew about JP, they would be clicking-in on a daily basis.

Now, I’ve known Jerome Prophet since we were both grade-schoolers at Blessed Sacrament School. I think we joined forces in about sixth or seventh grade; he was the class clown and I, too shy to act up on my own, was his head writer. I’m not sure any of our classmates would have described either of us or the rest of our posse as “normal”. We've always looked at the world a little askew and from angles maybe a little non-conformist.

Fast forward to our college years. We were still best friends and often introduced each other to whatever new experience we had recently discovered. One Christmas I finally got a good 35mm camera. Something I had wanted for some time. JP quickly followed suit and we were off to all kinds of photographic adventures. I think we both had an eye for photography for a while but, like everything else at that age, the enthusiasm and dedication faded after a while and we both gave it up as a hobby.

Fast way, way forward to 2005. We both start blogs. JP quickly realizes what a great medium blogging is for displaying local photos. Long dormant talents begin to reemerge and now we have one of Springfield’s premier photo -dare I say it- journalist.

And what’s JP’s secret? Well, without asking him I suspect it’s mostly what’s in the title of this post –be there. Go get it. Record it. Share it.

Sister Blog Update

Head on over to (the much neglected by me) Look Back Springfield blog. Russ has embarked on a rather interesting project.

I have a number of things in mind for LBS but time has been really, really tight of late.

TV Weirdness

I have to agree with Richard Bradley that the recent attempt by a Fox News personality to (apparently) set up Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with another woman is in fact one of the oddest things to ever have happened on television. Even if the incident wasn't an attempt at a romantic setup, it's still very strange and I’d like to know what explanation there is for it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Dog Days

Fontana Labs has it exactly right:
Dog owners: please be aware that not everyone else loves dogs. Also be aware that you are not an infallible judge of your dog's future behavior. Other users of public spaces might be upset when you violate leash laws in a way that allows your dog to interfere with running, hiking, and other perfectly legitimate activities. It doesn't really matter that your dog is, in fact, perfectly friendly; what matters is what it's like to be on the business end of a large charging animal.
I hate that! I live near an open space (that happens to have a running track) that I frequently use to get out and get some exercise. Every once in a while, some asswipe willl shows up and unleashes his/her dog, which then comes charging at me.

"Brutus! Brutus! Come here!", yells the owner. The dog never even slows down.

At this point, I have to stop and hope precious Brutus has already eaten and doesn't feel as threatened as I do. Almost always the dog will come up, either plant its nose in my crotch or just keep its distance and bark at me. This is the time where the owner ambles up and assures me Brutus is just a big baby and wouldn't maul a flea. OK, fine but there is no way I can know or trust that.

No big deal? I have already had to stop my workout, go on the defense and hope like hell the situation all works out. Yeah, no big deal for the dog owner but it pisses me off to no end.

I Want My Fuse TV

I happened to catch a particularly well done music-video-with-a-message last night. (I like to catch Fuse TV’s Number 1 Countdown once or twice a week to catch up on the latest and greatest.)

Simple Plan’s video for their song “Untitled” features an auto accident caused by a kid who has been drinking. Yes, we all know drinking and driving is bad, stupid, dangerous, deadly, blah, blah, blah. But this video takes it further; it dramatically and cleverly displays the impact of the crash on the victim’s family.

Before I say any more, watch the video here.

The shots of the family members being thrown about their house at the moment of the accident I think is very effective. Maybe this has been before but I haven’t seen it.

However, there’s no reason to limit this to just a DUI accident. You could plug that same impact at home into any major accident. In fact, the impact on everyone is the same even if the kid was just going too fast (and not drinking) or goofing off and not paying attention (and not drinking). Drunk driving deserves a lot of attention but even accidents not related to alcohol are often preventable and when they do happen, have deadly results.

There are plenty of alternatives to the beginning of the video. How about someone getting the news they have terminal cancer. Or having the impact not be between two cars but between a bullet and a young soldier’s neck. The impact at home is all he same.

Still, big ups to the makers of this video. I think they convey a very effective cautionary tale set to music.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Violence Continues in New Orleans!

Axe-wielding marauders inflict carnage on the Big Easy! headline:

Oh, that kind of axed. Whew. Nevermind.

Billy B.

This is all well and good but how about a resolution that condemns the dishonorable Mr. Bennett for his advocacy of the destruction of public education.

Questions Best Not Asked?

Ogged over at Unfogged has a philosophical moment:
How many millions of people's gifts go unknown, and die with them? How many
know their gift, but are never able to use it, because they were born in the
wrong place, or at the wrong time, to the wrong parents, etc.? Am I doing what I
ought to be doing?

Such a horrible feeling of waste; wasted time, wasted talents, wasted
lives, even. Aw hell, best not to think about this too much. How are things at
your office this morning?

It's a good set of questions. Do I have a talent I'm completely unaware of? For instance, I've never once taken up a musical instrument. Would I be good if I had? I like music. I admire musicians.

I wonder about the chicken and egg thing here too. If I have no interest in something without having tried it, can I automatically assume that attitude will prevent me from being really good at it? Or does the very act of trying something spark an interest that wasn't there before unmasking a hidden talent? I think cases can be made for both ideas.

Monday, October 03, 2005

GOP Police Beat: Monday Edition

Tom DeLay has ANOTHER indictment against him today.

This may have to become a daily feature.

Ozzy and Harriet

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The Right's Been Wronged

The Right is up in arms about President Bush's selection of Harriett Miers for the Supreme Court. Which, of course, means the nomination process is going to be lots of fun to watch. As to the Right's objections, I defer to the analysis of wingnut slayer Atrios:

Wingnuttia is rather angry at the choice. I don't think this is because they're really concerned that she's not conservative enough for their tastes, although that's part of it. They're angry because this was supposed to be their nomination. This is was their moment. They didn't just want a stealth victory, they wanted parades and fireworks. They wanted Bush to find the wingnuttiest wingnut on the planet, fully clothed and accessorized in all the latest wingnut fashions, not just to give them their desired Court rulings, but also to publicly validate their influence and power. They didn't just want substantive results, what they wanted even more were symbolic ones. They wanted Bush to extend a giant middle finger to everyone to the left of John Ashcroft. They wanted to watch Democrats howl and scream and then ultimately lose a nasty confirmation battle. They wanted this to be their "WE RUN THE COUNTRY AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT" moment.

When I heard Miers was in charge of finding the best candidate for the Supreme Court and then found it to be herself, I thought I had heard that story before involving someone else in the Bush administration. Sure enough, it was Dick Cheney who, while charged with finding the best VP candidate for Bush in 2000, came up with -DICK CHENEY.