Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Our Articulate Senator

Oh God, George Bush just had to join in the fun:
In an interview today with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Bush echoed Biden’s remarks when asked about Obama. “He’s an attractive guy. He’s articulate. I’ve been impressed with him when I’ve seen him in person,” Bush said.
He’s articulate! And he’s only a United States Senator. I’m not sure Bush would know articulate if it bit him in the ass but there you have it.

Out Foxed

Well, I’m liking Barack Obama more every day. Yesterday, he called for the complete pull-out of troops from Iraq by early 2008 and now I see this:
Sources tell The Sleuth that the Obama camp has "frozen out" Fox News reporters and producers in the wake of the network's major screw-up in running with the erroneous Obama-the-jihadist story reported by Insight magazine.
Let’s be clear that this wasn’t just a “screw-up”, major or otherwise. If it had been, and not part of a long standing anti-Democrat smear campaign, I’d say Obama was being petty. Truth is, that’s the kind of stuff they do day-in and day-out. Their core audience loves it and won’t stand for anything less. Why would they when they could get real news (more or less) a million other places?

I’ve long wondered why any Democrat would give Fox News any of their time. Why legitimize them? They aren’t really a news organization, why pretend they are? And to their own detriment, no less.

Our Clean Senator

Sen. Joe Biden (D – Try, Try Again), who has just announced his latest bid for President, has really stuck his foot in his mouth. Regarding Illinois Sen. Barack Obama he said:
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy…”
Clean? Mainstream African-Americans aren’t clean? Or articulate? Or bright? Come to think of it what are “mainstream” African-Americans? Oh man, did Biden ever step in it.

Atrios thinks this comment may result in history’s shortest presidential campaign.

All Politics is Local

There is a group of homeowners in our subdivision that are understandably upset about a new development that is going in next to their properties. Right now the land in question is heavily wooded with a creek running trough it. It’s quite beautiful and surely adds to the esthetics of living there. Now, a developer wants to com in and put up a new housing subdivision. This will mean a lot of those trees are going to go away and instead of having a nice patch of woods just beyond their property, there will now be someone else’s backyard.

I understand the concern and disappointment these people are feeling; I’ve long been jealous of their situation next to that undeveloped land. However, it is private land and I, and I’m sure they, also knew that it could wind up being built upon someday.

Still, the residents adjacent to this land have organized and plan to oppose its development. That’s all well and good and certainly within their rights. I wish them well as I’d like to see the land undeveloped too but I’m not holding my breath and don’t think the “because we like the view” argument is going to hold much water.

One aspect of this does intrigue me though. The leader of this group happens to be involved in the politics of a political party that otherwise routinely sneers at environmentalists (you know, “treehuggers”) and environmentalism. This political party also opposes most governmental regulation that would impede the very development that is taking place next to our subdivision. Now, I have no idea what the specific environmental views are of this gentleman (who I know and like) but due to his association with his political party I suspect he hasn’t been all that concerned with preserving wilderness until now. But who knows maybe I’m wrong .

I have noticed though, that members of this political party often “get religion” on an issue when it affects them directly. I’ve seen a number of conservatives in Congress become advocates for research into this or that disease because they have been directly impacted by it in some way. Yet they would be the first to cast a No vote for research into another disease.

Here I think we have a similar situation where if this patch of woods were in another part of town, many of these people wouldn’t care a bit and might even oppose, in principle, anyone trying to block a development that otherwise might be good for the city. If everyone acts only in their own self-interest, everyone loses.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More War

Oh boy. Can you say Gulf of Tonkin? I have no idea if this is going to be the pretext for war with Iran but I’m sure it’s at least going into the Bush administration’s “permanent record” on Iran, perhaps to be dusted off later in a pretext emergency.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said.

"People are looking at it seriously," one of the officials said.

That official added the Iranian connection was a leading theory in the investigation into the January 20 attack that killed five soldiers.

The second official said: "We believe it's possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained."

Yes, we’re in Bush’s final quarter but that’s still two years.

Picture Show

Don’t forget the Movie Geeks Club tonight.

7 PM
Tuesday January 30, 2007
Capital City Bar and Grill
3149 S. Dirksen Parkway

I’d really like to see this succeed. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m not going to be there tonight as circumstances have again conspired against me (sick kid, can’t get a sitter).

I did recently check out the new setup at Capital City Bar and Grill and was really surprised at how they have incorporated the old theater into the drinking establishment. The night we were there, a band was playing in front of the movie screen. It looks like a great setup.

I hope it goes well tonight so there will be future gatherings.

See the Funky QB

You can’t see the 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle video on YouTube but you can see it over at Unfogged. Silly copyright rules. Go Bears!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Headline of the Day

When Castro dies, Miami will party like it's 1959

Story here.

Aside from the amusing headline, I find the story a bit creepy.

It's About Winning

Well, duh. I’ve been saying this for some time:

I recently asked supporters of Chief Illiniwek: "What important principle do you feel is being advanced by the effort to save this symbol of the University of Illinois? What makes it worth all the controversy and the hurt feelings?"

Many responses later, I'm confident I have the answer: Not tradition. Not respect for American Indians. The main sentiment keeping the Chief in place is opposition to those who want to retire him as an offensive caricature.

Even the Chief’s supporters don’t really care that much about the Chief (why would they). What they care about is beating their political and cultural opponents. I suspect the other side has a lot of this same energy. That’s why I’ve also consistently said that while I oppose the Chief in principle, it’s really about item number 10,001 on my ranking of issues that need addressing.

Still, I’m just not interested in hearing anymore that the Chief somehow pays homage to Native Americans and he’s really a great symbol and all that nonsense.

Carbondale Beer Blogging: The Undead Party Edition

Oh dear. The city of Carbondale has pretty much extinguished the Halloween street party of old, but somehow things keep popping up anyway…
As early as 9 a.m. Saturday, tailgaters gathered in the parking lot of Pinch Penny Pub hell-bent on defying Mother Nature.

More than 1,000 Corona cases and almost 300 pounds of limes later, all that was left of the fifth annual Polar Bear Party was a head cold, a soiled T-shirt and memories for between 2,000 and 3,000 partiers.


He said the bar is considering expanding the event to become a festival-like atmosphere that would include more than just the bar to avoid these problems.

"Something that Carbondale could be proud of as a community and market it towards other campuses and other towns, just to show that if you know what you're doing and you've got a grasp on it that it doesn't have to be out of control like Halloween," Karayiannis said.
Yeah, OK. Beer, college kids, large groups of college kids, people coming in from out of town, more beer and pretty soon you have Halloween all over again. Not that I have any problem with that.

One Hit Wonders in Illinois Politics

OMG – The SJ-R digs up (no - not that way, he isn’t dead yet) former Illinois Governor Dan Walker. I kind of wish they had gone more into what he did as governor. I remember his walking the state campaign stunt prior to the 1972 election, but I’ll be damned if I can remember anything notable he accomplished as governor. That’s not to say he didn’t do anything, I just don’t remember and the SJ-R doesn’t fill me in. It was kind of interesting though to find out where he is (California) and what he looks like (click photo gallery link below the online story).

One thing I do remember was that Walker, after being elected, shopped the Catholic schools in Springfield for a place to send his daughter (Margaret?) who happened to be in the same grade as me. I heard the looked at Blessed Sacrament where I attended school but settled on Christ the King.

This is the first in a series of where-are-they-nows by the SJ-R.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Stuff I Didn't Know

Saturday Night Live’s Maya Rudolph is the daughter of the late Minnie Riperton.
Rudolph is the daughter of the late soul singer Minnie Riperton and Jewish American composer/songwriter/producer Richard Rudolph. She was in the studio with her mother on the day Riperton recorded "Lovin' You"; one can hear her mother sing "Maya, Maya, Maya" to her near the end of the track.
Minnie died at the age of 31 from breast cancer. If you’re old enough, you might remember this song she recorded in the mid 1970’s a few years before she died.

Loving you- Minnie Riperton

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Life During Wartime

This about says it all…
Thousands of anti-war protesters demanded a withdrawal of U.S. troops in a demonstration in Washington today. … About 40 people staged a counter-protest.
And while we’re on the subject of the Bush Glorious War, I have finally had something confirmed to me. I was told several years ago, at the start of the BGW, that all those Support the Troops signs in yards and on the back of cars were really just to show support of the troops. I contended that those signs were really designed to show support for the war while hiding behind the troops to insulate the sentiment from criticism.

Well, how many of those signs do you see anymore? What, those former supporters of the troops now DON’T support the troops? No, more likely they now no longer support the war or have problems with its execution. Those signs (most but not all) never really had much to do with the troops. Just like I said.

Everyone “supports” the men and women in uniform. The war isn’t their fault. That’s why I found it particularly offensive for some to use that “support” to squelch criticism of the war itself. If you really support the troops maybe you should consider a “Get the Troops the Hell Out of Iraq” sign.

Just Go Away, PLEASE!

Ha, ha. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of this question even being asked in a national poll:
The president's approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll's history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over[emphasis mine]
I often think that to myself, “I wish this administration was DONE AND OVER WITH.” So to see that most of the country is thinking the same way is quite heartening.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Cool. Blogging can now get you a college scholarship. You have to blog about politics but I wonder if beer blogging wouldn't be more relevant to the college experience.

HT to Think Progress.

Dry Taxis

I put this in the same category as pharmacists who want to refuse to sell the so-called morning after pill.
I stepped into the taxi depot that serves the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport, where drivers sit and wait for their next fare. In this crowded, noisy room, most of the cabbies are Muslims originally from Somalia.

"We're doing a story about the conflict between the cabbies and the airport. The Muslim drivers have been refusing to take passengers carrying alcohol, such as wine or liquor purchased at a duty free shop," I explained.

A group of men gathered around us.

"This is America, we have freedom of religion," says one cabbie. We could see their feelings are intense -- that the issue seems to cut to the core of their identity.
Sounds familiar, no? If your religious beliefs conflict with your job duties you should find another job. That goes for pharmacist and cab driver.

And this dude gets it completely backward.
"The Metropolitan Airport Commission is discriminating against us Muslim drivers," says Abdulkaddir Adan, a Somalian-American who's been driving a cab in the Twin Cities for two years.
No, YOU Mr. cabbie are discriminating based on what items a fare is carrying. You don’t have to drink. You don’t have to like that others drink. And unless your passenger is beating you over the head with a Jack Daniels bottle or, I suppose opening and drinking the hooch in the cab, it’s really none of your business if someone is carrying alcohol. The booze is just not any of your concern.

Friday Beer Blogging: Random Brew Edition

I think it’s about time for a little beer porn to kick off the weekend.

In honor of the Chicago Bears being Super Bowl bound, I’ll start with a ThirstyBear courtesy of the ThirstyBear Restaurant and Brewery.

And how ‘bout this for an offensive line. Actually, there isn’t anything offensive about this except that I’m not there to sample the lineup brought to us by the Hop Yard American Alehouse and Grill. A beer rainbow.

Moving on to a Lucky Labrador from the Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. Lap up them suds, dawg. Or, er, bear down or something.

Oh what the hell, one more football metaphor. Check out this huddle from the folks at Bell’s Brewery.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Old News

What an interesting online resource this would be if only…it were really an online resource.
Vanderbilt University has a television news archive it maintains. It has links to a synopsis of every news story on the three major networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) nightly newscasts going back to 1968. At some point they started including stuff from CNN. They even list the commercials. However, they don’t have links to the actual video. From what I can tell, they have only a means by which you can request copies of the video be mailed loaned to you via mail (of the snail variety). Says their web site:
This information describes a segment of a news broadcast held by the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. The Archive has recorded news programs from the U.S. national television networks since August 1968. To view this item, you may request that a copy be sent to you through the Archive's videotape loan service.
We charge a service fee to help recover the costs.
Wow, how cool would this be if you could just click on the particular story and watch it right online? Maybe there is another such archive that does provide online access of the video? I couldn’t find one.

A Capitol Decision

The SJ-R is reporting the site tentatively chosen for Barack Obama’s formal announcement that he is running for president will be…

…the Old State Capitol with the Prairie Capital Convention Center as a bad weather back-up.

That’s probably a good choice (weather permitting) giving some historical favor and allowing for some mention of Abraham Lincoln who once legislated from the building. And since it’s on a Saturday (Feb. 10), I think Obama can expect a good crowd without disrupting normal workday activities downtown. Oh, yeah and there’ll be some visitors in town spending money which ain’t a bad thing either. The Feed Store might be busy that day.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Obama Strikes Back

Good on Illinois Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama for not just sitting back and taking the punches from the right wing smear machine. Here is a statement his office has released in response to the totally false and mean-spirited (not to mention religiously bigoted) “Madrassa” attacks.
In the past week, many of you have read a now thoroughly-debunked story by Insight Magazine, owned by the Washington Times, which cites unnamed sources close to a political campaign that claim Senator Obama was enrolled for “at least four years” in an Indonesian “Madrassa”. The article says the “sources” believe the Madrassa was “espousing Wahhabism,” a form of radical Islam.

Insight Magazine published these allegations without a single named source, and without doing any independent reporting to confirm or deny the allegations. Fox News quickly parroted the charges, and Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy went so far as to ask, “Why didn’t anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised — spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father — as a Muslim and was educated in a Madrassa?”

All of the claims about Senator Obama raised in the Insight Magazine piece were thoroughly debunked by CNN, which, instead of relying on unnamed sources, sent a reporter to Obama’s former school in Jakarta to check the facts.

If Doocy or the staff at Fox and Friends had taken [time] to check their facts, or simply made a call to his office, they would have learned that Senator Obama was not educated in a Madrassa, was not raised as a Muslim, and was not raised by his father – an atheist Obama met once in his life before he died.

Later in the day, Fox News host John Gibson again discussed the Insight Magazine story without any attempt to independently confirm the charges.

All of the claims about Senator Obama’s faith and education raised in the Insight Magazine story and repeated on Fox News are false. Senator Obama was raised in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother. Obama’s stepfather worked for a U.S. oil company, and sent his stepson to two years of Catholic school, as well as two years of public school. As Obama described it, “Without the money to go to the international school that most expatriate children attended, I went to local Indonesian schools and ran the streets with the children of farmers, servants, tailors, and clerks.” [The Audacity of Hope, p. 274]

To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa.

These malicious, irresponsible charges are precisely the kind of politics the American people have grown tired of, and that Senator Obama is trying to change by focusing on bringing people together to solve our common problems.
Standing up to these liars and bullies is something we all need to do. Enough is enough. It’ll never stop until we all start calling bullshit on this stuff. I’m glad Obama is showing some leadership in this area.

The only thing I don't like about the response is it seems to further the Muslim = Bad slur. He is denying being Muslim almost like one would deny being a traitor. Maybe I'm reading to much into that. Or maybe that's the only way to get through to some people. He is not a Muslim but he should not be any more suspect if he were.

Plate Tectonics

I’ll second this:
Your average car offers a blank rear canvas for personal expression of at least 5 square feet -- empty bumper space, body panels and so on. So why anyone feels the need to express himself in the exact same 6-inch by 12-inch rectangle that the state uses for license plate information has always been beyond me.
I really don’t have a problem with vanity plates but I’ve always thought the specialty plates to be excessive. And I’ll have to admit, I basically agree with the judge’s decision. It’s kind of hard to draw distinctions between what law-abiding organizations can and can’t have specialty plates.
So why are vanity plates OK with me but specialized plates not? Well, the license plate has to have letters and or numbers of some kind anyway, why not let people personalize them within reason? The specialty part of specialty plates, on the other hand, serve no function related to motor vehicle governance or law enforcement. They are a luxury that can just create problems like the one we are seeing now without enhancing in anyway the purpose of the license plate.

So count me as one who would just as soon see messages moved off the plates and back on to the bumper.

When Wingnuts Try To Be Funny

Oh, this is going to be a million laughs I’m sure. What they don’t get is that to parody something it has to actually exist. Still, I’m sure this effort will be funny in many unintended ways. It’s already humorous how Rush is so tickled with his own performance. But President Limbaugh and Vice President Coulter? Sounds more like a nightmare than comedy gold.

Nothing Will Be Done

Following up on JP’s post on last night’s State of the Union message, I’ve noticed all Presidents since at least Jimmy Carter have promised to do something about energy policy in general and oil dependence in particular. But nothing substantial ever happens. Why do they bother? It reminds me of people (and that would sometimes include me) who constantly vow to eat better and exercise more but just never get around to it because, well, it’s hard. So here we have yet another New Years resolution on its way to being broken. At least the sentiment was good unlike most of the rest of the speech which featured more war, lies about the economy and the national deficit, and a really bad idea that would raise taxes on health insurance.

A Few Words From an Interested Party

I found this to be as good as any response to the State of the Union speech. Jim Webb was OK but this is better.

A SOTU Response

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maybe it’s because I spend too much time on the internet but I keep laughing to myself about a scene from last week’s My Name is Earl. While Earl tries to figure out how to use a computer, Joy impatiently shouts over his shoulder something like: “Earl, don’t you know nothing about the Wide, Wide World of Web?”

Springfield’s Newest Blogger: Dick Durbin

This is a fine thing and all, but wouldn’t it be great if elected officials blogged more like their constituents do. They might need to go anonymous or face the loss of votes from pissing-off too many people (do you think I or Jim Leach or Jerome Prophet would EVER win an election?).

Durbin might have and put up taunting posts directed at the administration. His first post might be headlined I Prefer Bad Breath to Dick Cheney or some such. He might want to carry a cell phone around to grab candid and unflattering shots of political opponents, etc.

Barack Obama could post to his Disarranging My Madrassa blog where he displays his latest funny Photoshops of Hillary. He could also have links to to boost book sales.

Tim Davlin’s Springfield All Mine blog would also be a big hit. It would be a series of recent photos taken around town that when you move your mouse over them, they turn into a crappy black and white photo from some other administration. Bright and colorful city / dull, gray city of old. Now who do you like?

Unfortunately, I’m afraid all that would appear on Gov. Blagojevich’s Throwing a Rod blog would be a convenient PayPal link. Not too interesting I’m afraid.

But some would likely look forward to the latest posts on John Shimkus’ Hot Buff Congressional His blog nom-de-plum being something like Brad Beefcake.

Well, just food for thought. A little more candor might be refreshing and the blogosphere is just the place to cut loose and let it fly.


I just got some change back at a local fast food place and written on one of the bills was "Impeach Bush".

When Winters Were Winters

Good local history blogging should not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Saved by the School

I often hear people claim, even decades later, that junior high was the most horrible experience ever. I always hated school in general until about half way through high school and then didn’t really “like” it until I went off to college. So I always figured it was the low baseline I had already established that led me to not notice much of a difference between, say, third grade and seventh grade. But then I read this from Becks over at Unfogged:
I think middle schools are awful -- kids at that age are just horrible little creatures and putting them all together in an environment cut off from the rest of the world brings out the worst in them. My friends who went to K-8 schools had much better experiences and I think I would have preferred it.
Well, I went to a K-8 school. Maybe that explains it. I was spared the horrors of middle school because…I didn’t go to a middle school. Interesting. I also suspect it helped that I wasn’t a girl and that I already had a general disinterest in a large percentage of my classmates. Although I kind of regret that last part all these years later since those are people with whom I probably have way more in common than almost anyone else in the world.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Not a Terrorist Afterall

Well, I'm certainly glad to see we’ve cleared up Barack Obama’s status as a terrorist. You need to have that issue resolved sometime during a presidential campaign. Better sooner than later, I say.

I Prefer Bad Breath to Blowhard DJs

I really should just ignore this but our guy Bri is typical of a certain non-thinking subset of reactionary conservatives. Actually, frothing at the mouth Hillary hating is kind of funny because those with this affliction really have a tough time explaining it when questioned. Ol’ Bri gives it a shot though. To be fair, he says he doesn’t “hate” Hillary only because he hasn’t met her in person but...
She thinks she's smarter than me. She thinks she's smarter than anyone in the room. The "vibe" she gives off - comes from way over my head, and she feels the need to talk down to me. She is the polar opposite of Bill (I wasn't crazy about him either) - but he connected to people in a way she never will. I ask myself if she has a chance receiving votes from "regular people." These are the voters in the "fly over" states - the red states in between New York & California (The whole country) I see Homer, Ed & Jimmy sitting at a coffee shop in Springfield Missouri drinking coffee. Hillary sees herself as intellectually superior to these people.
Good Lord, where to begin. First, notice this almost-hatred isn’t based on anything concrete just a “vibe”. He knows she thinks she’s smarter than everyone. However, not one area of policy is mentioned in Bri’s post. Nope it’s all a sense of Hillary thinking she’s so smart. Oh, what a bitch!

And what’s this “regular people” crap? Look pal, I have relatives on both coasts and family and many friends right here in the Midwest. And you know what, they’re all Americans, good people and no more or less “regular” than their counterparts in other parts of the country. How spectacularly simplistic and arrogant to assume your own superiority by virtue of the fact that you live in “regular” Springfield, IL.

And in case you didn’t know it, Illinois is a blue state and it’s between New York and California. It’s a geographical fact, look it up. Oh sorry, that didn’t come off as me knowing more than you did it?

And what do you know of being “regular”? Making a living off of sitting behind a microphone pretending not to be married to your co-host for several hours a day is a fine thing (I worked in radio myself for many years) but it’s not exactly what I would call “regular”. Again, stop me if I’m acting smarter then you.

Bri also says:
So Hillary is the front runner. According to whom? Average Americans?
Now are these “Average Americans” who should be in charge of who is the frontrunner the same people who are “regular” Americans? Actaully, if you’ll indulge a bit of smarty-pantsism on my part, Hillary is currently, nearly two years out from the election, the frontrunner among Democrats who we all know aren’t “regular” or “American” (or patriotic or in any way normal).

But here’s a surprise for you Bri –I don’t like Hillary as a presidential candidate either. The difference is, that opinion is based on the issues and how she’s handled them, not some inferiority complex and Limbaugh-inspired demonization. You should talk to more “regular” people who don’t believe exactly as you do. Hate will just eat you up inside.

Update: It also just occurred to me that Hillary grew up in Illinois and lived a big part of her adult life in Arkansas. My map has those places between the two coasts of irregular people.

Half of All Bars in U.S. Now Set to Close

Most Americans now live under the crushing boot of non-smoking fascism.

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Thirty years after it began as just another quirky movement in Berkeley, Calif., the push to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places has reached a national milestone.

For the first time in the nation's history, more than half of Americans live in a city or state with laws mandating that workplaces, restaurants or bars be smoke-free, according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

''The movement for smoke-free air has gone from being a California oddity to the nationwide norm,'' said Bronson Frick, the group's associate director. ''We think 100 percent of Americans will live in smoke-free jurisdictions within a few years.''

Seven states and 116 communities enacted tough smoke-free laws last year, bringing the total number to 22 states and 577 municipalities, according to the group. Nevada's ban, which went into effect Dec. 8, increased the total U.S. population covered by any type of smoke-free law to 50.2 percent.
Man the barricades! Or at least start emptying your garbage and cigarette butts into the gutters (but watch out for killer panhandlers).

On the Butt Beat

First, let me say I think it’s funny the SJ-R sent a reporter out to investigate cigarette butts. The smoking ban story really can be milked endlessly I guess.
The ban forces patrons of bars and restaurants to step outside to enjoy smokes, and many simply toss their cigarette butts onto the sidewalks near the front doors of drinking establishments.

A check of some downtown bars last week showed unsightly trails of cigarette butts outside many bars in the mornings. By lunchtime, most of the messes had been cleaned up.
So the reporter when out looking for cigarette butts in front of bars. And she found some! Okaaaaaay.

Anyway, we are once again treated to the childishness of the anti-ban crowd and it’s that that makes the story worth reading. This time we have Tom Kelty Jr., owner of Sammy's Sports Bar downtown doing his part for the resistance:
But at least one downtown bar owner, still disgruntled about the smoking ban, said he has his employees just sweep the butts into the gutters.

"We don't put any ashtrays out," said Tom Kelty Jr., owner of Sammy's Sports Bar, 217 S. Fifth St. "As far as I'm concerned, it's the city's responsibility. They're the ones who forced smokers outside.
Wow is he really sticking it to The Man or what? Civil disobedience I guess. And if that doesn’t work, try bogus scare tactics:

Along with the litter is an unanticipated problem: the people who gather outside to smoke often become the targets of panhandlers.

"It's a smorgasbord," Kelty said. "People try to stand outside to smoke, and (the panhandlers) bounce from bar to bar, so there's a safety issue. It's an eyesore for the city for visitors to town to be accosted. They've been dealing with the problem for years, but it's more of a problem with everyone standing outside."
Oh yes, the “safety” issue of panhandlers. Just like the dangerous homeless folk at the library. Man, I guess a lot of people are going to be giving up smoking now rather that face the dangers of panhandlers. Right?

I think I can cross Sammy’s off my list of places I might ever patronize. Someone this petty can’t be running an establishment I’d enjoy.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Super Bowl Re-Shuffle

Alright Bears!

OK, I admit I’m not nearly as excited as I was in 1986, but then few things excite me the way they did 20 years ago. And the 2006 Bears have nowhere near the personality of the 1985 Bears. Still, how great is it that they’re headed to the Super Bowl? It would have been cool if the Patriots had won tonight setting up a SB rematch, but playing Indy is pretty awesome too. A Cornbelt classic.

The downside: Former Wingman SK is having his tenth annual Super Bowl party and for the first time in 10 years I’m actually going to want to pay attention to something other than the beer fridge and commercials.

Late Night Poo Blogging

If you missed last Thursday's musical Scrubs, well, you missed last Thursday's musical Scrubs.

Scrubs - Everything Comes Down to Poo

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rush Flushed in Bloomington

Rush Limbaugh’s big mouth is getting him kicked off the air in Bloomington. Here’s what the fascism-loving racist said:
Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.
Here’s what Bloomington’s WJBC did in response:
The Rush is no longer going to be on the air on WJBC. Radio Bloomington General Manager Red Pitcher announced this afternoon the syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show will air for the last time March 2, 2007. Pitcher tells WJBC's Steve and Beth on The Drive, local programming will replace Rush.

Pitcher believes Limbaugh's popularity is declining because of controversial remarks that are offending even his Republican fans. He pointed to today's show in which Limbaugh compared players in the NFL with gang members. Details of the local programming line-up that will begin on March 5th will be announced in coming weeks.
Well, it couldn’t have happened to bigger asshole. Bye Rush!

And hey, WTAX, does this give you any good ideas? I don’t think any of the local radio stations here in Springfield pay for Arbitron or any other formal ratings anymore (I could be wrong about that) but I’ll bet WMAY’s local talkers smoke the syndicated guys in WTAX’s lineup in terms of listenership. I’ll take the mildly annoying (at times) political views of a Pamela Furr or Molsenandlee over a drug-addled wingnut propagandist any time.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Delivery

Awesome! The Abe Lincoln bobblehead I ordered arrived today.

Nothing makes history come alive like a bobblehead.

Comet Down Under

Look what we’re missing living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Photo by Dave Curtis, Dunedin, New Zealand via

Comet McNaught is now only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. More pictures here and here.

A Sure Winner

Eric Zorn, who two years ago correctly predicted Barack Obama would run for president, has eight reasons why Obama will win the Democratic nomination. He also lists several reasons Obama doubters give for his candidacy being doomed. The only one that resonates with at all me is this one:
He’s so overexposed that boredom and then disillusionment will set in.
I think that’s a real concern. Peaking too early can be politically deadly. Right now, I think Obama is Mr. None of the Above and when he transitions into a real person, political warts and all, there may be a rebound effect when people discover he’s not everything they imagined. You can’t please all of the people all if the time, to paraphrase that tall guy from Springfield.

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer is Food Edition

Some 20+ years ago I worked with a guy who would drink a six pack each and every night for dinner. When asked about it, he would simply say, “Beer is Food”. Perhaps he was rationalizing a bit but well, he was not entirely wrong. Beer does contain protein and calories –both essential for living!

Anyway in honor of my long lost brother in sound Glenn, here’s beer as food.

I know the beer cans here are simply to facilitate the cooking of the birds but I squirm in my seat whenever I see a picture of this culinary technique.

With Guinness as the main course …

…followed by a Bud cake for dessert.

And for the kids, in the tradition of the candy cigarettes of my youth, we have beer suckers.

Bud Appetit!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Give Me Back My Feathers

But I thought The Chief was “honoring” Native Americans (incorrectly aka Indians). Guess not.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe today demanded the University of Illinois return the Lakota regalia worn by Chief Illiniwek, the school's controversial mascot.

In a resolution presented to the U. of I. board of trustees, the university president and the chancellor, the tribe called for the university to "cease use of this mascot."

The "Oglala regalia is being misused to represent 'Chief Illiniwek,'" and is a "disrespectful representation" of the people of the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw and Wea nations, according to the resolution. "The antics of persons playing 'Chief Illiniwek' perpetuates a degrading racial stereotype that reflects negatively on all American Indian people."

The regalia itself is not even like that worn by the tribe Chief Illiniwek is supposed to have come from, said Malvin Young Bear, cultural liaison to Vice President William Brewer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The use of the costume by Chief Illiniwek is insulting to the tribe, particularly because the ceremonial dress "was a significant honor to wear," Young Bear added.
Yeah well, if Native Americans are so smart why did they continue to foolishly enter into “treaties” with Native Europeans? Thank (the Great White) God we know how to honor the red man better than those ungrateful indigenous savages.

Anyway, I don’t really care about this silly controversy. I don’t care about the Illini, I have my own team to rally ‘round!

Bad Medicine

I don’t know if this story is true (or the whole story is being told) because I’m unfamiliar with the news organization. However, the story is making the rounds on the blogs and if it is true, it is, as Digby puts it, really fucked up.
Danielle Godard - All Headline News Staff Writer

Edmonton, AB (AHN) - It is expected there would be no problems securing funding to explore a drug that could shrink cancerous tumors and has no side-effects in humans, but University of Alberta researcher Evangelos Michelakis has hit a stalemate with the private sector who would normally fund such a venture.

Michelakis' drug is none other than dichloroacetate (DCA), a drug which cannot be patented and costs pennies to make.

It's no wonder he can't secure the $400-600 million needed to conduct human trials with the medicine - the drug doesn't have the potential to make enough money.

Michelakis told reporters they will be applying to public agencies for funding, as pharmaceuticals are reluctant to pick up the drug.

At roughly $2 a dose, there isn't much chance to make a billion on the cancer treatment over the long term.
I’m always skeptical about alleged miraculous cures that for whatever reason are being ignored because the inventor is being persecuted or whatever. But even if this isn’t the whole story (and it may well be for all I know) it’s certainly true that Big Parma is primarily seeking profits not cures. Sorry, it’s what business do. If the drug makers can’t make money, there is no incentive for them to pursue it. I’ve heard this is why there have not been any new malaria drugs marketed in decades, because only poor people need it and they can’t pay. The same goes for drugs that might treat rare diseases; there just wouldn’t be enough people buying them.

Either way, file this under the heading Healthcare Reform Needed.

Of course, things like this don't help either:
Bush’s 2007 budget proposed cutting funding for the National Cancer Institute by $40 million.

Better Than The Good Ol' Days

The SJ-R has a story on how traffic deaths are down again in Illinois. That’s good news to be sure. But what surprised me was that 2006 saw the lowest number of traffic deaths in over 80 years.
There were 1,267 deaths on Illinois roads last year [2006]. That's down nearly 100 deaths from 2005 and the lowest total since 1,065 people died in 1924.
1924? There were over a thousand traffics deaths in Illinois in 1924? Considering the speeds of the vehicles of that era (or lack thereof) and the much smaller population, that’s a rather remarkable number. Driving was REALLY dangerous back then. I suppose it was attributable to lack of seatbelts, poor roads, limited traffic control devices and lax traffic laws in general. You know, all that fascist, government-trying-to-control-your-life stuff.

The Art of Politics

I can’t let the passing of Art Buchwald go by without mention here. Buchwald’s political humor would probably be considered rather lame today but back in the early 1970s when I started reading his columns, he was as cutting edge as you got in the mainstream media. It was my mother who first turned me on to him. While rarely overtly political in life, mom liked that fact that Buchwald infused humor into the otherwise serious political discourse of the day. She was always pointing me to Buchwald columns when I was a teenager. With the introduction of more youth-oriented political satire (Saturday Night Live, National Lampoon magazine, etc.), I gave up on Buchwald. But he had already had an impact on me. It was because of Buchwald that I learned that the best political commentary is often delivered funny. RIP Art.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Anniversary Portrait

Me and the Mrs. reduced to our base cravings.

That’s me on the right in case you were wondering.

Road Rage 2

As if to further the point I was making earlier this week in this post, I found out today that yet another subdivision is going in off Meadowbrook just south of Washington. Too bad too, it’s a nice wooded area they’re going to develop with another 80 homes.

Unpopular Wars

The Iraq war is now more unpopular than the Vietnam war ever was.

Going, Going, Gone

Comet McNaught is no longer visible from the northern hemisphere, but it should remain a spectacular fixture in sunset skies of the south for weeks to come.
Hope you got a chance to see it while it was here. Days of cloudy weather prevented us a last glimpse.


Atrios notes:
…it really does seem as if our media is unaware that in addition to an impending Democratic primary there's also a Republican one.
Well, that’s because the Democratic bench is full and rather impressive. The Republicans have what, John McCain? The media have a short any shallow attention span.

Meanwhile, the national Republican bench is starting to acquire the same spaciousness its Illinois counterpart has. George Bush is the new George Ryan. The Georges have both irradiated their entire political universe.


I had been meaning to post on the death of the California woman who accidentally killed herself drinking too much water during a radio station sponsored contest. I was going to question why the woman and the radio station would embark on such a dangerous proposition as a water drinking contest. Surely, I thought, it was common knowledge that consuming too much water can be fatal. Well I guess I was mistaken. Everyone is acting surprised. As Richard Roeper, no dummy, put it in his column today:
Who knew you could die from drinking too much water and not going to the bathroom?
Well, ummmm, I thought everyone did. Sometimes (just sometimes!) I’m wrong.

Still, I can’t imagine there was no one at the radio station aware that this could happen. Don’t they run these things by their attorneys and their insurance company first? Not that attorney’s are medical experts necessarily but surely there’s been some litigation involving this sort of thing. And an insurance company must have a clue about the risk (or maybe the risk is so small they didn’t care).

The whole thing is strange to me but not for the same reason most people find it curious.

More Obama - Because You Just Can't Get Enough

Random thoughts and questions about Barack Obama and his run for the White House.

When Obama formally announces his candidacy, he plans to do it here in Springfield. But where? It would be great if it were outdoors or in some large venue where we could all go and see him kick off what could be a historic bid for the presidency. Maybe in front of Union Station? But there would need to be an indoor Plan B in case of bad weather.

Say Obama goes all the way and is elected president in 2008. Who will Gov. Blagojevich appoint to serve out Obama’s term? Who will run for the seat in 2010?

Obama needs to work on his “Uhs”. Eric Zorn has more.

I did not know this: “…Democratic presidential nominee Adlai E. Stevenson, a governor of Illinois who lost to Republican Dwight Eisenhower, had his national campaign headquarters in Springfield.” Obama’s headquarters will be in Chicago.

If Obama is elected, it will be the first time in my life I’ll be older than the President of the United States. What a drag it is getting old.

Update: Obama just another Jerry Brown?

The Toilet Factor

Making a water proof MP3 player is a fine idea and all, but shouldn’t we also be making cell phones water-proof? Not that you need to take your cell swimming (you probably wouldn’t hear it under water anyway) but it might save your phone when it gets too near the indoor plumbing. I’m talking specifically about dropping your phone in the toilet. Don’t tell me you or someone you know hasn’t already done this. Like a car after a bad accident, a cell phone pulled from the potty rarely works the same again, if at all.

Making the phone a water-proof system is one idea, but the other day I thought up another plan: little floatation devices. That’s right, when a cell phone senses it’s taking on water, a little yellow life raft will inflate keeping the device from going under and just maybe giving you enough time to retrieve it before it gets soaked.

And, hey, if you're ever stranded on a deserted island it could be used as a modern-day message in a bottle. Simply type in a memo requesting rescue and throw it into the ocean. The floatation device inflates and in about 35 years someone will find it washed up on a beach somewhere. Then all you have to hope for is they still make rechargers compatible with that phone. Brilliant!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Burger Wars

Normally I’d stay out of a feud between Texas and Connecticut, especially over something as trivial as who “invented” the hamburger. But this quote has me siding with the East Coasters:

[New Haven ] Mayor John DeStefano Jr., advocating for his city, backs the Lassens and their claims.

"We are even the birthplace of George Bush who wants people to think he's from Texas," the mayor said. "So yes, the hamburger is as much a New Haven original as President Bush. Get over it, Texas."

Here He Comes

Not much of a surprise I guess…
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama is preparing to file the necessary
paperwork to create a committee to explore a bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, according to a source close to Obama and a local Chicago broadcast news report.

"It's going to come this week," a source close to Obama, D-Illinois, told CNN.

Chicago television station WMAQ, citing sources "who work for Senator Obama," also reported the exploratory committee papers will be filed by the end of the week and that Obama could make a campaign visit to Iowa this weekend.
Now let’s see if the press can stop confusing him with Osama.

Update: Ooops! Another accident. Obama “accidentally” labeled as sex offender this time. Darn media, so clumsy.

Update II: Obama confirms exploratory committee story (video) .

Update III: The SJ-R is reporting Obama may formally announce his candidacy next month here in Springfield. Now THAT would be cool.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Limit of Terms

Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado has decided to keep his term limits pledge, and in the process shows far more character than some others who ran on a promise to move on after a few terms.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-What Interns?) was a big believer of term limits when it was advantageous to do so (i.e. to get elected). He even promised to quit after six terms. But as we all know, he changed his mind when he discovered he was way too valuable to leave. A class act.

The Kids are Alright

Oh goodie, another survey that shows kids are stupid. I’ve complained about his before but I always find it interesting how often these “how stupid are you” excercises target the younger generation. Cuz, you know, us more mature folks already know everything.
In a recent survey of college students on U.S. civic literacy, more than 81 percent knew that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was expressing hope for "racial justice and brotherhood" in his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

That's the good news.

Most of the rest surveyed thought King was advocating the abolition of slavery.

The findings indicate that years of efforts by primary and secondary schools to steep young people in the basics of the civil rights leader's life and activities have resulted in a mixed bag. Most college students know who he is -- even if they're not quite clear on what he worked to achieve.


The recent survey of college students, conducted by the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy for the nonprofit Intercollegiate Studies Institute, suggests that schools are not doing as much as they could to go beyond a cursory history lesson. More than 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at 50 colleges and universities earned an average score of 53.2 percent in the survey.

Many of the 10 federal holidays have become little more than days off school or work, even if they are dedicated to significant Americans, such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Many people have no idea what Labor Day commemorates, educators say.

"Honestly, I never knew what Veterans Day was until last year," said Taneisha Rodney, 14, a ninth-grader at William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts in Northeast Washington.
OK, but how many adults who get a holiday from work really care that much about why they’re getting the day off?

I remember being in high school and being assured on a regular basis by the media that we were the fucking dumbest generation - EVER! We were simply hopeless. Funny though, things seemed to have worked out OK. We got degrees, got jobs, became community leaders, blah, blah, blah.

So...Hey, pollster, leave those kids alone.

Road Rage

It’s tangential to the gist of the story, but I was immediately annoyed when I read this in the SJ-R this morning:
"Koke Mill is no longer an oil and chip road," said Joyner's attorney, Gordon Gates. "R-3 is usually going to be single-family with duplexes on the edge.
Not that the statement is false in relation to the subject at hand (the development of teh intersection of Iles and Koke Mill), but not all of Koke Mll is “no longer an oil and chip road”. North of Old Jack it’s still a country road with not so much as a center stripe. The section between Old Jack and Washington continues to grow with a new development going in even as I type.

The larger issue is that virtually all north-south roads in the far western parts of the city and metro area are still what they were 30 years ago when they serviced nothing but farms. I’m talking specifically about Meadowbrook and Archer Elevator (in addition to Koke Mill). Bradfordton Road isn’t much better but I’ll take it over the others.

Like most things, I don’t know shit about zoning, urban planning and the like but I’d like to see some requirement that developers be made to include decent access to their new developments. Sure, that cost will be passed on to those buying the developed properties, but so what. The city and county should play a part too by kicking in funds or helping secure state and federal funding. I think it’s ridiculous that new developments are out-pacing the associated upgrades to the streets by 20 years or more.

What really amazes me is there aren’t more accidents on these roads. There is plenty of traffic but limited lighting at night, no shoulders, no lane delineation, and sometimes the roads (Archer Elevator north of Wabash) meander ever so slightly so that you can momentarily find yourself in the wrong lane. Throw deer into the mix and well, let’s just say it’s not safe.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gang Stompin’

There must have been an explosion of gang violence around the country this weekend.
The dance flick "Stomp the Yard" was a step ahead of the competition at the box office, debuting as the No. 1 weekend movie with $22 million.

Starring Columbus Short as a raw but talented dancer at the center of a step competition between rival college fraternities, the Sony Screen Gems movie knocked off 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum," which had been the top film for three straight weekends.
Thank God we were saved from all that here.

Nattering Nedbobs

The Mrs. received a card in the mail yesterday from Ned Kelly's:
We’ve Been Looking For You!

We mailed you a $10 No Strings Attached Certificate a few weeks ago. We’ve been waiting patiently, but we don’t think you’ve been by Ned Kelly’s Steakhouse.

Well, just in case you can’t find it, here’s another chance to come back.

This special offer expires Jan 28, 2007.

The mailer also has the defunct Springfield store’s address printed on it.

Hmmmm. Well Ned…can I call you Ned?’re right, we haven’t been by Ned Kelly’s Steakhouse lately …BECASE IT’S CLOSED. And as I explained in an earlier post we are also stuck with gift certificates from your store. I’ll add this $10 of coupon to our collection of NK memorabilia.

More McNaughty Bits

... has more on Comet McNaught and how you may be able to see it even during the day:
Observers around the world are reporting that Comet McNaught is now visible in broad daylight. The comet is very close to the sun, so it is tricky to find. If you want to try, here's how to do it: Go outside and stand in the shadow of a building so that the glare of the sun is blocked out. Make a fist and hold it at arm's length. The comet is about one fist-width east of the sun.

This weekend is a special time for Comet McNaught because it is making its closest approach to the sun. Solar heat causes the comet to vaporize furiously and brighten to daytime visibility. McNaught is now the brightest comet in more than 40 years, and it may become the brightest in centuries.

Picture by Thorsten Boeckel of Bavaria, Germany (via
This assumes, of course, we ever see the sky again around here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thanks Ray and John!

Just letting you all know that Reps. Ray Lahood and John Shimkus were among those voting against legislation today that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for seniors. The measure did pass the House but the president has promised to veto it. Oh, and thank you George in advance.

Ice a Comin'

Don’t look now but that freezing rain “advisory” just became an Ice Storm Warning. And Springfield is expected to be in the thick of it.

200 PM
CST FRI JAN 12 2007





This is the price we pay for El Nino and/or global warming. In a "normal" year this would likely just be a bit of snow.

Heckova Job Gatey!

This is too funny (or sad depending on how serious you want to take it). Defense Secretary Robert Gates had this to say in testimony before a Senate committee yesterday:
At one point Gates, just three weeks on the job, told lawmakers, "I would confess I'm no expert on Iraq." Later, asked about reaching the right balance between American and Iraqi forces, he told the panel he was "no expert on military matters."

Misleading Headlines

Read the headline...

English-speaking family barred from bus

Now read the story.

A little different wouldn’t you say.

CNN’s version of the headline isn’t much better. I’m not even going to look at what Fox News has done with it.

But hey, so what if it's wildly misleading as long as it's infamatory enough to get the xenophobic wingnuts to click the link or buy the paper.

Weather Shy

Anyone else a little nervous about a forecast that has a freezing rain advisory and days of something called a “wintry mix”? Sure I’ve got extra batteries and a gas space heater at the ready. But how ‘bout CWLP and Ameren? You guys ready this time?

Friday Beer Blogging: Bud Wars Edition

You’ve probably heard of the ongoing battle between St’ Louis based Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser, and the Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar.

The two companies have been battling for a century over Budweiser and other trade names, such as Budvar. Currently, they are involved in some 40 lawsuits worldwide.

Budejovicky Budvar was founded in 1895 in Ceske Budejovice – called Budweis by the German-speaking people that populated the area at the time. Beer has been brewed there since 1265.

The founders of Anheuser-Busch used the name Budweiser for their product because it was well-known in their German homeland. A brewery in St. Louis began producing Budweiser, America's first national beer brand, in 1876.

Since 2001, Budvar has been exporting lager to the U.S. under the name Czechvar.
Well some good news: peace is in the air:
Jan 8, 2007 - After nearly a century of disagreements in certain parts of the world over rights to the Budweiser name for their beers, Anheuser-Busch and Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar have formed a historic alliance in which Anheuser-Busch will become the U.S. importer of Czechvar Premium Czech Lager, the two brewers announced in a press release Monday.

The agreement gives Czechvar, previously sold in 30 states by Distinguished Brands, access to A-B's wide-reaching U.S. distribution network. It gives Anheuser-Busch another European import in high-end beer category, part of a strategy that led to alliances with Grolsch, Tiger, Kirin and most recently InBev, which added Stella Artois, Beck's, Bass Pale Ale and other beers to its import portfolio.
Sadly, not all the news is good for Anheuser-Busch:

STRASBOURG, France – American brewer Anheuser-Busch cannot sell beer under the brand name Budweiser in Portugal, the highest chamber of Europe's human rights court ruled Thursday, in the latest round of a global legal battle between the
U.S. beer giant and Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar. The U.S. brewery lost its fight against a 2001 decision by Portugal's Supreme Court, which ruled that Budejovicky Budvar had the right to use the brand name under a 1986 treaty between the Czech Republic and Portugal.
Why don’t these two companies just suit-up, get on the field and play a special Bud Bowl for the rights to world distribution of Bud?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

State Ban Now!

Better get this passed before the Barrel Head opens up and puts all the other Springfield bars out of business.
State Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, announced Thursday he will sponsor a bill creating a statewide indoor smoking ban.

The bill would, with exceptions for some home-based businesses, ban smoking in
workplaces and all indoor public places.

If the bill passes, Illinois would join 16 other states, including California, New York and Ohio, that have smoking bans.
It remains to be seen if this thing has enough support to get passed but if lawmakers hear from enough constituents in favor of the measure, just maybe it will become law. I’m sure the tobacco addict lobby is already gearing up for a fight.

Update: The Chicago Tribune has more (HT to Rich Miller):
Legislative leaders and the governor reacted cautiously to the measure, one of the first bills to be introduced in the newly minted General Assembly. The offices of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said they wanted to see the legislation first.


Cullerton said the legislation as proposed would take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and would supercede the recently passed Chicago ordinance that gives city bars until July 2008 to implement the ban.
I assume that would be true of the Springfield ban as well.

And of course our good buddy Steve Riedl is full of the usual gloom and doom.
Steve Riedl, executive director of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, said a statewide ban would provide little assistance to businesses suffering under local bans. Bars, fraternal organizations and bowling alleys have seen average revenue losses of 40 percent under current bans, he said.

"The death is delayed," Riedl said. "They will keep the doors open just a couple more months. It only slightly puts off the inevitable demise of their businesses."
Death delayed is death denied I always say. And what will happen to the all-powerful Barrel Head under this ban? Will it explode like a Death Star at the hands of Luke Skywalker? And will smoking addicts continue their pouting protest by going to Missouri for a beer? So many ramifications.

Primary Colors*

Eric Zorn gives three really good reasons the Illinois primary should not be moved to accommodate Barack Obama’s presidential ambitions.

You know, if the primary had just been moved without the open Obama justification it might have happened with only conspiracy buffs smelling a rat.

*Oh God help me it took some willpower not to title this post “Primary Coloreds” but I’m sure I would have come off as the blogging equivalent of Tony Kerasotes.

Potty Mouth

As part of a larger redecorating project in our house last fall, we had a couple of new toilets put in. They’re of the “low-flush” variety that allegedly results in less water use.

Well, we’ve been experiencing some problems with these new units clogging rather easily. And since I’m Da Man with Da Plunger, I’ve been pressed into service more times than I care to remember (really, I don’t want to remember any of those times).

So I call a plumber, the guy who installed the toilets as a matter of fact, to get some help. About all he could do is offer advice. First he told me that he thought the new low-flush toilets are, ummmm, crap and then offered a strategy on how to best avoid clogs.

He suggested the Two Flush Method™. That is, you flush twice, at different times during your bathroom activity. But I love how he described it. He said I need to flush once after completing my business and then again after, and I quote, “completing your paperwork”. Awesome, he was able to communicate that without once using the words “poop” or “wipe”.

But here’s the thing: what use is a low-flush toilet if you have to flush twice as often. The total volume of water used flushing twice is about the same as one flush using the old toilets. I’m all for conserving when practical but this seems self-defeating.

I Caught McNaught

As a follow-up to my Comet McNaught post below, I want to report that I did indeed see the comment last evening. A few notes:

I was just northwest of the city and had a great unobstructed view of the western horizon. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, I had to leave about half an hour after sunset when there was still a significant amount of glow from the already set sun on the horizon.

I could see the comet with the naked eye buy only after I identified it using my binoculars. In this sense I think, for now anyway, McNaught is a bit less spectacular than was Hale-Bopp.

It was, however, an amazing site through the binoculars. Check out the McNaught photo gallery again.

It’s going to be cloudy/rainy right through the weekend so next week will offer the soonest opportunity to try to see it again.

Racism by Any Other Name

A movie about dancing colored people will surely bring out the “gangs”. Holy shit:

Fearful of attracting more gang violence to its movie theaters, Springfield's Kerasotes Theatres will not open "Stomp the Yard," a film about black college students in a dancing competition.

Kerasotes Theatres' company chairman and CEO Tony Kerasotes called the decision a safety consideration in the wake of a Christmas Day shooting at the chain's Parkway Pointe location.

"I chose to err on the side of caution and in the interest of safety and chose not to open the film in Springfield this week," Kerasotes said Wednesday. "I was fearful the movie could become the occasion for more gang violence, because I felt certain it would draw that audience."

Asked if the decision was a question of race, Kerasotes said: "You could phrase the question that way, but to me, it's a question of gangs. It's about gangs. It's not about race."

Oh of course not, it has NOTHING to do with race. No, you just don't want to attract "that audience". Besides, everyone knows anything young and black = gang violence.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Smoke Nazis Storm Capitol

Oh dear. I suppose this means smoking congresspeople will just go to another nearby capitol not covered by the Capitol smoking ban. Maybe Ottawa, Canada? I hear once it’s rebuilt from the tornado ALL the lawmakers are going there, putting the every Capitol in the Western Hemisphere out of business.


I don’t have a problem with making the Illinois primary come sooner, but is this a good reason to do it? I hate it when people start playing politics with, ummmm, politics.

Comet Section

It’s not getting the press Hale-Bopp did ten years ago but Comet McNaught could be pretty spectacular. From an e-mail I got from
Comet McNaught has continued to brighten as it approaches the sun and it is now the brightest comet in 30 years. For observers in the northern Hemisphere, tonight is probably the best time to see it: Go outside this evening and face the sunset. A clear view of the western horizon is essential, because the comet hangs very low. As the twilight fades to black, it should become visible to the naked eye. Observers say it's a fantastic sight through binoculars.

In the days ahead, Comet McNaught will pass the sun and emerge in good position for southern hemisphere viewing later this month. Meanwhile, solar heating will continue to puff up the comet, causing it to brighten even more. It could become one of the brightest comets in centuries, visible even in daylit skies.
It should be clear enough here this evening to see something. The sun sets at 4:53 today.

McNaught photo gallery here.

Heartbreak Hotel

And speaking of local businesses gone bad…we have the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel. This thing’s been a boondoggle from the start and the good times keep on rolling.

But here’s the thing: it’s probably the best hotel downtown. At least that’s been my past experience (and yes, things have changed for all I know). It has a great location and has always been much preferable, in my opinion, to the crappy Hilton right across the street. I’ve actually stayed in both places and the PALH (then the Renaissance) was far superior to the Hilton.

The walls in the odd pie slice shaped rooms in the Hilton are paper thin. Once we spent the night at the Hilton following a company Christmas party, and were treated to the couple next door getting freaky, to quote AC/DC, all night long. I swear, during breaks in the “action” I could here them whispering.

Anyway, my point is I’d hate to see the PALH close and leave the Hilton to become the downtown hotel of choice. Maybe the State (and the Illinois GOP!) should just pay off the debts and then take bids from private concerns to take it over free and clear. I know, that registers at about the Talk Radio Caller level on the thought-out position scale but I really don’t want the hotel to go away.

It seems to me there could be a viable business run there but it’s bogged down with a lot of bad loans and investments and other outside influences. I mean, how is the Hilton, an inferior product, making it?

Oh well, even if the PALH eventually closes under the weight of all the financial nonsense, I’m sure their gift certificates will still be good in Bloomington and Peoria.

Stiffed Down Under

The Springfield Ned Kelly’s closed? Well, that sucks because I’m one of those outa-luck gift certificate holders.
Gift certificates purchased before the closing of Ned Kelly’s Steakhouse in Springfield can be redeemed at remaining outlets in Bloomington and Peoria, company representatives said Tuesday.
Sure, I’ve been wanting to drive up to Bloomington to eat at a chain restaurant because you just can’t do that here. Sorry, but the company should be offering mail-in refunds especially since they closed the Springfield store without notice. I wonder if the employees got any notice. I bet not. Apparently their webmaster wasn’t told either as Springfield is still listed as a restaurant location.

And why did Ned’s close? Hell, why did Damon’s close? I find it hard to believe it was because they were losing money. Maybe they just weren’t making enough by corporate standards.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Me Then: Why do my parents keep asking what I did in school today? Nothing, just the same old stuff, same as yesterday. It’s boring and useless and I can’t wait for the weekend. I did nothing. Stupid parents!

Me Today: Why won’t my kids tell me what that did in school today or any day? They’re there for hours on end, they must be doing SOMETHING, they must be learning SOMETHING. Yet when asked about what they did in school, all they say is, “Nothing”. Stupid kids!

Spreading the Word

John at Just Two Guys is launching a local movie club. The idea is to get together a group for a private screening of a film in a theater and then gather to discuss and socialize. The first date has been set and a film selected. Here are the details. More background info here.

I think this is a great idea and plan to give it a try myself on January 30 (health/kids/job/weather permitting). It’ll be fun to be in the old Capital City theater again. It was nothing spectacular as far as theaters go but I saw a lot of great films there for the first time back in the day (Star Wars, Carrie, Apocalypse Now come to mind).

Does anyone know when the old theater closed? I’m assuming it was concurrent with the opening of the Showplace 8. I don’t remember going to a movie there after the early 1980s but then I wasn’t living in Springfield in the mid ‘80s.

That Didn't last Long

Blevins is back. It’s not so easy to quit blogging cold turkey. And blogging rehab can be expensive and often unsuccessful.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's a Martian's Life

I once, for a few hours in 1976, I believed that life had been found on Mars. I’ll explain in a second but I thought it ironic when I saw this story this morning:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have found alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist is theorizing.

The Viking space probes of 1976-77 were looking for the wrong kind of life, so they didn't recognize it, a geology professor at Washington State University said.

In the summer of 1976, the summer I turned 16, I was with my family visiting friends on the southern New Jersey coast. I got up one morning and I was informed by one of our hosts, a kid a couple years younger then me, that he had just seen on TV that the Viking probe on Mars had found life! It was a fact, he assured me. Well, in the pre-internet, pre-CNN days, such things weren't always instantly verifiable.

Given that I had a predisposition to wanting to believe there was life on Mars and my lack of verification means, I went around for a few hours mulling the awesomeness of there being life on Mars. At some point that day, I did catch some news and immediately noticed there was no life on Mars story. Surely that would have been the top story. I, of course, felt stupid and wanted to beat the crap out of the twerp who misinformed me. Still, it was sort of fun believing the story to be true, even if for only a short while. Now it turns out, it may have been true afterall.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Biologically Incorrect

Apparently, Illinois has at least a dozen armpits. Google "Armpit of Illinois" and you'll be surprised how many communities in the state pass for underarms. However, a quick survey of the Google results seems to suggest that Decatur may indeed be an armpit.

Convenient Excuses

It was the smoking ban’s fault! Except for all the other reasons.

Friday Beer Blogging: Empties Edition

It’s sad to say, but at the end of every beer there lies an empty. Sometimes a lot of them.

And remember that guy in Utah that moved out of his apartment last year and left 70,000 Coors Light empties behind? Maybe he was intending to leave his damage deposit in recyclable aluminum.

Thing is, if you drink too much you may pass out and this can lead to mysterious assemblages of empties on or near your person. Watch out for that.

Even Fluffy can get in on this act.

Remember, give a hoot and don’t pollute – even if your already polluted.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bar Bashing Blog

Iggy has a bad time on the West Side and gives Break Time a good, and well-deserved, kick in the pants.

The Letter of the Law

Shorter War on Terror: They hate our freedoms so if we get rid of our freedoms they can’t take them away.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Another Weird Accident

You say Osama, I say Obama. You have to see this.
Oh, man -- first CNN, now Yahoo News. As you know, CNN has apologized to Barack Obama for putting his name on a picture of Osama Bin Laden. Now Yahoo News has committed the opposite blunder: On their photo page, the caption on their photo of Obama reads, "Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida."
Ooops sorry, tee-hee, tee-hee. Assholes.


I’m glad to see someone else recognizes there is, in fact, a Rachel Ray problem in this country.

Magical Disappearing War

Wow. Just wow. Senator (and presidential candidate) John McCain, who has long advocated putting more troops into Iraq, thinks the war will not be an issue during the next presidential election in 2008.
“I do believe this issue isn’t going to be around in 2008. I think it’s going to either tip into civil war … ” He breaks off, as if not wanting to rehearse the handful of other unattractive possibilities. “Listen,” he says, “I believe in prayer. I pray every night.” And that’s where he leaves his discussion of the war this morning: at the kneeling rail.
Talk about wishful thinking. Does he know that the primaries begin in a year? Not an issue????

The next president, be it McCain or someone else, is going to have to find a way out of this mess. The first step really has to be to admit that it exists.

Life Imitating Late Night Comedy

I was watching the coverage of former president Gerald Ford's funeral when I saw Tom Brokaw delivering a eulogy at the service. I instantly remembered what I consider one of Dana Carvey’s funniest bits from Saturday Night Live some ten years ago. It involved Carvey portraying Brokaw, still anchor of the NBC Nightly News, pre-recording newscasts in preparation for taking a long vacation. We join faux Brokaw taping stories in case Gerald Ford dies. Watch this…

Gerald Ford, dead today