Sunday, April 30, 2006

One Man is Above The Law

What can you say about something like this?
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Isn’t this something of a coup, in the literal sense?

I’d say impeach the bastard but what good would it do, Bush would simply ignore the proceedings and declare any guilty verdict null and void.

Update: And, yeah, what Cenk says:

This is an extraordinary power grab. There is no precedent for it, or justification. It is grossly undemocratic. I cannot believe the President of the United States of America says he has the power to ignore laws passed by the people's representatives.

George Bush has crossed the Rubicon. These are not the powers of a president. They are the powers of a dictator.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rock & Roll Will Never Die...

...just fall out of a tree. This is a weird story.
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was hospitalized for a mild concussion he suffered while vacationing in Fiji, reportedly after falling out of a palm tree.
I’m sure Keith’s reasons for being in a palm tree are good, it’s just too bad he won’t be able to remember what those reasons were. The boy needs to slow down.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Banner En Espanol

I gotta go along with Jim on this one. Why are some people in hysterics about a Spanish version of the Star-Spangled Banner? I would think it a point of pride to have your national anthem recorded in other languages. Why would anyone feel threatened by that? Oh that’s right, paranoid xenophobic wingnuts, that’s who.

Of course I remember when certain narrow minds were upset when Jimi Hendrix did his famous and beautifully played electric guitar version of the SSB at Woodstock. Ironically, these people were offended by it being played on the electric guitar and, for the most part, they missed the embedded musical political commentary when he recreated the sounds of falling bombs and explosions in the middle of that rendition (a nod to the ongoing Vietnam War).

So get over it people. Stop treating things like anthems and flags as divine and more sacred than what they stand for.

Friday Beer Blogging: Getting All Light On Your Heinie Edition

You probably have noticed by now that Heineken has launched a massive media campaign to promote its new Premium Light beer. “Succumb to Smooth” is their slogan. Which is kinda stupid but whatever, that’s not my main beef. No, my complaint is that Heineken has “succumb” to marketing pressures to compete in the light beer market.

Look, I have nothing against light beer in general but Heineken shouldn’t be light. A Heineken is a Heineken. It’s a whole beer, nothing light about it…until now. THIS is a Heineken:

And I really like this workplace Heineken daydream:

And to round out this Heineken post we have a little beer porn. CAUTION: Graphic depiction of beer intimacy may not be suitable for children.

True beer love.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Hillary By Any Other Name

How stupid are people? This is just crazy; people change their opinion of Hillary Clinton depending not on political issues but whether or not she is referred to as Hillary Rodham Clinton or just Hillary Clinton.
Most Americans' feelings toward the Democratic senator from New York change depending on which name is used, according to a recent poll conducted by Opinion
Research Corp. for CNN.

Including Hillary Clinton's maiden name increased her approval rating among Republicans polled to 23 percent. "Hillary Clinton" had a 16 percent approval rating among people who identified themselves as Republican.

Among people who said they were independent, "Hillary Rodham Clinton" was favored by 48 percent, compared with 42 percent for "Hillary Clinton."

The name seemed to matter little to Democrats; the inclusion of "Rodham" inspired only a 1 percent decrease in her approval rating, from 77 to 76 percent.

But below the Mason-Dixon Line, "Hillary Clinton" got a favorable rating from 52 percent of all respondents, compared with 45 percent for "Hillary Rodham Clinton."
In the rest of the country, the opposite was true: 43 percent of all people polled gave "Hillary Clinton" a positive rating and 53 percent rated "Hillary Rodham Clinton"
OK, it seems Democrats are displaying some sanity by recognizing that HC and HRC are in fact THE SAME PERSON. But what the hell is wrong with so many other people?

This all takes me back to good ol’ Sam Can-Man and my suggestion that politicians change there names to things like Honest Strongleader or Likeable Goodman.

Getting Spanked

Ripped from the scripts of Boston Legal? No, this is real, but I really think this is one for Allen Shore:
FRESNO, California (AP) -- Lawyers for a woman spanked in front of co-workers as
part of what her employer said was a team-building exercise asked a jury Wednesday for at least $1.2 million for the humiliation she says she suffered.

Janet Orlando, 53, quit her job at the home security company Alarm One Inc. and sued, alleging discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.

Employees were paddled with rival companies' yard signs as part of a contest that pitted sales teams against each other, according to court documents. The winners poked fun at the losers, throwing pies at them, feeding them baby food, making them wear diapers and swatting their buttocks.
Wow, brilliant team building exercises. I hope someone uses this method as an icebreaker at some future training event I attend.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

No Wonder They Lost Two Wars

German travel magazine says Rockford is “trendy city”

You May Think You’ve Read This Before

Do déjà vu experiences diminish with age? And no, I'm not talking about the strip club (although experiences there may dimish with age too).

That question came up while the wife and I were talking last night. She asked if I ever experienced déjà vu. I told her, yes quite often. Then I realized I really hadn’t experienced it much in recent years. I used to feel déjà vu every month or two when I was younger but now I’d say it happens less than once a year. Mrs. TEH thought she's had less déjà vu lately as well.

I was interested to learn that only 70% of people say they ever experienced déjà vu. I haven’t talked to everyone I’ve ever met about it, but everyone I’ve ever talked to about déjà vu has experienced it. But 30% apparently have never had the feeling having previously lived or dreamed about what they are currently experiencing. Too bad for them; it really is one of those weird phenomena that make it fun being alive.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

George Who?

As if out of a scene in a Republican Passion Play, Judy Baar Topinka denies George Bush three times in a radio interview yesterday with WMAY’s Jim Leach.

Jim has a post about this on his blog (yes, he’s blogging again after being AWOL from the blogosphere for three weeks).

I particularly like this quote from Topinka when asked for the third time is she thinks the country is moving in the right direction under George Bush:
Well, I don't know all of these things. I mean, I pick up what I pick up on the national level, basically, from what you all write, and what I can accumulate. I'm trying to deal on the state level with what we have to do, which gives me more than enough to handle.... I mean, we have congressmen to handle that angle of it. I'd like to confine as much as I can of my interest here…
Oh my, it is hard to get any good information about what’s happening in Washington. And lordy, what on earth does the goings-on in the nation’s capital have to do with Illinois? It’s not like there are any Illinoisians serving in Iraq or that gas prices are high here or we use any healthcare or education or have highways or mind being spied on.

Of course, endorsing the Bush administration would be foolish here in Illinois where the president’s popularity must be close to single digits by now. So Topinka has to, on the one hand, not appear to be a hypocritical, disloyal opportunist by slamming Bush but, on the other hand, she knows getting behind this administration too strongly would be political suicide.

In 2006 it’s political advantage to hang George Bush around your opponent’s neck. I would expect the Blagojevich people, who aren’t politically shy, to play this up as the campaign progresses. And you know what, to the extent that a Republican governor could assist in the advancement of the Bush agenda, it should give people pause. I think it’s a legitimate campaign issue.

Government Waste

Yes, it’s a waste that this program is ending

An organization that has provided mentoring and other services for thousands of area students is closing its doors Friday, after losing the federal grant that sustained it.

Communities in Schools of Sangamon County was established in 2000 by Springfield parents and concerned citizens after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo. The goal was to connect students thought to be falling through the cracks with trained mentors who would regularly meet with them, document their progress and encourage them.

CIS also provided job-shadowing, mock-interviewing and drug-prevention
programs. It trained college and high school students to tutor elementary school
students in reading and public speaking. It gave free books to kindergartners
and partnered with other organizations that run Teen Reach sites.


Students with CIS mentors typically saw their grades rise and disciplinary citations drop, according to a performance evaluation by the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Well, we have to find the money to keep the Iraq war going and let’s not forget the need for more tax cuts for the rich. Kids struggling in life should just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, I say. And, hey, if they need some direction in life later, the Bush wars will surely be still going on when they are old enough and they can sign up and let the Army be their mentor. Problem solved.

Seriously though, why was funding cut? Did someone locally drop the ball on a grant request? Did anyone try to get some intervention from local congressmen and our two U.S. Senators? Something like this program should have been held up as a model for other communities not allowed to die for lack of funding.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Tornadoes by the Numbers

The National Weather Service confirms it’s been a busy year for tornadoes in the central part of the state. Here’s some of their stats:

So far in 2006, Central Illinois which includes 35 counties has had 45 tornadoes.
Below are the tornado statistics in 2006.

Tornado Occurrences by day in 2006...

Jan 2 ... 1
Mar 12 ...9
Apr 2 ...24
Apr 14 ...2
Apr 16 ...8
Apr 19 ...1

Total in 2006 through April 20... 45 tornadoes
Total in 2005 through April 20... 2 tornadoes

2006 Tornado Count by Intensity...
F0 ... 18
F1 ... 19
F2 ... 8
F3 ... 0
F4 ... 0
F5 ... 0

2006 Tornado Count by Month
Jan ... 1
Feb ... 0
Mar ... 9
Apr ... 35

2006 Tornado Count by County
Coles ............... 2
Champaign .... 2
Christian ......... 5
Crawford ......... 1
Cumberland ... 1
DeWitt .............. 2
Effingham ....... 1
Jasper ............. 1
Logan .............. 8
Macon ............. 6
McLean ........... 4
Menard ............ 1
Morgan ............ 3
Sangamon ... 11
Scott ................ 2
Shelby ............ 2
Woodford ....... 1

* Record Tornado Count for a year in Central IL is 63 in 2003
* Record Tornado Count for April in Central IL is 35 in 2006.
* The Previous Record Tornado Count in April was 26 in 1998.
* The Average Yearly Tornado Count in Central IL is 16.

Roll Down The Barrel Pt. II

More Barrel Head blogging. The Last Reunion picture is particularly poignant.

The American Way of Life

Atrios points out a reality that is often overlooked:
Aside from the underclass, there are basically two types of people/families in this country - those who live paycheck to paycheck and those who don't. Some who live paycheck to paycheck may live in an expensive home, have nice cars, etc... In other words, they have for whatever reason decided to live right up to the limit of their means, or beyond. Despite living quite well, they can still feel acutely any negative economic shock, even the relatively modest hit of having gas prices go up. They have substantial payments to make every month - cars, utilities, mortgage, credit cards, tuition payments - as well as lifestyle habits which are hard to break.
I would say the great majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, even if some paychecks are bigger than others. This is certainly true from my own experience. As my income has risen, so have my expenses. I live in a bigger house than I absolutely need to and I have more luxury items than I used to but basically, yes, I live paycheck to paycheck much as I always have. Although I have more to show for it, all to often, as the song goes, there’s too much month at the end of the money.

Most Accidents Happen at Home

Talk about your bad luck. I bet there’s no way this guy saw what was coming.
ALTA, California (AP) -- It was like a scene from a horror film: A 27-year-old man plummeted into a gaping hole that suddenly opened beneath a house, trapping him beneath foundation rubble and killing him.

Authorities say the home, built in the 1980s, may have been sitting atop a decades-old underground mine. Recent rains could have softened the ground under the home, in an isolated area near Lake Alta.
All of us living in potential mine subsidence areas (which is almost everyone in Springfield) should sleep a little easier now.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Free Market Bureaucracy

What Kevin Drum says:
One of the reasons America spends so much more than any other country on healthcare is because upwards of 30% of our expenditures are for paper shuffling
by insurance companies doing their best to deny treatment whenever possible. By
contrast, administrative costs in countries where there's only one paper shuffler — and it's not trying to make a profit from its shuffling — are closer to 10%.

Battling cancer is bad enough. Why should cancer patients have to battle private insurance companies as well?
This is a point that is very hard to get through to Americans who have been brainwashed to believe anything that isn’t 100% free-market based has to –just HAS TO – be less efficient and more expensive. That, of course, is nonsense but it’s really hard to get past that reflexive reaction when you start talking about a single-payer system of healthcare. Sadly, even getting beyond this misconception leaves one with a whole list of other myths, half-truths and outright lies to overcome.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Musicians They Are A-Aging

Interesting email today from long-time TEH friend SG about last night’s Bob Dylan concert in St. Louis.
Hey Dave,

Well, Dylan was Dylan. We had decent seats in the upper mezzanine on our right of the stage second row. Dylan played keyboards and harmonica only. His keyboard was set up angled in such a way that we had a great frontal view of him, but we could hardly hear him playing over the band. He sang some songs well, others not so well. He butchered his really well known songs. He forgot lyrics at times and was incomprehensible at other times. But it was good to see him live…

I pulled the following play list of the show from a website following his current tour:
  1. Maggie's Farm
  2. Lonesome Day Blues
  3. Queen Jane Approximately
  4. ‘Til I Fell In Love With You
  5. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
  6. Make You Feel My Love
  7. Highway 61 Revisited
  8. Positively 4th Street
  9. Honest With Me
  10. Girl Of The North Country
  11. High Water (For Charley Patton)
  12. (encore) Like A Rolling Stone
  13. (encore) All Along The Watchtower
He seemed very unemotional and unconnected with the audience. After Watchtower, he just stood there at the far back of the stage with his band like a statue. Hardly any movement or emotion accepting the standing ovation he was receiving from the crowd. Oh well, at least we can say we saw him live in the same room for 90 minutes.
I can't imagine Dylan without a guitar. He can't (regularly) play guitar anymore because he has arthritis. He's getting older. We all are.

I can't decide if it’s better this way or if musicians should bow out when they start failing, like in professional sports. I remember seeing footage of one of Sinatra's last performances and I just felt sorry for him. He couldn't sing, and if Sinatra can't sing he ain't got nothin'.

This all just serves to reminds me that I was a complete idiot for not seeing Dylan my first semester at SIU Carbondale when he played the Arena in the Fall of 1978. What was I thinking?

Career Blogger

teh has posted a story on new, trendy jobs. And guess what, one of then is “Blog Editor”.
Blog editor: I blog, you blog, we all blog apparently, judging from the proliferation of blogs in the past two years. The success of influential ones like has companies wanting in on the perceived edginess of the blogosphere.

"Blogging" is not only starting to creep into people's job descriptions, but recruiters are starting to see blog-related job listings.

One on seeks a blog editor "to manage and moderate blogs for clients and to write for the company blog on PR and new media topics."
Well, I think I’ll be heading over to to put up a work wanted notice.
Blog Editor specializing in beer blogging seeks immediate employment fixing other bloggers dumb posts. Will work from own basement.
Think I can get six figures?

Roll Down The Barrel

I was sort of moved by this picture on the front page SJ-R this morning. No, not by Kevin Davlin with a beer in hand, but by the demolition of what remains of The Barrel Head.

Not so much recently, but I have had a lot of good times in that place. I think I’ve only been in The Barrel Head maybe twice in the last six years but there was I time, particularly when home from college, when I spent many a night in there with friends.

Back in the day, before Davlin took over ownership of the place, it had some rather nutty proprietors that enforced some weird rules.

One night, circa 1983, a bunch of us went in there late, sat down and ordered drinks. One of us, a young man who grew up to be Springfield’s famed photo-blogger Jerome Prophet, decided he was hungry. He was told the kitchen had just closed. Fine, he thought, and went out the door, across the street to Steak’n’Shake and came back with a small bag of food. Well, The Barrel Head management was not amused. They told him he couldn’t eat the food he brought in. The young JP protested, saying he would gladly purchase food from the establishment in which he sat BUT THEY WEREN’T SERVING ANY! I can’t remember who won in the end but it was a great confrontation.

Anyway, it’s sad to see the old place go. I hope the new one is a good place too.

Friday Beer Blogging: George Ryan Edition

Since the former Republican governor may wind up going to a place where the beer mugs don’t shine I thought I’d go for a George Ryan beer them 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.
[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.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bye Day

It's a rare Thursday blogging day off.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tunnel Vision

My first take on this story about city council members having some issues with the Springfield Clinic’s plans to build over Sixth Street was to roll my eyes at a bunch of fuddy-duddies prepared to stand in the way of what sounds like a neat addition to the city. But having thought more about it, I’m not so sure.

First, let me say that I’m commenting out of ignorance since I haven’t seen the proposed addition to the clinic. (Is it available online somewhere?) So I have to use my imagination as to what it might even look like.

Having said that, I am sort of surprised that they are talking about what amounts to a Sixth Street tunnel through the new building. I had previously imagined a nice covered walkway between two buildings. From what I hear that isn’t the case with a three-story structure going up over the street.

I have no problem with this in general but underpasses of some length tend to get really dirty and run-down looking fairly quickly. And I guess that’s were my concern comes in. But like I said I haven’t seen the plans so it’s kind of hard to pass final judgment.

Scotty Goes

Me and Moonbat Coworker discussing via e-amil the resignation of White House Spokesman Scott McClellan.
MBCW: That Scotty the minister of propaganda quit. Something about wanting to renig on that whole "sale of soul to Beelzebub" contract thingy.

Me: Gosh! I bet this means the Bush administration is now going to start telling the truth. Who is Scotty's replacement, Ann Coulter?

MBCW: I think Cheney's going to just start handling more of the PR effort himself. "Go fuck yourself. Next question?"

Me: But how will Helen Thomas react to getting shot in the face?
Surely the best in witty e-water cooler banter.

Update: I was kidding about Ann Coulter but I wasn't far off. Apparently, Fox News' Tony Snow is under consideration. God help us.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Decider in Chief

I almost blogged about this earlier but I couldn’t verify it was a real quote until now.

President Bush today: “I’m the decider and I decide what's best.”

What an arrogant fuck. And illiterate too.

I Did It!

For once in my life I beat a huge overnight gasoline price hike. I filled my tank last night at 9:00 pm. Gas was $2.74/gal. Today it went up 20 cents. It’s better to be lucky than good.

Monday, April 17, 2006

God Bless World War II

Every once in a while I come across a blog post that that very clearly articulates a point I’ve made a number of weak stabs at. One such is this post from Glenn Greenwald who successfully skewers the Right’s consistent stuck-in-time worldview:
To pro-Bush war supporters, the world is forever stuck in the 1930s. Every leader we don't like is Adolf Hitler, a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world. Every country opposed to our interests is Nazi Germany.

From this it follows that every warmonger is the glorious reincarnation of the brave and resolute Winston Churchill. And one who opposes or even questions any proposed war becomes the lowly and cowardly appeaser, Neville Chamberlain. For any and every conflict that arises, the U.S. is in the identical position of France and England in 1937 – faced with an aggressive and militaristic Nazi Germany, will we shrink from our grand fighting duties in appeasement and fear, or will we stand tall and strong and wage glorious war?

With that cartoonish framework in place, war is always the best option.


To be sure, Saddam Hussein was a brutal thug who murdered and oppressed his citizens with virtually no limits, etc. etc., but the notion that he was ever in a league with Adolph Hitler in terms of the threats he posed, the capabilities he possessed, or even the ambitions he harbored, was always transparent myth. This equivalence is even more fictitious with regard to Iran, which -- although saddled with a highly unpopular president who is clearly malignant and who uses nationalistic rhetoric to boost the morale of his base – is a country that is, in fact, ruled by a council of mullahs which has exhibited nothing but rationality and appears to be guided by nothing other than self-interest.

We were led into invading Iraq by a group of people who are as bloodthirsty as they are historically ignorant. They are stuck in a childish and stunted mental prison where every event, every conflict, every choice is to be seen exclusively through the prism of a single historical event, an event which – for a variety of reasons, some intellectual, some cultural, some psychological – is the only one that has any resonance for them. Even as we are still mired in their last failed war, they are attempting to impose these stunted historical distortions to lead us into a new one.
Glenn correctly notes how “cartoonish” and “childish” it is to constantly apply this Nazi Germany template any troublesome nation. These comparisons are totally without historical merit but it’s hard to get that point across to people who willingly or otherwise cling to fifth grade notions of military power, diplomacy, and economics.

But what’s to blame? Poor education (or retention of education)? Blind political loyalty? Watching too many movies?

Maybe all of the above to some extent, but I think nostalgia is largely to blame. There has been a great deal of, well, romance imposed on the memory of the World War II years. After all, the country came together to defeat real threats. It was, in hindsight, a “glorious” war where good stood up to and defeated evil through brute force. Everyone sacrificed. It was simple to understand. If only ALL conflicts were so clear cut there could be no questioning our purity of motives.

Of course, this WWII nostalgia ignores a lot about how horrible the war was and what the political, economic and military realities were leading up to it. In short, the nostalgia is misplaced but very real to Americans.

I’ve never understood why the military “solution” to a problem is thought to be preferable based on its simplicity. Actually, war is never less than messy and is actually very complicated because it is the ultimate destabilizer. There are way too many unintended consequences for it to be considered an easy solution.

But hey, when you see Hitlers everywhere, it only makes sense to shoot first and not ask any questions ever.

Guilty x 18

Wow, former Illinois Governor George Ryan found guilty on all 18 counts. Rich Miller is blogging the story closely here.

So…should we just start taxing the Republican Party to help offset all the prison space their people are/will be taking up?

Update: AP story here. SJ-R coverage here. Photos here.


This time of year I always hear a lot of whining about how complicated taxes can be to prepare. I won’t argue with that sentiment but I think a lot of people miss a key point: many of the complicating factors actually save you money. If simplicity is your priority, and you are a typical working person, fill out the EZ form. You’ll be missing out on all kinds of deductions but, hey, it’s easy.

Even if you own your own business, many of the complicating factors involve deductions. Sure, if your operation has lots of tentacles, (you own two stores, have rental property and play the market) your taxes are going to be complex in a generally negative direction (i.e. lots of paperwork that doesn’t necessarily involve deductions) but then your overall financial situation is complicated too.

And if you really want to get the best of both worlds –ease of use while minimizing your tax bill- do what I did, marry someone who will brilliantly do your taxes for you.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer Cow Edition

Actually, this is the Quick & Lazy edition since I’m still trying to catch up with my life after having had the chance to escape it for a few days.

Anyway, a little web surfing brought me to this photo of a “beer cow” in Finland.

Now I’m not suggesting the Illinois State Fair give up on its traditional butter cow, but maybe we could augment that perennial favorite with something like this. Why should the Finns be credited for leading Illinois in anything –particularly beer cows? There are a couple of beer tents at the fair, can’t one have a stinkin’ beer cow?

Neil: Still Very Cool

I can’t wait to hear this.
[Jonathan] Demme, who filmed the award-winning documentary Neil Young: Heart of Gold, writes in an e-mail, “Neil just finished writing and recording – with no warning – a new album called Living With War. It all happened in three days.” How rock ‘n ‘roll is that?

Demme continues, “It is a brilliant electric assault, accompanied by a 100-voice choir, on Bush and the war in Iraq…Truly mind blowing. Will be in stores soon.”
When Neil Young is passionate about something and expresses it with an electric guitar, the results are usually awesome.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I’m Back

Had a long day of traveling. I doubt I’ll be beer blogging until some time later tomorrow, if then.

I do have some travel observations though.

At the risk of coming across a little like President George Bush the First marveling at price scanners, I was enthralled today by the in-flight technology of the United Airlines Boeing 767 I flew in today. Now, it’s been several years (pre-9/11 in fact) since I’ve flown any distance. So maybe this isn’t all that new but I love the video screens built into the back of the all the seats of the 767.

And what’s even better is what you can see on those screens. In addition to a selection of movies, you get a number of TV rebroadcasts, NBC, Discovery Channel, Disney, and more. But my hands-down favorite is the ongoing flight information channel that rotates maps tracking where the flight is, statistics such as airspeed, altitude and estimated arrival time.

Wow! Info-junkies like me gotta love this. Thing is, I saw and heard a lot of more “normal” people using this information. A woman sitting behinds me was explaining a lot of geography and other things to her child as they monitored this feature.

My only other comment about flying is the total stupidity of making us take off our shoes. Gimme a break. One guy has explosive shoes and we all forever have to take off our shoes? I can’t remember where I read this but someone pointed out that we all should be grateful the shoe-bomber wasn’t wearing explosive underwear instead.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Postcard From Palm Springs

Having a good time out here. When I get back I’m definitely recommending we install some mountains. They really improve the ambiance. It works out here anyway.

Flying out of Springfield Sunday morning to catch a connecting flight in Chicago, we got behind none other than Senator Dick Durbin in line to board the aircraft. He was alone and had Kevin Phillips’ book American Theocracy with him (it was bookmarked so I assume he was reading it).

On the flight from Chicago to Palm Springs, Mrs. TEH and I sat next to Judy from Scranton who insisted I looked just like Ben Affleck. She was older and obviously completely blind. But she kept Mrs. TEH in conversation while I played a solo game of Identify That Geographical Feature From 35,000 Feet with my nosed pressed to the window.

We are leaving Thursday but much to my disappointment we are going to miss the big event that starts here at our hotel the day after we leave. From the Palm Springs Life Desert Guide:
DJs, Divas, Drag Queens, Dancing

The White Party, April 14-17, isone of the hottest events on the gay dance circuit. Nonstop music beginswith a pool party…from noon to 6 p.m. April 14. Mark Dalton appears atFriday’s Inferno party and Kim English and Tiffany perform at Saturday’s poolparty…
I didn't even know there was a gay dance circuit. Or maybe I thought they were all gay.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Out of Town

Blogging will be lighter than usual this week as I’ll be traveling to California on business.  I’ve got a laptop but since I’m going to be in Palm Springs, I plan on getting out and enjoying myself when I’m off the clock.

By the way, this is the first time in eleven years I will be flying out of the newly renamed Abe Lincoln International Airport.  I understand some of the planes even have jet engines and enclosed cabins now.

Friday, April 07, 2006

JP Goes Pro!

Springfield photo-blogger Jerome Prophet is now in print. Illinois Times is going to regularly feature his work. The IT has this week’s contribution here (on the right).

By the way, this is what I was talking about here.

Update: Since the IT is calling JP’s feature Jerome Prophet’s Springfield, can I start a blog called Springfield Prophet, take pictures of Jerome, then get some space for a feature called Springfield Prophet’s Jerome?

Friday Beer Blogging: Back to Basics Edition

When I first started blogging on beer my idea was to feature pretty pictures of beer. I thought I would pick a different brew each week and show photos of it in whatever mug or glass it looked best in. And that’s what I did –for a while. Later I veered off into more theme-oriented posts. And while that’s worked out pretty well, I do miss the old school beer blogging. So today I reprise the beauty of a well photographed beer; beer porn if you will.

Today’s lovely temptations are courtesy of the Gayant Brewery of France. That’s les Brasseurs de Gayant in French. OK, Gayant (Gay Ant?) would not be macho enough a name for a beer here in the U.S. where real men lick their cheese papers from Hardees, but just look at this pic of la Goudale:

Oh baby, that’s hot. Or, rather, cool and refreshing. Man, gimme one of those after a hard day at the office.

And la Goudale has a sister, Abbaye de Saint Landeline:

Make that twin sisters.

If you like your beers to have a deep tan, give la Brune artisanale a whirl:

Gayant has a number of other beers and equally seductive pictures of same on their web site.

Next week, back to some dumb theme.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

En-Lightning Experience

Rich Miller reports the capitol building was struck by lightning today, knocking out power. My first reaction was surprise but then I got to thinking that it must get stuck by lightning quite often, although I’ve never seen it. It’s the second tallest structure in the Springfield (the Hilton is taller if I remember correctly). How often does it get hit?

This got me thinking about how I used to like to watch the Sears Tower during thunderstorms.

While living in Chicago I could see that building from my bedroom window. Occasionally when there was a storm over the city, I would lay on my bed and just watch strike after strike of lightning on the two white towers on top of the building.

Note: the above picture is from this WGN-TV website. And while I did not take that picture, the view is very similar to the one I had in my days there. I did try to capture someing like this on film but my old 35mm SLR was not up to the task. Or maybe it was me.

What’s With This Guy?

State Senator Rickey Hendon is acting like a pig again. The SJ-R online breaking news has the latest.

An assistant majority leader in the state Senate is in hot water again over his conduct toward women.

Rep. Robin Kelly said Sen. Rickey Hendon tackled her after the annual House-Senate softball game this week.

"It came out of nowhere. We were in a line, saying, 'Good game. Good game. Good game.' Then, he just came behind me and threw me on the ground," Kelly, a Matteson Democrat, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I was very angry. I've calmed down now. But I thought it was very inappropriate."

Hendon, a Chicago Democrat, was criticized last week after The Associated Press reported that he made sexually suggestive comments to a female colleague on the Senate floor during ritual "hazing" that occurs when a lawmaker offers debut legislation.

He suggested Sen. Cheryl Axley, a Mount Prospect Republican who had a bill about roads, "go on a township road with me later on tonight." When reprimanded by the chair, Hendon persisted, saying Axley looked young enough to be a teenager and he might "trick her."

This guy needs a serious talking too. Maybe a forced time-out might be in order. In what other profession would this behavior be tolerated? No workplace I’ve been in would let this stuff go.

On the other hand Rep. Kelly comes across a little petty here too:
Kelly, who did not play in the game and was wearing dress clothes, said she cut her finger in the fall and said Hendon should pay to clean her slacks or buy her new ones.
Whatever. Henden is a childish jerk acting like he’s a high school freshman, but whining about your dirty clothes and the boo-boo on your finger doesn’t lead one to the dignity high ground.

Illinois Democrats!


Next time you suffer from sticker shock when you pick up a prescription from the pharmacy, you can ease your mind knowing that some of that money is going to ensure the price stays high.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The pharmaceutical industry spent $44 million lobbying U.S. state officials during a two-year period with much of the money going to fight proposals that would have reduced prescription drug costs, according to report released on Thursday.

The Center for Public Integrity said industry representatives spent the money in 2003 and 2004, a time when more than half of all states were considering proposals to reduce the cost of medicines. Prescription medicines are one of the fastest-growing expenses for state governments, which are among the pharmaceutical industry's biggest customers, the report said.
Big Pharma – a national treasure.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wednesday The Clash Blogging

The late Joe Strummer of the The Clash once sang, “You have the right to free speech, as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it.” Know your rights…
LONDON (Reuters) - British anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said Wednesday.

Detectives halted the London-bound flight at Durham Tees Valley Airport in northern England and Harraj Mann, 24, was taken off.

The taxi driver had become worried on the way to the airport because Mann had been singing along to The Clash's 1979 anthem "London Calling," which features the lyrics "Now war is declared -- and battle come down" while other lines warn of a "meltdown expected."

Mann told British newspapers the taxi had been fitted with a music system which allowed him to plug in his MP3 player and he had been playing The Clash, Procol Harum, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles to the driver.

"He didn't like Led Zeppelin or The Clash but I don't think there was any need to tell the police," Mann told the Daily Mirror.
The taxi driver didn’t like Zeppelin or The Clash? HE sounds like the terrorist to me.

The Nervous Workout

The only reason I’m not 300 lbs.
It turns out that people who fidget are more likely to lose weight than those who don't. That's right. The more nervous you are, the more fit you'll become. All that nervous activity can actually account for up to 350 calories a day, enough for someone to lose 10-20 pounds a year.
I’m now going to refer to my cubical at work as “The Gym”.

Physics Defied!

What is the explanation behind liquid in a container expanding to 10 times its volume when accidentally spilled?

Yesterday, I tipped over a nearly fill bottle of water on my desk at work. I recovered it in a split second but there was water on my keyboard, my mouse, my shirt and pants and water was cascading over the edge of my desk. I spent several minutes wiping everything up and went through many paper towels. When I was done, I figured I needed to replace the bottle of water since I thought most of the contents surely had spilled out of my first bottle. I looked at the bottle and it was down maybe half an inch. WTF! Where did all that water come from?

There has to be some undocumented law of physics here. Seriously, have you ever spilled a soda or beer? That 12 or 16 ounce container left several gallons of liquid all over everything didn’t it. You know what I’m talking about.

This Day in Numbers

While everyone is making a big deal today about 01:02:03 04/05/06, I have lived through at least three better number sequences. They include:

1:23 4/5/67
12:34 5/6/78 (this I deem to be the best!)
3:45 6/7/89

And let’s not forget:

6:06 6/6/66
7:07 7/7/77
8:08 8/8/88
9:09 9/9/99

And don’t get me started on binary dates of 2001

01:01 01/01/01
10:10 10/10/01

Have I missed anything?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

More on the “controversy” over where Rod Blagojevich should live while governor. I only bring this up again because I don’t see a lot of opinion around here agreeing with my stand that the governor, any governor, should be allowed to live where he or she wants.

Blog Anonymously or the Terrorists Win

I know it irritates some people to no end when bloggers and those who comment on blogs do their writing anonymously. Some see it as cowardly and not standing behind your statements. In truth, there are a lot of valid reasons to blog anonymously but Digby today gives a pretty good rationale:
I probably should say something about pseudonymity since it's come up recently.
This tradition goes back to the early days of our nation in which the enlightenment belief that pseudonymous written argument, based in reason rather than authority, democratizes ideas and promotes freedom. Many of the writers and activists who fomented the American revolution used fictitious personaes or wrote seudonymously --- Sam Adams wrote under 25 different identities. The idea (aside from protecting themselves from charges of treason!) was that the written words standing on their own, without the edifice of credentialed expertise and social status --- or grounding in the received word of religion --- had the greatest persuasive power. (The best example of this, of course, is Publius, of the Federalist Papers.) Writing pseudonymously openly distinguishes between the private person and a citizen of the public sphere by removing all but the disembodied voice from the argument. I find that interesting.
So there. Anonymous bloggers stand among the greatest Americans in history! We are upholding a great American tradition. I now think it’s downright unpatriotic to put your name to your blog. I mean, who are you to tell Sam Adams (all 25 of him) that he’s wrong or that he makes bad beer? Give me anonymity or give me death!

Monday, April 03, 2006

U Da Man

I’ve added The 26th Man to my Springfield blogroll. He does a lot of sports so of course I have no idea what he’s talking about most of the time. But he does use the term "bullcrap weather" and is therefore link worthy.

Pop Quiz

Who’s more hapless, the guy on the left or the team on the right?

I don’t believe I just allowed a shot at my team to get in one at Bush. Oh hell, it was worth it.

Actually, the story behind this photo is kinda funny:
[Bush] greeted Cubs manager Dusty Baker with a handshake. “This is the year, right?” Bush said, in what some in the pool thought as sarcasm directed at the team’s perennial pennant futility.

“Dusty Baker, good to know you,” POTUS continued, turning to the cameras. He held the grip and grinned as the cameras snapped away. “Smile,” POTUS encouraged, and Baker complied, saying: “I’ll do what I got to do.”
Hapless, one and all.

The Way Things Are Part II

Not all conservatives are sexists but almost all sexists are conservatives.

Headline Act

Blog headline hogging with no associated post just ain’t right. I believe the technical term is “Not Fair!”

Twister II

Blogging about the bad weather around these parts is getting old. Yesterday’s tornados fortunately did far less damage than their March 12th cousins but it’s interesting Springfield was hit in the same place. Are we going o have to change the name of Wabash Avenue to Tornado Alley? Or if our city leaders are true to form it will be called The Abraham Lincoln Avenue of Tornados.

Odd that when tornados do come to town they have to arrive via Wabash. It was so in 1957 and as I blogged after the 3/12 event, my earliest memory of a tornado sighting, when I was 8 or 9, involved a tornado having been spotted near Wabash.

Additionally, we’re getting so tornado-reliable the Weather Channel sent someone here in advance of yesterday’s storm.

Update: CNN had a reporter today reporting the storm damage story from from Taylorville.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Way Things Are

Not all conservatives are racists but almost all racists are conservatives.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bonus Beer Blogging: Rude Reviews Edition

For really rude beer reviews that are both tasteless and informative go here.

The Second Skyline

Someone has come up with a list of the top 15 skylines in the world. Guess what came in at number 2. No, not Riverton (as beautiful as it is). It’s Chicago. Hong Kong was number 1. Seattle and New York were the only other American cities on the list and Dallas and Pittsburgh got honorable mentions.

As someone who once lived in a building pictured in this skyline shot, I have to agree.

It’s funny, yesterday evening I happened to catch the very end of the movie “About Last Night...” which was shot in Chicago. Its final scene features the Chicago skyline as the credits roll. As I watched that, I was remembering how great that city looks from Grant Park and how great it was to live there for a time. I’m glad someone else thinks it’s as awesome as it really is.