Monday, April 30, 2007

Please Explain

I keep up on current events and rarely does a political cartoon go over my head, but can someone explain this one from the SJ-R today:

I know who Baghdad Bob was. I know who Harry Reid is. I know Harry Reid said we've lost in Iraq (and most Americans agree, by the way) but , huh? Baghdad Bob was a propagandist spouting obvious fantastical untruths that no one believed. Sort of like the Bush administration's pretend victory rhetoric. Ironically, this cartoon points up the opposite of what I think it might be trying to convey. I actually think of ol' Baghdad Bob whenever I here the conservatives talk about some magical "victory" being just around the corner if we only add more troops and spend a few trillion more dollars.

Headlines I Love

The latest winner in the “Oblong Woman” headline awards goes to the online Bloomington Pantagraph for this headline:

Anchor man hurt after car, mower crash

Goodness! Was it Don Hickman? Jerry Lambert? Brian Willams?

No. It was a man from Anchor, IL.

Oh, Horseshit!

Rend Lake is THE wonder of Southern Illinois? Rend Lake? I guess the online “voters” haven’t been very far south in Southern Illinois.

Here are the other winners (don't laugh):

• Northern: Starved Rock State Park, Utica.

• Central: Allerton Park and Retreat Center, Monticello.

• Western: Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island.

• Southwest: Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway, following a 33-mile strip of river through Alton, Grafton, Hartford and Elsah.

• Chicago: Wrigley Field.

• Chicagoland: Baha'i House of Worship, Wilmette.

This verdict has more to do with the nature of online polling (stoooooopid) than it does with wonderful things in Illinois. Hell, the fucking Cozy Dog Drive-In here in Springfield was a finalist!
Here’s a more proper list of Illinois “wonders”.


What is going on with all the gnats? The last two evenings I’ve been chased in doors by large numbers of the little flying bugs. They were pretty bad on Saturday but yesterday they were really awful around sunset. I was trying to help a friend install a satellite radio in his convertible (hence no shelter) and I could barely breathe for all the gnats! I’ve never seen them this bad. The good news is they seemed to disappear as soon as it got dark. Is this the result of some weird convergence of weather conditions? A biblical plague?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Good Terrorists

So when a bomb is found near an abortion clinic, why is that not ever, ever terrorism? Zuzu wonders too:
Had that bomb been found outside a post office or a school, the headlines would have been hysterically running on about ZOMG TERRORISM TERRORISM IS AL QAEDA INVOLVED? And the right-wing warbloggers would be pissing their pants and hyperventilating about profiling Arabs and banning Muslims from public life and dhimmitude and how if they had been there, they’d have stopped it with their concealed carry and their extra-super special powers of righteousness, just like they saw in a movie once and BOMB IRAN! and 9/11 CHANGED EVERYTHING!!! but hey still have better things to do than join the military, but they’ll be happy to go into the woods and hunt Russians and shout WOLVERINES!!

But it’s an abortion clinic, so. Ho-hum.
Ha, ha. No doubt. Apparently, like witches, there are Good Terrorists and Bad Terrorists.

Closer Yet

Just a vote and a signature away
SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois House is set for a final showdown in the coming weeks over whether smoking should be banned in almost all the state’s indoor public places, including bars and restaurants.

A House panel voted 10-2 Thursday to move the proposed smoking ban to the full House, which has yet to debate it.

This year, health concerns have so far guided the ban through the Senate, and House lawmakers could vote by the end of May. A House vote would be the last step before measure would go to Gov. Rod Blagojevich for a final decision.
Anyone know where Blagojevch stands on this? So far, I've been rather amazed at how easily the smoking legislation had gotten to this point. Just a few months ago I was hearing people say there was no way the Illinois legislature would pass anti-smoking laws. Now, we're nearly there.

Update: According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"The governor's been supportive of public health initiatives in the past that deal with smoking," said Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff. "But we still need to take a closer look at the particulars of this bill."
I can’t imagine the governor not signing it, but that statement is pretty non-committal.

The River’s End

In the past, not so much lately, I often linked to Iraqi blogger Riverbend for first person accounts of what’s going on in Baghdad. Well, Riverbend and her family have decided to leave Iraq. They’ve had enough of violence and poor living conditions. Oh well, as long as we’re “winning”. You know, when all Iraqi’s have fled or been killed we can finally declare victory and come home. So in that sense, we are now one family closer to that victory.

Friday Beer Blogging: No Variety Edition

OK, I was at Busch Stadium yesterday. The always good news is they had plenty of beer. And in my case, it was all paid for by my employer, also a good thing. But what really drives me nuts about the Cardinals home field is the lack of anything but Anheuser products. Bud, Bud everywhere...

Yeah, that last one is of me at the game, so what.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mobile Blogging

I've had my problems with New Blogger but at least it is letting me post from my cell phone (Old Blogger wouldn't ).

Right now I am heading south on I-55 on my way to a St. Louis Cardinals game.

Consider this a test post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Web Unsightly

Ha, ha. The SJ-R’s Dave Bakke slams the City of Springfield’s official website. Deservedly so, I might add. After noticing about everything on the site is about Mayor Davlin, Bakke asks, “Is this the city's site or Mayor Davlin's site?” He then goes on to list all Devlin-centric items on the site’s home page.

Now, I can almost hear critics of the SJ-R’s own website (see Iggy) smirking at the pot calling the kettle black. But wait, while there may be deficiencies at, that doesn’t at all invalidate Bakke’s criticisms of the official city site. I agree with Baake and I’ll go an impolite step farther and say that the city site looks like shit.

I think it’s very important for the city to get it right online. And while I have no idea what the city has spent (and spends) on the design and maintenance of the site, I think the city should not be afraid to but even more into it. This city gets a lot of revenue from tourism and we need to aggressively promote the city on the tourists’ favorite tool, the internet.

Now if I may turn the tables a bit. Why does Bakke not provide the web address of the site he is talking about? Or better yet, a link on the paper’s online version of the story? (Note: I haven’t seen the hard copy of the newspaper today but the online version of the story has no web address or link). This isn’t the first time the SJ-R has failed to do this. When the focus of a story is websites, the least they could do is tell us how to get to the site and see it for ourselves. If the story was about a physical place, they would certainly give the street address, so why not give the web address? Just sayin’.

Update: See Russ' comparison of web sites from other capital cities in comments.

Update II: I kind of figured this was coming and it's a good analysis of the subject.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Roger That

Hooray for Roger Ebert. He's been through a lot, and now wants to live life despite some disfiguring medical problems. I was kind of surprised by this part of the story though:

Ebert will watch the ninth annual Overlooked Film Festival, which begins Wednesday night at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from the audience. "I will be wearing a gauze bandage around my neck, and my mouth will be seen to droop."

"I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers," he wrote. "So what?"

Ebert wrote that friends were worried about unflattering photos of him being taken and unkind comments being written. He wrote that he doesn't care. "We spend too much time hiding illness."

I'm not sure I buy that "unkind comments" would have been written. At least I would hope not. I mean, who the hell would be cruel enough to do that (outside of right wing talk radio, of course, where nothing is too cruel)? On the contrary, I think his decision will be almost universally applauded. Good for him.

Only Rudy Can Save Us

Can I ask a really simple question? Why do Republicans keep insisting that America is invulnerable to terrorist attack if they, and only they, are in power? You hear them make this ridiculous boast all the time. Rudy Giuliani is the latest in a long line:

MANCHESTER, N.H. - - Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

“If any Republican is elected president - - and I think obviously I would be the best at this - - we will remain on offense and will anticipate what (the terrorists) will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.

The former New York City mayor, currently leading in all national polls for the Republican nomination for president, said Tuesday night that America would ultimately defeat terrorism no matter which party gains the White House.

“But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?” Giuliani said.

Here's the thing: On 9/11 there was a Republican in the White House. And Republicans controlled Congress. And a Republican, coincidentally Rudy Giuliani, was mayor of the city that was most devastated by the attack.

And another thing while we are on the topic. I'm not blaming George Bush directly for the 9/11 attack but to shift the blame to his political opponents is silly. Republicans act as if Bush had barely sat down at his desk for the first time in the Oval Office when the attacks occurred. In fact, nearly 20% of his first term was under his belt and he had taken vacation the entire month of August prior to 9/11. If Republican intuition on terrorism is so great (as opposed to the cowardly Democrats) why didn't the Bush administration and Republican Congress do something to thwart/prepare for 9/11 once that dastardly and treasonous Clinton was out of the way months and months and months before the September attack?

OK, that was more than one question and ther were rather rhetorical at that. But really, can we stop the stupid fear mongering already?

Update: Obama calls Bullshit on Giuliani.

Are the Bees Going to be OK, Uncle Lar?

Maybe the honeybees aren’t in trouble after all. I’m going to cross that open off my list for now and resume worrying about the million other threats confronting us.





Monday, April 23, 2007

Get Your High On I-55 has an online poll question:
Do you think a third lane should be added to Interstate 55 going around Springfield to relieve congestion?
(The Yes votes are currently winning handily. I wonder how a realistic price tag would affect that vote.)

But I have a question too: Why the long three-lane stretch of I-55 south of the city? To relieve traffic headed to Pawnee? There’s another three-lane stretch north of the city running to Lincoln. I mean really, shouldn’t the three lane section always have been around Springfield to accommodate both the local and long distance travelers? I’m sure there is some reason, or at least and explanation, why the interstate was laid out this way, I’ve just never heard it.

Where the Bees Aren’t

The last thing any of us needs is another story of doom, especially on a Monday morning. But over the weekend I read this article on the disappearance of large numbers of honey bees in this country and it is a bit worrisome. Bees, you see, make possible a large portion of our food supply. And now they are mysteriously vanishing.
It is now common for Hayes to hear of beekeepers losing over 50 percent of their hives to colony collapse disorder. “If you have that kind of loss, you can’t build up to what you had before.”

That’s led to a dwindling of colony numbers and beekeepers can’t keep up.

“We’ve had reports of beekeepers forced out of business. They can’t fulfill pollination contracts. Other businesses that normally provide queen bees are canceling orders. They don’t have enough bees to work with.”

At some point, warns Hayes, “the lines on the graph will cross and there won’t be enough honeybees in the United States to pollinate our crops.”

Levi says the researchers are “working as hard as they can. Recently, many went out to California to look at the bees there for the almond crop. They were able to work around a massive number of colonies. They’ve found the same symptoms there: beekeepers losing 30 to 80 percent of their colonies. They aren’t finding many bees either in or outside affected colonies. The bees just vanish.”

Colony collapse disorder has been found in 30 states, including Hawaii, and isn’t affecting beekeepers equally. Some have suffered dramatic losses — going from thousands of colonies to hundreds of colonies. Others have only had a few hives affected.

“For commercial beekeepers it does seem more dramatic because they keep such huge numbers of bees. But we have plenty of reports of the problem from smaller beekeepers and hobbyists. As spring arrives, we’re now getting reports from further north.”
The (other) bad news is there really isn’t any thing you or I can do about his right now until a cause for this problem is found. The best we can do is hope the experts can figure out what is going on before it’s too late.

Have a nice day!

Friday, April 20, 2007

No Man’s Land

And here I thought Limbo had been dismissed by the Catholic Church decades ago. I guess it was just…wait for it…in limbo.

I remember learning about Limbo in my early years at Catholic grade school, but then suddenly it was never mentioned again. Now if we can just work on Purgatory.

A Picture Conveys a Thousand Lies

Speaking of fast food, do you know anyone who hasn’t complained that the pictures in fast food advertisements always look waaaay more appealing than the actual thing you get at the store? Well, someone set out to visually document this phenomenon.

H/T to Unfogged.

Friday Beer Blogging: Cleveland Edition

Last night's episode of 30 Rock mercilessly mocked the city of Cleveland, Ohio (although Mrs. TEH, who is smarter than me, says it was all just extreme product placement paid for by the Cleveland Tourism Bureau).

Anyway, all that talk about Cleveland got me thirsty for beer. So does talk of Omaha, Tacoma, Atlanta, Reno, New Berlin, Pawnee etc. but that's another story. So I went to the internets to look up Cleveland beers and discovered the Great Lakes Brewing Company operates out of Cleveland.

They have quite an assortment of, well, concept beers.

Gordon Lightfoot even has a favorite

And holy Moses, it's a white ale...

So while Cleveland may rock, it does so under the influence (heh) of the great beers from the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I Have Sinned

As long as we are confessing our sins...

I gave into temptation tonight and had my favorite fast food death munch: KFC extra crispy chicken breast, mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, and green beans (for best results mix the potatoes, gravy and coleslaw). I've been eating little more than Lean Cuisines for dinner for the last few months and I couldn't resist my basest culinary instincts when the opportunity presented itself. It was wrong but God it tasted good.

Leave your fast food guilty pleasures in comments.

Getting Fooled Again and Again. And Again.

I wonder if Pete Townshend ever imagined the abuse one line from one of his songs would take. I wonder what he thinks about it now. I've seen, read and heard dozens of interviews with him over the years and I've never heard the topic come up.

The Stalk of the Town

I have feeling this lawsuit is going nowhere, but I have to admit I’d like to see Petrilli win.

Unsuccessful Springfield Ward 8 aldermanic candidate George Petrilli has sued his opponent, Kris Theilen, former state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka and the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee over campaign literature distributed by the Theilen campaign.

The suit claims they defamed Petrilli when they referred to him in the literature as a "video stalker."

Theilen had not yet seen the lawsuit when reached for comment Wednesday.

"The video stalker terminology, it's a coined phrase by the media," he said. "It's been in use since 2004. Ms. Topinka used modern terminology in her endorsement, and she is entitled to her opinion."

Petrilli once videotaped a Peoria appearance by Topinka, the 2006 Republican candidate for governor, for the campaign of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Petrilli has claimed he did the taping only as a favor to a…roommate who worked for Blagojevich.

Maybe the term “video stalker” is well-understood in newsrooms, but I think the term has a very sinister ring to it for the rest of us who are largely unfamiliar with the term. I guess I’d just like to see a blow dealt to baseless political smears. I guy can dream, can’t he?

Also notable, the fact that Patrilli filed the suit on election day seems to indicate he was pretty pissed about it. Of course, it also has the advantage of inoculating him from accusations of sour grapes since the suit was filed before anyone knew the results of the election.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All Blogging Isn’t Local

Rich Miller has some good advice for bloggers:
I always encourage local bloggers to keep their focus on their immediate surroundings. We’ve got way more national political bloviators than we need.
They’re a dime a dozen. Stay local, stay focused and if you’re any good, success
and recognition will follow.
I don’t disagree with any of that. Problem is, well, I don’t wanna. I mean, eating more vegetables would be beneficial too, but mostly I just don’t. Perhaps it is a focus thing (or lack thereof) but my purpose in blogging is to do it for fun and not just for success or recognition (not that those aren’t good if you can get them).

I do local stuff, sure, but when I feel moved to post it’s because the topic, in some way, interests me or I feel it’s an item worth commenting on. And things outside of Sangamon County interest me. The rest of you may be yawning, but I like to comment about my entire world, be it something at home, events in Springfield, or the latest bullshit from Iraq.

Of course, there is also the funny side of life. I post some things just for laughs. Friday Beer Blogging is perhaps my longest running joke. FBB was originally a takeoff on some of the already silly Friday Cat Blogging type posts I’d seen at other sites. Thursday nights as I sit down to do the latest FBB installment, I sometimes start to feel it’s a chore because it really isn’t spontaneous. But once I get going on it, I always have fun.

Anyway, I’m sure there are things I could do to “get ahead” in the blogosphere but I think that would take a lot of the fun out of it. So for now, expect a lot of unfocusedness (and the occasional made up word) here.

VT Killings: Central Illinois Connection?

I was reading this MSNBC feature on the kids who were killed at Virginia Tech when I came across this:
Austin Cloyd, age unknown, was a freshman majoring in international studies and French.

Cloyd, born in Charlotte, N.C., lived in central Illinois with her family for several years before moving to Blacksburg. She graduated from Blacksburg High School.

Emphasis is mine. I wonder where she lived in Central Illinois. Does she still have family here?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Election Notes

Where I live: I can't believe my non-endorsement carried so little weight here in Ward 9. Steve Dove, won beating incumbent Larry Selinger. Jim Edgar's takeover of the Springfield City Council is now 10% complete!

Davlin: Mayor for as long as he wants it.

Down south: Sheila Simon, daughter of the legendary late Senator Paul Simon, lost her bid for mayor of Carbondale. Some things just aren't genetic.

A question: Is it just tradition or is there some other reason a sitting mayor of Springfield never tries to stack the council by actively campaigning for allies? Or at least lending his/her name to candidates of the same political party. Davlin is pretty popular, he could have helped fellow Dems I would think. He now faces another evenly split council (although the effects of party affiliation gets really diluted at this level).

Update: Oops, Davlin will preside over a city council dominated by Republicans 6-4. Still, I'm not convinced party affiliation on the council is all that big a factor.

Build It and They Will Run

Well, at least one person is certain Chicago will get the 2016 Olympics. Here’s an ample excerpt (really, I left some for you to read at the other end of the link).
The Olympic bidding process is a variant of a war of attrition. Every day for the next year and a half, each of the competing cities must do a little something (an Olympic themed festival), or a lot of something (clearing land for a new sports facility) to prove its worthiness to the IOC. Stop paying that price every day, and you lose. For that reason, the city that wants the prize the most usually wins. Beijing did. London did. And, this time, Chicago does.

The other competitors entered this contest for all the usual reasons: to boost tourism, to extract resources from their central governments for public works, and to create jobs, (albeit temporary ones). Worthy goals all, but a mere grain of sand on Chicago's ten mile long lakefront beach when compared to what's at stake for Da Mayor.

The Olympics provide Daley an opportunity to do something his famous father couldn't. They'll enable Daley to unite his city. I'm not talking about political unification. I'm talking about economic unification. I'm talking about glass and steel
unification. This is the city of big shoulders not the city of brotherly love. Daley sees the Olympics as a way to complete a high rent, low crime, high socio economic status neighborhood that stretches from Hyde Park at the South to Rogers Park at the North. He's not thinking about a few volleyball courts and a running track, He's thinking about the Olympics as a means to build housing, transportation, and infrastructure

For that reason, Daley will do what needs to be done. I'm not saying that he'll violate international law or that (egad) he won't live up to the Olympic ideals. To the contrary, Daley will play by the rules of the game, but don't think for a moment that the crackdown on bribes and gifts to IOC members following the Salt Lake City scandal will prevent him from greasing the a few palms if necessary.

Daley needs these Olympics. A vision of a unified Chicago has driven his policies from day one. Eighteen years ago when Daley took office, Chicago's high rent district ended at the Southern tip of the loop. Since that time, Daley has pushed through a refurbished lakefront museum campus, a new ballpark for his Chicago White Sox, a futuristic Soldier Field, and a massively expanded McCormick Place Convention Center. He has also built up the neighborhood around the University of Illinois-Chicago. Guess what? All of these projects lie to the South of the Loop.

Not only did Daley build. He unbuilt. He dismantled the Robert Taylor Homes, a series of low income, skyscraping public housing projects that dotted the South coast. Then, in the dark of night on March 30, 2003, he sent bulldozers to destroy Meigs' Field, thus creating more park space and an even more attractive lakefront. In this inverted Field of Dreams, if you unbuild it, they (the developers) will come. And they have. South of the Loop now consists of twenty-story glass building after twenty-story glass building, many sporting a view that looks North to shiny new Millennium Park and five miles South to the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.

Daley intends to use the 2016 Olympics to fill in those five miles.

Don't believe me? Look at the plans. The Olympic Village? That'll sit South of McCormick Place to the North of the new Sox ballpark and the Illinois Institute of Technology. The Olympic Stadium? That'll be in Washington Park, which sits adjacent to the University of Chicago. If all goes according to plan, the remaining undeveloped blocks, many of which contain glorious, under priced brownstones, should get swooped up in a frenzy of gentrification, provided Daley can also encourage some businesses to relocate as well. And, believe me, he will.
Like I’ve said before, a Chicago Olympic bid, not to mention the Olympics themselves, is going to affect the whole state at some level. Maybe we should all get ready.

Know Your Shooters

Turns out it was a Korean student that did all the shooting yesterday at Virginia Tech. While the 23 year-old student was technically Korean, he and his family have been here since 1992. Strangely, one of the people he shot happened to be Korean as well. This Korean media report has details from the Korean perspective.

Other (Ongoing) Pointless Mass Killing

61 Americans troops have died in Iraq in the last two weeks or so.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Quickie Endorsements

Mayor -Tim Davlin

9th Ward Alderman - Not Steve Dove

Now a bit of explanation...

Davlin - He's been a pretty good mayor. No major fuck-ups. He did see the city through the tornadoes (but his Katrina-esque TV ads were deplorable) and even became a major player in getting the smoking ban past. Good enough for my vote.

Not Steve Dove - OK, by default this means Larry Selinger but I'm really voting against Dove. Here are my reasons:

- He isn't in favor of the smoking ban (see my post here)

- His response to the last minute push polling mini-scandal was to blame the other side for the phone calls. Politicians often try this tactic and it's bullshit. Just admit some people on your side, even if you knew nothing about it, went too far and be done with it. From the SJ-R:
Steve Dove, Selinger's Republican opponent in Ward 9, fired off a press release this morning denouncing the calls and calling them a "dirty trick."

"I know for a fact it was not our campaign," Dove said. "That leaves me with the only explanation as some sort of dirty trick intended to make my campaign look bad."
What load. Sure, Selinger, or his supporters, had people call 9th ward residents with a negative message about himself just so it would make Dove look bad when Dove got blamed for the calls. Or something. Sorry but that's a very lame explanation. I'm not saying Dove had anything to do with the calls, he probably didn't, but to blame the opposition is ridiculous.

- The Edgar letter was way over the top.

Edgar Hearts Dove

Here's the letter we got in the 9th Ward from former governor Jim Edgar endorsing aldermanic candidate Steve Dove. (Click to enlarge)

20+ Dead in Virginia Shooting

While we argue among ourselves about blogrolls, a huge tragedy is unfolding out east.

Update: At least 31 dead.

Update II: Now it's 33. A one man WMD.

No Conspiracy

Sorry to be a bit ill-tempered here, but I’ve had about enough of Iggy and his pointless swipes at me. Why would he suggest I might I delete his comment? I rarely delete comments for any reason. Not only did I not delete his comment, I responded to it to continue the dialogue. A little paranoid is he? And I’m not in some sort of conspiracy to keep him off the damn SJ-R blog roll. Get over, way over, yourself dude. And the post below about how to get on the SJ-R blogroll was truly meant to be informative. I’m not suggesting anyone is “stupid”. I know for a fact some people, who wanted to be on the blogroll, had not requested to be included. But I guess none of that matters in conspiracy world. Back at ya, big guy.

SJ-R Blogroll

Note to Springfield bloggers:

To get on the SJ-R Blogroll you must submit a request to have your blog included. It will not magically appear their without the request being made.

Step 1: go here.

Step 2: scroll to the bottom.

Step 3: click the email link.

Step 4: type email requesting your blog be included in the SJ-R blogroll (include a link to your blog).

Step 5: sent the email.

Step 6: wait.

I don’t know what goes into the decision to then include or exclude your blog but you must take the first step.


Saturday I got two pieces of mail related to the city council race in my ward (9). Both were endorsing the challenger Steve Dove. One, a colorful flier, was from Raymond Poe. The other, a mass mailing letter, was from former Illinois governor Jim Edgar. Jim Edgar has a favorite in the Springfield Ward 9 race? I mean, other than Dove being a Republican, why would I believe Edgar gives a shit? I barely care. Maybe Dove and Edgar are BFFs but somehow I doubt it. Did anyone living in another ward get this letter on behalf of their Republican aldermanic candidate?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Critical Blogging

Hey, is Jim Leach blogging again under the name of Cyndi? Check out this blog. I'd call that single-issue blogging.

I don't know though, I completely disagree with the politics of both Molson and Lee but when they aren't doing politics they can be pretty funny. I very rarely listen, so maybe I'm wrong. At least "Cyndi" will keep us informed as to why I'm wrong about that.

The Olympic City?

So Chicago is now officially in the running for the 2016 Olympics. While this is pretty exciting for Illinois, I have to agree with Eric Zorn that this might not turn out to be such a wonderful thing.
If Chicago gets the final nod, preparations for the 2016 games will be the biggest public/private works project in the history of a town known for shady government contracts and brazen back-scratching. The “surprise” construction-cost overruns – a local specialty in recent years and a big problem for many Olympic host cities – promise to keep teams of reporters busy for years.

It’s the seeming inevitability of profiteering, sleaze and extra costs passed along to taxpayers that stops me from turning cartwheels at today's “victory” over Los Angeles.
Not only that, but how much is the State of Illinois going to put into this thing? I also suspect there is going to be a lot of “pre-selection” costs involved in trying to convince the international Olympic Committee that Chicago id their kind of town. Then if selected, holy shit.

But I don’t want to be a total downer here. Congratulations Chicago for at least making it this far. And if selected, it’ll be a lot of fun, even if expensive.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Smoking Out Candidates' Positions

When I heard the campaign ads for Springfield Ward 6 candidate Tina Jannazzao, I wondered if she was related to the owners of the Track Shack. (By the way, I don’t now live in Ward 6 but I used to.) The reason I was curious about her relation to the Track Shack owners is they have been vocal opponents of the city’s smoking ban. Well, a look at Jannazzo’s web site confirms she is the daughter of the owners and, surprise!, is opposed to the smoking ban.
The smoking ban is a three-part issue.

#1 Health issue – I do not dispute the smoking ban on this issue.
#2 Individual choice – I do not choose to smoke or let people smoke in my home.
#3 Government involvement – This is where I disagree with the ban.

Tobacco is a legal product. The ladies and gentlemen operating businesses in Springfield, IL - Land of Lincoln – are being forced to send their own customers out
into the elements to use a legal product. If a business owner wants to make a smoke-free establishment, they have that right. If they want to service smokers, they cannot. But most egregiously, private clubs are included in the comprehensive smoking ban.
I only bring this up because I think we need to be aware of where the candidates stand on this. I would really hate to see anyone mess with the ban as it exists. We need to hold on until the statewide ban is passes and goes into effect. Jannazzo’s opponent, incumbant Mark Mahoney, favors the ban.

In my own ward, Ward 9, Steve Dove has an incomprehensible position (see here item #2) but I get the feeling, reading between the lines of obvious facts -but no opinion, that Dove would not support the ban if pressed. He seems to want to run out the clock on the statewide ban so he doesn’t have to take a stand.

Dove’s incumbent opponent, Larry Selinger, I think voted in favor of the ban in the end (I can’t find the final vote tally nor can I find any Selinger websites or position papers) but I know he offered some rather lame “compromises” along the way so I’m not sure his heart is really in it either.

I haven’t checked on the positions of the candidates from the other wards, perhaps I will, but everyone who now enjoys the smoke-free environments that now exist in Springfield better find out who will uphold the ban.

Friday Beer Blogging: Brian Williams Edition

Live from the NBC studios…

A guy who is better than bloggers. And kind of an …

But seriously folks, how’s that for the name of a beer?

Arrogant Bastard Ale is brewed by the Stone Brewing Company of California.

I don’t think you can get it around here but I’ve yet to memorize the complete selection at Friar Tuck’s.

Enjoy some Arrogance but remember: Don’t drink and fly combat aircraft.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Brian Williams: Arrogant Prettyboy

Look at this elitist crap from Brian Williams:
“You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.”
Hey Brian, Josh “Vinny” Marshall is 100 times the journalist you’ll ever hope to be. And he’s a blogger. Putting the effort into something like this would probably kill you, Mr. W.

I'm sure Williams gets better cume than Marshall, however. What is it with media folks named Brian?


I still say Paris Hilton sitting next to the CWLP plant would have moved more copies of the IT, but I guess Will is kinda hott in an ecological kind of way.

Beat Down the Vote

I have previously complained about the silly laws that deny FORMER convicts the right to vote. Such laws make no practical sense and are instituted for reasons that range from easy legislation (more punishment!) to outright attempts at voter suppression (the poor and minorities being overrepresented in the legal system).

But take a look at this story:

Ms. Prude’s path to jail began after she attended a Democratic rally in Milwaukee featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton in late 2004. Along with hundreds of others, she marched to City Hall and registered to vote. Soon after, she sent in an absentee ballot.

Four years earlier, though, Ms. Prude had been convicted of trying to cash a counterfeit county government check worth $1,254. She was placed on six years’ probation.

Ms. Prude said she believed that she was permitted to vote because she was not in jail or on parole, she testified in court. Told by her probation officer that she could not vote, she said she immediately called City Hall to rescind her vote, a step she was told was not necessary.

“I made a big mistake, like I said, and I truly apologize for it,” Ms. Prude said during her trial in 2005. That vote, though, resulted in a felony conviction and sent her to jail for violating probation.
What total bullshit. The woman paid her debt to society, now leave her the fuck alone assholes.

Josh Marshall also points us to this gem that, while not directly related to post-conviction harassment, is another example of using silly voting laws as a brutal hammer:

Another example is that of Pakistani immigrant Usman Ali. He'd been in the US for ten years and owned a jewelry store. He was in line one day at the DMV when a clerk put a registration form in front of him along with other forms. Ali hastily filled it out. He never made any attempt to vote. But the mistake got him deported back to Pakistan where he's now trying to rebuild his life with his US citizen wife and daughter.

We're certainly lucky to be rid of Mr. Ali and his efforts to undermine our democracy.
Again, what bullshit. Land of the free, indeed.

But this is a very effective voter suppression tactic. If there is any chance you might be in violation of the law, why take a risk in voting? How many of Ms. Prudes friends will just pass on taking a ballot on the off-chance that there is something in their past that might land them in jail again by doing so? Ali’s story might make even eligible (citizen) immigrants think twice about voting, fearing a technicality might bite them in the ass later. This stuff is just awful.

Read all of Marshall’s post on this topic and be prepared to not be surprised where a lot of this bogus “voter fraud” crap is coming from. He’s been tracking this nonsense as part of his (and the Talking Points Memo operation’s) superior coverage of the U.S. Attorneys General scandal.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Dead at 84
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

Mr. Vonnegut suffered irreversible brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, according to his wife, Jill Krementz.
More here. And here.

If I had to pick a single author who influenced me most, it would have to be Vonnegut. Not to worry though, he's probably just become unstuck in time and living another part of his life in that Tralfamadorian way.

Hardship and Its Causes

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today announced that troop deployments to Iraq will be extended from the current 12 month tour to 15 months. And he added this:
Some very thoughtless person in this building made the unilateral decision yesterday to deny the army the opportunity to notify unit commanders who could then talk to their troops 48 hours before we made a public announcement [about the extended deployments]. And, I can't tell you how angry it makes many of us that one individual would create potentially so much hardship not only for our servicemen and women but their families, by letting them read about something like this in the newspapers.
Maybe I just don’t get it because I’m not in Iraq nor do I have a family member there, but it seems to me the greater hardship by miles is the extended deployment, not how people found out about it. If you care so much about “hardship”, Mr. Gates, how ‘bout bringing the troops home?

On Choosing Wisely

Eric Zorn points to some silly methods of picking a college and then dishes some good advice for parents on how to properly pick one. Yes, there is a right way to make such life-altering decisions and then there are the methods people really use. I guess it’s the difference between using your head and going with your heart.

My choice of colleges was, as most of you know, SIU Carbondale. I’m not sure I seriously considered going anywhere else. My reasons for picking SIU were, in no particular order, as follows:
- It was as far away from home as I could get and still pay in-state tuition.

- I was kinda, sorta familiar with the area having visited relatives in near Carbondale on numerous occasions as a child. Besides, my reasoning went, if I did have some sort of emergency there was family nearby.

- I liked the beauty of Southern Illinois.

- It was warmer in Southern Illinois than anywhere else in the state. I think I had visions of year-round snow drifts in the streets of, say, DeKalb and that didn’t interest me.

- SIU had a reputation as a party school and that sounded like a good thing to me at the time. I figured you could learn things anywhere so why not maximize the after hours fun.

- I worked with a couple of very recent SIU grads at the bookstore my senior year in high school. They talked about SIU and Carbondale all the time. I already new I could get a good sub at Booby’s before I ever stepped foot on campus.
You will notice that none of the reasons for picking SIU had anything to do with a specific field of study or even academics in general. That’s because I had no idea what I wanted to do (I still don’t but that’s for another post). I assumed I would figure that out along the way, or at least have fun trying.

I may have made my decision for all the wrong reasons but all very human reasons. For better or worse, that’s how a lot of our decision making, big and small, goes throughout life. Some of us make well thought out and rational decisions while others seem to go from one ill-conceived adventure to the next. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, employing a mixture of rational thinking heartfelt desires.

The Deer Among Us

While the Southern Illinois Deer Insurgency has been quiet so far this year, let’s not forget past victims like this one on the SIU Carbondale campus:
Amy Boren will look at the woods with wary eyes this summer.

Boren, a professor of horticulture, was one of six victims of on-campus deer attacks last summer. She said the university has not done enough to reduce the likelihood of incidents similar to the one that left her with bruises, a broken rib, and kidney problems.

"All they have done, to my knowledge, is tape off the woods and put warning signs up," she said.

Boren said a doe attacked her last May when she was walking in the woods near Campus Lake. She said the deer was standing in the middle of a path and the animal attacked her when she tried to back away.

"Every time I would get up she would try to knock me back down," she said. "I finally got a stick and poked at her and got behind a tree and she continued to go after me."

Fifteen deer attacks have been reported in the Thompson Woods and Campus Lake area since 2005.
Are the deer defeated? Or just laying low and regrouping? The summer months will hold the answer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Non-News Story of the Day

Anyone who has ever run for president says something similar to this when asked:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama on
Tuesday dismissed the notion he might consider accepting the No. 2 spot on the 2008 ballot -- with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top.

"You don't run for second. I don't believe in that," the Illinois senator said on "Late Night with David Letterman."
If it comes down to accepting the VP spot or not, he will accept. Obviously, he’s not going to undermine his own campaign by acknowledging this now. No one would. This is not news.

Shopping Saturation

I’ve wondered for years just how much retail business Springfield could ultimately support before it became saturated and no longer able to absorb any more. New businesses, mostly operating out of new construction, have been proliferating exponentially, mainly on the city’s southwest side. Now there’s this:
A development that would match Parkway Pointe shopping center in size - including a Wal-Mart superstore - is one committee meeting and a city council vote away from turning dirt at the south edge of Springfield.

Just how quickly that could happen remains a matter of speculation.

Ordinances approving the project at Sixth Street and Hazel Dell Road are on the agenda for a Thursday meeting of the Springfield City Council's public works committee.
I have nothing against any of this. And I’m sure the developers and retailers have studied the situation and feel confident that the new project can be successful. I still wonder though, at what point do we reach saturation? By saturation I don’t mean no new businesses build or open. Rather, when do these new businesses begin seriously displacing existing operations?

When White Oaks Mall opened in 1977 and the southwest side retail boom began, it wiped out downtown, a situation that lasted for years and years. Fortunately, downtown has found its niche and come back in a great way. But the retail expansion seems to be greater now than it was (even proportionately) back in the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s. Yet I don’t see mass extinctions of existing businesses. Some stores have closed, yes, but nothing on a large scale.

Again, I’m fine with that outcome; I just wonder if there ever will be a mini collapse of retailers here at some point due to overexpansion.

Monday, April 09, 2007

TEH: The Movie

Wow, Leonardo DiCaprio has been cast to play me! Er, wait a minute...

Quick Movie Review: The Astronaut Farmer

It’s already at the cheap theater but be warned: The Astronaut Farmer sucks. Right out loud. Don’t even rent it unless you like to sit around with friends making fun of bad movies Mystery Science Theater 2000 style. Otherwise, it’ll just stink up the room.

Watching this movie made me tired from constantly trying to suspend disbelief. Believe me, that’s a heavy burden with this movie because there’s hardly a scene where I wasn’t yelling, “Oh, come on!” in my head.

Physics that we are familiar with simply don’t apply in the Astronaut Farmer world of the movie. For example, in the AF world wood barns don’t burn or become damaged in any way after a large booster rocket capable of projecting a manned space capsule (Gemini series, I believe) into space. Oooooooookaaaaay.

One of the funniest aspects of the movie is that Bruce Dern’s grandfather character seems to be introduced simply so he can die and leave the Astronaut family enough money to stave off foreclosure and buy time to get into space. His whole part is to show up, sit around, die and leave an inheritance. I guess the movie makers thought it too cheesy to have him die from afar and leave the save-the-day money.

The scene that got me really laughing though was when our hero, played by Billy Bob Thorton, has a bad, non-barn destroying launch and winds up flying his rocket horizontally. He buzzes a crowd of reporters and then, before crashing (and surviving), goes through a billboard leaving a perfectly circular hole. You know, like in cartoons when a character runs though a wall and leaves an opening that’s the exact shape of his running body.

Of course, throughout the entire movie the evil, powerful (yet bungling!) government is unreasonably trying to stop this guy from launching what amounts to a homemade ICBM (sans warhead). Stupid government! I mean, what could go wrong? This is clearly nanny-state government overreach.

I will say this though: the little girls in the movie are cute and believable. But their childishness is appropriate; the rest of the movie’s is not.


Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that I am now suddenly beholden to the SJ-R because I’m getting 3 or 4 hits a day from their blog roll even though this gets me nothing in the real world. I make no money on this blog and recently have had little time to tend to it. But somehow, being on that mighty, mighty blog roll I’m in lockstep with the newspaper’s evil message.

That seems to be the concern of some. So even assuming the worst, I ask: who gives a shit, this is a stupid little local blog. If you feel that what I write here is tainted by the powerful and irresistible media giant that is the SJ-R, then keep that in mind as you read here. Or don’t. I'm busy.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Beer Blogging: Animals Edition

When in doubt, use animals. Pairing animals up with anything normally associated with human behavior is a sure fire winner. And what human activity imposed on animals is funnier than giving them beer?

Didn't I see these guys somewhere playing poker?

Even cats fancy beer..

Awwww...a cute, cuddly, furry rat enjoying a brew.

And finally, after a hard weekend of hiding eggs and filling baskets, the Easter Bunny will kick back and pop a cold one.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

RIP the Record Store?

I’m kind of sad about the disappearance of record stores where you could get almost anything but I don’t mind ordering CDs online or downloading single tunes. I was never one to go to a record store and talk music anyway. I always relied on word of mouth, radio stations and, going way back now, magazines like Rolling Stone. Today it’s my satellite radio, Amazon recommendations, and other online sources. So while I sympathize with the sentiments in this article I’m not sure if things are really that bad. Admittedly, I could be very wrong given that I have a whole lot less time for music than I did 15 or 25 years ago.

My best music store memories here in Springfield have to come from the old Co-op Records and Tapes. I first went into that store when it was on Second Street just south of South Grand. I may have been in 8th grade or maybe a freshman in high school. I was amazed at all the albums with fantastic covers from bands I had never heard of.

Later in high school, Co-op moved to the northwest corner of 9th and Cook. It was there friends and I would get all our recorded music, check out the latest High Times centerfolds they had pasted on the wall, and get our concert tickets for the upcoming show at the Armory. All the music I was interested in was under one roof. Those were also the days before it was illegal to sell paraphernalia like bongs and pipes and Co-op always had a nice display at the front counter. You could get your tunes, concert tickets (with no Ticketmaster fees) and your rolling papers all in one place! Awesome.

I also have a fondness for the old Musicland the once occupied a space on the second floor of the Mall next to what was then Myers Brothers. It was one of the original stores in the mall when it opened in 1977 and was located right across the hall from the bookstore in which I worked my senior year in high school. For what it’s worth, the only 8-track tapes I ever bought were from that store.

Musicland not only sold records and tapes, they also sold stereo systems. That meant we had music wafting over all the time. And after-hours, while cleaning and straightening, crank it up dude! I kind of got to know the guys that worked over there and I would occasionally talk music with them. I’ll never forget the night I was helping close up when the Musicland guys closed the gate to their store and put on a brand new album by a brand new band called Van Halen. They had it up very loud (up to 11, I think) and Eddie’s guitar riffs on Eruption about literally blew the 17-year-old me away. The next day I was among the first humans to own a Van Halen record.

And I might add all is not lost today. We still have Recycled Records downtown. I haven’t been there in years but it’s nice to know it’s still in business even in this internet/digital age.

Go West, Unsightly Trash

I have no idea what this means but 9 of the 10 stretches of road on this list are east-west streets. Since this is a supplemental list, I suppose the original trashiest streets could be predominantly north-south.

I do wonder though, where does most of this trash come from. Is it all motorists throwing their wrappers and cups out the window? I can honestly say I hardly ever se that happen anymore. 30 years ago, yeah. But in recent decades I think almost everyone has recognized littering as the wrong thing to do.

I suppose a certain amount of it just blows in from trash cans and dumpsters from the surrounding area and collects in ditches and grassy areas along roads.

Then there’s the problem of late night (and often underage) beer drinkers discarding their empty cans, bottles and boxes. This group bugs me the most. Smashing glass bottles is particularly bad and dangerous. I realize these people don’t want to be caught with evidence of drinking in a vehicle and want to get rid of it as quickly as possible but please show some sort of responsibility.

I think there is almost a feeling of exemption for littering with alcohol products. A few years ago there was a party involving some young (of age, I think) people down the street a couple of houses. Parking extended down to the front of my house. No big deal except one the people parking in front of my place decided to dump an empty 12-pack box onto my lawn upon their arrival. Would they have done the same thing with their McDonald’s bag? I don’t think so. (By the way, that night I got into grumpy old man mode and went out, picked up the beer box, walked down the street and dumped it onto the lawn of the party-thrower.)

Finally, I can’t let this post pass without mentioning those who throw their cigarette butts on the ground. Butts that never, ever seem to go away (they aren’t biodegradable) unless someone else picks them up. You too are assholes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Drug Bust

Our superior system of medicine:
Between January 2005 and June 2006, the pharmaceutical industry spent a record $155 million lobbying Congress. During this period they had over 1,000 lobbyists working the Hill and the Bush Administration, blocking efforts to allow Canadian drug reimportation or Medicare bargaining power. And that doesn't even get into the $19 million spent on campaign contributions.
If we could only figure out why medical care in this country costs so much more than it does everywhere else.

School of Hard Knox

Stephen Colbert is good for the Illinois education business:
Almost a year after comedian Stephen Colbert gave the commencement address at Knox College in western Illinois, the liberal arts college has a record number of applicants. It got 2,500 applications -- 20 percent more than last year -- for 340 spots on its Galesburg campus.

The school snagged Colbert, of "The Colbert Report'' on Comedy Central, to speak to graduates last June.
Maybe we can get Jon Stewart to speak UIS?

Smokelessness Spreads

Carbondale goes smoke-free. Welcome to the club.

We went into a Metro East restaurant this past weekend and actually felt stunned when the hostess asked if we wanted smoking or non-smoking. It really does feel like you're in a different country when you get used to smoke-free restaurants and then go into one that isn't.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Jagged Little Humps

I’ve never been a big fan of taking lyrics out of there musical context for the purpose of making fun of them. Wasn’t it Steve Allen who used to do this to rock lyrics by reading them as if poems. That said, this really is hilarious.


Interesting device used on tonight’s Boston Legal episode. William Shatner’s character, Denny Crane, is confronted by someone affected by Crane’s first trial back in 1957. We periodically see flashbacks going through Crane’s mind. The flashbacks are, in reality, old black and white TV footage of Shatner playing an attorney in The Defender that actually aired in 1957. In some ways it seems like cheap production device. But think about it; as an actor how cool (or melancholy) would it be to have work from 50 years ago incorporated into a current, and very successful effort. It was..I don’t know…neat.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Since no one goes back to check out comments to old posts, I'm promoting this comment for all to see how truly silly the pro-smoking bunch really is. In response to this post of mine, the anonymous commenter had this to say:

Happy to hear you have given up your automobile....or do you have an unfettered right to spew more poison in the air in a single trip to the grocery store than a smoker will in a lifetime of smoking? Easy to be righteous when some one else does the complying...looks like the Taliban aren't the only society with Commisions on Vice and Virtue. We justy selectively apply it here.

Sometimes I think comments like this are left by sarcastic Colbert imitators. They can't possibly believe the stuff they write. But for what it's worth, I vow not to bring my running automobile into a restaurant if you don't light up your cigarettes. Sounds fair to me.

Booby Trapped

At a wedding Saturday in St. Louis I happened to get on the same elevator as the bride and her bridesmaids as they headed up to the sanctuary. Overheard:
Bridesmaid #1: Are you worried they’re going to fall out?

Bridesmaid #2: No, last night I put it on and jumped up and down, they stayed in.

Bridesmaid #1: Did you use tape?

Bridesmaid #2: No, It’s amazing. It doesn’t look like it should but somehow it really holds them in.
Mercifully, the door opened and I got out. My invisible super-power apparently still works at the oddest times.

Y’all Are Full of It

Note to Richard Roeper: I don’t know anyone from Central Illinois that says “y’all”. At least no one raised here.