Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
I’m out of here for the weekend, making my annual Memorial Day trek to Giant City State Park. Actually, I’ll be close to birth place of, or place of inspiration for, Memorial Day. I just found out this today:
[General John A.] Logan [of Illinois] had been the principal speaker in a citywide memorial observation on April 29, 1866, at a cemetery in Carbondale, Illinois, an event that likely gave him the idea to make it a national holiday. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization, Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year. The tombs of fallen Union soldiers were decorated in remembrance of this day.OK, if you read the whole Wikipedia entry, Memorial Day was really more of a joint effort of many, but Carbondale and John A. Logan certainly played a major part.
I will not be blogging this weekend but I do have one request: between burgers and beers and baseball and brats, let’s all take at least a moment to remember those who we honor this weekend.
Blog at ya later. Peace.
Friday, May 26, 2006
From the SJ-R Breaking News online:
The time-honored and potentially dangerous tradition of tossing candy to the crowd during the Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade is being outlawed.They’re worried about safety with kids running out near moving vehicles to grab candy. I guess I can see the concern but has there ever been such an accident. I suppose somewhere, sometime something like that has happened but is it really that big a problem? I would guess more people get hurt on carnival rides, like the ones at the fair, than get hurt in candy-throwing accidents. But what do I know.
Fair officials announced Friday that to make the parade safer, people on floats or vehicles will not be able to throw candy to onlookers during the Aug. 10 event. Parade participants still will be allowed to hand out candy to spectators.
This won’t be good news for those bent on continuing the ridiculous war against one of the most benign recreational drugs known to man.
The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.The arguments for criminalized marijuana have always been weak and they seem to get worse over time.
The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.
"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."
Earlier work established that marijuana does contain cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco, he said. However, marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.
I can’t remember what blog I read it on (and I’m too lazy to go back and look) but it was suggested that Governor Blagojevich’s call for privatizing the Illinois lottery may be little more than a political head-fake. I’ve been thinking about it and I think that might be right.
The theory goes something like this: Blagojevich proposes the lottery privatization to raise money for education. This results in State Sen. James Meeks, who was threatening to run for governor unless something was done about education in the state, deciding not to run for governor. (Meeks’ run could have endangered Blagojevich’s re-election hopes by siphoning off enough votes to allow Judy Baar Topinka to win.) With Meeks out of the race, the lottery privatization plan dies in the Illinois Legislature. Blago gets re-elected, the lottery stays where it is and the world stays the same.
If that’s what’s going on it’s politically brilliant -and very cynical.
Sadly, we live in Illinois were we can’t even hope to have the media drama of such things as shark and alligator attacks. Those lucky Floridians!
But wait…we do have a bunch of deer and, well, on the Southern Illinois University campus at Carbondale we have had…DUM-DEE-DUM-DUM…deer attacks. Ahhhhhhhhh!
Check out this picture and its caption from The Southern Illinoisan.
I love it. The deer is “presumably” the one that has gone on the attack. The couple is “dangerously close to her”.
I have to assume the photographer was unable to warn out unsuspecting couple of their imminent demise because he or her was miles away using a 10-foot-long telephoto lens to get the picture.
Now I’m going to be dangerously close to SIU this weekend so I’ve investigated the best ways to defend myself in the event of savage deer attack.
The first thing I learned was not to let the deer think you aren’t bad and won’t kick its ass.
Failing that, carry a big stick and don’t be afraid to use it.
Finally, as a last resort, just get one of these kitty's. It will take care of your problem.
I’m headed into the belly of the beast. The war zone. The front line of the War on Deerism. Wish me well, wish me well.
It’s Memorial Day weekend. Time for getting together, grillin’ out and…beer coolers.
Beers on the go, beers outside need a good cooler packed with ice.
Put a layer of beers on the bottom, cover with ice, repeat until you reach the top of the cooler.
If you’re on the water, try one of these babies. I had one like it once, it eventually wore out, but it was great.
Finally, check out what Coors has come up with. A beer box that converts into a cooler.
The ultimate in convenience. Rip it open and load with ice. No need for a “real” cooler.
Fill that cooler and enjoy your beverages this weekend but if you can't drink responsibly -don't drive.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
You know when this is REALLY annoying? When you've captured weather warning contaminated shows on your TiVo (or VCR, etc.) and watch them long after the weather has moved on. At least there's a certain immediacy to the warnings when watching TV live. Watching them two days later just feels silly. How ‘bout a TiVo that filters these things out?
The Southern Illinois University deer insurgency rages on. And we’re now getting our first reports from the brave troops prosecuting the war on deer.
[Begin whistling the theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly here]
SIUC Police Sgt. Harold Tucker was the first to confront the doe Tuesday near the campus lake around 12:30 p.m. He told about his incident during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.[Oops, begin Jaws music]
Tucker said he regularly walks the path around the lake and was doing do when the deer jumped from high brush along the path and stood in his way. He said the deer obviously felt he had encroached on her territory and he tried to escape.
"As I turned to run she reared up and hit me on my shoulder hard enough that it knocked me into a tree very hard," Tucker said. "And from there I glanced off the tree and right into the lake."[Must…control…laughter]
Tucker said he was "very blessed" the deer could not get to him in the water, because he said the animal looked as if she had intentions to continue attacking[Can’t control laugh much longer…]
Our second contestant in the Running of the Deer is a 58-year-old student (must be on the 40 year plan).
Henry Dews, a 58-year-old English student, [OK, he's an English student, that explains it] said he had decided to take a walk along the lake path sometime after 1 p.m. Tuesday.
"Three-fourths of the way down there I see the deer," said Dews... "I always give wild animals plenty of space. I'm not one of those people who think it is cute to get close to them."
Dews said he thought he was far enough away when he turned to leave, but the deer suddenly crossed his path. [cue Psycho music] When he turned away again to run, the doe charged at his back, clipping Dews in the neck with her hoof. The doe reared up several more times before backing off.
Dews went to the squad car to report the incident. "After I came down there, that's when they started telling people not to go down there," he said.
The area where the attacks occurred continued to be cordoned off Wednesday, and the suspect doe was still stalking the territory during the morning.
"Suspect doe"?See, if college campuses weren’t full of gun-banning liberals, the administration could issue a hunting rifle must-carry rules and the deer problem at SIU would be blown away (heh, heh) very quickly.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Just to set the record straight…
My post below about the confederate flag and those who would display it here in Springfield was in no way meant to bash the South, Southerners or relocated Southerners who live here. I got a couple of comments that I think missed that point. (Some Southerners do deserve bashing as do many aspects of Southern politics but that’s another post for another day.)
My focus was strictly on asking what possible reason one would have for wanting to display the confederate flag, especially here. I think it sends the wrong message (or worse, the right message) about the person who feels the need to get behind that symbol.
Remember the killer deer that terrorized the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale last year (see my coverage here, here and here)? Well they’re back and looking for trouble.
CARBONDALE - Three people were attacked by a doe Tuesday afternoon at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It was the first deer-human encounter on campus this year, but the incident marks a repeat of several attacks that happened last year due to the deer fawning season.I’m sure this is just a group of deer dead-enders. Although I hear the SIU deerorists may have some connection to the ‘gators running amok in Florida. Theses animals, and that’s what they are, hate us for our freedom. Time for universal wiretapping of all veterinary clinics, zoos, wildlife refuges and national parks.
Police aren't releasing the names of the victims but reported the attack left one female university employee needing stitches for a gash on her forehead. The doe also scratched a student's jaw and sprained the wrist of another campus employee.
This makes 12 people in the last year who have been attacked by doe protecting their young.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
National meteorologists have come up with their predictions for the upcoming hurricane season. They also released this year’s storm names list.
I’m predicting Florence, Joyce and Oscar are going to be bad ones. I base that solely on the names. They just sound like dangerous hurricanes. Which got me thinking…
Perhaps the National Weather Service is responsible for killer storms simply because of the names they give them. I think it’s a theory worth checking out. To that end, I’ve come up a list of alternative, non-threatening names that might serve to discourge the formation of killer storms.
Hey, it’s worth a try. It doesn’t cost anything and like they say, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And if this doesn’t work, next season we can try the opposite tact, give the storms names so hideous and brutal (Behemoth, Hitler, Scull-Crusher, etc.) the storms will die out early realizing they can never live up to their moniker.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Wow, this has to be the most awesome lead to a story I’ve read in some time.
BLOOMINGTON -- A Bloomington attorney compared a $500 million wind farm set for construction in eastern McLean County to a psychedelic disco party that will have nearby residents vomiting in their back yards.How cool is that! Gotta love the Pantagraph, just gotta.
I rudely reprint this Ezra Klein post in full because I’ll do anything to advance this cause:
Glad to see someone taking on the big issues. Wired has an article today on clamshell (or Oyster) packaging -- those hellish sheets of thick, soldered-together plastic that entomb all manner of electronics and make extraction a project requiring enough sharp pieces of metal to fill a medieval armory. The little buggers are so irritating that Consumer Reports named an award after them, the Oyster Awards, given to the most difficult to open products.Amen, brother. I’m so sick of virtually all packaging these days -not just the “clamshell” but almost everything- I could, and usually do, scream. Just the other day, Mrs. TEH came home with greeting cards that were sealed in plastic. Greeting cards! I damn-near ripped the cards trying to extract them. Most often heard from me while trying to open something these days: “This is bullshit”.
If everyone hates the stuff, why is it used? Well, retailers, apparently, love the packaging style: it cuts down on in-store theft, reduces damage during shipping, and allows for easy visibility of the internal product. But the clamshells are so tricky to open that a fair number of folks slice themselves while trying to cut into the buggers. Most just get a quick gash, but according to ER doctors, a fair number rip through tendons and nerves, requiring orthopedic surgery. And that's to say nothing of increased cardiovascular disease and domestic tensions brought on by the stress of trying to open your AV cables. Retailers, however, are unrepentant. John Zittrauer, a spokesperson for Best Buy, admits that clamshells "are a lot of times a pain to get open. But it's a tough line to walk to make things not easily accessible for theft protection before purchase and easy to open after purchase."
Think a boycott would work?
This criticism may seem a bit strained but I have a problem with people holding public office writing books or having any other part time job. This is especially true of those holding national office such as President, Senator or Representative. I bring this up because I see Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has written another book.
I’m sure Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream, is a good one. He’s a thoughtful, intelligent man with lots to say. I’d probably even pick up the book myself if I had the time. Yes, if I had the time. And that gets to my gripe (petty as it is).
I don’t think a U.S. Senator has the time to write a book. Or shouldn’t. Maybe I’m just applying my own personal bias here, but if I were a Senator I would feel obliged to learn everything I can about, well, everything. That would involve a lot of reading and little writing other than in pursuit of more learning.
I often wonder how much these guys really know about the things they are voting on; not just the verbiage of the legislation itself but the ideas, causes and effects behind the measures. I think it would drive me to a near state of paralysis wanting to get all the facts before casting a vote. I would want to devour information as fast as I could access it. I wouldn’t have time to write a book in the middle of all that. Book writing would come after I retired from (or, more likely, voted out of) office.
So while, I appreciate the Senator’s literary abilities and many of the ideas he will presumably communicate in the new book, I just think he needs to focus on the job he was elected to do. And that goes for the rest of them too.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
I know I’ve made mention in the past of being somewhat irked at seeing the confederate flag around these parts. Specifically, I recounted having seen some either insensitive or simply moronic jerk wearing the stars and bars on a t-shirt at the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum a year ago. I also recently showed some faux outrage at confederate flags being displayed in Abe Lincoln’s hometown while mocking those who were getting upset at the site of the Mexican flag at some recent demonstrations in support of immigrants.
But today I pulled into a parking space in a store parking lot here in town only to observe a pickup truck, right in front of me, with a confederate flag emblem attached to its grill. It had Illinois plates. I thought, how strange that is really. I mean, what’s the purpose? Here in Springfield. Illinois what is the reason for displaying the confederate flag?
In the South, they hide behind some notion of “Southern Heritage”, whatever that is, to justify their rebel flag displays. But what’s the rationale here? All it says to me is, “Hey, I’m a racist fuck and proud of it.”
Maybe someone can explain this phenomenon to me.
The SJ-R Online is now accepting comments to their online stories. What a great idea. Instant letters to the editor. What a very bloggy thing to do. I think it works particularly well for stories like this one. Way to go SJ-R!
Update: I do wonder though, is someone on duty to moderate the comments? As we all know here in Blogistan, comments can get out of hand and even libelous if not watched. A high profile site (locally) like the SJ-R's is ripe for abuse. Even more love to the SJ-R is they are paying someone to watch the comments.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Saw The Da Vinci Code tonight. It’s good. Go see it.
Really, I’m left wondering what so many critics are bitching about. It’s a good film. Maybe they had high expectations and I didn’t (thanks to their reviews). It wasn’t boring, Tom Hanks was not miscast, it wasn’t hard to follow and it wasn’t ruined by being too faithful to the book.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Well, this should make the occupation of Iraq easier. Iraq is being depopulated of Iraqis.
In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.Would the last Iraqi out please get the light at the end of the tunnel?
I wish I’d seen this earlier; I’d made it the focus of Friday Beer Blogging. Apparently, some guy in Utah left his townhouse with no less than 70, 000 empty beer cans piled up half way to the ceiling. Story and must-see pictures here.
The beer cans, all 70,000 of them, were Coors Light.
Normally, the thought of drinking brains would be a bit of a turn-off. But not so if you’re talking about consuming Brains beer! Ha, you never saw that one coming.
Yes there’s a Brains beer. It’s brewed in Wales by the S. A. Brain & Company. And it doesn’t look like this...
Nope, but it does look like this...
Anything else is just a no-brainer. (There I go again giving away brilliant marketing slogans.)
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Hey, why not the Abraham Lincoln Capital Spaceport?
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The promise of blasting thrill-seeking tourists into space is fueling an unprecedented rush to build snazzy commercial spaceports.Forget the soon departing F-16s of the 183rd, let’s get some spaceships in here. The Hilton downtown already looks like a rocket that landed nose-first in the center of the city. Visit space then hit the Lincoln sites.
The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing proposals from New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas to be gateways for private space travel. Depending on how environmental reviews and other requirements go, approval could come as early as this year and the sites could be ferrying space tourists soon after.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
One year from today the illegal immigration landscape will look, aside from some window dressing, exactly the same as it does today. And no one will be talking about it or even care.
It’s amazing how an issue can suddenly, almost out of nowhere, catch fire with politicains, the media and their pundits, and then just as quickly becomes a non-issue again.
Oh boy, the Illinois State Police are out looking for seatbelt violators again. I have no problem with the seatbelt law; in fact, I was a strong proponent 20+ years ago when wearing a seatbelt first became mandatory. But I’ve always had a question about how easy it is to accurately enforce. Sure there are clear cut situations, like after an accident, where it’s obvious if someone was beltless. But I’m not so sure about a cop sitting on the side of the road being able to determine if I’m wearing a seatbelt as I’m speeding by at 65 miles per hour. And I base that skepticism on personal experience.
One day about five years ago, I was pulled over by a State cop for a (very alleged) moving violation. While examining my driver’s license, the cop noted, verbally, that I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Which was true at that moment as I sat in my cart on the side of the road.
You see, I had unbuckled my seatbelt (once I was pulled over) so I could get my wallet out of my back pocket. I’d been stopped enough times to know the cop was going to need my license which I kept in my wallet. I was ready for him when he got to my window.
Anyway, I tell this cowboy why I don’t have my seatbelt buckled at the moment but he clearly did not believe me. Why, I’m nor sure. I mean don’t most men remove their seatbelt to get to their wallet? I dunno, maybe not but I do.
Well, the cop just knows I’m lying but since he had already determined he was giving me a ticket for my (very alleged) moving violation, he apparently decided to just let the seatbelt thing go.
But what if he had been on one of these ‘Click It or Ticket’ crusades? I would have gotten a ticket for something I was completely innocent of. (Actually, the ticket I got was for something I was completely innocent of but that’s another story).
I guess I just have to question the ability of police to always determine who is and who isn’t wearing a seatbelt.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Robert J. Ellisberg, blogging on the HuffPo, has some fun with immigration issue. Turns out there’s a problem here in Illinois with state border-crossing by our neighbors.
Read the whole thing here.
A private citizens group in Illinois today announced plans to build a wall along the Indiana border to keep out those they say are streaming across the unprotected state line. The problem, they say, has been growing for the past 30 years.
“Ever since the oil refineries in Gary began closing in the mid-1970s, people there have had to find other income,” states the leader of the group, T. Herbert Duffy. “They’ve been streaming into Chicago ever since.”
Duffy is clear to insist, that it’s not just Indians the Minutepeople want to protect Illinois from, but all Illegals. The problem, he says, is that there aren’t enough border guards in Illinois. “Or actually, any.” That’s when they knew they had to build the wall. “To keep all illegal immigrants out. All. "
When asked if that includes illegals from Kentucky, Duffy hedged a little. “That’s the really squiggly part of the state border,” he noted, “and it’s pretty hard to build a wall on something that shape. We can bend our metal piping a little, but not that much.”
However, the Minutepeople are concerned about illegal immigrants from Missouri. “In some ways, they’re worse than Indiana,” the Exalted High Poobah noted. “Who wants all those St. Louis Cardinals fans here?! The Cardinals suck..” But the Minutepeople don’t have any plans to build a fence along the Illinois-Missouri border. “No, that’s why God created the Mississippi River,” states Duffy. “If anyone from Missouri tried to swim across, their fat butts would sink.”
The river, however, is only the first line of defense against both the Missouri and Iowa borders. “If any Illegal tries to drive into Illinois over bridges, you can see them coming. And since it’s mostly single file, that makes them easy to pick off. Also, we’re buying landmines to plant along the shore.”
That only leaves the Wisconsin border to the north.
Duffy admitted that initially the Minutepeople had forgotten about the northern border. But after a good laugh and a couple of beers, he said they all realized, “We really got nothing against Wisconsin. Cheese, beer, how can you not like them? Hate the Green Bay Packers, but the Bears rule, so what? The only thing about Wisconsiners is that when they come here they drive tractors really slow down the middle of the road. Forget ‘em. They’re like us, they’re okay.”
I have a feeling this recent something-must-be-done-about-illegal-immigration flap will dissipate over the next few months but for now it’s of the highest priority among the pundit and political classes.
What I’m wondering is, can you really shut down the flow of illegals coming from Mexico and Central America? Even if you could construct a giant, impenetrable barrier along the whole 2000 mile Mexican border (and, as Stephen Colbert suggested last night on his show, front it with a flaming mote filled with fire-proof alligators) would that put an end to illegal immigration? Would it make a serious dent? I’m seriously asking.
It seems to me, many if not most would-be border jumpers would simply take to the sea. I’m not sure if logistically you could get as many people smuggled into the country that way but I bet it would be close as long as there are jobs to be had here (and not there). Like I pointed out before, efforts to stem the importation of drugs into the country have been a dismal failure, what makes anyone think the same won’t be true of human contraband?
Maybe I’m wrong but it just seems to me the Stopping Them at the Border plan isn’t going to work on its own. Without drying up the demand for the workers here, and improving the economies in their home countries, they’re going to find a way in.
How cool would it be as a kid to play Little League ball in a replica of a major league field? Freeport, Illinois is making that dream come true for some.
Ron Santo Day was declared in Freeport for a fundraiser Tuesday at Read Park toAnd that last part isn’t such a far-out notion. Lots of Chicago area residents go right past Freeport on their way to Galena. I bet a few might stop in to check out Pee Wee Wrigley.
help build Little Cubs Field. Groundbreaking for the $250,000 field will begin in July. Organizers hope to open the field in April, on the same day as the 2007 Cubs home opener at Wrigley.
The field will measure 100 feet down the left and right field lines. It will be used for Wiffleball and for 7- and 8-year-old boys and girls in the Pee Wee divisions of Little League.
“This has never been done,” Garkey said. “There is no miniature version of Wrigley Field anywhere in the world. We’re going to make it with real bricks that look like Wrigley Field bricks. We’ll have the basket over the wall. You can sit in the bleachers in left and right field. A replica of the center field scoreboard. The Welcome to Wrigley Field sign. The hand-operated scoreboard. The dugouts will look like Wrigley; we will even sink them in the ground. The Cubs even gave us ivy from their walls.”
“We’re hoping it will be a big tourist attraction,” said Ronnie Bush, a member of the project’s board.
For what it's worth Freeport has some of the nicest urban (if you can consider Freeport urban) parks I’ve ever seen. In addition to Read Park where Little Cubs Field will go up, Krape Park is simply amazing.
Monday, May 15, 2006
K’s Merchandise Mart is in trouble and might be forced to close if this story is right:
DECATUR - A Monday deadline looms for a committee created to examine the books in the hopes of saving the financially troubled K's Merchandise Mart Inc.Will K’s closing -if it closes- make much difference here in Springfield? I’ll admit I rarely go in the place anymore. Part of that is convenience; the far west side stores are just closer to where I live. Still, I’m not sure K’s stands out as a great place to shop anymore. Nothing against them (I even worked at the Springfield K’s store briefly years ago), I just think they won’t be missed all that much with all the other retail opportunities available to shoppers.
The Decatur-based chain - its Web site lists 17 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky - already has sailed close to the edge of bankruptcy. Now its fate rests on whether creditors and a new company effectively running K's can work out a deal that will save it. If not, bankruptcy and shutdown loom.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The notion that putting National Guard troops on the Mexican border is going to make a difference in illegal immigration is just silly. Without getting into the larger immigration debate, it’s futile to think a few thousand troops are going to stem the tide in any meaningful way.
This reminds me of the promise we had that the “War on Drugs” could be “won” by stricter interdiction efforts at the border and other points of entry. Truth is, as long as the demand exists, for drugs or cheap immigrant labor, the supply will get here.
C’mon, the Mexican/U.S. border is a huge area to guard. It’s nearly 2000 miles long. Using Guard troops who aren’t trained in effective border control is an enormous waste of money and manpower. Add to that the Guard has been over extended already in Iraq. Deploying them in border patrol duty, keeping them away from home even more, is only going to result in falling recruitment as potential volunteers opt out.
I also find it interesting that last year the Bush administration removed funding for more than 9700 new border patrol agents but now sees illegal immigration as such an emergency that the National Guard must be called in. Immigration concerns are the political flavor of the day and now we can expect this administration to respond as they usually do –foolishly.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Hey, there’s a new newspaper in town – The Sangamon Star.
The Sangamon Star is to Springfield newspapers what The Daily Show is to cable TV news. Except cheaper looking and no Jon Stewart. But really, it’s pretty damn funny.
It’s also free and available all over town. I came across it tonight for the first time when I walked into the Hickory River Smokehouse (2343 N. Dirksen Pkwy) which is an awesome BBQ place by the way.
The Sangamon Star also has a blog. The Sangamon Star blog is to the Springfield blog scene what Fafblog is to the larger blogosphere. Except not as funny and no Medium Lobster.
Friday, May 12, 2006
One of the many art forms to emerge from beer drinking is the Beer Pyramid, or Beeramid. Sure you can just throw out your empties, or recycle them if you must, but why not put them to a better use, at least until you sober up.
I found it distressing there were so few good pictures of beeramids available on the Internet. But I have a theory: by the time you have enough empties to make a decent pyramid, you’re having too much fun / too wasted to operate a camera.
I did find a couple of good beer pyramid pictures. Here’s one...
Here’s another but with a twist; it’s made out of KEGS:
By the way, why are empty beer containers structures almost always pyramids? Why not cubes or cylinders or house-shaped objects?
And while were on pyramids, let’s not forget there is a Pyramid brand of beer courtesy of the Pyramid Breweries Inc.
And then there are the folks who made the pyramid a household name: The Egyptians. They have a beer that features a pyramid –Sakara Beer:
So here’s to the best of beer geometric shapes: the pyramid.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Springfield blogger Matthew Pocket of Unspelled says he’s noticed a decrease in local blogging activity. I’d have to agree (ahem, Jim Leach) but I think it may be that many of us old-timers with blogs over a year old (now THAT’S old in blog years) aren’t posting as much. Actually, I’m guilty too of slacking off a bit.
There have been a number of new blogs to arrive on the Springfield blog scene however and I think it may be a matter of getting into the habit of continually updating your blog rounds. That is, make an effort to hit the newer blogs and not stick just with the same familiar ones. Let the new guys pick up the slack.
Rumor, and loud goings-on at Capital Airport, has it that the 183rd Fighter Wing is being deployed this week. It’s all very secret lest the Terrorist Air Force be tipped off and lie in wait to ambush them. Loose lips and all that. Too bad we don’t have compete and total air supremacy over the entire world (that’s sarcasm, we do).
Anyway, not to be selfish about the 183rd but Air Rendezvous is only six weeks away. They may be gone longer than that depending on the nature of the deployment. I know the 183rd isn’t here for our entertainment but it would be a shame if they weren’t here for what has to be one of their last Springfield Air Rendezvous’.
Update: JP in comments says they are headed for Diego Garcia (in the Indian Ocean) for several months.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
From Northern Illinois:
BELVIDERE — DaimlerChrysler officials confirmed this morning the company is adding a third shift at its Belvidere assembly plant, meaning 1,000 new jobs...From Southern Illinois:
HERRIN - The Whirlpool Corporation announced this morning it will close the Herrin Maytag plant in December.
The Southern Illinois site... employs about 1,000 people
I happened to see the aftermath of this crash last evening at the intersection f Lawrence and Walnut. Police had traffic blocked in all directions forcing motorists (including me) to take the side streets to get around the accident scene.
Recently, the city put up flashing warning signs as you approach the intersection cautioning drivers they are approaching a high accident intersection. I don’t think I’ve ever seen signs like that before, although I suppose they’re a good idea as far as they go. But why not make the intersection safer rather than just warning us it’s dangerous? That intersection has been consistently among the most dangerous in the city for as long as I can remember. Why not do something about it already?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to work in State middle management (and many aren’t in their right mind, believe me, but that’s a post for another day).
State government employees who are not represented by a labor union will not receive pay raises in the new budget lawmakers approved this week.That part about supervisors making less than those they supervise is true, by the way. In my days working for state government, I once had a supervisor who had been promoted to management early in his state career and had not achieved anything close to the top union pay level. He then got only small annual pay increases if he got anything at all. Soon he was making less than ANYONE he was supervising. So he was doing crappy, thankless management work and getting paid less for it than if he had stayed in his old position. None for me, thanks.
The spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 does not include additional money for the so-called "merit compensation," or management-level employees, said Lena Parsons, a spokeswoman for the Governor's Office of Management and Budget.
"It's a real shame," said Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, who believes the employees deserve larger paychecks.
"They are hard-working people," he added. "They're working just as hard as everyone else, actually harder" because of downsizing in state government.
In some cases, merit-comp employees are being paid less than the people they supervise because the lower-level workers are union-represented, Bomke said. The union workers have been getting regular pay increases.
Monday, May 08, 2006
This doesn’t happen often but I agree with Denny Hastert.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert signaled he may oppose the White House's selection of Gen Michael Hayden to run the CIA, according to a story posted Monday at TIME.com.I guess I had never thought about it before –an active military person heading the CIA– but I can tell you now it really makes me uncomfortable. It’s like a merger of two powerful institutions to form an unchecked monopoly; a merger that, in the corporate world, would violate anti-trust laws or something. It’s just bad business.
"The Speaker believes they should not have a military person leading the CIA, a civilian agency," Ron Bonjean, Hastert's communications director, told TIME.
Ha, ha, ha…George W. Bush wants to start a think tank after leaving office.
Oh, you’re already guaranteed a legacy Mr. President: wars, deficits, corruption, unending scandal –you have it all. But a W think tank? You are a card, sir.
So far Mr. Bush has said little publicly about his plans, although he told Bob Schieffer of CBS News in an interview in January that he wanted to create a policy center focused on the spread of democracy and Alexis de Tocqueville's vision of America as a nation made better by its "associations," or community groups.
"I would like to leave behind a legacy or a think tank, a place for people to talk about freedom and liberty, and the de Tocqueville model, what de Tocqueville saw in America," Mr. Bush told Mr. Schieffer.
With Champaign becoming the latest Illinois city to consider a smoking ban, U. S. Senator Dick Durbin has weighed in sending this letter to the Champaign City Council endorsing the ban. Additionally, WCIA-TV last night had video of Durbin speaking out on the issue.
Durbin has been criticized by some Champaign smoking ban opponents who claim to think Durbin should stay out of what they see as a strictly local issue. In truth, I think they are just upset that Durbin’s intervention may hurt their cause.
Durbin lending his voice to the idea of a smoking ban is a good thing as far as I’m concerned but I do have one question: Did Durbin send the Springfield City Council a similar letter when the smoking ban was being debated here? If he did, I missed it and I followed the smoking ban story here pretty closely. I don’t remember any media account of such a thing. Maybe he’s just now getting on board hoping to gain political points riding the tide of a winning issue. Whatever the reason, it would have been nice to have had him speak up here in Springfield, you know, HIS HOME TOWN. I hardly think he would have been criticized for meddling in local affairs here.
I’m glad Durbin supports the local smoking bans but I would like him to get behind a statewide ban as well. Rather than enacting hundreds of local bans with differing rules, I’d like to see any ban apply everywhere in the state, similar to what California and other states have very successfully implemented.
Update: Someone writing anonymously in comments says Durbin did write a letter of support for the Springfield ban that was published in the SJ-R on October 19th of last year. See the comment for the full text.
Think Progress has this item from the front line of the War on Sanity.
Career employees at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) were stunned last week to receive White House talking points on Iraq. The instructions asked the employees to include lines like “President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq” in every speech they give for the department. See the USDA’s talking points on Iraq here.The USDA -winning the hearts and minds of bean fields worldwide.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I see the last survivor of the Titanic sinking who was actually able to remember the event has died. (There are two other survivors still alive but they were too young at the time to remember the tragedy.)
Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, has died, a funeral home said Sunday. She was 99.This just goes to show there really are no survivors in the long run and we’re all just busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Asplund, who was just 5 years old, lost her father and three brothers -- including a fraternal twin -- when the "practically unsinkable" ship went down in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg.
She died Saturday at her home in Shrewsbury, said Ronald E. Johnson, vice president of the Nordgren Memorial Chapel in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Special thanks to the late Jim Morrison for the title of this post.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Why is this happening?
It was another day of business as usual in the House today, as the GOP killed another common sense homeland security reform. This time, they refused to adopt an amendment that would have required every U.S.-bound shipping container to be scanned for radiological weapons at its port of origin. For the party that's running on (and clinging to) security issues as its heart and soul, the Republicans have shown a surprising unwillingness to make security more than a slogan.Just scan the damn containers! It’s an obvious point of entry and one that can be managed. It will take a minimum of expense and effort but still takes a solid precautionary security step that doesn’t involve trampling all over our constitutional rights. We have enough other, more complicated security isses to deal with without having to argue over what should be a no-brainer. What is wrong with these people? Is there nothing money can't buy in Washington?
Wal-Mart and other mega-importers, under the umbrella of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, have been lobbying fiercely against 100-percent scanning. The industry alleges that scanning every container would slow down commerce and harm their profits. If that sounds achingly familiar, it's because that's the same objection raised by industry groups when Congress decided, after 9/11, that every airline passenger and every piece of luggage needed to be scanned. Lobbyists foretold clogged airports, massive delays, and the death of the airline industry. But, as so often happens, common sense trumped corporate paranoia. Our flights depart on-schedule, and every bag is scanned.
The Illinois legislature passed a budget last night. I know, big yawn. But I forced myself to read the State Journal-Register account hoping to find some interesting nugget to blog about, maybe an outlandish item some lawmaker got into the budget. You know, the pork that gets the pundits all up in arms and proves government just doesn’t work –EVER.
Well, the article wasn’t very specific on the spending items and focused mostly on the politics – Dems were for the budget and the Repubs were against.
One Democrat did vote No. And here’s where I found my blogworthy item:
Sen. Louis Viverito of Burbank was the only Democrat to vote "no," but he blamed a malfunctioning voting switch.A malfunctioning voting switch? If that’s what it was, and not a malfunctioning voting switch user, what does a Senator do? Does he call Senate Support? And what does Support do after they’ve had the Senator reboot his voting switch and his Yes votes are still coming out as No? Do they advise him to vote No when he means Yes until they can get a service ticket written and a technician sent down? Or perhaps the whole Senate must revert to voice vote pending the complete check of the system. I mean, maybe there are other faulty voting switches and some Senators just didn’t notice their votes were being recorded incorrectly.
Of course, a smart politician might not want to do anything about a broken voting switch. Think about it, Senator Viverito can now claim to have both voted FOR the budget and AGAINST it. None of this lame “I voted for it before I voted against it” stuff; he was for it and against it at the same time. Having it both ways was never so easy.
So why is the basic unit of beer packaging the six pack? Where did that standard come from?
One answer here:
From Beer Dave [No Relation]: Pabst was the first brewery to package beer in six packs. After numerous studies, it was determined that six cans was the ideal weight for the average housewife to cart home from the store. Remember that in the '40s things were different from today.Another answer here:
The Origin of the Six PackOK, so the actual decade the six pack was invented is still a point of contention but it seems clear the physical strength of women is to blame for the six pack. So if our mothers or grandmothers or great grandmothers had been a little more physically fit we might have been enjoying a more satisfying EIGHT pack all these years. Besides, we know women can really heft more beer if they put some effort into it.
Why not 4 or 8 or 10?
In the 1930's, major breweries determined that six bottles was the most that a woman would carry home from the market.
Ever wonder about where the world’s largest six pack resides? Answer: LaCrosse, Wisconsin, at City Brewery.
How ‘bout the dumbest way of carrying a six pack? Try this:
That guy looks like a drunk beer terrorist. Hint: you won’t get on a plane wearing that thing.
The six pack: an American tradition!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
This little bit of trivia (if you consider tornadoes trivial) from the Illinois Times today:
May is danger time when it comes to tornadoes in these parts. Just ask Frank Tatom, founder of VorTek, an Alabama company that uses National Weather Service statistics to figure out which towns are most likely to be hit by tornadoes.I would not have thought we were that high up on the list. I suppose the 20 mile radius thing helps but considering how infrequently the city itself is hit (except for this year) it just doesn’t seem like were in such a high risk area.
In any given May, Springfield ranks 14th in the nation — and first in the state of Illinois — when it comes to likelihood of hosting a twister, according to VorTek.
Top of the list? That would be Oklahoma City, followed closely by Huntsville, Ala., where Tatom lives. Amazingly, the folks in Huntsville aren’t basking in the glow. “Actually, the chamber of commerce in Huntsville has come to me several times and asked me to tone down my statistics,” says Tatom, who keeps track of how many tornadoes touch down within 20 miles of the epicenter of every U.S. city of more than 100,000 residents.
Well, this certainly gets my stamp of approval.
Postal officials pitched the idea of creating a "forever stamp" that would be good for sending first-class mail no matter how much the cost of a postage stamp goes up. The announcement came on the same day that the Postal Service said it would seek to raise the price of a first-class stamp for the second consecutive year.If I never have to buy another one-cent stamp again, that’ll be just fine with me. Honestly, I don’t really do it anyway. When there’s an increase in the price of stamps I have traditionally just used up my old stamps by using two at a time rather than getting the one-centers. I know, that’s waste of money but it’s a waste of time to go get one-cent stamps for the remaining six or seven old first class stamps.
The forever stamps, which would cost the same as a first-class stamp, would provide a hedge against future postal rate increases and end the search for 2- or 3-cent stamps that usually follows a price increase.
The proposed rate increase--and the idea of forever stamps--would require the approval of the independent Postal Rate Commission, and would take effect no earlier than May 2007.
The forever stamp concept is long overdue. Sadly, it’s so overdue that it’s almost pointless for me. With the internet and online payments and the like, there’s very little mail going out of my household. 10 years ago or more it would have made a bigger difference. Right now though, not so much.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
You know, the really sad part is this doesn’t surprise me in the least.
Even though their country has been at war there for three years, six in 10 young Americans were unable to locate Iraq on a map of the world, a survey found.In general, this is an old story; Americans don’t know shit. But why are they picking on the young here. Is the geographical knowledge of Americans over 24 dramatically better? I doubt it. For one thing, I’ve been seeing similar studies of how stupid kids and young adults since, well, I was a kid (the first wave of “Johnny Can’t Read” media coverage I can remember appeared when I was in high school 30 years ago). So, hey, media, leave those kids alone!
They did little better at home: despite the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds could not locate Louisiana, according to a Roper poll for National Geographic.
Update: Kevin Drum makes the same observation.
I may have to reconsider my love of microwave popcorn. This story has been around for a while apparently but I had missed it until I saw a CNN video piece on CCN.com yesterday (it’s gone now, so no link).
Here’s the gist:
Results of a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishedYum!
in October reveal that compounds known to break down into the suspected
carcinogen PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) may be served up to millions of unwitting consumers in bags of microwave popcorn. The family treat could account for more than 20% of the average PFOA levels now measured in the blood of U.S. residents.
Assuming PFOA is really dangerous, I suppose I’ve already consumed so much of the stuff over the last 20 years that I’m doomed no matter what I do from this point on. Still, its going to be harder to enjoy microwave popcorn with this in mind.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Sheila Simon, daughter of the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon, announced yesterday she is running for mayor of Carbondale. Currently she’s a Carbondale City Council member.
Another Senator Simon from Illinois someday?
I do miss the late Senator: the bow-tie, the ears, the glasses, the voice... and his politics were pretty good too.
I knew it was only a matter of days before some knee-jerk Republican would introduce legislation requiring the Star-Spangled Banner be sung only in English. But who would it be?
Congratulations Lamar Alexander, you’re our winner!
Yes, it must be legislated what language in which you sing. Of course this suffers from the same problems the flag burning laws present:
It’s unenforceable because you can’t define the Star-Spangled Banner. If IBut none of this will deter the pandering idiots in the Republican Party who seek to only limit the freedoms they pretend to protect. And may the Bush State Department be the first to be penalized for their Spanish version of the SSB already posted on the internet.
change a word or note is it still the Star-Spangled Banner? At what point is it not?
Is this really so much a problem we need legislation? Are the throngs of non-English SSB singers so intrusive on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we need a crackdown for the common good?
Isn’t it my first amendment right to sing what I want how I want? Screw you, I’ll sing what I want to sing and do it in whatever language I want.
It’s counter productive. Won’t this law actually ENCOURAGE singing the SSB in another language as a form of protest?
Update: It looks to me like Alexander's motion is a resolution rather than actual binding legislation. He still gets points for pandering but we're still looking for that resolute Republican who is bold enough to force us to sing what and how we should as good Americans.
Update II: Via Atrios who quotes from Kevin Phillips' book American Dynasty:
When visiting cities like Chicago, Milwaukee or Philadelphia, in pivotal states, [George W. Bush] would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish, sometimes partying with a "Viva Bush" mariachi band flown in from Texas.This is the guy who just last week said the national anthem should be sung in only English. I guess it’s a case of vote-getting over principle.
I’m not one of those people who thinks violence in the media (movies, TV, video games, music) necessarily “makes” someone violent. Nor do I advocate any sort of mandatory regulation of violent content in the media.
Having said that, I was recently surprised to find my self uncomfortable watching a violent cartoon. A cartoon I grew up with and found nothing wrong with at the time: Tom & Jerry.
Let me explain. I’ve spent a significant amount of time over the last couple of years watching cartoons and kids shows with my son who is now almost 3. I’ve actually come to appreciate modern programming aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers. Most of it is creative, educational and entertaining. Who can watch an episode of Little Bear and not feel good afterward?
Coming off this experience, I decided to sit down with my son the other day and watch one of the classics from Daddy’s day. The story of an ongoing adversarial relationship between a cat and a mouse. But once we got watching the cartoon, I began to feel uncomfortable. The amount of violence in the Tom & Jerry just seemed wrong. Not dangerous, just wrong. I felt like I was showing my son a soft-core porn flick or something.
The violence was so pointless, my son kept asking me why Tom was shooting/hammering/smacking/clubbing Jerry and visa versa. I really didn’t have an answer. I might have said “because it’s funny” but it really wasn’t.
This got me to wondering what I ever saw in Tom & Jerry. For one thing, back in my days as a kid there was never more than one TV channel that had cartoons or any kids show on at any given time other, of course, than Saturday morning. So if I wanted to watch TV, I had to take what I could get. As for why I didn’t walk away, I suppose it did provide some level of entertainment. I doubt I ever laughed out loud at a Tom & Jerry cartoon but the action provided a spectacle to watch. I suppose it’s not much different than an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis movie in that regard.
By the way, if you are a fan of cartoons from back in the day, there is a new cable channel specializing in them. It’s called Boomerang and is a subsidiary of the Cartoon network. Currently, I don’t think it’s available in Springfield via Insight Cable except for a few cartoons on their digital On Demand service (where we caught Tom & Jerry).
Series of events:
Jerome Prophet complained that when he Googled his pet topic, particle beams and artificial lightning”, he got very, very few hits.
I advised him in comments:
I think you'll find you get more hits if you expand your search. Try:Riffing off my advice, he does this.
Particle beams and artificial lightning Angelina Jolie
You just have to know how to use the internets.
Update: JP has taken the Angelina Jolie pictures down! Now his post is all serious and stuff.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Boy, this brings back memories of standing in line at SIU’s check cashing windows in the Student Center. But that was back in the days when there were either no ATMs (when I started school there) or they were just beginning to appear (when I graduated).
The Student Center check cashing station is no longer accepting personal checks.I guess I’m kind of amazed the check cashing went on this long given how prevalent ATM cards are now.
A sign has been posted for about three weeks telling students the check cashing station would no longer be accepting personal checks starting today.
Ken Jaros, assistant director of the Student Center, said many factors contributed to the decision to quit accepting personal checks at the cashing station.
One of the main reasons the Student Center is implementing the new policy is because too many students cash bad checks. He said this happens almost every year, and the Student Center has to make up for the loss it incurs by paying out of its own pocket.
But then there's this:
Eric Miller, a freshman from Springfield studying civil engineering, said his ATM card doesn't work anywhere in Carbondale. Because of this, he said the only way he can get money is through personal checks that he cashes at the Student Center. He said he was upset about the new policy and will have to figure out a new way to get money.What ATM card can’t be used pretty much anywhere these days? Here’s a hint for Eric of Springfield: get an account at a Carbondale bank or switch banks here in Springfield so your ATM card does work. There’s no reason you can’t get your money from an ATM.
"I'll probably ride the bus to Wal-Mart to buy a pack of gum and request as much cash back as I can get," Miller said.
While a student at SIU I got my check cashing privileges revoked for a while when a “friend” wrote me a bad check and I cashed it at the check cashing station. Actually, I don’t even remember who it was that gave me the bad check but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t anyone who might be reading this now.
I got my first ATM card ever from a Carbondale bank while at SIU in about 1981. It was good in exactly two places in the world: the bank itself and a remote station in the SIU Student Center. But at the time it seemed like a great convenience. I couldn’t use it at stores or restaurants or out of town but I could always walk over to the bank’s drive-up ATM and get money.
I must say, it was funny sometimes to see that drive-up ATM. There would be a car at the machine and behind it someone on a bicycle and behind them someone standing in line (often me since I had neither a car nor a bicycle) followed by another car, etc.
At the time, all this was a great improvement over the then recent days when, if you didn’t plan ahead, you could find yourself out on a Friday night with no money and no way of getting more.
Today it's almost too easy to get cash. But then, who needs it anyway since your ATM card is also a debit card.