Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Voice in the Crowd

Holy crap.

10 million blogs? And I only have about 500,000 bookmarked.

The Voyeur Media

You know, I really wanted to post some angry comments on the whole missing woman from Georgia thing yesterday. I just didn’t have the time and now I wish I had because today I would be writing a big I TOLD YOU SO post. But I didn’t so I can’t.

What ticked me off yesterday was the news coverage I was seeing and hearing. I kept thinking that we have come to a point where there always has to be a missing person story in the news. And not just any missing person. No, they have to be either a young woman or a girl, attractive and white. Because if they aren’t all these things, who gives a shit, right? Hell, I could disappear and I’d be lucky to get a 10 second mention on WICS’s news right after Gus Gordon’s weather. All because I have a face for blogging and no vagina (but hey, I’m white!). Seriously, you mean to tell me there aren’t thousands of missing people in this country at any given moment? Never any men? No African-Americans? No old people? No one with a complexion problem? Give me a break.

So it turns out the woman just got cold feet about her upcoming wedding and took off to New Mexico. Well, well. The fiancée didn’t kill her. How ‘bout that. The guy was really being set up as a murderer in the media. My God, he wanted to protect himself from being railroaded so he sets some (very reasonable) conditions on taking otherwise unreliable lie detector tests. Good for him. Too bad that results in a guilty verdict in the media.


Air Rendez-Review

Well, that was a fun 24 hours.

I started last night by going to the Air Rendezvous Hanger Party but weather prevented the scheduled night air show from taking place (they postponed it until tonight and I’m not there). While the bands went on and played anyway, ite was just too cold in the hanger and after a couple hours we left for a warmer establishment to play darts until 1:00 AM. I haven’t done that in a while. Staying out to 1:00 that is. Married, children, yada, yada. I also apparently still have my darts mojo.

Slightly hung over, it was off to the main air show this morning. The weather was pretty good except for a northwest wind that could cut right through you during gusts.

I got there too late to see Springfield’s own 183rd Fighter Wing open the show but I caught everything else.

Let me say that this was one of the best attended shows I’ve seen in years. I mean, there were long lines at some of the food vendors and many booths sold out of much of their merchandise and food items.

The corporate tent I was in was jammed and even ran out of some amenities. There wasn’t a chair to be had by the time the show climaxed with the Blue Angels who, as expected, performed flawlessly.

The rest of the show was pretty good too. A demonstration of the Harrier Jump Jet and an F-15 Eagle were crowd pleasers as well.

My favorite part of the show was the US Air Force Heritage Flight. This year it featured a World War two era P-51 fighter and a Vietnam era F-4 fighter. They, along with the F-15, did a series of spectacular close-formation fly-bys. It was really cool to see three generations of some of America’s best military aircraft flying together like that. The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight program is an annual feature at Air Rendezvous (and other air shows) that teams various vintage Air Force plane with their modern successors. I think it’s a great thing. And kind of moving to watch.

Also, a special shout-out to Team Red. It’s easy for the older prop driven planes to be greatly overshadowed by the powerful and speedy jets, but this group of old Chinese and Soviet prop trainers was really cool. They flew no less than 15 aircraft simultaneously. Very cool to see.

The lowlight of the show was the stupid Air Force Reserve Jet Car. Why does the Air Force Reserve need a jet car? I speculated maybe they use it to get to and from Baghdad Airport on that very deadly highway so many people have died on in Iraq. Otherwise, what a waste of money. And it’s a car, it doesn’t belong at an air show (even if the little kids do love it).

I’m sunburned and a bit burned-out otherwise. But was a great 24 hours.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Home School Truant

I guess I'd never considered truancy to be a home schooling problem too.
MARION - Williamson County State's Attorney Charles Garnati is taking a tougher stance with parents who fail to follow established curriculum guidelines when home schooling their children.

On Thursday, he announced at a press conference that he has charged Marion resident Kim Harris with permitting truancy, a Class C misdemeanor punishable up
to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Harris is said to have willingly and knowingly allowed her 15-year-old son to be truant.

Garnati stressed that he supports home-schooling in general, just not for parents who abuse the privilege.

Some parents have allowed their children to be truant from public schools, and when threatened with legal action, have pulled their children from that school to avoid prosecution, Garnati said.

"It's what I call an end around," Garnati said. "These are parents who have no intention of home-schooling their child. Unfortunately, there is no law on the books that criminalizes improper home schooling. What concerns me are those children who are chronically truant from school."


Mickey Sullivan, truant officer with the regional superintendent of schools office in Herrin, said the number of truancy cases has dwindled in the county under Garnati's watch. But she believes the number of children who are home-schooled who are not receiving proper instruction has increased."

People don't have to register with our office if they decide to home-school their kids," Sullivan said. "The only way we know the student is being home-schooled is if the parent pulls the student from the school for whatever reason or if we get a report that the student has been seen out on the streets. Otherwise, it's hard to track."
I'm not a big fan of home schooling for a lot of reasons. I'm not for banning it, I just don't like it for the most part. I think it's limiting both academically and socially. And the problem of parents who just don't care to even bother actually teaching their "home schooled" kids doesn't help.

Missing Magic Wand Update

I heard the president invoke the missing magic wand again last night at his press conference. I don't have a link to the transcript but I heard him mention the lost wand in an NPR report on his Social Security plan. Bottom line: it's still lost.

I have been tracking this important story for a few weeks now (see here and here).

I also have discovered that the president and others in his administration have been looking for the wand for some time:

Dick Cheney (July 2002): "Ultimately, of course, the peak power period this
summer will exceed any capacity the state has and you'll end up in those rolling
brownouts. There's no magic wand that Washington can wave."

Ari Fleischer (May 2001): "If any politician has a magic wand that they can wave
over gas prices to lower them, the president...would like to listen to them."

Presidential candidate George W. Bush, on healthcare reform (February
2000): "I'm sorry. I wish I could wave a wand."

Life would be so good if we could only find the wand.

Friday Beer Blogging: Air Rendezvous Edition

God bless the internet. Looky what I found. Complete instructions on how to build a model airplane from beer cans!

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The red, white and blue Bud Angels reporting for duty.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Shawnee War

DownLeft has another great post. It deals with a controversy that I wasn't even aware of but now have a great interest in -Southern Illinois' beautiful Shawnee National Forest. Apparently, it's being used, or over used, to the point where there are now some environmental concerns.

So what we have is the classic fight between those that want to limit or manage usage to preserve the area and those who want to tear the crap out of the place by allowing virtually unlimited access by anyone, anytime to do anything.

One thing I always liked about the wilderness areas of Southern Illinois was that they were relatively underutilized. It was like no one knew it was there 25 year ago when I lived in the area and that was fine by me. So things have changed and now more management of recreation is needed. Although not everyone agrees, therefore the controversy.

DL also has some useful links in the post for those interested in this controversy.


From a long New York Times article on the state of college and college students...or something:
STUDENTS have names for certain days. Tuesday is Boozeday, Thursday is

At 9 p.m. on a Boozeday last fall, Robin Bhalla and friends are downing
shots of vodka at his off-campus apartment. "We save money that way," he
explains to a reporter watching the ritual. "Get a buzz on at home, then go
bar-hopping." Sufficiently buzzed, the students who are of drinking age drive to
a popular bar near campus, where they chug beer and do more shots. "I like to
get drunk, not blackout drunk, but I like to get drunk," Mr. Bhalla says.
"You're able to talk to girls a lot more. And I like girls." By 1 a.m. he is
"fubar," which politely translates as "fouled up beyond all recognition," and is
asked to leave the bar. He spots a student who he is sure insulted him earlier
that evening and rushes him, intent on fighting. His friends pull him away, and
Mr. Bhalla reels around the parking lot, cursing.

Late the next morning, Mr. Bhalla wakes up on the floor of a vacant
building, a shuttered fraternity house. "I was so depressed, and I looked at my
face and my hands," he recalls, now sitting in a dormitory lounge for an
interview. "I was just like, 'What am I doing with my life?' " But that moment
of reflection soon passes. "If I sat there for days like that, what good's going
to come out of it?" he says. Mr. Bhalla professes not to remember the
altercation the night before.

About the purpose of college, he says: "You go so you can get a job and
make money when you're older. But at the same time you get life experiences that
are priceless, like networking." He expects that to pay off: "I've made so many
connections I never would have been able to make without it, and these are all
my friends and people that I know from the bars and from classes and, you know,
people that I've hung out with that later in life I'm going to be able to call
on and be like: 'I know you have a job with this company. Do you know if they're
hiring, or can you get me an application? Can I use you as a reference?' "

Mr. Bhalla, 22, a psychology major with a minor in business (grade point
average 3.0, on a 4.0 scale), says he stopped going to most of his classes after
sophomore year and drank excessively four nights a week: usually Tuesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Nonetheless, he made the dean's list last spring. He
says he has rarely given more than an hour a night for all his courses.
"Teachers say, 'For every class you should do a certain amount of reading,' but
I never do that," he says. His routine: toward the end of the semester, scan the
readings, review notes to see what the teacher said was important, get the
teacher's study guide. He believes he is not alone. "A lot of people just try
and coast by, and don't do the readings. They try and cheat off the homework,
copy their friends'.


At the end of a three-hour interview, Mr. Bhalla is asked if he regrets
anything he has done at Arizona. "These are the years that I'm not going to have
back," he says. "And I don't want to be 30, 50, looking back and wishing I'd
partied then because I can't do it now."
But all ends well...
A month after the interview, in December, Mr. Bhalla graduated after four and a half years in college. He moved to Miami to room with a college friend. He has
just started working for a pharmaceutical sales company (base salary: $30,000).
For the most part, he says, he goes out only on Friday and Saturday nights. "I
definitely miss my college days," he says. "They were the best four years of my
Damn, he's making more than I did right out of college (even after adjusting for all those years of inflation) and I think I tried a little harder in school. Slacking pays!

I hate it though when early 20-somethings foresee turning 30 as being the end of their life. Did I do that? I don't remember. I don't think I thought that much about it. So listen up kiddies, you're still young long after 30. In fact, I whizzed right passed my 30th about 15 years ago and hardly noticed. Now, 40 is another story. But you have a ways to go and too much to do to worry about that right now.

More Chicago vs. Springfield

Bernard Schoenburg in his SJ-R column today asks if the current CMS scandal might have been avoided if the Chicago are CMS managers spent a little more time in Springfield where the bulk of the CMS workers are.

At the risk of sounding a little Springfield-centric, I found the geography
quite interesting as events unfolded this week concerning that damning state
audit of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

Longtime Springfield resident BILL HOLLAND, the state's auditor
general, issued the audit. He also felt compelled to hold the first news
conference of his 12-year career as auditor to reinforce the audit findings and
defend his office against an aggressive attack from CMS. He did it in the
Statehouse pressroom.

Three CMS honchos later had their own news conference on their own turf
in the Stratton Building. They included PAUL CAMPBELL, who has been named by
Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH to replace MICHAEL RUMMAN as director; ED WYNN, CMS general counsel; and BRIAN CHAPMAN, CMS chief operating officer.

They live, respectively, in Arlington Heights, Lake Bluff and Chicago.
Rumman, who also lives in Chicago, didn't make it down to the meeting.

All four of the CMS officials came into state government after the 2002
election of Blagojevich.

CMS has 1,605 employees, said BECKY CARROLL, a spokeswoman for the governor's budget office who was dispatched to help with inquiries about CMS this week. Of them, 1,179 are based in Springfield, and 258 in Chicago.

Interesting, isn't it, how the people trying to explain their way around the audit’s allegations of sloppy, or worse, contracting practices are among the state’s commuting leaders. And, just asking, but might some problems outlined in the audit might not have been so severe had there been a little more direct oversight of the bulk of the work force in Springfield, which used to be known as the state capital?

Normally, I defend Governor Blagojevich's decision to reside in Chicago. I think that's his choice and he can conduct State business there as well as here for the most part. But when you start getting down to the agency level I think a presence is required. If for no other reason than to instill confidence and a sense of leadership in the agency workforce.

I once worked for a State department that, for a while, was headed by a director that was more interested in her political career than running the department. Needless to say, she wasn't around a lot and everyone working there knew it. It's just bad business -even for government work.

The Freebate

Ezra Klein thinks there's a better incentive for oil conservation than increasing gasoline taxes.
If the government wants to do something to reduce our oil usage, start by
slapping a serious feebate on auto purchases. Heavy cars and gas guzzlers get a
$3,000 tax tacked onto the price, and hybrids and economy cars get a $3,000
rebate on theirs. Detroit gets a fat sack of money to move quickly and smoothly
into the hybrid business, folks see the savings up front and thus make more
energy conscious car decisions, and we use way less fuel. No one, save those who
need huge cars for their business, is hurt by circumstances outside their
control. But even they'll only be temporarily penalized as the market will beg
for fuel efficient trucks and SUVs (like the Ford Hybrid), and automakers will
race to place them in showrooms.

I think Klein is right when he says a gasoline tax is regressive, disproportionately hurting poor and rural drivers. Taxing NEW gas guzzling vehicles up front makes more sense to me.

Flying Weather

Man, holding an air show in Springfield, Illinois at the end of April is asking for trouble -weather trouble. I usually pay no attention to forecasts this time of year because trying to predict what the weather is going to do more then 24 hours into the future is little better than a guess. Anything can happen and it's the wettest time of year.

But I have been watching the forecasts for this weekend because I'm looking forward to the annual Air Rendezvous air show at Capital Airport. (By the way, I still refuse to call it the Abraham Lincoln International Airport or whatever they are trying to call it now.)

So far, the best I can say about the forecast is "iffy". Right now I'm clinging to the Weather Channel's forecast of morning clouds and afternoon sun with only a 10% chance of rain and a high of 61. I'll settle for that. The National Weather Service forecast is a bit more gloomy but we all know the NWS needs to be phased out anyway.

We were also planning on going to the hanger party on Friday night for the night air show. That looks like its going to be washed out though. Too bad, I haven't been in years. Watching the drunk single (and otherwise) women slobbering all over the flying studs in uniform is always fun.
I understand the special circumstances of having Air Rendezvous this weekend to accommodate the Blue Angels but I really miss the days when the air show was held in July. Sure, it was 120 degrees on the tarmac but the skies were clear and blue. We get little rain here by that time of year. As for the heat, well, the Budweiser is damn cold on those days.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Contact Me

I've added my email address if you wish to forward something of interest or just want to tell me what an idiot I am.

I created a new Yahoo account just for the blog.

A while back I tried adding my Blogger profile, which includes an eamil address, but it kept screwing up other things on the site. So I've added my email link directly into my template.

Spam away!

Crude Solution

Well, if base closings force the 183rd to leave Capital Airport, maybe this is what will take its place.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Texas is for Lovers

I laughed at this yesterday:

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But today I found out there's even more to the story. I'll leave the jokes about Bush's man-dates to others.

A nod to Atrios.

Radar Love

I guess this is what they call scattered showers
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Paying for the Party

The City of Springfield says the ALPLM dedication cost the city $60,000 in police overtime alone.
The figure is an initial estimate, [Springfield Mayor Tim
Davlin] said, and "some of that's going to change and go a little

"Whatever the cost was, we've got to absorb it, we've got to come up
with a way to pay for it because it was worth it, and we had to do it," Davlin

There also could be some overtime costs for public works, fire
department and City Water, Light and Power employees, but police overtime will
be the most costly expense of the dedication, Davlin said, adding that the final
numbers could take several more weeks to compile.

That's really not too bad, I guess. We'll see when the final figures are in. Of course those only direct City expenditures. Disruption costs to business, etc. would also add to the overall bottom line. And I hate to think of what the federal government spent to get the president in and out of here. Then there's the State (there were a ton of State cops in town that day). I bet even Sangamon County incurred some expense.

I agree that the city needed to make an investment in the dedication. Its going to more than pay for itself in the long run. But how much could have been saved overall if the president had not been here?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Nickel Deposit

I really, really like this idea.
A long-dormant proposal to boost recycling with a five-cent deposit on
bottles and cans has resurfaced in Springfield.

Consumers would pay an extra nickel for every bottle or can made of
aluminum, glass, plastic or steel. Thus, a six-pack of soda or beer would cost
an extra 30 cents.

Milk jugs would be exempt.

Consumers could get their money back by returning bottles and cans to
grocery stores or other redemption centers.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said Sunday he will push for a bottling bill during
the spring legislative session.

I've thought we should have this in Illinois for a long time now. Other states do it, just check the side of almost any aluminum can or bottle for the list of states and what their deposits are.

I think it's a great incentive not only for recycling but for getting rid of a lot of litter. Even if I'm too lazy to turn in the container, someone wanting the money will pick up the can or bottle and turn it in for me. That works out particularly well if I have discarded the container on a highway or park.

Of course the plan has it's critics.
But beverage industry trade groups argue that deposits would be a hassle
for consumers. Moreover, deposits would undermine curbside and blue bag
recycling programs, which would make less money from the sale of recyclables,
especially lucrative aluminum cans.

A bottle bill also would be a headache for grocers, which would have to
store, sort and handle dirty, returned containers. Trucks and warehouses would
have to make room for empty containers, and beverage trucks would make more
fuel-wasting trips.
Well, that used to be the norm back when I was a kid. My mother would return all out empty glass soda bottles to Kroger's on her next shopping trip. Later in life, I used to buy cases returnable beer bottles that I would turn in for the deposit. I think we can work through these details.


DownLeft isn't letting WMAY's Pamela Furr off the hook on the Durbin Joke "scandal":

The steps [David] Brock describes in his book are as follows:
1) Pretend to be offended by something and play up mock outrage.
2) Keep talking about the issue as if its a big story and get other
conservative media outlets to cover it, such as talk radio, blogs and Fox News,
until it actually is a big story.
3) Pressure legitimate media outlets who don't cover the story by accusing
them of having a liberal bias until they cave into the contrived hysteria.

This tactic out of the conservative media's playbook was closely followed
by WMAY conservative talk radio host, Pamela Furr. After she decided to be
offended by Durbin's joke on her show she sent it out to other talk radio shows
so they could keep the act going.
The SJ-R's Benard Schoenburg is all over it too.

DownLeft also brings up something that's of interest to me:
...Furr is allowed to have a talk show and at the same time deceptively
parade herself as an objective journalist on WMAY.
I'm not going to bash Furr over this for a couple of reasons. One, that's just what her employer requires of her, it's her job. Secondly, I did the same thing years ago as both the news director of a radio station and the host of its daily talk show.

Still, I think its wrong.

I understand the economics for the station. By utilizing the talk show personalities as part of the news team, it can afford more local voices. I understand that. I lived that.

The thing is, I wasn't comfortable doing it and I kind of hate hearing it. I know you can present the news objectively in newscasts while still being allowed to voice your opinion on your talk show. But, as a listener, when I hear Furr (or any dual-use personality) reading the news, I always wonder what they are thinking about the story (or guessing what they are thinking) and I find that distracting.

99.99% of listeners do not have the insight I do into what its like for these on-air people and I suspect they aren't as convinced that one can keep his or her own biases largely out of the news. It's not hard to imagine the average listener occasionally dismissing what they hear, including the choice of stories presented and how they are presented, simply because they KNOW the news readers prejudices.

The Coming Mega-Blog

I have mixed feelings about multi-author blogs. While I've thought it might be fun to write for one (it takes some of the pressure off of me to post frequently), I find that I lose interest in a blog the more contributors it has. Usually.

Anyway, a new blog with a lot of high profile contributors is about to get off the ground:
Arianna Huffington, the columnist and onetime candidate for governor of
California, is about to move blogging from the realm of the anonymous individual
to the realm of the celebrity collective.

She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative
minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from
politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop
virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up
breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9.

Having prominent people join the blogosphere, Ms. Huffington said in an
interview, "is an affirmation of its success and will only enrich and strengthen
its impact on the national conversation." Among those signed up to contribute
are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows,
Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane
Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman.

Well, we'll see. 250 (!) voices on one blog sounds like a mess to me. I think blogs need a focus, either by personality or by theme. For example, I'm all over the place on topics but it's all me. Think Progress has several voices but they all focus on lefty politics.

I've looked at other blogs with multiple posters covering a variety points of view, but I just can't sustain interest in them. I guess if I'm going to take the time to regularly check a blog i want to know what (or who) I'm in for. Maybe it's just me.

A Winning Idea?

This looks to be a good idea for squeezing out a few more dollars for the State:
State lawmakers, desperate to close another billion-dollar budget gap, are
eagerly eyeing the Illinois Lottery and all the money it might generate if
people could buy tickets on the Internet.
Sounds good. I mean, couldn't we get additional revenue from more out-of-staters or even foreigners? Well, maybe not:
It doesn't specify how players would pay for tickets or how officials could
control who buys them; Cullerton says that would be left to lottery officials.
He also acknowledges that the idea of an Internet lottery gets into a legal gray
area: The federal Wire Communications Act of 1961 prohibits the use of wire
communication facilities for interstate gambling purposes, but even experts say
it isn't clear how that would apply to a state-run lottery.
Oh. I guess if it were just that easy, everyone would already be selling lottery tickets online.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Dude, Where's My Inbox?

Funny article headlined with, Email destroys the mind faster than marijuana - study.
Modern technology depletes human cognitive abilities more rapidly than
drugs, according to a psychiatric study conducted at King's College, London. And
the curse of 'messaging' is to blame.

Email users suffered a 10 per cent drop in IQ scores, more than twice the
fall recorded by marijuana users, in a clinical trial of over a thousand
participants. Doziness, lethargy and an inability to focus are classic
characteristics of a spliffhead, but email users exhibited these particular
symptoms to a "startling" degree, according to Dr Glenn Wilson.

Har, har.

Of course, neither actually "destroys" the brain. The trouble comes when you spend too much time goofing on the computer or being high and not otherwise engaging your mind. Obsessive Beanie Baby collectors I imagine suffer similar mind wastage.

Thanks to Mrs. TEH who saw this in her latest High Times.


Weathering the Santorum

What a load of crap.

At least one Republican senator wants to get rid of free National Weather Service information so his buddies can make more money.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit
federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.

Supporters say the bill wouldn't hamper the weather service or the National
Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards - in fact, it exempts
forecasts meant to protect "life and property."

But critics say the bill's wording is so vague they can't tell exactly
what it would ban.

"I believe I've paid for that data once. ... I don't want to have to pay
for it again," said Scott Bradner, a technical consultant at Harvard

He says that as he reads the bill, a vast amount of federal weather
data would be forced offline. "The National Weather Service Web site would
have to go away," Bradner said. "What would be permitted under this bill is not
clear - it doesn't say. Even including hurricanes."

And here's the self-serving comment of the day

But Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill
would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to
hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already
available from the private sector.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission
should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Myers,
whose company is based in State College, Pa. Instead, he said, "It spends
hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm
and sunny.'"

I like weather. Always have. I have a ton of weather web sites bookmarked, including the NWS. They don't have to be mutually exclusive. The NWS has lots of archive data that private companies see no profit in. Dammit, does the value EVERYTHING have to be measured by profitability?

This reminds me of something that happened about ten years ago. A member of Congress, swept in during the 1994 Republican Revolution, proposed doing away with the NWS entirely because he could get good weather information from The Weather Channel. He backed off after he was informed The Weather Channel relies on the NWS for much of its information.

Just another example of what happens when you have zealots in charge.

Update: Josh Marshall nails it.

ALPLM on C-Span


This week's American Perspectives features a look at the new Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

8pm - Dedication Ceremony - took place Tuesday afternoon in
Springfield, Illinois. Speakers included President Bush, House Speaker
Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)
& Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL)

9:15pm - Museum Tour - Richard Norton Smith, the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, guided us through some of
the exhibits and sections of the museum, and took calls from viewers. This
program also includes an interview with Louise Taper, a Lincoln collector.
Some of her items are on display at the museum - 159942 This 2-hour-30-minute program is compiled from segments of Monday's Washington Journal.

This block will run from 8pm to 11:45pm, then re-air from 11:45pm to 3:30am

Remember those are EASTERN times so subtract an hour.

Shirt Sense

What a queer thing to say...

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If I ever get tired of beer blogging, t-shirts are next.

Slow News Day at the SJ-R?

Why is this newsworthy?
The test that future high school Latin teachers must take - and pass - before
getting certification from the state of Illinois is too hard, a group of Latin
instructors contends.


Hey, I even took two years of Latin in high school and I don't give shit.

Friday Beer Blogging: New Pope Edition

In honor of the newly elected German pope whom I know nothing about, I bring you a German beer I know nothing about. Ladies and gentleman, I present you with Kostritzer:

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Since I don't know anything about Kostritzer, I'll reprint here what their web site has to say:
Eine kleine Brauerei in Thüringen braut seit über 460 Jahren ein einzigartiges Bier, das Köstritzer Schwarzbier. Seitdem ranken sich um das Köstritzer Schwarzbier die verschiedensten Mythen.
I report, you decide

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Durbin "Joke" Appears to be True

Oh, the wailing over Senator Dick Durbin's little joke at the ALPLM dedication Tuesday.

Here's what he said:
Judge Marovitz used to say that his mother believed that President Lincoln was Jewish. After all, his first name was Abraham, and then, to confirm it, she learned that John Wilkes Booth shot him in the temple.
I was among the first (for once) to comment on Durbin's faux pas. I the thought "shot in the temple" joke was a bit tacky for the dedication of Lincoln's presidential museum.

But here's the thing, the story Durbin told appears to be true:
The fourth son of Lithuanian immigrants, Marovitz was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. His mother chose his name, Abraham Lincoln, after attending a lecture about her adopted land. She heard about President Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves and was "shot in the temple." Marovitz explains, "She thought 'temple' meant synagogue. I don't think she ever was convinced that Lincoln wasn't a Jew."
What's really weird is a lot of right wingers are claiming Durbin's remarks were, of all things, anti-semitic. I'm not sure where they get that but I guess anything to tar a Democrat no matter how silly.

Other bloggers to weigh in thought the whole thing to be no big deal.

Eric Zorn says, yes it was tacky but not anti-semitic.

DownLeft, who was there, took no offense at all.

Predictably, talk radio was all abuzz about the incident. I didn't listen to any talk Wednesday, but I guess WMAY's Pamela Furr was quite upset (oh, those evil liberals!). Illini over at Democratic Underground posted this:
During his speech Senator Durbin told an old joke first coined by a judge named Abraham Lincoln (I forget the last name) something Jewish. The punchline of the joke is Lincoln was probably Jewish because "he was shot in the temple". OK, its bad joke that was funny when I was 13. Its not particularly funny at a dedication. But, a local shrub loving hack talk show host Pamela Furr took offense to the joke. She sent out a clip to other hacks such as Hannity, Limbaugh, and in particular Lars the liar Larson. Larson pick up the clip and jumped all over it and asked the question of whether the "liberal media" will pick up on like the Trent Lott story.
The only thing more tacky than Durbin's joke is someone trying to further their careers by faking outrage over it. I'll be nicer to Pamela here than I want to be because I didn't hear what she had to say first hand. But if Illini is right, shame on her.

Bribing Business

The Peoria Pundit has a good post today about communities giving the store away in an attempt to lure jobs. Even Springfield is currently vying for a SYSCO Corp facility.

Peoria, according to PP, is trying to snag some European aeronautics operation.
With 70 communities "lobbying" to be the site for this thing, you can be
sure there's a whole bunch of tax incentives and other freebies being offered.
The payoff would be all the jobs this thing would create.

As we all learned through the Diamond Star fiasco in
Bloomington/Normal, these companies are willing to take all the incentives the
taxpayers can offer, then will close the plant at a moment's notice if they get
a better deal elsewhere, or when some pencil pusher decides there's a great tax
break to be had by shuttering a factory and moving the jobs elsewhere.

I've completely given up hope that federal, state and local politicians
will ever realize that the best thing they can do to develop the economy is
provide a generally low tax rate, good schools for a well-trained work force and
a clean, safe and healthy environment into which business executives would want
to locate. Such things also tend to encourage entrepreneurial growth as well,
not just plant relocation.

That's absolutely right.

Well, I do have one minor quibble. I'm not sure what he means by "generally low taxes" but "good schools for a well-trained work force and a clean, safe and healthy environment" aren't cheap and a good deal of tax money is usually required. I don't mean outrageously high tax rates, but a significant public investment into a community's infrastructure is required to attain this job drawing nirvana.

I only make this point because taxes are so vilified that people often forget that there can be a real benefit to public investment in one's community. Yes, there is often waste (although from my experience, a lot of what is and isn't waste is somewhat subjective) but there are simply some things that are best done by the public sector.

Now, "generally low taxes" leaves a lot of wiggle room so I'm not sure what that means, but be sure there is no getting a top notch community for nothing.

Another Wand Goes Missing

This is getting serious. We learned a few days ago that the Director of Guest Relations at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is missing her magic wand. Now, it seems the problem has spread to Washington.

Yesterday, President Bush told an audience that he too is now wandless:

"I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow," Bush
told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
I don't want to alarm anybody but didn't the president make this announcement just ONE DAY after appearing at the ALPLM, the site of the other missing wand.

Perhaps there is some cabal of wand stealers out there but I think not. Rather, I attribute this sudden wandlessness at all levels of government to a culture that no longer values wands. Oh, to return to the days where wands were treated with respect and not carelessly (or purposely!) misplaced by caretakers calloused by a culture of wand neglect.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ann Thrax

I see the hateful Ann Coulter is gracing the cover of Time magazine this week. She's being promoted as some sort of cultural icon. Disgusting. Digby speaks fo me, too:
Seeing Ann Coulter feted on the cover of Time magazine as a mainstream
political figure instead of the deranged, murderous extremist she actually is
was quite a shock. And then a friend sent me the links to the Free Republic
thread discussing the death of Marla Ruzicka, which made me so nauseous that I had to shut down for a while.


Ann Coulter is not, as Howie Kurtz asserts today, the equivalent of Michael Moore. Michael Moore is is not advocating the murder of conservatives. He just isn't. For instance, he doesn't say that Eric Rudolph should be killed so that other conservatives will learn that they can be killed too. He doesn't say that he wishes that Tim McVeigh had blown up the Washington Times Bldg. He doesn't say that conservatives routinely commit the capital offense of treason. He certainly doesn't put up pictures of the fucking snoopy dance because one of his political opponents was killed. He doesn't, in other words, issue calls for violence and repression against his political enemies. That is what Ann Coulter does, in the most coarse, vulgar,
reprehensible way possible.


While Ann Coulter makes the cover of Time for writing that liberals have a
"preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason," her
followers actually side with Iraqi insurgents against an American charity
worker. At freeperland and elsewhere they laughed and clapped and enjoyed the
fruits of the enemy's labor. This is because if you listen to Ann and Rush and
Sean and Savage and all the rest of these people you know that there is no
greater enemy on the planet than the American liberal. That's what Ann Coulter
and her ilk are selling and that is what Time magazine celebrated with their
cover girl this week.
Go read his whole rant.

Also, be sure to revisit this clip of Ann showing just how stupid and arrogant she reall is.

Pig Plot

Not surprisingly, I ran into ETK at the ALPLM dedication yesterday. We took the opportunity of an unusual face to face visit to conspire further against pig trucks that stink up the central part of the city.

We both realized this blog OWNS this issue and we're going to make even more of it in the future. Let's just say ETK will soon be on the loose with a camera.

By the way, with traffic being rerouted yesterday, just how did the pigs get through? Here at TEH we have been told that any disruption of the flow of porkers through the city will mean no bacon. Will we soon be told, "Sorry, were out of bacon for a couple of days" when ordering our bacon cheeseburgers? Is this what Lincoln would have wanted?

Jealous Again

Chicagoans, in an obvious attempt to steal the limelight away from the ALPLM and Springfield, have found the image of the Virgin Mary in an underpass.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tom Terrific

Hey, Tom Snyder fans. Tom has a blog of sorts.

Tom Snyder was always such a goof but he had a great one-on-one interview show on late night TV back in the day. I miss him. Reading his blog you hear his voice. He writes just like he used to speak on his show.

Abe-a-palooza Post Game

Well, no ex-presidents. My second hand source was a dud. That's what I get for putting any credence into a member of the local Republican cadre. I’ve been “disinformed”.

For one thing, Bill Clinton was in Oklahoma City for the memorial in honor of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by Anglo Christian extremists. It was more appropriate that he be there than here.

I did however see two potential future presidents, Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama.

Overall, the day went well.

The crowds inside the Springfield Green Zone were not overwhelming and polite to all the speakers. Security was tight but not overbearing.

All the speeches were kept appropriately short, if a bit predictable.

I did have a problem with Dick Durbin’s Dead Lincoln joke. I don’t have the transcript in front of me but it was something along the lines of why did the Jewish woman think Lincoln was Jewish. A: because his name was Abraham and he was shot in the temple. He didn’t actually present it as a joke but as part of an antidotal story. The effect was the same and I thought it a bit tasteless. Dick you’re better than that.

Speaking of tasteless, I actually saw one man in the audience walking around with a Confederate flag t-shirt. I don’t know if it was a political statement or, given the way hew looked, it was the least smelly shirt on his floor this morning.

It was interesting to me that Brian Lamb of C-SPAN fame was one of the speakers. Now, he was there to introduce the winner of a C-SPAN sponsored essay contest (the winner, Mihan Lee, read her essay later). Still, it was all politicians and one media outlet. They seem to be blending into one organism more and more these days.

President Bush was the final speaker of the morning. He started out very slow and soft-spoken. From where we were standing the sound wasn’t all that good but I could hear everyone. But not Bush, for some reason. We relocated and I could hear him better. There just wasn’t much energy in his voice at first. It did get stronger the longer he spoke, however.

Naturally, Bush couldn’t resist comparing himself to Lincoln.

In a small way, I can relate to the rail splitter from out West, because he has
a way of speaking that was not always appreciated by the newspapers back East.

Yes, you clear brush on your fake Texas ranch for the cameras but you are not a rail splitter or the modern equivalent. And damn those well-spoken Eastern (read, Liberal Elite) newspaper fellas.

After standing for hours we came home at and rested before going back out to tour the Museum itself.

We didn’t have time to take it all in this afternoon but I generally liked what I saw. I agree with Dr. John Simon’s assessment that it has a touch of Disney to it. But so what. It seems to work as a medium for engaging the general public and perhaps imparting some historical information to those who might not care to seek it out otherwise.

I most liked the historical artifacts. I think its long over due to have a central place for viewing Lincoln memorabilia. It’s good to know, too, that the museum will include temporary exhibits from time to time allowing for everyone to see Lincoln items that belong to other collections.

The thing I liked least was the mock TV control room showing a fake news show hosted by real news guy Tim Russert. Russert was, not very convincingly, trying to portray the 1860 election on modern television terms. It was complete with modern looking TV political ads. I just wasn’t buying it. Introducing television in to the past like that just doesn’t feel right. We have Russert speaking and dressed for 2005 with pictures of Lincoln as he was in 1860. It just doesn’t work. Lose it and use the space for something else.

That said, it was a good day, all told.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune's Ellen Warren blogs about today better than me. Damn.

Off to Abe-a-palooza

No blogging until I return from the ALPLM dedication later in the day.

Abe Radio

Things have gone too far. Now a local radio station is named after Lincoln.

Someone make it stop.

Pigs vs. Springfield - The Rath of Davlin

In the comments section of this TEH post, ETK (aka ETL - whaaa?) reports getting a response from Mayor Tim Davlin's office on the issue of pig trucks stinking up the city in general and the ALPLM area specifically. Here's the text of what he got:
Thank you for your comments regarding the cattle trucks that pass through the middle of town. Rest assured, the Mayor is working with I-DOT in rerouting them. Since Jefferson and Madison are state routes, there is little the city can do on its own. But, in cooperation with I-DOT we should be able to find a solution. Hopefully, we can set a weight limit on that route, which would force all heavy trucks to go a different route.

Thank you for expressing your concerns.

Ernie Slottag
Communications Director for Mayor Tim Davlin
Well take that you porker, smelly-bellies. Your days of olfactory offensiveness are numbered! At least downtown. I hope.

ETK goes on to report that the Sunday festivities around the ALPLM were predictably intruded upon by the stink trucks.
It seemed only fair play that when we left the festivities tonight that we got caught behind a pig truck. The truck left such a stench behind it hundreds of people walking back to their parking lots were waving their arms about trying to escape the fumes - futile gestures.
ETK has been rewarded by being promoted to TEH's Chief Hog Field Correspondent. Good work!

Monday, April 18, 2005


Uh-oh. Extending Daylight Saving Time may cause a problem with computer programs.

If one change will cause a problem, how about my plan to constantly update the clock so the sun never sets before 8:30 PM. Hey, the IT industry needs a new Y2K to pull it out of the dumps. Let's go for it!

Wes in '08

Gen. Wesley Clark has come very close to announcing his intention to run for president in 2008. Let me follow up by endorsing him 3 1/2 years early. No sense waiting.

Clark was my choice in the '04 Dem primary. He still holds my interest.

The Ex-Presidents

OK, here's what I'm hearing now on what former presidents may be in town tomorrow:

Clinton - wants to be here but may not due to his health situation

Bush the Elder - definitely coming

Carter - despite every effort to get him here, he continues to balk

Ford - attendence status unknown (I'm kind of doubting Ford due to his age and health but who knows)

That's all I have for now.

Too Sexy for My Abe

This AP story looks at Lincoln's sex life. It has the usual "was he gay?" discussion and, as usual, comes to no conclusion after peering retrospectively into Abe's bedroom.

One weird thing, the story appears in the Southern Illinoisan along with a picture of George Bush. I'm not sure why the Bush picture is there since his name appears nowhere in the story. Shouldn't there have been a picture of Lincoln, perhaps in a sexy pose?

Rod Humor

DownLeft has the top 10 things Blagojevich will say at the ALPLM dedication.

The Cardboard President

Last week's Illinois Times' cover story was on a visit the paper would like the president to make to Springfield. One in which he does more than make a quick stop at the ALPLM. Using a cardboard stand-in, the Times takes Bush on a tour of the real Springfield.

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Hanging out downtown

We can only dream of the day such a presidential visit might be possible. That is, without removing all the trees, lights, utility poles, fire hydrants, buildings, vehicles, stray animals, pollen and UV rays.

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Jamming at the Alamo

OK, the photos are a little sophomoric but I laughed. Check out all the images online or pick up the free weekly before the new one comes out Thursday.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Area 51

I'm not the black helicopter conspiracy type (you there, ETK?) but I found this blog post on the legendary Area 51 pretty interesting. Basically, the blogger is using the new Google Maps satellite feature to spy on the 51st Area. Pictures included!

Be afraid, very afraid. Or not.

Securing the Perimeter

This is getting sillier by the minute.

Yesterday, I linked to this SJ-R story about preparations for the ALPLM dedication Tuesday. I was focusing on information (or lack thereof) regarding what ex-presidents might be attending. Well, there was one part of the story that escaped my immediate attention at the time:

Following Friday's announcement, at the request of the Secret Service, city crews began removing streetlights, traffic signals and trees near Union Square Park, site of the dedication ceremony. The poles and trees could obstruct the view of government snipers who will be protecting the president, city spokesman Ernie Slottag explained.

The trees will be replanted after the ceremony.

Come on!

You know what, I’m no longer asking whether disruptive presidential visits should be curtailed. No, I think I’m actually calling for the end of such nonsense. If security is so absolutely vital that trees and traffic lights need to be removed, just stay hidden in the White House.

My only reservation had been that I thought it might be at least symbolically important for presidents and their constituents to occasionally meet-up in person. Well, when a president only sees a sanitized world in person, I think something is lost. (It’s even worse for this president who regularly stacks the audiences he appears before to be friendly to him politically.)

Likewise, for we commoners who might be determined enough to endure the lines and security checks, there is little “personal” contact and the view is probably better on the local projection screen.

I say put an end to it. Humbug.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Stil no mention in the latest SJ-R of any presidents other than Bush coming to Tuesday's ALPLM dedication. We'll see.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Breaking: All 5 Living Presidents to Attend Abe-a-pooluza?

I hear Bush, Clinton, Bush (the Elder), Carter and Ford may all be attending Tuesday's ALPLM dedication.

Update: Media sources say only two presidents coming. Source of untested reliability says five.

Breaking: Bush to Attend Abe-a-pooluza

He's going to make it.

Bush visit on Tuesday confirmed

Last Updated 4/15/2005 12:48:26 PM

White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed this morning that
President George Bush will tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and
Museum in Springfield Tuesday and then make remarks at the dedication of the
museum. Laura Bush will accompany the president.

More information in Saturday's State Journal-Register

Springfield's Green Zone

Lots of road closures in downtown Springfield this weekend right through the dedication of the ALPLM on Tuesday. Much of the central part of the city will be sealed off from anyone without the proper credentials on dedication day.

This part bothers me a little though:
Horace Mann Educators Corp. is giving nearly 1,200 workers an unexpected
vacation day Tuesday rather than make them fight the traffic and maze of closed
streets expected with the opening ceremony for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential

St. John's Hospital - just two blocks north of the insurance company -
doesn't have the same luxury.

"The nature of what we do, we have to be open. It's not a choice,"
hospital spokesman Brian Reardon said. "We do, obviously, have some parking and
traffic issues."

The medical complex - which stretches between Sixth and Ninth streets
and Carpenter and Madison streets - falls within the downtown street network
marked to be closed for the museum's opening celebration. That includes
facilities where 1,500 hospital employees usually put their cars. The complex's
only unaffected parking ramp is on Ninth Street, and that will be reserved for
patients and hospital visitors.

Employees have been directed to park at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
and take shuttle buses being provided to take museum visitors downtown.
(Hospital identification cards will be required.)

All vehicular traffic to the hospital complex, including ambulance
service, will be funneled through the Ninth and Carpenter entrance. Pedestrians
will go through the hospital's main lobby from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. Escort
service will be provided for patients from that point to the complex's farthest
reaches, such as the Prairie Heart Institute.

Things will get even more complicated if President Bush attends.

"We can't use air-evac, assuming the president is in town, for security
reasons," Reardon said. "The helicopters will be redirected to (Abraham Lincoln)
Capital Airport, and an ambulance will drive patients either here or to Memorial
(Medical Center.)"
I ask again, is it time to limit presidential visits?

Simon Says

The Capitol Fax Blog points us to Sheila Simon's blog. Simon is the daughter of the late Senator Paul Simon. She's a member of the Carbondale City Council and the very first line in the blog says that it's a "website about Carbondale city government". While it does have posts regarding Carbondale City Council actions and meetings, it also has a number of posts focusing just on Simon. For example, this post links to streaming video of a discussion about her late parents that was held recently at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Simon was also recently appointed to the Illinois Gaming Board and an Southern Illinoisian article on that topic is also posted.

Friday Beer Blogging: What the Hell is This Edition

I found this on the Michelob site.

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Soooo...aluminum bottles. Aren't those called cans? I haven't seen these in stores yet and I haven't seen any ads for them either (but then I never watch ESPN). I just don't know.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Smells Like Teen Safety

Wow, maybe all the restrictions on teen driving are paying off. That and safer vehicles, I suppose.
The number of teens who died in traffic crashes on Illinois roads fell to a new low in 2004.

A total of 133 people ages 15 through 19 died in traffic crashes last year, according to Illinois Department of Transportation statistics. It's the lowest total in the 30 years the state has kept track of the statistic. The previous low was in 2000, when 150 teens died.
The story from the SJ-R's online breaking news section. Full story tomorrow.

Update: Here's the full story. The state is indeed attributing the lower numbers to stricter regulation of teen drivers:

State officials credited a pair of relatively new laws for the decrease.
One allows police to ticket drivers solely for not wearing their seat belts.
Previously, officers had to have another reason to pull over a motorist before
issuing a seat-belt ticket.

The other limits the number of teen passengers beginning teen
drivers can have.

The law prohibits young drivers for the first six months
after getting their license from carrying more than one other teenager in the
car unless an adult in present.

Statistics show each additional teen passenger increases crash risks by
50 percent.

The Magic Wand

Ha, ha.

Mrs. Eleventh Hour sent an email to the ALPLM after we got stiffed on our dedication tickets. We wound up with standing room only tickets when there were still seating tickets available and given out later. Meaning, the first-come, first- serve policy was, well, bullshit.

Here's the response she got:
"Ms. [Eleventh Hour]: as much as I would like to wave a magic wand- I can't. I
don't understand the ticketing process as I had nothing to do with it. I will
check around tho and if the magic wand does appear, I shall contact
you. [Director of Guest Relations]"
Well, who DOES have the magic wand, Ms. [Relations]? Who, indeed. I bet Governor Blagojevich MOVED IT TO CHICAGO! Or, he replaced it with a Chicago wand owned by Dick Mell who got mad at the Governor and took it back!

Simon Watch

WUIS just ran a long (local) piece on the ALPLM and, of course, included Dr. Simon and his criticism of the museum. This further confirms my fear that Simon has become the chief spokesman for the ALPLM opposition.

Reverse Googling

One of the really great things about the internet is its ability to locate people. I'm good at losing track of friends and then wanting to at least say hi to them again. It's some sort of separation anxiety I have with my past. I recently found a friend I had not seen or heard from in 30 years and contacted him. All thanks to Google.

"Googling" names, especially your own, is great fun. Ogged over at Unfogged has come up with a great idea for what he calls "reverse-googling" to locate hard to find people.
So, there was a woman in college, beautiful and elegant, who I really should
have asked out (who's elegant in college? exactly). But I was busy with my terrible
, and never did. I've googled her since then, of course, but her name
is not only pretty common, but she shares it with another woman who graduated
from the same college in the same year. Google hell. But what I've realized is
that bloggers who are looking for long lost people can use reverse-googling:
mention the person on the blog, because everyone googles himself sooner or
later. You could just say "Hey, Betty Sue Gingersnaps, email me!" and sooner or
later, Betty Sue would see it. I'm not going to do it in this case, because I'm
pseudonymous, for one, and I don't want to embarrass this woman, but I think
it's a neat idea.

OK, so you need a blog to do this but that's easy enough. You can set up a blog in just a few minutes. If you're into to looking up people maybe setting up a blog with nothing but a lot of posts requesting individuals contact you would be the way to go. Include your email and maybe some indication who you are and just let it sit. Or, Google being Google, would you have to get some traffic on the blog lest it be relegated to page 45 of Google matches? I suppose it depends on how common the searched for name is.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

(2) Billion Dollar Baby

My understanding of corporate management ranks up there with my understanding of hockey -not much- but why did AIG lay off workers here in Springfield while the CEO had billions of dollars worth of stock to give to his wife? Just asking.

Radio Free Springfield

Well, Springfield’s top radio talker looks at this blog. WMAY’s Jim Leach left a very kind comment to one of my posts. That’s assuming it’s really him and not one of ETK’s personalities emerging uncontrolled.

WMAY has the best local talk in town with pretty good to excellent on–air staff, especially for a market the size if Springfield.

I used to listen to Jim a lot when he did afternoons but I don’t get to listen as much now that he’s doing mornings. I have to be at work early and my AM reception is non-existent at my desk.

The thing I like most about Jim is how he forces callers to be factual even when leading up to a larger point. As someone who also did a radio talk show (20 years ago), I know how irritating it is to have a caller expressing an opinion or presenting “facts” based on flawed or completely inaccurate information. Jim doesn’t let callers get away with that.

Many (bad) talk show hosts just let the callers say whatever they want, virtually unchallenged. I know that sounds only fair, free speech and all, but good God there are a lot of falsehoods being perpetuated by talk radio. Well, the buck stops at Jim’s mic.

I’ve heard from a lot of people they think Jim is rude but it wastes everybody’s time when a caller gets repetitive or simply has no idea what they are talking about.

Predictably, the other reason I like Jim’s show is I happen to mostly agree with his views. (However, he’s totally wrong about the death penalty -wrong, Jim, wrong.) In a radio world dominated by conservative blather it’s nice to have another perspective.

No Blood for Wind

Ezra Klein wants more wars over energy. But not in the Middle East (too dusty). No, there are abundant energy resources very close and ripe for the taking.


The Associated Press has a story out on the ALPLM. is featuring it in it's Travel section.

And it looks like my old prof Dr. Simon is getting to be the ALPLM critic of choice among media outlets looking for controversy. His dislike of the museum has been included in almost every non-SJR story I've seen.

The State of Abraham Lincoln

That's what at least one man would like to see as a new name for Illinois. Jim Nowlan, director of the civic leadership fellows program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former Illinois legislator has this op-ed in the Chicago Tribune:
The opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in
Springfield this month can become the launch for an initiative to change the
name of Illinois to that of the State of Abraham Lincoln.

I'm serious.

Few in the world know what or where Illinois is. Some have heard of
Chicago. Yet the world knows Abraham Lincoln--the Great Emancipator; the rock
who kept our Union of diverse peoples from fragmenting; the homespun, virtuous,
self-educated man of the heartland; a hero, indeed, to all in the world who
yearn to be free.


In modern parlance, Illinois is a weak brand name, a brand few residents
use when traveling abroad. "Near Chicago" is more likely our identifier. Nor do
we rally 'round our brand the way Texans do.

No better brand exists than Abraham Lincoln.

The name change would be especially good for Downstate Illinois. With only
a third of our state population (albeit spread across most of our 44,000 square
miles), Downstate Illinois has become largely irrelevant to politicians,
big-city media and economic development

In contrast, our citizens have never really resonated to "Illinois," the
name of a feckless confederation of tribes of so-called superior men, who in
fact fled time and again--and indeed out of our state--before smaller bands of
raiding Iroquois.
Of course, this name change would require the U of I to finally give up Chief Illiniwek and replace him with a dancing Native American dressed in authentic 19th century garb from European setters in South Dakota. All to honor the white settlers and pay homage to their culture.

Betting on the Pope

The BBC has this story on who's the odds-on favorite to become Pope.

If you think you know the identity of the next pope, Paddy Power
is waiting for your call.

The Irish bookmaker has risked the displeasure
of the Vatican by inviting punters to have a flutter on the papal election.

Here are the favorites:

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Thanks to Kevin Drum for the pointer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Food for Thought

These people are just nuts. My God, talk about a cause in search of a problem.

I saw their new ad on CNN last night and about laughed my ass off. Not because it was funny as intended but because this group’s issue so moronic. Basically, they are upset that the government, trail lawyers (but of course, what wingnut organization would leave out trial lawyers), and various health and dietary “extremists” are forcing them to consider eating a healthy diet.

Here’s CCF’s own description of their ad:

Washington, DC - Fans of the classic TV series Seinfeld should enjoy the latest Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) television commercial featuring Larry Thomas -- AKA the "Soup Nazi." The stern authoritarian stars as a "food cop," barking commands like "Salad Line!" and "No Food for You!" to a line of hungry restaurant customers, who must weigh in before ordering. They walk away thinking that maybe the war on obesity has gone too far.

Well, yes if such a scene were even remotely related to reality, the “war on obesity” would have gone too far. But that’s just it, the “war” doesn’t look anything like this stupid ad.

You know, rather than being forced to eat my carrots, I find it hard, very hard, not to eat junk all day. We are all surrounded by it, seduced by it in the form of advertising, packaging and retail placement. I can eat as much crap as I want to and no one is stopping me, except me. Anyone who finds they are having a hard time getting a Big Mac or a Krispe Kreme must be locked in a basement somewhere.

I think one of the finest regulations ever handed down was the food labeling requirement. Consumers should have the right to know what they are ingesting. I’m sure CCF finds this greatly offensive. Well, tough shit. Most people like it and appreciate the ability to make informed choices. CCF lauds “the role of personal responsibility in Americans' diets” and therefore should be glad the government stepped into to make that possible.

A Tale of Two States

Predictably, the Chicago Tribune article critical of Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Libray and Museum drew howls from local talk radio hosts and listeners. Listening to WMAY yesterday, I heard a number of callers suggest that Chicago residents hate downstate Illinois and just want to have the state capital moved to the Windy City.

This kind of talk really grates on me. This stupid intra-state provincialism is really unbecoming and downright childish. I have wanted to blog about this for a while but was waiting for a relevant opportunity.

First, let me present my credentials.

I have lived in many parts of the state from Carbondale to Springfield to a county in Northwestern Illinois that had no traffic lights to Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I’ve lived in farmhouses, middle class subdivisions, a house at the intersection of two dirt roads, a hotel, a dorm, a trailer, an old school house and many apartments. I know this state. I’ve never lived anywhere else.

Without exception, each part of the state eyes the others with some mix of mistrust and distain. And it’s usually without any merit.

Now, before I say anymore, keep in mind opinions and outlooks vary even within regions of the state and I don’t mean to over generalize. However, there are some prevailing attitudes that I think are held pretty widely within each region.

The biggest and most common divide seems to be between “Chicago and “Downstate”. In this case, Chicago is generally defined as Cook and the collar counties while downstate is everything else. This places the all regions of the state outside of the Chicago metro area in a large confederacy.

Downstaters wrongly believe Chicago is stealing all of their resources and it gets all the attention at their expense. There really is a bit of an inferiority complex in this even if downstaters aren’t willing to admit it. At least that’s how it comes off. Many downstaters fear Chicago, seeing it as overwhelming. They see it as crime-ridden, politically corrupt, loud, noisy and dirty. And, if you are from Springfield, you are convinced Chicagoans are conspiring to steal the capital.

Chicagoans (those in the Chicago metro area) do tend to look down on their downstate brethren as somewhat unsophisticated and less cosmopolitan. They can be dismissive at time (I’ve experienced this) when they dealing with what they see as a downstate hayseed.

To downstaters, I would say that Chicago is a great asset to the state at almost every level, culturally, economically, politically. Even if you have no desire to live in or near a city that size (and that’s OK), you can still revel in what the city has to offer. Go there. Have fun. Enjoy the people and places. Then come home and feel good that you have such a place so close to your more comfortable hometown.

Springfieldians, almost no one in Chicago thinks for even a minute about stealing the capital. Nor are they jealous you have the capital. Sure, if asked many Chicagoans would say they would favor moving it to their city but who wouldn’t. Ask anyone in Vandalia if they would like it back. Or check with Galesburg and see if they might not like it. I suspect there would be a lot of off-hand support for having the prestige and economic perks in any community in the state.

Chicagoans, downstaters are not hicks, hayseeds, and unsophisticated rubes. Well, some of us are but not most. It’s not all farms and little towns either. There are a number of medium sized cities that are quite urban with all of the associated benefits and problems. And there’s nothing wrong with farms or small towns if you like that sort of thing. Try it sometime.

I will say that I find the downstate resentment of Chicago more prevalent than I do any Chicago better-then-you-ism. I still say that has more to do with a conscious or unconscious feeling of inferiority among many downstaters. Or at least a (sometimes justified) perception that they are being looked down upon.

In any case, everyone in all parts of the state should just get over their prejudices and paranoia about other parts of the state. It’s really unwarranted and serves no good. Illinois’ diversity is a great thing.

As for the the Tribune's slam of the museum, it's just one man's opinion. Lat week, I blogged about a professor from SIU (you know, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS University) who didn't like the museum. Some people are just not going to like it. That does not mean these guys hate Springfield, or downstaters or are jealous of Springfield being the capital.

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Not So Critical Critic

DownLeft has been through the ALPLM and gives it a good review. Linked to here for the sake of balance.

By the way, I fixed the bad link to DownLeft in my Illinois Blog Roll. Sorry about that.

And Now a Word From The Critics

As long as I'm on a ALPLM roll, check out this review of the museum from an architectural critic in the Chicago Tribune. In short, he doesn't like it. OK, maybe he even hates it.

Yet a few isolated successes do not add up to a powerful whole, particularly
when the Lincoln museum is compared with another history museum of recent
vintage, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. There, unadorned materials such as rough brick walls and industrial forms such as steel
footbridges suggest the sense of foreboding in the concentration camps. Shoes,
eyeglasses and other pieces of personal property that the Nazis stripped from
victims provide an intense -- and palpably real -- connection between the
visitor and historic events. The building and its contents form a searingly
powerful whole.

At the Lincoln museum, what we get instead is clever artifice, as
in a mock TV newscast about the election of 1860 (anchored by NBC's Tim
Russert), or meticulously detailed but emotionally overdriven stage sets, such
as the one where Lincoln and his wife, Mary, watch over their deathly ill son,
Willie, in his White House bed. Lacking authenticity, the scenes are as
synthetic as the mannequins, which Simon, the Southern Illinois University
professor, has hilariously dubbed "rubber Lincolns."

For all the hype about the museum offering "immersive" exhibits that transport visitors to the era of gas lamps and hoopskirts, many of its are actually old-fashioned dioramas or conventionally arranged theaters equipped with the latest bells and whistles. There is, for example, the quill pen in the "Ghosts of the Library" program that flies through the air, Harry Potter-style.

Such thrills, the theory goes, will prep visitors for the museum's version of the crown jewels -- its "Treasures Gallery," which features a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address and other rare artifacts. But the reverse seems equally likely: The real will be a letdown, upstaged by the fake.The flash of new exhibitry will obscure Lincoln's ringing phrase about "a new birth of freedom." When visitors go home, what are they going to tell their friends about, seeing an old piece of paper or seeing Lincoln's ghost?

There's much more. And it isn't any kinder.


Got my tickets to the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum which I see is now being referred to by the acronym ALPLM.

We arrived at the ticket outlet, the Prairie Capital Convention Center in this case, about 8:30. There were already about 200 people in line. We were required to fill out a form with our name, driver's license number and expirations date, and signature. We then waited in line for the 9:00 am opening of the ticket windows. Except the windows didn't open until 9:30. I think they were caught unprepared by the number of people.

By the time the windows did open, another 100 - 200 people had come in behind us. So, it was a good turn out complete with media coverage including Sinclair Propaganda's WICS-TV getting footage of the line and interviewing at least one ticket, ummm, getter.

Once the line started moving we were out of there in about 15 minutes.

The tickets allow us to enter the dedication ceremony to be held in Union Square Park a week from tomorrow. Union Square Park is next to the ALPLM and is about 3/4 of a city block. Problem is, right now its nothing but dirt. I guess the landscapers can work fast.

Anyway, rock on Abe Heads!

SIU Connection

This post prompted a TEH reader to post a comment asking what my connection is to Southern Illinois University. I do mention the school on occasion but I guess I've never explained why I care more about it than say, the U of I (didn't they do some sports thing recently?).

It's simple, I'm an SIU Carbondale grad. I spent five great years there from 1978 to 1983. Yes, that's five years. I have no regrets.

The reader also asked what my position is on the system president and if I think [Glenn] Poshard is selling out.

To be honest, I really don't follow the politics of the university (OK, universities since there's Edwardsville). Actually, I either didn't know or had forgotten Poshard had anything to do with SIU until I read the story on which I was posting. I lost track of him after his failed run for governor.

The purpose of my earlier SIU post was to trash talk Edwardsville just for fun. I have nothing against SIU-E. In fact, one of my SIU-C roommates and best friends went on to get his Masters from SIU-E after graduating from Carbondale. And I still talk to him despite that.

I do think it's silly to have them both SIUs but who really cares. I'm sure there are some serious issues involved with the relationship but I'm not all that concerned about them. Should a serious separatist movement get started, I'll lend my minimal, non-financial support. The Carbondale Liberation Front, anyone?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Reentering the World

I've been a bit out of touch this weekend. Mrs. Eleventh hour and I have been setting up our new PCs and network at Eleventh Hour HQ.

It's been over four years since either of us bought new machines. We decided to do a complete upgrade to get us up to date and enjoying the latest technology. It cost us - big time - but the results are impressive. We now have 19" flat panel monitors, media centers and lots of speed.

Sadly, all this time and expense will do little to improve this blog but at least I'll be doing it in style.

Tomorrow morning we head down to get our tickets for the April 19th dedication of the Lincoln Presidential Library. We are going early to get in line (I assume there will be one) to guarantee tickets that are being given out on first-come first-serve basis.

Indications are pretty strong that President Bush will be attending the dedication. I'm not all that thrilled with the idea and not just because I don't like the guy. No, it's mostly because a presidential visit of any stripe has a way of totally gumming up the works for everyone else. Security and all that.

They've already announced parking will be prohibited anywhere near the event and they will be shuttling people in from the State Fairgrounds parking lots. That's probably what I'll have to do, too.

I dunno, is it time presidents start thinking seriously about limiting public appearances? I know that sounds less than desirable but it really is a huge inconvenience to the residents of whatever city or town he's visiting. Again, this is any president not just Bush. How much does it cost annually to accommodate these visits nationally? A lot I bet. And I don't just mean the cost to the government (Air Force One, the Secret Service, etc.). I mean lost business, extended commutes due to traffic blockages, local security (police and fire), delayed flights at airports and so on. Just wondering.

Update: Another thing about presidential visits. When they happen in conjunction with another event, in this case the Presidential Library dedication, presidents tend to steal some of the thunder. That is, the event becomes about him, at least in part. What can make it worse is if the president uses an occasion to announce, or further, some policy or initiative. At a minimum, a president's attendance attaches themselves to the event, usually in a deliberate attempt to boost their standing.

I have no idea if Bush will use the occasion of the dedication to make news of his own, but I really hope not. Expect a groan from me if he tries to tell us Lincoln would have been all about Social Security privatization.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Hey, Get Back Here

Kevin Drum, a fellow of like mind on the Late Sunset issue, says he can't support the pending Congressional amendment extending Daylight Saving time. Bummer indeed, Kev.

SIU Hates God

DownLeft has the details.

Friday Beer Blogging: Non-Collector's Edition

I have never been a beer can collector. This was true even when everyone was doing it back in the 1970s. Well, I was never a collector - with one exception. Back about 1980 or 1981, I did go buy a six pack of a novelty beer - J.R. Ewing's Private Stock Beer. I had to buy for reason's those who know me understand - Hint: it's not because I was a fan of Dallas.

Since I was a college student with limited resources, I found it economical to drink all the beer and save a can. At some point, I lost the can. It was probably a casualty of my divorce.

Anyway, I found a bunch of these vintage cans for sale on eBay (where else) and decided to once again complete my collection of one.

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Actually, I bid on a set: a can of JR Beer and a can of Billy Beer. Billy Beer, for those of you too young to remember, was another novelty beer that came out in the late 70s in honor of Billy Carter, the beer-drinking, good ol' boy brother of then-president Jimmy Carter.

I got both cans for $1.99 and I was the only bidder. I think that says a lot about how far beer can collecting has fallen as a hobby. I mean, neither of these beers has been made in 25 years and they're giving them away on eBay.

Both cans are full but I don't plan on dinking them this time for obvious reasons. J.R. Beer was brewed by Pearl Brewing Company back in the day and it wasn't very good then, so I can't imagine what 25 years of aging has done to it.

Does this make me a "collector" now that I have TWO cans?


Ever wonder where Barney Fife is these days? Apparently, he's been hired as a security guard at the soon to open Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

On Easter Sunday, a couple of museum guards added their own special touch -
real gunfire.

During that Sunday, when the museum was closed, a security officer was
completing the afternoon shift and was transferring a 9mm semiautomatic pistol
to the guard coming on duty.

At some point, "the weapon discharged toward the ground and (the bullet)
struck the floor," museum spokeswoman Christine Glunz said Thursday.

The incident occurred in the security room, which is away from the
exhibits. No one was injured, and Glunz said the guards were the only people in
the building.

The bullet did minor damage - a small hole in the carpet and a dent in the
concrete floor.

There is an internal investigation to figure out exactly what happened,
Glunz said.

"The security officer who discharged the weapon has been reassigned," she
said, adding that the guard was disciplined as well.

Posted without further comment.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

DST To Be Extended?

If passed, this bill won't go as far as I'd like but it's a step in the right direction.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- If Congress passes an energy bill, Americans may see
more daylight-saving time.

Lawmakers crafting energy legislation approved an amendment Wednesday to extend daylight-saving time by two months, having it start on the first Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November.

"Extending daylight-saving time makes sense, especially with skyrocketing
energy costs," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, who along with Rep. Ed Markey,
D-Massachusetts, co-sponsored the measure.

The amendment was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee
that is putting together major parts of energy legislation likely to come up for
a vote in the full House in the coming weeks.
OK, this limited measure hasn't even passed yet but I still smell victory in my ongoing campaign to forbid the sun to set before 8:30 PM.

I Only Have Pies For You

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper admonishes left-wing pie throwers to get a new shtick. He's right, it's a really dumb way to make a point.

Roeper frames the issue as lefties throwing pies at conservatives. But my only experience with pie terrorism actually involved lefty-on-lefty violence (piolence?).

Who was the victim?

Jerry Rubin.

I once saw the (now) late Rubin get a pie in the face at a lecture at SIU (circa 1979). Rubin got mad and asked the guy why he did it. The dumbass pie thrower says, "It was a very sixties thing to do" or some such. Rubin angrily called him a fascist, wiped himself off and continued the lecture.

Like I said, it's really dumb.

Even lamer, is using salad dressing. Pat Buchanan was assaulted with the stuff recently while speaking in Michigan.

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Pat Buchanan after recent salad dressing attack

OK, the picture is funny and I'm glad i found a way top work it into my blog. God, I'm such a terrorist.

Of course, none of this compares to some of the tactics used by the right, like bombing federal buildings, abortion clinics and the Olympics. Not to mention plotting to kill judges (bye, bye Matt Hale).

Still, Rush Limbaugh sees the pie-throwers as the real threat:

[W]ho is it that is responsible for fomenting harm against others? Who is it
that cannot tolerate hearing things they disagree with, and who is it that
reports to heckling and throwing salad dressing or ice cream pies on
conservative Republican speakers? It's the left, my dear. It is the
left, my good friends, that is out there fomenting violence.
Limbaugh (4/1/05). (quote courtesy of Think Progress)


UPDATE: The pie terrorism continues unabated! Just last night, David Horowitz was pied in the prime of his life. Oh, the humanity!