Friday, August 31, 2007

Highway 55 Revisited

This seems like it might be pretty awesome. Yeah, both Dylan and Costello have seen better days musically, but the idea of having them booked for the same show is intriguing. I may just go.


Heard on my radio this morning that the new air service between Springfield and St. Louis will be “non-stop”. Wow. No more layovers in Litchfield? No changing planes in Staunton? Truly an air traveler's dream!

By the way, how long do you suppose this service will last? And does it really make any sense given that you can drive between the cities as quickly when you consider time spent at the airport?

Friday Beer Blogging: More Animals Edition

Nothing is funnier than pictures of animals pursuing human endeavors. Try putting a hat on a cat or dress your dog in clothes. Hilarious! And when it's a slow beer week, post pictures of animals with beer. Hilarious!

Every product must be tested before making it available to humans. Including beer. Especially Coors. The problem was getting beer cans small enough for rats to drink.

Goooood give me back my six pack. Your owners ARE aware of leash laws, right?

Awwwww...kitties are so cute...until they're over-served.

Less exploitative beer blogging to return next week.

Have a happy Labor Day weekend and buy your laborer a beer!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brothers in No Wi-Fi

Chicagoans feel our pain:
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- An ambitious plan to blanket the city with wireless broadband Internet will be shelved because it is too costly and too few residents would use it, Chicago officials said Tuesday.

Tuesday's announcement makes Chicago the latest in a string of municipalities to encounter troubles with their municipal broadband initiatives because of ballooning budgets and dwindling usage that's led to scant revenue generated by the projects. About 175 U.S. cities or regions have citywide or partial systems.
Hmmm. What are the odds that both Springfield and Chicago would have their ambitious Wi-Fi plans dashed the same week? BLA-GO-JE-VICH!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Not to pick on the school bus driver too much, but based on the information in this story,doesn’t he or she have some responsibility here.

Dropped off in an unfamiliar neighborhood a mile from his home Friday afternoon, Davion Conley, a kindergartner at Hazel Dell Elementary School, had no idea where he was.

A mix-up at the school had placed him on the wrong bus, and at the end of the route, Davion, 5, apparently was told to get off with the rest of the remaining pupils.

Told to get off? If drivers have extra kids at the end, they have to dump them off at the end of the line?

I don’t know any more about the incident than what’s in the newspaper account, but it sounds like maybe the school bus driver dropped the ball here too. I know it’s early in the school year and the driver probably doesn’t know all the kids on their route yet, but telling a kid he has to get off just because it’s the end of that route seems odd to me. I suspect the kid didn’t speak up about it not being his stop, but still.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hey, Mr. Wilson!

Dear Owen,

My four year-old son doesn’t want to know that his hero Lightning McQueen tried to kill himself. Please get well.


Will Get Fooled Again

Why do media outlets, pundits, and other MSMers continually fall for fake stories on obvious parody sites on the internet? This latest incident is hilarious. MSNBC falls for a fake news story on the Michael Vick case which includes this:

But at the same time, [Rev. Al] Sharpton argued that the prosecution of Vick was overkill.

If the police caught Brett Favre (a white quarterback for the Green Bay Packers) running a dolphin-fighting unit out of his pool, where dolphins with spears attached to their foreheads fought each other, would they bust him? Of course not," Sharpton wrote Tuesday on his personal blog.
Now, even if you, as a reporter, could believe Sharpton would say something like that, isn’t it part of your job to verify it? Or at least be observant enough to see the fake news warning signs all around you. As Digby notes:

The editor of the site, terribly impressed with MSNBC's investigative skills as you might imagine, wonders which one of these clues finally tipped them off:

1. The words "fake parody blogs" in the titlebar of every page of our site
2. Our logo
3. Al Sharpton blogging on the same site as Lindsay Lohan, George Bush
and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
4. Our about page
5. Al Sharpton referring to himself in his bio as an "Emancipation Proclamation enthusiast"

…It's hard to imagine anyone sentient would believe Sharpton would come up with the "dolphins with spears on their heads" thing. He's colorful but he isn't retarded.

Well, blogs do continue to confound some journalists. But hey, who am I to criticize; I get all my news from The Daily Show, The Onion, and the Colbert Report.

What's This Guy Doing?

I’m really tired of asking that question about Rod Blagojevich. The SJ-R says it under the opinion piece headline, “Blagojevich making a joke of government”.

Sadly, while Blago bumbles and acts like fool, the Bush administration shreds the constitution, breaks laws, lies, manipulates, bankrupts the treasury and starts the occasional war (coming soon: Iran!). This is why I still can’t get too worked up about the silliness of Illinois politics. Yes, it’s goofy and we can do better but what’s going on in Washington is far more dangerous.

Chester the Molester Laws

Following up on the post below, I agree with the commenters that the sexual predator laws are generally too broad in coverage and too readily enacted. That latter point goes to what I was saying about teen driving laws and though-on-crime legislation in general. The “tougher” laws easily pass because no one wants to be seen opposing them. Never mind they may do little or no good, cost a fortune and often overcorrect minor infractions. In this case, no politician wants to be siding with “child molesters” so they go along with any and every measure that that comes along. It’s silly and wasteful, but that’s the reality.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Looking for the Cussing/Pedophile Connection.

I’ve been reading the series of stories in the SJ-R (here and here) on sex offenders and some of the crazy consequences of overly broad sex offender laws. The Peoria paper has this too. The bottom line seems to be that these laws are expensive, often ruin lives needlessly while not making much of a difference in crime rates. Some of the situations are just ridiculous. For example,
In Pennsylvania, a 13-year-old girl who took pictures of her naked self will be marked a sex offender for life.

Two Virginia girls in their teens who took topless photos of each other also must register for life.

In Florida, a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy made a video of themselves having sex and have to register – not for the legal sex acts, but for the tape, considered child porn.

A Georgia mother was convicted in 2002 of being party to a crime of child molestation because she allowed her pregnant 15-year-old daughter’s boyfriend, who was 17, to move in with the family. Though the couple eventually married, Allison’s label sticks.
And so on. But then I came across this bit:

Jane’s two daughters, ages 10 and 12, and son, 7, spent Saturdays at Glen Wheeler’s for seven years.

The eldest daughter testified at trial that Wheeler started touching her during the very first playdate. Then he videotaped her siblings.

“We thought they had the same moral standard we did,” Jane said of the Wheelers. “They didn’t swear. They didn’t have alcohol in the house. They cared about their kids.

Well, being that simple-minded I can understand how she never saw the signs of abuse. I wonder in what world is there a correlation between swearing and pedophilia? They better lock me up now because I swear AND I drink alcohol. Damn, lock down the schools, I’m on the loose! I have no proof, but I bet there’s a much stronger correlation between hiding behind being a self-righteous prude and pedophilia than there is between saying bad words and molesting kids. But what the fuck do I know; pour me another drink, kid.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Big Screen Blog

I see my movie is finally coming out. I wonder if this will help my sagging hit count so JP can rest easy.

SJ-R Calls for the U.S. Pullout of Iraq

In the paper’s main editorial today, the Springfield Journal-Register calls on the Bush administration to begin a military withdrawal from Iraq.
It was a catastrophic mistake to invade Iraq — we believe that mistake is compounded the longer we stay. That is not the opinion of wild-eyed liberal “cut and runners.” The majority of Americans no longer want us in Iraq. They can see what apparently Bush cannot — simply wanting something to be a certain way doesn’t make it that way — no matter what any general says.
I don’t remember, did the SJ-R call this a “catastrophic mistake” BEFORE the invasion? You know, when it might have mattered. Or was it on board with the popular and exciting war fever thing that so engrossed the media in 2002 and early 2003? I’m too lazy to do the research on what the paper’s stand was then, but I suspect that it was only us “wild-eye liberals” who thought this thing was a giant cluster-fuck in the making before we went all shock and awe in 2003. Either way, I’m glad the very serious SJ-R is finally agreeing with those of us with the wild eyes.

Friday Beer Blogging: Old Time Cheap Edition

I was talking to a friend the other day about cheap beers that were staples during or respective college years. You know, beers brewed for those on a budget. We had a number of low priced favorites during my college days in the late 70s and early 80s. These were almost always cases of returnable bottles that sold for $4.99 plus a buck deposit on the bottles.

Hands down the winner in terms of total volume consumed has to have been Wiedemann.

Note: I had not luck finding pictures of some of these beers -some don't even exist any more- so I have labels and such.

Another notorious favorite was Rhinelander.

Rhinelander was brewed in Monroe, Wisconsin, just across the border from where I later lived and continued to drink the stuff on my radio salary in the mid-80s.

This next stuff was real shit beer, Sterling. Ugh! Never a favorite of mine, but the price was always right.

Schmidt we usually bought in cans and the 12 packs had nature scenes. Schmidt wasn't too bad as I recall.

Top Hat beer was one we liked my freshman year at school. I even did one of my first FBB posts on it a couple of years ago.

And finally, Generic beer. This stuff appeared late in my college career but I remember buying it a few times cuz it was so damn cheap.

Have a happy (and cheap) weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Springfield Bloggers: You're Invited

We're throwing a party for no particular reason late Saturday afternoon and evening. As a man, I am waiting until the last minute to invite my people. I was just going to ship off an invite to JP, but thought what the hell, why not invite any and all Springfield bloggers and regular commenters here on this blog.

We are providing all the food and drink (hard and soft). Bring a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse if you like (no kids as we already have enough adults showing up). We have a pool, so bring something to wear to swim if you like. We anticipate getting this thing started about 4:00 and go until whenever.

For more details, email me at the link above and I'll get back to you on directions to Stately TEH Manor.

More Teen Driving Law Consequences

The new law requiring teens to have a learner’s permit for nine months rather than three months is causing some problems. The idea is to give kids more time with supervised experience before letting them out on the road alone. The effect may actually be to have them start earlier.

For example, the Pleasant Plains school district, unlike Springfield, seems to be accommodating students in light of the new law. One of my daughters just started at the high school this week and, at 14 and a first semester freshman, she is enrolled in drivers ed. This will allow her to get the drivers ed in, and her 9 months of learner's permit time before she’s 16. So while she will be getting more experience before getting a real license, she’s getting that experience at an earlier age. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it is one effect the new law is having.

The other, perhaps not entirely unintended, consequence will be that kids not able to get into divers ed earlier, lie those in Springfield public schools, will be getting their actual license at some point after their 16th birthday. Maybe months after. Again, I’m not sure this is good or bad (well, I’m sure it’s bad in the minds of the students) but the days of pretty much guaranteeing you can get your driver’s license on your 16th birthday may be over for awhile, at least until the school districts can adjust.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bloggers Against Dialing and Driving

The governor has signed into law a bill that would ban 18 year-olds from using there cell phone behind the wheel. The only problem I have is that is it should apply to everyone. I think dialing, talking, texting, and emailing while driving is not a good idea. I’ll be the first to admit that I get too distracted doing those things on the road. I always vow to stop it, but NEXT time.

Fifteen or so years ago, not many people had cell phones, or “car phones” as they were probably more commonly known as back then and we all got along in life just fine. We had to stop at a pay phone to make a call and life was still good. Today, even if using your cell phone was banned while driving, you could still pull over and use it which is way better than what we had in the good ol’ days 15+ years ago. I would also have an exemption for obvious emergencies.

I’m also noticing a legislative trend here. Lawmakers like to get legislation passed and they sometimes find an easy mark that will satisfy their need to make laws with little to no political risk. The favorite, of course, is new and stricter punishment for law-breakers. More jail time! Stiffer fines! Take away rights! It’s politically profitable since no one wants to come out and be accused of being “soft on crime” even if the new, stricter penalties have no effect and just wind up costing money and further destroy lives. The law of diminishing returns, or even negative returns, starts to kick in at some point.

But lately, lawmakers here in Illinois seem to be piling on teenagers. Again, they’re an easy mark because they either can’t or won’t vote, and adults, who can and do vote more often, are always looking for ways to “control:” the wild and carefree teens. So we get ever more restrictions on teen driving. And to be honest, most teens have grown up multi-tasking and are probably more prepared to use a cell phone while driving than are their parents. If safety is the issue, we need to have the ban apply to everyone.

More Nakidity in the News

I’m just going to have to make this a regular feature (Wednesday Bare Blogging?). Hardly a week goes by without someone shedding their clothes for 15 minutes of fame. Now we have a naked woman attacking people with a hammer.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- A woman who police say assaulted people with a hammer while she was naked was arrested on a variety of charges, including assault and obstruction of emergency communications.

Satin Delfrano, 32, of Des Moines was arrested on Sunday after police were called to a complaint of a woman armed with a hammer assaulting three other women.
This wouldn’t be an AP story had her hammer attack occurred while she was clothed. It probably wouldn’t have gone national even if she had killed one of those people (more than one, maybe). Naked = News.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blago Bans Computer Hunters

I suppose if even the National Rife Association opposes this kind of hunting, it must really be bad.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a new law Monday banning so-called remote-control hunting, in which a computer user maneuvers a camera-equipped rifle, tracks an animal on-screen, and fires the weapon with the click of a mouse.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, makes Illinois one of more than 30 states that have outlawed the practice, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

"The main purpose of this (measure) is gamesmanship and maintaining hunting for what it is," Gerardo Cardenas, a Blagojevich spokesman, said Tuesday. "Remote-control hunting - people sitting in their living rooms, basements and bedrooms controlling weapons and firing at animals from their computer - does not seem to fit into what the sport of hunting is about."

Still more concept than trend, such "ready, aim, click" kills - or the prospect of them - push the ethical envelope and violate the spirit of "fair chase" hunts, opponents say.

The issue emerged in early 2005, when Texas entrepreneur John Lockwood set up a Web site that allowed subscribing hunters with a high-speed Web connection to shoot antelope, wild pigs and other game on his 220-acre San Antonio spread via remote control - from anywhere. Lockwood offered to send the animals' heads to subscribers.

Lockwood's venture barely got started before Texas lawmakers caught wind of it, swooped in and shot it down. Since then, other states have hustled to get something on their books barring the practice.
Sheesh, only in Texas.

I’m not opposed to hunters or hunting I guess, but to suggest that blowing away an animal with a gun is somehow “fair” if it’s done in person as opposed to remotely seems odd to me. No, it’s still not “fair”. Hunters are in little danger of being hurt or killed unless it’s at the hands of another hunter. Using all kinds of camouflage, lures, scopes, high-powered arms, etc. only makes it more unfair. But whatever, at least the hunters still have to get out of bed. Thanks, Governor B.

Uniform Thinking

So Springfield public schools may adopt uniforms for students. I’ve long thought the there is nothing particularly wrong with school uniforms even if their impact is minimal. They certainly save money for parents and remove one layer (but only one layer) of social competition among the kids. Opponents, on the other hand, decry the loss of individuality. I think both sides overstate their case, however.

There is nothing magical about uniforms that tears down social class or instills any significant amount of greater discipline in students. Social groups and cliques and, yes, gangs, will continue exist even if everyone is forced to wear similar clothing. Discipline problems will continue and the clothes don’t help you learn. Still, it does probably save teachers and administrators time they would otherwise use to be judge and jury in dress code enforcement duty.

As for the loss of individuality, I actually have the radical notion that, in a small way, uniforms can increase individuality. Kids –well, maybe all of us- use close not to stand out as different, but to identify with a group. That’s hardly being “individual”.

When I was in high school, every student, I mean EVERYONE, wore blue jeans. It was a cultural uniform. I remember being struck by this in a vivid way once when I was walking to the end of the line in front of the Armory to see a concert in the late 70s. As I walked past the other concertgoers, it really seemed odd that all of us free thinkers were in jeans and wouldn’t dare be seen in such a setting in anything else.

So kids already have “uniforms” that associate them with this or that group. Once that group uniform is removed and replaced with the clothes all the other kids are wearing in the school, you have no choice but to look beyond the clothes to see who this person is. That, to me, makes someone more of an individual because they now need to rely on things like personality and achievement (good or bad) to express their individuality.

I wouldn’t look for great things to happen if District 186 does go uniform. But it’s not the end of the world either.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Viva Viagra

God I hate erectile dysfunction drug ads. They're everything that's wrong with our culture, medical system and mass media rolled into one. When these ads come on my TV, I usually just grit my teeth and endure them. Today at lunch, this shit came on my TV and I nearly lost my lunch. These people are shameless.

Look, I'm a middle-aged guy and I really, really don't want this kind of PR. Hell, they've almost convinced me that we're a generation of hapless limp dicks. Someone make it stop!

Know Your Local Abandoned Coal Mines

The mine disaster in Utah and the coverage surrounding it has focused new attention on coal mining and the dangers surrounding it. It’s also worth noting the problems old mines under much of Springfield still present in the form of mine subsidence. This map (.pdf) shows what parts of the city are sitting on top of abandoned mines, the name of the mines, when they were operational, and it plots the locations of the old entrances.

Like many, my house sits on top of one of these mines. It makes me a little nervous. Not that the whole house could be swallowed up, but the subtle damage can be devastating. While we were looking at houses a few years ago, we looked at one in a nearby subdivision that was going for about half-price. It was on a beautiful lot full of tress. Something had to be wrong. We found out it had subsidence damage. Too bad, it was such a deal otherwise.

A realtor friend told me about someone he knew who bought a subsidence house for a song, but this person was able to do his own repairs as needed. At some point, however, the water wouldn’t fully drain out of this guy’s bathtub because the tub was on a slight angle due to the subsidence. For years, he had to use a squeegee to get all the water out. I’m just not prepared for that kind of stuff.

There’s Got to be More to This Story

Talk about a lot of loose ends. This is the entire story as it appeared at
BELGRADE, Serbia (Reuters) -- A 23-year old Serb was found dead and half-eaten in the bear cage of Belgrade Zoo at the weekend during the annual beer festival.

The man was found naked, with his clothes lying intact inside the cage. Two adult bears, Masha and Misha, had dragged the body to their feeding corner and reacted angrily when keepers tried to recover it.

"There's a good chance he was drunk or drugged. Only an idiot would jump into the bear cage," zoo director Vuk Bojovic told Reuters.

Local media reported that police found several mobile phones inside the cage, as well as bricks, stones and beer cans.
I think every paragraph in that story leads to one or more questions. But I do want to say that I think having a beer festival in or near a zoo might be asking for trouble.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tollerance Defined

What she said
Tolerance is a civic virtue, not a personal one. It means that you have the right to freely express your political and religious views without government interference. It means you have the right to be free from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. It means that your neighbors and co-workers are obligated to treat you with respect. But dude, “tolerance” does not mean anyone is required to like you, be your friend, or want to date you.
I get the tolerance rap here in comments on occasion. "I thought Liberals were suppose to be so tolerant, so why aren't you tolerating my opinions?" Me disagreeing with someone, even strongly, does not make me intolerant. There are no consequences to the disagreement on a larger scale or for the individual with whom I express disagreement. Now, if I said because you support George W. Bush you should be segregated, not served in restaurants and not allowed to get married and actively supported societal and legislative matters to that end, then yes, I would be intolerant. Simply indicating you're full of shit on some issue does not in anyway infringe on your civil liberties or make me intolerant.

It's in the Air

Historically, it's been my experience that air guitar is appropriate only under the following circumstances:

1) Alone at home with the music cranked waaay up
2) Others are home too, but you're alone in a room with the door closed and have headphones on
3) You're really drunk and don't give a shit

PDAGs (Public Display of Air Guitar) otherwise make me uncomfortable.

Bigger, Better Who Blogging

JP has the goodies here, here and here. I especially like the Entwistle isolated bass. He was clearly rock's best.

Nice Pair Again

If you missed it last time, the space shuttle and the International Space Station will be making another joint appearance over Springfield tomorrow evening. At 8:28 PM, look to the northwest and you will see the two bright objects moving to the southeast. They will be visible overhead for four minutes. It was a pretty spectacular sight in June, so if you missed it then, try again tomorrow. There will be another opportunity on Tuesday night at 8:51 PM when the spacecraft will move from west to southeast.

Fly in the ointment: The forecast isn't all the promising on Monday, but better on Tuesday.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fair and Balanced Wiki

As if you needed another reason to be distrustful of Wikipedia, there’s this story on how the online information source isn’t just being manipulated by individuals, but by corporations (and the CIA!) with an axe to grind. Not surprisingly, it turns out Fox News is among them. Fortunately, as the linked-to stories indicate, there is a way to track these folks now. There may be no cure for Fox News but we can treat the symptoms.

Friday Beer Blogging: Pinky's Delirium Edition

So I'm in Friar Tucks last weekend looking (drooling) over the vast selection of beers when a familiar image comes into view. It was Pinky!

For those of you not from Springfield, Pinky is a bespectacled, martini-toting pink elephant that resides here when he isn't being exploited for commercial purposes elsewhere. He's been around these parts forever; see here for picture.

Anyway, there was Pinky on a bottle of Belgian beer called Delirium Nocturnum.

It's a very strong beer, listing the alcohol content at a whopping 9%.

It's brewed by Brouwerij Huyghe in Ghent, Belgium. This is the brewery...

Delirium Nocturnum has a sister beer called Delirium Tremens. Yes, as in the DTs. It, too, has a high alcohol content.

Friar Tucks has this beer too. I bought one of each. I drank the Delirium Nocturnum but decided to not die of alcohol poisoning and saved the Tremens for later.

The Nocturnum was just OK, but it did pack a punch. And I did get to party with Pinky's own brand!

Have a great weekend and honk if you love Pinky!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


The SJ-R quotes Congressman Ray LaHood as saying:
“Lookit,” Rep. LaHood continued. “He's been around politics. He worked in Washington for three years."
LaHood is talking about his son, Darin, who is contemplating running for the seat he (Ray) is vacating at the end of his current term. Fine. More LaHoods in the’hood. But “Lookit”? Is that Peoria slang for “Sure I’m a dumbass, but…”?


OK, so I got JP's bird quiz. But that just served to remind me of something I've wondered for a long time. Why does Chatham Road, seemingly for no particular reason, suddenly become Bruns Lane at Washington? At one time, were these separate roads that eventually met? Today, there appears to be no geographical reason for the name switch. If I were Lord of All Street Naming in Springfield (and I just might be someday), I would have Chatham road go all the way to at least Jefferson where there is a more natural divide. And if I was in a particularly foul mood, I might rename Bruns all the way to Veterans.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Most Effete Post

How much wrong can a person get into one sentence.
Karl Rove claimed that the people criticizing Bush are “sort of elite, effete snobs who can’t hold a candle to this guy. What they don’t like about him is that he is common sense, that he is Middle America.”
I’m a critic and hardly an elite, effete snob. Well, I do prefer Grolsch over Miller Lite but only in the most masculine of ways.

George W. Bush is middle America? He was born into one of the richest, most powerful families in the country. He was given everything. He would not now be president if he had not been. So give me this middle-America, common man bullshit. The only thing “middle” about Bush is the middle finger he has given the country.

Additionally, if I did try to hold a candle to him, I would be wrestled to the ground by the Secret Service. So maybe Rove’s right about that part.

We Be Learning

I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve heard someone refer to the space agency NASA as “NAH-saw”. As in Nassau, The Bahamas, I guess. There was a time, probably more than 25 years ago or more now, when you would actually hear people mispronounce NASA that way. Not any more. Things really are getting better in the USA.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Battle for Second Place is Joined!

The Illinois Times' Best of Springfield contest is on again (hat tip to to Will). And again this year there is a category for best blog. Last year's winner was Rich Miller's powerhouse Capitol Fax Blog, which isn't surprising because he has a large readership locally and across the state. Ands his blog also just happens to kick ass. So I imagine first place is all sewn up again this year.

Meanwhile, I would not presume to pick a nominee for second place (last year it was the very deserving BlogFreeSpringfield) since I like all (well, most) of the Springfield area blogs. However, I have a nomination for second place: Spfldbloggers. That way we all win.

On second thought, since Capitol Fax Blog posts appear on Spfldbloggers as well, Rich would be getting both first and (an assisted) second place. Blog hegemony!

Cut Down in the Prime of Life

What’s going on here? The world’s oldest people keep dying. Hardly a month goes by without a headline like this one. Has someone got it in for these folks? Is there a rogue 110 year-old looking for that coveted title of oldest person in the world who will stop at nothing to achieve his fame? If you’re a one-hundred-teenager, be alert to this danger.

A Fair Call

I think I’ve found evidence that cell phones, and the annoying way some people use them, have finally reached the point of total saturation ion our society. Saturday at the State Fair I walked up to a ride with my four year-old and the ride operator was on his cell. He was securing a little girl in the ride but doing so VERY slowly and occasionally pausing in mid-process to continue talking on ht phone. We stood there, no one else in line and only the one girl one the ride. He finally finished with the girl, sat down and started the ride all while continuing his electronic chat. But, ummm, there was only the girl on the ride and we stood there watching her go around while he continued to talk. He never noticed that he had just started a ride with only one person on it while someone else was in line. He was completely distracted by his phone call. Anyway, no special point here, just that the distractions of cell phones have now reached al the way to carnival workers.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Won the Gas Lottery Again!

A little voice told me I needed to top off my gas tank yesterday when gas was $2.52/gal. I listened and filled my half-empty tank. Today, prices went up 35 cents. I win!

Adding – WTF, 35 cents in ONE day?

Buffet City Returns

A few days a go the New Buffet City opened in the building on Wabash that used to house the “old” Buffet City. I haven’t eaten there yet, but this item in yesterday’s SJ-R suggests it’s much like the BC of old. Has Buffet City been reborn? Has anyone been there yet and is it any good?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It's a Clown's State After All

Ha, finally we get an unfiltered photo of the state budget negotiations.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Nude in the News

In my ongoing demonstration that doing anything naked will get your name in the papers, I present today’s edition (hint: it’s a priest this time). And that’s an awesome mug shot.

Friday Beer Blogging: Mutt Lynchs Edition

The best drinking establishment of my California vacation last week had to be Mutt Lynchs.

The Newport Beach food and beer establishment is located right on the boardwalk just feet from the beach.

They have a few draft beers

Oh, and here are the rest...

I enjoyed a couple of 32 ounce (!) Blue Moons. The damn things are nearly too heavy to lift.

And then there was this random guy, showing the effects of being out in the sun all week, enjoying one of the big beers

Have a happy Illinois State Fair weekend!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Van Agin'

So Van Halen is touring again and will have almost the original lineup. Original bassist Michael Anthony will not be with them, but aren’t David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen really the faces of Van Halen back when anyone cared?

Anyway, all the news stories, print and TV, have featured 23+ year-old photos of the band. I guess because that’s the last time Roth was with them. But still, given things like this and this, it’s a bit misleading to have the still youthful pics of the band in the mid ‘80s displayed in stories about their alleged 2007 tour. I don’t think the pictures of this tour will be quite so glamorous.

And by the way, the 1979 VH show the band put on here may have been the worst concert I ever attended. (It was also the last one I ever saw at the Armory before the PCCC was built.) So excuse me if I miss them this time around.

Still Sucking

Or, what if everyone just yelled, “Hey governor, you suck”? You know, cuz he thinks that kinda cool anyway.

I Beg to Differ

I just don’t get this new ban on panhandling in “downtown” Springfield. If it’s wrong downtown, why is it not wrong everywhere in the city? Is it because, as the SJ-R puts it, “An outright ban isn’t possible because of First Amendment issues, according to the city attorney”? If it’s a First Amendment issue, wouldn’t that apply to the downtown area as well? Huh?

I understand than panhandlers can be annoying. I lived and worked in downtown Chicago for three years; no one has to tell me about panhandlers. But this kind of bothers me:
Those who do street shows or musical performances for voluntary donations will not be affected, nor will groups or individuals selling such things as Girl Scout cookies.
Not that I have anything against fund raising, but in effect, it’s the same thing as panhandling. It’s no more or less annoying to be asked to buy cookies than it is to be asked for money for an individual.

The SJ-R story doesn’t define what the city considers “panhandling” and that may make the difference here. If the ban only covers so-called aggressive panhandling (blocking your way, touching, abusive language, etc.), I’m more inclined to support the idea. However, those things should be illegal anyway and apply citywide. As for non-aggressive panhandlers, you can always ignore them or say no; it’s not that big a deal.

And those who are “afraid” of panhandlers (or the homeless), I say ‘tough shit’. If you feared blacks or Asians or bankers you’d just have to live with it (or get over your prejudices). If an individual isn’t committing a real crime, there is no reason to ban them or their activity.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Party Like It’s 1984

Jonathan Schwarz posts this excerpt from George Orwell’s 1984:
A Party member…is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline…called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
Hmmmm. I wonder if there is any group of people we know that fits this description. Seems like I keep seeing them on my TV and hearing them on my radio and reading them as they troll the blogs I frequent. Also it’s always amazing to me how hardcore wingnuts really have no idea what I’m saying when I talk to them or they leave a comment on my blog or send an e-mail indicating they have completely missed the point.

I read 1984 in high school. I’m afraid to read it again today.

It’s OK to Say Suck

Now come on people, you bitch that the Governor is never here in Springfield and then when he is, you go and do this:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich told a surprising tale earlier this week at a bill-signing ceremony.

He said he was jogging in Springfield recently when he passed a man who shouted, "'Hey, governor, you ... ' and I better not say the next word but it rhymes with luck."
Assuming the governor’s story is true, and I’m thinking it is, who was this heckling Springfieldian? Please step forward, a lot of people would like to applaud you.


I haven’t watched many of the seemingly endless run of presidential debates, but I did catch most of a rebroadcast of the Democratic debate held in Chicago yesterday. They held it in Soldier Field with a large and vocal audience. These things generally aren’t of much interest to me since they are usually just forums for candidates to offer up their own canned sound bites; often ignoring the question they were asked. But the live audience at yesterday’s forum would get pissed when candidates avoided the questions and you would hear calls of “answer the question”. Ha, that made it worth watching right there. I kind of liked the audience participation.

The other odd thing I noticed was Hillary Clinton slipping into a Chicago accent from time to time. She, of course, grew up in the area and, like a lot of relocated people, lost her “native” accent to a large degree. But at yesterday’s event you could definitely detect her Chicago area roots in her voice. The debate featured a lot of questions from the audience and I suspect hearing enough of those folks got her talking local again. When she would do this, she reminded me of former Chicago mayor Jane Byrne for some reason.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Who’s the Einstein?

So a new study says the Baby Einstein videos will eat your child’s brain.
The claim always seemed too good to be true: park your infant in front of a video and, in no time, he or she will be talking and getting smarter than the neighbor's kid. In the latest study on the effects of popular videos such as the "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby" series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers.
OK, I’m familiar with the BE stuff because I used to watch them with my son. Key words: “watched, with”. And I interacted with him while we watched. We had whole routines for different scenes and there was lots of verbal interaction between us as well. In fact, the videos recommend you do just that; use them as points of interaction not as babysitters. Nowhere do the BEs state that you can “park your infant in front of a video and, in no time, he or she will be talking and getting smarter”. I’m not sure if that statement comes from the study or the reporter who wrote the story about the study, but it certainly doesn’t come from the makers of the videos. Anyone who thinks they can put a 1 year old in front of a TV and expect them to learn something is a fucking idiot. That’s the conclusion of my unscientific study.

Ray LaHood “Up to Something”?

This is sort of a strange piece in today’s Peoria Journal Star. Can’t LaHood just be tired of the shit? Hell, maybe he’s ashamed of what his party has done to this country over the last dozen years. LaHood has always struck me as a GOPer who might actually have a conscience.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Everybody Hearts Springfield

Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn takes his family to Springfield and finds it an enjoyable bargain. He even finishes his post with this:
Bottom line: Springfield is a great getaway if time or money is short, which they often seem to be. A capital idea, in other words.
Yeah, but where was Zorn's column when we needed all those Chicago votes to make us the official home of the Simpsons?

I guess the Simpsons thing just wasn't meant to be and we will just have to settle for being the official home of Abe Lincoln. Which is exactly what a told a pharmacy worker while I was in California last week. She saw I was from Springfield and asked if that wasn't the home of the Simpsons. I told her the whole story about how we had just missed out on the official designation by a silly internet poll. She was shocked, having never heard of the Vermont Springfield. Another worker stepped up to convey his disgust at what he had just heard me tell the first worker. It had to be Springfield, Illinois he insisted. Or maybe Springfield, Missouri he added.

Anyway, after I told the pharmacy woman that we would just have to settle for being the home of Abe Lincoln, she exclaimed something like, "Oh, I didn't know he was from there!" D'oh! Oddly enough, after my discussion with them I turned to leave and came face to face with a large display of Simpsons dolls. Double D'oh!

More Tom Terrific

I just wanted to add something to my Tom Snyder comments from a couple of posts down. It occurs to me that there is a reason people like me, JP and Richard Roeper (see Rich’s remembrances here) were Snyder fans. It has to do with the fact that we are all about the same age and were in high school and college when Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show aired in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The show was on so late at night, no one but kids our age were up to watch it. And there wasn’t much else to watch. Remember, even cable TV was in its infancy and didn’t offer a whole lot by way of late night entertainment. I know my parents never were up to watch him. Even others my age not interested in, say, politics and current events could find something to like. I mean, who else was doing interviews with John Lennon, Johnny Rotten, The Ramones, and Wendy O. Williams? We were either the youngest baby boomers or oldest Gen Xers, stuck in the middle somewhere. Maybe we were really the Snyder generation.

Jet Pack Update

As I’ve mentioned before, we were promised these things long ago. It’s good to see someone is still working on them. And when did they change the name to “Rocketbelts”? My Weekly Reader in fourth grade clearly defined them as “Jet Packs”.

Catching Up

Wow, I went 8 days without an original post on this blog. That’s a record for the more than 2.5 years I’ve been blogging. I’m not sure how the blogosphere survived my absence, given that everyone is entitled to my opinion. Still, I think taking a break from the blog made my vacation more complete. And to be honest, I wasn’t paying attention to much going on in the world while I was gone. I occasionally caught some news and looked at a few blogs here and there via my iPhone, but was mostly blissfully ignorant of the goings-on here and around the world.

Here are a few notes from the past week:

I enjoyed much about the beach area of Newport Beach, CA, especially the near perfect weather. The high temperatures were in the mid to upper 70s and lows in the mid 60s with a cool breeze coming off the ocean. There was little humidity. But the weather deal breaker for ever living there permanently is the near total lack of thunderstorms in the area. I can’t imagine never experiencing the beauty of a spring thunderstorm as it moves in.

There was only one time while I was gone that I watched any TV news. That just happened to be the afternoon the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. As I watched the tragedy unfold, I kept thinking about how neglected the country’s infrastructure really is. Glorious and expensive wars are far more sexy than the mundane infrastructure maintenance. And almost no one, of any political stripe, wants to be on record as supporting tax increases to fund needed updates. Too bad.

I totally missed Tom Snyder’s passing until I got back. I have to second Jerome Prophet’s comments. Snyder was a bit dense at times, especially when interviewing youth pop icons back in the day, but the personal style in which he conducted interviews was very compelling to me. Except for Charlie Rose on PBS, there really isn’t anyone doing good one-on-one interviews the way Snyder did in his day. Snyder had blog that I regularly read before he signed off for good two years ago. I blogged about it here and included an excerpt from his last post. Shortly after that the entire site disappeared.

Vacations, when I take them at all, have become somewhat predictable. I guess it’s part of getting older when there is little mystery left in life. There is the anticipation that builds for a few weeks before. Once the vacation starts, it’s half over within the first 24 hours or so, after which the remaining time zips by faster than the speed of light. Finally, there is the night before going back to work when the sense of dread overwhelms. At that point, I wish I had waited a week because the vacation would just be beginning if I had.

Well, hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work I go.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Disturbing But Funny

OK, I'm back in town and have much to say but I first have to point you to this not-safe-for-work YouTube vid. I thought it dumb when I first saw it but can't seem to stop giggling about it since.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer Piss Edition (Redux)

I'm on vacation this week so I present a beer blast from the past:

Ooops, I mean Piss Beer Edition. Yes, there is piss beer (see Milwaukee’s Best) and then there is Piss Beer. It’s from Australia and can’t be purchased here in the U.S. I guess it’s because we already have enough piss beers (see Old Milwaukee). Australians don’t have as much naturally pissy beer so they have to go out of their way to create Piss Beer

The Piss Beer folks can be found here. They seem to understand the importance of a good morning piss.

Since Piss Beer isn’t sold here, we don’t get tot see the Piss Beer ads. I’m really wondering the story behind the advert that features this scene.

Oh well, maybe someday real Piss Beer will be available here. Brewhaus, you listening?

Have a happy weekend! Live Beer Blogging returns next week.