Friday, March 30, 2007

A Bolt Out of the Blue

Horrible.
A junior at Carbondale Community High School was struck and killed by lightning Thursday afternoon during a track meet between Carbondale, Cairo and Carterville.


Witnesses said the storms had already passed and there was no rain or lightning in the area, she said.

The lightning seemed to come out of nowhere, and King said witnesses told her there was a "huge pop and that was it."
I guess when your time’s up, it’s up. But still. The storms were gone and this happened anyway? I know I sometimes push the safety limit outside before and after storms. Now I’m going to be a little more paranoid about it.

Friday Beer Blogging: 32 Edition

32 things you can do with beer!

Here are some highlights:

8. CLEAR UP BROWN SPOTS IN YOUR LAWN
According to Andrew Lopez, a professional gardener, the fermented sugars in beer stimulate plant growth and kill fungi. He recommends spraying either home brew or Rolling Rock (both are chemical-free) on those annoying brown spots in your lawn. (Either that, or just stop peeing there.) "The grass will absorb the sugar in the beer and draw energy from it," Lopez explains.

15. MAKE A BEER SLIDE
Forget volleyball and croquet. At your next party, lay a large vinyl tarp on a slope, then make it slick with lots of beer. Have your friends strip down to their underwear or swim trunks, get a running start, and slide downhill on their butts.


19. CATCH MICE
Slugs aren't the only pests with a fatal attraction to beer. According to Neil Herbst, owner of the Alley Kat Brewing Company in Edmonton, Alberta, you can also trap mice with it. He recommends setting out a few small pails or bowls of beer (his competitors', never his own), with a small ramp leading up to the lip. The mice will be attracted by the smell, hop in, drink their fill, then be unable to climb out.


22. MASSAGE YOURSELF
A full can of beer is a great self-massage tool, according to Dori Love-Bentley, a certified massage therapist. For instance, take off your shoes and roll a can underfoot. Or put one in the crook of your back or between your shoulder blades and lean back against a wall, rolling it around as you do so. It works just about anywhere — quads, glutes, neck, calves. "The pressure loosens up muscle tissue," explains Love-Bentley, "and encourages bloodflow to the area."


26. STOP SNORING
If your log-sawing is ripping a hole in your marriage, try this simple remedy: Get a pocket T-shirt and a 6-ounce mini-can of beer. Put the can in the pocket and fasten it closed with a safety pin. Just before you go to bed, put the shirt on backward. Research shows that you're more likely to snore when resting on your back. This little setup prevents you from rolling over. Plus, come morning, you won't have to get out of bed for breakfast.

Hat tip to Marie at Disarranging Mine for the link.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Statewide Smoking Ban a Step Closer

I have a good feeling about this. I think a statewide smoking ban is all but inevitable now. Of course, I’ve been saying that all along.

Springfield Senator Larry Bomke voted in favor of the measure. Thank you Sen. Bomke!

Meanwhile, other smoking dead-enders continue to exhibit exactly no intelligence in their arguments:
State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who opposed the measure, said the issue should come down to personal rights.

“People should have a right to do what they want to do with their property and that includes allowing people to smoke,” he said.
Sigh. No, for the millionth time, people DO NOT have the right to do with their property anything they want. That’s why we have health codes. Health endangering practices simply aren’t allowed no matter how much the owner wants to partake in them. Brady knows this, it’s really quite simple, but he drags out this fallacy because he and his smoker allies have nothing else, including public opinion.

Late Night Trivia

As you probably know, Al Franken is running in Minnesota for the U.S. Senate. Earlier in his acting career, Franken played a then sitting U.S. Senator in a Saturday Night Live skit. It was a dead-on impersonation I thought. Who was that Senator?

Update: You know, I should just start any trivia post with "Hey Russ..". Anyway, Mr. Trivia himself got it right. See the comments.

The skit I'm thinking of was a take-off on the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in the Senate in 1991. It was one of the funniest political sketches that show has ever done. Franken as the late, great Paul Simon of Illinois was hilarious. Who else could do that voice?

Realistic Scenarios

Damn those New Berliners, stealing ALL of our first responders!
"If we have one of the many trains coming through here and there's a derailment and a chemical spill and we have all of our first responders that are over in New Berlin, that could be a problem," he said.
Yes and it would be a problem if they all got flat tires or all just gave birth or all just won the lottery. This reminds me of one of the homophobes’ favorite arguments on why homosexuals should be discriminated against: If everyone was gay, the species would die out!

Gad!

But I don’t think requiring city workers to live in the city goes far enough. I think everyone currently living in the city should be required to stay. See, if everyone moved out of the city, it would be empty and the whole infrastructure would collapse. Springfield would no longer exist! From now on no one leaves.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

McCain Hearts Passionate Lesbians

Har, har
Visitors to Sen. John McCain's MySpace page were likely surprised Tuesday by a
statement that the Senator has reversed his position on gay marriage and "come
out in full support of gay marriage ... particularly marriage between passionate females." Most won't be surprised that the statement was apparently posted as a
prank.

The co-founder of an online news site, who said he designed the MySpace template used for McCain's page, claimed responsibility for changing the site. Mike Davidson, cofounder of Newsvine, said on his Web site that he commandeered the MySpace page because McCain's office used a design template of his without providing him credit. Davidson also said his imagery was used on the page and his server is used serve up McCain's MySpace images.
Senator, don’t fuck with the internets!

Panther Reek

JP wants to move up after “winning” a spam lottery and dreams of Panther Creek. And while he’s just funnin’ us, it does bring something to mind. Panther Creek seems to be the iconic subdivision of wealth in Springfield.

It is true that homes there cost a lot, way more than I can afford, but as a place to live it really isn’t any big deal. In fact, even if I could (maybe even especially if I could) afford to buy a house there, I wouldn’t. It’s in a terrible location right off of Route 4 and it’s rather dull to look at. It has no trees of any size. For that money, go to Leland Grove or build your own house somewhere nice away from the city. Hell, I’d rather have one of the big old homes in Hawthorne Place (south Holmes, Lowell, Whittier between South Grand and Laurel) over a PC house.

Sorry, Panther Creek just ain’t all that. Time to get a new residential upper class icon for the city.

And just for fun, if you were as rich as JP wishes he were, where in or near Springfield would you live?

Stuffing the Ballot Box

The Illinois Bureau of Tourism is conducting an on-line survey to determine the “Seven Wonders of Illinois”. It looks like they are going to pick one place form each part of the state. The only entry from Springfield is the Cozy Dog Drive-In. (Not exactly what I would call a “wonder”. Sure, it’s historic in Route 66 sort of way but it just a fast food restaurant.)

Anyway, if you want Springfield to have a “wonder” you better go here and vote for the Cozy Dog. While you're at it, vote for wonders in other parts of the state here. Meanwhile, Cubs (and Cardinals!) fans might want to intervene in this contest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Sick Economy

Sing it brother Drum:
For obvious reasons, health insurers have never been eager to write individual policies, and even in most group policies it's the employer who bears most of the risk. (If their claim rate goes up during the year, their premiums get bumped the next.) Even worse off are groups that allow its members the option of whether or not to join: they inevitably attract the sickest members in disproportionate numbers, leading to a "death spiral" that's explained well in the article [in the LA Times].

So today, with healthcare costs rising and the population getting older, policies for professional groups are becoming a thing of the past -- and individual policies are disappearing along with them. And without that, a lot of people simply can't afford to start up a company, work for a small business, or become self-employed. They're stuck. This is nuts, of course, but it's inevitable in any system of private healthcare. It's not that insurance companies are evil, it's just that they're in business to make money and you don't make any money insuring sick people. The fact that these are
the people most in need of insurance doesn't matter.

But it's still nuts. And that's why we need national healthcare.
Yep, I'll never go into business for myself for a lot of reasons but healthcare is chief among them. In fact (now don't laugh) I have a cutoff amount for lotto winnings below which I will keep my job because I don't want to lose health coverage.

The private sector is actually hurting the economy by assuming all responsibility for doling out heath coverage. This, of course, goes against the notion woven into the American soul (quite wrongly) that ANYTHING the government does, the private sector HAS TO be able to do better. Highways and health coverage (not healthcare) belie that notion.

Even More Cancer!

Now it's White House spokeman Tony Snow. But at least we're painting schools in Iraq.

Upon Reflection

I’m not as upset about this as Eric Zorn, but I do find it odd that so many Illinois lawmakers want the state to require a moment of silence in classrooms at the beginning of each day.

Require? I mean, a person’s personal reflection, no matter what its purpose, can certainly be attained by that individual pretty much at will. I suspect I spent most of my classroom time as a youth “reflecting” on my day ahead, what an asshole that one guy is, what I’m doing after school, on why the clock is moving so slowly and, of course, how cute the girl over there is (oh and the one over there too). And I probably even said a few prayers, mostly that the teacher didn’t call on me to regurgitate something I decided not to study. All that without a single mandate from the state.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Light Blogging Ahead

Man, I've been totally and unexpectedly slammed with work at the office. It's beyond insane. I'll be spending long hours at work in front of a computer for at least the next week. When I'm not working I doubt I'll have much enthusiasm for sitting down IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER and composing blog posts. But we'll see.

To make matters worse, this was a most excellent weekend weatherwise and I spend it working. All day, both days. Why can't these things happen in January? Or August for that matter?

Friday, March 23, 2007

All Terrorism is Local

Ezra Klein responds to this observation…

There was a massive line for security screening when I flew back from Las Vegas last August, probably 500 people or more, snaking around through rope barriers. What this snaking meant is that most of the people were clustered together in a relatively small area rather than spread out in a long line. Fortunately it moved quickly, though that's not my point. I started thinking, if I were some crazed suicide bomber, all I'd have to do is set off a powerful shrapnel bomb in the security line and I'd probably kill more people than if I actually brought down an airplane.

With this…
If you detonated a bomb in a security line -- or, worse, a Wal-Mart -- wouldn't the intrusion of terrorism into a more mundane context be all the scarier? In other words, would three Midwestern suicide bombers loom larger in the American mind than one wrecked plane? My hunch, for reasons I can't quite articulate, is no; that the placement of terror into more impressive contexts allows folks to misrepresent it in their own minds, where the impressions of everyday life are more entrenched and thus trickier to overturn.
To which I say…

His hunch wrong. This is something I’ve thought a lot about, probably because I live in a medium-sized Midwestern city.

It would be very effective to strike Cub Foods or White Oaks Mall and their equivalents all over the country if your goal is to maximize terror throughout the land. Why? Because hitting high visibility targets lulls most of us to assume we are safe because we aren’t anywhere near something of any great importance. If random stores in smaller communities are hit, we can feel none of us are safe. So even if I’m living in Lincoln, Nebraska, I can relate to the terror if the Wal-Mart in Lincoln, Illinois is blown up. It’s transferable to a large portion of the population in a way that bringing down the Twin Towers is not. I’ve even heard ordinary citizens around here say as much. At a ballgame a couple years ago, a guy sitting behind me told his friend, “If the terrorists really want to scare us, they should start blowing up Wal-Marts”. That’s almost exactly what he said, Wal-Mart reference and all.

So why aren’t terrorists targeting local Wal-Marts? It’s not because it wouldn’t have the same disruptive economic impact as say a Sears Tower strike. No, when Americans stop shopping because they feel unsafe just going to the store, you have a real economic disaster.

The reason small targets aren’t being targeted is these acts would have little resonance with many international terrorists’ main constituency – the folks back home. Foreigners are way more familiar with the New York skyline than a suburban St. Louis department store.

To give a hypothetical, let’s say a large portion of Americans really, really hate France and what they view as an oppressive French empire. There is so much hatred that a few extremists decide they want to strike at France in some way. After all, our own government is doing nothing about these grievances and are, in the minds of the extremists, even in cahoots with the evil French.

Not possessing an army, the American extremists resort to terrorism. But where to strike with limited resources? The extremists, wanting not only to strike at the French empire but also gain notoriety and recruits at home, aren’t going to hit a vineyard outside of Lyon. No, they’re going to knock over the Eifel Tower or blow up the Arc de Triomphe because Americans recognize those things and associate them with France. This would piss-off the French, of course, but I doubt the average citizen of that country would feel unsafe or “terrorized”.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, it’s because that’s exactly what has happened but with the U.S. being the target of extremists.

Friday Beer Blogging: Victory (Almost) Edition

Well, the Dawgs almost did it. Sure Kansas won but SIU hung in there right up to the end. They even led for a good portion of the game. And given that the Jayhawks were the heavy favorites, I feel it’s appropriate to go ahead and ignore the final score and declare…

To the Salukis go the Victory beers!

Visit the Victory Brewing Company web site for even more Victory!

SIU finished with their most winningest season ever – Victory!

To borrow a phrase from Cubs fans everywhere…Wait ‘til next year!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Well Then, Do Something

So John Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, has had her breast cancer return. Actually, it never totally went away. Now it’s in her bones and it will never be eradicated. This all sounds very similar to my mother’s breast cancer. Indeed, they did stabilize the cancer in her bones but it wound up spreading elsewhere and eventually killed her in just a few years. So Elizabeth Edwards indeed could live many years if it’s contained. If.

Meanwhile everyone is wishing her well and offering their prayers:
“Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also said Edwards was in her prayers”

“At the White House, press secretary Tony Snow said "our prayers are with you."”
That’s great, but how ‘bout getting off your asses (and knees) and provide the full-on assault on cancer that is so very important. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again here: The real enemy that terrorizes Americans, and citizens the world over, isn’t some religious fanatic or political extremist. No, cancer affects everyone. It kills and tears apart families on a level no suicide bomber could dream of.

Wasting vast sums of our limited wealth dicking around in Iraq, a country that posed exactly ZERO threat to anyone in this country, instead of attacking things that make a real difference in our lives is just criminal. I know blowing things up is way cool and manly, and that a large portion of the population needs an enemy to fight at all times, but our priorities are all screwed up.

Along those lines, kudos to Bill Richardson:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a rival for the [Democratic] nomination, said he and his wife offered their prayers, and in a telephone call to The Associated Press, added: "If there is one message here, it should be that we should all redouble our efforts to lick that deadly disease."
That sounds to me like the right combination of the spiritual and practical.

Little Egypt Recognized

I can get behind this.
WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced legislation to establish a National Heritage Area in Southern Illinois: the Land Between the Rivers. Designating land as a National Heritage Area makes federal grants available through the Department of Interior for historic preservation, education and economic development activities. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is a cosponsor.


The Land Between the Rivers Southern Illinois Heritage Area would encompass an area within the boundaries of the 17 southernmost counties: Randolph, Perry, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Jackson, Williamson, Saline, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Pulaski, and Massac. Durbin noted that the historical features of the area, situated between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, highlight the pivotal role Southern Illinois played militarily, socially, and politically during the mid- to late- 1800s.
Some of the northern-most counties on that list don’t particularly inspire me but I’ve always said the beauty and history of deep Southern Illinois has been greatly overlooked not only nationally but by residents of Illinois north of I-64.

Update: I noticed Kaskaskia is on the list of sites that are part of this proposed designation. Has anyone else ever been there? I visited a dozen years ago and was quite surprised to see how little was there given that it was the state’s first capital. There were a couple of buildings on what looks to be a flood plain and that’s about it. And it’s in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it’s cut off from nowhere. You have to cross the Mississippi River and go into Missouri just to reach the place (a change in the course of the river cut Kaskaskia off from the rest of Illinois a long time ago).

Props

I have several books on my shelf at work related to the job I do. Some have been sitting there for years. Just sitting. A part of me keeps them around because I think I might want to refer to them or, in a moment of compete fantasy, I pretend I might actually read them all the way through. Fact is, almost any problem I run into I can resolve using the internet. I really don’t need those books.

So yesterday, I’m looking at them and wondering why I really keep them. It’s true that I hate throwing away any book but I think I keep them because I’m under the illusion they make me look like I’m well versed in my job. “Hey, he has books on his shelf that I wouldn’t understand; he must be brilliant at what he does!” Or something.

So do you keep useless stuff on your desk that maybe makes you look, or at least feel, more professional? I’m talking about things you really don’t need or use but project an image of being more into you job than perhaps you really are.

Blog About It and They Will Come Out of Hiatus

The 26th Man comes out of hiatus to chime in on the idea, seemingly only in the minds of local bloggers, that Springfield needs a new baseball facility. He has some ideas of his own and even runs through the list of failed minor league teams of Springfield's past.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Larry 'Bud' Melman Dies

This story doesn’t answer the biggest question I have: who was Melman (Calvert DeForest) before Lettermen? He had a long life before David Letterman made him famous. So what was it about?

The saddest line in the story is the last one:
There will be no funeral service for DeForest, who left no survivors.

Record Profits

There’s been some discussion on the blogs about this Wall Street Journal article describing the bad days the recording industry is having selling CDs and making money in general.

A lot of the blame seems to be along the lines of there being no good new music, too many people sharing music files, CDs being too expensive and bad marketing by the record companies.

While those reasons may be playing a part, I think there are a couple of other factors at play:

1. Music is competing with other entertainment media more than ever before.
This is one of the reasons I listen to less music than I used to. There is simply so much more out there to entertain me. 25 years ago, in the heyday of my music listening, there were no home computers or laptops, no internet, no cell phones, cable TV had a dozen channels, there were few and very unsophisticated video games, and almost no one had a VCR or video camera. Young people today have all of those things competing for their time and, maybe more importantly, their money. I can guarantee you if those things had been available when I was young, I would have purchased a lot fewer albums (remember vinyl!) and used my money for other cool stuff.

2. There is a huge catalog of old music out there.
While this doesn’t address the overall decrease in music sold, I think it does address the problem of low sales of new music. That is, with so much good older stuff people are using a certain amount of their music budget for things other than the latest releases. A commenter at Kevin Drum’s blog had this to say:
There is plenty of excellent new music out there. The problem is that the old stuff never goes away. In 1940 we had what 20 years worth of recorded music? By 1970 we had say 50-60 years worth of recorded music, most of it not very easily accessible. Today we have nearly 100 years worth of recorded music, much of it very easily accessible to anyone with a computer. We really just don't need new music that much. More practically, I think most iPod owners quickly filled up their iPods with 2000 to 6000 songs and realized - I'll never even listen to half the stuff on my iPod now, what the hell do I want to buy more music for?
This gets to something I’ve noticed that’s different from when I was young. In say 1980, the music in our collections (albums!) went back no more than 15 years, to maybe the early Beatles or Stones. Today I know kids have old Zeppelin, Doors, Black Sabbath, and Beatles and Stones stuff, in addition to everything that came after that. That’s going back 40 years. While we had no music in common with our parents, that’s not necessarily true with kids today. (And, by the way, I think that’s great.).

Things will play out just fine even if the music industry isn’t making as much as it used to. I mean, what law of nature says musicians, and especially record companies, have to become fabulously wealthy? Musicians almost universally get into the business because they love the music, not to get rich. Music will always be with us in some form and people will continue to pay for it, even if not as much as they used to.

The Bears Lost, So Will Obama

That may be the dumbest campaign slogan in history. I realize this was done by some amateur but still, good grief.

Update: For those who don’t know, the above ad is in response to this pro-Obama spot that appeared anonymously on YouTube. I think about everyone in the country has seen or at least heard about it by now but just in case...

Wordsmith Early Responders

Is this like calling one of those cash dispensers an “ATM machine”? I’m as guilty as anyone of violating grammatical rules and falling for colloquialisms (just look around this blog) but I still enjoy a good rant invoking grammatical correctness.

The Media Militia

I find this fascinating. What we have here is a total bypass of the traditional media in what is a labor-intensive task of reporting. Going thorough 3000 documents would be very taxing for any news organization but what Josh Marshall has done is call up the internet National Guard by asking readers to step in and help sort through all the material in question. These people are doing this out of interest and aren’t getting a dime for their efforts.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has been done. Bloggers regularly ask for the assistance of readers in doing research. Marshall often asks his audience around the country to seek a position from their Senators and Congresspersons on particular issues and then compiles results.

Yay, internets!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Hear Noises

The 183rd sure has been busy over Springfield the last two days. At least I assume it’s them. What’s up with that? Well, they are of course but don’t they usually practice somewhere else?

Go Mutts!

I’m trying to stay optimistic about SIU’s chances against Kansas, but stuff like this makes it damn difficult:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - You'd have to search a long time to find a better-looking basketball team than the Kansas Jayhawks.

They're the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament's West regional, and they look like they were ordered out of a basketball team catalog or were cast for a movie. Coach Bill Self's Jayhawks are long, lean and athletic. They sure look the part of a Final Four team, and anybody with cable TV has seen a lot of Kansas.

Then you have Southern Illinois, the Jayhawks' opponent in Thursday night's regional semifinal at San Jose, Calif. The SIU mascot is the Saluki, an elegant Egyptian hunting dog. But the basketball team more resembles a mongrel from the pound or even a pit bull.

When the Jayhawks (32-4) take the floor against the Salukis (29-6), they will get a close look at a not-so-pretty team. They will see Bryan Mullins' oft-broken nose, Young with scars from his stitches and Tony Boyle's bruised cheek. And they'll eventually encounter Randal Falker's elbows.

And on it goes. Yes, we're a bunch of over-matched, ugly, broken soon-to-be losers but at least we don't, ummm, live in Kansas.

Ask Yourself This

Cenk asks the right questions:
…A recent CNN poll showed that only 35 percent of Americans are confident we're going to win this war [in Iraq]. So, there must be panic in the streets, right?

I mean if we're not going to win the war, then we must be getting ready for the enemy to take over.

Our whole way of life is going to change, right?

Or perhaps everything will go on exactly as it was before.

How do you know you were in an unnecessary war? When you can't tell it's over.

If we pulled out of Iraq tomorrow, would anyone in the middle of America be able to tell the difference between the two days? Would anyone's life be different (other than the troops and their families)?
Of course not. And it’s realizations like this that make the stupid wingnut WWII comparisons beyond laughable.

Build It And They Will Come To Springfield?

Micah over at Just Two Guys has an ambitious proposal for a new baseball stadium in Springfield. I wouldn’t call it a plan exactly because it’s just in the dream stage and the dirty details (like cost and location) aren’t addressed.

Still, ignoring the devilish details for a moment, it is fun to imagine a brand spanking new ballpark in or near (I’d say near) downtown. The pictures of stadiums from other comparably sized cities make it all the more enticing.

My biggest problem with any such undertaking is that I fear if it is built they won’t come. Springfield has a horrible track record for supporting baseball. And we’ve been given every opportunity to prove ourselves worthy but have failed miserably. Can it all, or mostly, be blamed on Lamphier Park? I’m not so sure.

Lamphier Park, Just OK

However, Micah is right, a nice facility would be a draw in and of itself. At least at first. In the end though, it would be about supporting the local team and I have to wonder if this city is up for that.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Taunts

Hey smokers*, not only do you stink but you're ugly too.

*Taunt only valid toward people who smoke in public or around their children and the arrogant assholes fighting smoking bans, many of whom comment at the SJ-R online.

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

In case you needed reminding, even the highest institutions of the land are still subject to the absurd. Can you believe the Supreme Court is hearing this case?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A high school senior's 14-foot banner proclaiming "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" gave the Supreme Court a provocative prop for a lively argument Monday about the extent of schools' control over student speech.

If the justices conclude Joseph Frederick's homemade sign was a pro-drug message, they are likely to side with principal Deborah Morse. She suspended Frederick in 2002 when he unfurled the banner across the street from the school in Juneau, Alaska.
And Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) is representing the school in this matter. Can we call him “Ol’ Blowjobs ‘n’ Bongs” now?

Man, I’d love to be sitting in on this hearing. Especially when I could here things like this:
Justice Antonin Scalia, ridiculing the notion that schools should have to tolerate speech that seems to support illegal activities, asked about a button that says, "Smoke Pot, It's Fun."

Or, he wondered, should the court conclude that only speech in support of violent crime can be censored. "'Extortion Is Profitable,' that's okay?" Scalia asked.
Oh SNAP, A-Man! If kids were running around with “Extortion Is Profitable” buttons, the ensuing anarchy would be too awesome to contemplate. That’s it, I’m getting an Extortion Is Profitable t-shirt as soon as they come out. That’s sticking it to the Man.

Springfieldishness

The SJ-R's "Springfieldish" blogroll is up.

Reading the Audience

This seems so simple to me but I guess partisan eyes will interpret things differently. I’ve seen a number of bloggers and others on the left admire the large crowds Barack Obama draws and declare their must be something really special about his message. But I’m not sure so much should be read into the size his audiences relative to other candidates. I think a substantial portion of those he attracts are there to see a political star. I mean the guy does have charisma. While I think most in attendance at these appearances are politically sympathetic to Obama’s message, I think they are likely agreeable to most of the other Democratic candidates’ positions as well. It’s just the other candidates aren’t perceived of as stars worth going out of their way to see in person. I don’t post this to belittle Obama in any way, I just think the larger crowds are attracted by the man to a greater degree than any other candidate in recent history. Which, by the way, never hurts in a run for the White House.

How Low Can You Go?

This story could have been a lot worse. Someone traveling at 80-100 miles an hour with a blood alcohol level of five times the legal limit is a death machine.

So what should be done? I know! Let’s lower the legal blood alcohol limit; that ought to do it.

That’s been the lazy and, I think, largely ineffectual solution in the past. It’s easy to get legislation past lowering the legal blood alcohol limit. I mean, who is going to vote in favor of drunk driving? But I think it misses the point. The very dangerous situations aren’t caused by people with .08 levels or the next stop on the lower limit express, .06. It’s people who are blasted out of their minds, some with astonishingly high levels of alcohol in their systems. And that’s a harder problem to tackle, mostly because by the time someone gets that way, they’re not thinking logically and are almost never receptive to the fact that they are in no condition to drive.

I’m not sure what the solution is. Whatever the answer, it has to get to these people before they become a danger. It seems to me the “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” campaign has waned over the years. Maybe it wasn’t working, I don’t know.

It’s ultimately a personal decision to drive drunk, so it would seem making that decision as socially unacceptable as possible would be a worthy goal. Or maybe there is only so much prevention and intervention (including by law enforcement) that is possible. That is, we are always going to have the occasional act of irresponsibility as long as alcohol is available for consumption and we may be reaching the law of diminishing returns as we try to totally eradicate it.

Idle Speculation

This photo of a protester at an anti-war rally over the weekend caught my eye because it looks like this 88 year old man is wearing, and fitting in, his old WWII uniform.

Who among us can fit in the clothes of our youth? Or maybe it isn’t his old uniform. Or maybe he’s actually gotten thinner with old age and there was a time in his midlife when he could not have squeezed into it. Still, I hope I look that good when I’m 88 and protesting the latest stupid war brought on by the latest Bush president.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Marshall Plan

As someone who has been reading Josh Marshall’s blog work for years, and even had a few e-mail exchanges with him in his early (and solo) Talking Points Memo days, I must say I’m really happy about his success. It also confirms that talented bloggers really can be all that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Welcome to Decatur

Last night's Colbert Report featured a segment on the Illinois 17th Congressional district and Represeantative Phil Hare. Included was some background on the 17th district including this set of photos:

Hat tip to The Inside Dope from whom I lifted the pics.

The Blago Burden

I don’t think it’s any secret that Springfield Ald. Bruce Strom faces a huge uphill battle against his mayoral opponent, incumbent Mayor Tim Davlin. In fact, if things continue go the way they have been in the campaign, Strom is doomed. He really needs a wedge issue. And I think I heard him try out a good one the other day. It was a sound bite on WMAY where Strom linked Davlin to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. I can’t remember what the larger issue was but Strom went out of his way to indicate Davlin and Blagojevich were on the same page. I know, this would be tactics over substance but I really think more of this might work in Strom’s favor.

There are few public figures as unpopular as Rod Blagojevich here in Springfield. The guy won’t even live here! What, our town isn't good enough for you; we’re offended! He’s laid off my neighbor! State jobs here are being cut! That hair! And on and on.

I don’t know how much TV advertising the Strom campaign can afford (I haven’t seen any yet, which means nothing) but I would think a nice montage of Blago/Davlin chummy joint appearances might drive the point home.

But hey what do I know. A political consultant I’m not. Maybe Springfield voters would see right though such a ploy.

And by the way, I’m not offering this advice for partisan purposes. As of now, I see no reason not to retain Davlin as mayor. I personally see no advantage in brining in a Strom administration.

Friday Beer Blogging: Guinness Edition

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow and that means Irish beer. And no, green food coloring added to Miller Light does not make an Irish beer. It makes your pee green and nothing more.

A real Irish beer means something like a Guinness.

No! Not that Guinness, this Guinness...


Be sure to serve it cold...


Well, not THAT cold but at least chilled. Here's a Guinness broken down into its basic parts.

Everyone likes a Guinness. Cool people, smart people and even those who are a little squirrelly.

And speaking of squirrels, have you seen the latest Guinness ads featuring those two guys?

That ad's release date keeps getting delayed because the one guy's approval rating is going down so fast the creators can't keep it current.

Have happy St. Patrick's Day and a Guinness to boot!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Google Map Tells a Thousand Words

Ha, ha. John has demonstrated another aspect of the revolutionary effect the internet has had on the ordinary. This time the ‘net has made traditional photography unnecessary if not obsolete.

Poe's Folk

I guess I can get behind this idea but I can’t help but think Poe’s motivation lies mainly in pandering to the hometown (Springfield) crowd that is indignant that all things involving state government aren’t centered here. Oh well, you can’t say he isn’t representing his constituents on this.

Update: Rich Miller says the movement of parts of state government to Chicago started long before Blago, Poe’s measure is going nowhere and most Illinoisans live up north. All very true but not very Springfield-centric of him. Our city, love it blindly or leave it. He probably also hates the Springfield troops. And to think, we voted him Springfield Blogger of the year. Harrumph!

A Man For All Terrorism

Anyone else sense that this guy is eventually going to take the blame for everything terrorism-related, everywhere. So far, his admissions are all plausible but when he gets to the JFK assassination we might want to get a little more skeptical.

But seriously, do you think Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to attempt to take the fall for as much as he can to take the heat off of others? And will he be allowed to. I mean, those who irrationally fear (or want you to irrationally fear) the Great Terrorism Menace aren’t going to have quite as scary a boogeyman if it turns out one guy did everything and we have him in custody.

Update: After examining all that Khalid is taking responsibility for, there is no plausible way he’s telling the truth with or without him having been on the grassy knoll. And everyone seems to be noticing. Well, everyone except much of the mainstream media who seem to be hanging on his every confession like deluded professional wrestling fans.

The Kids Killed the Jeopardy Star

A couple of days ago, Kevin Drum posted this item on how youth is being blamed for the alleged dumbing-down of America. This time they are being blamed for…making quiz shows too easy. Oh whatever.

I keep harping on this stuff because I think it’s really unfair. I’ve actually been angry about this stuff since I was one of those stupid kids. It was while I was in high school in the mid 1970s that the first (I think) wave of the “Johnny Can’t Read” meme swept the national media. Of course, most of us went on to do just fine, some I personally know who are even excelling in the some of the largest corporations in the country.

I’ll go so far as to say that, thanks to technology, in many ways youth today is better informed and educated than we were. Otherwise, kids don’t seem all that different “these days”. I have a daughter who is about to be inducted into the National Honor Society and observing her curriculum and those of other kids I know, I think they are learning things way ahead of where we were at the same age.

Beyond that, I work with a bunch of twenty-somethings who are extremely bright and critical to our operation. These are the people make our precious quiz shows stooopider? I still say this stuff comes from a bunch of middle-aged media types (and others) who resent getting older.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dopey Law Enforcement

I’d say this makes no sense but then nothing having to do with this country's marijuana laws makes any sense.
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A California woman whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive is not immune from federal prosecution on drug charges, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The case was brought by Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two who suffers from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other ailments. On her doctor's advice, she eats or smokes marijuana every couple of hours to ease her pain and bolster a nonexistent appetite as conventional drugs did not work.



Raich, 41, began sobbing when she was told of the decision and said she would continue using the drug.

"I'm sure not going to let them kill me," she said. "Oh my God."
What possible harm is this woman doing anyone by smoking pot? What asshole would hassle her over this? Even if you feel bound to enforce dumb drug laws, can't you look the other way in cases like this? Idiots.

Update: I see that no one was bothering this woman, she just wanted to be out from under the potential threat of prosecution under federal statutes, therefore she sued. State law in California allows for her medical use of marijuana but federal law conflicts with this and does not recognize that right.

Still, the whole situation is ridiculous. The government should not be in the business of telling anyone they can't smoke pot.

Off Balance

Will posts today about the SJ-R wanting to keep Ann Coulter to maintain balance in the opinion section even though the deck, by Will’s calculation, is stacked 2-1 in favor of the conservatives. (I forgot the paper also carries Michelle Malkin who, despite my earlier comments, may actually be in Coulter’s league.)

But let’s look at another medium – local talk radio. We essentially have three talk radio stations in town: WMAY, WTAX and WFMB-AM. WFMB is sports so they don’t count for my purpose here. That leaves WMAY and WTAX

Here we have the lineup for WTAX:

100% conservative all day and all night. Most of it hardcore conservative. (Noory and Howard aren't political for the most part).

Next WMAY:

Hmmm, which of these things is not like the others? That would be Jim Leach, the only progressive (well, mostly) voice in town. (I have no idea who Phil Valentine and Dirk Vann are but given their time slots, who cares).
By my count, that puts the conservative advantage at 11-1. Sounds very balanced to me. Good thing the paper evens things out a bit with only a 2-1 discrepancy.

So while things suck on the SJ-R’s opinion page, they are much, much worse on the airwaves.

Daylight Salvation Time

Another convert to the cause?

That Crazy Old Ann in the Attic

The SJ-R is keeping Ann. I guess the really sad part is that so many people actually find value in that hate-filled bile she spews. I’ll never understand fascisms broad appeal to certain mentalities. Disgusting.

And can we drop the false equivalence between Coulter and people like Ted Rall and the late Molly Ivins? Coulter is in a league of her own. Rall and Ivins maybe could be compared to a George Will or David Brooks or Robert Novak but no one, Left or Right, compares to Coulter.

Personally, I would have been fine with simply replacing Coulter with another conservative writer. It isn’t about closing off a rightwing opinion; it’s about injecting some sort of reason into the discussion. There is no way Coulter believes half the outrageous things she says. She does it for pure profit and, as such, is abusing the privilege. I have plenty of conservative acquaintances who say the same thing.

In rightwing world there has been a race on for years to see who can be the most outrageous and loud in demonizing progressives and Coulter simply took the wheel and floored it. I can almost guarantee that years from now, when Ann’s star starts to fade or someone figures out how to be even more extreme and shrill, she’ll “repent” and tell her “real” story in an attempt to squeeze a few more bucks out of her notoriety.

Update: Will says it better.

Update II: Some of Coulter’s “balance” .

The Tipping Point

Who does shit like this? I really don’t get how this would even be fun for idiots.
Minor, quick-and-off vandalism I can see as a cheap thrill for kids but when you have to put a lot of effort into it, I just don’t see how it could be all that enjoyable. It’s like the BB gun rampage here in Springfield a few weeks ago. Doesn’t that sort of high-volume vandalism start resembling work at some point? Those grave markers aren’t light. Someone put some effort into it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Love My Truck

No real reason for this post other than to contrast Blevins' car-bashing post. I love it when blog posts contrast on Spfldbloggers (I’m now hopelessly addicted to that site).

But about my truck. I lived 46 years and never really considered getting a pick-up. Not sure why really. But when I got the bug last fall, I went for it. Now I’m kicking myself for not getting one sooner. I can haul stuff! I can, well, haul stuff! I don’t know, I just like it. Everyone should like their vehicle. Do you like yours?

When News Breaks

The blogosphere’s influence is growing. I say this with a straight face: The mainstream media are paying more attention and giving more credit to blogs.

In Which One Candidate Ignores History

From last night’s mayoral debate between incumbent Tim Davlin and challenger Bruce Strom.

Bruce Strom: "Racial tensions are probably as high now as they have ever been,"

To which I say, Oh, really?

Obit Upgrade

One of the things I really didn’t like about the SJ-R online was the obits section. It used to give only names, ages and city of residence. No detail though.

Well that’s all changed. As of today you not only get the full obituary online but photos and an impressive guestbook function that allows you to leave not only messages of sympathy but audio messages and pictures. I think that’s really great.

I’m not sure why the SJ-R was so slow in at least providing detailed obits. Every other online newspaper I read has included the detail in their obits for as long as I can remember. I always figured it was because they thought this would force people to buy the actual paper. Whatever the reason, I’m glad they reconsidered and implemented the new changes.

I must say, I’m really liking the way the SJ-R is embracing the internet. I have no clue about the paper’s business model or how the internet is or isn’t affecting their bottom line, but as a reader I think its use of the new technology is great.

Update: Wow. I guess I’m really, REALLY wrong here. And I say that with a straight face.

Update II:
No – the SJ-R online is a technical, cutting-edge leader in the digital revolution leaving nothing to be desired.

Yes – they are making steady headway into a new age of communication taking caution (perhaps too much caution at times, like many of us) to feel their way into this age while maintaining as they see fit, rightly or wrongly, their primary goal of running a profitable business.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tornado Blog Archives

One year ago.

And the next day.

Springfield is not Capital City

I’ve avoided commenting on the Simpsons/Springfield hubbub since radio, TV, the newspaper, the internet and several local blogs have covered it quite nicely. There are lots of arguments in favor of our Springfield being the Simpsons’ Springfield. Some are kind of lame (like the Simpsons’ elementary school looking like Springfield High; they both have traditional school building appearances along with 5000 other schools across the land). Others are kind of compelling (like the Springfields’ proximity to a Shelbyville).

It seems to me, however, that there is one bit of evidence that would pretty much preclude our Springfield from being THAT Springfield. The Simpsons’ city is not the capital of the state in which they live. I recall an episode from maybe a dozen years ago where Homer became a the mascot for the Capital City baseball team. Capital City was some distance from Springfield in that show. And if there is anything (other than Abe) our Springfield is known for, it's being the state capital.

Disclaimer: My Simpsons trivia is a bit dated since I haven’t been a regular viewer in ten years. I was an avid viewer the first six seasons or so but after that I couldn’t tell you much about what has gone on in the show.

Attention Deficit

This is too funny. The press is invited to a major announcement for Senator Chuck Hagel. And here’s what happened:
Senator Chuck Hagel, the Senate's leading antiwar Republican, announced today that -- well, that he's open to running for President, but didn't want to think about it now and would reveal his intentions sometime in the future.

If Hagel's statement was designed to address speculation that he might run in 2008, it kept that speculation alive by asserting, in effect, that too much is going on in the world to allow him any time to think about politics right now, so sit tight and he'll make his plans known another day…
Stay tuned to this blog for a major announcement of my own. I’m not sure when I’ll announce it or even what it will be about but keep paying attention to me in the meantime.

Extremism in the Defense of Time is No Vice

I’m kind of surprised at all the moaning about the new early arrival of daylight savings time. Some of it is just silly. I, of course, love it but then I have my own extremist time agenda (also see here).

The worst complaining came from people (mostly in the media) worried about certain electronic devices that were not designed to automatically reset themselves to the earlier DST. I ran into this problem with a few of our alarm clocks and my cell phone. In both cases I simply moved the time up to Eastern Standard Time and was fine. I’ll have to move them back to Central Time in a few weeks but whatever. Burt that was it, no problems with our PCs and there were no crashed airlines in my backyard. I looked to be sure. Mini Y2K indeed, nothing happened.

Another “problem” with the earlier DST is that, according to one expert, we are going to see higher gas prices because with that extra hour of evening daylight (for three weeks) we are going to be driving a lot more. Or something. I’m not going to drive any more or less because of the later sunset but supposedly others will for some reason.

But the silliest whine about the new and improves DST came from a post over at the HuffPo last week which I’m too lazy to go track down. The author of this post posited that there would be all manners of carnage as school busses mowed down innocent children waiting for their rides to school in the inky blackness. Apparently, daylight savings time darkness is much darker than normal darkness.

This same argument was made to end the year-round DST the Nixon administration brought us back in, I think, 1973. Stories then abounded about how kids were being hit by buses and vehicles because drivers couldn’t see them in the dark. I don’t remember any real stories about this happening in disproportionate numbers with the legend apparently has lived on.

There’s one problem this time around though. Under the new DST the sun will rise no later than it did for much of December and January. I don’t recall driving through pools of kids’ blood on my way to work then. And if sunrises that late are a problem, then why don’t we go to a negative DST (setting our clocks back another hour) in the darkest months so that the kids are safe then too?

Anyway, I’m glad to have the extra light at the end of the day. And, as with any good extremist, I’m not satisfied and won’t be until we get even more evening light all year, every year.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Where There's A Will, There's "Ann" OPED

Well, congratulations to Will for making it into an SJ-R editorial today. I got Brian Pierce fired, now let’s see if Will can get Ann Coulter dismissed (I’m kidding…about Pierce anyway). I am rather impressed by the attention (good and bad) local blogs have gotten in the paper lately. I know a lot of what we do looks easy, often juvenile and even egocentric at times, but keeping these things going actually takes more effort then you might think. And don’t just take my word for it, ask anyone who has enthusiastically started a blog and then felt the need to drop out at some point.

Get Out the Ann Vote

The SJ-R has an online poll (scroll down below the headlines) asking if Ann Coulter's columns should be dropped from the paper.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vast Wasteland

I give up. I can’t stand to read the comments following the online SJ-R stories anymore. I can’t believe so many stupid (really stoooopid) and bigoted people live in our community. But the thing I hate the most is even in the comments to light-hearted puff pieces, you get such negativity and anger. It really must be terrible having such tortured minds. I’d really hate to see the comments that don’t get past the moderator.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Give 'Em Enough Rope

OK, maybe it was partly my fault. Maybe.

Oh, Eddie

Man, I think Eddie Van Halen may be in line for a Keith Richards Rock-Has-Ridden-Me-Hard award.

See, this is why you should be nice to those folks who hang out all day outside the downtown library. You never know who they really are.

The SJ-R Still Hearts Ann

Well, one Illinois newspaper has had the guts to “fire” Ann Coulter. Why not the SJ-R? The point of her columns, and her entire existence at this point, isn’t to bring ideas to the table but rather to slander and outrage to sell books. Enough already.

Belushi: A Quarter Century Gone

The 25th anniversary of John Belushi’s death came and went this week (March 5) without much notice. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long particularly when you consider how really short his career was. An original cast member on Saturday Night Live when it hit the air in late 1975, Belushi didn’t get into movies until 1978. Four years later he was dead.

Last weekend, Former Wingman SK came over and brought the movie School of Rock with him. As we were watching, it became obvious that the part played by the great Jack Black could very easily been played by Belushi 30 years ago.

I guess it goes back to my theory that one’s baseline for what’s “normal” in life is set when you are between the ages of 16 and 24. It just seems like Belushi should still be here and actors like Black are always going to remind me of him.

Phone Cable

I noticed yesterday that Insight Communications was advertising a new cable/internet phone service. The SJ-R has a write-up about it today.
Insight Communications began marketing local and long-distance calling packages to its cable-system customers in the Springfield, Peoria, Champaign, Rockford and Decatur markets the last few weeks for costs ranging from $30 to $50 per month.
Actually, the advertisement I saw priced the service at something like $40. Just as a point of reference, we have Vonage and even with taxes it costs us less than $32 a month.

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer Launching Fridge Edition

OK, some guy has invented a beer fridge that not only chills your brew but will also allow you to stay seated on the couch while it retrieves the beer and throws it to you.

Here’s his website.

And a video of the Beer Launching Fridge can be found here.

Meanwhile, the inventor, a chap by the name of John W. Cornwell, has been getting some press. Here’s some of the story I saw in the Bloomington Pantagraph. (I’ve inserted pictures from Cornwell’s website.)

RALEIGH, N.C. -- When John Cornwell graduated from Duke University last year, he landed a job as software engineer in Atlanta but soon found himself longing for his college lifestyle. So the engineering graduate built himself a reminder of life on campus: a refrigerator that can toss a can of beer to his couch with the click of a remote control.

"I conceived it right after I got out," said Cornwell, a May 2006 graduate from Huntington, N.Y. "I missed the college scene. It embodies the college spirit that I didn't want to let go of."

It took the 22-year-old Cornwell about 150 hours and $400 in parts to modify a mini-fridge common to many college dorm rooms into the beer-tossing contraption, which can launch 10 cans of beer from its magazine before needing a reload.

With a click of the remote, fashioned from a car's keyless entry device, a small elevator inside the refrigerator lifts a beer can through a hole and loads it into the fridge's catapult arm. A second click fires the device, tossing the beer up to 20 feet - "far enough to get to the couch," he said.

Is there a foam explosion when the can is opened? Not if the recipient uses "soft hands" to cradle the can when caught, Cornwell said.

In developing his beer catapult, Cornwell said he dented a few walls and came close to accidentally throwing a can through his television. He's since fine-tuned the machine to land a beer where he usually sits at home, on what he called "a right-angle couch system."

For now, the machine throws only cans, although Cornwell has thought about making a version that can throw a bottle. The most beer he has run through the machine was at a party, when he launched a couple of 24-can cases.

Since this post was a little "Lite" on the beer pictures, I offer some gratuitous beer porn.

Mmmmm...do those glasses go all the way up?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hitlerization

All of rightwing America becomes apoplectic when some anonymous commenter on a liberal blog compares George W. Bush to Hitler. (Never mind that in rightwing world it's perfectly acceptable to refer to Hitlery Clinton or Femi-Nazis).

But if you think the comparisons are too many here, look at what some Brazilians think.

And I’m warning you, South Americans know their Nazis.

More Machine than Man?

Look at this AP picture posted today on CNN.com of a soldier in Baghdad.


Hey whatever works, but these guys don’t even look human anymore. (Troll repellant: I’m not in any way being critical of this or any other soldier.)

It also got me wondering: If in fact we could build infantry machines that were operated remotely, would there be more or fewer wars?

El Wreckerito

The old El Rancherito building on West Jefferson has been demolished. Noticed the rubble this morning. Is something going in there? Has anyone missed El Rancherito since it closed? I haven’t particularly, since there are several very similar alternatives in town. What would you like to see go there?

Carbon Fartprint

The real reason I switched to florescent light bulbs:

I can now fart without feeling guilty.

A Smoking Ban Too Far

Rich Miller posted an interesting question yesterday when he asked if a proposal in the Illinois legislature that would ban smoking in cars when children are present is taking the whole smoking ban thing too far. Most of his commenters seem to think this would be an excessive reach of government. I guess I would kind-of, sort-of very reluctantly agree.

The other common theme in the comments tread was how reprehensible it is for parents to subject their kids to cigarette smoke. I totally agree there too. I had respiratory problems through most of my childhood (until I was 13 or so) and my father was a heavy smoker, in the home and in the car. Was there a connection? Dunno, maybe. His smoking certainly didn’t help.

So we are somewhat agreed that banning smoking in cars with children present is not a good idea while we are also agreed that smoking in cars with children present is also not a good idea. Hmmm. So what should be done, if anything, to resolve this conundrum?

I think a combination of education and social pressure might be the answer. The education component would include things like public service announcements directed at smoking parents and anti-smoking education in schools for potential future smokers. I think kids and especially high school kids who are entering that age where most smoking begins should be taught that, if they choose to smoke, it is wrong to subject others, particularly children, to their secondhand smoke.

Beyond education, society should simply become intolerant of such behavior. Don’t make it illegal, just socially unacceptable. Talk about how you would never do such a thing and even give a dirty look to those that do. Don’t call names or start fights but make it clear you disapprove. No one wants to be a social pariah and that kind of pressure will be more effective than a law in that it encourages smokers to police their own behavior.

This approach is really just an extension of the existing overall campaign to rid society of smoking. It’s a long term solution but one that will not infringe on smokers “private space” if you will. Bans on public smoking are enforced because it involves space shared by all of us. A person’s home and car are a different matter and we need to proceed with both caution and determination in ending secondhand smoke that affects the children.

Update: Dan comes out strongly for the ban in cars. I can't really rebut the core of his argument, I'm just thinking more along the lines of what's going to be most effective in achieving the goal of convincing smokers not to smoke around their kids.

Update II: Blevins is showing no mercy towards smoking parents either. I hate it when I'm the biggest conservative in the room.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Springfield Trivia Indeed

While looking over Cal Skinner’s gushing over the movie Amazing Grace (I agree, it is a good film), I was surprised to see this:
It won’t be as easy for state reps. And senators as during the 1970’s. Then Kerasotes Theaters did its part in keeping legislators out of trouble at night be giving them all free movie passes. At that time, all but one theater in town was owned by the family firm.

That tradition had died by the 1990’s, but, even though going to the movies is no longer free for legislators, I’d strongly recommend they see this film.
Hmmmm. Did other local establishments offer discounts and freebies to lawmakers back then? Do they now? Or is that what lobbyists are for?

The Lights of Broadwell

A good bit from the Chicago Sun-Times on the recently destroyed Pig Hip in Broadwell and its owner Ernie Edwards. I particularly liked the encounter with The Colonel.

Although I have to quibble with this:
Ernie, Jr. was born in Murphysboro in 1917 and lived in tiny Central Illinois towns like Salem and Lincoln. He arrived in Broadwell in 1937.
OK, Salem is in Southern Illinois and while Lincoln is no metropolis, with a population of 15,000 it certainly isn’t tiny in the way, say, Broadwell, is.

I suspect the writer’s Chicago point of view is interfering with accuracy here. Although he gets extra points for even realizing there is a Central Illinois. Many northerners think of anything south of I-80 as Southern Illinois.

Quote of the Day

From Dave Bakke’s SJ-R column today on Springfield’s self image:
If it wasn't for Decatur, Springfield would have had no one to look down on.
Ha, how true. Unfortunately, that’s more than offset by Springfield’s irrational resentment of Chicago. “Chicago isn’t Illinois!” goes the tantrum. Well not all of Illinois but the metro area has the largest chunk of the state’s population and it just happens to be one of the world’s greatest cities.

Let’s embrace both Chicago and Decatur (ignoring that ADM smell helps). Let’s just worry about ourselves and not about competing with our neighbors over self-esteem issues. Bakke’s right, we have come a long way. This is a much nicer place to live (with some exceptions) than it was 30 years ago.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Help Ann Help Herself

Dear SJ-R:

Others are doing it why not you?
Second paper drops Coulter

The Oakland Press (California) has joined the Lancaster New Era (Pennsylvania) in announcing plans to no longer run Ann Coulter’s column after her remarks about John Edwards.
Surely you can find someone conservative that isn’t a grandstanding bomb-thrower who says outrageous things simply to sell books and get on teevee.

Update: One more paper has dropped Little Homophobe Annie.

Must See Blog TV

Will has a video clip from some sort of professional Obama stalker who was in town and manages to get a kiss from Mayor Davlin in a bar. And she eats pancakes. All in the same video. These internets are cool things.

Bashful Bladders

I'm so glad I’m not pee shy.

Deerfellas

Funny thing. Yesterday I was contemplating the onset of Spring and began wondering if the Deer Insurgency would flare up again in Southern Illinois. If it does, I thought, I better be prepared to blog about it for the third year in a row. (For past coverage see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)

Then late last night while I was getting ready to head to bed, I happened to look out a front window. Out on the front lawn I was startled to see four shadowy figures, four legged figures, just standing there. I went to the front door and switched on the lights. As the florescent bulbs slowly gained full strength I opened the door and found myself face to face with four full-grown deer. They were just standing there, looking at me. (I won’t say they were like deer in the headlights.) Slowly they backed off and wondered off across the street between two houses.

Now, I’ve seen deer beyond my back fence in the field behind my house but never in the front yard. No doubt these deer were at my doorstep with the intention of trying to intimidate me from covering any impending deer insurgency. Oh, message received hoofed ones! But I’m not afraid and the coverage will continue as warranted. And if you’re planning anything in my neighborhood, just remember, I know what you look like now.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Pop Quiz

Test, Test. New Blogger Test.

Update: Howdy Spfldbloggers! Missed you today.

Update II: New look due to need for me to move my margin crap to the right. Plus it's about time for a change. Even more changes later.

The Disaster Card

Bruce Strom is talking about Mayor Tim Davlin’s campaign ads that use last year’s tornados as a backdrop when he says this:
"It's unfortunate that the mayor chooses to use a disaster to somehow frame himself … in sort of a heroic posture," Strom said. "You know, the city of Springfield, after 9/11, began developing an emergency response plan.

"What the mayor did was simply have the opportunity to execute that plan. I don't think he, individually, played a significant role in having that plan. He just happened to be the mayor at the time the opportunity presented itself to execute the plan."
I agree with Strom on this point. I would also like to extent this sentiment to a national figure. One running for president largely on the basis of having been mayor of New York on 9/11.


Both men did there jobs during a catastrophe and that’s all well and good. Meeting expectations is always a good thing. But riding a disaster to further your political ambitions just doesn’t sit well with me.

Eggheads

.
I have no problem with busting these twerps for allegedly egging a car (and perhaps preventing a series of eggings). I know how hard it is cleaning up that mess, even though my only experience with it was 10 years ago when my ex-wife, then 39, decided my car looked better scrambled.

Still, how bad is life here when an egging is a big story in the paper? And by the way, what kind of car gets a dent from an egg? The egg must have really been traveling at a high rate of speed. Maybe the kid (allegedly!) responsible should consider baseball instead of petty vandalism.

In With the New Blogger

.
OK, I made the switch to New Blogger. Notice all the changes? No, there aren’t so many. Publishing is faster and for some reason I’m not being picked up by Spfldbloggers anymore. Other than that, business as usual.

Drinking Statistics

.
I keep seeing this “fact” in stories related to healthcare:
“Doctors have a rule of thumb. Whatever the patient says they’re drinking, multiply it by three,” said Dr. Bruce Rowe, a family doctor in suburban Milwaukee. “If they say two drinks a day, assume they have six.”
So here’s your assignment: Next time you go in for a check-up, tell the doctor you drink a 12-pack a day and watch them freak out when they impose the x3 rule.

Charlie Warner

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I was shocked this evening to stumble upon this post over at the HuffPo written by someone I knew years (and years) ago. OK, when I say I “knew” Charlie Warner I mean he was an instructor of mine back in the early 1980s at SIU Carbondale.

Charlie, or Charles as he’s now identifying himself, was a middle-aged veteran of the broadcast industry having been, among other things, general manager of WMAQ in Chicago. I believe (and I may be wrong) he was at SIU to get some sort of degree himself and taught on the side. I was lucky enough to have him for not one, but two classes while I was studying in the Communications Department.

Charlie was a fantastic presence in the classroom. I don’t know if it was the media background, his sales experience or just his vast knowledge combined with an infectious personality, but he was really good. His classes were always lively and I hung on his every word. He was interesting and really had some major broadcasting chops. I remember once getting an assignment from him on NBC note paper and nearly swooning.

One of the classes I took was broadcast sales. I’m not really sure why I took it since I had no interest whatsoever in sales but took it I did. Maybe it was because my grandfather had been in broadcast sales and I wanted to know a little more about him. Anyway, the class was great. Charlie brought all kinds of real world experiences and advice to the classroom. He once advised all us way-to-young-looking-to-be-taken-seriously guys to grow mustaches if we ever wanted to make a sale.

The other class was one on public affairs. It was an attempt to teach us the importance of acting in the public interest by providing good issue-oriented broadcasting that was, to coin a phrase, fair and balanced, to better serve the public. This was at a time when the Fairness Doctrine was still in effect. Charlie set out to divine in us the ability to take on current events and issues important to the community to fulfill the federally mandated responsibility of broadcasters (at the time) to serve the interest of the public.

In the public affairs class we, the whole class, were often divided up to “debate” issues. We got to choose which side of the issue we wanted to be on which was nice. I found this a lot of fun except for the time when abortion was the issue. I decided to go with the anti-abortion side since, given my mother’s activism in that area, I was well versed. I could have gone either way but I figured the anti side probably needed me more. Well, shit. It was just me and two other GUYS on that side. Gulp. The women in the class were burning holes through us with their glares. Suddenly, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about my choice. It didn’t help that the two GUYS on my side were total numbnuts. I’ll never forget one of them being asked by one of the young women, “What if your girlfriend got pregnant?” His response, “The Space Shuttle leaves next week”. (Point of fact: the very first space shuttle launch ever was indeed scheduled to take place that following week.) Oh well.

One of the strangest moments ever in my classroom career happened in this public affairs class. One day, Charlie, seemingly out of the blue at the end of a class, tells us we could ask him anything. A woman in the class raises her hand and asks, “What do you think of Angie Dickenson?” Huh? I’m thinking that’ll throw him, that couldn’t be what he meant. But no, Charlie took it stride and said something like “I think she’s a ‘stove’. That’s a good looking older woman.” I’m not sure if elaborated more, I think he did, but I remember thinking how bizarre this was. It was almost like it had been set up. Why would this student ask that? Why would Charlie answer seriously?

And finally the title of this post. It was Charlie’s signature catch-phrase. I heard it a hundred times: Give me a PERSONAL break!

Update: I almost forgot; Mr. Warner has his own blog called Media Curmudgeon. The blog’s masthead says:
Charles Warner, a retired ex-media executive with AOL, NBC, and CBS, writes mostly about the media from an ethical, strategic, and management perspective.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Rust Never Sleeps

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Or at least not in an inexpensive bed. Bloomington based State Farm CEO Ed Rust Jr….
…earned $11.66 million in 2006, including a base salary of $1.77 million and results-based bonus of $9.89 million, spokesman Dick Luedke said Friday. Rust made $6.4 million in 2005 and $5.5 million in 2004.

“Our goal has been to adjust his compensation to compare more competitively with other organizations like us,” Luedke said, noting that Rust doesn’t receive millions in stock options like other similarly sized, publicly traded Fortune 500 companies.
I’m glad he fought those greedy Katrina victims tooth and nail. I mean, who the fuck do those Gulf state pansies think they are, needing a home in which to live. Dammit, Ed Rust does not even get stock options! You can “live” in a cardboard box, but depriving a man of his stock options is just cruel. Bravo State Farm for standing up to the tyranny of natural disaster victims.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Another Case of Annthrax

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Maybe it’s time the SJ-R reconsider publishing this shrew’s tripe. Today at a conference of conservatives Ann Coulter had this to say before the audience:
"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards."
By all means, we need to keep her column for insights like this. There needs to be an anti-faggot voice in Springfield media. The pro-faggot side shouldn’t be allowed to dominate the conversation.

Update: The “liberal” media doesn’t care that Ann Coulter publicly called John Edwards a “faggot”. Gosh, I wonder what would have happened if, say, Bill Maher or Keith Olberman or Michael Moore had gone before a public gathering and declared George Bush to be a “faggot”.

Non-Story of the Day

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Who the fuck cares?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrat Barack Obama, who would be the first black president if elected, also has white ancestors who owned slaves, according to a genealogical researcher.

[snip]

Obama wrote in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," that while one of his great-great-grandfathers was a decorated Union soldier, family rumors also say he is distantly related to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Reitwiesner found in 1850 Census records from Kentucky that one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man. The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two black slaves -- a 60-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman.
Gosh and if you go far enough back he and Hitler probably had a common ancestor. Therefore, in addition to being a pro-slavery terrorist, Obama is a Nazi. Case closed [/wingnuttery].