Sunday, December 31, 2006

Others Are Looking

The Bloomington Pantagraph uses the Springfield area to examine inequities in the city and county smoking bans. The article reinforces my belief that we need a statewide ban to prevent the addicts from screwing with things.
SPRINGFIELD -- Owners of The Still successfully annexed into nearby New Berlin to avoid a smoking ban affecting the unincorporated areas of Sangamon County.

“If we would not have, we wouldn’t be around today,” said bartender Sherry Freesmeyer. “Eighty percent of our customers are smokers.”

And, she said, those customers could have gone a few blocks into town to smoke at the downtown bar. Now that customers can smoke at The Still, Freesmeyer said, “We’re starting to get people from Springfield.”


In Springfield, state employees working in a leased building were among the first to receive tickets for violating the new ordinance. But they challenged the charges and forced a legal opinion on the matter. The decision: While state facilities are exempt from the ordinance, leased buildings are not.

The citations were dismissed because of the confusion, said Jim Henricks, director of environmental health at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.

There’s even more confusion elsewhere.

Henricks said there are establishments within the county that have to abide by the smoking ban, but others -- literally next door or across the street in one of several small municipalities -- allow smoking.
Some people are arguing that the current local smoking bans need to be modified or rescinded altogether unless or until the ban is made uniform statewide. I say we keep the gains we’ve made, even if somewhat inequitable, pending further action on the state level. I just hope that action is actually coming.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Night Videos: Simon Dawes

Rockin' with the Dawes. Check out the quick clips of the Effingham Cross (don't blink) and the St. Louis Arch.

Simon Dawes - Awful Things


I was reading this David Sirota post over at the HuffPo when something perhaps obvious, but at the same time quite revealing, occurred to me.

In his post, Sirota writes about how he is on vacation and had to learn how to do with out news, the internet and current events. He ended his isolation right as the media became flooded with Gerald Ford post mortems. He was annoyed at the wall-to-wall coverage that was being lavished on the death of someone he considers “unimportant” as presidents go.

At first I kind of resented that notion. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Ford presidency was important to me because he was president for 2 ½ years during a period when I was actively becoming very interested in current events. When Ford died the other night, I couldn’t get enough coverage.

Still, I know where Sirota is coming from. The story of the day, whatever it is and no matter its relative importance, is all over cable news channels, blogged about incessantly and is the topic on talk radio stations everywhere. Mountains are regularly made of molehills and if you are addicted to news and information, the attention can often be seen as just plain silly.

And that’s when it hit me. This is my (or Sirota’s or your) problem, not the problem of the media.

A huge change has occurred in the news and information media since I became interested 30+ years ago (when Gerald Ford was president). Back then, hungry for news, I would eagerly catch the half-hour network newscasts on TV. Here in Springfield they were all on at the same time: 5:30 PM. And that was about it for national news for the day on television. There was the SJ-R that landed on my parent’s porch each morning, but it came out only daily. I got weekly news magazines (how many high school kids can say that!) but that was a once a week window.

Information was much, much more limited back then and if you didn’t catch it when available, you missed out. All of the media formats were limited (sometimes VERY limited) in the depth of their coverage due to space and time considerations. Even radio had not extensively embraced the talk format and radio news was even more truncated than on television. Making things worse was the absence of the internet, cable TV and the VCR.

Nowadays there is as much information as any human could possibly want to consume available 24/7. Some of us, like Mr. Sirota and me, have been slow to recognize a need to regulate our own consumption based on what we think we need to know and what our interests are. And that’s my point. It’s up to us to decide what is and isn’t vital and useful, unlike the media of old that, due to limitations, made that decision for us. We are our own masters now when it comes to our information diet. It’s just that some us have to learn portion control.

The War Against New Year

What has our society come to? People (probably Libruls!) are trying to take New Year’s out of the vocabulary. Several times in the last few days I’ve heard people say, “Have a good holiday!” or some such. Of course they’re referring to New Year’s Day but are too politically correct to actually say it. This War on New Year’s hasn’t gone unnoticed by me and I plan to thwart it. I will now be boycotting ANY business that has an employee who says anything other than “Happy New Year” or “Have a happy New Year.” I also plan to point out how un-American and unpatriotic individuals are who fail to use the N-Y words. Won’t you join me? This may be the last chance we get to stop the downward slide of western civilization.


The top 10 best astronomy photos of 2006.

Friday Beer Blogging: Dead Guy Edition

Last Friday night I was out doing field research on beer in its natural habitat once again. Actually, it was the annual Christmas reunion at Brewhaus with Former Wingman SK & Friends. This year we sampled something called Dead Guy Ale.

Dead Guy is brewed by the Rogue Brewery out of Newport, Oregon. They describe Dead Guy thusly:
Gratefully dedicated to the Rogue in each of us. In the early 1990s Dead Guy Ale was created as a private tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead (November 1st, All Souls Day) for Casa U Betcha in Portland, Oregon. The Dead Guy design proved popular and was incorporated into a bottled product a few years later with Maierbock as the elixir. Strangely, the association with the Grateful Dead is pure coincidence.

Dead Guy is a German-style Maibock made with Rogue's proprietary "PacMan" ale yeast. It is deep honey in color with a malty aroma, rich hearty flavor and a well balanced finish. Dead Guy is created from Northwest Harrington, Klages, Maier Munich and Carastan malts, along with Perle and Saaz Hops. Dead Guy Ale is available in 22-ounce bottles, 12-ounce 6-pack, and on draft.
Former Wingman SK & Friends and I enjoyed the 22-ounce bottles. Too many of those WILL kick your ass. Fortunately, before we had too much, we moved on to other beers (that subsequently DID kick our asses). It was also fortunate we remembered to pack a designated driver.

Anyway, even though I’m not much of an ale guy, I have to recommend Dead Guy Ale.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Contribute your local predictions for 2007 here. The blogosphere is never wrong cuz posts can be edited at a later date.

The Land of Robbertunity

There were two more armed robberies in town last night and this morning (Starbucks on Clearlake and Papa Murphy’s on Sangamon). Are there any stores in the city that have now NOT been robbed?

Snarky(er) follow-up question: Have any of these robberies over the last few months been carried out by homeless library crashers?

Fearing the Homeless


I’m not sure where this comes from. That is, the notion that somehow the homeless are dangerous. Yes, many of them seem “different” (mental illness) and many of them smell and some of them beg for money. But where is there any evidence they are dangerous?

I’m not picking on ThirtyWhat. Almost everyone I’ve been with while walking past the homeless gathered in or near the downtown Lincoln Library has expressed some fear of these folks. I’ve even heard completely irrational fears coming from members of the Springfield City Council.

Now, before you start in on me being naïve or somehow unfamiliar with the public behavior of the homeless, let me say that for three years I lived very near Chicago’s State Street Mission. I encountered dozens of homeless every day. Never was I attacked or threatened. Hit up for money? Yeah, all the time. Was I ever annoyed by being continually approached? Yes, but I was never fearful.

Here in Springfield, I think you would be hard pressed to find many acts of violence perpetrated on the rest of the population by homeless people. Can you find ANY examples of violence by a homeless person here or somewhere else? Sure, and I can do the same for doctors, lawyers, police, computer programmers and housewives.

Having said all that, I agree that the issue needs addressing by offering more help to those who need it. And maybe Blevins is right, we just don’t have the will as a city to cure the illness rather than just treat the symptoms. But fearing the homeless isn’t going to lead to positive solutions.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Going Steady

Dumb video, good song.

The Raconteurs- Steady As She Goes

Speaking From the Grave

Fascinating article by Bob Woodward:
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq…


The Ford interview -- and a subsequent lengthy conversation in 2005 -- took place for a future book project, though he said his comments could be published at any time after his death. In the sessions, Ford fondly recalled his close working relationship with key Bush advisers Cheney and Rumsfeld while expressing concern about the policies they pursued in more recent years.


Ford was also critical of his own actions during the interviews. He recalled, for example, his unsuccessful 1976 campaign to remain in office, when he was under enormous pressure to dump Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller from the Republican ticket. Some polls at the time showed that up to 25 percent of Republicans, especially those from the South, would not vote for Ford if Rockefeller, a New Yorker from the liberal wing of the Republican Party, was on the ticket.

When Rockefeller offered to be dropped from the ticket, Ford took him up on it. But he later regretted it. The decision to dump the loyal Rockefeller, he said, was "an act of cowardice on my part."
Another act of cowardice was to withhold public opposition to the war until after his death. The reason this war was allowed to proceed was because too many who knew better were silent.

Undivided Nation

I keep seeing and hearing that Gerald Ford healed a “divided nation” or that the country was a “nation in turmoil” when he pardoned Richard Nixon. Funny, I remember the nation being pretty united on wanting Nixon brought to justice. In fact, Ford’s poll number fell like 20 percent overnight after issuing Nixon's pardon. So I’m not sure what divisions he healed. Rather he’s seems to have simply made the whole process of justice just go away. Sure the nation moved on more quickly than it would have otherwise but what else could it do? Well, there was one thing it could, and did, do. It did not re-elect them man who issued the pardon.

I’m not trying to diminish Ford’s legacy by cherry-picking things with which I disagreed with him, but I’m also not going to re-write history in honor of his passing.

Update: Even odder is the notion that it was in the national interest to dispense with the messiness of a Richard Nixon trail for very real crimes, but there was plenty of time and resources for a trial over a presidential blow-job.

Not Shot

I can attest to this. We went to see a movie there last night and there were plenty of patrons. By the way, stay away from The Good Shepherd. It’s long and sucks donkey. Although it did have the best being-tossed-from-an-airplane scene I’ve seen in a while.

A Few Thoughts on Gerald Ford

Although his presidency was short, only two and a half years, it came a time when I personally become much more politically aware (I was in my mid teens) and therefore his imprint on me was somewhat disproportionate to his actually impact on history.

Ford was of an example of what Republicans used to be like before the all the arrogance and hubris of the modern GOP. When he was president, I may have disagreed with Ford on some issue but I never had any disrespect for him or his presidency.

I still don’t think the pardoning of Richard Nixon was right. It may have been expedient but not right.

Anyone still remember the Mayaguez Incident?

Even Gerald Ford sent troops off to die in a foreign land, something every president in my lifetime has done.

Last night on CNN, Bill Schneider recalled how in 1980 there was an attempt to draft Ford as Ronald Reagan’s running mate. Schneider correctly noted that having Ford as VP would have greatly changed history. If George H. W. Bush had not been VP he would never have been president, therefore no way in hell George W. Bush would ever have been considered for president. The fact the GeeDubya’s only qualification for president was that his father was president may be an obvious point but one rarely heard in the MSM.

Also last night, CNN showed this picture of Ford posing in the Oval Office with George Harrison and Billy Preston.

Who would have thought then that Ford would out-live both of these musicians?

Ford’s biggest political flop? How about WIN buttons. Whip Inflation Now, baby!

Ford campaigned here in Springfield when he ran for president in 1976. He was aboard a train and had Hollywood legend Chuck Connors with him.

He still lost even with Connors’ endorsement.

It was during Ford’s presidency that I got into listening to international shortwave radio broadcasts. I’d hear a lot of things in foreign languages and it was always strange to hear a familiar name embedded within a lot of talk I didn’t understand. Most common was something like this: Blah, blahski, blah, blahski GERALD FORD blahski, blah, blahski, blah.

And why haven’t I heard any comments in the media from Chevy Chase? After all, it was Chase’s “impersonations” of Ford (and the associated pratfalls) that launch his career on Saturday Night Live.

Update: JeromeProphet has memories as well, some that intersect with mine. I guess having a celebrity roll through town, even a Chuck Connors, left an impression if you lived in Springfield, Illinois in the 1970s.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Peeved 2

I have to agree with Steve Benen on this. I guess what really bothers me is this myth –er, “joke”- was created for purely political reasons years ago and yet it hangs on as if it were fact. I personally heard someone, a Republican of course, let this one fly again a just a couple of weeks ago. Hint: “jokes” are funnier when they have some grounding in truth.

Obvious and Juvenile

Happy Boxing Day you fer’ners!

Real 'Murkins don’t do Boxing Day but we would watch football if it were on.

(It's my blog and I'll be stupid when I want to.)

Bloody Apples and Oranges

I’m not sure why this is a story. The headline reads:

U.S. toll in Iraq surpasses that of 9/11
This suggests there is some relation between 9/11 and Iraq. I suppose it could be seen as sort of an in-your-face to those idiots who continue to claim Iraq had something to do with 9/11, pointing out to them that their “revenge” has now been more deadly than the thing for which they are retaliating. But short of that, I don’t get why comparing the number of (American military) Iraq war deaths to 9/11 victims has any significance. Keep in mind too that the Iraq number here does not include hundreds of American civilians (contractors, etc.) who have died there. Oh, and it also doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis (but who cares about them, they should have been smarter than to have been born Iraqi).

Monday, December 25, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I have dandelions growing in my backyard. Little yellow dandelions. In late December. What planet am I on?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Crash and Burn

WMAY is reporting that Air Rendezvous has been cancelled for next year and very possibly forever.
Springfield's long-running air show, Air Rendezvous, will apparently not be held in 2007. A statement from air show organizers says rising costs and declining attendance forced the decision. Kim Curry, the director of the show, says Air Rendezvous is still in the black, but in order to be good stewards of the show's finances, the decision was made not to hold it next year.
Their on-air report indicates the event was also becoming more expensive to put on (insurance was cited). That, combined with the declining attendance and lack of a notable headline act, means that the air show was going to be in some trouble in 2007. Based on that, the decision to cancel is understandable.

But it still sucks.

As an avid attendee of AR every year, it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by me that the event has been in decline for years. Lack of acts, fewer and fewer planes in the static display, the introduction of fucking dodge ball fer crissake, were all signs of an event in trouble.

The crowds were getting thinner and thinner partly due to the declining quality of the show and partly, I think, because the novelty had worn off a bit. Maybe AR can be revived in a few years as absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Until then, I’ll remember some of the cool things I experienced over the years:

Seeing the stealth fighter land at Capital Airport for the first time in 1990 (give or take a year). This actually happened a day or two before the air show but a lot of us went out to see the event anyway.

Taking a ride on a replica of a 1930s era Ford Tri-Motor in 1997.

Watching the Stealth Bomber do a fly over. Now THAT’S amazing.

Having a cold, cold Bud on a hot, hot July afternoon while arial acrobatics took place overhead. I don’t know why but those ordinary domestic beers tasted damn good in that sweltering heat.

Taking my first (and only) helicopter ride.

The night take-off of a JATO C-130

The Hanger Party, especially when F-5 had that other singer and before they started doing rap. Oh, and the studly men in thier flight suits and the women who wanted to eat them up.

One word: Harrier

Seeing a P-38 in flight a couple of years ago.

Even the silly “recreation” of the Ploesti Raid in one of the shows from around 1990 featured several WWII bombers in action together. Something I many never see again.

And, of course, the Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

Let’s hope the era of the smaller local air show isn’t coming to an end but it may be. In the meantime, I’m going to have to accelerate my plans for heading up to Oshkosh.

Update: SJ-R story here.

Friday Beer Blogging: Twas the Beer Before Christmas Edition

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a beer was pouring, not even a Moosehead.
The Beer mugs were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would bring beer.

The dudes were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Pilsners danced in their heads.
And mamma with her Miller Light, and I with my Bud,
Had just chilled our beers for a long winter’s nip.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I threw my empty in the trash,
Tore open another beer and threw up the sash.

The Blue Moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to bottles below.
When, what to my blood-shot eyes should appear,
But a miniature beer truck, and eight tiny beers.

With a little old driver, so lively and brawny,
I knew in a moment it must be the Girl, St. Pauli.
More rapid than eagles her ales they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Corona! now, Amstel! now, Molson and Rolling Rock!
On, Miller! On, Blatz! on, on Guiness and Amber Bach!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now drink away! Drink away! Drink away all!"

As dry beer that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an bar stool, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the ales they flew,
With the sleigh full of beers, and St Pauli Girl too.

And then, while I was tinkling, I heard on the roof
The twisting and opening of all the little brews.
As I zipped up my fly, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Pauli Girl came all tanned and brown.

She was dressed all in fur, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of beers she had flung on her back,
And she looked like a partier, just opening her six-pack.

Her eyes-how they twinkled! her dimples how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beer on her chin was very foamy you know.

The stump of an opener she held tight in her teeth,
And the aroma of ale encircled her head like a wreath.
She had a cute face and round of beers close to her belly,
They shook when she laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

She was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself!
A wink of her eye and a twist of the tap,
Soon gave me to know I was one lucky chap.

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And filled all the beer mugs, then turned with a jerk.
And laying her finger aside of her hose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney she rose!

She sprang to her beer truck, to her beers gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she drove out of sight,
"Many beers to all, and to all a good-night!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Here Comes the Sun

Some interesting space weather may be headed our way.

Dec. 21, 2006: Evidence is mounting: the next solar cycle is going to be a big one.

Solar cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.


Hathaway explains: "When a gust of solar wind hits Earth's magnetic field, the impact causes the magnetic field to shake. If it shakes hard enough, we call it a geomagnetic storm." In the extreme, these storms cause power outages and make compass needles swing in the wrong direction. Auroras are a beautiful side-effect.
I can’t wait for the Northern Lights. It’s rare you can see them here, but they are really awe inspiring. The last ones I saw here were back in 2001. However, just this week there were some auroras visible in Central Illinois as seen in this photo taken near Lincoln (picture taken by Mike Hardiman and posted on the National Weather Service site).

Grocery Store Rumors

Not that it’s a big deal but I hear the Cub Foods stores in Springfield will all be converting to County Markets at some point in the future. This after Cub’s parent company (which also owns County Markets) bought the cities two Jewel stores, turning one into a County Market and one into a Cub. If true, the best part of the deal is County Markets bag your groceries for you, something you have to do yourself at Cub.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Clash Blogging

I don't know if you've seen the Cingular commercial that has the two guys trying to figure out the lyrics to The Clash's Rock the Casbah but this video takes the concept all the way.

Lock The Cashbox

Hamm Petition

I’m getting a lot of Google search hits (and one email) looking for the online petition asking that Amanda Hamm be given the maximum sentence following the guilty verdict related to the drowning death of her three children. So as a public service:

The online petition is here.

The story is here.


I see the CherryVale Terrorist of Northern Illinois is going to have a court appearance today. Derrick Shareef was arrested two weeks ago for allegedly “plotting” to explode hand grenades in Rockford’s CherryVale Mall. There was a brief media terror-gasm over the arrest but the story quickly disappeared. This Rockford Register-Star story, to the paper’s credit, does give voice to the concerns some of us have with this case:
Philip B. Heymann, the James Barr Ames professor of law at Harvard Law School, whose specialties include political violence and terrorism, said the Shareef case sounds similar to other recent cases of alleged plots by homegrown terrorists.

In a recent Florida case, he said, a group of men were arrested after they attempted to buy explosives from an undercover government agent who said he could provide them with the means to blow up buildings. But the men really had no workable plan or connections to terrorist groups.

“These guys are kindling, they’re not the arsonists,” Heymann said.

For Heymann, it’s a question whether anything would have happened unless the government was not there to guide the would-be terrorists along, in essence turning a daydream of a plan to strike against Americans to something more serious.
Shareef is a total idiot who was led by the nose into this "plot". Read the ugly details here. Now, I’m not saying he’s “innocent” but there is little doubt in my mind that he never would have been plotting actual terrorism (much less capable of carrying it out) without the urging and assistance from the government.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I don’t like entrapment. Not just because it’s “unfair” but because it creates a moral dilemma I don’t like.

I’m not talking just about potential terrorism, but any sting-related bust, be it a bribe or solicitation of a prostitute. It sets up a situation that would not have existed (necessarily) had law enforcement not been actively cultivating the crime. Sure, the person caught in a sting displayed the potential for being a criminal and maybe it’s good they are caught before they commit a “real” crime, but it’s an artificial setting. I suspect a lot of people, if tempted at the right time and place or in a moment of weakness, might be shown to be potential criminals. I just don’t like the whole practice.

Update: Winter Patriot has more on the Derrick Shareef case.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Get Real

The SJ-R just doesn’t get the internet! They want to go all positive for a day in their on-line comments section:

So, in celebration of the holiday spirit, here's the plan: For one day -- Wednesday -- will host the first-ever "Peace and Goodwill Reader Comments Day."

From 7 a.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday, the only comments that will make it onto the site will be ones that follow that old saying from mom: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

That means no being critical, cynical, sarcastic, whiney or otherwise Scrooge-ish. We'll still allow some debate on the issues, but you're going to need to be really, really nice to each other.

How absurd! That’s like having a no-eating day at a restaurant or a no-tackling NFL game. That’s just not natural. Silly newpaper.

Sign This at Your Own Risk

Returning to my question from last week on whether you can sign more than one petition for candidates running for the same office (see this post), I got some clarification from a reader who actually took the time to investigate:
…you can only sign one petition for each office. But people also tell me that petitions have rarely -- if ever -- been challenged in the city of Springfield.

…it's a state law… but it applies to every state and local office. There is one difference in the law between partisan elections and non-partisan elections. You can sign as many petitions as you want within a party primary, according to the [Sprngfield] city clerk. So, for example, you could have signed petitions for both Cahnman and Redpath in the 99th House race, but you could not have signed petitions for Poe. But in a non-partisan primary, you can only sign petitions for one.
So there you have it. You aren’t supposed to do it but probably no one is checking either. Don’t ask, don’tell.

In a related matter, Eric Zorn asks why incumbents have to pass petitions to get (back) on the ballot. The answer might surprise you.

Update: Speaking of incumbents, why must some of them have inaugurations?

Monday, December 18, 2006


Outside of my parents, and perhaps a few friends, there were only two people who knew how to really get my attention when I was a young child. One of them has been dead for several years and the other died today.

Update: Oh man, and another one.

Dream On

Springfield has had surprisingly few white Christmases. It’s also inserting to note that the city’s warmest Christmas in 1982 was followed by its coldest in 1983. I love weather junk.

Time to Ogle the Donuts

I’ve said it here before and I still stand by my claim that Mel-O-Cream makes the best donuts anywhere. By comparison, Krispy Kreme is Krap. Now the Two Guys have gone and posted pictures, donut porn if you will.

Also stop in and visit Mel-O-Cream online.

An Ironic Will

Dear George Will,

We don’t give a shit about what you think either.

The Blogosphere.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

For Whom The Bell Tolls

It’s looking like we are going to be deploying even more troops to Iraq in an attempt to impose a military solution to a political problem. That will do nothing but get even more people killed but it seems inevitable now that the President has made up his mind. I must say, I really like David Kurtz’s analysis of the situation here:
The White House is not going to wait for the Democratic Congress or for an extended national debate before it proceeds. There are some indications that the reason for delaying the President's announcement of "The New Way Forward" is so that he can announce a fait accompli. …I wouldn't be surprised to see new deployment orders already issued by the time Democrats officially take over Congress in the first week of January, the President's way of grabbing his crotch and saying, Debate this.
Heh, no doubt. And doesn’t the new slogan for the war “The New Way Forward” remind you of something Mao Tse-tung would have come up with? Two more years until this jackass is gone.

Salad Days

Remember when this happened at the Olive Garden here? It was what, 15 or 20 years ago? It was the salad dressing then.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Warping

I'm pretty sure they changed some of the words...

Charlie Brown Christmas - Performed by the Cast of Scrubs

Legislative Chops

One of the criticisms you often hear of Barack Obama’s potential run for the presidency is that Obama just doesn’t have the legislative experience. I mean, what has he actually accomplished? Well, this is an interesting response to that question from Hilzoy:
But I do follow legislation, at least on some issues, and I have been surprised by how often Senator Obama turns up, sponsoring or co-sponsoring really good legislation on some topic that isn't wildly sexy, but does matter. His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.


Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle.


So my little data point is: while Obama has not proposed his Cosmic Plan for World Peace, he has proposed a lot of interesting legislation on important but undercovered topics. I can't remember another freshman Senator who so routinely pops up when I'm doing research on some non-sexy but important topic, and pops up because he has proposed something genuinely good.
Hilzoy then goes on to list and discuss the legislation he’s talking about. Of course, “good legislation” is in the eye of the beholder but I don’t think the “yeah, but what has he done?” retort really holds much water. I’m still agnostic about Obama but I’m getting more interested the more I see and read about him.

Moon Dawgy

I suppose “kidnapping” cheerleaders is actually a bad thing
Mooning the opponents' fans and attempting to "kidnap" their cheerleaders did more than bring a mix of cheers and jeers for SIU's Gray Dawg.

The actions landed the man behind the fur, Brian Ardaugh, a two-game suspension and premature end to his last semester as a mascot.


After the Salukis scored their first touchdown Saturday against the University of Tennessee-Martin, Ardaugh said he tried to grab some Skyhawk cheerleaders and "kidnap" them. UTM's fans were apparently not amused.

"Their fans were booing at me and cussing at me, and I was like, 'I'm not going to have that. This is my home turf,'" Ardaugh said.

That's when the pants came down.

Ardaugh slid down his shorts halfway and displayed Gray Dawg's furry backside for the fans. Not long after, Ardaugh said someone pulled him off the field.
Rogue mascots on the loose debase society! Probably too many video games.

Armory Blues

Does this story make anyone else think the Armory's days are numbered? From a practical standpoint, it seems like they should tear down the building and start over. It’s old and becoming expensive to maintain. I personally would be sad to see it go. I saw a lot of good (and some not so good) concerts there before the PCCC became the city’s main big act venue in the very early 1980s. It holds a lot of good memories. But with the building being practically uninhabitable now, maybe it’s time to say goodbye.

Friday Beer Blogging: Cat Edition

When I first decided I needed a Friday blogging focus, it was because, in part, a couple of big time bloggers were doing Friday Cat Blogging. I preferred beer to cats and the rest is history. But I feel it necessary to pay homage to cat blogging by doing a special cat beer blogging edition.

Ah, this cat has the idea; beer in one paw, remote in one of the others.

It’s amazing that this beer pours to look just like a cat.

And here’s another cat after my own heart: a cold one in a glass and a keyboard to blog with.

This post is also dedicated to Koshi.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Right On, Bro

Dan has it right
Despite all of the protestations concerning freedom and property-owner rights, the real reason that some smokers are so incensed over the ban is because it forces them to face the fact that they are hopelessly addicted.


It’s not necessarily that they can’t physically get through a horseshoe and a pint without lighting up, it’s the distress that is caused by knowing that they can’t reflexively slide a butt between their lips should that urge arise.


…hardcore smokers are now turning down invitations to eat and drink in public because of the embarrassing incontinence they would suffer.
Note that I mercilessly cut out all of Dan’s humor which really makes his post worth reading, but his larger point is exactly right. Think about it, why are so many smokers so venomous about the smoking ban? They’re afraid of physical discomfort derived from their addiction. I also still believe that’s why some restaurant and tavern workers/owners are so up in arms – they can no longer smoke at work (like the rest of us, I might add). Tough shit addicts, your right to light up ends where it affects me. If you have problem with that, get help.

Spfld Bloggers

The ultimate Springfield blog roll. I didn’t know this was up and running. What a great resource.

Aged Ham

It’s a rare night when I catch the Ch. 20 news but when I do I’m usually rewarded with at least a chuckle at some point. Last night I actually laughed out loud when I heard Elizabeth Wooley reading a story on the Amanda Hamm trial. I’ll admit “The 30 year-old Hamm…” doesn’t look nearly as funny in print as it sounds when read out loud, but things like that are particularly amusing to me after spending many years writing broadcast news copy consciously trying to avoid obtuse double meanings. I mean who needs an image of a rotting ham 30 years passed its freshness date distracting from the story. At least the 30 year-old Hamm isn’t from Oblong, Illinois or we’d be hearing about “the Oblong woman” too. Come to think of it though, hams are kind of oblong.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Miss Tilton

I had never heard of Martha Tilton until I read this New York Times obituary. She certainly lived an interesting life including being part of a band with three guys called Three Hits and a Miss. What a cool name for a band, especially one from the 1930s, long before bands got all ironic and clever with their names in the modern rock era.

Note: Yes, I read the NYT obits every day and you should too.


I know it’s tempting to do everything possible to look younger, but understand that leaves you (and me) vulnerable to being scammed.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Spend a fortune on anti-wrinkle creams? Don't bother, said a U.S. study released Tuesday.

Luxury-price products don't work any better than drugstore brands, according to the study by Consumer Reports magazine, which ranked Olay Regenerist, priced at about $19, as the most effective in reducing wrinkles.

But none of these products made a significant difference in the skin's appearance.

Researchers found that after 12 weeks the top-rated products smoothed out some fine lines and wrinkles, but even the best performers reduced the average depth of wrinkles by less than 10 percent, a change barely visible to the naked eye.

"The tests revealed that, on average, these products made little difference in the skin's appearance and there's no correlation between price and effectiveness," a spokeswoman for the magazine said.

Americans spend over $1 billion a year on anti-wrinkle creams.

A billion dollars on things that don’t work! Don’t you think people would notice and stop using the stuff? I guess there’s some psychology involved here that causes people to literally "believe” in products that don’t do what they are supposed to do. No one likes to be powerless against what they perceive to be negative or unpleasant things.

I wonder how much is spent on anti-balding products?

Springfield: The Movie

I’d almost forgotten about this, but the Springfield Movie Project appears to be moving ahead. As soon as I figure a way to clone myself, I’ll be heavily involved.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Springfield in the News

The City of Springfield and CWLP General Manager Todd Renfrow got some national exposure on NPR this morning. Here’s the story.

Blogger News

ThirtyWhat is out of the hospital and recovering. She’s sitting around waiting to fart (?) and is blogging again in the meantime.

Jerome Prophet has a new look at his site. Content remains eerily familiar.

Ghost-blogging at its best over at Jim Leach’s place still manages to generate a lot of comments.

Rich Miller is throwing a blogging Christmas bash at Two Brothers tomorrow night. I can’t make it as I’m booked solid though Christmas but it sounds like fun.

And Marie bought shoes.

Prediction Unchanged

You may remember there were early predictions that this winter would be of the milder “El Nino” variety. Then came the Big Storm two weeks ago. So, are meteorologists revising their forecast? Nope:
BLOOMINGTON -- Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel may have a tough sell when he predicts Illinois will have a mild winter after the beating Central Illinois took from snow and ice a little more than a week ago.

But Angel and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are sticking to earlier forecasts that the winter of 2006-07 will be warmer than normal…
And there’s this..
In the long run, Angel thinks global warming is having an impact. Global climate change is leading to higher-than-average winter temperatures and less snowfall in Illinois than seen over the past 30 years, he said. His data shows the months of January and February have warmed about 2 degrees per decade over the past three decades, while December has warmed an average of just 0.3 degrees per decade in the same time period.

“Our winter seems to be shortening,” Angel said. “In January and February, it’s acting like a very early spring.”

If winter does act up, December is usually the month that sees its fury most, Angel said. “That’s been the pattern the last couple of years. We have action early in the winter during late November and early December, but then it just runs out of steam.”
I’ve noticed that too. In recent years, we’ll get a bad December and I’d expect more of the same for January and February. But no. Maybe we’ve seen the worst of it this year too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ballot Measure

Speaking of Springfield elections, I had three people come to my door this weekend looking for signatures for their candidate. One was gathering signatures for Tim Davlin and the other two were doing the same for aldermanic candidates.

I’m almost always willing to sign a petition to get a name on the ballot, even if I don’t like the person and have no intention of voting for them.

However, I was told this weekend that you can not sign a petition for more than one candidate for the same office, at least on the city level. This issue arose because on Saturday I signed a petition for my incumbent alderman and on Sunday the man with the petition for a possible opponent told me I could not sign his if I already signed the one for his opponent the day before. I’d never heard of such a thing. And I don’t like it.

Does this rule apply to all ballot contests? Or is this just a Springfield thing or an Illinois thing?

Mayor Again

Tim Davlin is running for another term as mayor of Springfield.

Can he be defeated?


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The War on Christmas

Headline from Bloomington Pantagraph:

Singing Santa silenced, Jesus stolen

Full story here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Durbin Politely Tells Bush to STFU

Now Bush thinks he’s Harry S. Truman. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin reminds him that no, he’s not.
Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular.

Bush said that “in years to come they realized he was right and then his doctrine became the standard for America,” recalled Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin, D-Ill. “He’s trying to position himself in history and to justify those who continue to stand by him, saying sometimes if you’re right you’re unpopular, and be prepared for criticism.”

Durbin said he challenged Bush’s analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that’s what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now - work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq.

Bush, Durbin said, “reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response” and emphasized that he is “the commander in chief.”
Can you imagine being a serious member of our government and having to endure meetings with this man-child?

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Hate Illinois Terrorists

I suspect that they’re going to find that this guy was just plain nuts.
ROCKFORD — A Rockford man was arrested and charged with allegedly plotting to explode several grenades in garbage cans at a shopping mall in Rockford, federal authorities said today.

The feds arrested Derrick Shareef, 22, on Wednesday without incident when he met an undercover agent at a store parking lot in Rockford to trade a set of stereo seakers for four hand grenades and a hand gun, the feds said.

He was charged with one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Hand grenades are now Weapons of Mass Destruction? Well then, I guess we did find WMD in Iraq.

Obviously I have only the few details available through the media, but doesn’t it sound this guy was a little off his nut if he thought he could really get a bunch of hand grenades for a set of speakers? If nothing else, we can assume he wasn’t well funded.

It is kind of annoying though how these things get played out as foiled terrorist plots. Let’s not forget, there was never any danger Shareef was ever getting real hand grenades from the undercover cops.


Dawg going to space (weather permitting):
CARBONDALE - Clouds kept Joan Higginbotham's feet on Earth Thursday night, but
the silver lining was the pride her fellow Salukis at Southern Illinois University Carbondale felt for all she had already accomplished.

NASA canned the launch of space shuttle Discovery flight STS-116 five minutes out from liftoff right at 8:30 p.m. due to a thick layer of cloud cover over the skies of the Kennedy Space Center.

Higginbotham, a 1987 graduate of SIUC's electrical engineering program, is part of the seven-member Discovery crew, which will dock with the International Space Station on an assembly mission.
See, some of us do amount to something. Some go to space, others blog about beer.

Friday Beer Blogging: No Power Edition

OK, many of us lost power last week after a winter storm slammed into the area. The result of no power, especially this time of year, is darkness. Darkness like Dark Beer.

Now, just to prove I’m really not a beer snob, I’m stating right here I DO NOT like dark beers. Some will tell you that means I don’t really care about good beer. Whatever, I still don’t like it Sam I Am.

The very first dark beer I ever had was Heineken Dark when I was like 19. I bought a six pack anticipating a great beer experience. I popped open the first beer, took a few drinks and gave the rest away.

Since then I have chocked down a few more over the years hoping to acquire the taste but it’s no use.

But if you enjoy it, fine. Just don’t offer me one, thank you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Power to Appoint

I've been wondering about this too. This situation was one of the very few reasons to vote for Blagojevich. As it turns out, it may have been an important reason as well since control of the US Senate may be in the balance. And I'm sure I am in the minority here in Springfield, but I'm far more concerned with who controls Congress than I am about who's governor of Illinois.

Feel the Heet

Does anyone use the gas line anti-freeze Heet or any similar product anymore? Back when I first started driving in the mid to late ‘70s it was a must to put this stuff in your gas tank during cold weather. If I didn’t, I was told by everyone, my fuel line would freeze, my car would suddenly stop and I’d freeze to death. Guaranteed!

I put a couple of bottles of Heet in my car every time I filled up in the winter. You could buy it right at the gas station. This was the conventional wisdom until at least the mid 1980s. Then it’s like everyone just forgot. About 15 or so years ago I quit using the stuff and…nothing happened.

So I’m just wondering: was the Heet craze just a marketing scam (I don’t even see Heet commercials anymore) or are cars built better now to withstand the cold? I’m frankly feeling a little scammed.

You Say Tournado, I Say Tornado

I had no idea that Britain experiences an average of 30 tornados a year. That’s almost as many as Logan County.

In fact, a bad one hit London today:
LONDON, England (CNN) -- A tornado hit a residential area of London on Thursday, injuring at least six people, according to ambulance service staff.

Police were alerted to the tornado in north-west London at around 11 a.m., a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said.

One man was taken to hospital suffering from serious head injuries, and five people were treated at the scene for minor injuries and shock.

The storm, with winds of around 150 mph (240 kph), ripped roofs off some homes, tore down walls and trees, and left streets strewn with debris. One car was buried under fallen bricks, video footage from the scene showed.

"It was like some sort of cyclone," said Tim Klotz, a resident of the Kensal Rise
You can almost hear Mr. Klotz’s accent as he explains his “some sort of cyclone” experience. Scary. Right out of a scene from The Wizard of Ozington.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Story With Just a Hint of Irony

Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary is pregnant. She and her same-sex partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are going to be parents. They Live in Virginia. Under Virginia law, Mary’s partner will have no legal relationship with the child. That’s because of people who like, and voted for, Dick Cheney. Life is so circular.

Museum Nights

I have no idea if this movie is any good but I sure do love the concept.

No Mo Imo

Just found out that Imo’s Pizza here in town has closed its doors. I wasn’t a huge fan of their regular pizzas but they made awesome breakfast pizzas. We would often get them at work on special occasions.

It was probably the smoking ban that killed them. [/snark]


The long-awaited Iraq Study Group report is out and basically they have no idea how to solve the Iraq problem. But it doesn’t matter anyway because George W. Bush has said he is not leaving Iraq, no way, no how. He says leaving is losing. So all he has to do is ride out the last two years of his presidency with no change in Iraq policy and he has won. Or at least he will not have not have lost. Losing will then be up to his successor.

In other news, 10 US servicemembers were killed today in Iraq.

And, of course, the average Iraqi trying to survive in hell couldn’t care less about the ISG report.

Fart Jokes As News!

This story stinks...
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- It is considered polite to light a match after passing gas. Not while on a plane.

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a "body odor," Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said.


Rich Miller points us to this Chicago Tribune editorial calling for Barack Obama to run for president in 2008.

Meanwhile, Kos says there is almost no way Obama can lose if he runs.

But Marie is concerned about Obama’s smoking.

Me? I caught B. Hussein Obama on the Leno show last week and it reinforced my belief that he is probably more comfortable in front of a camera than any politician in history. And that includes Ronald Reagan. I’m not sure that makes him presidential material but it sure doesn’t hurt (again, see Ronald Reagan). While watching the Leno interview, Mrs. TEH spontaneously began comparing Obama to Lincoln (both tall and very lean and from Illinois). That can’t hurt either. Her observations led me to quip (yes, I quipped!), “I wonder if he would have freed the salves?”

Democrats Hate Families

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for getting out of work (I’ve used most of them) but this one takes excuse-making to a new level.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who will become House majority leader and is writing the schedule for the next Congress, said members should expect longer hours than the brief week they have grown accustomed to.


"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."
Oh, good lord. The evil, family-destroying Democrats have hatched a plan requiring elected representatives to do their job. The horror.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's a Crying Shame

Oh, fer crissakes
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- Former President George H.W. Bush broke down in tears as he cited his son, Gov. Jeb Bush, as an example of leadership.

Bush was addressing lawmakers, his son's top administrators, and state workers gathered in the House chamber Monday for the last of the governor's leadership forums.

He said he was proud of how his son handled losing the 1994 governor's race to popular incumbent Democrat Lawton Chiles and vaguely referred to dirty tricks in the campaign.

"He didn't whine about it. He didn't complain," the former president said before choking up. As he tried to continue, he let out a sob and put a handkerchief to his face. When he spoke again, his words were broken up by pauses as he tried to regain composure.
Boo-fucking-hoo. Be a man, like Babs.


I have always had a terrible problem with getting shocks when I get out of a car. This happens when I’m already out of the vehicle and touch the door to close it. The resulting shock, while not extremely painful, is annoying and happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I get out of a vehicle in cool or cold weather.

Well, here’s what I’m supposed to do about it.
The voltage build-up can often be avoided by holding onto a metal part of the door frame as you leave the seat. This provides a return dissipation path for the charge on your body.

If you have forgotten to hold the metal door part as you leave the seat, a shock may often still be avoided by touching the glass window before you touch the metal door. The glass may be conductive enough to dissipate charge, whilst preventing the rapid discharge which is felt as a shock.

If you have your keys in your hand - let the spark discharge through the keys not to your fingers, and you won't feel anything!
Well, OK then. I’ll try that. Just make it stop. I’m tired of getting tasered for the crime of driving.

Stealing Other People’s Research

Everyone knows December 25 is very probably not the real date on which Jesus Christ was born. Using the internet, Eric Zorn looked into just when Jesus was born. Here’s what he found:

When was Jesus born? Sept. 29, 5 B.C.
When was Jesus born? Sept 29, 2 B.C.
When was Jesus born? Between September 16 and 29, 4 B.C.
When exactly was Jesus born? Sept. 11, 3 B.C.
When was Jesus born? Within two weeks of Oct. 1, 5 B.C.
When was Jesus born? March 1, 7 B.C., at 1:21 a.m
When was Jesus Christ born? Dec. 25, 7 B.C.
Jesus' real birthday Sept., 5 B.C.
On what date was Jesus born? March, 6 B.C.
Was Jesus born on Dec. 25? Yes.
Jesus born in September? "No idea."
Biblical proof indicating that Jesus was born on Oct. 31
When was Jesus Christ born? March or December of 4 B.C.

September seems popular. Even 9/11 shows up. I think “No Idea” is probably the most honest assessment though. As Eric points out in his column,
The question didn't seem to concern early Christians all that much. It wasn't until 350 A.D. that Pope Julius I of Rome, fixed the date for the Feast of the Nativity on December 25.
But like the observance of any birthday, it’s not about the date but about the person. Just ask anyone born on a leap day (Feb 29).

Judging Melissa

Not to be too ageist or sexist but does this woman fit your image of a circuit judge? I wonder how many defendants are going to plea bargain for the judge’s number.

Monday, December 04, 2006


This may be one of the stupidest media non-events ever.

During an interview yesterday, an anonymous C-SPAN viewer called former President Jimmy Carter “a bigot and a racist and an anti-Semite,” and accused him of “cozying up with every dictator, thug, Islamic terrorist there is.”


MSNBC has already run two segments today on this irrelevant non-story, one titled “Carter Controversy” and another called, “Pres. Carter: Anti-Semetic?”
So, any anonymous lunatic that calls in on any talk show is now the basis for “news”? What the hell is wrong with these MSNBC people?

I think the local media needs to start developing news stories around rants from unidentified callers to the Jim Leach show. Maybe on Ch. 20: “Good Evening, I’m Jerry Lambert. Is Mayor Tim Davlin REALLY a butthead? Tonight we examine this controversy.”

It's the new journalism.


This forecast is calling for temperatures to get into the 30s this week and into the 40s by the weekend.

Yesterday I was thinking about how only a week earlier I was mowing the lawn. Almost overnight we went from October to January.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Santa’s Butt Edition

This story speaks for itself:
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A beer distributor says Maine is being a Scrooge by barring it from selling a beer with a label depicting Santa Claus enjoying a pint of brew.

In a complaint filed in federal court, Shelton Brothers accuses the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement of censorship for denying applications for labels for Santa's Butt Winter Porter and two other beers it wants to sell in Maine.

The dispute recalls a similar squabble last year when Connecticut told Shelton Brothers it had problems with its Seriously Bad Elf ale.

"Last year it was elves. This year it's Santa. Maybe next year it'll be reindeer," said Daniel Shelton, owner of the company in Belchertown, Massachusetts.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, contends the state's action violates the First Amendment by censoring artistic expression.

But the state says it's within its rights. The label with Santa might appeal to children, said Maine State Police Lt. Patrick Fleming. The other two labels are considered inappropriate because they show bare-breasted women.
Freda Beer!

The Shelton Brothers site is here if you care to research this further.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cold Reception

Ummm…30,000 CWLP customers without power as of 10:30 this morning and it’s going to get down to 13 degrees tonight. This doesn’t sound like a good combination to me, especially since I’m one of those 30,000.

We bought a portable heater this morning and we have a gas fireplace, but I think even with those items its going to be a cold night if power is not restored. And with so many people without power, I would think many are still not going to have it tonight.

What a sucky weather year this city has had in 2006.

Update: Power is back on!

Update 2: I'm told I meant to say, "MY power is back on!"

Storm Story

OK, that sucked. Actually, it still sucks. I have no power at home, therefore no heat. But hey, at least the sun’s out now.

Friday Beer Blogging: Snow Edition

It’s snowing. Beer goes with snow. I have the pictorial evidence.

Item # 1: Heinies lounging in the snow.

Item #2: Beers gathering firewood for a winter celebration.

Item #3: Lonely beer wishes it were summer again.

Item #4: Thankfully, these beers got out of the way before being crushed by a falling snowman.

Item #5: A healthier snowman mans the keg.

Drive safely.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Storm Watch

As of early afternoon on Thursday, I’m a little underwhelmed by The Storm of the Century. We’ll se what tonight brings.

I went out at lunch to find my truck covered in ice. After heating up the windshield enough to see out of it (I forgot my scraper), I rolled down the passenger side window hoping the ice would fall off. Well, I got the window down easy enough but the ice, which had completely covered the window, stayed up. I now had an ice window. Punching that out from the inside was somehow exhilarating, like breaking the white ice on a frozen puddle.


You mean I’ve been stewing for six years about nothing and I’m really still young? Fabulous.

Global research group AC Nielsen surveyed people in 42 countries and found 60 percent of Americans, the world's biggest consumers of cosmetic surgery and anti-aging skincare, believe their 60's are the new middle age.

On a global scale, three out of five consumers believed the 40's are the new 30's.

"Our 40's are being celebrated as the decade where we can be comfortable and confident in both personal and financial terms. The majority of global consumers really believe life starts at 40," AC Nielsen Europe President and CEO Frank Martell said.

So I’ve only been living six years. My first marriage was just a pre-life bad dream then. Fine with me.


School closings and other weather-related cancellations can be found here courtesy of WFMB. WMAY has them here and WTAX here.

For what it's worth, I find the WTAX listings the easiest to read.

I Dream of Abe

Does anyone else find it odd that Abe Lincoln has become the mascot for a sleeping aid? You’ve probably seen this TV commercial for Rozerem featuring Abe. I’m assuming the sleepless guy in the commercial is a Springfield resident who, by virtue of the total Abe saturation where he lives, often finds the 16th president in his dreams.

Today I noticed the not-all-that-convincing Abe in an online ad for the drug too.

Perhaps there should be a display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum featuring Abe in advertising throughout history, the commercial Abe, the one that moves products. Or, more broadly, Abe in marketing. There are probably thousands of businesses that use the name Lincoln and only about half are in Central Illinois I suspect.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Entertainment on the Cheap

In case you never had time to see Freinds while it was on.

Ten Years of Friends in 90 Seconds

Worser & Worser

The National Weather Service has just cancelled the Winter Storm Watch!

…and replaced it with a Winter Storm Warning. They say we’re in for a world of winter hurt.

The good news is, they’re often very wrong about these things. In fact, I’d say the direness of the prediction is inversely proportional to the severity of the actual outcome. But sometimes not.

Say, What's That "H" In Your Name?

Oh my Barack Obama’s middle name really “Hussein”? I agree, we can all expect to hear the GOP trot that out frequently if he decides to run for president. And here I thought it was unfortunate his last name rhymed with Osama. Well, at least it’s not Adloff Hilter or something.

My best advice is to go mono: Barack. We have Madonna, we have Bono, we have (had?) Cher, why not go by just plain ol’ Barack.

By the way, did you know B. Hussein Obama’s book is number one on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best seller list?


I sure hope they're wrong about this:

919 AM CST WED NOV 29 2006


I've been watching this thing develop all week and thought the official forecast was underplaying its potential. Now I think (hope) they've gone too far the other way.

Pay to Pump

The Springfield City Council will be considering a proposal that would require you to pay for your gasoline before pumping it at gas stations:
The ordinance would bar gas stations from dispensing fuel before it is paid for. That means customers would either have to pay at the pump using a credit or debit card or they would have to give an attendant cash for the amount of gas they want before pumping.

The ordinance, sponsored by Ward 7 Ald. Judy Yeager, is aimed at reducing what she said is an increased number of people driving off before they pay. Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil and Ward 8 Ald. Irv Smith said Tuesday they would co-sponsor the measure.

Yeager said many gas stations across Illinois have a 24-hour-a-day, pay-first policy. She sees it as a public-safety issue.

"So often the people at the gas station don't have anything other than the color of the car ... and so consequently the likelihood of you catching that individual is slim, and that time has been wasted where (police) could be doing something else," Yeager said.

Ralph Caldwell, the city's assistant police chief, said he supports the ordinance because it would make it virtually impossible to drive off without paying for gas. That could lead to the elimination of police calls to gas stations to respond to such crimes.
I’ll give you another reason this is a public safety issue: the pump-and-dash perpetrators can recklessly speed away in hoping to increase their chances of not getting caught. I know this because one day about ten years ago the car I was driving was struck by one of these guys. I had just turned on to a side street near Stevenson Drive when a vehicle came barreling out of an alleyway and smacked the front end of my car before speeding off in a cloud of dust. It was a minor accident (I was not hurt) but it could have been a whole lot worse had I been a second or two farther along than I was. It turned out the person who hit me was fleeing from the Qik-N-EZ on Stevenson after having stolen $5 in gas. That $5 cost me (and my insurance company) several thousand dollars in repairs to my car.

Another advantage to this proposal is it would prevent accidental drive offs. That does happen. Again, I have personal experience with it. That is, a long, long time ago I unintentionally drove off without paying. Since then, I have ALMOST done the same thing a couple of occasions. These incidents would not have happened if I had been forced to pay first.

So yes, by all means, make it mandatory to pay before pumping. I don’t see a downside.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

San Francisco Values

The next time you hear some conservative idiot going on about the dreaded “San Francisco Values” (the new favorite con buzz-phrase) remember this:
But let's talk about "San Francisco values", you know -- tolerance, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

Since [Bill] O'Reilly boycotts everything he hates, I look forward to his boycott of all Bay Area-origin products. Same with every conservative who bashes San Francisco and the Bay Area. So no iPods or anything Apple. No HP computers. No Google. No Yahoo. No eBay. Those conservative bloggers using Blogspot, MovableType, or TypePad? Sorry. Those products are Bay Area-based.

Also no Adobe or Macromedia products. No computers, either, since most run on AMD or Intel. No tax preparation using Intuit products. Cancel your Netflix subscription. Cancel your TiVo subscription. Remove your Network Associates or Symantec virus protection software from your computer. Unplug your Netgear wifi router.

Don't wear Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, or buy your kids Gymboree. Avoid LeapFrog learning toys. Boycott Pixar movies. Boycott any movie using George Lucas' ILM special effects shop. Stay away from Treos and other Palm devices. Don't let Charles Schwab manage your portfolio. Don't bank at Wells Fargo.

Yeah, those "San Francisco values" sure are dragging the region down.
Not to mention it's a wonderful city (and area) full of wonderful people. This country is lucky to have it. But rather than embracing what it brings to our great land, conservatives would just as soon shit on it. Like they did New Orleans. Like they do New York (except for 9/11’s Ground Zero which, of course, is the Holy Rational For Perpetual War). Why do these guys hate America so much?

The Great Satan

Sometimes Barack Obama is not a political rock star

Then there's this press release from the National Clergy Council, an umbrella group representing various conservative denominations. In the release, Rob Schenck, president of the group, did not mince words: "Senator Obama's policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values."
Man, that must suck to be the antithesis of biblical ethics and supreme American values.

Supreme American values?

Glad to Meet You Earl

It’s pretty hard to get me to watch television comedies. That’s mainly because the vast majority of them are crap. I really, really can’t stand formula sit-coms with annoyingly predictable misunderstandings moving the plot. And damn, I hate laugh tracks. If you have to tell me when something is supposed to be funny it probably isn’t.

With that in mind, I have to say I’m really impressed with a new generation of shows that take a different tact and are funny because they aren’t formulaic or, well, stupid. I think Scrubs kicked this off a few years ago and now we also have The Office and My Name is Earl. All three shows are on Thursday’s on NBC, by the way.

My Name is Earl may be the best of the bunch. The casting in this show is perfect. Jason Lee’s (Earl) narration of each episode is as funny as anything else going on in the show. Ethan Suplee (Randy, Earl’s brother and partner in, ummm, not-crime) and Jaime Pressly (Joy, Earl’s ex) make me laugh about every time they open their mouths.

I’m not sure how long MNiE is going to be able to keep it fresh but for now it’s one of the best things going on TV. Scrubs was hanging in there at the end of last season (this season’s premier is this week) but I think it’s getting a little stale even if still worth watching. We’ll see how the new season goes. Meanwhile, The Office is looking promising again this season, especially with the addition of Ed Helms to the cast.

On Drugs

I totally agree with Ezra on this (but there is a BUT coming):
2/3rds of Pharmas current R&D budget goes not towards creating new drugs for killer conditions, but towards crafting copycats of other blockbuster drugs, which evade the patent protections placed by competitors. Another massive proportion of the actual research is conducted in the public sector and licensed out at miniscule prices through the Hatch-Waxman Act. Indeed, lower prices and innovation aren't either/or, they're both/and. Were I the Democrats, I'd decree that some proportion of the savings from negotiation go to the NIH to fund the lifesaving research that gets turned into lifesaving drugs, rather than going to subsidize the useless research that goes to create a knockoff version of Lipitor.

Pharma isn't fighting this battle because they're terrified of losing even one dollar that could go towards innovation. They already spend twice as much on advertising as they do on R&D. And most of the R&D doesn't "innovate" at all. They're waging this war because they want to make more money. That's their job. But it's the governments job to advocate for the public interest, and better pharmaceutical prices, particularly coupled with more investment into cutting edge, lifesaving drug research, is the public interest.
It does piss me off every time I see a boner pill commercial (about every five minutes my TV is on) that the money spent on that ad could have been better used finding a cure for cancer or heart disease. And it does seem to not be in humanities best interest to have these companies primarily engaged in chasing ever larger profits rather than cures.


I also have this nagging voice that tells me there is room for both making money on frivolous drugs AND curing cancer. It shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. Maybe that nagging voice is really just a small transmitter placed in my brain via those last antibiotic pills I took manufactured by one of the big pharmaceutical companies. Either way, I can’t help but think this is possible.

I know there are some things that can be done immediately to improve the situation. Giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices would be a great start. How about taxing some of Big Pharma’s profits to be used in government funded research into life-saving drugs that aren’t being pursued aggressively enough by the drug companies?

Hey, if there’s a market for all kinds of allergy meds, then great, fill (or create) the need and sell away. But society needs a mechanism that produces solutions to more dire (or rare) medical problems, a mechanism that isn’t driven solely by profit. I just don’t know what that mechanism is.