Sunday, July 31, 2005

Another New Orleans Postcard

I’m still having lots of fun in New Orleans but I just can’t stay completely away from the blog, even if I'm forced to use a rickety old laptop and a dial-up connection. Thanks again to JP for his tireless efforts.

My latest Freecycle post got this blog a link on the national Freecycle site. More on that some other time when I’m not in a hurry to get back to vacation.

I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the news since leaving The Patch but what headlines I have read seem to indicate the Bush administration continues to lie, deceive and spin itself silly while its approval ratings continue tanking, NASA and the Shuttle program are having some real problems (again), Iraq still sucks, and Natalee Holloway is still missing. But you know what, this week I really don’t care. See my pathetically under-maintained blog rolls for proper commentary.

I got to the National D-Day Museum here in New Orleans yesterday. I’ll post more on it later too but I will say it’s a wonderful place even if still a work in progress. There were some very emotional displays that brought the war to life (the museum should more properly be called the National American Involvement in World War II Museum). Like I said, more later.

New Orleans is pretty blasted hot but no worse than Springfield is right now from what I have seen on the net. The difference here is we get a brief thunderstorm here nearly every day so things are lush and green.

Hit Bourbon Street really hard last night. It’s amazing how much goes on there every night even in this, the alleged off-season. Having a huge street party in town anytime you’re in the mood is just one more reason I don’t want to leave.

Speaking of which, we have extended our stay here another day –just ‘cuz...

Miss you all (but not too much).

Yours Truly,

Potty Blogging

Now that my son has turned two, we are in the process of trying to get him, slowly, potty-trained. To aid us in this effort, we purchased a little positive reinforcement in the form of a sticker book called "My Potty Reward Stickers". We haven't used it yet but I gave it a glance
the other day and found myself laughing out loud at some of the stickers.

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And that's just some of them. Now I can't decide what technique this is, positive reinforcement or humiliation.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

More Freecycle

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Mrs. TEH previously had a guest post about the site known as Freecycle. Today I want to give Freecycle another plug with this message from Tracy, one of the moderators of the Sangamon County Freecycle site.

Imagine living in a community where used items that are in good condition are given away freely, no strings attached, no money exchanged. Imagine living in a community where people not only recycle, but reuse, by giving away their unwanted items freely to others - even strangers - who will give them new life. Sound too good to be true? That community exists, right here in Springfield, Illinois.

The Springfield Freecycle Network is an Internet community of local people who are giving (and getting) good stuff for free right in their hometown. The goal is to keep useable items out of the landfills, keep curbs and alleyways clean and save our prairie grasslands from being overtaken by landfills that no one wants in their own backyard. Anyone with access to a computer can log on to, click on the region where they live, scroll to their state, and click on a link to their local community Freecycle site. There are currently more than 2900 Freecycle sites worldwide, with 157 in Illinois alone.

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The Springfield site started in January, 2004, and now has more than 1700 members. The site is moderated by two local volunteers who try to build community involvement and make the site fun and productive. The address is:

Everything must be FREE, legal, and appropriate for all ages. There is no bartering, trading, swapping or selling allowed. Membership is free, and members are required to provide the ZIP code(s) where they live and work in order to attain membership. Although "wanted" posts are allowed, everyone must make an offer first before asking for something. In May, 2005 alone, more than 300 different types of items were offered and given away for FREE on the Springfield Freecycle Network. From A-Z, we have everything and the kitchen sink!

Reduce, reuse, recycle ... and Freecycle! ... pass it on.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Postcard From New Orleans

Well, we made it and I managed a slow, dial-up internet connection.

I’m giving notice now that I’m never coming back. JP can keep the blog, I’m here to stay.

Not really, but I wish.New Orleans is a great place. Just the right mix of weather, history and debauchery to keep me interested for life.

We also (thanks to Mrs. TEH’s tireless trip planning) managed to snag a really, really great place to stay just off the French Quarter. It has loads of space, a loft bedroom, a full (and fully stocked) kitchen, a pool, a living room, and on and on.

New Orleans is such a unique city. It’s in a league with places like San Francisco or Las Vegas; there is nowhere else remotely like it.

I had my first shrimp omelet this morning.Lordy, that was good. There are tons of little local restaurants in this neighborhood; I’ll never get through them all.

I’m hoping for a cemetery tour and the D-Day museum on Saturday. And more food.

Yours truly,

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Article by JeromeProphet:

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Hey Mister, can you spare 48 minutes?

Well, how about if it was for the good of your nation?

There's a great documentary focusing on the Carlyle Group, and the Bush family connection to Saudi Arabia's Bin Laden family. You'll need RealPlayer, and just one hour of your time to download, and view this remarkable peek into how powerful interest are pulling the strings in the beltway, and beyond.

Photo: A Few of Carlyle Group's Team

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This site is also a great resource for understanding why the United States was taken into a war with Iraq by President Bush, and how a coven of political, and corporate elites, including the Bush family stand to profit financially from the war.

Here's another excellent article, from which I grabbed the following:

Unlike those firms, however, the Carlyle Group itself is not a manufacturer. It offers no services directly to the Pentagon, and has no defense contracts. Rather, it manages investments—some $18.4 billion from 600 individuals and entities in 55 countries, according to its Web site. The firm's business is making money for these investors, the vast majority of whose identities are not disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission or other government bodies.

Though Carlyle itself has won no contracts, the companies it has owned or controlled have done billions of dollars worth of business with the Pentagon. The Carlyle unit that brought in the largest share—$5.8 billion—was United Defense Inc., which manufactures combat vehicles, artillery, naval guns, missile launchers and precision munitions. United Defense also owns the country's largest non-nuclear ship repair, modernization, overhaul and conversion company, United States Marine Repair Inc. Its most famous product may well be the Bradley fighting vehicle. United Defense brought in more than 60 percent of Carlyle's defense business.

The scam is a simple one, politicians, and their subordinates, are purchased by Carlyle Group through campaign donations, and the promise of lucrative compensation after they leave their government positions. All the crooked politician has to do is to shape government policy, and contracts, in such ways as will benefit Carlyle Group. Since Carlyle Group is a private company there's virtually no government, or media, oversight of who is working for the investment firm, or how much they are being paid.

Did Carlyle Group invent this approach? No, but they have mastered it like no other firm in history, and for that reason they deserve great attention from the American people who bankroll their entire operation.

If you know of any ideolistic teens thinking of defending this nation against terrorism by rushing off to Bush's War, praise them for their concern, buy them a beer, and try and get them to sit down for an hour, and watch this documentary (see link above) - it just might save a life!

Friday Beer Blogging: Big Easy Edition

Since I'm in New Orleans right now, I thought it only fitting that I feature a New Orleans beer.

I first discovered Dixie beer some years ago while dining at the now defunct Gumbo Ya Ya's atop the Springfield Hilton. I kind of liked it and have purchased it a few times since.

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Dixie doesn't get good reviews from beer snobs (here is a good example). It's considered a low end domestic but, like I said, I kind of like it.

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The Dixie Brewing Company does not even have its own web site as near as I can tell. So maybe they are a little low end.

BeerHistory.Com Photo: Dixie Brewery
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You can find Dixie beer at Friar Tucks here in town if you are interested. I'll bet Famous Liquors has it too.

Go here for more info on Dixie Beers.

A Ride with Osama

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Essay submitted by JeromeProphet:

I can't help but see the similarities between Osama Bin Laden, and Hitler. In this war on terrorism many fine men, and women have given their lives for this nation. Families are left without sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers.

But despite the sacrafices of those brave men, and women, back at home, in America, it seems that many hardly even notice that we are at war. And ironically, those who are most likely to plaster the bumpers of their mega-trucks, and super SUVs, with "W" stickers, and "Support Our Troop" stickers, are actually supporting our enemies!

Every dollars spent at the gasoline pump sends money to nations which directly support anti-americanism through sponsorship of Islamic fundamentalist schools busy preaching hatred of America, Jews, and Christians.

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Millions of young hearts, and minds, throughout the Muslim world are being contaminated with hatred for our way of life. These children are the new recruits in the war against the West led by their saintly Osama Bin Laden.

The planet is depleting its remaining reserves of cheap, easily obtainable oil, at the very same time the developing nations are demanding ever more oil. Estimates are that oil production is now at its historic peak, and that no new major oil finds will alter the rapid decline in oil production. Prices will slowly increase, and the age of cheap oil will be a thing of the past. This will happen within the lifetime of most of those alive today.

With these facts in mind the United States needs to break free of its dependence upon fosil fuels for its main source of energy. The nation needs leaders who care about the nation they represent instead of representing oil interest who don't care about the people of this nation. In the meantime we, as consumers, need to make smarter choices when it comes to the automobiles we purchase.

More oil is used for the production of gasoline than any other use. The mega-truck, and SUV, phenomena is the most blatant example of the short term approach of american consumers. Not only do SUVs, and mega-trucks, present increased danger to those driving in passenger cars, but they are hugely wasteful of gasoline.

Almost no one who buys an SUV will actually use their SUV in off road driving! It's an image thing.

Photo: Mighty Hummer dominates Iraq, oops, I mean a rock.

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I keep wondering when this madness will end. Sadly, I suspect that americans won't stop purchasing huge gas guzzlers until oil is so high in price that we are forced to do so. But this shouldn't be our approach. It should be our love of country, our concern for the environment, and our desire to leave a better world to future generations, which guides our decisions - not our desire to look down upon others from our lofty SUVs, and Monster Trucks.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Civil War

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Article by Dave, The11thHour Man:

I was fortunate enough to receive the magnificent Ken Burns documentary The Civil War as a birthday gift recently from my in-laws. It is truly one of he greatest historical documentaries ever made. It was originally aired on PBS back in 1990 and I believe again in recent years.

As I recall the original airing got a lot of publicity and I assume a lot of people watching.

This got me thinking about a missed opportunity. Ever since the announcement was made that a Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was going to be built here in Springfield, I've been saying, "It's about time!". And Ken Burns' The Civil War demonstrates nicely one reason why.Had the ALPLM been around in 1990, imagine the increase interest in (and influx of visitors to) the ALPLM at the time. Abe plays a big role in this film as you might guess. Burns even came here to film landmarks while making The Civil War. Opportunity missed. Ditto for the reshowing of the film a few years ago.

As for the recently released DVD, it has a few extras and presents a cleaned up version of the documentary. Cleaned up as in much improves visual quality that wasn't in the budget or technologically possible in 1990. This only adds to the film and certainly does nothing to take away from is grandness. It's amazing what Burns does to his subject without any moving footage of the Civil War era. One reviewer on Amazon described his style this way:

",.. voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books.The result is something very relatable somehow."
Sure, in other documentaries, we see shows depicting foreign wars and lands or dry presentations of events here, but Burns, using the techniques described above, brings home the events taking place on the screen. You feel that this is America we are talking about and you feel it. The sounds of the summer afternoon bugs he interjects is all too familiar. It really brings home the fact that this all really happened and happened here. .

Keep in mind too, Burns' The Civil War is much more than the story of a military conflict. It depicts an entire national trama that affected everyone on and off the battlefield. The Civil War was a great upheaval that changed the nation and its people forever.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The War on Drugs

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Disclaimer: Dave left me, JeromeProphet, with the keys to his blog, so don't blame him if I crank the tunes a little high.

Speaking of high, I thought what better way to celebrate Dave's vacation, and my turn on his blog than drugs?

Disclaimer: I am not presently using any illegal drugs, nor do I advocate the use of illegal drugs. Children, please find other ways to amuse yourselves. Drugs are not the answer.

Having said that, I find myself having to ask if whether our society's attempt at eliminating drug use has created more harm than good. There doesn't appear to be any great reduction in overall drug use, although the type of drugs being used may have changed over the years.

In the meantime whole nations live under the constant threat of gang warfare due to the illegal trade in drugs. And in the United States a relatively large percentage of the population is imprisoned due to the illegal status of drugs. This doesn't even mention the even larger numbers of peoples out on bond, facing trial, on probation, or having to identify themselves on job applications as having been convicted of a crime due to the illegality of drugs.

Illegal drug use is a huge mess for society, and society can't afford to ignore it, but that doesn't imply society can solve the problem by continuing on the path it has employed for nearly one hundred years.

Most politicians eyes glaze over when asked, rarely, if they would favor decriminalizing drug use. They realize there simply isn't overwhelming support for changing approaches to this vexing social problem.

Yet, broad support doesn't imply that society is correctly addressing the problem.

Some argue in favor of decriminalizing drug use, and instead propose to approach the use of drugs as a medical problem. They argue that some European nations have discovered that the "medical" approach works better than the "criminal justice" approach. That not only does the medical approach seem to reduce rates of drug use, but it is less costly for the implementation of such a program. That instead of turning drug users into criminals, and spending huge amounts of money to imprison them we could instead be spending the money on anti-drug programs, and drug rehab programs.

Perhaps on a limited basis it might be worth a try?

Color Me Gone

I'm out of here for a to New Orleans for a bit of fun.

JeromeProphet has the controls and may have something to say in this space. I have a few "canned" posts he'll be putting up for me until my return next week. I may post from the road if I can get an internet connection in New Orleans. Otherwise, see ya when I get back.

Turd Blossom

This is TOO funny...
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- It may be President Bush's nickname for key political adviser Karl Rove, but some editors don't think it belongs in their newspapers.

About a dozen papers objected to Tuesday's and Wednesday's "Doonesbury" comic strips, and some either pulled or edited them.

The strips refer to Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff, as "Turd Blossom."


The term is said to be one of several nicknames Bush uses for Rove, one of his closest allies and who is widely credited for Bush's election in 2000 and re-election in 2004. The mainstream U.S. media have rarely mentioned the nickname, but it has gained traction in the international press and on the Internet.

As is always the case, the censorship provides more attention to the "offending" material than would have been the case if everyone had just left things alone.

Up In Smoke

I was a little stunned to see this item in the online Jacksonville Journal-Coiurier:
District 117 Board Member Mindy Olson would like to prohibit students from leaving Jacksonville High School to smoke. Existing school policy allows students whose parents have signed a permission form to smoke at a designated spot off school grounds. Mrs. Olson says the policy needs to change to bring consistancy to the schools rules.
Excuse me? What parent would provide a note giving permission for their kid to smoke? At school no less.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Lance Armstrong has his straight.

Armstrong, a member of the President's Cancer Panel since 2002, says "we have the smartest people in the world" working on cures, so his role is to get the funds to keep that research alive.

"Funding is tough to come by these days," he says. "The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. It needs to become a priority again.

Damn right. But I guess such talk makes him an unpatriotic cheese-eating surrender athlete. He has spent a lot of time in France, I hear. Time for Swift Cyclists for Truth to stop this man.

Building Envy

Ha. Steve Scott on the latest tallest-building-in-the world proposed for Chicago. You gotta see this thing. And we like to call the Springfield Hilton the "Prick of the Prairie".

Eric Zorn also weighs in.

Tall building pageant here.

2 Questions and a Headline

Headline: LaHood has a million for governor run

Questions: Who is giving this money and why are they doing it?

Hat tip to Rich Miller for the pointer.

Beer Blogging Spreads Uncontrollably

Dan at BlogFreeSpringfield has a great beer post up. As does Marie at Disaranging Mine. Both posts mention my Friday Beer Blogging. Hee-hee. Beer blogging is on the march!

Shimkus Shows

I'm not a big John Shimkus fan but he gets points for showing up at the newly opened Paul Simon Museum. The Daily Egyptian has the story and picture.

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The SJ-R also had a good write-up on the opening of the museum in Sunday's paper.

Offense Best Defense

In Springfield's ongoing battle to keep the 183rd Fighter Wing from flying the coop and going to Ft. Wayne, IN, Mayor Davlin has gone street and started trash talking those thievin' Hoosiers. Or at least that's what I was hoping when I read this headline in today's SJ-R:

Fort Wayne shortcomings emphasized

Yeah! Let's talk about how those Mo-Fo's are no good for our proud and brave 183rd. Let's crap all over them. Or maybe just do this:
When it decided to recommend sending the jets and jobs of Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing to Fort Wayne, Ind., the Pentagon failed to consider a number of shortcomings there, Mayor Tim Davlin said Monday.

He cited the need for Fort Wayne International Airport to build a chemical-production facility, more stringent air quality standards in Allen County, Ind., and limitations on the Fort Wayne base's expansion capabilities.


The need for Fort Wayne to build a $500,000 hydrazine servicing facility was among the new information the delegation presented to bolster its case for keeping the 183rd here. The military value of the servicing facility had not been factored into the Pentagon's recommendations, Meyer said.
The article doesn't say but I suspect Davlin went on to say, "What LOOOSERS! No hydrazine servicing facility? What kind of backward-ass community do those Ft. Waynians have up there? Do they even have running water? And that city smells, you ever been there? HOOOO-WEEEE. BRAC members I deplore you: DO NOT send our fighting men an women to this devil's outpost." Or something.

Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging: Washington Coverups Edition

In honor of the still unfolding Rovegate scandal, I bring you this early '50s cartoon from my wingnut Great Aunt's scrapbook.

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I'm sure this pertains to Democratic malfeasance (the "Each New Deal lie" line is a dead giveaway).

Still, I think it applies nicely to the Bush administration's reaction to, well, almost any peering under the lid.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Riding the Gravy Train

I'm glad the Chicago Sun-Times is on to this. The Blagojevich administration, under the guise of cutting costs, is actually awarding huge consulting contracts that are costing the state way more than they should.

Shortly after taking office in 2003, Gov. Blagojevich lamented that state agencies were paying computer consultants "two to three times the market value" and vowed "to cut the waste that has cheated the taxpayers for far too long."

Yet, more than two years later, computer consultants embedded in some state agencies are costing the state as much as three times the rate of equally skilled state computer employees who ostensibly do the same work, the Chicago Sun-Times has found.

In the Department of Children and Family Services, for example, the annual price for a pair of full-time, IBM-hired consultants is on pace to reach $283,000 apiece based on hourly rates. That would eclipse the governor's $150,700 yearly salary and the $248,200-a-year paycheck of the emergency medicine chief at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center.

Seventeen other technicians brought in under the IBM "Technical Services Program" are working 40 hours a week for DCFS, too. The agency is set to spend between 176,800 and $212,000 this year on each of them -- more than double the $80,600 the typical DCFS computer worker makes in salary and benefits.

In a recent interview, DCFS Director Bryan Samuels questioned the IBM pact, saying he believed that replacing the IBM-hired consultants with state employees or other contract workers would allow DCFS to hire as many as 20 new caseworkers to help fulfill the agency's mission of caring for abused and neglected children.

Read the whole article, things really are that bad.

I was amused to read that Central Management Services claims it's monitoring things. Well, I happen to know CMS has hired (non-IBM) consultants to work at $1500.00 A DAY (per consultant) on a system they don't really need and doesn't work as well as the one they have in most cases. Tons of money is being wasted in that agency alone much less the agencies they are allegedly minding.

All of this affects workers here in Springfield, be they State employess, potantial state employees or local contractors. The IBM/consultant invasion is doing a lot of displacing locally and costing all of us plenty.

A Walk on the Blog Side

Springfield's latest blogger is radio personality/news guy Shawn Balint. His blog, Balint's Brainscan, can be found here. It looks like Shawn will include postings on sports, something that has been noticeable lacking in the Springfield Blogosphere. Shawn does news and talk on WMAY and morning news mornings on WQLZ. That makes him about the 100th WMAY personality to have a blog (is there something in their contracts?). Shawn is also babysitting Jim Leach's AbeLog blog this week while Jim is on vacation.

I discovered another Springfield blogger over the weekend: Amy Allen of Obiter Dictum. Actually, Amy owns, or is a partner in, five different blogs! She also posts at a furious pace and has been since at least August of 2004 from what I can see. She's a conservative who focuses on Illinois politics and the eventual destruction of the evil ACLU.

Missed it by That Much

Well, we didn't hit 100 degrees yesterday (it only got up to 98 in Springfield). Not that I want it to be this hot but if it has to be, let's go for a something-to-talk-about 100+ degrees. It's been over 10 years since the city last saw 100 (July 14, 1995). With other places nearby hitting the century mark yesterday (Lincoln and Peoria, for example) it certainly could have happened and still could today with the forecast high predicted to be 99 degrees.

Meanwhile, the drought marches on, especially just to out north:

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But..rain is predicted for tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Guns of Brixton Pt. II

What Atrios says:
This issue is not those who are second-guessing cops who are frequently in horrible positions. I wasn't there and I don't know what they knew or what they thought they knew or what their orders were. Some of that will be revealed. The issue is the cheerleaders of the "shoot first ask questions later" attitude, and the critics of those who dare suggest that shooting someone the government has labelled "terrorist suspect" absent trial is problematic.

Bush and the Right generally have become masters of this rhetorical trick. Criticize the Bush policies in Iraq? You're attacking the troops! Criticze the Bush policies in Gitmo? You're attacking the troops! Criticize the 101st Fighting Keyboarders glee about the killing of "bad" brown people in London? You're attacking London bobbies!

It's long past time for the Right to take responsible for its own actions and rhetoric, and stop trying to pawn it off on those on the front lines.
And speaking of troops on the front line:
WASHINGTON, July 23 - The Bush administration's rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war, but a nation with only its military at war.

From bases in Iraq and across the United States to the Pentagon and the military's war colleges, officers and enlisted personnel quietly raise a question for political leaders: if America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?

There is no serious talk of a draft to share the burden of fighting across the broad citizenry, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are pressing for a tax increase to force Americans to cover the $5 billion a month in costs from Iraq, Afghanistan and new counterterrorism missions.

There are not even concerted efforts like the savings-bond drives or gasoline rationing that helped to unite the country behind its fighting forces in wars past.

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," said one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq, voicing a frustration now drawing the attention of academic specialists in military sociology.

Members of the military who discussed their sense of frustration did so only when promised anonymity, as comments viewed as critical of the civilian leadership could end their careers. The sentiments were expressed in more than two dozen interviews and casual conversations with enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officers, midlevel officers, and general or flag officers in Iraq and in the United States.

I suspect this war, at least the one in Iraq, would be over very quickly if everyone were required to shoulder some of the pain. Right now its too easy. If you don't want to go fight, no problem you don't join up. Even war cheerleaders mostly sit back and do nothing but, well, cheerlead. There are many rightwing supporters of this war who have no desire to get shot at or miss a day of work to support their precious war of revenge.

I tell what, if the draft were reinstated, the docile citizens of this country who only see this war on TV would be quickly aroused to opposition. I don't want a draft but if that's what it takes to wake people up, to make this war more than a video game, I'm for it.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Guns of Brixton

From the BBC today:
A man shot dead by police hunting the bombers behind Thursday's London attacks was a Brazilian electrician unconnected to the incidents.

The man, who died at Stockwell Tube on Friday, has been named by police as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27.


Scotland Yard said Mr Menezes, who lived in Brixton, south London, was completely unconnected to the bomb attacks and added: "For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."


...Mr Menezes, who was from the city of Gonzaga in Minas Gerais staten[in Brazil], had lived in London legally for at least three years and was employed as an electrician. Civil rights groups have called for a full inquiry into the shooting.
I had a really bad feeling about this one from the start. Shoot first and ask questions later is better in theory than in practice. In fact, it really isn't even a good theory. That of course doesn't stop Fox News asswipes like John Gibson from thinking it's all very macho and cool to do what Britsh police did. This shit better not start happening here.

When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

You can crush us
You can bruise us
Yes, even shoot us
But oh-the guns of Brixton

Shot down on the pavement
Waiting in death row
His game is called survivin'
As in heaven as in hell

You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you'll have to answer to
Oh, the guns of Brixton

The Clash

A Guest in the House

Springfield blogger and personal friend JeromeProphet has agreed to manage this blog (in addition to his own) when I go on vacation later this coming week. I'm headed for New Orleans for a little R&R with the family.

I have several "canned", pre-written posts that JP with be putting out on the blog in my absence. Additionally, he is free to put up his own posts as the spirit moves him (as I see he has already done). I am planning on taking a laptop with me so I can add a few "live" posts from the Big Easy, assuming I can get a connection (and assuming the rickety old laptop is up to the task).

A big thanks to JP for doing this for me.

Psst.., The Emperor is Wearing No Clothes.

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Disclaimer: This Article was Written & Submitted by Guest Contributer JeromeProphet

It's too bad that President Bush couldn't take the Iraq war, which he started, as an opportunity to finish his years of military service. It seems only appropriate that the person who started the war, costing the lives of thousands of U.S. troops, and stealing the treasure from our nation's future generations, would offer to come clean for having deserted the U.S. military during the Vietnam war.

But we all know that's not how it works. His daddy's political connections kept him from ever facing danger during his years of service, kept him from being prosecuted as a deserter, made him his fortune, and eventually led to his presidency.

It's exceedingly ironic that this man, of all men, was embraced by those who claim to hold our national security as their highest responsibility, but when one's love of country gets in the way of greed, and the lust for power, we see what happens.

Here's an interesting link about some of our nation's soldiers, the one's we don't hear much about in the mainstream media. Bush never faced the punishment that these soldiers have for not wanting to fight in a war they didn't believe in.

Instead Bush finds himself applauded by the right wing as a great hero for saving the nation from terrorism. The nation is only one major terrorist attack away from understanding that this emperor is wearing no clothes.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Money for Nothing

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, has estimated that the Korean War cost about $430 billion and the Vietnam War cost about $600 billion, in current dollars. According to the latest estimates, the cost of the war in Iraq could exceed $700 billion.

Put simply, critics say, the war is not making the United States safer and is harming U.S. taxpayers by saddling them with an enormous debt burden, since the war is being financed with deficit spending.

That Old Time Capitol

There seems to be an Old State Capitol lovefest going on in he Springfield photo-blogosphere: Here and here. How much blog coverage can one building get? And don't forget these posts here and here.

UPDATE: JeromeProphet points out in comments that the OSC is also featured in his logo at the top of his blog.

Friday Beer Blogging: It's Too Damn Hot Edition

With heat indexes well above 100 degrees all this week and only getting worse for the weekend, it's time to figure out a quick way to chill that not-cold-enough beer instantly.

What's that? The free market has provided a solution?

Uh-huh, meet the KegPal...

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Woo-hoo...just hook your beer up to the, well I'll let the manufacturer explain:

Just connect a keg or bottles to the KegPal and pump it. Then open the tap for your ice-cold beverage.

All you do is open the tap to fill you glass! KegPal looks like a classy wood beer keg. You can use it to cool bottles of beer, wine, liquor and even soda. The hand pump, which is included, or an optional CO2 air tank pressurizes the system.

And how does it work?

Twenty-five feet of super-fast cooling coil. Every drop of warm liquid that enters KegPal travels through this frigid cooling coil spiral. What entered warm comes out icy cold.

Go check out their site for more demonstrative pics and ordering info. But don't order me one because I'm sure they are comping me one for the free plug. Right Guys? Guys?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Flight Suit

It's official: the State of Illinois is suing the Federal government over the fate of the 183rd Fighter Wing. From the SJ-R's breaking news page:
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Gov. Rod Blagojevich today sued the Department of Defense to prevent the transfer of Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing's F-16s to Fort Wayne, Ind., through the base realignment and closure process.

Blagojevich and Madigan said the Pentagon violated federal law by recommending the transfer. They contend the governor must consent to any changes in Air National Guard bases.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central Division of Illinois in Springfield.
Wow. Has any state had to do this before? Have they been successful? I certainly want the state to proceed with this if it has a chance and isn't just political grandstanding.

UPDATE: The Southern Illinoisan has a more detailed breaking news story. They quote Attorney General Lisa Madigan in the matter:
"I have made clear that I will take legal action on behalf of the Governor should it become necessary to prevent the realignment of the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield," Attorney General Madigan said. "Today, as Illinois' chief legal officer, I am taking that action to ensure the Secretary of Defense and BRAC Commissioners adhere to the law. Federal law could not be more clear: no National Guard base closures without the consent of the Governor. Governor Blagojevich certainly has not given his consent and, along with myself, the congressional delegation and the mayor, has fought this realignment. We now will continue this fight in court."


Jerome Prophet digs up the dirt on the former Springfield store and I follow up with remberances over at Look Back Springfield.

Cyber Lies II

I posted a while back about bogus emails that way too many people buy into and then forward on to the rest of us (actually I was piggybacking on this post over at AbeLog).

I also pointed out how the vast majority of false emails of a political nature seem to come from the rightwing propaganda mill. Well, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rich Roeper today takes on another of these stupid wingnut messages.

This one is typical, seeking to expose the conspiracy of "Hollywood types [who] make front page news with their anti-everything-American crap" while actor Denzel Washington is shunned for being a true patriot. However, again as is typical for these things, almost nothing in the email is true. That won't stop it from being cited endlessly on conservative talk radio and becoming "common knowledge" among those predisposed to believe it.

Snopes is also on the case here.

When you get this piece of disinformation be sure to hit the reply-to-all button and send one of the above links.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scotty's Last Voyage

Actor James Doohan, Star Trek's "Scotty" has died at age 85.

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I didn't know he lost a finger in World War II and was able to hide the fact on screen. Actually, he took a total of six bullets at Normandy.

He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.

Tough bird.

Also, for those interested here's "Scotty's" Starfleet bio.

Having grown up with Star Trek from its original NBC run in the 1960s, though its syndication and then movies, its hard to see my early heroes go.

Potty Call

There are a lot of places where getting a cell phone call is annoying but the worst has to be while you're in the bathroom. Especially at work.

George Bush -Liberator of Men (Only)

I found this rather interesting. While we continue to "liberate" Iraq, some Iraqis are more liberated than others. Juan Cole picks up the story:
...a draft of the new Iraqi constitution contains a provision that puts personal status law under the authority of religious judges. Marriage, divorce, inheritance and other such matters would be judged according to the religious law of the community to which the person belonged. This step would be a big set back for women's rights in Iraq.

In the kind of medieval interpretation of Islamic law being envisioned, women would get half the inheritance that their brothers do. Their testimony would be worth half that of men in court (making it almost impossible for a woman to convict her rapist). It would allow men to summarily divorce women but deprive women of any similar right to divorce their husbands. In Shiite Islam, it would bring back formally the practice of temporary marriage, whereby a man could contract with a woman for, say a two-week marriage while he was away from his usual family. The provision that a quarter of seats in the Iraqi parliament go to women will certainly be gotten rid of by the Muslim fundamentalists, now or later.

Bush and his officials have been scathingly critical of Iran's governmental system, including lack of rights for women. But they have cast the shadow of medieval jurisprudence over 15 million Iraqi women.
It has seemed to me for some time that if we aren't creating a failed state in Iraq we, at best, are creating another Iran. More likely we are creating a combination of modern Iran and Lebanon circa 1975.

Judge Roberts

So, President Bush has picked his Supreme Court nominee: Judge John Roberts Jr. And guess what, he's a conservative! Who knew?

I don't know anything about Roberts except what was reveled about him during last night's coverage of the announcement.

One thing is encouraging to me though. From everything I've heard, Roberts is a guy who genuinely likes the judicial system. That is, he respects it for what it is and not just as a means to a political end. I think that's important. I think that's the first step in being able to adjudicate fairly. Roberts may even use that respect for the system to surprise everyone with his rulings. Here's to hoping.


The 2006 air campaign is about to begin according to the SJ-R:

Many voters across Illinois will get their first taste of 2006 campaign advertising today, as Ron Gidwitz, a Republican candidate for governor, starts broadcasting paid ads eight months before the March primary election.

Ron's not a career politician," said Terri Hickey, spokeswoman for the 60-year-old Chicagoan...
No, but he's about to play one on TV.
She said it will be a "substantial buy," including 60-second radio ads and 30-second TV ads. They are running in nine markets: Chicago; Springfield; Decatur; Champaign; Peoria; Bloomington; Rockford; Paducah, Ky.; Quincy; and Hannibal, Mo., she said.

Oh, and there's this:

The new ads have been produced by media consultant Chris Mottola, who has worked on campaigns of other Republicans including New York Gov. George Pataki and U.S. Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Conrad Burns of Montana and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Also the George W. Bush 2004 campaign (scroll way down). Mottola operates out of Philadelphia, PA by the way.

So as long as we are starting early, let me throw out the first bit of demagoguery: why, Mr. Gidwitz, did you have to go out of state to have your ads produced? Why not do your business right here in the state of Illinois? You know, the state you want to lead. I happen to know there are many fine, very professional organizations based in Chicago (Illinois!) that could have done a fine job for you and the money would have stayed here. How 'bout it Mr. Gidwitz, why do you hate Illinois?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Vidoe Games Save Lives

How true. Years ago I leaned how to leap Koopa Troopas by playing Super Mario Brothers. And you know, to this day I've never fallen victim to one.

Cubs Winners Too

I've been blogging for nearly seven months now and this is my very first sports post!

This online Sports Illustrated story caught my eye (but only because it was linked to on

This might not be news on the South Side of Chicago or on the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis. After this weekend -- a few days for bold statements, delivered loud and clear -- it probably shouldn't be news much of anywhere.

Just in case you missed the missive, though, here it is again: The White Sox and Cardinals are the best teams in baseball, and it's not even close. They have pitching other teams openly covet. They can hit and they can score. They do the little things. They do the big things. And they have leads so embarrassingly hefty right now that they could play like the Dodgers for a month-and-a-half and still coast into October.

Everybody else can scrap around in their divisions and fight over the wild-card leftovers. The White Sox and Cardinals, after their triumphant post-break weekends, have their respective Central division titles wrapped up and home-field advantage in the postseason pretty much guaranteed. The only question remaining is how many regular-season games they're going to win.

I haven't followed baseball seriously in decades (if ever, really) but I see the Cubs aren't mentioned as part of this band of winners.

I was raised as a Cub fan and they have never failed to not disappoint. Even in their "good" years they blow it in the end.

Right now, though, they are in second place in their division (13 games behind the super-hot Cardinals) and they are playing over .500. So in Cubs terms I think they can be considered winners too, Mr. SI writer. Can't we comp the Cubs about 25% just because they are the Cubs? Hey, Governor Blagojevich, do something here. It can only help your standings with your Chicago base (get it, standings and base).

Anyway, that's as much sports as you're going to get out of me for another few months. At least until the ChiSox - Redbirds, I-55 World Series this fall.

The Age of Drinking

Because I've got nothing better to post this morning, I'll offer an unsolicited clarification to a story in today's SJ-R.

In a story about local stores and bars carding alcohol purchasers there is the statement that "Twenty-one turned 21 Sunday". Well, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed into law on July 17, 1984 (the bill required all States to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 within 2 years or lose a portion of their Federal-aid highway funds). But Illinois had imposed a 21 year old drinking age (up from 19) effective January 1, 1980. For more discussion and my own bitter experience see my comment under this post.

There, done nitpicking.

Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging: The Dems Starve America Edition

Last week I told you I was no longer sure whose scrapbook I'm using for this weekly feature. I determined it wasn't my grandmother's as I had originally been told and it appears it belonged to a great aunt or uncle living in Ohio. After showing the book to my father, he could not place it and claimed to have never seen it before. So the mystery continues until I can talk to the only living authority on all things family related on my father's side -my cousin who lives in Southern Illinois. In the meantime, I'm declaring the originator of this scrapbook to have been a long lost great aunt.

Anyway, on with the early '50s wingnut blogging.

Today we learn that the Democrats long ago destroyed the U.S. livestock industry. That would explain why I've only seen pictures of hamburgers.

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As an historical note, the "DiSalle" referred to in the cartoon was Michael V. DiSalle, Director of the office of Price Stabilization under President Truman (1950-52). I'm assuming it was his dastardly policies that took the meat off America's tables forever. Only a Democrat could do it, ya know.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Simon of Troy

DownLeft points us to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch detailing the opening of a museum dedicated to the life and service of another of Illinois' great and humble leaders.
A museum honoring the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon will open Saturday in Troy, Ill., the city where Simon made a name for himself battling corruption on the pages of a weekly newspaper he took over at the age of 19.

Items from Simon's time as the publisher and editor of the old Troy Tribune, now the Troy Times-Tribune, will be on display at the museum, including his old desk and a camera he purchased for the paper.

Additionally, more than 100 other items relating to Simon's life have been donated, including personal correspondence, campaign-related material and family photos.

"It's a wonderful thing for us," said Sheila Simon, his daughter. "Dad had a great connection with Troy. He dropped out of school to start a newspaper and just fell into a wonderful community. From time to time I run into folks who say they are inspired by him one way or another, and I hope having a museum there will allow dad to inspire other folks."
Be sure to follow the link to the rest of the story. If for no other reason, there's a great picture of a 22 year old Paul Simon.

Say What?

Sorry, I don't understand this story.
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois hopes to get $600 million a year in federal health care funds under a hospital tax plan signed Sunday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The three-year program still must be approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. State officials are optimistic that it will be OK'd because the program is a revised and expanded version of one that has been used before, generating $430 million.

The program works by taxing Illinois hospitals and putting the money into the Medicaid program to qualify for federal matching funds. Then the original tax money and the extra federal money are returned to hospitals.
I mean, I really don't understand it. It sounds like some sort of money laundering, investment scheme. I'm sure it isn't but I don't get it. At first, I thought the newspaper article was just unclear but later I heard the same story, told the same way, on WUIS.

Someone please explain.

City Snake / Country Snake

In my continuing effort to document the perceptual differences Chicagoans and Downstaters have toward each other, I submit this item from the Southern Illinoisian:
...of the 40 or so species [of snakes] found in Illinois, only four are venomous and only three of the venomous kinds are found in Southern Illinois.

Rich Marose and his wife came all the way from Chicago Saturday to learn those things and more about snakes. They plan to retire in Southern Illinois and they wanted "to see what we were getting into."

Marose said legends and old wives' tales about wicked snakes in Southern Illinois abound in Chicagoland.

Legends of wicked (wicked!) snakes? Having lived in Chicago, I don't remember ever hearing any stories of snakes in Southern Illinois. You would think at least one Chicagoan would have mentioned them when they found out I was from Springfield (anything south of I-80 is Southern Illinois to them). Maybe everyone was just being polite in front of me and as soon as I turned away, they would comment, "Poor fellow, he had to live with all those wicked snakes."

Oh, and if you think you don't like the wicked snakes among us, listen to this:
Many in the audience seemed to be awed by a demonstration of how many rats and mice a snake eats in a summer - the equivalent of a whole pillowcase full."

If you kill the snake, just imagine filling this pillowcase with rats and mice and dumping it in your yard," one snake expert said. "If you can understand that, you still may not like snakes, but you'll realize they are a good animal."
See -snakes good, not wicked you silly Chicagoans. Just don't ask why snakes are each able to find "a whole pillowcase full" of rats and mice lest a new legend be born.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Partyingly Incorrect

High School yearbooks are notorious for their lame picture captions. But I ran across this one from one of my old yearbooks (Griffin HS 1974-1975) and was shocked at how much the times have changed.
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Making light of teen drinking, of course, would never, ever, ever be allowed in a high school yearbook today anywhere...ever...ever. Yet, I don't think anyone thought a thing about this at the time. Not surprisingly, I had no recollection of the picture or caption until I saw it again recently. And I'm quite sure this caption did not convince anyone they needed to drink. Heh, but I dare anyone to try this today.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Who the Fuck Are You, PTC?

If I were to stop Friday Beer Blogging and take a page from AbeLog's Beatle/ELO blogging, I would be inclined blog about The Who at the end of each week.

Which brings me to the conservative Parents Television Council that once again has sniffed out a bad word coming across the airwaves to corrupt the youth of America.

This time PTC is all upset that ABC failed to catch a bad word during The Who's Live 8 performance:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A parents group on Thursday accused the ABC television network of violating broadcast decency standards when it failed to censor all profanity uttered during the recent Live 8 concert, an event held to draw attention to poverty in poor countries.

The Parents Television Council, which has filed numerous complaints about potentially indecent material on television, asked the Federal Communications Commission to levy a fine on ABC stations for failing to censor the July 2 performance of "Who Are You" by The Who.

"The program was aired on a tape delay, which should have given ABC ample time to edit all obscenities from the concert prior to broadcast," Tim Winter, PTC executive director, said in a statement.

The complaint was filed against the Washington, D.C., ABC affiliate WJLA, but the council asked the FCC to take action against all the ABC stations that aired the profanity, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.

U.S. law bars radio and television broadcasters from airing obscene material, and limits them to airing indecent material, typically profanity or sexually explicit content, to late night hours when children are less likely to be watching.

"Unfortunately, one inappropriate phrase sung by one performer was initially missed and made it into the East Coast network feed," ABC said in a statement. "It was subsequently edited out of the West Coast feed."

The story doesn't say, but I'm assuming the offending word came as Roger Daltrey sang the line, "Who the fuck are you?", which appears in the studio version of the song as well. But here's the thing, radio stations have been playing that song, complete with potty-mouth word, at all hours of the day since it's release in 1978. This is nothing new. But it's a way for these busy-body church lady types to get more attention, I suppose.

UPDATE: And while I'm at it, why has it been OK for the word "faggot" to be heard in the Dire Straights song "Money For Nothing" since 1985 but last year's "American Idiot" by Green Day has the same word bleeped out on almost every radio station? Especially since the reference in "Money For Nothing" is a tad bit more derogatory (IMHO) than the one in "American Idiot".

Just askin'.

Friday Beer Blogging: Panhandlers Drink Shitty Beer Edition

A few days ago, I blogged about an incident where I was approached by what turned out to be a panhandler at a local grocery store's parking lot. Due to reasons I describe in the post, I wound up giving the man money I thought might go for gas in his car. Well, someone in the comments said they had encountered this guy too in the parking lot of another grocery store in town. But, unlike me, this person saw the scammer go into the store and buy beer with his ill-gotten loot. What did he buy? OLD MILWAUKEE, BABY! So here's to the Springfield panhandlers' beer of choice. The pain you suffered the next morning is revenge enough for taking my money.

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Photo courtesy of the Old Milwaukee Brewing Co. of Trenton, New Jersey. (kidding...they're really out of Milwaukee).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Name Game

Jim over at AbeLog today laments the poor state of race relations in Springfield, especially in light of the ongoing battle between the city and the group of minority police officers known as "The Black Guardians".

I understand they have legitimate gripes against the city but the name "The Black Guardians" sounds like a gang. I'm thinking they're not getting any good PR out of that. Wouldn't an organization called "The Association of Minority Law Enforcement Professionals" be better? OK - that sounds like a labor union but you get my drift.

More Trouble For Blago

From the Southern Illinoisian breaking news page:
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna today sent a letter to State's Attorney Charles R. Garnati of Williamson County, calling for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Governor Rod Blagojevich's proposal to spend $3 million to benefit a privately-owned baseball stadium in Marion, Illinois.

McKenna again articulated the focus of his complaint, saying, "We support baseball in Marion, as well as further economic development in southern Illinois. What we do not support is the use of taxpayer money to finance a private project for the benefit of a major political contributor to the Governor."

Based on published reports, the stadium in question has been primarily financed and will ultimately be owned by John Simmons, who contributed, or contributed through his firm SimmonsCooper LLC., almost $1 million over the last two years to emocratic candidates, including almost $28,000 to Blagojevich. The appearance of a potential quid pro quo involving the stadium grant raises troubling questions about the transaction and potential violations of the law.
I don't know anything close to all the details of this one so it's hard for me to judge where the politics begins and ends on either side. Still, I have to say, on the surface, McKenna seems to have a point.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig?

Springield will soon be getting some nice improvements to the main city entrences:

The latest Springfield Green beautification initiative will include an elaborate verhaul of the Clear Lake Avenue entrance point from Interstates 55 and 72, which will feature a stone waterfall sign as well as trees and greenery.

The other four entrances to be redesigned are at South Fifth and Sixth streets, South Grand Avenue East, Wabash Avenue and Jefferson Street. Once those are complete, Springfield Green will target at least seven other entrances to the city.

Final designs will be presented after the teams are assembled and come up with them.

Davlin said the projects are part of an effort to extend the privately funded Springfield Green from downtown, where it has been centered around the
opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, to the

Hey, I think this is great. I'm all for it. But after you get into the city is when you get to the real eyesores. Unfortunately, many, if not most, visitors to the city enter from the east after exiting I-55. Some of the routes in, South Grand in particular, take travelers through some really ugly areas.

I'm not going to pretend to have a quick solution for this problem but I'm not sure prettying-up the specific entrance points is enough to leave a good impression with visitors. I would seem to me that there must be a good combination of city planning and financial incentives that could remedy this situation.

In the meantime, kudos to Mayor Davlin and everyone else involved in this project.

UPDATE: My own headline above inadvertently reminded me of another esthetic problem that needs addressing: the damn pig trucks rolling through downtown. Let's do something about that as long as we're wanting to be more presentable. Note to JeromeProphet: you commented below but didn't catch the obvious either. You're slipping, man.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lie If You Want, But Not To Us

Harry Shearer has a great Rove-Gate line in a post in the Huffington Parallel Blogosphere. Commenting on why the Washington Press Corps (or should that be Corpse) suddenly found it's spine this week, Shearer nails it:
Despite the admirable cloaking of all this in the garment of "the American public", the White House press corp's anger is based on one thing: Scott McClellan lied to the Whitte House press corps. The President, the Vice President, the Army and Navy football teams, the Secretary of State--all of them can lie to any or all of the planets in the solar system, and hey, that's politics. But, stand at that podium, and lie to those people, and let them eventually find out about it, and, brother, you got trouble.
No poo, Sherlock.

Historically Sarcastic

I reprint this short post from James Pinkerton over at the HuffPo blog.

The Economist has always taken a mostly neocon-ish line toward Iraq. And its leader in the wake of the London bombing was no exception. Doing its part to huff, puff, and fluff Prime Minister Tony Blair into Churchillian proportions, the weekly asked if the terror attacks might undercut British resolve to keep troops in Iraq. The answer: “Far likelier, the attacks will reinforce the case for pressing on with the long-term task, as defined by Mr. Blair: the establishment of a stable democracy in Iraq, peace between Israel and Palestine, and democratic reform elsewhere in the Middle East.”

In other news, Prime Minister Lord North declared that the Redcoats’ defeat at Saratoga would make King George III and his loyal English subjects all the more determined to bring the rebellious colonists back into the fold. Also, in the wake of the disappointing results of the first day of the Somme Offensive, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and King George V issued a joint statement expressing complete confidence in Sir Douglas Haig’s military judgment. (emphasis mine)

I love snark that requires a bit of historical knowledge. I bet history departments all over the country are alive with snorts even as I write.

Look Back SPI

I have a new post over at Look Back Springfield. I look back at Capital Airport.

Vanishing Point

As long as I'm blogging about blogging, I noticed this morning that Dan Johnson-Weinberger's blog DJWinfo has disappeared. I mean, it's gone, man.

Then I find out from Rich Miller's Capitol Fax blog that Dan has no idea where it went either.

I believe the city of Ft. Wayne, Indiana has something to do with this blog theft. But that just may be my own irrational and blinding fixation.

Is there a way Blogger-based blogs can be backed up?

UPDATE: Dan has his blog back. For the story on what happened check out the comments in this Rich Miller post. Weird.

Blogging is Very, Very DANGEROUS

Well, who knew! What happens in the blogosphere doesn't stay in the blogoshpere.
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Blogs are everywhere -- increasingly, the place where young people go to bare their souls, to vent, to gossip. And often they do so with unabashed fervor and little self-editing, posting their innermost thoughts for any number of Web surfers to see.


Some also speculate that more scandalous blog entries -- especially those about partying and dating exploits -- will have ramifications down the road.

"I would bet that in the 2016 election, somebody's Facebook entry will come back to bite them," Steve Jones, head of the communications department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says, referring to, a networking site for college students and alumni that is something of a cross between a yearbook and a blog.


Amanda Lenhart, a researcher at Pew who tracks young people's Internet habits, says she's increasingly hearing stories about the perils of posting the equivalent of a diary online.

She heard from one man whose niece was a college student looking for a job. Out of curiosity, he typed his niece's name into a search engine and quickly found her blog, with a title that began "The Drunken Musings of ...."

"He wrote to her and said, 'You may want to think about taking this down,"' said Lenhart, chuckling.


Meanwhile, Joseph Milliron, a 23-year-old college student in California, says he's become more cautious about posting photos online because people sometimes "borrow" them for their own sites.

It's just one trend that's made Milliron rethink what he includes in his blog.

"I know this very conspiracy theorist -- but I wouldn't put it past a clever criminal to warehouse different databases and wait 20 years when all the Internet youth's indiscretions can be used for surreptitious purposes," says the senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who's been blogging for about three years.
All this may be a good reason to blog anonymously even if it brings its own challenges.

Smoking Bans on the March

In a long overdue move, Springfield's two hospitals will soon totally ban smoking on their properties.
Officials from Memorial Medical Center and St. John's Hospital said Tuesday that concern about the dangers of secondhand smoke, as well as the institution's missions, prompted them to plan policies that will eliminate all designated outdoor smoking areas.

The bans, affecting hospital employees, patients and visitors, will begin Nov. 17, the same day as the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.

Although, they are going to be nicer about it than I would be...
Hospital officials said they will be respectful in asking visitors not to smoke but are aware the topic may be sensitive for friends and relatives already preoccupied with loved ones facing life-threatening illnesses.

"All you can do is ask for compliance," Myers said.

Added Bente: "We're not going to kick people off of the property."

Why the hell not? It's a HOSPITAL. And maybe if I feel a need to come over and burn my trash they will be sensitive to that too. Look, it's very unhealthy to have cigarette smoke around. I don' think this should be voluntary.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ray LaMunster

This is both mean and a little unsettling.

Rove, Rove, Rove You're Sunk

The Rove-CIA-agent-outing scandal really is getting to the point that even this White House can't contain it anymore. I saw Scott McClellan refusing again and again to comment on the case during the coverage of today's White House press briefing on CNN. He kept saying he can't comment on the ongoing investigation. It's funny how they have been commenting on it for the longest time -until now.

Oh, the hypocricy. Tim Russert, of all people, may have put it best this morning on the Today show:

"As one Republican said to me last night, if this was a Democratic White House we'd have congressional hearings in a second."
You got that right.

Taking a page from the conservative playbook, I'll go ahead and impugn Rove's patriotism too (except, it appears, he really IS a traitor).

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(photo courtesy of cafepress)

Not a Matter of "Hating Freedom"

I found this fascinating item over at Kevin Drum's place and thought I would steal the meat of it for your reading pleasure. It'sportions of an interview The American Conservative did with Robert Pape, a University of Chicago professor who put together a database of every suicide terrorist attack since 1980.

RP: This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

....TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign — over 95 percent of all the incidents — has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

....TAC: If you were to break down causal factors, how much weight would you put on a cultural rejection of the West and how much weight on the presence of American troops on Muslim territory?

RP: The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism. If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people — three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia — with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

....TAC: Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders also talked about the “Crusaders-Zionist alliance,” and I wonder if that, even if we weren’t in Iraq, would not foster suicide terrorism. Even if the policy had helped bring about a Palestinian state, I don’t think that would appease the more hardcore opponents of Israel.

RP: I not only study the patterns of where suicide terrorism has occurred but also where it hasn’t occurred. Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. Why do some and not others? Here is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community.

....TAC: Has the next generation of anti-American suicide terrorists already been created? Is it too late to wind this down, even assuming your analysis is correct and we could de-occupy Iraq?

RP: Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop — and often on a dime.
I've been saying since 9/11 that this notion that terrorism is brought to us by people "who hate our freedom" is both childish and counter-productive. To deal with a problem you first must understand what it is, not wrap it in convenient, motivational mythology.

By George, He Has a Legal Defense Fund

Steve Scott points us to a web site soliciting money for the George Ryan legal defense fund. Perhaps creating a legal defense war chest would have been easier when he still had some political muscle. I don't think fund raising is going to be as easy for Gov. Ryan now. Think ahead, man. You should always put aside 10% of your graft for "contingencies" down the road.

Dennis Makes Landfall in Springfield

So I'm watching hurricane Dennis buffet my house last night with 3 mile an hour sustained winds while a steady drizzle (lightly) soaked the yard. And I'm thinking, "This isn't so bad. What are those Floridians always whining about."

Of course, I boarded up my windows early and moved the family to the second floor so it's understandable that I would feel more secure than, say, my neighbors who foolishly ignored the impending ravages of Dennis and continued to do things like yard work right up until the storm roared in yesterday afternoon. Don't they know they soon will have no yard left to tend?

But as I filled out my FEMA disaster relief forms, I wondered how the beaches at Lake Springfield were faring. Had Dennis washed away the delicate ecosystem of sand and discarded concrete chunks? Were boats now strewn across Center Park like so many bathtub toys? Did some of the wealthy lake residents foolishly attempt to ride this out as whitecaps from the lake lapped at their front door?

I shudder to think.

Blago to Rummy: I Got Your F-16s Right Here

The governor has raised the stakes in the effort to keep the F-16s of the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield. He's basically told the Pentagon that he isn't going to give his permission to move them to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich put the Pentagon on formal notice Monday that he will not approve its proposed move of F-16 fighter aircraft from the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield to Indiana.

In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the governor argued that under federal law if he does not consent to the realignment, the change can not legally be made.

Blagojevich said that without the F-16 fighters in Springfield, the 183rd Fighter Wing at Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport would no longer have a flying mission, even though the state needs it for dealing with potential threats to homeland security.

"Those F-16 fighter jets should stay in a central location, in a central part of our state, in a central part of our country, rather than move them east to Indiana and make them further away from places like Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City," Blagojevich said during an afternoon news conference.

I suspect the feds will pay no attention but I'm glad to see Blagojevich make the effort. Of course, a cynic might suggest Blagojevich can only gain politically here in Illinois for taking the stand. How about the governor tell Rumsfeld he can't have any Illinois National Guard troops for Iraq either, until he admits he screwed the pooch and comes up with a coherent plan for getting out someday.

Tuesday Grandma Blogging: It's Not Really Grandma Edition

Last week I began a weekly feature where I post something from my grandmother's scrapbook dating back to the late '40s and early '50s. But I made a rather startling discovery along the way -the scrapbook is not my grandmother's.

I had been told it was hers years ago but I was looking through the scrapbook the other night when I ran across this handwritten passage at the top of the first page: "This book is a present from my sister Roma, Dec. 1949". Well, Roma was my grandmother. So, unless my grandmother had a sister also named Roma it's not hers.

I'm looking into who's it was. Obviously, it was a great aunt or uncle that I never knew I had. My dad wants to see it but is unclear about his mother's siblings (long story).

Another clue that this was not my grandmother's was some of the clippings in the book. A number of them are from Ohio newspapers, specifically Logan County, Ohio. My grandmother's family was from there and she relocated to Illinois at some point. I'm embarrassed at how little I know about her but one thing's for sure -this scrapbook didn't belong to her.

I don't even remember how it came into my possession but it looks like I've got some investigating to do.

The one good piece of news may be that grandma may not have been a wingnut after all! More in later editions.

Meanwhile, I have another Truman bashing cartoon:

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They really are giving you hell Harry.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Those Lazy State, ummm I mean , Private Sector Workers

Well, look who's goofing off on the job -everybody!

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – It probably will take you a few minutes to read this article, which won't put too much of a dent in your workday, right?

But add to that the time you spend trolling (elsewhere on) the Internet, chatting with colleagues about your life or Lhasa Apsos, booking your next vacation, and making all those – admit it -- aimless phone calls to your spouse or friends.

Before you know it, you've killed a couple of hours, not including lunch.

Apparently, that's typical for the American worker, according to a survey released Monday by and AOL, a unit of Time Warner, CNN/'s parent company.

More than 10,000 respondents in the online survey admitted to wasting, on average, 2.09 hours per day.

Their top time-wasting activities, they said, were making personal use of the Internet (including email), socializing with colleagues, conducting personal business, spacing out, running errands, making phone calls, applying for jobs, planning personal events, and arriving late or leaving early.

(Of course, since the respondents were self-selected and answered the questions online, that may have skewed the results in favor of Internet use as a top time-waster.)

The survey also found that older workers reported wasting less time than younger workers.

But when it comes to gender, there was no difference.

Men and women reported wasting an equal amount of time. That contradicts what many human resource managers assume. In a separate survey of HR managers conducted by, most said they assumed women wasted more time.

The worst part is, since this was an online survey, many, if not most, repondents were probably sitting at their desk answering the questions. Get back to work!

Yep, Here Comes Dennis

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Brother, Can You Spare a Gallon?

I was at the Jewel-Osco in Fairhills Mall a few weeks ago when I was approached by a man looking for some gas money. I had just pulled up to do some grocery shopping one night when this person came over and told me he worked for a construction contractor and had left his wallet at Menard's which was now closed for the evening. He said he lived in Illiopolis and just needed a few dollars to get enough gas to get home. I wound up giving him $5.00 (figuring two plus gallons should get him to Illiopolis).

Now, before you assume I was an easy mark for a scammer, keep in mind I'm no panhandling virgin. I lived and worked in downtown Chicago for three years and was approached daily for handouts. I also saw a fair number of panhandling scams. One of the worst was similar to my experience at Jewel. This woman would pull her car over and tell passers-by that she had run out of gas and needed money to get her car going again. The disgusting part was she had kids in the car to make the need seem all the more urgent. How do I know she wasn't legit? She did it day after day at roughly the same spot.

My Jewel guy may have been pulling the same scam but there was just enough doubt that I gave in. For one thing, I frequent that Jewel and have never seen him there before or since. In fact, when I was done picking up my grocery items that night, he was not in the parking lot anymore. He also gave no outward appearance of being a druggie or drunk. I certainly was not intimidated by or in anyway afraid of the guy. But I think the single biggest factor for giving him the money was this is Springfield. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been panhandled here and never outside of downtown. Weighing all the information I decided this guy just might be legit and in need so I helped.

Anyway, you can decide if I was a chump. But here's my question. Actually, I have two. Has anyone else encountered this guy or his scam (if it is one) here in town? And, more generally, what other kinds panhandling have you encountered in Springfield?

Taco Bell Redux

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the final demise of the old Taco Bell building on West Monroe. I wondered if the rumors of a Starbucks going up in its stead were true and someone in the comments wondered about the fate of the unique tree that also occupies the property. Well, teh A La Carte section of the Sunday SJ-R (one of my favorite SJ-R columns) has the answer to both questions:
The vacant Taco Bell building at 2003 W. Monroe St. came down last week. But Starbucks fans still have a wait on their hands before picking up their favrtite Joe-to-go.

A spokesman for Starbucks confirmed a 1,800-square-foot building is planned for the site with drive-through service. Construction won't affect the renowned Taco Oak on the site.

The company is projecting a fall opening date.
There you have it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I'm late in linking to this great post by JeromeProphet but it’s really worth looking at. I know it costs money to fix but I've always really hated above-ground utility lines, particularly in urban settings. And even more particularly in urban settings designed to draw tourist in Springfield.

Good job JP! Now, can you come over and magically make the utility pole in my backyard go away (without using a chainsaw)?

Getting His Due

Congrats to DownLeft who finally got a mention today in the SJ-R... and in Bernard Shoenburg's column no less! While I'm here blogging about beer and battling evil sister-blog trolls, DL is out there going after real stories. And he rightfully gloats here.

Oh, Jeez, He's Back

Just when you think the one-eyed monster is finally gone, he goes and writes a letter to the editor. I missed the original publication of the letter by the former WMAY talker known as "One-Eye Jack". But Jim at AbeLog resurects it along with a rebuttal by the Sangamon County Sheriff Department's Chief Deputy, Tony Sacco.

Basically, the argument is over fireworks regulation in the county and the letters contain plenty of incendiary language to go along with it. Mr. Jackson thinks the fireworks laws are overly restrictive and maybe even Stalinistic (at least, I think that's what he's saying) while Sacco calls bullshit and says the laws are only meant to protect the public.

OK fine, I agree with Sacco (go read the letters).

Having said that, I'm a little uncomfortable with Sacco's comments. While I agree with what he is saying and enjoyed his slapping One Eye around a little, I personally think it's inappropriate for him, as Sangamon County's Chief Deputy Sheriff, to be responding in the manner in which he did. I think a law enforcement officer should remain publicly neutral on the issues, much as members of the military should be.

Now, I don't mean they should be silent. No, a correction of facts in a criminal matter, for example, would certainly be in order. But Sacco gets a little nasty in his letter. Mr. Eye certainly deserves it given the ridiculousness of some of his statements but calling him on it the way Sacco did isn't right for someone in his position. I say that respectfully as I have nothing at all against Sacco, not knowing him at all.

Maybe it's just me, but I like thinking police officers are neutral. In my dealings with the police, I have always felt very comfortable thinking they aren't emotionally vested one way or another except to solve crimes and keep the peace (even the jerks who keep writing me speeding tickets, all 600 of you, do so professionally). I know that ideal isn’t' real, but at least outwardly giving that impression I think is important in a free society.

Dennis Headed This Way

As you have probably heard, hurricane Dennis has made landfall on the Florida panhandle. And that's great news!

For us, not Floridians.

You see, Dennis will weaken greatly and move north, eventually bringing much needed rain to drought-stricken Illinois. Look for the precipitation to be here by late tomorrow night and continue into Tuesday.

UPDATE: Just saw (at 10:00 pm) a story on WAND-TV in Decatur saying we may be in for a lot of rain from Dennis which could cause some flooding problems as it hits the hard dry ground.

UPDATE 2: Just saw on MSNBC that Southern Illinois could get SIX INCHES of rain from Dennis.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Shocking Jock News

A long-time fixture in the Springfeild radio scene is moving on.
Ray Lytle, whose "Morning Disaster" show on WQLZ-FM 92.7 has made many radio listeners laugh and cringe for nearly a decade, will leave the Springfield rock station next month.

Glen Gardner, general manager of Mid-West Family Broadcasting, which owns WQLZ, made the announcement Friday afternoon. No mention of the move was made during Lytle's Friday show.

"We want to take this opportunity to thank Ray for helping build WQLZ into the powerhouse that it is," Gardner said in a statement. "QLZ has been very fortunate to have a show like 'The Morning Disaster' for the past nine years."

Lytle, who wouldn't reveal his exact age but said he's in his mid-30s, said Friday he doesn't have another job lined up. But his contract at WQLZ is coming to an end, and he feels the current "radio landscape" is right for him to pursue a position in a bigger market instead of signing another multi-year deal in Springfield.

I was never a huge fan of the Morning Disaster but then I'm not really their demographic either. Still, Ray Lytle had a lot of talent even if he barrowed heavily from such legends as Howard Stern and Chicago's Steve Dahl (back when Dahl was still relevant anyway). It'll be interesting to see what the new morning show has in store.

Good luck, Ray