Friday, July 27, 2007

Vacation is Served

I'm out of here for a week of vacation. We're flying to California Saturday for what amounts to a family gathering in Newport Beach. We'll be staying right on the beach so I'm looking forward to a lot of sun and surf. My 4 year-old son, who has never been in an ocean, is concerned about whales and sharks getting him. However, his sunscreen is fortified with whale/shark repellent. As far as he knows anyway.

It's been two years since I've had a significant vacation like this. I was in New Orleans then and a few weeks later Katrina hit. Southern California might want to brace for an earthquake long about Sept 1.

Blogging will likely be very light next week but I may drop in to blog a postcard or two. Friday Beer Blogging will be a rerun but that's the only post I have planned in advance. It's my understanding that we will have internet access but my blogging motivation level may be low. I'm actually kind of hoping it is.

Friday Beer Blogging: Chicago Beer Riot Edition

Today's blog o' beer comes from Modern Drunkard magazine. Yes, there is such a thing. In this issue they have an article about the 1855 Chicago Beer Riot. I'm not sure it has anything on the drunken 1992 Bulls "Repeat" celebration in downtown Chicago that I (drunkenly) participated in, but it is, nonetheless, an interesting story.

[Chicago] Mayor [Levi D.] Boone had been in office for all of about fifteen seconds when he went to the City Council and suggested that liquor license fees should be increased from 50 dollars a year to 300, and that the terms of each license would last only three months instead of the usual year. The Council passed both measures with the speed and alacrity common among lickspittles. Mayor Boone then ordered Police Chief Bradley to immediately begin enforcing an existing statute ordering all taverns and beer gardens to close on Sundays. (The blue law had been on the books for 12 years, but enforcement had been, for beer enthusiasts, blessedly lax.) And so, energized by a sense of mission, and some spiffy new uniforms, officers from Chicago’s new PD fanned out through the city intent upon showing tavern-owners and other dangerous nogoodniks the exact definition of the word “compulsory.”

Problems were evident from the outset. The cops hit joints on the North Side—German Town—like swarms of aggravated bees, closing doors and issuing enough tickets to throw a fair-sized ticker-tape parade. They also targeted Chicago’s central neighborhoods, where Irish-owned establishments received the same treatment. On the South Side, however, where “Americans” lived, taverns and other businesses serving alcohol were allowed to continue operating on Sundays using their rear and alley doors.

Mayor Boone, a strict prohibitionist, believed that a nationwide ban on hooch was imminent, and stated that the Sunday raids and licensing-fee increases were intended to “root out all the lower classes of dives, and leave the businesses in the hands of the better class of saloon-keepers, who, when the temperance law should go into force, could be rationally dealt with.”
...

Tavern keepers, brewers and concerned citizens gathered to express their outrage over being persecuted. Many German and Irish beer joints adamantly refused to close on Sundays and, when faced with Boone’s contemptible license-fee hikes, simply continued operating without them. Over 200 men and women were arrested, but when it dawned on Boone and other city officials that so large a number of cases, each requiring a separate trial, would bung-up Chicago’s courts for years, they sought a compromise. The lawyer for the accused protestors met with the City Attorney, and they decided to conduct a single test case, the outcome of which would apply to all 200 defendants. The trial was scheduled for April 21, 1855, and would be presided over by respected Police Magistrate Henry L. Rucker.

Rucker had barely settled into his chair before the proceedings were interrupted by a roar of angry voices outside the court house. A reporter named John J. Flinn was on hand and described what happened next.

“The…saloon-keepers had collected their friends on the North Side, and, preceded by a fife and drum, the mob, about 500 strong, had marched in solid phalanx upon the justice shop, as many as could entering the sacred precincts. After making themselves understood that the decision of the court must be in their favor if the town didn’t want a taste of war, they retired and formed at the intersection of Clark and Randolph, and held possession of these thoroughfares to the exclusion of all traffic. The uproar was deafening.”

Now, I want to stop here for a minute to point out the the intersection of Clark and Randolf today is the site of the James R. Thompson Center, the huge State of Illinois office complex that only a drunken mob could love. Coincidence?

Anyway, back to our story...

The unrest lasted about a half-hour before Mayor Boone ordered Captain of Police Luther Nichols to disperse the protestors. Nichols, joined by 20 officers armed with cudgels, attacked the mob, beating them savagely and hauling nine away to jail. The demonstrators retreated back to their North Side stronghold, bloodied but not beaten.

The trial finally got underway. Meanwhile, on the North Side, the Germans and their allies summoned additional bodies to their cause and began planning another assault on the courthouse. Upon learning of the German’s intentions, Mayor Boone called in every police officer in the city and pressed into service an additional 150 emergency deputies.

Around four o’clock that afternoon, the crowd of protestors, now numbering more than a thousand, marched down Clark Street, armed with shotguns, knives, clubs and assorted kitchen implements. They were met by a solid line of 200 lawmen blocking off street access to the court house. A yell arose from the German contingent—“Kill the police!”—and the two armies went for each other. The battle lasted well over an hour before the protestors fled North and the cops retreated South. Surprisingly, only a single death resulted from the action—a German named Peter Martin, who was cut down by a shotgun blast.

Realizing he had underestimated the protestors’ willingness to fight, Mayor Boone summoned two companies of the Illinois state militia, complete with artillery, to guard against further violence. The test trial was abandoned, and those arrested were freed on bail. An uneasy peace settled on the city, and it was decided that Boone’s prohibitionist statutes would be put to a city-wide vote at a special election to be held on the first Monday in June, 1855.

For the rest of the story, go to the Modern Drunkard piece.

Have a happy weekend!

Hat tip to Rich Miller for the pointer to this piece of history.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hull-abaloo

For Ron Hull fans posting comments on my Bob Hull post below, may I direct your attention to this post from last fall.

Bob Hull (That Was Mr. Hull To Me)

I was sad to see the passing of Robert Hull in today’s SJ-R. I only took one of his classes while I was a student at Griffin High School, but it was one I never forgot. It was a political science course in the fall of 1976, with a presidential election taking place right in the middle. To this day I can still name several members of Jimmy Carter’s initial cabinet because we had to know them for Mr. Hull’s class. I can’t say he initiated my interest in politics and current affairs, but he sure stoked my desire to always know more. He was so knowledgeable and made sure all his students were a bit more informed when he was through with them. We should all be so lucky to leave such a legacy.

My condolences to his family.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CSI Springfield: Perp ID Unit

So let me see if I have this right, the perp is a black/Hispanic/white/light-skinned black man of varying heights who is alternately on foot, on a bike or in a car. Seems like they ought to be able to narrow the suspects down pretty quickly.

At least they know it’s a man. Or do they? I’ve been doing some investigating on my own and I’m not completely convinced our Westside attacker hasn’t already been picked up in California:


Compare that to the artist sketch and I’m sure you’ll see I’m on to something.

Coincidentally, I'm going out to California later this week. I'll see what I can find out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Farmfare

Heh
If there's one thing farmers fight even harder than losing their subsidies, it's any change that would make it clear that the subsidies are really just a big welfare program. Welfare is for crack addicts in the Bronx, not hardworking Midwest soybean farmers.

And There Was Much Rejoicing

I suppose I should mark the final victory in the public smoking battle in Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich yesterday signed into law the statewide smoking ban. It all seems so anticlimactic now since it was all but a forgone conclusion that he would. Still, I couldn’t have imagined we would have com e so far in such a short amount of time.

I guess I’ve kind of gotten so used to the smoke-free environments here in Springfield, it doesn’t seem all that extraordinary for the ban to be implemented statewide. In fact, what does seem extraordinary to me is when I’m dining out in some community without a ban and they ask if I want the smoking or non-smoking section. It seems all so alien and retro. It’s like they’ve asked it I would like the spittoon or non-spittoon section and would I like my horse taken to the livery stable.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Time for a Mandatory Chastity Belt Law

From deep in drunk and horny Southern Illinois:
FRANKLIN COUNTY -- An alleged drunk driver and her four passengers were taken to local hospitals late Friday night after a crash on Illinois 37 south of West
Frankfort, Franklin County Sheriff Bill Wilson said.

Sara Koehl, 23, was traveling northbound on Illinois 37 near County Line Road when her vehicle crossed the center lane and went off the left side of the roadway, Wilson said. Koehl overcorrected the vehicle, causing it to go off the right side of the road. The vehicle struck a concrete pillar and two trees before coming to rest.

Koehl told deputies she lost control of the vehicle when a front seat passenger started "groping" her, Wilson said.

Arch Enemy

I’m not overly claustrophobic but this horrifies me.
ST. LOUIS -- One of the two trams that take visitors to the top of the Gateway Arch was out of service Sunday after a power failure trapped about 200 people for hours inside the landmark the night before.

The Arch’s deputy superintendent, Frank Mares, said a fuse blew Saturday night after one of nine cables pulling the south tram apparently failed and came in contact with an electrified rail.

Power went out again Sunday for about 15 minutes after the Arch reopened, in a failure believed to be linked to Saturday’s problem.

On Saturday, about 40 people in each tram were stuck, as were another 100 at the top of the Arch and others in loading zones. The St. Louis Fire Department said that at least two people needed medical attention, but that no one was seriously hurt.

Visitors at the top of the Arch had to wait about three hours to get down, Mares said. Those inside the tram cars waited about two hours but were probably the most uncomfortable because they lacked air conditioning, he said.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

I’ll be honest; I’ve never gone to the top of the arch, mostly because it’s always been closed when I’ve tried. Now there is simply no way in hell you’re getting me up there.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Living in Fear

Good lord, if you’re that scared don’t go to Washington Park at all. This stuff drives me nuts. I think a lot of people must enjoy being frightened. It makes them feel alive or something. Look for the Lake Springfield snake-monster thing to show up in the lagoon any day now.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Did Anyone Really Ever Say Anything?

I swear, there are no memorable quotes that are genuine. It seems almost daily I find out this or that famous quote was never uttered by the person to whom it is popularly attributed.

This is actually old news but only today did I find out that the late Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirksen, never said this:
“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.”
See here, here and here.

But as with all famous quotes, someone had to make them up. Too bad only those with name recognition get attribution.

Update: It was only two months ago I was disappointed in these non-Lincoln quotes.

Singletown

This is kind of dumb. Of course there are more single people in these places –they’re mostly college towns.

The Books that Eat Kids’ Brains

Have the “Christian” book burners finally given up on Harry Potter? A quick Google search of “Harry Potter evil” unearths all kinds of links to paranoid screeds about the awful influence Harry Potter is having on our kids, but most seem to be years old. (Many aren’t dated, so it’s hard to tell for sure). It seems to me the whole Potter-is-the-devil meme peaked about seven years ago. My cursory and unscientific Google survey seems confirm that. So have even hardboiled, co-called “Christians” come over to the dark side? Or have they given up against the wave of societal acceptance and lack of evidence of any harm? Or is everyone (the media in particular) just ignoring them like they should have seven years ago?

By the way, I have not read one word or seen one minte of anything Harry Potter. Ever. In case Potter is the devil, you'll need at least one clear-thinking person to document the final clash between the Potter-ized living dead and the righteous defenders of the faith.

Friday Beer Blogging: Woody Edition

My Birthday this past weekend called for another field trip to the land of beer at Brewhaus in downtown Springfield (NOT the home of The Simpson's apparently and, oh by the way, Duff beer sucks anyway). At this outing there was no prom and there was no one taking pictures of the top of my head. Just friends and beer. And the same waitress whose knowledge of beer makes her husband a truly lucky man.

My favorite beer of the night was a brew from the Sand Creek Brewing Company called Woody's Wheat.

I kind of have a thing for wheat beers and Woody's is pretty good.

The Sand Creek Brewing Company is located in Black River Falls, Wisconsin (Between Madison and Eau Claire on I-94) and has an interesting history. It has it roots in the old Oderbolz Brewing Co.

Beer people are, and always have been, beautiful people.

Other Sand Creek concoctions include Pioneer Oderbolz Bock..

... a little something they call Groovy Brew.

And many more.

Have a great weekend and, if you can, get a Woody!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Outside Down There

Carbondale was the only town in Illinois to make the cut in a new book called new book, “101 Best Outdoor Towns”.
Debbie Moore, director of the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau, said she submitted information to the authors upon their request.

Just over three pages of the 472-page volume are devoted to Carbondale. Given the title of the book, it stands to reason most of the three pages is devoted to the outdoor resources surrounding the city.

"Even though Illinois has fewer acres of protected public lands than all but two other states, its biggest park is a doozie," the authors write. "The Shawnee National Forest is a diverse, 420-square mile spread of lakes, forests, steep hills, rocky bluffs and grassy floodplains, cobbled together within seven wilderness areas."

The book goes on to highlight Little Grand Canyon, Cedar Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Devil's Backbone and the River-to-River Trail.

"We always promote the natural areas in any promotion that we do," Moore said. "If we were to promote something specific about Carbondale proper, we would still mention the Shawnee National Forest or Giant City State Park."

Incredibly, Giant City State Park escaped notice of the authors.
Well, perhaps they missed Giant City because it’s neither giant nor a city (however, my 4 year-old son calls it “Big City”). Still, that’s OK. The fewer people who venture into GC the better (to a point) as far as I’m concerned. It just means more natural goodliness for me.

Still Flying Everywhere Else

Add Peoria to the list of Illinois cities able to hang on to an air show. If you’re already missing Air Rendezvous, head up to Peoria this weekend for the Prairie Air Show.

Wrong Track

I’ve always been reluctant to draw any specific conclusions about the so-called “right direction/wrong track” polls. You know, where the pollsters ask if the country is headed in the right direction or is on the wrong track. That’s because the definition of “right and wrong” here differs for everyone. For example, I might say the country is on the wrong track based on my dislike of the Iraq war. Someone who supports the war might also give a wrong track answer because they think there are too many people in government and media who don’t support the war, or that the war isn’t being prosecuted aggressively enough. Opposite opinions with the same poll result.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Don’t Overreact

I was sorry to see that a woman was attacked in Washington Park yesterday. But I wasn’t surprised. That’s not because I think Washington Park is a particularly dangerous place, but because, well, shit happens. And it happens everywhere to some degree. We don’t need to go off the deep end here.

After 9/11, I was amazed at how panicked and shocked so many people were that terrorism could happen here. Well, duh. Terrorism, like shit, happens. Even here. And while it was fine that people finally understood this, it was pathetic how many overreacted to what happened. It was fear born of ignorance mostly. A blindness to what the world is like. It was this fear that the Bush administration has cynically harnessed for its own purposes (and continues to exploit).

Crime is going to happen. Planes are going to crash. Cars re going to wreck. Nutcases show up places with guns and shoot people. We can take steps to minimize these occurrences, but they are still going to happen sometimes. It does no good to let the fear overcome you and disrupt your life.

Which gets me back to Washington Park. It’s still a wonderful and relatively safe place. It’s no more dangerous than it was a week ago. Taking a few minor precautions, that should be taken anywhere, is all you need do. Enjoy life.

Reading Defined

Sez Ogged:
Lots of people read all the time; they read blogs, they read email, they read text messages, they read in chat rooms, etc. In a lot of ways, text--or doing things with the written word--seems more important now than it was ten or twenty years ago. So the complaint is really that people aren't reading the right things, which just seems like license for someone to complain that his taste isn't universally shared. More charitably, the complaint might be that people aren't learning or thinking about certain important things, but if that's it, I wish folks would spell it out, so we could have a real discussion.
Is reading blogs and e-mail really “reading”? I think it is. Or can be. I think blog posts in particular can easily pass the “learning or thinking” test. If the only reading that counts involves books printed on paper, then I guess I don’t read much anymore. (And where to audio books fit here?) However, if you consider all the time I spend viewing text, I read more now than at any time in my life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

He’s So Not Going Out With Me

From the SJ-R’s Corrections section:
An item in Thursday's Police Beat indicated Sarah N. Kaiser was arrested for battering her 29-year-old boyfriend with an ashtray. A police report on the incident does not indicate the victim was Kaiser's boyfriend. The newspaper regrets the error.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Naked Truth

Like I’ve said before, do something naked and they will write a story about you. And sometimes arrest you.

Aborable Lawmakers

Ezra has an observation on the persistent the claim that Barack Obama just doesn’t have enough experience to be president.
Most of his experience in government was in state government. For reasons I don't entirely understand, legislative experience at the state level isn't considered legislative experience at all. It's like training for actual legislative experience, which can only be accrued in Washington, DC. This particular bit of chauvinism doesn't effect governors, who can spend 12 years as the executive of a small state and be considered perfectly fit for the presidency. It also doesn't harm mayors of New York. And being a prominent business or military man also gets you a pass. But legislating in the statehouse, why, that's adorable, but not really relevant to the job at hand...
Well, serving in the Illinois legislature really does sometimes mean you aren’t gaining any legislative experience. Just look at the budget process we’re enduring.

Pancakes on the March

As far as I’m concerned, they can replace all the Applebee’s with IHOPs.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Pancake house operator IHOP Corp. said Monday it agreed to buy fellow restaurant operator Applebee's International for about $2.1
billion.
You just can’t have too many places to get pancakes.

Birthday Notes

Odds and ends from my 47th birthday:

* Since my son’s birthday is tomorrow, we went ahead and had his party yesterday so his little friends could make it. We held it at Chucky Cheese. Yesterday was my actual birthday; therefore, for the first time, spent my birthday at Chuck’s place.

* When I was 11, I wanted nothing more than a pair of binoculars. On my 12th birthday, my parents gave me a good pair of binoculars from Sears. It was my only present that year if I remember correctly. I loved them and used them a lot, not only then but really ever since. The early years took a heavy toll on them and I’ve bee using them half-broken for decades now. Finally, while I was using them to watch the International Space Station and the Shuttle fly over a few weeks ago, I mentioned to Mrs. TEH that it was probably time I get new ones after 35 years. Well, I got new binoculars yesterday. I hope they, and I, last another 35 years.

* For only maybe the fourth time in my life I got a new do yesterday. My old hair was making me look too old or something. Also, let’s not forget the top of my head was recently outed online so it’s become necessary to change my appearance for security reasons. So at the urging of the Mrs., I now have hair that stands up and has product in it. Harpooning low-flying birds can be expected.

* While my son is about to turn 4, my father–in-law pointed out yesterday that when he was my age, he already had a 4 year-old GRANDchild.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

120 Minutes Redux

I see VH-1 Classic has finally given into temptation and renamed their "The Alternative" show to "120 Minutes". 120 Minutes, of course, was the MTV alternative show in the '80s and '90s that aired late every Sunday night. I was a big fan then and have been an avid watcher of The Alternative for years. Now on Sunday nights we have VH-1 Classic 120 Minutes. It's the same alternative retrospective as The Alternative but now pays homage to it's more cutting-edge predecessor.

It's Just a Number

Happy Birthday Me. I never thought I would get this far. Not sure why I have.

Wooo-Hoo.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gas Way Up

In case you missed it:
PEORIA - Gas prices jumped about 20 cents in central Illinois during the past two days, to between roughly $3.15 and $3.30 a gallon for regular unleaded.

Flooding at a refinery in Coffeyville, Kan., and the shutdown of a huge Indiana oil processing unit for maintenance were blamed for the increase.

In the next few days, prices in the Midwest could reach upwards of $3.50 a gallon, said Tom Kloza, Oil Price Information Service publisher.
I understand that these prices aren’t historically unprecedented (taking inflation into account) but the volatility of the cost is just nuts. It’s like being a day trader trying to figure out the precise moment when it’s best to buy. I actually find myself doing gasoline algorithms based on how long it’s been since a price increase (or how long prices have been creeping down), the level of my fuel tank, the day of the week, and if there’s been any news that might be used as an excuse to raise prices. The difference between toping off today or waiting until tomorrow can be $5 or $10. Not a huge deal, but it pisses you off when you have to shell out those extra bucks because you gambled on lower prices one day too long.

Friday Beer Blogging: Milwaukee Protest Edition

Milwaukee this week was a hotbed of beer activism. It wasn't quite "give me beer or give me death", but it definitely had it's roots in colonial American protest.

MILWAUKEE - A group of Wisconsin brewers blasted open barrels of beer on the docks of the Milwaukee River on Tuesday in the Brew City's version of the Boston Tea Party.

Their sticky statement was in protest of a little-publicized state Senate bill they said would create complications for startup breweries.

The big brouhaha is over a proposed update to antiquated post-Prohibition laws related to the blooming business of craft beer making.

Basically, it divides small brewers into two licensed classes - those who want to serve food as brewpubs and those who seek to bottle and distribute their product on a larger scale. The latter would face new restrictions on food service.

The brewers, who acknowledge they're not savvy about the legislative process, say it's not fair for new beer makers to have to decide their fate that early.

"Every business takes on a life of its own," said Jim McCabe, proprietor of the Milwaukee Ale House. "For the guy that wants to start a brewery tomorrow, he's got to make decisions early in his business life that aren't possible."

After countdowns in English and German, the kegs were opened with mallets that spewed suds across the deck and into the Milwaukee River.


The whole issue started when the Great Dane Pub opened a third location in the Madison area but couldn't sell its own brews because the law only allows two such operations per chain.

"The love of beer, that's what this whole thing is about," McCabe said. "It could have been solved with a couple of sentences, a paragraph at the most. What happened is, the bill grew to 28 pages to do a whole bunch more."

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, was out of the office Tuesday, but spokesman Terry Tuschen said they're writing several amendments to ease the brewers' concerns.

"This is just a run-of-the-night operation that's being ram-roaded down our throats," said Russ Klisch, owner of Lakefront Brewery Inc. in Milwaukee and president of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild. "There are so many questions out there that have been unanswered."

Well, good luck to the Milwaukee brewers. Ummm, small 'b', not the baseball team. Go Cubs!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Deer Insurgency Quelled

Victory!

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) -- On the edge of the dense forest that makes up much of the 20 or so acres of Southern Illinois University's Thompson Woods, the slogan spray painted on the paved trail seems simple and innocent: "Everything is gonna be alright."

After puzzling flare-ups between deer and humans at the school over the previous two years, students and staffers finally can consider the graffiti right on. The 20,000-student university had cause to be edgy until the last week or so, having seen a half dozen people - a mix of students, staff and police - get sent to hospitals after being attacked by deer here. Several other people were threatened but unharmed.

Wildlife specialists said the attacks happened during fawning season, the time from
mid-May through June when deer become keenly protective of their fawns.

But fawning season came and went this year with no dustups between humans and the hoofed, and it is anyone's guess why.

I’ll tell you why; we didn’t give against Deer Al-Qaida in Carbondale, that’s why. We stuck it out! We hung -or hanged or something- tough! We didn’t cut and run! We didn’t let the deer terrorists win!

Ah, and now it’s time to relive the heroics of the War on Deer.

Some suspect things came to a head one day in June of last year when a campus policeman got between a doe and a jogger to prevent another attack and shot the animal when it charged and slightly injured him. The animal was found and euthanized the next day, and the lack of attacks since has fanned speculation that that particular deer was a rogue one responsible for much, if not all, the problems.
That doe, let’s call her Jane Doe, was probably the Osama bin Laden of deerdom. Or at least the Osama bin Laden of deerdom’s #2.

But let’s not forget the efforts of Homeland Security.

Others submit the school's public-awareness campaign launched in the wake of the
2005 attacks has paid off, persuading folks to watch out for deer, not approach the animals and, if a wild-eyed deer starts bounding their way, run.
Er, walk quickly, not cut and run.

And here’s to a bright future…

"Or maybe deer found out that campus is not a friendly place," shrugs Rod Sievers, a spokesman for the university. "Who knows what the deer think, but maybe they got the message."

Or perhaps the calm this fawning season was just luck.

"Who knows?" Sievers says. "Maybe the problem will never raise its head again. Let's hope."
Let us hope, indeed, Mr. Sievers, and God bless America.

Update: In comments, Will quite correctly notes that we fought the deer in Carbondale so we wouldn't have to fight them here.

Sigmund Bush

Ah, from the mouth of the stupidest man on the planet:

Today in his press conference, a reporter asked President Bush why he is “so resistant” to a “change of course in Iraq,” even though that’s what the American public is “clamoring for.” Bush dismissed the reporter’s question, stating that he isn’t surprised “that there is deep concern amongst our people,” but ascribed it to “war fatigue.” “It’s affecting our psychology. I’ve said this before. I understand that.”
War fatigue is “affecting our psychology”. OK Decider Commander Guy, whatever you incoherently say.

My fatigue isn’t war fatigue, it’s Bush fatigue.

Accessorizing

This morning in front of a pediatrician’s office:

Two flighty teenage girls come bounding down the steps of the building where they encounter an approaching young couple carrying their new born in a car seat carrier. Quickly, and without stopping, one of the girls remarks, “Like your baby!”

iPhone iNsurance

State Farm will insure your iPhone for $32.50 a year. That would be a great deal if the policy also includes obsolescence. The Illinois Times article is a little vague on what the insurance does cover. I assumed it would already be covered for things like theft and fire under my homeowners insurance. But what do I know about insurance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tortured Headline Watch

Groan
Governor unholsters gun bill; lawmakers won’t pull trigger

Take the Subway, Please

Sometimes the stupidity of human endeavors takes the form of small transactions in a fast food restaurant. Case in point, my experience in a local Subway last night.

We had called in an order of five sandwiches for the family. I went to pick them up. I got to the counter and pulled out my debit card. The girl at the register told me their credit card reader wasn’t working. I looked in my wallet and pulled out the only money I had – a $20 bill. She rang up the order and it came to $21.86. I was $1.86 short.

Now, this is how it should have gone down: the girl should have taken my $20 and called it even. They would have been out only $1.86 and a customer would have been happy. After all, I didn’t come in to rip them off (there was plenty of money in my account), there was a problem with the their debit card machine. (Alternate scenario: I leave, go to an ATM to get more cash and came back. I just didn’t think it was worth it.)

Instead, she had to void one of the sandwiches (mine, I’m the dad) reducing the total to $17 and some change. I gave her my $20 and she gave me my $2 and coins. She put what was once going to be my sandwich behind her on a counter. I looked at her and said, “You’re just going to throw that out, aren’t you?” She told me that was right. I thought, how stupid. If she gave me the sandwich and charged me the full $20, they would be dollars ahead of juast tossing the sandwich and I would have gotten my dinner. But no. The rules are the rules. Let me get away with that and, well, something bad would happen, I guess. It was just silly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stock Market Plunges on Simpsons News

The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 150 points today on news that Springfield, Vermont, and not Springfield Illinois, was chosen as the place to host the premier of the Simpsons movie later this month.*

*I’ve always been amused at the reasons the media gives for gains and losses on Wall Street. This seems at least as plausible as many of the motivators I’ve read about in the past.

Vermont?????

Springfield, Vermont is the winner. Vermont isn’t even a real state.

Oh well, what BFS says.

Scolding Update: See, Springfieldians, never burn your bridges. With an influx of brotherly Chicago area votes we could have won this in a landslide. But no, Chicagoans picked up on the nasty, resentful vibes coming from down our way and said, “Fuck ‘em”. Sometimes we just need each other.

Update II: The vote totals:

Vermont: 15,367
Illinois: 14,634
Oregon: 13,894
Massachusetts: 11,442
Kentucky: 9,985
Missouri: 9,535
Ohio: 7,442
Tennessee: 7,098
New Jersey: 7,063
Colorado: 3,632
Nebraska: 3,201
Michigan: 2,516
Louisiana: 2,387
Florida: 1,386

Two Items

Posted without comment:

1) “The Army missed its recruiting goals in June for the second straight month, as rising casualties in Iraq and a strong economy at home kept the service from enlisting enough new soldiers, Pentagon officials said.”

2) The Bush twins were out “having fun last week” in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. The girls “had a handful of preppy-looking boys surrounding them.” The DC Examiner reports, “Jenna looked great and was enjoying standing outside with her cigarette talking to her tall, country-club-looking friends who appeared to be 35-plus. … Barbara had a nice-looking black dress on and [had] what looked like a Jager bomb towards the end of the night.”

Cover Your Junk, Dude

OK, so Senator David Vitter (R-Do Me Long Time) admits to having used the services of a prostitute. And he says he’s been forgiven by his wife. But check out what Mrs. Vitter had to say on the subject of infidelity back in 2000:
His wife, Wendy, was asked by the Newhouse News reporter: If her husband was as unfaithful as former President Bill Clinton, would she be as forgiving as Hillary Clinton?

“I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News. “If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”
Oooo…the good (well, not so good) senator might want to practice defensive sleeping. Or wear an iron cup.

But seriously, isn't it interesting how moral scolds find themselves doing the same things as mere mortals. It's a lot easier to sit in judgement of other people's lives than live your own.

Bonus Snark: Hey, Mrs. V, while stewing in you indignation over that awful Bill Clinton, consider this: Mr. Clinton got his all on his own (and legally) while your husband had to PAY to get some.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Equal Time

ABC News provides a counterbalance to the New Jersey bias shown by MSNBC by practically declaring our Springfield to be THE Springfield. Go here and click on the Where is the Simpsons' Springfield video to the right.

When Weather Geeks Fight

You don't tug on superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, and you never question a man’s forecasting ability.

MSNBC Tries to Throw the Simpson’s Vote

No need for the Fairness Doctrine? Well, try this on for size: MSNBC just had on a representative from Springfield, New Jersey (!) who spent five minutes talking up his city’s candidacy, showing clips from their Simpson’s video and urging people to go out and vote for Springfield, NJ. And that was it. No equal time for any other Springfield. If MSNBC influences this election with this, I’m boycotting them (except for Keith Olbermann, of course).

Truckin’

I don’t know why, but I find this new reality show on the History Channel quite compelling. It’s about a bunch of tuckers, most of whom have heavy Canadian accents, hauling loads over the “Ice Road” near the Arctic Circle. They drive their rigs over frozen lakes during a narrow window of opportunity in the Spring when the lakes of northern Canada are still frozen but the weather has warmed up to a balmy minus 30 degrees. Their destination is a giant DeBeers diamond mine. Who knew there was a diamond mine in the arctic? It’s amazing how many alternate universes exist right in our own universe.

Not Getting Out the Vote

It’s nice that we’re in the lead, but why do we have only 12,000+ votes? Many of us have voted more than once and the contest for Simpson supremacy has received lots of media attention. Add to that the fact that the polls have been open for more than a week, and I have to wonder why we don’t have more votes. I guess we should have been nicer to Chicago.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

No Sale!

This hasn't been a huge concern of mine either way, but I'm glad the Illinois house has rejected the sale of the state lottery. The whole idea seemed so short-sighted; a quick-fix with long-term negatives. So three cheers for the lawmakers.

But what I found really interesting in the SJ-R story was this bit:
"Our challenge is to try to convince House Democrats, Mr. Madigan, to stop being a Republican, to stop forming partnerships with conservative right-wing Republicans to pass budgets that take health care away from children, that take services away from senior citizens, that cut education,'' Blagojevich said. "We need to get Mr. Madigan to be a Democrat again and stop being a George Bush Republican,'' Blagojevich said.
Uhhhhh...wow. I'm thinking Mr. Blagojevich needs to look in the mirror. It's he who is acting like Mr. Bush.

You know, I keep wondering how upset I would be at Blagojevich in a universe in which my indignation wasn't constantly being sucked-up by a horribly amok Bush administration.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What Are We Waiting For?

No time better than the present:

45% favor "the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush;" 46% oppose.

54% favor "US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney;" 40% oppose.
Those are stunningly high numbers for what amounts to the most drastic legal action you can take against a president and vice president.

Also:
31% of approve of "President George W. Bush commuting the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby while leaving intact Mr. Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case;" 64% disapprove.

On Having Cows

Is it really a good idea to piss-off the folks conducting the poll/contest? While the whole article is kinda fun, I’m not sure where the parody ends and the real info begins. But it’s still early.

Friday Beer Blogging: Little Kings Edition

I was buying beer at Sams Clab last weekend to restock the garage beer fridge when I spied a case of Rolling Rock. I hadn't beer fridged any RRs this season and decided to get some this time around. So into the cart the box o' beers went. When I got home to load the fridge, I was surprised to see that what I had purchased was a box of 33 (of course) 7 oz. bottles rather than the 12 ouncers I'd expected. Oh well, no harm, no foul. Hmmmm...but something seemed strangely nostalgic about these green 7 oz bottles. And then it hit me...OH YEAH, Little Kings Cream Ale!

Wow, that took me back. It's been maybe 25 years or more since I've had a Little Kings.

There was a time I drank them a lot. They were kind of a favorite of younger folks when I was a younger folk in the late '70s.

The little 7-ouncers came in 8-packs. Somehow those little beers carried quite punch as I remember them.

Although I had not seen Little kings on sale for many years, recently I'm pretty sure I've seen them locally at Friar Tuck's. I'll have to check next time I'm in there.

I wonder if they taste the same. I remember them as being pretty good but that was with my 19 year-old palate. Time may changed things. Hell, it might not even be brewed the same way. I'm now wanting to find out.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Act of Petition

Are online petitions as totally meaningless as I think? Does anyone really pay attention to them? I’ve signed a few, including this one today, but it really doesn’t feel like I’m doing something in the real world.

Making the Travelocity Cut

OK, I guess it’s an honor for the city that Travelocity has selected Springfield’s Maid Rite Sandwich Shop a "Local Secret, Big Find” (see here, last paragraph) but I’m not sure what good it does anyone if you can’t find it on the Travelocity web site. Maybe I need to look harder, but if I’m not finding it, I’m not sure most other Travelocity visitors will either. Perhaps they haven’t posted the list yet?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday Beer Blogging: What Day Is It Edition

For those of you who missed Friday Beer Blogging today:

Have a Happy Fourth!

I Wish Them the Best

Brian & Kellie have found jobs. From the SJ-R online...
Brian Pierce and Kellie Michaels are returning to radio, but not in Springfield.

On July 30, Pierce and Michaels will become hosts of the morning show on KFDI-FM 101.3, a country station in Wichita, Kansas.
Well good for them. Hopefully, local bloggers will be nicer to them there.

On Shamelessness

Says Kung Fu Monkey...
We are faced with utterly shameless men. Cheney and the rest are looking our representatives right in the eye and saying "You don't have the balls to take down a government. You don't have the sheer testicular fortitude to call us lying sonuvabitches when we lie, to stop us from kicking the rule of law and the Constitution in the ass. You just don't. What's beyond that abyss -- what that would do to our government and our identity as a nation -- terrifies you too much. So get the fuck out of our way."

And to a great degree, the White House is right. You peel this back, and you reveal that the greatest country in the world has been run, for the last six and a half years, by men who do not give a shit about the Constitution, or fair play, or honesty.
That's exactly right. The Cheney/Bush administration gets away with this stuff time and time again because we have no usable mechanism in place to combat it. Shame used to be enough. Can you imagine an Alberto Gonzoles NOT resigning in any other administration. He lies, breaks the law and thumbs his nose at Congress and goes back to his office no worse for wear.

And what are we going to do about it? Well, we've never had to do anything about it until this bunch came to town so I don't know. I guess most of us are just going to ride it out until January 2009 and hope like hell these guys, or anyone like these guys, never darken the door of the Executive branch again.

So pardon Libby! Let Alberto run amok! Lie about the reasons for starting a long and bloody war! Who cares, we're no going to stop you.

Monday, July 02, 2007

BULL-FUCKING-SHIT

Bush commutes Libby's prison sentence. Fucking asshole. The corruption within the Bush White House knows no bounds. Worst. President. Ever!

I've mostly stuck with position over the last 6+ years that I detested the administration rather than Bush himself, but you know, I'm really starting to hate the man. What a loser, Mr. 27%.

The good news is, this will just further the decline of the GOP which is now inexorably tied to Bush. The national Republican party will soon be as irrelevant as their Illinois counterparts. Just take a look at the pathetic bunch running for president; they are all trying to out-Bush each other. Wow, good plan; emulate the most disliked president in modern history. The gutless wonders deserve the defeat to be handed to them for having been so complicit in the empowerment of Bush & Co.

Shameful.

Update: Someone else says it best...
Dear American people and your hallowed legal system:

Fuck you!

All best,
George W. Bush

Update II: Oh, I see...
Well, George did it. Made sure that Scooter wouldn't flip rather than do jail time. He commuted Libby's sentence, guaranteeing not only that Libby wouldn't talk, but retaining Libby's right to invoke the Fifth.

This amounts to nothing less than obstruction of justice.
Agreed.

This iPhone is Making Me Sick

I have felt worse everyday since buying my iPhone. Today I couldn't get out of bed until 2:00 pm (except to call in to work). And I still feel like crap.

You know what's going on, right? iPhones are alien technology. While mesmerized by the shiny object, they drain your energy and beam it back to the mother ship. How fiendishly clever.

I've been up for over an hour; time to go back to bed.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Hate This iPhone

Not Really. It is very cool. BUT...there are some things I don't like.

1. It supports no games. Nothing. Not Solitaire, no nothing. My old phone, an HP iPaq, had several games and I downloaded more. I like playing games while waiting in places I'm made to wait (Dr.'s office, iPhone line outside AT&T store, etc.). Even some of my older, clunkier phones from days gone by had at lest primitive games.

2. When I unlock my iPhone to use it, it randomly takes me one of of its many functions (stock quotes, iPod, calendar, etc,) . I would prefer it just take me to the home page (which it sometimes, but randomly, does).

3. The current weather conditions and forecast feature allows you to add as many cities as you like, but they appear on the scroll in the order you add them. There needs to be a way to arrange them after they have been added. For example, I'm going to Newport Beach, CA later this month on vacation. I'll want that as my first weather conditions displayed while I'm there but it's stuck in position number five because that's the fifth location I added. Not a big deal but you should be able to sort this.

But honestly, that's about it. Otherwise I love this thing. The best part is, it's going to impact the entire industry. Before long, all cell phones are going to be making attempts at imitating the technology in the iPhone. Someday I'll cringe at having paid as much as I did for my first iPhone.

Update: I forgot to mention, I did have to reboot the thing once so far. It froze for some reason. The reboot took care of that.

Cedibility Matters

I've been saying similar things about drugs for years, but Stephen gets it exactly right:
Aside, then, from arguments about the legalization of marijuana or even other drugs we can see that our money is being wasted on over-the-top, ineffective advertising. I can’t imagine any way to measure this, but I believe whatever effectiveness anti-drug advertising and education may have is mitigated by the government’s obsession with marijuana. The claims made about marijuana use are generally undermined by most people’s experience with it. Anti-marijuana advertising is only slightly less hysterical than anti-meth or anti-crack ads. If people disbelieve anti-marijuana ads and education, then, they will be less inclined, I believe, to accept the claims about harder drugs such as meth. This is unfortunate, because meth really is as dangerous as the hype, and an effective strategy to curb its use is desperately needed.
Ridiculous fears and laws regarding marijuana do tremendous harm to the battle against drugs that are actually dangerous. This is because society needs to educate as a first line of defense and you can't educate without credibility. No one will listen to you.

Happy Weather Birthday Springfield!

From the National Weather Service today:
July 1, 1879
Weather records began in Springfield. The first observing site was downtown, on top of the Springer building at 6th and Monroe Streets, recording high and low temperature, as well as precipitation. The official observing site remained in downtown Springfield until the mid 1930's, when a second site was added at the old Southwest Airport. Even though weather observations were taken at Southwest Airport and later Capital Airport, the downtown weather office did not close until 1954.
So as far as anyone knows, Springfield had no weather before 1879. No wonder Lincoln left us.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Peoria Edition

Brewers in Peoria have funny accents. If it’s not Peorian, it’s crap!