Friday, September 29, 2006

Make Well, Not War


Congress is expected to give final approval today to a $448 billion defense-spending bill that includes $1.6 million for Springfield's Memorial Medical Center.

A Memorial spokesman said Thursday the money would be used to purchase computerized intravenous pumps designed to reduce medication errors.


It wasn't clear Thursday why the funding is coming through a defense-spending bill..
I know it’s a matter of semantics but I think it’s entirely appropriate that some of this nation’s ‘defense’ should be against things like disease, and cancer in particular. Cancer causes far, far, far more pain, suffering and, yes, TERROR, than a bunch of evil-doers in some Axis-of-Evil-Land.

By the way, we are now spending 2 BILLION fucking dollars AWEEK in Iraq.

Friday Beer Blogging: Computer Edition

In honor of my two week ordeal that began when I fried my hard drive and then fought with Dell and then dispaired and then got some top-notch help from friends who got me back to normal, I present perhaps a better use for computers: Beer taps.

And this...

Better yet, I want my computer to be more full service. I don't want to have to get up.

Tap beer, not keyboards!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poll Land

Prepare for a new poll to come out soon that shows Illinoisans think it should be OK to smoke in some work places like the VFW halls. How can you mean people take the right to smoke way from our brave veterans! Cads.

Fast Food Failure

What’s with this city and whole groups fast food restaurants closing up. I’ve lived other places and I don’t recall this sort of thing happening on a regular basis the way it does in Springfield. Today it’s Wendy’s. But we’ve seen this in the past with Burger King and Taco Bell to name just two. I know there have been others. What gives? The thing I hate the most is when these places suddenly close with no warning to employees, workers who are already living pay check to pay check, and then these employees don’t even see there last bit of pay. There is no way these owners didn’t know what was about to happen and it’s cruel to just close the door one day and not pay employees.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Perv

Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf SO wants to get out of the dictator business and go Hollywood. Let’s see: eventual death in bloody coup, or big bucks and babes on the entertainment circuit here? Hmmmmm…tough choice.


The whole Buffet City story is really strange and getting stranger. Meanwhile, more and more people are admitting they really, really are going to miss the place. At first, I think a lot of folks were reluctant to admit that they actually liked BC and pretended that they were far too dignified to miss the plate loads of cheap, but somehow appealing, food there. But as the reality sets in that BC is never coming back, some of us are getting a little fidgety knowing we aren’t going to be getting a fix again anytime soon. Don’t believe me? See the comments in this ThirtyWhat post. Or ask yourself why JP was hanging around taking pictures of BC here.

It seems to me, though, if there is the demand for a Buffet City, why can’t a knock-off open up? Copy-catting resaurants can't be too hard (see Dublin Pub). Was BC only feasible by utilizing undocumented workers? I doubt it. And yes, I know, there are other similar restaurants in town but none of them can touch Buffet City. Maybe Xiang Hui Ye (pronounced Throatwabbler Mangrove) can write a book from jail on how to properly (and without using illegals!) run an all-you-can-eat establishment.

Bad Booze

Does anyone drink wine coolers anymore? They were all the rage 20 years ago but I haven’t seen or heard of anyone drinking one in a very long time. And that’s OK because they are pretty bad. But they still make them, right? Or are the ones you see in the store just left over from 1988?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

30,000,000 and Counting

I’ve decided I’m going to add a comprehensive Chinese blog roll to my site. My blogging might be light until I complete this project, or well in to the next century, which ever comes first.

Photographic Evidence

JeromeProphet catches Buffet City being emptied out. Guess they really are done. I forgot that place is technically in Jerome. Time to build a wall around that town to keep the illegals out. Or perhaps JP would like to form the Jerome chapter of the Minutemen.

The Ayes Have It

Here’s the poll: Most Illinoisans want a statewide smoking ban.

Now, who is going to get this into law? Seems like we have a couple of people running for governor who might want to get behind a popular idea. Any takers? It might even get you some points in the Race for the Mansion.

And this is interesting:
A statewide smoking ban cleared a House committee last winter but has never gotten a vote in either chamber of the General Assembly. [Kathy Drea, public policy director for the American Lung Association of Illinois and Iowa] hopes a ban will get a vote when the new General Assembly is sworn in in January.

"It's a non-election year, so it'll be more positive for a vote," she said. "(The ban in) Springfield was so important because all of the legislators live here six months out of the year. They will be able to see people still go out, still want to be with their friends."
Hooray for Springfield; leading the way to a statewide ban.

Oh, and by the way, for you who continue be confused as to whether smoking bans can work without destroying business, consider this:
Fourteen states - California, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii, Montana, Utah, New Jersey, Colorado - have enacted comprehensive indoor smoking bans, which include bars and restaurants.
I’ve not heard of any widespread economic destruction in any of these states. The “it’ll hurt business” argument is all the pro-smoking folks have and it’s bogus.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Career Booster Edition

Beer drinking is good for your career. Blog posts can’t be wrong.

Might I add that regular beer blogging, say every Friday, is good for the health of your blog. Aside from preventing the clogging of your internet connections, it increases your hit counts and gets people talking about the guy who blogs about beer. All are socially beneficial and may get you a better job (I've already got the best one).

Oh. My. God.

Re-posted, in full, from TPM Café without comment:

Peter Roskam, the GOP [IL – O6]candidate to succeed outgoing Rep. Henry Hyde, accused Dem opponent Tammy Duckworth of wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq during a debate a couple days ago. The use of this common pro-war talking-point in this case surprised some observers—not to mention Duckworth herself—because the veteran Duckworth lost both of her legs in Iraq. Duckworth's post-debate reply was rather straightforward: "I just could not believe he would say that to me."

OK, one comment: what an asshole Roskam is.

Wait, another comment: Keep in mind that when you vote Republican you perpetuate this crap. The modern Republican party needs to be torn down and rebuild from the ground up after extensive de-Nazification and de-McCarthization, not to mention de-assholification. And we should ask the Wizard to provide them all with hearts.

OK, I’m done not commenting.

Liquid Assests

This is mostly good as I think these restrictions were totally unnecessary and a complete overreaction.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is partially lifting its ban against carrying liquids and gels onto airliners, instituted after a plot to bomb jets flying into the United States was foiled, officials said Monday.

"We now know enough to say that a total ban is no longer needed from a security point of view," said Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Administration, at a news conference at Reagan National Airport.

He said that most liquids and gels that air travelers purchase in secure areas of airports will now be allowed on planes. He called the new procedures a "common sense" approach that would maintain a high level of security at airports but ease conditions for passengers.

That means that after passengers go through airport security checkpoints, they can purchase liquids at airport stores and take them onto their planes. The new procedures go into effect on Tuesday, Hawley said.
I will say that I wish I were a post-security check point vendor. I would take special care in displaying my $5.00 bottles of water.

Cynical Me

I think SJ-R reporters are behind these kinds of thefts. These crimes lead to heartbreaking stories that eventually turn heartwarming when someone (usually more than on person) steps up to help the victim. Has anyone called CrimeStoppers?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Local Blogger Exposed!

Ha, Jerome Prophet allows himself to be photographed. I’ve known JP forever and I swear he never, ever ages. Weenie.

The Price of Lower Prices

Hey, a Wal-Mart post that has nothing to do with the proposed Wabash Ave store in Springfield! (For the record, I really don’t care about where Wal-Mart builds but I do have a number of problems with the Wal-Mart operation in general.)

I was interested to read this Kevin Drum post on Wal-Mart where he states there are three things that keep prices low at giant retailer:

1. A spectacularly efficient supply chain and logistics system that's the envy of the industry.

2. A willingness — in fact, an almost palpable enthusiasm — for using their enormous size to beat the lowest possible prices out of their suppliers.

3. A scorched-earth campaign to prevent unions from organizing at Wal-Mart sites, thus keeping wages and benefits as low as possible.
He then goes on to say:

I'm pretty sure liberals like us don't have any problem with #1, and not much of a problem with #2 either. Needless to say, we also don't have a problem with Wal-Mart selling stuff as cheaply as possible. That's good for everyone.

It's really only #3 we have a problem with, because Wal-Mart is so big that their low wages have a depressing effect on all service sector wages.
I’d like to say that while I generally agree with Drum’s assessment, I actually do have some problem with #2. Not in theory but in practice. Like any tool, their bulk buying power can be used for good or for bad.

Let me relay this story I heard recently from an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in many years. He’s employed, in management in fact, by a decent sized and well established Central Illinois manufacturer. He told me he no longer shops at Wal-Mart because of Wal-Mart’s buying practices –buying practices the directly burned his employer.

Here’s what he says happened. His employer supplied Wal-Mart with a large number of the items they manufacture. In fact, Wal-Mart was a huge client of theirs. One day, Wal-Mart came to them and said they were, from now on, only going to pay a certain amount for the product. This was an amount significantly lower than what they had been paying. So, my friend’s employer decided the only way they could afford to accept this new low amount was to relocate some of their operation to Mexico where wages were less costly. That’s bad enough but it gets worse. Apparently, Wal-Mart got wind of the plan to move some of the manufacturing to Mexico and then came back, citing the lower Mexican manufacturing costs, and dictated an EVEN LOWER price to this manufacturer.

Now, to be honest, I don’t think my friend go around to telling me how the story ended (did they stay with Wal-Mart or not) but he was clearly disgusted with them. And this isn’t a guy who I would exactly call “liberal”.

My point is, even item #2 in Kevin Drum’s list isn’t always a good thing in the long run and, in fact, can do some of the same kind of damage as #3.

Update: Ezra Klein has now weighed in and has a similar take:
My guess is that Wal-Mart's size and might is having much more profound effects on our economy through the demands and strains it places on suppliers than through their lowish wages and benefits for direct employees (although those labor standards give them a competitive advantage over chains with higher standards, and so we race to the bottom...). So much as I want the latter to go up and unionization to rush across the land, I'm more worried that Wal-Mart's size and status as the indispensable outlet for products, when coupled with their virtually maniacal (though fully understandable) demands for lower pricing, are pushing down wages and work conditions all throughout the land and, for that matter, the world. Suppliers simply can't pay better and push the marginal cost to consumers -- Wal-Mart will drop them faster than you can say "Always low prices."

What that means is that suppliers simply can't pay better. And if they already do, Wal-Mart will make them stop. High labor costs translate to higher product costs, and if that's what the producers value, Wal-Mart, by far the largest retailer in the world, will simply promote an in-store brand or a competitor, pushing the high-paying producer out of business. It's a real problem, and one folks aren't giving enough thought to.

Friday Beer Blogging: Winners Edition

To the victors go the spoils, er, BEER!

I vowed before finding out who was Springfield’s most popular blogger, as determined by the Illinois Times Best of Springfield survey, that the winner would be rewarded with a Friday Beer Blogging tie-in. Unless it had been me, in which case I would have simply had a few too many in celebration and posted a series of neener-neener-neeners.

Well, this year’s winner made it exceedingly easy to create a Beer Blogging connection. That’s riiiiight….IT”S (RICH) MILLER TIME!

Capitol Fax Blog: Looks great / More politics

Typical CFB readers have always gathered at favored Springfield watering holes to enjoy a nice cold Miller.

Politicians all over Illinois, upon seeing Rich approach them, have been heard to say, “Oh shit, it really is Miller time.”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Big Bad Bill-O

Why are these wingnuts such children? I remember being eight or nine years old and my friends and I would tell each other made-up tales of fantastic personal adventures that never happened. But you’d think someone as old as Bill O’Reilly would have outgrown that stage. I guess not:
According to a September 20 ABC News Online article promoting an upcoming appearance of Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on ABC's 20/20 to promote his new book Culture Warrior (Broadway, September 2006), O'Reilly stated that he receives "death threats on a daily basis," and that it's "a little disconcerting" that "the FBI
came in and warned me and a few other people at Fox News that al Qaeda had us on a death list." But O'Reilly's claim to be on an Al Qaeda "death list" has reportedly been disputed by an FBI official and a "correspondent" at Fox News.

A federal law enforcement officer reportedly told the website Radar that he is "not aware of any FBI agents warning anyone at Fox News of their presence on any list" and that he is "not aware of any Al Qaeda hit list targeting journalists."
These guys are in such a fantasyland as they go through their work day lying their asses off they don’t know when their stories become ridiculous. It’s like the President running around telling us that he is leading us in a struggle against The Terrorists™ that is even more epic than World War II and the Cold War combined. Yikes! That’s a pretty scary story Mr. Bush. But like Bill’s concoction of death defying heroics, it’s complete bullshit. Stop it already you guys, you’re embarrassing yourselfs.

Busted City

I’m not going to even pretend Buffet City is one of Springfield’s finer eating establishments, but for what it is, an all-you-can-eat restaurant, it is pretty good. I’ve eaten there many times. So I’m kind of hoping the immigration raid there yesterday and sudden closing of its doors doesn’t mean it’s out of business permanently. Shame on the owners if they were knowingly employing illegal aliens but I’m thinking they could still make a go of it following the law. I hated that Cancun (on Sixth Street) was forever shuttered after their little run-in with immigration officials back in 2000. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

I am intruged by one item in the SJ-R story though:
One man who drove by said he lives near Chatham Square Center, where the restaurant is located.

"If that's true," the man said of the raid, apparently targeting illegal aliens "then a lot of these stores around here would go out of business."
I guess I assumed there probably were some, but very few, undocumented workers in Springfield but is it a more significant “problem” than I am aware of? I mean, there is no way of knowing who is and isn’t an illegal just by looking at a person but I haven’t had the sense that the city is being overrun by them. And the man quoted above seems to thing these folks are being employed by “stores”. While I’m sure nationally there are lots of illegal immigrants working all kinds of low-end jobs, are our local illegals only working in food and retail? I’ve not heard of any cheap manual labor pool of these guys working in landscaping or construction. Just wondering.

Update: I just noticed Buffet City won Best Buffet in the Illinois Times Best of Springfield survey. if I can only prove Rich Miller is employing illegal immigrants...

OK, I Concede Already!

F**K! (I told you.)

All kidding aside, congratulations to Rich Miller for winning the Illinois Times Best Springfield Blog. Miller's Capitol Fax Blog a great blog. My only gripe is, while I know Rich blogs from here, I guess I don’t consider Capitol Fax Blog a “Springfield blog”. Rather I see it as an Illinois blog (see my blog roll). So I guess I didn’t see this one coming. But CFB winning makes sense too, since I’m sure CFB has more way readers than the rest of us locals combined. And did I mention it’s a damn good blog?

Also, big congrats to Dan Naumovich for coming in second with BlogFreeSpringfield. Dan proves the value of quality over quantity. I can’t sit still long enough most of the time to put together lengthy, well thought-out posts like Dan’s (too much clicking to do on the internet!).

As for the rest of us, what JP said. And there's always next year. That gives us about 11 months to go negative and start smearing Rich.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Best Blogger Bets Become Blogging Boom

Tomorrow’s the big day. JP has crafted his acceptance speech. And Dan has conceded gracefully until the good part at the very end of post (take that you stupid readers!).

My concession or acceptance post is being worked on but I can’t seem to get past the first word which I’ve decided either way will be F**K!

Durbin & Reid’s Laugh-In

Our own Senator Dick Durbin was recently involved in some political theater with sidekick Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D - Friendly Old Guy Next Door). From the Congressional Record:
Mr. Durbin: Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. Reid: I will be happy to yield for a question.

Mr. Durbin: Can the Senator refresh my memory? Was Mr. Bremmer the recipient of a gold medal or something from the President? Didn't he receive some high decoration or medal for his performance in Iraq?

Mr. Reid: The answer is, yes, he received that. I assume one would expect that from somebody who had a throne while he was over there.

Mr. Durbin: Isn't it also true that George Tenet, who was responsible for the intelligence that was so bad that led us into the war in Iraq, got a medal from the President the same day?

Mr. Reid: That is true.

Mr. Durbin: Did Michael Brown with FEMA receive a gold medal from the White House before he was dismissed?

Mr. Reid: I don't think he did. Even though he was doing a heck of a job, I don't think he obtained a medal from the White House.

Mr. Durbin: Apparently, these gold medals were being awarded for incompetence. They missed Mr. Brown, but they did give one to Mr. Bremmer. Will the Senator yield for another question?

Mr. Reid: I will be happy to.

Mr. Durbin: I am trying to recall the exact number -- it was in the billions of dollars -- that we gave to the President for the reconstruction of Iraq; is that not true?

Mr. Reid: It started out at $18 billion. But as the Senator from Illinois will remember, part of that money, stacks of one-hundred-dollar bills, was used by some of the contractors who were sent over there to play football games -- some of these same people.

Mr. Durbin: It is also true, is it not, that the Democratic policy conference has been holding hearings -- in fact, I think it is the only agency on the Hill holding hearings -- on this waste and abuse, this profiteering and corruption at the expense of American taxpayers and even, equally important -- more importantly -- at the expense of our troops?

Mr. Reid: I say to my friend, this war is approaching 3 1/2 years, and there has not been a single congressional oversight hearing on the conduct of the war. This war has now cost us, the American taxpayers, about $325 billion. There has not been a single congressional oversight hearing on the war.

Mr. Durbin: I ask the Senator from Nevada if he might comment on this as well: Are we not in a situation where the President has told us that he wants to "stay the course'' in Iraq, and Vice President Cheney, when asked a week ago, said he wouldn't change a thing in the way they have done this war in Iraq? Is it very clear that unless there is a change in leadership in this town soon, we are going to continue down this disastrous course, exposing our soldiers to danger every single day, their families to the anxiety of separation, and the taxpayers of this country to billions and billions of dollars more being spent that don't make us any safer?

Mr. Reid: I say to my friend, I spent the weekend reading a book. I did other things. I spent a lot of time on an airplane. The book is called "Fiasco,'' written by a man named Thomas Ricks who has spent his life covering the military. He has written books on the military. I don't know his political persuasion. This book is on the best seller's list of the New York Times.

In this book, he talks in such detail about what has happened as a result of the incompetence of this administration to our valiant fighting men and women over there. I recommend the book to anyone. It is a searing indictment of this administration.
Boy, that Dick Durbin sure is an inquisitive fellow. And that nice Mr. Reid is so patient in providing answers. It’s just dandy how they get along.

Hat tip to Atrios.

Time For a New Icon

Anyone else think the old standard floppy disk "save" icon needs to be updated? I bet there are already young PC users out there that have no idea what the icon is supposed to represent.

When's the last time you used a floppy? Fortunately, I'm not the only one thinking about criticl issues like this. Here's a geeky discussion thread on the topic that includes suggestions for a replacement icon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why, Indeed

Have you seen those yard signs that simply say “Why?” and then have an internet address? Here’s the link. It’s the web site of Springfield’s Westside Christian Church.

Go ahead, take a look. After all, the site assures us that: “Even non-churchy people are comfortable in West Side’s casual environment.”

"Non-churchy"? Why?

Blevins Has Moved

Blevins Blog is now located here and has a new look. Everyone is upgrading and my place is looking more and more like a piece of shit. No one told me blogging would involve keeping up with the neighbors. I sure hope Springfield bloggers don't form a neighborhood association.

CSI: Quad Cities

Ha, The Inside Dope is on the case and has some advice for those who would deface political campaign signs. I don’t generally think of sign defacers as being women but I think the Dope is right about this one.

No guy dots an “i” like that. It's a man law or something. (If you're having a hard time making it out, the word is "racist".)

Big Hug

Jerome Prophet thinks that no matter who wins, we’re all worthy. He also seems to suggest there is no objective way to judge a “best blog”. Well, Mr. JP, it’s not about being the best, it’s about getting the most votes, fool. Hey, I should run for office.

RIP Hard Drive

Lost my hard drive on my home computer over the weekend. Thank goodness that A) we have other computers in the house, B) Mrs. TEH has all the important files on her ‘puter and regularly backs them up, and C) my PC is still under warranty. The worst things I lost were game saves and a few music downloads. Still, there’s nothing like losing your hard drive to remind you how dependant we can become on computers and how fragile that relationship can be.

We’re More Lincoln Than You!

Sometimes this stuff just gets a bit much.
BLOOMINGTON -- When Abraham Lincoln was an attorney in the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Illinois, he collected his largest fee - $5,000 - from a McLean County lawsuit. When he ran for a seat in Congress, Lincoln lost in his home base of Sangamon County but carried McLean County by about two-thirds of the vote.

When he set his eyes on the presidency, Lincoln depended on help from many Bloomington friends, including Judge David Davis, for the nomination.

“No county, except Sangamon, was more important to Lincoln’s career than McLean County,” said Bloomington attorney Bob Lenz. “Lincoln loved McLean County. It was very important to his career.”

As the nation prepares to recognize the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in 2009, Lenz and other community leaders want to promote those and other little-known McLean County/Lincoln facts. They recently formed the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of McLean County to coordinate a variety of events and exhibits.
How thin can you spread one deceased president? I’m sure Mr. Lincoln had no idea that every place he walked, ate or slept would become hallowed ground. It’s interesting to see other communities discover and promote their Abeness.

What I wonder is this: Is there any other person, historical or otherwise, that has been so embraced by so many communities in one geographical area? Maybe I’m wrong, but do the likes of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or some major celebrity from the entertainment world command such devotion and attention anywhere? Maybe Elvis? I can’t think of anyone else.

Monday, September 18, 2006


I’ve not been one of those who thought the rapidly falling gasoline prices had much to do with the upcoming mid-term elections, but now I’m really starting to wonder. Check out this item and the quote from George W. Bush.
In the midterm election on November 7, Bush predicted Democrats won't win either
the House or the Senate. "I believe these elections will come down to two things: one, firm belief that in order to win the war on terror ...[blah, blah, blah]..., and, two, the economy." Bush said the price of gasoline, which has been falling rapidly, is one of the "interesting indicators" that the press should watch carefully. "Just giving you a heads up," he added.
Hmmm…sounds like he knows something we don’t. Wonder what that something is.

Hat tip to Digby.

How Ironic

I can’t iron clothes worth a damn but I’m happy to see that there is something called “extreme ironing”. Be sure to click the Galleries link.

Hat tip to Unfogged.


What? A story about an 18-year-old man dying in an auto accident has this headline in the Rockford Register-Star:

Fatal crash leaves unborn baby without father

Odd way to put it. Here’s more of the story, see if you can spot some other oddities:
DURAND — Michael Larison loved his family and was looking forward to becoming a father himself this spring.

Larison, 18, of Durand told his mom he was excited to be a dad and pledged to be by his girlfriend’s side while the two awaited the birth of their child in April.

“We just found out, and he said he couldn’t wait to be a father, and he’d hold my hand throughout it all, and that I’d be all right,” said Jessica Grismore, 16, of Freeport.

Larison was killed in a car accident in South Beloit early Saturday, leaving his unborn child only Grismore’s memories through which to know him, she said.

Larison had most recently moved to Durand from Dakota, where he attended high school and met Grismore, who said she was drawn to his bad-boy attitude. Grismore said she quickly learned that Larison was a nice guy at heart.

The two were together for 1.5 years and liked watching movies together and just hanging out, Grismore said.


Larison liked football and basketball, but above all, he loved to fish and hoped to make a career out of it, Houghton said.
The death of this young man is, of course, tragic but the story is full of details you don't normally see in a newspaper article on a fatal car crash.

Iran, Iran So Far Away

Reading this piece at about possible war with Iran, I was struck by this passage:

Some U.S. foes of Iran's regime believe that the crisis of legitimacy that the ruling clerics would face in the wake of a U.S. attack could trigger their downfall, though others are convinced it would unite the population with the government in anti-American rage.
Can someone give me an example in recent history, say the last 100 years, of the former happening rather than the latter? Not specifically in regards to Iran but when any nation attacks another.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Who Is IT, Man?

So who will be the Illinois Times’ best blogger for 2006? Speculation is running rampant! Well, at least it is in this Blog Free Springfield post and its comments section.

There is some speculation that Jim Leach began blogging again because he was informed he won. How sinister! My theory is that Jerome Prophet will win because his blog is promoted in the pages of the IT every week. And he has a pretty interesting blog.

I’ve not heard a thing from the IT, so I’m guessing I didn’t win. Ummm, wait. Let me go check my e-mail real quick….nope, still nothing.

We’ll all know who won in a week. I’m already preparing my grapes for maximum sourness.

Friday Beer Blogging: Blue Moon Edition

An FBB first. I’m actually drinking the beer I’m blogging about as I write this post. Can you even begin to understand how cool that is? I doubt this has ever been attempted before by anyone. Crickey!

The beer I’m holding? Blue Moon

I’ve come to really like this beer. I’ve had it while dining out a few times and always enjoyed it. So today I picked up a 12-pak of BM, er, Blue Moon while I was at the soon-to-be-defunct Jewel Osco at Fairhills Mall.

BM - dammit I did it again - I mean Blue Moon is actually brewed by the Coors folks. Here’s what they have to say about their product:

Blue Moon Belgian White, Belgian-style wheat ale, is a refreshing, medium-bodied, unfiltered Belgian-style wheat ale spiced with fresh coriander and orange peel for a uniquely complex taste and an uncommonly smooth finish.

The name "Belgian White" is a reference to the cloudy white, opaque appearance of the beer. "Belgian White" also refers to the style of beer, which has been brewed in Belgium for about 300 years. This type of ale is brewed with malt, wheat and oats. It is unfiltered, which allows protein and yeast to remain suspended in the beer and creates the cloudy appearance. This also adds to the smoothness and full body of the beer.

Putting a new twist on the lime ritual, Blue Moon is traditionally served with a slice of orange.

And I can vouch for that last part. Every establishment in which I’ve ordered a Moon has served it with a slice of orange that I promptly discard. No need for fruit on my beer glass.

Anyway, if you haven’t tried Blue Moon, give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Digitally Remastering the Final Frontier

I’ve written before about how outdated technology, clothes, hair styles and other everyday items can become a distraction for me when watching an old (sometimes just a few years old) movie or television show. Things that would have blended into the background when viewed at the shows original release, suddenly pop out at me. I used the example of cell phones in an old episode of the X-Files in this post.

Anyway, with that in mind, I was interested to see this post from The Watcher blog:
Forty years after the original “Trek” debuted Sept. 8, 1966, Paramount is rolling out a digitally remastered version of the sci-fi series.


Effects artists are going through each episode of the original “Trek” and inserting spiffier special effects, enhanced music and generally better visuals (without changing any of the classic “Trek” dialogue or stories, it should be noted).


Even the famous opening sequence has been snazzed up: The Enterprise that boldly goes across the screen now is a digital space ship. “All the star patterns that were in the original opening are exactly duplicated in the new opening,” said effects supervisor David Rossi. “We smoothed out the motion of the Enterprise. It flies more dynamically now. It occupies real space. It doesn’t look like a model anymore.”

Rossi and others in charge of the “Trek” spruce-up took pains to say that they didn’t want to make intrusive changes that would alter the show substantially.

“Basically, the approach is that `Star Trek’ is a period piece, albeit a period in the far future. So all the decisions are being made to honor the production style, the style of cinematography and the style of editing,” said Michael Okuda, a longtime “Trek” staffer who supervised the updates. “Right down to placement of stars” and the direction of phaser fire, care was taken to enhance only what was already there, mainly in the special-effects realm, Rossi said.
I watched Star Trek as a kid during its original prime time run on NBC in the late 1960s. I loved it. There was nothing the slightest bit cheesy or unrealistic about it in my mind. It was perfectly sensational, even on our black and white TV. Part of that was just being a kid and part was that the special effects in the show were state of the art for the time.

I continued to watch Star Trek with the same enthusiasm into my teen years and only after the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977 did the Star Trek luster start to wear off for me. As the years went by and my standards for special effects increased, I began noticing how unsophisticated many of the effects of the originally Star Trek series really were.

I can imagine today, kids who are now the same age I was in the 1960s, laughing their asses off at the silly effects of the original Star Trek. So maybe this face-lift the show is getting will help the next generation (ha, the next generation, get it?) appreciate the show without being distracted by all the old technology. Still, I kind of hate to see the show messed with like this. It smacks of the colorizing of old black and white movies. Even with components that are distracting at times, maybe originals shouldn’t be messed with.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Warm Winter Ahead

Our old friend El Nino is back! Now, El Nino does create a certain amount of havoc with the weather in many places, but the up-side for us here in the Midwest is that it usually means a warmer than usual winter.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- El Nino, an extreme warming of equatorial waters in the
Pacific Ocean that wreaks havoc with world weather conditions, has formed and will last into 2007, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday.

El Nino has already helped make the Atlantic hurricane season milder than expected, said a NOAA forecaster.

"The weak El Nino is helping to explain why the hurricane season is less than we expected. El Ninos tend to suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic," said Gerry Bell, a hurricane forecaster for NOAA.

The NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said the El Nino probably will spur warmer-than-average temperatures this winter over western and central Canada and the western and northern United States.

Past El Nino winters here have been down-right pleasant. Here’s to a green Christmas.

The Copper Standard

When ever I see a story like this I remember my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Hull, telling us that gold is, in fact, a better conductor of electricity than copper. He went on to say that gold wasn’t used because it’s expensive and everyone, including himself, would be climbing the utility poles to cut down the wires to sell. Now copper is becoming too valuable and the Hull theory of power line thievery is being played out in real life.
Copper thieves looking to make a quick buck have done an estimated $12,000 damage in the past month to electrical equipment owned by City Water, Light and Power.

The thieves are stealing copper from grounding equipment on utility poles and from within substations, then selling it as scrap. The metal has been removed from more than 120 pieces of equipment during the last 30 days, causing some utility poles to catch fire and creating some power outages.
I wonder if Mr. Hull is responsible for some of CWLP’s woes.

The Pigs of Guinea

I can’t tell if this is really as bizarre as it reads or the story is just being reported in an odd and incomplete way.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid
questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.
So, the Air Force, or at least the Bush administration's civilian head of same, is just itching to get at a “crowd” that needs “control”. You know, for testing purposes. In the name of military science. For the good of the country. Or something. Remind me not to show up at any anti-war protests.

Good lord, how can this story be reported without a few WTF’s thrown in. This is nuts. If you want to test new weapons, Mr. Secretary, do so on military personnel and leave the civilians out of it. Or perhaps you and other members of the brave, brave Bush administration could volunteer for the first round of tests on humans.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Soldiering On

One other note from my trip to Chicago over the weekend: The new Soldier Field is really, really ugly from the outside. I know I’m far from the first person to say so and I’ve seen it before, but for some reason it didn’t really strike me until this trip how bad it really looks. While the old stadium had a stately look, SF v2 looks like the Mother Ship parked over the shores of Lake Michigan and took a shit on the old home of the Bears. There’s no way I would have wanted to see them tear down the old façade but I have to admit, the resulting hybrid is just fugly.

Speaking of Soldier Field, it was this month in 1994 that I saw the Rolling Stones there for what I thought HAD to be the last of their tours. It just didn’t seem possible these guys would be able to keep touring. And what were the odds Keith Richards would live another day much less to see another tour? Well, guess what. A dozen years later the Stones are rolling into SF v2 for yet another show (yes, I know they’ve been back between 1994 and this year). Amazing.

Location, Location, Location

Saturday night at a restaurant in Chicago, something happened to me that needs happen everywhere. While we were being seated, the host pointed out the location of the bathrooms. Brilliant!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I need to use the facilities every time I eat out. And if you have kids, it’s almost assured they will be traipsing off to the potty at some point during the meal. But when the time comes to “go”, you often haven’t a clue where to find the restrooms. So you either go on a hunt or, as I do, ask the first employee you see, taking them away briefly from what there were doing. That’s why telling us where the bathrooms are as we are being seated is such a great idea.

Therefore, may I suggest the In-house Potty Education Edict (I-PEE) be introduced immediately in all legislative bodies throughout the land. The I-PEE laws would require restaurants to provide all patrons with the exact location of the restrooms upon being seated. Knowing where to go when you have to go should be a basic human right.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Going up to Chicago for an extended weekend and won’t be back until Monday night. We’re taking the train up and back. Gee, I’ll be traveling on 9/11. But terra-ists hate Amtrak cuz the trains are forever running late and that screws with their making the proper news cycle. So I feel safe.

Maybe I’ll work in a post if there’s a break in the fun. Otherwise, have a good weekend and I’ll blog at you Tuesday.

Free Gas!

By my calculation, gasoline prices have dropped over 60 cents a gallon locally in the last six weeks. That’s more than 10 cents a week! Assuming this trend keeps up, gas should be free before the first day of spring. Awesome.

The Internets

Remember when broadcast media were able to claim the “breaking news” high ground over newspapers? Because, you know, papers only come out once a day while broadcast outlets offer more immediate coverage. Well look at this from the SJ-R online:
Don't wait around for radio or TV to tell you how your favorite prep football team fared on the field tonight.

Our football scores and standings page will be updated frequently tonight as final scores roll in from throughout central Illinois. Click on "Sports" and then "Prep Football" to get to the page.
Yes, there’s no need to “wait around” for those slow-poke radio and TV signals! Hell, get on the ‘net and read all about it -NOW.

I’m mostly just having fun with this but you have to admit the internet has turned the world on its head more than anyone could have imagined 20 years ago. No, 9/11 didn’t change everything (or much of anything really) but the internet sure did. Perhaps we should commemorate it once a year too. I say make 10/01 (or some other binary date) Internet Day. It should be a holiday and we could all stay home and surf the net.


It seems places that no longer exist can still have weather. has the current conditions and forecast for Chicago’s Meigs Field! I took this screen shot this morning.

I have not seen what the city of Chicago has done with the site of the old airport (it’s a park now from what I understand) but I’m sorry they did away with Meigs. My first trans-city passenger flight when I was just 13 had Meigs as its destination. While living in the South Loop area of Chicago a dozen years ago, I thought it was great having the little airport right there. I flew in and out of it several times and it was fun seeing planes taking off or landing right over my head when I would do my daily (fair weather) walks out to the planetarium.

Landing at Meigs made me imagine what it must look like landing on an aircraft carrier. Water, water, land, quick touchdown. I think it’s a shame Mayor Daley felt a need to get rid of it. And the way he did it, breaking the law by plowing up the runway in the middle of the night. What an ass. I miss Meigs.

Friday Beer Blogging: George Ryan Redux

Note: this is a rerun of an edition of Friday Beer Blogging from earlier in the year. In light of this week's events is seemed worth repeating.

Since the former Republican governor may wind up [Update: make that will be] going to a place where the beer mugs don’t shine, I thought I’d go for a George Ryan beer theme today. Actually, there is no George Ryan beer (yet!) but there is a Ryan Beer and some George beers. For instance, this Polish brewery has, for some reason, a Ryan beer.

Does “ryan” mean something in Polish?

There is also this beer invoking he name of George.

Oh, and there’s this George too.

And finally there’s this article that indicates Gearoge Ryan enjoys a Red Stripe once in a while [Update: He soon will be unable to].
[Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick M.] Collins recalled the case of currency exchange millionaire Harry Klein, who had the Ryans as guests at his Jamaican estate every winter for a decade. Fawell had described for jurors how they had sat around drinking Jamaican Red Stripe beer.

Klein got a lucrative deal from Ryan under which he leased a building to the state. But Collins said the good times came to an abrupt stop when Klein was subpoenaed by a grand jury.

"The party was over, no more Red Stripes around the table," Collins said.
Mmmmmmm, Red Stripe: Better than an orange jumpsuit. [Update: So long, George!]

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It Gets More Blogity Every Day

Long-time commenter on this blog now has a blog of her own. Please visit A Bishop Wife’s blog The Pentecostal Standard.

Good Promotion

Just before lunch we had a bunch of people from Jimmy John’s roaming cube-land in the office giving away free half sandwich samples. They just wanted us to know they deliver and make good sandwiches, etc. OK. More of this!

Never Lie to Your Pollster

I was listening to The Young Turks (on of my favorite talk shows) on satellite radio last evening on the way home from work and caught a discussion about this CNN poll. In particular, they were debating who or what’s to blame for this rather disturbing poll result:

Asked whether former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 52 percent said he was not, but 43 percent said they believe he was.
Of course, Hussein, while being a bad, bad man, demonstrably had nothing at all to do with 9/11. That’s just a fact. A poll showing 43 percent believe otherwise may seem disturbing at face value. I mean, even the president, despite the best efforts of his administration, admitted recently that Hussein was not involved.

The guys on The Young Turks were arguing whether this false perception was the fault of the media not getting the message out or getting it out incorrectly, or if it’s the fault of the public that doesn’t bother to be informed. I think there’s a third explanation for this poll result and I’ll get to that in a minute.

First let me say that there is a certain percentage of the population that does think Hussein had some thing to do with 9/11. Many of these people aren’t paying attention and don’t know the difference between Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Kareem Abdul Jabar. There are also those who may be losinly paying attention and know that 9/11 happened then we invaded Iraq so there must be a connection. I’ll be generous and say maybe 10% of the population falls into one of these categories and are part of the 43% CNN poll result.

But what about the other 33%. Hmmmmm…isn’t that about the same percentage of people who continue, no matter what, to give President Bush positive approval ratings? Why, I think it is. Perhaps this hard-core, Bush-loving constituency, while not actually believing Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 are going to tell a pollster they do to offer cover for the president. With all other rationales for the Iraq debacle having been proved false (WMD, et al), it’s nice to pretend we had to get Hussein because he directly attacked us on 9/11. Maybe they think if enough people claim to believe there is a connection, it will then be considered fact.

Anyway, that’s my best guess as to where this 43% is coming from. Remember, polls don’t always tell us what people think, only what people want pollsters to think they think.

A Watershed Moment

I was wondering why the water had been tasting so different (i.e. BAD!), especially at work.

A batch of water that doesn't smell or taste very good has been working its way through the city's water lines this week.

Officials say the water is safe to drink and expect most of it to work its way out of the Springfield system today.


…the problem was caused by two factors. Because of temperature changes, the level of oxygen in the lower levels of the lake, where CWLP was drawing its water began to drop.

On Monday, CWLP started drawing closer to the surface, where there is more oxygen.

Another problem involved a chemical CWLP adds to the water called powdered activated carbon. The chemical is added to take care of odors, but on Monday, a pump at CWLP was down for about a half hour.
Maybe they should warn us next time this is going to happen BEFORE the water suddenly takes on a different taste. Or maybe they did and I missed it. I and some of my coworkers had quit drinking the tap water at work it was so bad. I thought maybe there was something going on in our building.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Song of David

Names, particularly the names of women, have been immortalized in song for as long as there has been pop music. But I’ve never run across a song prominently featuring my name…until now.

Nellie McKay/David

And it's pretty good. I'm not worthy. Hat tip to Atrios.

The Big Uneasy

I let the one year anniversary of the Destruction of New Orleans (i.e. Katrina, breaking of levees) pass without comment this week because I wasn’t sure what to say. But last night I actually met a person displaced from New Orleans by the disaster. She works (and I assume lives) right here in Springfield.

I was in New Orleans just a few weeks before disaster struck. I even blogged from there (posts here and here, pictures here). It was my first time there, even though I had always wanted to see the city. As expected, I fell in love with New Orleans in a way I have not since I first arrived in San Francisco. New Orleans, I thought, was unique, full of history and personality. Its uniqueness is what I think made it so American, and America should have been, and still should be, proud to have this city as part of the fabric of our nation. But like everyone else, I had no idea what was about to happen.

The destruction of New Orleans and the displacement (not to mention the death) of so many of its residents weighed heavily on me since it was all still so fresh in my mind. Streets I had traveled were under water, the people I met were who knows were, hopefully alive. I could still picture the man who gave us the carriage ride, the girl that served us lunch, the woman who gave us a tour of the French Quarter. Where were they, how were they doing? We had even ventured in to some of what would be the hardest hit areas in a search for mules (it’s a long story but suffice it say my father-in-law HAD to, just had to, know where the mules that pulled the tourist carriages were housed). All those people and places would be in severe distress not long after we left and they were still too real in my mind to escape thinking about them.

Anyway, back to Springfield last night. We were in a furniture store looking at (surprise!) furniture. The sales person who was helping us noticed that my daughter was wearing a New Orleans t-shirt. This woman commented on how that was her city and she had been displaced when her home got four feet of water. The resulting mold that grew after the water receded forced her to move. During the worst of the crisis last year, she had lost track of her mother who had been living in a New Orleans nursing home that was evacuated. She found her in a San Antonio, Texas nursing home a week later thanks to the internet. Her mother was later moved to a nursing home in St. Louis. This woman now lives in the area to be closer her mother.

This woman went on about how bad things still are in New Orleans. She said she had been back several times but New Orleans is not the same. She talked about it as if describing the death of a family member. You could tell it had taken a toll on her and she really missed the city she loved.

For now though, she’s here and I think Springfield might be better for it. I must say when she first approached us I sensed something different about her. She didn’t seem like your typical Springfield furniture sales person. Not that there is anything wrong with our native furniture sellers; it’s just that this woman seemed to have a different, more professional demeanor. I even thought maybe, since the store is new, she was brought in from elsewhere to get this store going. And maybe she was but, displaced and wanting to be relatively near her mother, I suspect she was just in need of job.

It just seems strange that a year later I would run into a Katrina victim/survivor right in my own backyard. It still makes me angry at how badly the governments, particularly the federal government, have responded to Katrina and its aftermath. I feel more insecure about that than I do about any potential terrorism.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Good news for the Springfield blogging community: Jim Leach is back. He has resumed blogging but at a new location:

Welcome back, Jim! Let the comment flame wars begin.

Monday, September 04, 2006


It sucks to be Bush.
SPRINGFIELD - Former Gov. George Ryan, who is scheduled to be sentenced on corruption charges this week, is one of the least-popular political figures in Illinois history.

Yet even Ryan - whose very name still casts an unwelcome shadow over his party in state politics - is better liked in the state than fellow Republican George W. Bush, according to a new The Southern Illinoisan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch Research 2000 poll conducted last week.
Wow. I say let Ryan go and begin the proceedings against the real criminal.

Quote of the Day

Kevin Drum:
Over the past 30 years the Republican Party has gone from Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Dick Cheney — i.e., from conservative to reactionary to crazy to batshit insane…
I really do miss the days of my youth when the Republican Party offered some sensibility.


No one is indestructible. We're all going to die even if we don't know when it's coming. Of course, if you take the chances this guy did, sooner rather than later time will be up. I’d say Steve beat the odds making it to 44.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Don’t Go There

Unspelled identifies the one spot on earth I detest above all others. Why doesn’t the city do something about this?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Flat Dad Identified

It's been bugging me ever since I posted this that I had seen the “Flat Dad” in this picture somewhere before.

I figured it out. I saw him in the movie Stripes and he was played by Harold Ramis.

I hate that movie, by the way. Ramis and Bill Murray both make great, even brilliant, films but the both occasionally get too full of just how funny they think they are, and man, was that ever the case in this flick.

Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians

The Chief is back in the news. Or should I say Chiefs. I’m not going to rehash the whole Chief Illiniwek controversy (my take from early last year is here and remains largely unchanged) but I will say I found this SJ-R article informative. Informative in that I now realize this whole cult of the Chief is nuttier than I has previously thought. You see, the silly dancing Chiefs, when they hang up (or pass on, I guess) their headdress, become part of an organization known as the Council of Chiefs.
Steve Raquel, one of 27 members of the Council of Chiefs, said it's premature to talk about the fate of the 80-year-old tradition of a student dressed as an Indian chief performing a halftime dance at athletic events. The council has been involved in discussions with the university's board of trustees about the Chief's future and was dismayed that the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday, citing unidentified university sources, that Illiniwek will no longer dance after the upcoming basketball season, he said.
Not only is there such an organization but they can be “involved in discussions with the university’s board of trustees”. Heh. I think the trustees should promise the retired chiefs anything they demand and then renege later. You know, just to make things as historically accurate as the Chief’s supporters claim Illiniwek is.

Friday Beer Blogging: Corn Edition

Harvest in Illinois is just around the corner so it’s important to remember where some of that corn goes –BEER! Or at least that’s what this billboard is telling us.

I guess I didn’t know Illinois corn went into Miller products but billboards don’t lie. I’m assuming it’s the other ingredients that make that beer not so good.

Anyway, there is a right way to make corn beer and there is a wrong way. Here is an example of the latter.

Then there is the right way. Read here about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico who brew a corn beer for religious purposes. Here’s a picture of their corn brew being made. Hmmmm..looks a lot like the Miller brewery methinks.

Finally, sometimes it’s not what’s in the beer but what the beer is in. Check out this corn beer stein.

Well, I hope this post wasn’t too corny (oh, quit your groanin’). Have a great Labor Day weekend!