Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wal of the Worlds

I see there is yet another Walgreen's opening in town. This time at the corner of Iles and Koke Mill. Not to be confused with the one at Parkway Point. Or the one at Monroe and Lawrence. Or the one at Jefferson and Chatham.

Wal-Mart is battled at every turn in an effort to keep it from taking over the world when it tries to put up a new store. It looks to me as though there is another 'Wal' store on the march. Walgreen's is well on it's way to being the master of the universe while we are all distracted by the shiny yellow smiley face!

And speaking of Wal-Mart, here's a factoid I was unaware of:
Labor expenses only amount to about 10% of revenues for Wal-Mart. If you increased the pay of every single clerk, greeter, and stocker in the chain by two or three bucks an hour, it would only increase Wal-Mart's prices by about 2%. Their prices would still be the lowest around because it's not labor costs that account for most of their efficiency. It's world class logistics, aggressive offshoring, enormous sales volumes, and ruthless bargaining with suppliers that accounts for most of it.

If Wal-Mart had to offer low wages and lousy benefits just to stay in business, that would be one thing. But they don't.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Step Process

Sometimes a headline tells you all you need to know...

Oh Y, Oh Y

Does anyone know what happened to the pool in the YWCA building? The Y is moving out of the building it has occupied forever and I’m guessing the pool hasn’t been used in years. I remember it because I took swimming lessons there in third grade (circa 1969). Going off that diving board at age 8 was like jumping into a bottomless abyss. I can still remember standing there looking down, staring death in the face, jumping in and clawing my way back to the top. The heavy chlorine smell, the slippery floors in the dressing room; memories seared into my brain. But, come to think of it, I hated those swim lessons in general. While the pool seemed huge at the time, I bet if I saw it today, assuming it’s even still there, it would appear much smaller.

Friday Tunes For The Hell Of It

A couple of songs I've latched onto recently. (Links cuz YouTube refuses to post to my blog)

My Morning Jacket - Off the Record

The Electric Soft Parade - If That's the Case, Then I Don't Know

Friday Beer Blogging: Return To Schwelmer Edition

Previously on Friday Beer Blogging - Schwelmer Pils. This time around, I want to talk Schwelmer Alt and a new Schwelmer variety pack that you can buy right here in town.

Schwelmer Alt is the darker beer of the Schwelmer family. I tried one at Brewhaus a few months ago and wasn't real impressed. I'm not a huge fan of dark beers anyway so it was to be expected. However, like every single beer on American shores it was served cold that night. Well, a month ago I bought some Schwelmer Pils. Or so I thought. In fact, I had accidentally purchased a six pack of Alt.

Thinking it wasn't all that great, I set it aside. Later I got to wondering if it had been really the Alt I didn't like. So I thought before I got rid of it, I would give it a taste for verification. Mind you, the beer had been sitting out unrefrigerated. I poured a glass and discovered the Alt was great warm. Since then I've purchased a couple of sixes of the stuff and enjoy having a warm glass of it on occasion. Really, give it a try.

I also want to bring to your attention a variety pack of Schwelmer beers you can buy. It has two each of the Pils, Alt and something called Bernstein. The bottles have colorful ceramic stoppers making these six packs a good gift, I would imagine. The three are pictured below on the right.

There were several of these variety packs still on the shelf at Friar Tuck last weekend, However, I took the last of the Alt that was available. Hopefully they have restocked.

Have a good weekend! And drop in on the Schwelmer family if you have a chance.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Southern Illinois is the source of endless amusement on so many levels.

Full story here.

Cubs Malaise –Catch It

I never get too excited about the prospects of the Cubs possibly going all the way, even when they are poised to do so. Not since the heartbreak of 1984 when I pretty much gave up on them forever. So now they’re close to another shot at the big time. I’ll believe it when I see it. Not that that is based on anything substantial; I haven’t watched or listened to even one minute of Cubs baseball this year. And while I can look at the standings and see they’re leading their division, I also notice that they have the worst record of all division leaders. So see, nothing to get exited about.

This is the extent of my sports commentary for the year. I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cars Talk

I have to agree with Mr. Commie here. Cars is a really good movie. I suspect few adults without young children have bothered to see it figuring it’s just another kid’s flick. I probably wouldn't have bothered to see it if not for my pre-schooler. Because of him though, I’ve seen Cars, in whole or in part, dozens of times. Sure kids like it, but it has a simple yet compelling story that’s enjoyable for all ages. There are plenty of references to things only adults would understand. And, as A/C points out in his post, the animation from Pixar is truly amazing. It’s worth watching for that alone.

I also like the cast of voices. From Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen to Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater to Bob Costas’s Bob Cutlass, the casting is great. Cars also may well turn out to be Paul Newman’s last movie gig. So even if you don’t have kids around, check it out sometime. Or have your neice or nephew over and watch it with them.

In My Day, We Had Pong and We LIKED it!

The SJ-R laments all the media hype surrounding the release of Halo 3 by devoting an entire opinion column to it. The cure for media hype begins at home.

Shorter SJ-R: Get off of my lawn!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Previews of The Office

Can be found here. You have to get past the lame Bud Light ads butt, I mean but, it's worth it.

Update: Bud light ads gone for me, so maybe butt joke means nothing.

Fly Boy

Well, at least he’s good at something.
Former Press Secretary Tony Snow says that when a little black fly shows up, Bush gets to work "chasing flies around the Oval Office. It drives him crazy when flies get in." And Bush is so well known as a fly hunter among his White House staff, says Snow, that somebody "made him White House fly swatters."
Those flies are either with us, or against us.

I hate chasing flies. Next time I’m president, I’m going to have people do that for me while I rule the nation. Unless I have nothing better to do, which I guess some people don’t.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Intellectual Laziness

The Bush White House says Illinois Senator Barack Obama is “intellectually lazy”. Yeah, sure, that’s my take on him too, especially when you stack him up against that paragon of intellectualism, George W. Bush.

What I Saw in The War

Last night I watched the first installment of the new Ken Burns documentary called The War. The War is Burns’ attempt at telling the story of the United State’s involvement in World War II.

Let me first say that I went into the series with two biases: 1) Ken Burns is a brilliant maker of television documentaries, and 2) having studied WWII for 35 years myself, and knowing that WWII must be the most documented event (if you can call it a single event) in history, I didn’t believe Burns could actually bring much of anything new to the table.

After having watched the first two hours last night, nothing I saw last night changed my thinking.

The War is certainly well done and Burns’ talent comes through. But he isn’t saying anything that anyone who has ever watched the History Channel for any length of time doesn’t already know. In fact, even his presentation isn’t all that different from what I consider to be the best WWII documentary series ever made: The BBC’s The World at War, which was made over 30 years ago and first shown here in the U.S. in the mid 1970s on PBS.

The Difference between The War and The World at War seems to be one of scope. Burns focuses on the American experience in the war while The World at War looked at it from the perspective of all the major participants with only a slight British-cetric slant. Otherwise, the two series are remarkably similar. Personal interviews are interlaced with vintage footage with dubbed-in sound (most actual WWII footage had no sound attached to it). Even the maps of strategic movements are somewhat similar.

Burns, however, pays more attention to the American home front than you normally see in WWII documentaries, and I find that interesting. American civilians had the unique benefit of being able to view the war from afar. While the residents of most of the participating counties felt the direct effects of war (invading armies, bombs falling from the sky, etc), here in the U.S. life went on in relative security but the war still impacted almost everyone in some way, be it the shortage of consumer goods or the loss of loved ones overseas.

I was pleased to see that The War was somewhat harsh on General Douglas Macarthur’s handling of the Philippines in 1941/1942. Macarthur’s skills as a commander have been greatly overstated in popular culture. While I think he was a good administrator, and did a great job in occupied Japan after the war, his performance in the Pacific theater in WWII and later in Korea was mediocre at best, and downright stupid in his worst moments. I was glad Burns called him out on the Bataan disaster. I wonder if Burns will be as honest about the war’s other inflated American icon, George Patton.

I do think that documentaries like Burns’ contribute to something else that gets a little inflated: America’s role in the war. Yes, the U.S. played a huge part in the war, particularly in the Pacific. But I think when we see these shows, we start thinking that the U.S. won the war, exclusive of other nations. Many other countries contributed, and suffered, much more than did the U.S. in defeating the Axis in WWII. In fact, Germany had, in effect, already lost the war in Europe before the U.S. entered the conflict. In my opinion, Hitler effectively defeated himself in the summer of 1941 when he botched the invasion of the Soviet Union. After 1941, there was really only one outcome possible and it didn’t include Nazi victory. The U.S. certainly made the eventual Allied victory there much easier, but it was the Soviet Union the bore the brunt of destroying the German army. Had the Soviet Union been defeated in 1941, there would not have been any possibility of a successful D-Day at Normandy or anywhere else.

I’m a little unsure why the critics are heaping so much praise on The War since it’s not really all that out of the ordinary for WWII documentaries. I even heard one critic declare it to be better than Burns’ real masterpiece, The Civil War. Still, for what it is, The War is a good piece of work (based on the limited amount I’ve seen). Certainly if you aren’t well versed in WWII or you don’t watch the History Channel, you are bound to learn a lot.

Money for Nothing and Your A/C for Free

Well, something like this would solve the air-conditioning in Springfield schools problem. Anyone feeling $64 million generous?

Speaking of the need for a/c, it sure seems like this has been an unusually hot September. We tied a record high yesterday at 92 degrees. 92 on September 23.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tased and Confused

The Taser has been in the news a lot locally recently. But I think we can stop talking about it now because the Taser has been rendered obsolete by sophisticated countermeasures.
PEORIA — A man evaded police Friday evening by deflecting Taser probes with his ball cap.

An officer saw the man put two blue plastic tubs in his cart at Kroger, 9219 N. Lindbergh Drive, about 5:30 p.m. and then fill one tub with about $400 worth of powdered baby food formula. He set the other tub down and walked out of the store without paying, according to Peoria Police Department reports.

The officer followed, approached the man, identified himself and told him to stop walking. The man shook his head, left the cart and walked away. When the officer told him to stop or be tased, the man continued to walk while looking back at the officer.

The man then took off his white ball cap as the officer pulled out his Taser and turned it on. As the officer put the red laser dot on the man’s chest and again asked him to stop, the man turned sideways and began to run. When the officer fired the Taser, the man threw his cap at the probes and deflected them.
And the guy got away. Cops need to be aware of and better prepared for ball cap countermeasures. Can Tasers with ball cap piercing probes be far behind?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Still a Spfldblogger?

Not sure this guy still has the Spfld blog cred. You know, cuz he doesn't even live here anymore thanks to the awesome destructive power of my blog (Dear Mr. Kavanaugh, that's a joke).

Still, I have to agree with his latest post no matter what his cume.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Too Much Media

Zorn’s latest is simple enough: like food, we need to watch the portions of our media intake. Like Zorn, I deliberately don’t even get started on certain TV shows because I know I’ll get drawn in and wind up making a weekly commitment to catch the next episode.

Last season the show Jericho looked interesting on paper but I dared not tune in because it would be something I would have to catch each week or be left behind in the plot. This summer I downloaded the entire series from iTunes and have been watching it at my own pace at a time of year when there is nothing new to watch on regular TV. (I’m almost done with the series and will have a post or two on it and issues it raises later.)

But the larger problem of having too much TV (hundreds of cable channels), radio (a hundred satellite radio channels), books and magazines (more available now then ever) and of course there’s the internet and I don’t have to tell you what a crack-like habit that is.

I remember a day when reading a few books, having a couple magazines subscriptions, glancing at the daily newspaper, listening to the local radio station in the car, and watching the nightly news was a full plate, but one that felt complete. Now, I absorb as much as I can but still feel I’ve missed about 99% of everything.

There needs to be an information and entertainment equivalent to the famous food pyramid. You have your news group, your sitcom group, your newspaper group, etc. all comprising the perfectly balanced media diet. And each TV show, magazine, blog and so on would have a media nutrition label with the percentages of the Recommended Daily Allowance of each group. For example, this blog would have 2% of the RDA of opinion and 8% RDA of snark, or the nutritional equivalent of 6 pretzels. Just a thought.

Abe on a Plane!

And going coach

Friday Beer Blogging: Sin City Edition

My recent visit to Las Vegas I occasional came across a beer. Or 2. Or 25. Actually, along The Strip there don't seem to be any restrictions on where you can sell, buy or carry a drink.

In Planet Hollywood (the former Aladdin), there is a local outlet for a Las Vegas microbrewery that makes a beer called Sin City.

The logo...

Meet the whole Sin City family:

I didn't meet this guy, brewmaster Richard Johnson (no juvenile Richard Head jokes here, please), but he sure does look happy in the picture

Have a great weekend! And try not to sin in your city.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dedicated Long Shot

I’m glad there is a Democrat interested in running for Ray LaHood’s seat, but given the history of the district, would you quit your job to run as a Democrat? Additionally, he doesn’t currently even live in the 18th Congressional district (he resides in Chatham).
PEORIA - The first Democrat has announced his intentions to run for the 18th Congressional seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood in 2009.

Chuck Giger, 59, of Chatham said he's running for Democratic nomination in the Feb. 5 primary, acknowledging it will be an uphill battle with little name recognition and no political experience. At least three Republicans have already announced they will seek the GOP nomination for the seat, which has been held by Republicans since 1917.

A Pittsfield native, Giger has a doctorate in psychology and said he just quit his job Tuesday as a clinical ethicist at Springfield Memorial Medical Center to devote his time to the campaign.

Though he doesn't currently live within the congressional district, he has said he would move if he wins.
Well, the guy has guts. Good luck with that, but don’t quit your day …oh never mind.

A Blog is Whatever You Want It To Be

I guess I’m just not hooked into the Springfield blog scene to the extent that I think I am. Otherwise I would have heard of Kimberly Smoot, Springfield’s most popular blogger. Note to Rich Miller: More glamour shots of Blago and Madigan!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In Praise of the 24-Hour Flu

The 24-hour flu is currently ravaging the TEH household. We’ve almost all had it this week. And as disruptive as it is, I must say it’s probably the most benign of the common temporary affliction family. I think colds generally get that designation, but even mild colds last 3-4 days and the bad ones ten or more days. The 24-hour bug, while nasty at its peak, hits like a ton of bricks, but moves on just as quickly. Yesterday at this time I was dying; now I’m 90% back. Amazing. I’ve decided that given its short duration, I’d rather have the 24-hour flu than be dogged by a cold for a week. But that’s just me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stuffing the Ballot

Online polls are stupid. They really mean nothing. But get a load of this story in the Southern Illinoisan:
CARBONDALE - Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard says he did not try to influence the results of two online newspaper polls asking if he should resign his position over recent plagiarism charges.

Poshard refuted claims appearing in a weekend Chicago Sun-Times article that he called the SIUC director of University Christian Ministries, Hugh Muldoon, last Thursday specifically to talk about a survey by the Springfield State Journal-Register's Web site.
Muldoon and Poshard were on the phone discussing a new interfaith living center that the university ministries has been interested in building for some time, Poshard said.

"In the course of the conversation, Hugh expressed to me his frustration - the same frustration I have - of this thing (plagiarism allegations) continuing to go on," Poshard said.

That's when Poshard and Muldoon began talking about the Journal-Register poll, as well as a recent online poll by The Southern Illinoisan asking a similar question. However, Poshard maintains he didn't ask Muldoon to do anything.

Muldoon said he took it upon himself after the conversation to send e-mails to a few friends, advising them to vote in favor of Poshard on the Journal-Register poll.

"I see no problem with me rallying some support," Muldoon said. "The university is too important to me. Yes, I willingly admit I support Glenn Poshard's presidency. I hate to see his plan for revitalizing and renewing this university sidetracked on the basis of a poll; it doesn't make any sense."

The Journal-Register poll question, "Should Poshard resign over allegations he plagiarized some parts of his doctoral dissertation?," resulted in a total of 4,317 votes, 24 percent of which said yes and 76 percent of which said no.

The Southern Illinoisan's similar online poll, which ran from Sept. 7 to Sept. 12, resulted in 2,249 total votes, in which 442 votes said yes, Poshard should resign, while 1,807 votes said no.

Both polls were unscientific surveys.
Jeebus people! It's a fucking ONLINE POLL. Please fall on some other, more worthy, sword.

And you know what, stuffing the ballot box in online polls is as old and honorable as the internet itself. This really isn't a story. It's dog bites man stuff.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Me and OJ

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas:
My money
OJ Simpson
What the hell was he thinking?

It’s strange; when OJ was first suspected in the murders for which he was later acquitted a dozen years ago, he was in Chicago. As was I. Now, he allegedly commits some sort of armed robbery in Las Vegas. I was in Las Vegas that day. OJ should just check my travel plans from now on. It might help keep him out of trouble.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Beer Blogging: Cake Edition

I was startled last week to see this piece in the Illinois Times under the headline "Beer Cake". And horrors, it goes on to give the recipe for a cake made with Guinness beer. Why would anyone want to waste a perfectly good Guinness to make a cake?

The Victim

Here are some REAL beer cakes:

And if you want a Guinness cake, this is what you are looking for:

Have a great weekend! And no abusing beer by pouring it into a cake mix.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fark the Illini

I'm tired of U of I hegemony. I go into Kohl's the other night and they have this HUGE section of Illini gear. Mosty clothes, of course. So I start looking around and I notice a few items from other Big 10 schools and a few other nationally known (sports only!) universities.

Ummmm, excuse me Mr. Kohl, but there are several other state universities in Illinois. Many of us went to those universities. We even liked them. They even had decent sports teams! But where the fuck are the EIU, NIU, ISU, SIU and WIU shirts? Plenty of Michigan State stuff but NOT ONE SINGLE Saluki garment was for sale. Why is that?

I don't want to pick on just Khol's; it's everywhere in town. The fucking Illini are the only team in Springfield for some reason. Oh sure, we have "University of Illinois in Springfield" (UIS), but that used to be something called Sangamon State University until it became a U of I wannabe. It's as real a U of I as SIU Edwardville is a real SIU. Ether way, UIS has nothing to do with THE Illini.

Now, you might think that the retail geniuses must have figured out that only Illini stuff sells. Well, I have evidence that that may not be so.

One day I walked into Walgreen's and there was a display of bag chairs adorned with the names of university names and colors . There were a lot of them of the U of I variety and then two SIU chairs and two for North Carolina (!). I actually thought of buying one of the SIU chairs but decided not to since I have way too much lawn furniture already. The next day I went into the same Walgreen's and the two SIU chairs were gone; sold out! Most, if not all, of the U of I chairs sat on the shelf. And the North Carolina stuff -are you kidding?

No, the other state universities aren't as prestigious as the U of I, but we still have a connection, and even a certain pride, in our schools too. But that's OK. I go to Carbondale at least once a year and buy my SIU stuff there. What choice do I have?

Viva Viagra, er, Las Vegas

Well, I'm off to Vegas today. My first trip there ever. It's funny, whenever I tell someone I'm going for the first time they act like they can't believe it, and then they launch into all kinds of advice, warnings and recommendations. Not just your usual, "Oh, you need to go eat at Max's." It's a whole laundry list of things. I feel like I'm about to lose my virginity or get drunk for the first time.

I actually have a pretty concentrated vacation schedule the last half of this year. It's as good as my travel has been for the last 20 years combined. And next year we begin a 7-year at-least-one-kid-in-college marathon that will keep us home, if not living in a cardboard box. So we're going to enjoy it now while we can.

We went to California in July, are headed to Las Vegas this week and we have a trip to Hawaii penciled in for Thanksgiving. All of these trips came about for different reasons and all in a bunch. We have friends with a timeshare in Vegas who invited us out for a free stay this week. The catch: we have to sit through a timeshare presentation. Maybe we'll buy one if we hit it big in the casinos. Of course, I don't really enjoy gambling all that much so that may be a problem. Kind of like why I never win the lottery here.

Anyway, blog posting will be light but you can still tune in for your regular shot of beer blogging tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Oil Industry Looks to Northwest Illinois

Who knew Galena, Illinois was home to an oil trading advisory firm. When I lived up in that area, Galena was mostly home to antique shops. Anyway, the president of Ritterbusch & Associates, Jim Ritterbusch, is quoted in an Associated Press story on oil prices today.

Figure 8s

My inner Bevis & Butthead couldn’t stop snickering while reading this. Heh-heh, heh-heh.

Still, it’s a problem worth watching. Heh-heh, heh-heh.

Hat tip to Ogged.

Clean Academic Record

This is a good argument for not pursuing advanced degrees. Other than grades, is there even a shred of evidence of my undergraduate work anywhere? I’m sure not. I got away scot-free; you can’t prove a thing.

Build It and They Will Be Cooled

It would cost less to build an entirely new high school (with tennis courts!) on Springfield’s west side than it would be to install air conditioning in all of the school district’s classrooms that aren’t already air conditioned? Wow, I now realize that I really don’t know anything about the a/c business.

Of course the whole air conditioning debate is about to end with the arrival of cooler temperatures. It's downright cold out there this morning. Spend $64 million for what again?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dead or Alive

And the alives have it. Trusting George W. Bush to do things right might result in you looking like a fool and smelling bad.

Information Served Well Done

I still contend that mandatory labeling of nutrition information on food products may be the single best government regulation ever. Having the information to make an informed choice on the things I put into my body is a truly great thing. Occasionally, when tempted to buy something I know I shouldn’t eat, merely looking at the fat content on the label convinces me to put the item back on the shelf.

Now there’s talk of an express version of the nutrition information.

WASHINGTON — Next month, General Mills Inc. and Kellogg Co. will begin emblazoning their breakfast cereals with symbols that summarize complex nutritional information — part of the growing use of logos to steer harried grocery shoppers toward healthier choices.

The proliferation of such symbols is a worldwide phenomenon, with government regulators in Britain, Sweden and elsewhere establishing logo systems that indicate how nutritious food products are. In the United States, however, corporations have been left to devise their own schemes. That’s led to a patchwork of systems that some fear further confuses consumers already unsure about how to eat wisely.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration took a first step toward clearing matters up, inviting food companies, trade groups, watchdog organizations, medical experts and its overseas counterparts to share how front-label symbols, like the “traffic light” system used in Britain, can improve public health.
This seems like a good idea too. However, it will probably be voluntary meaning only healthy or moderately healthy items are likely to use the symbols. I mean, who wants to advertise their product is bad for you. Therefore, I’m sure I’ll be turning the package to see what’s really in the product for the foreseeable future. And that’s OK; those labels have served me well so far.

Copy Cats

Two things amaze me about this stuff. One is that a few (allegedly) lifted passages in a couple of decades-old papers are the cause of such an uproar. And the second is why anyone writing a master thesis or a doctorate dissertation would feel compelled to plagiarize when they are already putting so much work into their projects. It’s not that much extra effort to attribute passages or at least reword them well enough to make it seem like your own work.

The cautionary tale being told, I suppose, is that plagiarism is becoming easier to spot, so don’t even try it. Right now, I bet Glenn Poshard is wishing he could go back and put in a few extra hours to do it right.

Full Disclosure: I've never written a master thesis or a doctorate dissertation but I do write a blog! And that, of course, qulifies me to comment on -or even plagiarize- anything.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blowing Funny Smoke

Gee, and I was counting the days until this place would just have to close because of the smoking ban. We were assured that it would. Hmmmm…wonder what happened.

Foot Notes

Am I the only adult who double-knots his shoes? I have to. If I don’t, I have to stop and retie one or both shoes several times a day. I have a new pair or work shoes that have laces the seemed to have a texture that appears to be resistant to any slippage that might cause them to come untied. I wore them for the first time today and within an hour one was untied. I guess there’s been no technological breakthrough in shoelace technology after all.

Speaking of footware, I could have written this Eric Zorn piece a year ago. Although I never would have posted pictures of my pasty sock line. Thank God we both have wives who save us from bad sock fashion sense (or no sense at all, as the case may be).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I Told You They Were Blowing Smoke

Economic disaster! The bar and restaurant industry will collapse! Tax revenues will plummet!

Remember all that bullshit from the pro-second hand smoke crowd while the smoking ban was debated in Springfield?

Well, lookee here; it was all just a load after all.
Before the city of Springfield's smoking ban went into effect almost a year ago, owners of local bars and some restaurants predicted economic disaster for their industry - a catastrophe they said would also result in less money flowing into the city's tax coffers.

That hasn't happened.

While some bar and restaurant owners have cited the ban as the reason they went out of business, the city's tax revenue from bars and restaurants has grown robustly since the ban, according to Illinois Department of Revenue data.

In fact, in the two quarters since the ban was enacted, city tax revenue from restaurants grew twice as fast as before the ban.

And you know what, I have no more difficulty getting a meal or a drink than I did before the ban. Amazing.

Of course, this isn't a demonstration of my great predictive powers. It was all too obvious the pro-second hand smoke folks were full of it because there were so many examples nationally and internationally that demonstrated quite clearly they were wrong (well, lying really). Too bad so many people chose to believe them. Oh well, people continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News too. One born every minute.

Friday, September 07, 2007

In Defense of Tantrums

There really are more important things to worry about, but since I’ve taken the topic to the extreme (for this blog anyway) I feel I need to respond to the indirect accusation that I’m a whiner and need to “get a pair”.

Look, I realize some things, especially electronic gadgets, can get cheaper over time. I remember low-end DVD players selling for $500 ten years ago. But usually this deflation is a process that takes years and is in response to mass production and new innovations in the base technology. When Apple dropped the price of the iPhone from $599 to $399 after only ten weeks, that was extreme to say the least. It really wouldn’t have bothered me to see them drop the price by, say, $ 50 or $100 by Christmas. But a 33% cut in 10 weeks in ridiculous. I don’t even have a problem with the cut per se, but rather what they were charging 10 weeks ago. That’s what pissed me off.

And no, I did not know that this would happen so quickly when I bought my phones. Frankly, anyone who paid that price knowing it would drop 33% in 10 weeks is, to put it kindly, a very silly person. I never would have done that. It never occurred to me that was even a small possibility. Call me stupid, but I defy you to give me other examples of this sort of thing happening to this extreme. That’s why I’m angry.

All that said, I will agree it is absolutely Apple’s right to do what they did. Free market and all that. However, I’m equally free to be upset about it. Freedom of speech and all that. And to the extent that such consumer uproars affect the market, all the better I say.

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer Snob Edition

Just because I do a weekly feature on beer doesn't mean, a) that I have any taste, and b) that I know what I'm talking about. I thought perhaps I should change that and become better informed. However, I prefer drinking beer to leaning anything about it, so I looked for a quick and easy way to get educated. But where to get that down and dirty course on beer. Ah yes, my old friend Modern Drunkard Magazine! I looked into it and sure enough, they have an article in the archives on how to be a beer snob. Brilliant! Note: I inserted all of the pictures here and they were not part of the original MDM article.

They start out with a bit of history:
While wine snobs have blighted the earth for thousands of years (you can bet there was at least one guy curling his lip at the vintage of Jesus’ first and best miracle), beer snobbery is a relatively young art, especially in the U.S.

This is because every beer in the country once tasted exactly the same. Oh sure, there were Bud lovers and MGD aficionados who would swear they could tell the difference, but if you gave them a blind taste test, you’d soon discover they’d just keep asking for another “test taste” until there wasn’t any beer left and they were passed out on your sofa.
Furthermore, beer was considered the balm of the common man, it was not something you swirled in a glass and judged by its “nose.” It was something you swilled from a plastic cup and sometimes shot through your nose.

Then the microbrewery revolution swept the country and soon every abandoned firehouse, bank and shoe factory was outfitted with a vat and turning out every possible form and flavor of beer you could imagine, and some you would rather not.

It was perfectly natural then, with so many different beers to choose from, that a learned cadre of beer experts would appear to explain to the unsophisticated masses what is “good beer” and what “has the nose and character of a harbor-town harlot with a penchant for walking into walls caked with manure.” Thus arrived the beer snob.

They move on to such things as comparing and contrasting beer snobs with beer snobs. For example, did you know:
The dress is casual.
Wine snobs have a strict dress code involving turtlenecks, glasses designed to sit on the end of one's nose and silk scarves, but a beer snob can pretty much dress anyway he likes. Aside from the snooty expression, a typical beer snob is nearly indistinguishable from your least favorite brother-in-law.
Enthusiasm and relish is more important than experience and research.
When it comes to rating beers, you don’t need to be able to identify the vintage or know which field the hops were grown in. This would just confuse you. Neither do you need to attend mundane festivals, read a bunch of dreary books or even sample a lot of different beers. All you need is a big helping of enthusiasm and relish, and by that I mean sarcasm and snootiness.
Particularly helpful are the definitions of the various kinds of beer. For example:
export: this is a type of beer so awful the locals refuse to drink it, so the brewery ships it off to foreigners who don’t know any better.
fruit: these flavored beers were introduced to appeal to women and certain men who get very defensive when you inform them they are plainly homosexual.
Very informative! After reading the whole article (there's much more) I really do feel like a beer snob now.

Have a happy weekend and enjoy your ignorance and lack of sophistication regarding all things beer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How to Blog Like a Wingnut: Statistical Analysis Edition

The table below clearly shows the "Surge" is working in Iraq:

See, there were a mere 11 US troops killed in September, a huge decrease from previous months. And look at October, November and December, no fatalities at all. We're winning!

This has been another edition of how to blog like a wingnut.

Now I get a “Rebate”

Well, it’s something I guess:
NEW YORK ( -- After receiving hundreds of emailed complaints from existing Apple iPhone customers angry about a steep price drop, chief executive Steve Jobs says the company will give certain customers who bought the gadget at its original price a $100 credit.

Customers who purchased an 8 gigabyte iPhone before Apple Inc. lowered its price to $399 from $599 will receive a $100 credit toward any purchase at an Apple retail store or on its Web site.

Only customers who purchased their iPhone from Apple or the iPhone's sole service provider AT&T …and did not receive any rebates, will qualify for the store credit. Further details will be posted on Apple's Web site next week.

"We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers," Jobs wrote in an email to iPhone customers. "We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple."
Oh whatever, Stevo. I find it hard to believe he would be caught off guard by the reaction.

Now, what kind of crap can I get for $200 from Apple. Too bad (I assume) we can’t use it at the iTunes store.

Also, the discontinued 4GB iPhone is now just $299.

Thursday Nude Blogging: Pantagraph Obsession Edition

Actually, I’m finding the Bloomington Pantargaph seems unusually interested in stories of nakedness, even for a media outlet. There’s yet another one in that paper today. Of course they get all of these stories from the Associated Press, so maybe it’s the AP with the eye for unclothedness.

One Bad Apple

Well, I’m glad they’re losing money too:
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Apple Inc.'s price cut of its iPhone and new lineup of iPod players are expected to ring in healthy holiday sales, but Wall Street investors accustomed to Apple's meaty profit margins appear a bit disappointed.

Apple stock dropped more than 5 percent after the price cut was announced Wednesday, closing at $136.76, down $7.40. In extended trading, the share price fell another $1.01.

Meanwhile, gadget enthusiasts who snapped up the ballyhooed iPhone before Wednesday are coping with a bitter aftertaste now that it is $200 cheaper within 10 weeks of its introduction.
Yes, I’m coping by blogging about it here and wishing I had the $400 dollars in early-bird fees (for 2 iPhones) back in my wallet.

Luciano Paparazzi

Pavarotti’s death is tragic for the world of opera. A world I have little interest or understanding of. Still, everyone has heard of the great Pavarotti and even I have an anecdote:

Ten years ago this week I was watching the coverage of the car crash that killed Princess Diana with my then girlfriend. The reports kept mentioning that Di’s car was fleeing the ever-aggressive paparazzi. Not-so-bright girlfriend wanted to know why an opera singer would be chasing the princess.

Thanks Steve!

Well this sucks. After only 3 months, Apple has decided to lower the price of the iPhone by $200 -a 33% cut in price overnight.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Inc. on Wednesday cut the price of the top iPhone by $200, discontinued the low-end model and unveiled a new version of its popular iPod media player with wireless Internet access and other iPhone features.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone will sell for $399, and the 4-gigabyte model, which sold for $399, will be phased out. The new iPods with Wi-Fi — but without cell phone capabilities — will start at $299.

``We want to put the iPhone in a lot of stockings this holiday season,'' CEO Steve Jobs said at a special media event near downtown San Francisco.
You guys saw me coming a mile away. Enjoy the money assholes, but don't count on me buying any other Apple products for a long while. Suddenly, being routinely sodomized by the likes of Microsoft and Dell doesn't feel so bad.

Go ahead, leave comments on how stupid I was to fall for this scam.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Little Star

Can we stop calling Fred Thompson the "Star of Law and Order"? From

He had a tiny role in each episode and only for, what, the latest two seasons of a series that has lasted something like five decades? He must of had grueling 1/2 hour days once a week on the set. Sheesh. Sam Waterson for president! At least he really is a star of the NBC series.


These are shocking statistics:
There are now more than 2.2 million Iraqi refugees -- the vast majority of them in Syria and Jordan -- along with another two million who are internally displaced in Iraq. On a typical day, thousands of families swarm the border checkpoints, hoping to escape the violence. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that 60,000 Iraqis flee each month.
Equally shocking is this:
The U.S. government admitted one Iraqi refugee in April and one in May. Sixty-three were admitted in June. In 2007 so far, the total is 190, but even this number is misleading, since all but 17 of them were back-logged cases of Iraqis who had fled before the war began.
Glad to see we are doing our part. But can we really sustain a monthly influx of ONE refugee? At that rate, we’ll be overrun by Iraqis in about 10 million years. Oh well, it’s not like we had anything to do with the situation that caused about 10 percent of Iraq's population to leave their country, right?

Wednesday Nude Blogging: All Naked Stories MUST Be Told Edition

This is too easy. Stories of nakedness just appear on a regular basis. If there is a naked person in public, a reporter is sure to follow. One would think that the media gatekeepers would someday tire of such things.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Better Late Than Hot

I remember sweating it out, literally, in classrooms without air conditioning when I was a student. I didn’t enjoy air conditioning in school until I went away to college. Well, OK, there was 4th grade when our class was in the basement of the Blessed Sacrament rectory, but the AC we got there was just leftovers from upstairs. Comfort that was completely unintentional.

The difference, though, is that we didn’t start school as early in August as they do now. In fact, back in early grade school, we didn’t resume classes until after Labor Day. Sure we were still hot for a week or two, but not for over a month like kids going back today in mid-August. Sitting in a hot, hot classroom doesn't add anything to the experience; believe me I remember.

But it would cost $64 million to provide air conditioning in the Springfield schools, and that doesn’t include future maintenance and power costs. I think a better solution would be to start the school year later. While this would mean ending the school year later too, it’s usually not as hot at the end of May as it is in the middle of August.

I think this is a fairly simple solution. $64 million is a lot of money that could be better used elsewhere. Of course, this assumes the Springfield district stays with its summers-off schedule rather than having year-round classes. If they switch, then I see no choice but to install the AC.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Obit Edition

Sad news from the beer world: Michael Jackson is dead. No, not THAT Michael Jackson, the one who wrote books on beer. Mr. Jackson's greatest achievement was making the Friday Beer Blogging cut one week. Odd that the obit doesn't mention that.