Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Political CON-vention

Kevin Drum asks the right question.
So here's a question: Do you think convicted felons who have served their time should be prohibited from speaking freely? Do you think they should lose the right to a fair trial?

No? Then why do they lose the right to vote in 20 states?
I don’t understand this on a lot of levels. I mean, what’s really being accomplished by not allowing those who have served their time to vote. My guess is (and this is just a guess) that convicted felons aren’t the most likely demographic to go vote anyway. And sure, while you’re actually doing the time, no rights like voting. That’s fine. But once you’re out, what’s the big deal? Are all the ex-cons going to form a PAC, elect the right people and get crime repealed? Or vote out the judges and sheriffs and states attorneys that got them put away?

This has never made sense to me other than being an arbitrary and spiteful bonus “punishment”. I'd even go so far as to say it's counterproductive. Any ex-con engaged enough to go out and vote probably now feels they have a stake in society and unlikely to undermine that with a life of crime.

Captured Alien Technology Key to Global Warming Solution

JeromeProphet tells me blogging about UFOs is a great way to boost a blog’s hit count. A fact he stumbled on accidentally. In the spirit of that and, as a secondary thought, possibly curing global warming, I pass long this item:
OTTAWA (AFP) - A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change, a local paper said Wednesday.

"I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet," Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.

Alien spacecrafts would have traveled vast distances to reach Earth, and so must be equipped with advanced propulsion systems or used exceptional fuels, he told the newspaper.

Such alien technologies could offer humanity alternatives to fossil fuels, he said, pointing to the enigmatic 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico -- which has become a shrine for UFO believers -- as an example of alien contact.
Come on guys, give it up in the name of saving the planet. It’s getting hot in here and I don’t want Al Gore taking off all his clothes.

More Dumping on the Kids

A stupid survey that purports to show that young adults are more self-absorbed than ever before is making its way through every newsroom and talk show in the country. The main reason this is that anything even slightly incriminating regarding youth is pounced upon by the media. It’s always been that way. I’m not sure why but middle-aged jelousy of youth lost is my prime suspect.

Anyway about this new survey:
Twenge and her colleagues, in findings to be presented at a workshop Tuesday in San Diego on the generation gap, examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006.

The standardized inventory, known as the NPI, asks for responses to such tatements as "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place," "I think I am a special person" and "I can live my life any way I want to."

The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students' NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent
more than in 1982.
So, assuming my math is right, in 1982 (when I was a self-absorbed youth of 21) about 50% of us were above average in our narcissism while today the figure is about 66%. And that increase is the cause of this GREAT concern in the newsrooms?

Then there’s this:

Twenge, the author of "Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever Before," said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others.
So, today’s youth is so self-absorbed they are dubbed Generation Me. Gosh that sounds familiar. Let’s see, what could I be thinking of…oh yeah, the Me Generation of the Me Decade, the1970s. Gosh, the media was so concerned about the narcissistic youth back then too. I wonder what ever happened to those kids? I bet some of them got journalism degrees and now work in newsrooms throughout the land where they can sit in judgment of, what else, narcissistic youth. Will this society ever over it's envy/hate relationship with young people?

BB Ping Bust

The SJ-R says arrests have been made in the case of the weekend BB gun shooting spree. One 17 year-old and four other “juveniles” were arrested.

In cases like this, I like a combination of reasonable punishment (not the death penalty and not life you wingnuts) AND restitution of some sort. Oh, an apology (or 190 of them) would be nice too.

Movie Clubbing

I had a chance to go hang with the Movie Geeks Club last night. We saw the movie Brick which is high school film noir (you have to see it to understand). It was a good time.

It’s very cool that the Capital City Bar and Grill has turned the old Capital City Cinema into an adjunct to the bar. The movie screen and projection rooms are still there while tables, a dance floor and a bar now inhabit the area where the movie seating once existed. This allows for the showing of movies and a stage for bands. When those things aren’t happening, the movie screen can have television projected onto it. Talk about big screen TVs.

There weren’t all that many people there last night but I can see this growing into a larger event attended mostly by a core group of movie lovers. Organizers John and Micah of local blog and cable TV fame were there and I got to meet them.

I took Mrs. TEH and we split some food and had a couple drinks during the movie. That may have been the first time ever I had real food in a movie theater. When the movie started there was a table of guys who were having beers and chatting it up until they realized they were sitting in the middle of (and disrupting) a movie screening. They got up and left since they weren’t there to watch a movie. We grabbed their “front row” table and had an unobstructed view of the film from that point forward.

The Movie Geeks Club has a different movie showing the last Tuesday of each month at the Capital City Bar and Grill in the Capital City Shopping Center. Admission is free but I’m sure buying some food and drink will help ensure the events continued success. Check out Just Two Guys for what movies will be showing. I also noticed eh SJ-R Weekend section carries the listing for the following week.

Update: Next month the movie is Stangers on a Train.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bartolomucci in the Rearview Mirror

Bye Joe! Don’t let the city council chambers door hit you in the ass on the way out.

And here I was mostly bored by today's primary. I had no idea how nicely things would turn out.

Why I Hate Stooopid

Are we sure this wasn’t originally written for The Onion?
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Asian-American leaders are calling on a weekly newspaper to apologize and cut ties with a writer who penned a column titled "Why I Hate Blacks."

In the piece, which appeared in the February 23 edition of San Francisco-based AsianWeek, contributor Kenneth Eng lists reasons why he supports discrimination against blacks, writing, among other things, "I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years."

An official at the nationally circulated paper apologized and called the column's publication a mistake.
OK, if you’re SURE this wasn’t Onion-esque parody. But then this is strange:
The paper plans to review its policies to "understand how this happened and make sure it doesn't happen again," Fang said, calling the decision to publish Eng's piece a "mistake."

Fang's family publishes AsianWeek, along with a local newspaper called the Independent, and owned the San Francisco Examiner between 2000 and 2004. AsianWeek calls itself "The Voice of Asian America."

The column was among several written by Kenneth Eng, who has described himself as an "Asian Supremacist." Previous columns have been titled "Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us" and "Why I Hate Asians."
Uh, we’re supposed to believe this was all just a big mistake when the guy has a history like that? Was anyone at the paper paying attention?

Bloggers Burden

Bloggers are not legally responsible for comments posted on the blog by others, or so says a federal appeals court.

No Bad Food On TV

It’s not unusual for me to tune into the Food Network when I relaxing and there’s nothing better on the other 3000 cable channels. More likely there is something better on but by the time I find it, show’s over. Anyway, I always find it enjoyable to watch food preparation and if I happen to be eating at the time, well it seems to make my food taste better (I think I’m imagining eating what I’m seeing on the TV).

Shows on the Food Network seem to fall into two categories: Traditional cooking shows where a professional whips up some fine dish without even making a mess, and the other is what I call “traveling shows” that go to restaurants and food preparation places (bakeries, factories) to find and “review” food.

The thing about all these shows is that they never encounter foods the host doesn’t like. That’s understandable for the traditional cooking shows since the cook/host is making the meal and making it the way they like it. But the traveling shows never seem to find a bad meal. No matter what they order or sample, it’s simply the best, mmmmm-mmmmm.

This all-food-is-good-food thing is rather strange and makes me wonder how honest they’re being with us. These shows depend on the goodwill of the establishments they visit and I suspect they’re going to say good things about what they’re eating no matter what. And that’s too bad. I’d like to see Rachael Ray or Jim O’Conner or Al Roker find some bad food and say so. It would make their praises of other eats more digestible.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Snow

Last week, with a lot of snow still on the ground, I got a call from my elderly father (don't tell him I called him "elderly") needing some help. He told me that a neighbor had kindly shoveled a bank of snow at the end of his driveway that had been created a few days prior by a city plow. The problem was this nice person piled much of the snow in front of my father's mailbox and the postal carrier was refusing to deliver the mail. This because they couldn’t get their vehicle close enough to the mailbox. My father is 73 and has a medical condition (or two or three) that absolutely prevents him from doing anything like shoveling snow.

So I went over and cleared the area in front of the mail box. But while I was doing so, I couldn’t help but think how lazy that postal worker was. I mean, the mailbox was certainly out of arms reach from a vehicle but it was about 3 feet from clear road and about two feet from the cleared driveway. Would it have killed the postal person to get out of the vehicle, take two steps and put the mail in the box? The ensuing warmer weather and rain would have certainly reduced the yard-high pile of snow by now anyway. It’s not like this would have been a permanent situation. Fortunately, my father had someone to call, and I didn't at all mind doing it, but I suspect there are people out there that don’t have anyone to call and can’t shovel snow themselves.

I appreciate the Postal Service trying to save money by having the mail delivered in vehicles that can cover much more ground than the walking postmen I remember growing up. But can’t they be a little flexible?

BB Ping

The BB gun vandalism spree over the weekend in Springfield is generating speculation that the 170 incidents of damage, mostly to cars, is a result of a group of youths driving around randomly shooting out windows for fun. That assessment is probably right but there are still some strange aspects to this story. Why for instance has absolutely no one seen anything? I realize it was late but it was over two nights over a sizeable portion of the city. No one saw anything even after the public was alerted after the first night?

The other strange aspect is the volume. Maybe things are different with the video game generation but I can’t imagine having the endurance for two solid nights of window blasting as a teen. And believe me, I had lots of “fun” with BB guns in my youth. But I can’t imagine not getting bored after the first 10 cars or so and wanting to do something else. This rash of incidents seems very focused and determined, something most bored teenagers out at 3:00 AM are not.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Go Flo

I recently decided it was time to go florescent. That is, switch from standard light bulbs to florescent bulbs.

I’m actually kind of sorry I hadn’t done it sooner but I was always reluctant to spend what seemed to me to be a lot of money for a light bulb. Well, now they really don’t cost that much. I got an eight pack of 60 watters (actually they are only 15 watts but have the same illumination effect as a 60 watt traditional incandescent bulb) for $12.72 at Sams Club. I also bought a bunch of 100 watt (equivalent) bubs and some 40 watters all for about the same price.

Here’s the advantage: these bulbs use about ¼ the energy of traditional light bulbs. That’s good for the environment and really good for your electric bill. While the florescent bulbs are still somewhat more expensive than the incandescents, they pay for themselves many times over. In addition to costing less to use, they also last much, much longer than incandescents.

There are some minor downsides to these bulbs however. For one, they take a second to light when the switch is thrown. I mean literally one second, but that’s a little jarring when you are used to instantaneous light. It’s not a big deal but I think it’s going to take a while for me to adjust my expectations to what happens when I turn on a light.

The women folk in my house also say, correctly I assume, that the new bulbs treat color differently, even if only slightly, and that’s a problem for applying makeup. So, the bathroom mirrors continue to be lit the old fashioned way in my house. And that’s fine since the new bulbs don’t come in decorative styles like globes and candle flames.

Another problem, also minor, is that these bulbs have a harder time in colder weather. This applies only to bulbs outside where they tend to take a little more time getting to full brightness. One of the first bulbs I used, I put in my back porch light during the latest cold snap. It still worked at zero degrees but it took maybe a minute or more to get to full strength.

Otherwise, I’m sold and am currently in the process of replacing all of our household lights with fluorescents. I was going to wait to replace the bulbs as the old ones burned out. But I figured, hey, what wait to start saving money. Now I have a pile of old school bulbs I’m not sure what to do with.

The price of these bulbs will continue to come down as they get more popular and as governments push for their use. California has passed legislation that will ban the incandescent bulbs by 2012 and Australia recently made a similar move. Expect to see more of this in coming years.

Breaking Radio Silence II

I’m going to admit it was kind of cool having my blog URL and some of my comments interjected into a story in the State Journal-Register. But why they were included is not cool. In fact, I think it represents lazy journalism that did a disservice to me and to the whole “Brian and Kellie were fired” controversy.

Nick Rogers who wrote the story for the SJ-R had the basic facts: B&K were no longer working at WNNS. What he didn’t have, apparently, was material to fill enough space in the paper. The people involved, B&K and WNNS weren’t talking. So what did he do? He interjected the recent very brief disagreement between two (or three if you count JP) Springfield bloggers, one of whom happened to be Brian Pierce. I hate to bite hand that promotes my blog but this was just wrong. And by the way, if it is shown the blog battle between Pierce and me had anything to do with his firing, and Nick Rogers knew it, I’ll apologize for this assertion.

Meanwhile, check out this little insider comment board used mostly by current and former Springfield radio people (as I write, it’s currently being spammed so you might have to scroll down). They have lots to say about the B&K firings. The comments also reveal how brutal the radio biz really is. I miss it not. Perhaps the most insightful comment I read was one suggesting B&K were just too expensive when WNNS can hire a part-timer to push buttons and back announce songs. Cost/Benefit ratio and all that. Money is the bottom line (duh). Come to think of it, outside of talk radio the personality-driven shows do seem to be becoming somewhat rarer and certainly lamer. But what do I know; I mostly listen to satellite waves.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Pam

Huh. Jenna Fischer (Pam on “The Office”) is from St. Louis. And she has a pretty cool blog.

HT to EZ.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Breaking Radio Silence

I’ve stopped talking about IT here but I have a few more things to say in the comments to this post over at JeromeProphet's place.

Quick, To The Bat Blog!

It’s insane that the old 1960s Batman TV series has not yet been released on DVD. Batman was the first prime time series I remember regularly watching when it hit the airwaves when I was 5 or 6 years old. I took that show at the time as a serious crime drama and would never miss an episode.

Batman was my hero. One of the greatest disappointments in my life was, as a six year-old, having to endure the fact that my friend from across the street had this awesome mother who sewed together a batman costume for him and a Robin outfit for his little(r) brother. All I had was a makeshift cape consisting of a bath towel attached to my shoulders by clothes pins. I still hate that bastard.

I lived and breathed Batman. The only thing on my birthday and Christmas lists were Batman paraphernalia. And the show was never to be missed. My second biggest disappointment ever was when the show was cancelled.

Now I have a son who, for some reason, has an interest in Batman. He has a small Batman action figure (action figure, not a doll – OK?) and has a few Justice League DVDs that include Batman in cartoon/comics form. So I got to thinking, can the Batman TV series be purchased? I mean there is probably a pretty big market of end-of-the-Boom Boomers like me who would buy the DVDs for nostalgia reasons. But I was disappointed to find out that they haven’t been released due to some legal haggling over, I assume money.

Time to get Commissioner Gordon to send the Bat Signal to get the Dynamic Duo out to straighten out the Jokers who are proceeding at a Penguin’s pace in getting these DVDs released. They may have to knock a few of these Riddlers heads together (OOF! POW!) to rescue the video and return them to Stately Wayne Manor for distribution.

Friday Beer Blogging: Bilk (Or Is It Meer?) Edition

Some of you may have heard I like beer. Well OK, it’s true. What you may not know is that I also rather like milk. On more than one occasion I have been at a store purchasing just beer and a gallon of milk. Sometimes I get comments from the cashier (which by itself is just WRONG) since it seems like an odd combination of things to buy. I fake-laughingly assure them that I’m not going to consume the two drinks together, but thanks for asking.

Well, ha! Guess what, beer and milk together apparently isn’t all that crazy:
TOKYO, Feb 13 (Reuters Life!) - Great news for beer and milk lovers: A liquor shop owner in Japan's largest dairy farming region has stopped crying about local spilled milk and started making beer from it instead.

"We came up with the idea after hearing about surplus milk," said Chitoshi Nakahara, head of the Nakahara liquor shop on the northernmost island of Hokkaido.
Milk consumption has been declining steadily in Japan, and Hokkaido disposed of nearly 900 tonnes of milk last March due to over-production, according to the Japan Dairy Association.

Nakahara's new brew, "Bilk" -- a combination of "milk" and "beer" -- is about 30 percent milk. It also contains hops, and the production process does not differ much from that of regular beer, he said.
Wisconsin is missing out. They have lots of milk AND beer. Oh, wait maybe they're already on top of it courtesy of the New Glarus Brewing Company.

And the French Canadians have the idea as well.

So see, bilk isn’t such a crazy idea after all. It builds strong bones and bodies and beer guts.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bloggers Gone Missing

I’m still going with "just coincidence" here but it is strange that Brian Pierce’s leaving WNNS coincides with a small blogging dust-up AND Jim Leach’s blog going dark about the same time. Radio and blogs don’t mix? Or maybe radio people and blogging don’t mix. To be accurate, Jim hasn’t posted to his blog in many months and I think the webmaster keeping it on life support finally got tired of it and pulled the plug yesterday. And, like I’ve repeatedly said, Pierce’s leaving WNNS surely can’t have anything to with his blog.

Hat tip to an anonymous comment two posts down.

A Crying Shame

Linked to approvingly. Here’s to hoping these lost souls find some real meaning in life.

Also, and unrelated, I like Iggy's walk through Springfield.

Oh, Come On...

There is no way the spat I had with Brian Pierce over one of his blog postings could have (or should have) been a legitimate reason to fire him from his job. But that’s what sort of alluded to in today’s SJ-R:
There is no obvious indication "Briblog" has had anything to do with Pierce and Michaels leaving WNNS. But a recent post drew Pierce into a fierce war of words among Springfield-area bloggers.

In a Saturday post titled "Hillary gets 'owned,'" Pierce questioned U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's support for the military as part of her presidential campaign.

The Briblog post included this passage: "Many have never forgotten that when she was co-president for eight years she was quoted as saying: 'I loathe the military.' "

However, another local blog, The 11th Hour (http ://, challenged that quote, calling it "bogus information" taken from right-wing Web postings.

Another local blogger, Jerome Prophet (, joined the call for Pierce to cite a "reputable source."

A heated online exchange among the three included this response from Pierce: "I simply don't take this thing as seriously as you guys do. I've been in media 32 years. I cume (reach a cumulative audience of) 35,000 people a day on the radio show. ... I can say anything I want here - that's the fun."

On Monday, Pierce edited his original post to remove the questioned quote and extended an olive branch. He acknowledged not "researching the topic completely," but added, "I hope you react similarly to the tens of thousands of blog posts that get the facts wrong."

The 11th Hour acknowledged the sarcasm, but accepted the apology. On Wednesday, that blog posted this response to the WNNS news: "Just to be clear, I really, really had nothing to do with this. I sent no bad karma or nothin'. I certainly would never wish anyone to lose their job. So best of luck to both of them in the future."
If this was used as a reason to fire Pierce then someone was looking for any excuse to do so. I mean, that’s ridiculous. This was, in the scheme of things, fairly minor and in no way had anything to do with Brian Pierce’s job. The comments I objected to were limited to his blog and had nothing to do with anything I heard him say on the air. I’ll be honest, I don’t listen to Brian & Kellie so I don’t know if anything was said on the air related to our brief exchange, but I sort of doubt it. And even if he had broadcast something, so what?

The only thing I can see in the blog battle that might have gotten Pierce in trouble at work was his mentioning his cume (cumulative audience) numbers. Maybe that’s some sort of “secret” at his place of employment. Still, that seems awfully petty.

It’s just weird to see this thing in the paper. I suspect this incident was included as filler in a story about which there really isn’t much information. It’s kind of a big deal in the Springfield radio world that Brian & Kellie are gone so it deserves coverage but with the parties involved not saying much, their isn’t much of a story.

And one final thing: I feel stupid having to say this but I want to make it clear that my comments were limited strictly to this blog. I did not contact the radio station and complain about Pierce or anything he posted on his blog. As far as I’m concerned his blogging and broadcasting are two separate things.

Update: In the comments section of the SJ-R story someone pretending to be me entered a comment that is just a copy and paste of an earlier post of mine. That was not me who posted that resonse to the story. I’m only commenting here.


Brian Pierce’s blog, BriBlog, has only a brief message tonight saying “I’ll Be Back” following what looks to be the unexpected and unwanted loss of his radio gig at WNNS.

Radio is a cutthroat business and often air talent just ‘disappears’ without explanation. I’ve always hated that since these people have a semi-personal relationship with their audience and fans. Then they’re gone and good luck ever finding out why.

Just what the hell did they do? Maybe they just got stale and were bad for business. But short of them having committed crimes, who cares, it just sucks. I mean Kellie Michaels has been at WNNS for like 20 years (that’s 186 in radio years). So much for loyalty. Or maybe they quit, but I doubt it.

So in a display of solidarity with Pierce I’ll say to him, you’re right Hillary is a bit of a bitch. That’s a statement that’s made much easier by her knives-out attack on Barack Obama today.

I would encourage Pierce to use his blog to explain his side of the story. Blogs may be lame (no cume!) but hey, yours would offer an unfiltered forum for what happened. Go for it, man.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Step 1

Statewide smoking ban comes closer to reality. From the SJ-R:
Legislation banning public smoking statewide headed for the House floor Wednesday.

The Environmental Health Committee endorsed Rep. Karen Yarbrough's plan 8-0.
Let’s hope it keeps moving. Cuz any day now The Barrel Head is going to decimate bar life as we know it.

Update: More here.

Bring It On

Nature just fucking hates us:


It Wasn't Me

Just to be clear I really, really had nothing to do with this
Brian Pierce and Kellie Michaels, morning-show personalities at WNNS-FM 98.7, have "separated from their employment" with the station and its parent company, Mid-West Family Broadcasting.

Kevan Kavanaugh, general manager of Mid-West, confirmed that the pair had left today and would no longer be on the air.


In addition to her DJ duties, Michaels was Mid-West's operations manager and the program director at WNNS. The Web site for WNNS,, has removed any links to Pierce and Michaels' personal pages.
I sent no bad karma or nothin'. I certainly would never wish anyone to lose their job. So best of luck to both of them in the future. They’re radio veterans and certainly know this stuff happens all the time, and it probably has happened to them in the past. That’s one of the many reasons I got out of that business.

Update: The SJ-R story isn't clear who initiated the separation but it has all the signs of them being fired rather than quitting. But who knows. Maybe they left seeking a market with bloggers that are less impolite.

Mascot Malevolence

Maybe we should just do away with school mascots altogether. These guys, here and here, hilariously make a good case for it. I say this not so much because mascots can offend but because they are just plain stoooopid.

I have a case in point: The Pleasant Plains High School mascot. It’s a cardinal. At the home games a student dresses up in this full-body cardinal costume which is supposed to look tough by having some well developed pecs. Problem is, these pecs frankly look more like a nice set of tits. It’s all very ridiculous.

But if you still like the idea of mascots and think you might want to dabble in it on your own, try this store. Don’t forget the instructional video. And wow, want to scare the shit out of your opponents? Try an OJ mascot (scroll to the bottom).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

40, Better Than the Alternative

Wow, Kurt Cobain would have been 40 today. So sad he wasn't. I vividly remember being in the car driving out of Chicago that day in the spring of 1994 when I heard on the radio that they found his body. What a waste.


Here’s one of those stories that’s everyone’s fantasy come true. Finding a stash of old money in an old basement, a mystery surrounding its origin, the key as to why Brittney Spears shaved her head…OK, not that last part but it has everything else.

I mean, I can remember as a kid searching the vast attic space of my aunt’s house as a kid looking for similar treasure. And while I never struck it rich like the gentleman in the SJ-R story, some of the things I did come across were as exciting as money to me at the time. Things like a Nazi belt a relative have brought back from WWII, gas rationing stamps form the same era, old letters from relatives, business receipts from my grandmother’s business (a movie theater no less!), photos, clothes, military uniforms and even a 48-star flag.

My aunt’s attic was huge. It easily could have been turned into an apartment with high ceilings and a turret room at one of the corners. In fact her house was a very large old house that had been turned into several apartments. The attic, we were told used to be a place where even dances were held. By the time I became familiar with it in the early 1970s, it was used strictly for storage.

Strange thing was though, whenever I’d go up there (every chance I could) I would get this overwhelming feeling of being back in the 1940s. Of course, I was too young to have known first-hand what that was like but upon walking into that attic I was enveloped in the feeling of being in a different time. It was a presence, the closest thing to having seen a ghost as I’ve ever experienced. In terms I was familiar with at the time, I felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone. Wow, I miss that.

So it’s kind of cool to see a story like the one in the SJ-R today that essentially has a grounded adult professional living what surely must have been a childhood, if not adulthood, dream.

Update: Hey, I just remembered: I did once find money in my aunt’s attic. I came across a piece of Nazi German script and a Soviet bill of some sort. Obviously war souvenirs from the Second World War. I still have those, in fact.

Monday, February 19, 2007

OK, Peace Y’all

Well that was a bit of bloggity fun, but time to move on now. I’ve picked on Mr. Pierce long enough. Just a few comments though:

While not a huge Hillary Clinton fan myself (based on politics, nothing personal) I really, really thinks she’s gotten a very raw deal from the right wing in the country over the last 15 years. Lots and lots of unwarranted hatred, real hatred, and mean-spirited, often baseless, attacks have come her way from a lot of childish characters. With an obvious falsehood showing up on a local blog, I thought it a good opportunity shut the bullshit down in a very small corner of the universe.

I find a lot of traditional media types to be very presumptive in their authority over the discourse in this country. I was actually kind of shocked that BP would play the “cume” card, if you will. And no, JP was not comparing him to Hitler, just making the point that having an audience doesn’t make anyone beyond reproach or their message somehow superior.

I think Pierce’s olive branch here was a bit sarcastic but, good lord, who am I to complain about that. I pee sarcasm. Hell, he didn’t have to say anything at all on this blog (not with all that cume, baby! – OK, I’ll stop).

Anyway, let’s all strive for a certain level of accuracy in our blogging and in our everyday lives. I’m all for debate, differing of opinions, bringing new facts to the table and having a strong point of view. But let’s at least try to be honest. That doesn’t mean having to be balanced or trying to find the truth by splitting the difference. It just means leaving the bullshit out of the discussion.

Update: Although I do agree with JP, the offending post should at least be corrected.

Bri-Bri Can’t Be Bothered By Facts Or Lowly Bloggers

Ha, ha. Listen to this shit from the Mighty Voice, Brian Pierce (via JeromeProphet):
I have no moral high road I have to take here. The shit is deep on the net - it's the Wild Wild West. I simply don't take this thing as seriously as you guys do. I've been in media 32 years. I cume 35,000 people a day on the radio show. I've worked at stations that reached a million people a week. What are your page counts? I do this for fun. I can say anything I want here - that's the fun.
Wow what an ego! He “cumes” 35K! Cume, is a broadcasting term short for cumulative audience for those of you not relevant enough to know such things. He's the mighty media man and we're just pissants with teeny-weeny cumes who should be ignored. Because the more people that hear your words, the more valid your comments. The media credo in a nutshell. It even gives you license to lie. I'm so glad I have a satellite radio.


I thought this might happen:
NEW YORK ( -- XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio are in final-stage merger talks, but have yet to reach a deal, according to a report published Monday.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two satellite radio operators were nearing an agreement to create satellite radio giant.
That’s why I’ve avoided buying a “lifetime” subscription to Sirius. Hopefully, the new merged company would honor such things but you never know. Of course this also dramitcally reduces competition which concerns me.


JeromeProphet continues to assail the St. John’s Hospital “bloody” smoke stack. He’s also assembled a music video illustrating his cause. It’s pretty good with an interesting ending.

I’m not sure I’ve seen or heard anything about this issue in the local media lately. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any coverage, just that it may have been tucked away somewhere I missed it.

Update: On the other hand, a rebuttal comment to JP's post says:

St. John's spent close to a million bucks installing a high tech scrubber on their incinertor. As a result, the level of pollution that comes from the stack amounts to less than a pack of cigarettes per day.

Alright, assuming that's true, and it very well may be, I'm just curious as to what that stuff is on the outside of the smoke stack. I don't know that it's bad but it would be interesting to find out.

Peak Peril

I won’t pretend to not to know why these stories of stranded mountain climbers seem to always get media attention far beyond their significance. It’s obvious that these stories are covered so thoroughly because they are real-life dramas. Life and death situations against a dramatic backdrop. And there’s usually a “race against time” factor built in to raise suspense.

Still, they annoy me. These people aren’t victims innocently caught unaware by the forces of nature. No, they knew exactly what they were getting into when they headed up the mountain. I’m not suggesting rescue attempts not be made, obviously we shouldn’t let them die of their own stupidity. But they should not be made out to be heroes either. Again, they quite deliberately put themselves in this situation.

I’m not sure what the process is, if any, for getting permission to climb, say, Mt. Hood. But I’m thinking some sort of rescue insurance requirement might be nice. This would be used to reimburse the public for the expense of rescuing these folks.

If your airplane crashes on the side of a mountain and you survive to be rescued, you’re a hero and the trip off the mountain is on us. But if you deliberately place yourself in this situation, maybe you should buy your own ticket down as well.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Real Waste (of Newspaper Space)

Non-story of the week. Damn that Obama for wasting several thousand dollars on jet-setting around garden spots like the Middle East and Africa. And as a FRESHMAN Senator no less! A freshman, do you hear me! Next thing you know he’ll be shipping BILLIONS in cash, maybe 363 tons worth, on pallets to Iraq.


Can it be true that we’ll see a high of 60 degrees on Friday? Actually, it’s supposed to start warming up rather dramatically beginning tomorrow. With all that snow piled up everywhere, a slushy mess is in the offing. Don’t head to the car wash just yet.

Rewinding Springfield Again

Just another reminder to go check out Russ’s efforts over at Springfield Rewind. He’s given the site another new look. It’s a shame more people don’t know about this wonderful resource.

Let me pass on a Springfield Rewind story of my own. Last week, I sent a link to SR to a coworker whose family name (by way of a former marriage) showed up in one of the old photos. She was very impressed and set about showing her kids, her boyfriend, her parents and anyone else with access to a computer. Everyone was very impressed with the site but, of course, previously had no idea it even existed. Later she told me about the great response she was getting regarding SR. Another coworker overheard her and wanted to know more. I sent her the link. And on it goes.

I know the SJ-R (Dave Bakke I think) did a story on Springfield Rewind a while back but its too bad more people aren’t aware of this fun local spot on the net.

Brainless Brian Strikes Again

Brian Pierce, aka Mr. Kelly Michaels, is again providing Springfield with his great uninformed wisdom on his spectacularly uninformed blog. This time his unabashed “Hitlery” hatred has moved him to pass on a totally bogus quote alleged to have come from Hillary Clinton. Claims Mr. Pierce-Michaels:
Many have never forgotten that when she was co-president for eight years she was quoted as saying : “I loathe the military.”
Uh-huh. Prove it. Senator Clinton never said anything of the sort. I'd say "and you know it" but you probably don't know it given that you are just passing on bogus information that is appearing on rightwing blogs left and right (well, mostly right).

Hey Bri, stick to spinning records, mindless banter with your wife and selling us stuff on TV. I mean, you still have great pipes, dude. Just stay away from stuff you know absolutly nothing about.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Le Menu

This is of absolutely no importance (unlike most of my other posts, huh) but does anyone remember Le Menu frozen dinners from the mid 1980s? They were a step up from the old Swanson-style TV dinners and served on a plastic white plate that you could throw into the oven. I don’t think they were microwavable. I, like a lot of people back then, didn’t even own a microwave so I’m not sure.

Anyway, as a 20-something single guy, I kind of liked them. They were convenient and tasted pretty good. I would always save the plate when I was done for some reason. They, the plates, were durable and reusable. I remember having huge stack of them at one point. And I wasn’t the only one. I’d see them in my friends kitchen cabinets all the time back then. There’s next to no information about Le Menus on the internet but I know they were a fairly big phenomenon back in the day.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Losin' la Vida Loca

When you've lost Ricky Martin, you might as well hang it up.

Anyone else find the little history lesson at the end of this story a little odd?

The End of the Illinois Civil War

Is The Chief about to do his last “dance”?
Unless a judge stops them, University of Illinois officials will announce Friday that Chief Illiniwek, the controversial and storied mascot who has performed for 81 years, is to dance for the last time next week.

University officials had made extensive preparations for Friday's announcement. But according to a source familiar with the university's plan, the process took a turn Thursday when the two students who portray the chief filed a lawsuit against the university and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The students are seeking a restraining order that would prevent the university from dumping the chief and would lift the NCAA's sanctions against the university's sports teams. A Champaign County judge will hear their application Friday morning in Urbana.

The university will decide how to proceed after that hearing, the source said.
Other sources seem to be more certain of The Chief’s imminent demise. If this is true, I can say I won’t miss The Chief but I especially won’t miss the controversy. Sheesh, please make it be over.

HT to Rich Miller

Update: It’s official, The Chief is history. Inaccurate history but history nonetheless.

Snow Rematch

Here we go again. Not only is there more snow in the forecast for tonight, we also have another major disagreement between the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel. At 6:30 AM the NWS says 2-4 inches while TWC is calling for 1 inch. I’m going with the guv’mint weather guys this time since my own predictive powers lacked so last time.

By the way, this needs to stop. The snow that is. I had two snow shovels going into the last storm. I flat-out broke one and the other is pretty badly bent up. And my guess is there isn't a snow shovel to be found in a store withing 60 miles of Springfield.

Baghdad Going South

Earlier in the week, Australian Prime Minister John Howard came out strongly against Barack Obama’s call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. While a spokesman for Obama quickly shot back at Howard, the Obama camp decided to go ahead and incorporate the Australian PM’s concerns into the Obama peace plan for Iraq. TEH has been given exclusive access to what a piece of the plan might look like:

Friday Beer Blogging: Drinking Studies Edition

Those wacky, partying college kids are at it again. And a healthy school rivalry is brewing (get it, brewing) between Southern Illinois University (the real one in Carbondale) and the University of Illinois (the real one in Champaign-Urbana). It involves beer, green beer. The Daily Egyptian has the story. Note I've added the pictures, they were not part of the DE story.
SIUC has a new reason to party. [As if it needed one – Dave]

Because of a Facebook-based student movement, several Carbondale bars -including Pinch Penny Pub, Sidetracks and Gatsby's II - are scheduled to open at 10 a.m. Feb. 23 to celebrate "unofficial" Saint Patrick's Day.

Can I just interject here that more-beer-earlier doesn’t sound like the common definition of a “student movement” but whatever. At least the local bars are there to help in a time of need. Anyway…
The event is a time when students drink beer - filled with green food coloring - throughout the day and attend class drunk because they are on spring break during the actual Saint Patrick's Day on March 17, according to an online posting by group administrator and SIUC student Brad Miller.

The unofficial holiday has been a popular but controversial event at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for years. The Urbana-Champaign Senate - a group of students and faculty - passed a resolution condemning the event in April, according to the campus newspaper, the Daily Illini.

UIUC also recently allowed the expulsion of any student who disrupts class while intoxicated, the newspaper reported.

A Facebook group Miller created last month called for Carbondale to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day early. As of Wednesday evening, the group had 2,295 members.

The group's description recommends students wake up at 7 a.m. and drink green beer all day. It also suggests the students go to class drunk, as was custom at UIUC.

Miller said some UIUC students have expressed anger via Facebook because they feel SIUC is "stealing" their holiday. He said the event has inspired an exchange of insults between students from both schools.

"There's been a huge controversy," he said.
See, a good old fashioned drinking rivalry. Well, U of I kids, maybe you should put up or shut up. How ‘bout a little contest with the Dawgs for the green beer title. The campus with the most students puking green IN CLASS wins.

Oh, and I like this last quote in the DE article.
Katelyn Stapleton, a freshman from Edwardsville studying radio-television, said she plans to skip class for the event. She said she is excited about the new holiday, but doesn't think enough people know about the event to make it a frenzied party or a problem for the university.

"There will be drunk people," she said. "That's all I can say."

Yes, there will be drunk people and that is all anyone can say.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Misquoting Lincoln

What’s in the GOP water cooler today? Now we have a congressman, on the House floor, attributing this quote to Lincoln.
Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.
Problem is, it’s common knowledge in the reality-based universe that Abe said no such thing. Idiot. This is another example of why the national GOP is in so much trouble. They'll believe anything as long as it suits their agenda.

In Allah, er, Mohammad We Trust

How can someone this stupid get elected to Congress? I mean really, this cartoonish notion that just over the horizon there are hordes of evil Muslims capable of invading and taking over the United States is psychotic. Someone so ill-informed and paranoid has no business being in a position of authority.

Blood on the Smokestack

Speaking of healthcare, this Jerome Prophet post kind of grosses me out. Are we in Springfield really breathing human medical waste? And the red tipped smokestack is from…ewww…blood? And is breathing cooked human parts cannibalism? I mean, eating cooked human parts is.

Money for Nothing

Why does healthcare cost so much more in this country than it does elsewhere? Ezra runs down some of the reasons detailed in a new report.
Take drugs. The report finds that we overpay for prescription drugs by $66 billion. If you compare brand name drugs in the US and Canada, the same drug will cost you a full 60% more here. If you restrict that to the top selling drugs, you find we pay 230% more than anyone else. For generics, the difference evaporates. So on average, we overpay by 60-70% for pharmaceuticals, largely because we don't bargain down the costs just like every other country. In essence, we're subsidizing the low drug costs for the rest of the world. If we demanded the discounts as well, other countries would pay a bit more, but we'd pay a lot less. This, of course, is just
what the administration has been trying to prevent in their fight against allowing Medicare to bargain down prices. They believe American consumers should continue paying for the discounts of Europeans.

Doctor's compensations are also problematic: We overpay here by $58 billion. In
other nations, specialists make 4 times the average salary. In America, they make 6.6 times the mean. Meanwhile, the overall profits of the system add on another $75 billion in costs. Another $147 billion in increased spending, much of it a consequence of the fee-for-service system, wherein doctors are paid based on how many procedures they recommend and carry out. Doctors with equity in facilities where they can co-refer cases conduct between two and eight times more tests than those without equity interests. Just another way the profit incentive helps us out.

And of course, there's administration, where we pay $98 billion more than anyone else, $84 billion of it in oh-so-efficient private sector. 64% of those costs come from insurer underwriting and advertising -- in other words, we're paying more than $50 billion dollars so insurers can convince us we need care and then figure out how to deny those of us who'll actually use it. That's some added value.
None of these extra costs get us better healthcare, only more expensive healthcare. And I dare say it’s common sense that fewer people can afford something the more expensive it is.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow Blows

Yet more shoveling this evening. So sore. Can barely type. Must go…

Snow from On High

Here’s a satellite picture taken this afternoon. Most of the white on Illinois is snow not clouds.

Photo from Intellicast

Big 11.2 Inch

The winner is the National Weather Service for correctly predicting we would get up to a foot of new snow in this week’s snow storm. We officially got 11.2 inches, making that the 4th biggest snowfall for a 24-hour period. The Weather Channel and I are both big losers for our completely wrong estimates of the impending snow. I’m not sure how that happened since everyone knows that government just screws everything up and the private sector always does better.

Just Two Famous Guys

Finally we find out where Matt and George were last Friday night. John is SUCH a celebrity hog. Don’t bogart the stars, dude!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snow’s Over

At least that’s true for the new snow. We still have plenty of blowing and drifting to look forward to.

A few other notes about the day of snow:

-- Depending on the final snowfall total, we are on track for having received one of the top five snowfalls in recorded history here in Springfield.

-- I left work today at 1:00 after almost everyone else had left. I was telling everyone there was no need to flee since the radar clearly showed the snow was about to end. Well, er, never mind. And I barely got out of the parking lot the snow was so deep.

-- I foolishly spent nearly two hours trying to clear my drive way this afternoon. My truck got stuck in it when I arrived home from work and I need to get it into the garage or the poor thing would be left to the elements overnight. I got it in but now the driveway is drifted over again and my body hurts.

-- I suspect there is no way I’m getting to work in the morning because the snow at the end if my driveway is a foot and a half deep. Any snowplow that actually makes it down our street tonight is going to only add to that problem.

--Despite the mail carriers motto (Neither rain nor sleet nor snow, etc), the snow did keep him away today. We got no mail delivery.

Video Killed the Video Star

Speaking of the SJ-R online, I see they are now including video stories complete with voice-overs. That’s TV territory. Interesting. The merging of media formats continues.

(I’m not sure how to directly link to an example so I’ll leave it up to you to go there and find one)

Attention Local Bloggers

The SJ-R is looking for Springfield-oriented blogs to include in its “ultimate blog roll”. Details here.

Speaking of blogs and the SJ-R, they have a pretty good one going devoted to snow-related news. It’s written by Jason Piscia the online editor of

Tortured Minds

This is an interesting observation. Not too long ago, the characters who used torture in movies and on television were the bad guys. Today, it’s the “good” guys that like to dabble in the torturous arts. I miss the old America that, at least in theory, stood for good things.

Update: Ezra has more here.

Springfield Walk of Fame

Grace recaps (about halfway down the post) the very funny movie star hunt that took place in downtown Springfield Friday night.

Apparently it was kicked-off in earnest by some report on the radio that George Clooney and Matt Damon were in town and partying at the bars. They were alleged to be here for Barack Obama’s Big Announcement on Saturday. What radio station was that, or is blaming a radio report just part of the larger urban legend?

Former Wingman SK was downtown that night and told me rumors were constantly changing the location of our partying stars. He said at one point the story was that they were at The Firehouse. Yeah, The Firehouse. I wouldn’t even go in The Firehouse, why would George Clooney of all people?

Still, I’m kind of sorry I missed all the silliness downtown. Well, I did help spread the rumor when I linked to a post from an otherwise very reliable source (let’s call him Mitch Riller) that the movie studs were indeed in town. Maybe “Mitch” was just in on the joke and hooked me and other bloggers for the fun of it (we are a pretty gullible bunch).

Anyway you look at it though, it was fun and something we’ll all remember. Springfield just isn’t silly enough most of the time.

The Death Star Bar

Darth “Kevin” Davlin has reopened the Barrel Head. Resistance is futile!

I wonder if they’ll have to install brighter traffic lights at that intersection on Wabash in front of the rebuilt smoking-allowed eatery/drinkery. I imagine the din of tobacco smoke emanating from the smokers Mecca will reduce visibility for blocks.

Har School

I’m not sure why this is being presented as if it’s somehow absurd. This sounds like a great idea.
If this doesn't sound like college, it's because this isn't a normal classroom.

A new program at Columbia College Chicago allows students to take classes at The Second City, the humor mecca that has turned out some of America's best-known improvisational comedians. Students also attend shows, network with artists and present their work in a showcase - all for college credit.

In high school I took a class on humor. Not on how to be funny but an examination of what is funny and why. I probably signed up for the class as part of my life plan for continually seeking the Path of Least Resistance but I wound up really learning things (accidents will happen). I found it fascinating analyzing different forms of humor and the psychology of laughing. Most of us just laugh reflexively at something that tickles us and never give much thought as to why. But there is some “science” to it. At first, the class kind of annoyed me, not only because I was learning in an unplanned way but because I found myself dissecting jokes and gags and one-liners. At one point, I thought I was doomed to never be able to sit back and simply enjoy something funny again. And while that hyper-analytical phase soon disappeared, I still, sometimes barely consciously, look at the mechanics of something I find funny.

Print Worthy

The SJ-R finds news in my National Weather Service vs. The Weather Channel weather-off.

By the way, I think we can put this one in the win column for the NWS.

Monday, February 12, 2007

High Rates of Speed

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, who drove down from Chicago to attend Saturday’s Obama speech, asks a question:
Friday night, traffic was averaging about 70 miles per hour headed the 200 miles
south on Interstate 55 from Chicago to Springfield.

Coming back to Chicago this afternoon I was going 80 miles per hour and still not keeping up. Is this typical?
Answer: Yes.

Read the rest of Zorn's column on his Springfield experience.


Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks for their five Grammy Awards. ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’ is a really good song but it’s funny how the meaning gets lost on some people. I would think the lyrics might give away the fact that this isn’t just some break-up song (link here if you want to sing along):

I made by bed, and I sleep like a baby,
With no regrets and I don't mind saying,
It's a sad sad story
That a mother will teach her daughter
that she ought to hate a perfect stranger.
And how in the world
Can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Saying that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m proud of them for having the courage to stick it out until most of the rest of the country came to its senses.

Big 12 Inch

OK, I’ve gotten weary of the cold weather we’ve seen the couple of weeks, but adding up to 12 inches of snow to the mix isn’t going to help my mood. But let me second guess the forecasters and predict a final snowfall measurement of only 5.5 inches (officially in Springfield). In fact, I’ll make attempts at out-guessing the weather professionals a regular feature hear. The Eleventh Hour Weather Service.

Update: It looks like we have another weather-off between the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel. Right now, the NWS is calling for up to a foot of snow here while TWC is saying less than an inch today and tonight and 1-3 inches tomorrow (up to 4 inches total). IIRC, past weather-offs here have put one win in each of these weather prognosticator’s column.

Update II: The Weather Channel blinks! They are now calling for 3-5 inches tonight and 3-5 inches tomorrow. The NWS has come down a tad on their accumulation amount prediction. So now they're in near agreement. The winner will be judged based on this morning's forecast.

That Thing on Saturday

I and 17,000 of my closest friends attended the Obama announcement Saturday. What I won’t do for presidents and presidential candidates. The coldest two experiences in my life were covering Ronald Reagan’s visit to Dixon, Illinois in February 1984 and Barack Obama’s announcement Saturday. I was there with long-time friend and fellow blogger Jerome Prophet. I was hoping he’d post some pictures but hasn’t yet. As for the story, I think Darla at Brainspark has the experience covered.

After the event, I had a lot of people asking me what I thought of Obama’s chances. Right now, I think his only competition in either political party is Sen. Hillary Clinton. If he gets past her in the primary, not an easy task, the Whit House is his. The Republican bench is rather thin on A-list candidates. I’ll go so far as to say the George W. Bush is to the national Republican Party what George Ryan was to the Illinois GOP. That is, his failings in office have irradiated the entire party. It’s going to take time to rebuild.

My own take on Obama is generally positive. He is uttering allegedly politically dangerous terms like “universal healthcare” and “withdrawal from Iraq”. But the devil, as always is in the details. We’ll see.

Also, I share this concern: can a president be both a uniter and someone who implements a new agenda:
Then there's the other major contradiction of the campaign, the fact that it is simultaneously promising two things -- progress and unity -- that have an uncomfortable relationship to each other. In his speech, Obama recited moments in American history when politics became something more than the mundane mechanics of governing and effected a true transformation of the polity: the civil war, the New Deal, the civil rights movement. But the problem is that those were moments not of unity, but of extreme polarization. The South only granted rights to black citizens under force of arms, armies of unruly war veterans gathered in Washington DC during the Great Depression to demand the government provide them with a safety net, and when Martin Luther King Jr went marching through the South, he was met with batons and firehoses and accusations that he was dividing people and stirring up trouble.

Standing on the site of where Abraham Lincoln gave his "house divided" speech, Obama invoked him as a model:

"[T]he life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible. He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people."

It's hard to quarrel with the sentiment. But Obama didn't mention that Lincoln was also the most hated and polarizing figure in American presidential history. Sometimes unity is the price of progress.
Color me skeptical that he can introduce a new way and still keep the (political) peace. For one thing, there is a significant number of Republican dead-enders that are going to try to block him at every move. Keep in mind that about 30 percent of the population actually thinks George W. Bush is doing a good job. That may seem crazy but what that statistic reflects is blind tribalism. Obama is going to have vocal and very visible enemies. Being the person that “brings the country together” is an admirable goal but ultimately not attainable if you want to get anything done.

Fine Young Cannibals

This seems credible but it’s always good to have a healthy dose of skepticism about things you read on the internets.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Here We Go

You know, as good as this blogging is, I’m really starting to get bored and disenchanted with the whole celebrity/hero/rock star thing. You bloggers ruin everything! Of course, I’m the guy who, for whatever reason, couldn’t stop cutting up during a vigil march at SIU after John Lennon’s death in 1980. Serious is seriously overrated.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Big Names in the Capital City

Obama event is even drawing the stars. Via Rich Miller:
It is confirmed. George Clooney and Matt Damon are in Springfield at this very moment.

Update: Or maybe not, that info has been scrubbed from the linked-to post.

7 Wonders of Illinois

The state tourism folks asked and I have the answers. I’m not sure I’m following their rules exactly but here are my nominations for the Seven Wonders of Illinois in no particular order:

1. Galena – Tucked away in the far northwest part of the state in Jo Davies (pronounced locally as Joe Davis) County, Galena is a pretty popular destination for those living in the Chicago area – two hours to the west but a million miles from home. The area has beautiful and hilly terrain while Galena itself is full of old buildings housing restaurants and shops (lots of antiques). Also there’s the Ulysses S. Grant home.

2. Downtown Chicago – What can I say, there’s almost nothing you can’t do in Chicago. Theater, food, nightlife, museums, the lake, shopping and on and on and on. The three years I lived there I was never bored. Ever. Well, maybe at work.

3. The wilderness and parks of deep Southern Illinois – As a student at SIU Carbondale I fell in love with the natural beauty of the southern tip of the start. I’ve traveled to Giant City State Park just south of Carbondale every year now for several years. It’s a place I can return to again and again to touch nature and just relax. There’s also the Shawnee National Forest, Garden of the Gods, Little Grand Canyon, Cave-in-Rock and a host of other natural wonders.

4. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum – This is an amazing destination for anyone interested in Illinois’ most famous son (sorry Kentucky, he’s ours). High tech, entertaining and informative, the ALPLM is revitalizing downtown Springfield. The adjacent Union Station project is just one example of the ALPLM’s infectious ability to bring history alive. It also serves as a good anchor for all the Springfield Lincoln sites.

5. The State Universities – No matter where you are in the state, you're neverfar from a university. Universities serve as great centers for learning, culture and entertainment (and they’re a good place to dump your kids for a few years before they’re ready to start life all on their own). Sometimes they bring their benefits to areas that would be otherwise very far away from similar opportunities (think Charleston, Macomb and Carbondale for starters).

6. The Great River Road – I’ve not traveled the entire length of this scenic collection of highways running the length of the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, but I have seen parts of it. Specifically, I’ve been on the southern section below St. Louis and on to the state’s first capital of Kaskaskia and Chester, Illinois. It’s a beautiful drive as is the northern portion I’ve been on in the northern part of the state near Mississippi Palisades State Park. Someday I’d like to travel the entire length.

7. New Salem – A little hometown bias may be coming into play here, but I really think the New Salem village is pretty amazing. I’ve been going there almost al long as I’ve been able to walk. It made a huge impression on me as a kid. Remember when the main road running through New Salem was just dirt (or mud)? The smells, the sites, the Talisman back when it was running on the Sangamon River. And if you’ve never experienced the Candlelight Tour in the fall, you really need to.

Lute- icrous

Oh, Sting-a-ling-a-ding-ding. OK I’m a fan of The Police from way back (first two albums only, before they got too big), so this really made me laugh:
[…] Last month at the Television Critics Association press tour, Sting gave a performance for critics in one of the Pasadena Ritz’s swankiest ballrooms (to promote a Feb. 20 PBS "Great Performances" program on PBS). The stage was lit by candles, and der Stinger wore a Renaissance-y frock coat as he and a gifted accompanist played centuries-old songs on lutes.

Yes, lutes.

It was all so tasteful. So historically accurate. And even quite melodic, at times.

But I couldn’t help feeling like an extra in an outtake from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (I kept humming, “Brave Sir Robin,” the minstrel’s tune from that film).

After half an hour, I fled, thinking, “This is the music they play in the spa in hell.”

Most everyone else at the performance thought it was lovely (and, as you probably do, they thought I was a cretin for leaving).

But did they obsessively listen to “Zenyatta Mondatta” and “Regatta de Blanc” for years? Did they overanalyze every lyric from “Ghost in the Machine” and “Synchronicity”? I’m sorry, I just know which Sting I like, and though I do appreciate his great solo singles, I’m a Police fan from way back. Ye Olde Lute
Tunes just didn’t do it for me. Sorry.

I was sad, though, that I missed the handful of Police tunes Sting played at the end of his set that night. On the lute.

Nothing against lutes. In fact, how cool would it be to hear "Walking on the Moon," lute-style?
I’m thinking, not very.

More of This, Please

Sometime back, I wondered here what places Barack Obama frequented in Springfield while he was a State Senator. I figured he probably had a favorite restaurant or hotel or after-hours spot or convenience store. At some point, he was just regular folk around here and could pretty much walk freely and unnoticed.

Well, finally I saw something last night that revealed a piece of Obama’s Springfield experience. WICS CH. 20 ran an exclusive interview with Obama and we learned that he used to frequently grab lunch art Bentoh’s downtown.

I have no idea where the Obama candidacy is going, but assuming for a moment he does go all the way this time or in some later run for the presidency, will Springfield have another presidential claim to fame? Will Bentoh’s actively be able to generate business simply because “Barack ate here”?

Friday Beer Blogging: Let Others Do My Work Edition

A couple of area bloggers have made my work here easier by doing a pulling a little online beer duty of their own. So rather than tax my beerability this week, I just riff off of others.

First, John at Just Two Guys put up a post about Anheuser-Bush’s new gluten-free beer called Redbridge.

Actually, I had planned for weeks on doing a FBB post on gluten-free beer but never got around to it.

As John explains, this is an important development because there are a lot of people out there who are gluten intolerant, meaning they can’t consume grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and rye or things made with those grains. That meant no beer for them. Until recently, that is. Here is a link to another site that lists other gluten free beers but its important to note the Redbridge is really the first gluten-free beer to be mass marketed by a major brewery (to my knowledge anyway).

Next, I received mail from Marie at Disarranging Mine alerting me to this beer video, er, beer-soaked music video or something.

Let's Get Wasted

I have no idea what Luxus beer is. I’ve never heard of it and my brief Google search (remember I’m not working this too hard this week) returned no information other than maybe it’s Belgian or maybe from Latvia.

Anyway, thanks to the Springfield blogosphere for giving me a much needed break.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mild Cold

I think it’s widely understood that one’s life experiences form roughly (very roughly) the ages 16 to 25 establish your sense of what’s “normal” in the world. I suppose that’s why this current cold snap really doesn’t seem that cold to me. From the National Weather Service:
Meteorological winter is considered to be the months of December, January, and February. The late 1970's were some of the coldest winters on record in central Illinois. [...] At Springfield, the coldest winter was the one before that, when an average temperature of 19.6 degrees was noted in the winter of 1977-78.
I was 17 that winter. Winters for the next five to ten years, well into the 1980s anyway, were nearly as bad. Hardly a winter went by without a severe spell of below zero temperatures that sometimes got down to the -20s. The coldest temperature I ever experienced was in Northern Illinois where one night in January 1985 it got down to -26 officially and -27 at the radio station at which I worked.

So this shit ain't nothin'.

The Cellular Revolution

This is just anecdotal, but I’ve been hearing more and more people I know talk about getting rid of their home “land line” phones and exclusively using their cell phones. Right now it's still mostly talk but I thnink many are soon going to pull the trigger on the idea.

It really makes sense at this point as land lines are largely redundant given that most of us carry cell phones or have them nearby wherever we are (and there’s text messaging and voice mail if we aren’t near our cell phone). Long distance calling is usually unlimited with our cells and you don’t have to worry about someone else in your house tying up the phone when you want to use it.

So why do so many of us continue to have land lines? Isn’t it just a wasteful expense? I think a lot of it has to do with us old folk (over 30) who grew up with phones being hardwired objects in our homes. Call it tradition or just something we’re comfortable with (or more precisely something we’d be uncomfortable without.)

There are some practical advantages to land lines such as 911 service and caller ID for numbers not in our cell phone address book. At our house we have a network of phones that also function as intercoms. But those are about the only advantages I can see to land lines. I suppose you could include that fact that land lines don’t have batteries that go dead cutting you off comply until recharges. Although even a cordless phone left off its base can have that problem.

So what do you think, land lines will be largely gone from homes in s 10 years? 20years? I see them sticking around for business but the home phone appears to be headed the way of cassette tapes and cathode ray tube TVs.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Unearthing the Truth

How do they know that these two weren’t just an old married couple that finally strangled each other? Archeologists are just too romantic.

My Tunes

I was briefly listening to a talk radio discussion yesterday on illegally downloading music from the internet. OK, in general it’s bad and it’s certainly illegal. But there’s a side issue that came up that has always made me feel less than sorry for the record companies and even some artists who are the alleged “victims” of file sharing.

Let me personalize the issue a bit. I have some, let’s generically call them “albums”, which I have purchased in three formats, some combination of vinyl, 8-track, cassette and CD (I don’t yet own an iPod so for now I have not purchased any digital files). Fortunately, I’ve never found myself having purchased in all four categories, mostly because I never owned all that many 8-tracks back in the day. With each media form, I’ve paid again in full not only for the latest technology but also for the record company profit and the artists cut.

Now I understand no one held a gun to my head and I could have stuck with my vinyl and 8-tracks for those particular pieces of work, but it still stands that the record companies and artists are getting a new bite of the apple each time there’s and upgrade in technology.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this other than to point out that these same whiny music industry folks who forecast their own demise at the hands of the thieving file sharing community have been double, triple and quadruple dipping for decades now. Maybe the answer would be a hefty discount on the latest format if you’ve already purchased the music n another format. Of course, the way around that is simply add a new track to an “album” and, presto, new stuff = full price.

Oh, screw it. Here’s your $14.99, just give me the music.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Obama Butts Out

For those concerned, Barack Obama says he’s quit smoking. I’ll bet it’s because he’s coming to non-smoking Springfield! Look for him to be chewing some Nicorette before speaking here Saturday.

Update: Josh writes what I was thinking:
But here's another question. Aren't people who are in the early stages of quitting a nicotine habit really irritable and on-edge? And isn't running for president extremely stressful?

To preempt all the emails about the dangers of smoking and the importance of quitting, I'm certainly not disagreeing. It just made me think that presidential campaigns are usually times when people revert to bad habits (eating, smoking, drinking, etc.) not when they quit them.

On the Flip Side

It’s always nice when an urban legend turns out to be, well, not a legend after all. I had heard this Flip Spiceland (former popular Ch. 20 weather dude) story decades ago when he first left Springfield.
According to local urban legend, Spiceland asked his prospective employer, as testimony to his local celebrity and name recognition, to turn to any page in the Springfield [phone book], close his eyes, put a finger on a name and call that person. Ask them who their favorite weathercaster is and they'll say "Flip Spiceland," the story goes.


There was only one way to get to the bottom of the Spiceland /Springfield phonebook story. Ask Flip.

"I had tried all of the things everybody does in looking for a better job," Spiceland says. "This was a blind box ad from Broadcast magazine that said simply 'West Coast.'

"I responded in kind. I did not send a resume or tape. At the bottom of a nice, professionally written letter, I wrote, 'P.S., this is all BS. I am including one page from the Springfield, Illinois, telephone book. Pick anyone from that page and ask who is the Springfield weatherman.' (I left out that the competition was in Decatur and Champaign.)

"As I recall, it was a page from the Ws. I had a neighbor on that page and was hoping maybe ... "

The San Jose news director bit.

"He called a beauty shop. He figured he could talk to the most people in a beauty shop, more than making a couple of cold calls. Of course, most of the people in the beauty shop were women.

"Of the 20 people, 18 said they watched me. The other two said they watched Mr. Roberts (of WCIA Channel 3). They hired me, pretty much sight unseen."
If I’m not mistaken, this was in the late 1970s. What I wonder now is how that story got so widely circulated locally back then. I mean, Flip must have told someone and it spread from there. I think everyone around back then heard the tale. But those were pre-internet days when rumors were strictly word of mouth. I think the newspapers (including the SJ-R) were a bit stuffier then and perhaps wouldn’t have bothered looking into the story either.

Space Cadet

A space shuttle astronaut, Navy Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak, is being held in a Florida jail after allegedly attempting to kidnap a romantic rival (it’s a really weird story). Police are recommending she be held without bond. I wonder if it’s because she’s a FLIGHT RISK! Ha, ha, get it? Flight risk.

Anyway, check out this part of the story:
Inside the car, police found an a half-dozen latex gloves, MapQuest directions from Houston to Orlando International Airport, e-mails from Shipman to Oefelein, diapers that Nowak said she used to eliminate stops along the highway, a letter indicating how much she loved Oefelein and directions to Shipman's home address in Florida, the report said.
OMG, she brought “diapers” to cut down on highway stops? Well, maybe as an astronaut you get used to that concept. But seriously, this chick is nuts. It’s my ex in a space suit.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rollover Barackthoven

A source in the know has Barack Obama’s announcement speech at the old State Capitol beginning at 10:00 Saturday morning. Gates open at 9:00. Be prepared to be cold as temps will likely still be in the teens that morning.

I’m going to try to make it. It should be quite a circus. The only question remaining is whether Obama will be wearing a stovepipe hat.

Oh, and check out the Beatlesesque crowd reaction video in Rich Miller’s post.


Even though I’m told I should to hate the Sacred Heart-Griffin football program because they’re big cheaters that recruit pro athletes and don’t let any other teams win, I have give a shout-out to coach Ken Leonard for being named National Coach of the Year for football by the National Federation of State High School Coaches Association. I don’t know much about such things but that sounds like a big honor for a school right here in lil’ ol' Springpatch.


I guess I can understand both sides of the debate over a Springfield City Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. A resolution that may or may not even come before the whole council for a vote.

When I say I can see both sides, I mean that while I agree with the sentiment of the resolution and would vote for it myself if I were on the City Council, I can see the argument that it’s perhaps a little out of the council’s jurisdiction, if you will. I don’t agree with that last part, but I can certainly see how someone could make that argument.

What I can’t see is arguments like this:
[Ward 1 alderman Frank] Edwards, who often says that he votes based on the will
of his constituents, said he won't do so this time because the issue "really doesn't have an impact on the ward."
Really? Ward 1 is exempt from federal taxes that have been used to fund the hundreds of billions of dollars war? No one in Ward 1 who volunteers for the military will ever be sent to Iraq? The residents of Ward 1 aren’t represented by the government of the United States that launched this foolish war?

Hmmmm, I think the Iraq war does have an impact on every American, even those in Ward 1.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tornado Katrina

ThirtyWhat gets it all wrong. The best, or at least funniest, Super Bowl commercial tonight wasn’t even a national spot. It was the Tim Davlin for Mayor ad featuring his heroic work in saving Springfield from those big-meanie tornados last Spring. With black and white Katrina-esque images of devastation and recovery from the twisters we are told that it was Tim Davlin that saw us through. Good God, that commercial probably cost 30 to 50k and was seen all over Central Illinois.

I guess Davlin is taking a play from the Bush/Giuliani book of undeserving capitalization on disasters to promote alleged leadership qualities. When bad things happen, politicians are quick to proclaim their not-having-fucked-things-up-even-worse as a great virtue. I found the Davlin ad sort of insulting, just like I did George Bush, fresh from his Air Force One hide-me-in-Nebraska fly-around on 9/11, standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center proclaiming his toughness. A big WHATEVER.