Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer Maid Edition

Time for another look at the women who bring us our beers. Lots of beers.

I know I've done this before, but really, this sort of skill can't be praised often enough.

How can they be so happy when they aren't the ones getting to drink the beer?

So as not to be sexist about this, let's recognize that guys can do it too. Guy power! (Although this guy looks a lot less graceful than the women and the beers clash with his hairy arms.)

And let us not forget one of the greatest beer servers ever...

Have a great weekend! And be sure to so the proper appreciation to those who bring you arm loads of beer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If Only We Could Torture Poor People

This one of many reasons why I could never be a modern Republican. And it's why I don't understand most of them. The almost complete lack of humanity is disgusting. Their hatred is vile. Very sad.

The Great Planes

Meanwhile, Peoria somehow seems to be able to put on a respectable air show.
PEORIA - The rumble of the jet's afterburner was enough to shake a metal picture frame hanging on the wall inside an airport office for several seconds.

To aircraft fans, a quick glance as the jet shot vertical was enough to identify it as an F-18 fighter, but even the novice could recognize the signature blue and gold markings.

The Blue Angels, arguably the world's most awe-inspiring pilots with the most recognizable fleet of jets, appear to be the headliner for Prairie Air Show 2008.

Air Show Director Brett Krause confirmed the sighting at the Greater Peoria Regional Airport on Wednesday, saying the No. 7 plane and its pilot were in Peoria most of the day to plan a visit here next summer.

"We're pretty jacked up about this," Krause said, hedging on announcing details, including a date for the air show so as to work around the Blue Angels' availability. Krause added the Blue Angels' 2008 schedule, including the Prairie Air Show's request, is on the desk of the commander of the Navy awaiting final approval.

Davy Downer

Reply email I sent today to former college roommate SG:
Thanksgiving was OK. It beats working (you know, the same reason we went to college, etc.) but it was the same old thing. We went to [Mrs. TEH’s] parent's house and had dinner. We stuffed ourselves silly, bitched about it, and then passed out in chairs and couches and on the floor in front of the TV. I'm actually getting, well, not burned out, but bored I guess with the holidays anymore. Same shit, different year. If it weren’t for [my four year-old son], I think Christmas would just drive me crazy. I don't want anything that anyone can afford and I never know what to get anyone else. My in-laws asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told them either an annuity that I can retire on today or a $75,000 gift certificate from SIU so I can pay for [my daughter’s] college. I don't think I'm getting either one. Even setting up our Christmas decorations is routine. This year we got it over with quickly and didn't set out all the stuff we usually do. The amount of Christmas decorating junk we have has finally reached critical mass and became untenable. I hauled half of it back to the basement utterly overwhelmed by its volume. So how are things in your house?

Is This Really Witty?

In a somewhat tasteless, but definitely lame, comment in last night’s GOP debate:
CNN) — Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee outlined one special plan he'd consider for NASA's exploration of space.

"Maybe Hillary can be on the first rocket to Mars," he said, referring to the Democratic presidential frontrunner.

The Republican presidential candidate responded to a question asking if more money would be put into space exploration. His witty response about Clinton generated cheers from the St. Petersburg audience and followed his description of the earthly benefits of NASA's programs.
I’m quite certain if Joe Biden or Chris Dodd had sad the same thing about Rudy Giuliani, I would not have thought it “witty” either. Better political humor, please.

Unintended Consequences

I’m still stunned that Springfield’s Air Rendezvous just folded with barely a whimper. I also don’t remember seeing, before this Illinois Times article, that the impending departure of the 183rd played a big role in the decision to permanently cancel the event:

The coming departure of 183rd Fighter Wing aircraft and personnel from the airport was a factor in what many enthusiasts consider the air show’s premature demise.

“It weighed heavily on the organizers’ decision to close the show,” [AR organizer Kim] Curry says.
I made a big deal here about opposing the moving of the 183rd’s planes back in 2005, and I even questioned whether the move would affect AR. I guess I have my answer.

Maybe I'm out of line here and blaming the wrong people, but does it seem to anyone else that the organiser's just gave up a little too easily? It seems to me that there was a base of support for the event in the community that could have been appealed to before throwing in the towel so quickly. I never did anything like volunteer to help at AR in all the years it (and I) were here, but I had no idea it was in trouble either.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

iPhones on TV

I’ve been noticing that iPhones are starting to show up in the hands of characters on TV shows. A recent episode of Two and a Half Men featured Charlie Sheen making a call on one, but he was holding it upside down. The black part on the back of the speaking end was up by his ear. Then on this week’s Journeyman, our hero had an iPhone on him in a hospital emergency room…in 1980. When an attendant questioned him about it he said it was a calculator.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wanted: Talk Show Chicks With Perspective

Aside from the recent surge of gay Republicans getting caught, I suspect most of these bad, bad men are in fact cheating with...women. That is, the women are willing participants, knowing they are allowing the man to cheat on some other woman. In the process, these women may be cheating themselves. Are there any women who have self-respect?

Denial by Ridicule

Kevin Drum chimes in with some useful snark on the tactics of the global warming deniers:

This is just an example of the current craze in global warming denialism: don't literally deny that warming is happening (the actual facts make that too hard), merely mock every possible effort to fight it. International agreements? Obviously ridiculous. Federal regulation? Just an excuse for more anti-business spleen from the Birkenstock crowd. Carbon taxes? You'd like that, wouldn't you? Government spending on amelioration? Forget it. We should spend the money on, um, clean drinking water for Chad instead. Yeah. Private efforts to inspire conservation? Just a bunch of hectoring, self-righteous Hollywood elites. Al Gore? He doesn't live in a cave, so he's a hypocrite.

So that's that. Sure, global warming is real, but we shouldn't fight it with international efforts, federal efforts, local efforts, personal efforts, higher taxes, or additional spending. And if you support any of that stuff but still drive a car or use electricity yourself, then who the hell are you to pretend you're better than the rest of us?

Alternatively, we could all cut the smarmy posturing (mirrors in space!) and actually do something. Unfortunately, merely typing these words and posting them has roduced CO2, so there's no reason to listen to me, is there? I'm just another liberal hypocrite.
Look, we all have to function in the world that exists today, even while we are trying to make it better (or less worse in the case of global warming) for tomorrow. That means we have to drive the cars and take the planes and use the electricity that’s available and affordable at the moment.

No one is suggesting that we need to go back to the Stone Age to curb man’s effect on the planet. There are reasonable measures that can be taken that still allow us to enjoy life, but still use less polluting energy in the process. And the only way this is going to work is if we, globally, work together to achieve that.

I, or Al Gore (one word), as individuals could drive our Hummers to the airport get on a plane and fly continuously around the world for the rest of our lives, refueling in mid-air, and those individual efforts would do nothing to towards making global warming worse. It’s just too insignificant. But the collective use of fossil fuels as it exists today is causing a problem.

Now, obviously the collective effort requires individual effort as well, and there are things that every person can do now, but the ultimate solutions are gong to have to be more systemic. If cleaner alternatives are not available or practical, the individual is not going to use them. And we should all do what we can now, use CFLs, buy more fuel efficient cars, or if you have the option, do as Al Gore (one word) does and purchase more expensive electricity generated from eco-friendly sources.

Having said all that, I can now expect comments from people who will miss the point and want to tell me all about how Al Gore (one word) spends a lot of money on electricity and flew on a private jet therefore global warming doesn’t exist because he’s a hypocrite. Sigh.

Some Say the Earth is Flat

I really hate he said / she said journalism that simply takes statements from “both sides” of an issue and does nothing to set the record straight. Paul Waldman over at Tapped has a great example. It involves stories in the New York Times and Washington Post about an exchange of charges between the Giuliani and Romney campaigns regarding crime rates. The stories chronicle the back and forth but never attempts to get at the truth. So Waldman is left to do it in a blog post:

If I were an editor at one of these fine papers, and my reporters turned in one of these stories, I'd tell them to figure out whether Romney or Giuliani is telling the truth. You won't find it in either story. So which is it?

My curiosity piqued, I did something crazy: I typed "Massachusetts crime statistics" into Google. And you know what I found? This! A page on the state's web site with their crime reports!

So what's the answer? Statistics aren't yet available (at least not there) for 2006, so what we have are data from 2002, the year Romney got elected (which should serve as the baseline), plus 2003 through 2005. And what do we find? In 2003, total crime declined 3.1% from the previous year, and violent crime declined 1.7%. In 2004, total crime declined by 4.5%, and violent crime declined by 3.2%. In 2005, total crime declined by 2.9%, but violent crime increased by 4.75%.

As for the murders Giuliani mentioned, in 2002, before Romney took office, there were 171 murders in Massachusetts. Then there were 139 in 2003, back up to 167 in 2004, and 175 in 2005. Without knowing what happened in 2006, it appears, then, that on the whole we can say that Mitt Romney's tenure saw some decreases in overall crime, but the murder rate was about the same when he left as when he came in.

Was that so hard?

Here's the thing: Politicians lie. The only thing that will keep them from lying is if they know they'll pay a price. And the only ones who can make them pay that price are the reporters whose job it is to tell us what's going on. Unless reporters are willing to step in when candidates are arguing over "facts" and tell you which side is being honest, there is absolutely no incentive for the politicians to tell the truth. Rudy may well now be saying, "Hell, how about next time we just say crime increased on Romney's watch by a thousand percent? Who's going to stop us?"
Right! Do your fucking jobs and quit giving equal credibility to both sides of an argument that has demonstrable facts. I’m happy that blogs are around to take up the slack, but in many cases they shouldn’t have to.

For more on blogs and their influence in Illinois, see Rich Miller’s article in the Illinois Times last week. (Or just regularly read Marie’s blog.)

Good For Bus-ness

I’ve long thought that night bus service would be good for Springfield, so I’m glad to see it’s being given a try. It always seemed to me that those who, for whatever reason, could not drive were severely limited in job opportunities here. Hopefully, this will make things easier. It’s still a problem that there will be no buses on Saturday evening and none all day Sunday. Most retail and service jobs require such hours. I also fear that the routes might be too few and ridership too low to initially justify the program, although the allotted “seven to nine months” ought to be enough time for it to catch on or not. In any event, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grave Robbing

I’m a little upset that a douchebag like Tucker Carlson has been trying to appropriate the title of bow tie icon from the late, great Paul Simon of Illinois.

Black, As In Outside, Way Before Sunrise

And speaking of silly, I was getting a hair cut at the mall yesterday and the girl cutting my hair told me that they (the hair cutting store) had to open at 6:00 AM on Black Friday just like all of the other shops at White Oaks. The whole opening at insane hours on the day after Thanksgiving is bad enough, but making the hair places open too is just nuts.

During my few brief stints in retail (in the 1970s and 1980s), I don’t remember there being these extremely early opening times for stores the day after Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why they’re needed now. Is it just a publicity thing; see which store can open the earliest? It sucks for the workers, so for their sake I say boycott the early hours and force the retailers to go back to normal, or at least reasonable, schedules. Of course, anything happening at 4:00 AM is pretty easy for me to boycott.


This is a dumb idea but since I don’t frequent the riverboats, I guess I also don’t care much either.

It does remind me though of how silly the carding policy is for alcohol sales. I’m 47 and get carded almost everywhere I buy booze retail. There is simply no way I could ever pass for being under 21. I wish, but no way. Stores rather than taking a chance on a cahier’s poor age judgment, simply require them to card everyone.

I do like the “We Card Everyone Under 40” signs though. If I’m over 40 can I refuse to be carded? Will they have to start carding to determine if someone needs to be carded? I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought alcohol at any of the establishments that have that sign, so I’ve never had the opportunity to refuse on the basis of my advanced age.

My worst experience was about seven years ago when I tried to buy a six pack at Schnucks (along with other groceries). I was carded, but all I had was a speeding ticket. It had my birthday on it but the store would not accept it. I was 40 years old! Even the bag boy was laughing at the silliness of it all. But ultimately it was my own fault; go too fast, no booze for you!

Update: Some places will simply ask your birth date, not because they think you’re under age but because they need to enter a date into the machine. I guess this is supposed to be a way of forcing the cashiers to card everyone. The result is I have to announce my age in public (not a big deal, but still I don’t need someone behind my in line thinking “damn, he’s fucking old!”). I guess I could lie and shave about 10 years off since they aren’t going to card me anyway.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Polar Bear Yacht Club

Welcome news from the SJ-R:
Lake Springfield will reopen to boating on Sunday

Boating may resume on Lake Springfield starting tomorrow at daybreak, City Water light and Power officials announced today.

The lake had been closed to boaters as a result of clean-up efforts following the Nov. 10 explosion and fire at the Dallman facility.
Because there's nothing I want to do more in 40 degree weather than go boating!

Seriously, I understand why they had to officially close the lake, but are there really people who go boating this time of year? I've wondered that through this whole thing. I guess maybe if its a warm day. I don't live by the lake or even see it much, so I have no idea how many boaters there are this time of year. All I know is I have no desire to be one of them.

So is Australia the New France?

Conservatives suddenly have a new foreign country to hate now that they like France again. Because, you know, you're either with us or against us, no in between. And now it looks like Aussies must hate the troops.

SYDNEY -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat in national elections Saturday, according to preliminary results, most likely ending the political career of one the Asia-Pacific region's most enduring conservative leaders and a key ally of U.S. President George W. Bush in the region.

Voters were ready to hand control of the government to Australia's opposition Labor party, headed by former diplomat Kevin Rudd, who has promised to boost relations with China, pull some troops from Iraq, and re-make Australia as a leader in the global effort to stop global warming.
Time to boycott Outback Steakhouse and Ned Kelly's (if it hasn't already left your town). Those are obvious actions. What else can we do to show our childishness, er, patriotism. You know, something along the lines of Freedom Fries. Should we now refer to "kangaroo courts" as "freedom courts"? Any ideas?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Beer Blogging: Turkey Day Break Edition

FBB is taking the week off but will be back next week.

In the meantime, relax and enjoy a cold one.

Or more than one...


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Merry Thanksgiving

I'm in the blog-free zone today. Enjoy your family, friends, and food.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Letters From France

This story in the SJ-R about the Springfield man who was among several Illinoisans honored by the French government for their part in the liberation of France in WWII reminded me of something I had not thought about in years.

Back when I was a child, my father, who worked for the State here in Springfield, had a boss who was a veteran of the Normandy campaign in WWII. I can’t remember if he landed on D-Day itself or shortly after but he was there. I think I remember the man’s name, but I’m not sure so let’s call him Mr. Vet. While in Normandy, Mr. Vet befriended a French man. This man would write to Mr. Vet fairly regularly. In French. Well, Mr. Vet didn’t know French, but he found out that my mother did (she was a French major in college). So Mr. Vet would give the letters to my father who would bring them home for mom to translate. However, I don’t remember her ever writing replies for Mr. Vet. Maybe she did.

While she was transcribing the letters, I can remember my mother reading them out loud. The French man was very expressive about his gratitude toward Mr. Vet and the United States for liberating France. I remember one reference where he compared the effort to the French assistance given to the Americans in the Revolutionary war. I was amazed at this guy’s enthusiasm even 25 or 30 years after the war.

Anyway, I have no idea if either man is still alive. A quick look in the Springfield phone book for Mr. Vet doesn’t reveal anything, but I may have the spelling wrong or the wrong name altogether.

As the WWII generation dies off, I sometimes find it hard to remember those days when they were everywhere, working the jobs and running the world. When I was a kid, WWII seemed like ancient history but the guys (and women!)who were there were all around and no more than middle aged. That seems strange now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stop the Presses, I Want To Get Off

I agree with Marie. Top management folks at a newspaper don't up and quit collectively just because. There has to be a reason related to the workplace. That is, unless they were standing around the water cooler one day and decided they really all need to spend more time with their families. It could happen.

The Awesome Power of My Blog

Just a reminder that anything you see here is the equivalent of having it shoved down your throat. If only you had free will. Resistance is futile.

Rudy Can’t Fail

Well this should put him over the top.
CHICAGO (AP)—Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has won the backing of another former Illinois governor.

Giuliani’s campaign says former Governor Jim Edgar is endorsing the New York Republican. Giuliani has two campaign appearances in the Chicago area this afternoon.
I think I heard Giuliani say something about having personally pulled Edgar out of the 9/11 wreckage. He was going to elaborate but had to take a call from his wife.

Tuesday Beer Dogging

Cuz I got nothin’ else, beer dog from Jacksonville.

Oh, and my top three favorite Blondie songs:

Rip Her to Shreds
Hanging on the Telephone
Union City Blues

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dead On Head On

Note to Suiciders:

Please get help. Short of that, if you are really bent on achieving your goal, please leave the rest of us alone. There are plenty of inert, non-living objects that you can crash into. And this goes for those of you wanting to do it with a gun. Noone wants to go with you and you have no right to decide otherwise.

After Shock

I must say that I’m enjoying Bernard Schoenburg not letting Aaron Shock off the hook for his kooky “let’s give nukes to Taiwan” plan. I just wish the corporate media would focus on this sort of nuttiness more often. Granted, Shock’s bizarre foreign policy musings were particularly ridiculous, but in the world of wingnuttia this kind of cartoonish and simpleminded rhetoric is both common and rarely taken apart by the “serious” media. I‘m, hoping this trend will reverse itself in light of the disasters the Cheney administration has wrought. But I’m not holding my breath.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Really Bad Taste

So he thinks this is funny? The last two are particularly offensive. I mean who the fuck would make fun of this picture? They must have a different sense of humor in Kansas. But he's a great guy!

Update: BriBlog does the right thing and removes the pictures (see comments). And golly folks, we got through this without even one dismissive wave of the “politically correct” accusation hand.

Also, if your interests lie in humorous historical recreations by older people, try this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Meet the Dogs

I guess I've never introduced you to the dogs in the TEH household. It's actually hard to get pictures of them together as they are usually constantly in motion when they're awake.

That's Augie on the left and Molly on the right.

Augie is a seven years old toy poodle and Molly is a teacup poodle who is less than a year old. This picture was not set up. I walked into our dining room this afternoon to find them just sitting quietly together on a chair in the corner. I have no idea what possessed them to do this, but I was quick on the draw with my iPhone camera and was able to catch them in the act of...doing nothing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The World is Like Junior High

You don't have to be so smart to read my blog! This site magically determines the reading level at which you must be to read a given blog. Here's my certification:

I'm guessing it's all the immature swear words.

Note: The image is not a link, use the link above.

Most Brilliant Weight Loss Plan Ever

Here. I’d copy the important bits here for you but I’d have to repost the whole thing.

For me, if I were to enter into this and fail, the Giuliani campaign would benefit.

Local TV News is Shitty

But you knew that. This Illinois Times article highlights how much it sucks for many of the people bringing you the TV version of the news.

Although I never did TV news (never wanted to), my experience with radio broadcast news wasn’t much better, even two decades ago. The hours sucked and the pay sucked even harder. You have to either be really ambitious (and, sorry, self-centered) or just really, really like the work itself. I fell short on both those counts. I moved on and I’m happier for it.

The thing I liked the most was doing a talk show. It was kind of fun have an audience when I spoke my mind. I find blogging satisfies that same desire (with a much smaller audience) while allowing me to hold down a job that actually pays a decent wage and doesn’t require me to cover a fire at 2:00 AM.

I never ventured into TV news because I really didn’t want to be recognized on the street (although that’s a feature, not a bug for some people). I also didn’t like the idea of having to base all stories around some visual. That just seemed like extra work that often didn’t add anything to the “news” aspect. In fact, the visuals often made a story “newsworthy” when in fact it wasn’t, it just looked good on TV. And it’s still that way. It just wasn’t for me.

Friday Beer Blogging: Elephant Edition

Boy, when the story about Paris Hilton wanting to save beer drinking elephants in India came out earlier in the week, I was all set to use it as the basis of today's beer blogging. A problem cropped up along the way though: the story wasn't true and the Associated Press retracted it.

Well, I never let facts get in the way of a good beer blogging buzz, so I am reprinting a version of the story here in all its falseness.

Socialite Paris Hilton is spearheading a campaign to stop a herd of elephants killing themselves - after bingeing on alcohol. The hotel heiress was horrified to discover 40 of the animals were electrocuted after drinking rice-beer, which is brewed by locals in north-east India. And Hilton is now urging Indian residents to lock up their booze.

She says, "There would have been more casualties if the villagers hadn't chased them away. And four elephants died in a similar way three years ago. It is just so sad. The biggest problems are in Assam and Meghalaya. The elephants get drunk all the time. It is becoming really dangerous. We need to stop making alcohol available to them."

The AP retraction goes like this:
GAUHATI, India (AP) - In a Nov. 13 story, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that Paris Hilton was praised by conservationists for highlighting the problem of binge-drinking elephants in northeastern India. Lori Berk, a publicist for Hilton, said she never made any comments about helping drunken elephants in India.

Have a great weekend! And please don't feed the elephants Indian rice beer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Need a Thanksgiving Equivalent of Bah, Humbug

Why do so many people feel a need to travel long distances on Thanksgiving? I’m not that into the whole Thanksgiving thing anyway, but to put up with the congestion, delays and other headaches associated with air travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend seems just nuts to me.

We will be traveling on Thanksgiving but only because we can do it by car and are only going less than two hours away. Otherwise, we would be staying home.

I understand wanting to get together with distant family, but why does that have to happen on Thanksgiving? If the point is to be with loved ones, you can do that any time of year.

What’s really odd is that this happens all over again just a few weeks later at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shutup and Sing (Crappy Tunes)

Donny and Marie sort of endorse Mitt Romney.

A) I assume the frothing hoards of wingnuts that decry Hollywood celebrities getting all political will be voicing their objections promptly.

B) Who gives a shit.

Now a Moment of Silence for the Moment of Silence

A federal judge today issued a preliminary injunction barring a suburban school district from implementing the state's new law mandating a moment of silence at the start of classes, calling the statute too vague and "likely unconstitutional."
Gettleman asked the parties in the case to return to the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse Thursday when he could consider making the injunction statewide.
Look, this idea was not well thought out before it became law, and its spirit, if not the law in its entirety, is routinely being ignored by schools across the state.

The Dog Ate My Papers

This is a silly and contrived "controversy" and Obama may wish he had never brought it up.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Barack Obama, who's been scolding Hillary Rodham Clinton for not hastening the release of records from her time as first lady, says he can't step up and produce his own records from his days in the Illinois state Senate. He says he hasn't got any.

"I don't have - I don't maintain - a file of eight years of work in the state Senate because I didn't have the resources available to maintain those kinds of records," he said at a recent campaign stop in Iowa. He said he wasn't sure where any cache of records might have gone, adding, "It could have been thrown out. I haven't been in the state Senate now for quite some time."

Obama's statement that he has no papers from his time in the Illinois statehouse - he left in 2004 - stands in stark contrast to the massive Clinton file stored at the National Archives: an estimated 78 million pages of documents, plus 20 million e-mail messages, packed into 36,000 boxes. While any file from Obama's time in the state Senate would be far smaller, the idea that no papers exist at all is questioned by one historian.

"Most of those guys do keep this stuff, especially the favorable stuff. They've all got egos," said Taylor Pensoneau, a historian who has written about Illinois legislators and governors and worked with them as a lobbyist for the coal industry. "It goes in scrapbooks or maybe boxes. I don't think it's normal practice to say it's all discarded."

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Wednesday that "Obama has a track record of leading the way on reform and disclosure," adding that "correspondence with state agencies and records of requests Obama made to them on behalf of his constituents are available to the public and have been accessed by our opponents and members of the news media."

Pressed for details, LaBolt said Obama did not keep any correspondence with the general public. Ditto for letters to or from state associations and lobbyists, memos on legislation and correspondence with Illinois state agencies. The campaign said Illinois agencies have copies of his requests for information or help, but accessing those records would involve contacting the agencies and asking them to comb though eight years of records to find correspondence from Obama.

Obama hasn't always claimed there were no papers left from his time in the state Senate. Earlier this year, campaign spokesman LaBolt asked The Associated Press to narrow a request for records on whether Obama had ever urged clemency for a convicted criminal.

"You're asking us to do an extremely exhaustive search into every record we have from the U.S. Senate and state Senate offices," LaBolt said at the time. At the news conference in Iowa last week, Obama said he didn't "have a whole bunch of records from those years," but told reporters to "let us know" if there are "particular documents that you are interested in."
The article also mentions that John Edwards is now scurrying to get his "papers" released. It's "papers" arms race.

Good lord, who cares. Can we talk about real issues and not instigate fishing expeditions for some "gotcha" nugget buried on page 43 of some attachment to a memo issued 15 years ago?

I've been impressed with much of what Obama has said and done but he has self-defeating moments like this that really make me wonder.

All Power Plant Explosion News is Local

I got to thinking the other day that I really hadn’t heard of other non-nuclear power plants exploding like the CWLP plant did this past weekend. So I did what anyone would do and Googled the situation. Turns out power plant explosions aren’t all that uncommon. In fact there was an explosion at a Salem, Massachusetts power plant that injured three people just days before the CWLP blast. Such events are just considered local news I guess and so I don’t hear anything about them.

Rewound for Sound

I see Springfield Rewind finally got some notice outside of the blogosphere. The SJ-R had an article on Russ and Springfield Rewind in last Sunday’s paper (hat tip to Dan). The big news: Russ is putting a book togehter featuring some of the work he has done with SR.

Look back Springfield also got a mention in the article. I won’t bother bitching that no address was given for the site since I haven’t bothered posting there in two years, although Marie has.

Good luck, Russ, on the book but, hey, don’t forget the blog!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Riot Idea, Wrong Place?

I think an exhibit of this sort is a fine thing in general, but why would you hold it at Abe’s place?
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is seeking original material related to the 1908 Springfield race riot for use in a major exhibit scheduled to open next year.

“This anniversary marks a terrible but important part of our history,” said Presidential Library and Museum Executive Director Rick Beard. “The items we are seeking that may have been passed down by family members will be a direct link to something we should never forget.”

The library is seeking family photographs and letters; items that belonged to the victims; postcards of the riot; funeral home programs; police badges; saloon memorabilia; material from buildings damaged or destroyed in the riot; or any other items with direct connections to the riot.
Is my thinking too narrow on the purpose of the ALPL? The 1908 riots were very relevant to the history of Springfield and perhaps even the nation, but it happened more than 40 years after Lincoln died. Or does anything that happens in Springfield automatically have a Lincoln connection. It is, after all, ironic that the Great Emancipator's home town had race riots. Does the ALPL host other exhibits not directly related to Lincoln? Just wondering.

Beer Goggles: Real or Imagined?

A study says the phenomenon is real. The blogy conversation is here and here and here. Friday Beer Blogging tackled the issue nearly two years ago.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Vet Day Pics

Have you ever noticed that pictures in the media of veterans, be it Veterans Day parades or whatever, are almost always of really old veterans.

This is just something I’ve noticed over the years and isn’t a big deal; I just wonder why it is. I mean, there are plenty of younger vets, and middle aged vets but somehow the old vet has become the expected icon of veteran imagery.

And what the hell is this?

Bush looks like some kind of patriotic angel hovering over the photographer. Who thinks up these shots of propagandistic opportunity?

Explosive Silence

So what took the city of Springfield so long (two hours) to talk to the media after Saturday night’s explosion at the CWLP power plant? The idea that everyone was too busy to answer questions seems ridiculous to me. Not everyone qualified to speak to the matter was going to be of any use in responding to the emergency directly (putting out fires, directing traffic, etc.).

My guess is that they didn’t want to make any statements until they knew for sure whether there was any danger to the public. For example, if there had been a danger and a spokesperson had announced there was none, that would have opened up the city to even more liability. And had there not been any danger, and it was announced that there might be, a certain level of panic theoretically could have ensued, which would not have helped anything.

Or maybe they really just didn’t give a shit.

No matter what the reason, the city really needs to work on this. Although given Mayor Davlin’s attitude toward the issue, I’m guessing it won’t be a top priority.
“Tough.” That was Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin’s response Sunday when pressed about why it took officials two hours Saturday to release information to the public about the power plant explosions and possible dangers to the community.
Wrong answer Mr. Mayor.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Free Falling, Fabulously

I really admire Bush The First for doing this, especially at his age, but I'll never understand any straight guy's desire to be hooked up to another man like this.

Blog Abuse

A couple of years ago, WLS newsman Steve Scott had a blog. I even had it on my blog roll. He gave it up and last posted in February of 2006. Oh well. But wait, he has posted again! Just once, a year and a half later to post a picture of himself with Katie Couric. Oh well.

CWLP Blowout

Good online coverage from the SJ-R and Marie.

I was on my way to the Pleasant Plains High School presentation of Bye Bye Birdie when the incident happened, so I knew nothing about it until I got home hours later. And even then the first thing I heard about it was from my daughter (who had been in the play) text messaging me about how the power plant had blown up (!). I called her and she told me that it was her information that one of the smoke stacks had collapsed causing an explosion that was releasing poison gas! Eeeek!

Well, it turned out not to be quite THAT bad. And it was nice to have the SJ-R online with the real story to counter the rumors. Although i can imagine folks living in the southeast part of town (like Marie) had quite a fright at first.

Many thanks to the emergency responders and to CWLP for making it possible for us to keep our lights on through all this. Shit happens and they were ready for it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Our Man in the Media

Dave Bakke proves once again he's the local bloggers' best friend by using a blog post from John 'Just Two Guys' Anderson as the basis of his column in the SJ-R today.

However, I much prefer John's Halloween-esque post on reason he has a fear of blood. I mean, damn.

Friday Beer Blogging: Erdinger Edition

Mmmmmmm...wheat beer. I've finally decided that beer for beer, wheats are my favorite. And the Germans make damn good wheat beers. Today FBB brings you one of them, Erdinger.

I picked up a six pack box of Erdinger last weekend at Friar Tuck. They had a big pile of them. For those of you who have been to the Springfield store, it was one of those stacks of beer they have in front of the refrigerated section.

The Erdinger folks have a website here. Be sure to have the sound up on their home page. Why is it German only sounds pretty when talking about beer?

And they even kindly included instructions on how to pour an Erdinger.

Have a great weekend! And drink wheat beer not WEAK beer.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Journeyman II

OK, Journeyman totally lost me last night. I’ve never been thrilled with the series but last night’s episode was laughable when our hero went back in time and got into a fistfight...with himself. Although, I still may tune in to find out how he explains to the FBI why he has some of DB Cooper’s money. (Yes, I know he’s not called DB Cooper on the show, but that’s who it’s supposed to be.)

Big Jim, Bad Rep?

Has former governor Jim Thompson been “disgraced” by his standing by George Ryan? Eric Zorn thinks so.
Ryan was one of Thompson’s former lieutenant governors, and when Ryan was indicted on corruption charges in late 2003, Thompson, then chairman of the Winston & Strawn law firm, arranged for Ryan to have a free defense worth an
estimated $20 million.

Thompson kept a low profile during Ryan’s trial, but after Ryan was convicted in April 2006, Thompson became the main spokesman for the appeal effort, arguing in written motions and to reporters that Ryan didn’t get a fair trial and underscoring the view that the conviction was a “travesty.”

On Wednesday, then, Thompson and his wife accompanied Ryan, his wife and other family members on Ryan’s ride to the federal prison camp near Oxford, Wis., where he began serving a 6 1/2 -year sentence.

Yes, Thompson was one of Ryan’s lawyers, and lawyers should act and speak forcefully on behalf of their clients. There’s no shame in that.

And yes, Thompson is a friend and former close professional and political associate of Ryan’s, and friends should provide support in times of trouble and need. There’s no shame in that, either.

But Thompson is not an ordinary lawyer, nor is he an ordinary friend.

He’s an elder statesman. The dignity and respect of the office of governor of Illinois are both his burden and his advantage in life, no matter what positions he goes on to hold.
I guess I never thought Thompson’s defense of Ryan, both legally and as a friend, somehow denigrated the office of governor. Nor do I think it’s hurt Thompson’s reputation. In fact, since he’s been out of office for nearly 17 years, I’m not sure he has much of a reputation as a former governor. By that I mean he wasn’t all that memorable as a governor to begin with and after nearly two decades a lot of people don’t remember much about his governorship if they are even old enough to remember him at all.

My memories of the Thompson years are ones of a fairly calm period in state government. In my senior year in high school, I worked at White Oaks Mall and would occasionally see him come into the bookstore in which I worked. He seemed to go through repeated cycles of claiming state government was in great financial shape at election time and then would suddenly discover things weren’t so rosy once he was reelected (again and again). Then there was the Gary Dotson case (that was fun hearing the governor talk about seaman stains). And I covered a few local visits by the governor when I was in radio news. But that’s about the extent of my impressions of Thompson as governor and I was probably paying more attention than most at the time. He seemed competent enough and not particularly controversial or politically aggressive. In other words, nothing to write home about either way. So I don’t see where he has much reputation to lose.

But what say ye? Is Thompson’s reputation in ruins due to his association with Ryan?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Just Keep It in Your Pants

I'm shocked. I thought for sure that if you told teens not to have sex they wouldn't. What went wrong?

Little Green Signs

I always wondered how this worked:
We’re talking about the green signs. You know the ones that sit on the edge of a town that tout the accomplishments of a particular high school athlete or team.

The “high school champions” sign program has been around for about 30 years. The initial motivation was to honor IHSA state winners in the communities they hailed from. “Sometime in the ’70s, we started to develop policy on it,” said Mike Glaffey, media liaison for IDOT.

General guidelines are in place for each of the nine transportation districts in the state. Up to four signs per municipality are allowed. A request can be made for any individual or team that places from first to third in any school-sponsored statewide competition. The signs stay up for a year and are then to be taken down and given to the town they were put up in.

“We don’t have rigid statewide rules. We leave it up to each district to monitor things,” Glaffey said.
OK, now I can wonder about something else.

Hard Labor

George Ryan is getting what he deserves, I suppose, but is this really going to happen:
Ryan's typical work day will begin at 7:30 a.m. and include duties such as mopping floors, cleaning toilets, raking leaves, cutting grass, painting and shoveling snow, [prison spokesman Mike] Truman said.
I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Not because Ryan used to be governor and such tasks are beneath him, but because he’s an old man in ill health. I’m thinking he won’t be shoveling all that much snow.

Fun Places to Go

Looking for vacation ideas? Have you considered a little place called…Iraq? There is now a visitors guide (.pdf) available from the U.S. government. Well, since most of Iraq isn’t safe, they’ve focused on the Green Zone which is sorta safe. And while the guide says it is written “for tourists by tourists” it turns out the authors aren’t just tourists but attached to both the military and Republican party.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Strike Two

One good thing about the writers strike: you get a lot of good writing about the strike. Here and here and here for example.

Cookie Weapons

What the hell
EDWARDSVILLE (AP) - Two students at Southern Illinois University in this St. Louis suburb kidnapped, paddled and burned a young man with freshly baked cookies after a drug deal went bad, prosecutors alleged.
Ummm…don’t guns usually come out when drug deals go bad? But paddles and freshly baked cookies? Was Martha Stewart in on this?

White Like Me

Why is it racist jerks assume anyone who looks like them must agree with their racist notions? All my life other white guys have felt comfortable expressing their racist theories to me. I always wondered if I had a natural Nazi or KKK look about me or something. Apparently I’m not alone. David Neiwert has noticed the same thing:
Here's one thing about being a white guy: You hear a lot of "private" talk from other white guys who assume you're on the same side of the fence as they are and feel free to start spewing, especially when they've had a few drinks, or they're (ahem) "angry," and this is the kind of shit they spew.

Unfortunately, the only thing I ever seem capable of expressing to them is my utter bafflement why they think I would ever be on their side. Mind you, guys like this are in the far minority, but there are more of them floating around out there than you'd think.
Maybe we all hope that the people we are with at any given moment think just like us. But wouldn’t you think that on a touchy subject like blatant racism one might be a little more cautious? That’s not been my experience though. There is a certain portion of the population that is very sure their hatred for Blacks or Hispanics or Arabs, or all of the above, is a widely held belief. And when I say “population”, I’m talking about white population here (including many women, I might add), because that’s the ethnic group most likely to convey their racist inner thoughts to me.

As Neiwert points out in another post, confronting these people accomplishes nothing and may even be counter-productive in some ways. You then are dismissed as, to use an old phrase, just a “n**ger-lover”, or “politically correct” as it’s known today.

No larger point here. I just find it strange the assumptions some people make about my thought process just based on the color of my skin. But then, that’s what racism is all about, isn’t it?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Big Little Town

Yes, it's a small, small world and Springfield is infinitesimally tiny. After my post earlier today on Kathy Conour and Diana Braun's movie that may or may not feature my mother, I got an e-mail from the SJ-R's Dave Bakke. Bakke has written several columns about Conour and Braun in the past. He also happens to know my sister, the same one who received the package from the filmmaker. So, of course, he's heard the story from my sister and then sees it in my blog. So he sends off an e-mail inquiring if my sister is, well, my sister. Turns out she is! And I let him know he needs to get better friends (KIDDING!). I just thought it funny. Springfield is still a pretty small place.

Cancer Free Families

I was watching a TV show last night (OK, it was Desperate Housewives, leave me alone) when one of the characters, as part of a prenatal medical survey, was asked if there was any cancer in his family. He said, "No." Just no. At first I thought that was ridiculous; every family has cancer in it somewhere. But is that true? Is there anyone out there that has no relative, even going back only two or three generations, that has gotten cancer? Is that possible? Maybe if they all die of heart disease at a young age before they can develop cancer?

Strike Blog

Ha, ha. Kevin reminds all you blogheads that even though we are “new media” writers, we are not affected by, or part of, the writers strike. So even if your soap operas go dark, we’ll still be here. I’ll even blog with my shirt off if that helps fill the void.

Dark Days Ahead

I’m really, really going to hate driving home from work in the dark today (and every day for the next couple of months or so). Daylight Savings Time 4-Evuh!

Local Movie Stars

Shortly after my mother’s death a last year, a strange thing happened. My sister, who lives here in town, got a package from New York from someone didn’t know. The enclosed note indicated it was some sort of film recording of my mother that this person wanted to give to us. My sister didn’t know what it was and wasn’t prepared at that time to look at it. So she put it in a drawer. This past summer she passed it onto one of my other sisters who did look at it.

It turns out the woman who sent the package was Alice Elliot, the maker of the documentary that features two Springfield women with developmental disabilities. Apparently, my mother was friends with the two women, Kathy Conour and Diana Braun, in “Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy”. Mom met them through her work with the church. Conour and Braun were even at my mother’s funeral where I met them for the first time, but I had not idea they were so famous.

From what I’m told, she was visiting Conour and Braun one day when Elliot showed up with a camera for her film (or maybe Elliot was there and my mother showed up, I’m not sure). Anyway, Elliot wound up interviewing my mother for the film. When she heard that my mother had died, she sent the footage she had.

I have not seen the film, so I don’t know if my mother’s part is even in the final product. However, there is going to be a showing of the film here in Springfield a week from Saturday. I’m going to have to go to see if mom made the cut.

I haven’t even seen the outtake that was sent to my sister, so if she does appear in the film, it will seem very strange, almost like seeing someone speak from the grave. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Writer's Block

How will the writers strike (if it happens) affect specific television shows? The LA Times breaks it out in a chart.

Monday Morning Update: Well, the strike is on. An interesting part of the linked-to LA Times article above says that during the last writers strike in 1988, producers took over the writing duties on soap operas. This allowed them to stay on the air. I wonder if anyone noticed.

Liar II

Two years ago I pointed out that Rep. John Shimkus (R-What House Page Scandal?) was going to be a big fat liar if he ran for another term in 2008. You might remember that he ran for Congress the first time in 1996 pledging no more than 6 terms (12 years). Well, according to the SJ-R, Shimkus is running in 2008.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus announced his intention to seek re-election to the 19th Congressional District, which includes parts of Springfield, today via a series of videos released on his Web site.

“Faith, family, integrity and personal responsibility … those are the values I work every day to represent in Washington, D.C. And they are the reason I ask again for your trust and your support in this campaign for Congress,” Shimkus said in the videos. “To me, real leadership means standing strong for the principles that I'm convinced we share in central and southern Illinois.”
I guess lying is one of those principles. Or maybe it reflects "integrity and personal responsibility".

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Beer Blogging: Macau Edition

China: America's industrial heartland.

It is almost impossible to buy a manufactured product these days that isn't made in China. That is, until you go to your favorite beer store. There it's hard to find the ubiquitous Made in China label.

But hold on, Macau is coming.

The folks at Macua have a most awesome website and it proudly boasts this about the beer:
Macau is a true "Euro-Asian" beer. It is brewed using advanced Japanese brewing technology and the finest European ingredients. The Macau pale lager is respected as a refreshing, very light, subtle, yet smooth tasting pale lager with just a hint of fresh malt and citrus flavor that tastes wonderful with food or just by itself. If you want to drink a true Euro Asian Beer from China which is 100% formaldehyde free (unlike other Chinese beers) then ask for Macau the next time you're dining at your favorite Asian restaurant. You'll love it's all good..
Yes, all good, made in the fine tradition of the Japanese and completely formaldehyde free! Take that you silly Germans.

Check out the logo with the, ummm, not-smiley, er, expressionless face.

And while the blog post linked to above talks of it being introduced to New York, the Macau folks have a larger plas as seen on this map.

Notice that Central Illinois appears to be part of the plan. I realize the graphic is a bit small, but the points on the map are the same expressionless non-smiley faces.

Have a great weekend! And don't get stuck on a slow beer boat to China.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Riding the Rails

Ezra bemoans the problems with Amtrak here and here, but the federally subsidized rail company seems to be doing rather well here in Illinois. And before anyone pipes in with the predicable “but we shouldn’t be subsidizing rail travel with tax money” whine, remember that road and air travel are also heavily subsidized with tax dollars.

Personally, I love taking the train. It really is the best way to get from here to Chicago, especially if you’re staying downtown. I know there are horror stories out there regarding delays, but I’ve mostly had very positive experiences.

Jumping Iraqis

I have no idea if this is real or not but it’s funny anyway. The video is supposed to be of U.S. military instructors leading Iraqi recruits in jumping jacks. Hilarious.

The Kids Are Oil Right

Best line from last night's Daily Show:

"Children: Next to oil, they're our most precious resource"