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.

Talk About the Weather

This week-long warm spell has been great. Sunday I did two things that I have never done on the same day before: mow the lawn and put up Christmas decorations. I’m also fairly certain I’ve never put out the Christmas lights in a t-shirt.

The down side is the warm temps are coming to a crashing end here in a couple of days. And it looks like were going to be further punished with snow. They aren’t saying how much snow or even if it’ll stick but given our good fortune of late, I’m expecting to get whacked. From balmy to blizzard, welcome to Illinois.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Staying the (Party) Course

Bush girls just don’t cut and run…from a good time:
Amid a growing barrage of front-page headlines, U.S. embassy officials "strongly suggested" President Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush, cut short
their trip to Buenos Aires because of security issues, U.S. diplomatic and security sources tell ABC News.

But the girls have stayed on, celebrating their 25th birthday over the weekend and producing even more headlines about their activities.


According to sources, the U.S. embassy encouraged the two girls to cut their stay short because the added attention was making their security very difficult.

But to the dismay and anger of some U.S. embassy and security staff, the girls stayed on.
Jenna and not-Jenna are apparently genetically predisposed to pig-headed single-mindedness.


The video cassette has died, although not suddenly and not unexpectedly:
After a long illness, the groundbreaking home-entertainment format VHS has died
of natural causes in the United States. The format was 30 years old.

No services are planned.

The format had been expected to survive until January, but high-def formats and next-generation vidgame consoles hastened its final decline.

"It's pretty much over," concurred Buena Vista Home Entertainment general manager North America Lori MacPherson on Tuesday.

VHS is survived by a child, DVD, and by Tivo, VOD and DirecTV. It was preceded in death by Betamax, Divx, mini-discs and laserdiscs.

Although it had been ailing, the format's death became official in this, the video biz's all-important fourth quarter. Retailers decided to pull the plug, saying there was no longer shelf space.
Full obit here.

I bought my first VHS VCR in 1986 from JC Penney. It was their bottom-of-the-line model. In fact, it was being discontinued so I got a good deal: only $350. And that was 1986 dollars. I had to buy it on credit since that was about 1/3 of my monthly take-home pay at the time. It was a two-head machine that weighed what, 20 or 25 pounds? It didn’t even work very well in conjunction with cable TV. But wow, I was the 20th Century Man when I got it.

As for the VHS tape, the first one I saw was in 1980 or 1981 when I was a broadcasting student at SIU Carbondale. The blank tapes were used in at least one course in the Radio-TV Department. I was told they cost $25 a piece and you needed two for the class. I avoided that course.

Life Unplugged

What’s the opposite action of plugging-in something? Unplugging it, right? Well maybe not if you’re new to the language –or any language- like my 3 year-old. Helping me clean the family room yesterday he offered to “plug-out” the vacuum cleaner. Plug-out? Well, it makes sense: plug-in, plug-out. But why had that term, in all my 40-something years, never occurred to me?

Real People

I present the following without regard to politics. While I have a definite opinion on the Springfield smoking ban, this is just about two old-timers and how the ban has affected them.

Old Guy Number 1 happens to be my father. He’s 73 and smokes (a lot). He doesn’t get around real well any more but in recent years he’s enjoyed going to White Oaks Mall and having a meal and several smokes at MCL Cafeteria. He would linger after eating sipping coffee and snuffing butts. He did this almost daily. This was the extent of his social life and he knew most of the workers and many of the regular customers. When the smoking ban went into effect, OGN1 cut back on his time at MCL, opting to just get a meal and then quickly leave. His social world shrank.

Old Guy Number 2 is a 75 year-old retired attorney with emphysema. He used to smoke but hasn’t in years. Because of his condition, he can’t even be around smokers for any length of time. He also doesn’t get out much. Back in his day working in downtown Springfield, he used to stop into Two Brothers almost every evening to hang out and have a few beers. One of the original owners of Two Brothers comes back to the bar every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving to get together with the old gang. OGN2 hasn’t been able to attend in recent years because of his emphysema. This year he did go. There was no smoke. He hung out and had a few beers.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Beer Blogging: Thanksgiving Edition

Turkey day! Turkey beer! Beer from Turkey!

Efes is brewed in Turkey.
Commencing its operations with two domestic breweries in Turkey in 1969, Efes Beer Group today comprises a total of 16 breweries, 6 malteries and 1 hop processing facility in 6 countries, coupled with various companies for distribution, licensing and technical support.

Currently total annual brewing capacity of the Group is 33 million hecto liters whereas the total malting capacity is around 236,500 tones per annum.



Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sorry, But More...

ThirtyWhat weighs in on the smoking ban debate and gets to the simple root of the problem:
So I'm conflicted. The liberal in me screams that I don't have the right to tell you not to smoke in a bar ... or a bowling alley ... or anywhere else for that matter.

But the realist in me knows that your smoking doesn't just affect you. In an enclosed building, the cigarette smoke saturates the air ... and that air gets harder and harder to breath over time.
Look, I really, really don’t give a fuck if anyone smokes. Well, I am sorry they’re hurting themselves but that’s none of my business. It’s the fact that you can’t contain the hurtful substance that makes this not just your business, but mine too.

Yelling “Freedom!” does not change this. I would love to have the “freedom” to race down the road at any speed I want and not be bothered with traffic signals. The problem arises when my “freedom” to speed and move unencumbered through intersections collides, literally, with your “freedom” to do the same. Yes, I’m inconvenienced when sitting at a red light but our society as a whole is better off for it.

And, as long as we are waving our freedom flags, where’s my freedom to go where I want to without breathing someone else’s smoke and stinking like and ashtray. Again, sometimes various freedoms are incompatible. My not smoking does not, in and of itself, take anything away from a smoker. A smoker while smoking DOES remove relatively clean air from me.


This Thanksgiving, let’s remember the young people of this country who are making great sacrifices overseas:
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- First daughter Barbara Bush's purse was stolen while she was in Argentina with her twin sister, Jenna, a law enforcement source who was briefed on the incident said Tuesday.

The source told CNN that Barbara Bush, 24, was "not in the immediate proximity" of the bag when it was swiped.

Other reports said Bush's purse and cell phone were taken while she was dining in a Buenos Aires restaurant.
Those who party in Buenos Aires also serve. Godspeed girls, and thanks for everything.


Here are a few personal notes on last night’s debate before the Springfield City Council on amending the city’s new smoking ban. I watched pretty much the whole thing on cable ch. 18.

- The one thing both sides agreed on was that the State needs to level the playing field by either imposing a statewide ban or not allowing any smoking bans. Obviously, I and many others much prefer the former. I think we’ll see that soon but we all need to let our lawmakers know how we feel.

- The worst speaker for the anti-ban side had to be the guy (I paid no attention to names) who stood up there and declared that those who die from secondhand smoke are “nameless and faceless” statistics that don’t matter ands may not even exist.

- The worst speaker for the pro-ban side was the college girl who declared that she and her friends all like to go out and drink but that they had never even heard of some of these establishments that were claiming to be hurting for business because of the smoking ban. I’m not sure having never heard of these places qualifies them for marginalization.

- The best point made last night that I had night heard before came from the owner of Maldaner’s. He pointed out that years ago city government paved the way for White Oaks mall to be built when it could have prevented it to save downtown businesses. I remember downtown before the mall and the growth of west-side businesses. Almost overnight, after the opening of the mall, downtown Springfield died. I'm talking ghost town complete with tumbleweeds. Dozens and dozens of businesses either made expensive moves or failed completely. The city, however, thrives today and even downtown has come back. Change often is painful. The smoking ban may have some negative impact on some businesses but the city as a whole is better off.

- Last night’s debate changed nobody’s mind.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rollback Rolled Back

Yes! The Springfield City Council has voted to retain the current smoking ban unamended. More on that later.

Update: And, as always, Dan is both quite sensible and funny in explaining the issue here. Sadly for the other side, Irwin Mainway was not able to appear before the council tonight.


OK, this is just funny. More please!

The Smoke-pire Strikes Back

I hate that I keep feeling the need to get into the smoking ban debate. Actually, what I hate more is that there is still a debate at all. But bad habits die hard and ban opponents are going to keep pushing back until they finally realize that their dirty habit is no longer going to be tolerated where the public can be harmed.

The Springfield city council tonight is going to consider two proposals that would, at best, water down the city-wide smoking ban, or, at worst entirely gut it. Neither option is acceptable to me but we’ll see what the council decides.

Meanwhile, the SJ-R published this hyperbolic screed by the executive director of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, Steve Riedl.

I have a few comments about Mr. Riedl’s version of “logic”.

First, the arrogance of his first paragraph is stunning:
How long can you and your family survive without a paycheck? A month, perhaps two months? This is what Springfield’s bar owners are experiencing because of the smoking ban. Their net business income is their paycheck - and scores of them have been without a paycheck for two months now. These people and their families are suffering immeasurably.
Really. How about the families of cancer victims and their immeasurable suffering? Ever watch someone die of cancer? Oh wait, I forgot according to you guys there is absolutely nothing wrong with second hand smoke. Silly me, stuck the in the reality-based universe again.

Then there’s this:

People know that these entities cater to this segment of society and that, while
smoking should be severely limited, society has to allow the use of a legally sanctioned product in a few limited venues. After all, our country is based on respecting and promoting diversity.
Oh brother. Now in the interest of “diversity” we have to put up with public smoking. Perhaps smokers deserve special minority status too. Let’s call it “smoking affirmative action.”

Our industry and this organization support a comprehensive smoking ban for Springfield. We have always maintained this position, despite being portrayed by anti-smoking groups and a few media outlets as the evil entity that would allow smoking anywhere.
Yes, I’ve always been very appreciative of your organization’s opposition to smoking in preemie wards and daycares. Come on, the argument is only seriously over restaurants, bars and other public social gathering places and your position has been to allow smoking in those places universally.

Again, employing logic, we all really knew these businesses would suffer. Most people probably hoped that the suffering would not be as extreme as it has been. These businesses have been forced into a crisis situation solely to satisfy a minority of vocal Springfield residents who have an extremist viewpoint on the issue.
A minority of vocal Springfield residents? Seems to me the stokers are the vocal ones and they are definitely in the minority.

Oh, and we have been warned:

Again, employ logic and reasoning. Do not rely on the anti-smoking propaganda
machine to make your decision for you.
As a card-carrying member of the Anti-Smoking Propaganda Machine I want to make it clear that I’m also a member of the Anti- Food Poising Reeducation Committee and the Pro-Stop Light Ministry of Truth. Just so you know.

On economics alone, the Springfield City Council should take action to grant narrow exemptions to Springfield’s smoking ban.
The economics of the situation will be remedied in the long run. The inevitable state-wide ban will help greatly. For those smokers who still stay home, guess what, they will spend their money somewhere even if it’s not in a bar. I know this because as Americans they will not save any extra money. Nope, it’ll be spent boosting another part of the economy.

Bars and restaurants, especially local ones, are some of the most volatile businesses there are. Many open and close here each year. Even if some closing can be (in part) pinned on the smoking ban, well that’s the cost of social change. The vast majority of establishments will not close and new ones will continue to open. There will always be a wide variety of places to eat and drink in the city, meaning many places will have figured out how to survive and prosper even with the smoking ban.

By the way, anyone looked at the parking lot of the newly opened Corner Pub at Koke Mill and Iles on any given night? They opened after the ban a few weeks ago and don’t seem to be short of customers.

The Age of Coinage

So the government wants to give dollar coins one more try. I’m sure this will meet with the same success the last two tries had. This time they are going to release four new ones a year, each featuring an ex-president, starting with George Washington. (Sound familiar, think quarters). I have to agree with Kevin Drum on this one:
Needless to say, this will do nothing to get people to use dollar coins. As with the state quarters, it may encourage people to collect dollar coins, but not to use them. I think I can say with some confidence that the only thing likely to accomplish that is to get rid of the dollar bill once and for all.
I hate coins. I don’t like them in my pocket (the only place most men have to carry them) because they are noisy and heavy and they fall out of my pocket. The weight factor must also annoy women who already have enough crap in their purses without the added weight of a lot of coins. So, collect away but don’t but don’t expect the paper Washingtons to become any less popular.

Update: Oh goody, there’s a conspiracy theory attached to this as well:
[I]t wasn't the mint's idea at all -- it came from congress. But why would congress pass a law like that? Well, I have some familiarity with this topic and my understanding is that, in essence, the idea was being pushed by mining interests hoping to sell the government some more of their metal. They hired some lobbyists, the North Dakota delegation and Ben Nighthorse Campbell put up an ultimately successful fight to secure the long-term future of the Sacagewa Dollar, and ta-da! your presidential commemorative coins will be here shortly. Similarly, it's the zinc (or something) lobby that keeps the penny in existence. Only in America.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Abraham Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, who is completely delusional in thinking he’s presidential material, now also thinks he’s Abe Lincoln.
In casting himself as the reluctant but critical-for-these-times candidate, the former history professor is looking back to 1860, and the wildfire support for Lincoln's candidacy touched off by a series of speeches. Gingrich read Harold Holzer's book Lincoln at Cooper Union in 2004, at a time when he was disgusted both by the tenor of that year's presidential campaign and a California court decision striking "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. "I was fascinated by Holzer's portrait of Lincoln spending three months at the Springfield state library, putting together the definitive argument about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and slavery," Gingrich says.

"He turns it into a 7,300-word speech--gives it once in New York, once in Rhode Island, once in Massachusetts, once in New Hampshire. Then he goes home. I was struck by the sheer courage of the self-definitional moment that said, 'We are in real trouble, we need real leadership, and if that's who you think we need, here's my speech'," Gingrich says, suggesting he intends to do the same thing.
Good luck with that Newty. But thanks for the Springfield plug.

Update: Tristero picked up on this too.

It's Alive!

It’s always interesting when your own blog starts talking about you. Let this be a lesson bloggers: feed your blog or it may come after you.


What is the fascination our society has with organized crime? Why do so many people want to read about it, and see it on television and in the movies? I’ve never understood it, particularly as a form of entertainment. Is it because crime family stories offer a soap opera suitable for men? I mean, that’s really what it is, Days of Our Lives with machine guns.

I’ll admit it: I never liked The Godfather or any of its sequels. I’ve never been able to sit through any organized crime movie without thinking I really, really don’t like any of these people. Additionally, watching characters caught up in their nearly always fatal occupations makes me uncomfortable. It’s sort of like the way I felt watching Sid and Nancy, hopeless people in hopeless situations of their own making. Yet, the whole thing borders on glamorizing killers, thugs and thieves. And the genre thrives. And it's not limited to fiction. We are fascinated by real-life mobsters as well. What do you people see in this stuff?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Beer Blogging: Robber Edition

Earlier this week, while the city of Springfield endured the assault of a serial robber who held up store after store, I became concerned that the perpetrator might steal my beer. I called the police to inquire what precautions I should take to prevent beer theft. I was told, politely, to fuck off.

Well, I wasn’t going to let official police indifference deter me. The beer had to be protected. It was time to take matters into my own hands.

A quick search on the web got me the product I needed: The Beer Burglar Alarm.

An online order and a huge overnight FedEx bill later, I felt more secure. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to hide my beer better. I came up with the perfect solution.

That worked well enough until the store ran out of chickens. After that, I fell back on an old trick going back to high school – disguise the beer with fake soda wraps.

Finally, I was inspired by this story should I actually confront a theif steeling my beer.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police say a robber in west Charlotte ended up in the hospital Thursday night.

The robber was hurt when a victim smashed a beer bottle on the attacker's head.

It happened at the Queen City Motel on Wilkinson Boulevard around 10p.m.

The victim was not hurt.

The robber was taken to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment.
Bam! Pow! Beer self-defense at its best. Be prepared.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Stupid 'Best Of' List

Time has a list of the best albums ever. It’s stupid because nowhere on the list of 100 albums is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. How is that even possible on a list like this?

They do, however, have my all-time fav: The Clash’s London Calling. In comments from an earlier post, Jerome Prophet credits me with turning him on to a lot of good music, but it goes both ways. It was he who first forced me to first listen to London Calling. Thanks, bud.

Me Too

I like the way this man thinks.
Former Wisconsin Gov. and Bush Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson (R) said yesterday that he plans to run for president. Asked about his reason for running, Thompson said, “Why not?
If I ever run for president it'll be on the “Why Not?” platform too. I mean, why not? What’s the big deal? Who cares? So what? Oh well, whatever, never mind.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Message For The Kids

This is NOT why we go broke sending you to college.

Thank you for your attention.

Update: On second glance, I have to say the guy in the photo bears a striking resemblance to me circa 1979. Thankfully I was, ahem, much more responsible with my college career. But it can't really be me anyway. If I had mastered time travel back then, I would not have gone into the future to wait in the cold for a PlayStation. No, I would have gone the other direction to rock out at Woodstock or hang with Abe here in Springfield in the 1850s.

You Take My Air Away

Lock up your central air units! This story is out of Rockford but I have to think this could be a problem here too. If not, I bet it will be soon.
Lynn Schultz, the vice president of Rockford Heating and Air Conditioning, said the thefts at her business and other locations started occurring this summer, when the price of copper skyrocketed. These days, copper sells at scrapyards for about $2 a pound, and air conditioners contain about 40 pounds of the metal, Schultz said.

“It’s starting to be really big problem,” Schultz said. “A year ago, you might have heard about this a little bit. But now, you even have people going on roofs and stripping the copper wiring. It’s kind of lucrative, sadly.”


Rockford police have received numerous calls about stolen air conditioners, and officers are investigating the crimes, said Sgt. Paul Triolo. He agrees with Schultz that the crimes are occurring a lot more lately.

Although police are investigating the thefts, some business owners and homeowners are taking extra precaution with new units, such as putting up lighting or installing them on a roof.
Maybe we should be glad the robber who has been hitting stores all over town the last few days is only interested in cash. Otherwise, as quickly as that guy works, we might be facing a hot time next summer with no air conditioning units left in the city.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Law & Order: Springfield Intent

Maybe I’m just noticing more today, but it seems to me there is a much greater police presence in the retail corridors of the city, at least the ones I’ve been through. This would, I assume, be in response to the one-man crime wave hitting the city. (Robber-man hit again this morning, story here.)

I wonder though, is too much police visibility going cause this guy to lay low for a while? Or is deterrence the main idea here while detectives look for the perp? I guess it would be best to catch him before he holds up someone else. Who knows, this guy seems to have a pair of brass ones and seems unconcerned and undeterred by the fact that he’s Springfield’s most wanted. Let’s hope he makes a mistake before someone else gets hurt.

Update: Robber-man struck again this afternoon at Walko Music on South Second Street. Slow down, dude, leave some money for the rest of us.

I See Robbers

I’m kind of surprised at the good quality of this surveillance video from the Qik-n-EZ on Monroe showing the weekend robbery there. I guess the days of the fuzzy black and white surveillance footage are coming to an end.

The SJ-R has the full robbery crime spree story here. Be sure to read the first idiotic comment posted below the story. How are people this stupid able to type?

Monday, November 13, 2006

It Could Have Been Me

Attention people who have known me for awhile: Does this sound like anyone I used to be married to?
PEORIA -- A Pekin man died Monday from injuries suffered when his ex-wife rammed him with a car in what relatives say was an alcohol-fueled jealous rage.

Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll said Dennis McGlothlin, 26, was pronounced dead at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he underwent brain surgery after he was run down Friday in a parking lot outside the Pekin apartment of a woman he was visiting.

Krystle McGlothlin, 25, of Pekin, remained jailed on $300,000 bond Monday at the Tazewell County Justice Center on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated driving under the influence and criminal damage to property.


Authorities say Krystle McGlothlin showed up at the woman's apartment early Friday, yelling obscenities and screaming for her ex-husband to come outside as she battered his pickup truck with an unidentified object.

Dennis McGlothlin came outside after his ex-wife allegedly smashed a patio window at the ground-floor apartment, authorities said.

After backing into a car parked behind her, she accelerated forward and rammed her ex-husband, smashing his head to the ground, witnesses told police in Pekin, which is about 10 miles south of Peoria.

Witnesses said Krystle McGlothlin then fled, but returned minutes later to take something out of her ex-husband's pocket as he lay bleeding in the small parking lot, authorities said.
Oh, that last part is cold. Thank goodness I never got in front of a car driven by my ex. Usually when things started breaking outside my residence, I called the cops and hid under the bed.


Count me in as one of those who sees blogs, at least in their current form, as a passing fad. Well, not a fad exactly. Fads by definition are rather short lived and have a pretty definite beginning and end. No, blogs as we know them are just a point on a personal communication technology line extending into the future.

Eric Zorn blogs about this very thing today:
I'm not a futurist by any means, but my guess is that these highly-texty Web journals we now call blogs will continue to converge with the multi-media personal online home pages (MySpace and so on). Powerful, easy-to-use, free design software and big tubes for bandwidth will transform blogs into online personal magazines with video, audio and all kinds of cool, interactive stuff we can now only barely imagine.

Blog entries will be an important component of such sites (name suggestions, anyone?) in many cases, but the sites themselves will not be called blogs and their proprietors won't be called bloggers.

Think of how progress rendered such terms as "hi-fi," "word processor," "car phone" and "answering machine" quaint, unnecessary and inadequate...
I think that’s right. Nothing stays the same and blogs will continue to evolve until they are, well, something else. I’ve been blogging just two years and already I feel my site is dated and a bit boring. I’m too lazy to seek out sleek new ways to present myself unless it is insanely easy to incorporate. For example, I do regularly utilize YouTube, bringing something to the blog that would have been nearly impossible when I began.

Or maybe it’s just a matter of semantics; you say blog, I say personal magazine. There will always be an interest in reading (or hearing or seeing) what others have to say. So maybe the underlying concept of blogs will live on but they will little resemble what we see today.

The good news is, when blogs are no longer called blogs, bloggers (or whatever they are called in the future) will no longer be able to contort the word blog into a new hybrid of a real word (e.g. blogosphere, blogtastic, and any one of the dozens of tortured uses I’ve come up with here).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Question

I like this. I can really, really relate to this. My son is also 3 years, 3 months. He is also the biggest part of the reason I get out of bed when I do.

Why do you wake up each day?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

If you haven't seen the movie Stranger Than Fiction yet, do so. It's a great film. It's one of the best I've seen all year. In addition to excellent performances by Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal, this song plays a prominent role in the pic.


Friday, November 10, 2006


President Bush Today:
And years from now, when America looks out on a democratic Middle East growing in freedom and prosperity, Americans will speak of the battles like Fallujah with the same awe and reverence that we now give to Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.
Me today:
Dear Mr. President,

Please stop comparing your little war in Iraq with World War II. They have nothing in common and you’re making an ass of yourself (again) trying to make the square war fit into the round history.

Thank You,

Friday Beer Blogging: Dem Sweep Edition

The Democratic sweep of Congress requires a special Friday Beer Blogging Edition.

Let’s start with the now defunct Congress beer that was once brewed in New York.

Also no longer made is Senate beer. Not sure why congressional themed beers didn’t survive in the marketplace. Er, yes I do.

Here’s an old Budweiser magazine advertisement from 1952 depicting the feuding donkey and elephant. The donkey looks tougher and the elephant just looks sick, a metaphor useful even today.

And speaking of donkeys, here’s an old FDR beer bottle opener from back in the day.

And finally, I found this picture while doing my research. Keg Go Karts!

This needs more investigation.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Patience is a Virtue

Well it took 35 years but someone finally got a reaction from Jim Morrison’s dad on the death of his son. He thinks it was “unfortunate”. OK then.

Seriously though, who knew Morrison’s dad was even still alive?

Ed Bradley

Another iconic broadcast journalist has died
(CBS) Veteran 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley died of leukemia this morning. He joined the staff of the venerable news magazine 26 years ago.
Christopher Glenn a few weeks ago and now Ed Bradley. Not a good time for veteran CBS broadcasters. Both men were only in their 60s. Life is way too short.

1994: Coming Full Circle

Something big happened Tuesday. And something even bigger, in my mind, happened yesterday. Yes, the first involves the election but the other isn’t Rumsfeld resigning as you might expect (although I’m glad Rummy’s gone, it will have little practical impact on the war or the Bush administration).

A little background. In the fall of 1994, before the midterm elections that year, I had become increasingly concerned with the influence of rightwing talk radio. I was foreseeing it having an impact on the upcoming elections. My concern had less to do with ideology per se than with the staggering amount of, and I’ll be nice here, misinformation that was being disseminated. Equally bad, I felt, was the tone and viciousness that demonized opponents in ways I had never seen in the American political realm, at least not during my lifetime.

The rightwing talkers had only gained a solid footing in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the vacuum created when AM radio finally and totally gave up on music. They quickly gained an audience with their special blend of easy answers and vitriol. People like Rush Limbaugh became celebrities (remember Rush rooms). It had become fashionable to be an extremist.

What alarmed me the most about guys like Limbaugh, who I listed to quite frequently back then, was the style of propaganda they employed. It reminded me of another broadcasting experience I had had years earlier. When I was in my mid-teens I got a shortwave radio that allowed me to listen to international broadcasts from all over the world, including places like the Soviet Union and China. The propaganda coming out of my radio from Radio Moscow or Radio Havana Cuba was both amusing and obvious. It was what it was, but I often wondered why they even bothered. I mean who would believe this stuff.

By 1994, however, I was hearing the same style (different politics) of propaganda over our domestic airwaves. And people were actually buying it. That scared me and as the midterm elections approached, I feared it would have an impact. I was right. The “Republican Revolution” ushered in a whole new breed of conservative politicians that hve dominated the political discourse in this country ever since.

But that’s all ending now. On Tuesday the country, as a whole, rejected the propaganda. Then on Wednesday, the lead propagandist revealed himself:

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat [sic] Party does and liberalism.

I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, but at this point, people who don't deserve to have their water carried, or have themselves explained as they would like to say things but somehow aren't able to? I'm not under that kind of pressure.

That was Rush Limbaugh yesterday commenting on Tuesday's election results and admitting he has been broadcasting things even he didn’t necessarily believe, all in the name of the cause. That, friends, is called propaganda. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s important to see Rush and his ilk for what they are. I’m just sorry that it’s taken the nation more than a dozen years to do that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Near Future

Being held accountable just might suck for some people.

One party rule has been a disaster in Washington. With an opposition party soon to be in a position of real power in one or maybe both houses of Congress, let’s hope there is finally some real oversight.

Sangamon County Hearts Topinka

Topinka lost statewide but check this out: she won here in Sangamon County big time, carrying the county 68 percent to 21 percent! I thought this might be the case locally. Blogo is really hated here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pleasant Plains Hates Fags

Yeah, so the Dems take the U. S. House, Blago wins re-election, and the Cahn-Man is the Cahn’t-Man, blah, blah, blah. But the big deal tonight is that the gay marriage ban referendum passed in Cartwright Township (Pleasant Plains). The final tally was 502 to 166. Now I think it’s imperative that the fine upstanding citizens of Plains find out who the 166 fags are and tell them that homos will not be tolerated. I mean, 166 could translate into a very femy gay pride parade.

Time To Mail It In

Today I voted. And today I finally decided I don’t like electronic voting machines. They take too long and I just don’t trust them. I also don’t like seeing half a dozen power cords used to run the things all plugged into a power strip in the middle of the floor just waiting for someone to come along and step on the “off” switch.

I stood in line to vote longer than I can ever remember doing in the past. Much of that was because it was taking everyone forever to get through the electronic ballot. These things make you review your vote, which could be a good thing for some people I guess, but I find it annoying. I especially don’t like the red warnings telling me I failed to vote for anyone in this or that race, as if I had done something wrong.

I’m joining the chorus of reformers who are calling for voting by mail like they do in Oregon.

-Voter participation: It increases turnout -- 84 percent of registered Oregonians voted this year.

-Convenience: People can vote according to their schedule.

-Education: People have time to study issues and candidates before voting.

-Fraud protection: It has built-in safeguards that increase the integrity of the elections process.

-Built-in paper trail.

-Voter eligibility: Built-in time to resolve disputes.

-Actual results are released when polls close as opposed to unreliable "exit polls."

-Financial: It saves money.

Well, I don't agree exit polls are necessarily unreliable but the rest sounds good to me.

Voter Suppression?

Dick Cheney is out hunting today…with a loaded gun. Please go to the polls anyway as it is very unlikely it will be you that gets shot in the face.

Hidden Costs

I’m looking forward to this but I’m not likely to order extra copies at $0.75 plus $13.06 tax/shipping/handling. That's a lot of tax on 75 cents.

Vote or Die

You know what to do...
(video not workplace friendly)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dumb Politics

Judy Baar-Topinka just isn’t very smart:
Topinka said Sunday that [Gov, Rod] Blagojevich, a well-known Cubs fan, spends more time at the ballpark than he does at the Legislature.

"Maybe he ought to run for manager of the Cubs," she quipped in Bloomington. "They're a bunch of losers, too, and need some help."
Maybe the Cubs are “losers” in the technical sense but is it really a good idea to alienate millions of voters who call themselves Cubs fans two days before the election? Friggin’ clueless.

Telemarketer’s Lament

One of the many jobs I held in previous chapters of my life included telemarketing. Desperation is the mother of dehumanizing choices. With that experience always with me, I was amused to read this from Ezra Klein who has been doing some politicking over the phone:
There's little more depressing than phone banking, which consists of nothing save you bothering people who don't want to be bothered, and are all to happy to tell you so. My friendliest conversation -- by far -- was with a Republican woman I neither convinced nor got threatened by. Out of 60 calls, I reached 10 humans (though left a lot of messages). Of those 10 humans, I think four would tell me who they were voting for. A fair swath of the rest told me, semi-politely, to fuck off. Indeed, the annoyance is such that you wonder if you're not turning potential voters off…

But, the pollsters, data divers, and all the rest assure us this helps, so it gets done. By the end of a few hours though, you feel abused. I've never been that unlikable in my life. I'm already pretty polite, but I hereby pledge to be kinder to telemarketers.
There really should be a National Be Nice to Telemarketers Day. You can’t imagine what it takes sometimes to sit down and look at that phone at the beginning o a work day and have to steel yourself for what you are about to do. It’s a crappy job.

Bye Mark!

I can’t let this little piece of good news from over the weekend go without comment.
Conservative commentaries that have been a staple on WICS-TV newscasts in recent years are coming to an end - at least for a while.

“The Point with Mark Hyman,” will “take a recess” following its Nov. 30 broadcast, according to a news release from Sinclair Broadcast Group in suburban Baltimore. Sinclair owns WICS-TV, Channel 20, in Springfield.
Ding-dong the dickhead is gone. I stopped watch Ch. 20 news for the most part because of Hyman. And I told WICS what ZI was doing. I got into a short email discussion with an Alaina C. Marx who was, at the time and may still be, the Human Resources/Programming Coordinator at WICS. Here was the final email to me in response to my protests over Mark Hyman appearing on the station:
Dear Mr. [TEH]:

In a perfect world I would be able to do whatever I want at this station. Unfortunately, in the real world I would no longer have a job. We are one of 62 stations owned or operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The "I was just following orders" defense, as you called it, is my only defense as I have responsibilities beyond this station that require I keep my position. I cannot afford the luxury of standing up for your cause.

Judging by the volume of emails that we, as well as other Sinclair stations, have received today, I believe that our Corporate Officers will take notice.


Alaina C. [Last name deleted becuase I won't put mine on the blog]
Human Resources/Programming Coordinator
A pretty half-hearted defense of the station's programming I’d say. Alaina didn’t seem too thrilled with Hyman and having to field the angry complaints from viewers. And by the way, that was the only time in my entire life I’ve ever contacted a TV station to complain about their programming.

Anyway, so long Mark. I hope you enjoy your bitter, hate-filled life for a long time to come. Maybe someday a bit of humanity will creep in (try turning the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity shows off for a few days) and you’ll see it really isn’t necessary to lie and demonize you way through life.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weekend Music Blogging

As long as we're posting some of our new favorites, let me add one of mine.

Roscoe by Midlake

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Beer Blogging: Flensburger Edition

I’m posting another rare personal beer recommendation this week. I was in Friar Tuck’s Sunday (mmmmmmmmm, beeeeeer) and I decided to take a chance on an unknown (to me) import. Well, it was from Germany and the bottle was kind of cool so I bought it. May I introduce to you…Flensburger.

That’s the Pilsner. I also tried the Gold.

I liked both and will be going back for more someday.

I wasn’t sure Flensburger is actually brewed in Germany. Sure, the label says it’s a “German Beer” but it does not say where it’s brewed. I suspected it was actually made in Denmark. I thought that because the Flensberger website has a .de extension. In other words, it’s originating from Denmark. However, I found this entry in Wikipedia that says it is brewed in the German town of Flensburg which is on the Danish border in far northern Germany.

Flensburger gets the TEH seal of approval.

Update: Commenters smarter than me say the the .de extension is Germany, while Denmark is .dk. Sheesh, you'd think I wasn't really the one who invented the internets.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

Light blogging this week. I've been out of town for a couple of days for a funeral. Also, I've been just a little under the weather and I think it's affected the blog part of my brain. I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rising Star

The State Journal-Registar may be up for sale.

The announcement by The Copley Press Inc. also affects papers in Peoria, Lincoln and Galesburg in Illinois, as well as three in Ohio.

In a statement, the family-owned chain said it is “exploring strategic alternatives for its newspapers in Ohio and Illinois, including possible mergers, sales or other transactions.”

The decision was based on the continued “contraction” of the newspaper industry, as well as inheritance taxes resulting from the 2004 death of owner Helen K. Copley, the statement said.

No timetable has been set.

Well, I certainly think it's time for the Sangamon Star to step up and make a move. Or perhaps such a concentration of media control would be bad for the community.