Friday, February 29, 2008

Taming the Comments

The Bloomington Pantagraph is tired of bullshit commenters.

We have tried a variety of ways to temper the discussion, ranging from an appeal to users for more civility, stricter policies regarding the review of comments and suspending comments on some stories.

We’re hoping that the requirement of a legitimate e-mail address will make readers feel more accountable for their behavior.

Stupid, rude, defamatory comments are not allowed. That’s what God invented blog posts for.

If the SJ-R ever went to this, I would also like to see them weed out comments that contain unsubstantiated conspiracy theories (Blagojevich wants to destroy Springfield!) and stereotypes (All state workers are inefficient and lazy!). But then, I suppose, that would also include the ones I subscribe to which, obviously, should be allowed. And it would likely cut the number of comments by more than half.

Rooms with a View

This is too bad.
With little fanfare, the Hilton Springfield is closing a bar and restaurant atop the tallest building in Illinois south of Chicago. By Monday, hotel management says, there will be no more late-night booze and music in Jazz Central Station and no more dinners at Capisce? Ristorante Italiano.

Michael Fear, hotel general manager, said the top floor will be remodeled, but he couldn’t say what will replace the restaurant and adjoining cocktail lounge when work is complete in about eight months.
I’m wondering though if Mr. Fear (isn’t that the Secret Service's code name for Dick Cheney?) isn’t actually being a bit coy here. Perhaps he’s deferring an announcement about an all new restaurant and bar atop the city until he gets Bennigan’s launched at ground level. Or maybe I’m just hoping against hope.

I would sure hate to think there will never again be an eating or drinking establishment on the 30th floor. I was no fan of Capisce? Ristorante Italiano (hated it) but I loved Gumbo Ya Ya back in its day. And no matter how good or bad the food was in any of the restaurant’s incarnations, getting a window table was automatically at least a good dining experience.

In years gone by, I’ve enjoyed many an evening in the bar, often with a good jazz band playing. Again, getting a window seat made having a few drinks a great way to spend an evening. You would forget you were “just” in Springfield.

We’ll see what happens in eight months.

Friday Beer Blogging: Knitting Edition

Knitting and beer don't go together? Bah! Surely you've heard of Knitties 'n' Beer. And some fine knitties is what I have for you today.

The most obvious use of knitting for beer is to make a bottle koozie.

Or a glass koozie.

But there's more. You can actually knit yourself a beer (don't tell the kids). See if you can spot the knitted beer.

That's right, it's this one.

Knitting is traditionally associated with clothing (yawn) so I've included a token knitted Bud hat.

Totally unrelated to beer, we have the knitted iPhone. I guess you could use it to call your drinking budddy to see if his wife will let him come over and pound a few.

Have a great weekend! And remember, do not drink and operate knitting needles.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

No Frickin’ Way

Isn’t the reason we have “frickin’” so that we can SAFELY convey the meaning behind a similar sounding bad word? Has “frickin’” now become a bad word by association?

ALTOONA, Pa. -- A convenience store chain's billboard advertising its fried chicken sandwich is ruffling the feathers of some residents.

Sheetz unveiled the "Crispy Frickin' Chicken'' billboards at the beginning of February.

Sheetz will take down the billboards on Wednesday, when the campaign is scheduled to end, Jones said. The company recently removed one billboard in Hazle Township, near Hazleton, after local officials fielded complaints.

"There was a lady who left an angry voice mail,'' code enforcement officer Fran Calarco said. "And a man called and said he had small children and didn't think they should be exposed to that type of language. I told him I completely understood and agreed.''

I move that we go to “phuckin’”. Anyway, it’s my fucking blog and I don’t have to comply.

The Local News Network

Have you noticed how the growth of 24-hour cable TV news has turned a lot of stories that otherwise would be local in nature into national news? CNN is coving a fire in a mall in Waukegan, IL. But if it were not that, there would be a car chase in Los Angeles, or a construction worker trapped in a collapsed trench in Georgia, or a submerged auto in a North Dakota pond, or a bank robber on the lose in Connecticut.

And I admit I get caught up in these stories. How will the car chase end? Will the accident victim survive? It’s news as entertainment. If only real problems of national interest were as compelling.

Update: OK, the Waukegan thing involved an explosion that injured several people. That's kind of big deal. However, even if it had been a routine fire, the news helicopters would have been bringing us live shots of the billowing smoke.

Panama Red

Is J. Sidney McCain the Panamanian Candidate that, once in office, will surrender to the Latin Americans, destroying America (the real one) from within?

WASHINGTON — The question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator [J. Sidney] McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.

Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.

Well, certainly this brings into question whether McCain is a REAL American.

Fair Grounds for Criticism?

I still don’t see where this is the fault of Rod Blagojevich. I’ve tried to read up on the whole electrical mess at the fairgrounds and I really don’t see where the Governor or this administration is at fault.

Sure, Blago is a really bad governor and deserves most of the scorn heaped on him in other matters, but this still falls into the “shit happens” category for me. I see no malfeasance on the governor’s part. He didn’t reject requests for the electrical system to be replaced and I don’t think anyone knew there was a problem. I particularly think it idiotic to think the governor “let” this happen because he has it in for Springfield. The governor may be somewhat indifferent to our city at times but I really don’t believe he's out to get us.

Perhaps there should have been a tickle date set up 25 or 30 years ago to begin the process of replacing the aging wiring toward the end of its life expectancy, but I don’t remember hearing any warning that this was going to happen. Maybe a whistleblower will step forward with evidence that the administration was warned of the impending doom at the fairgrounds, but until that happens I think we are just going to have to admit that sometimes bad things happen.

Perhaps Springfield can learn from this and start making noises to the State in another 25 years that it might be time to replace the wiring again if the State isn’t already doing something about it.

If there is a bright spot to all of this, it might be that it’s a good thing this didn’t happen right before or during the State Fair.

Now This IS Government Waste

C'mon. They are seriously going to tear down the the Northern Illinois University building in which the infamous killings took place earlier this month?

DEKALB, Ill. -- Northern Illinois University officials and Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked
state lawmakers Wednesday to approve $40 million to raze the lecture hall where five students were shot and killed on Valentine's Day and replace it with a new classroom and memorial building.

Cole Hall will be torn down, but what happened there will never be forgotten," Blagojevich said at a news conference outside the building where 16 other students were injured by a former graduate student who then turned the gun on himself.

NIU President John Peters said he started talking to the Blagojevich administration right after the shooting because he felt the university couldn't leave the building standing. Students couldn't be expected to attend classes there, Peters said.
$40 million? Let's be reasonable here. Can't we just put up a memorial to the slain students? Why does the entire building have to go? So every building in which a murder takes place now needs to be scrubbed from the earth?

I have never been on the NIU campus so I know nothing about Cole Hall. If it is beyond repair and in need of replacement anyway, that's one thing. But tearing it down because of the horrible thing that happened there makes no sense to me.

I understand that going in to the building might be traumatic for some current students. Maybe the building should remain idle for a year or so, or perhaps turn the one classroom into a memorial. But there is no reason to spend 40 mil to get rid of a bad memory.

Update: Where did this idea originate? I know Blagojevich is getting all the blame, but it seems like the NIU officials are pushing hard for this too. I’m just wondering whether NIU approached the governor with the idea or was it the other way around. Either way it’s a bad idea, but I think administration at NIU maybe getting off the hook here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

B. Hussein Obama

Memo: TEH Style Guide

Since it is very important for the rightwing noise machine to highlight Barack Obama’s middle name (and not for any biggoted reasons, so stop saying that!), it is now official TEH policy that all presidential candidates now be referred to in this format:

First Initial / Full Middle Name / Full Last Name
Therefore, in addition to B. Hussein Obama, we now have H. Rodham Clinton and, of course, J. Sidney McCain. Please follow these guidelines in your comments.

Thank you,
TEH (T. Eleventh Hour) Management
ht to The Jim Leach Show
Update: Some blogs are opting for Barack Saddam Hussein Osama Obama but we find that too long for our purposes, even if it does more accurately portray the terrorist-loving, Muslim Manchurian Candidate nature of the good Senator from Illinois.

Power Problem Persists

The power problem at the fairgrounds is a bad thing and all, but I have been chalking it up to “shit happens”. Until this morning that is, when I heard WMAY reporting that CWLP offered to run temporary lines into the fairgrounds until repairs could be completed BUT WAS TURNED DOWN by the State. Maybe the State had a good reason (the news story didn’t elaborate) but that seems like a reasonable solution. Maybe we could leave those lines there as a backup so this never happens again. Springfield stands to lose a lot of money on all the cancelled events so maybe the city could even help foot the bill.

And by the way, blaming Gov. Blagojevich for this because he likes Chicago and hates Springfield is just stupid and childish (see the online comments after any SJ-R story on this matter). The inferiority complex and jealously displayed toward Chicago by many Springfieldians is really childish. And putting an unlikable face (Blagojevich’s) on that victimization doesn’t make it any more justifiable.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars, A Day Late

I rarely watch the Academy Awards anymore. This year I did manage to catch the last half hour of the show. There was a time when I loved watching the Mother of all Award Shows. That was probably when I was in my mid-to-late teens and early 20s.

I think I was more hooked into the movie scene back then, but Richard Roeper identifies the real problem:
…it's basically the same show it's been since the '60s.

You've got your smooth comic hosting. Your musical numbers. Your "medley of dead people." Your lifetime achievement deals. People you've never heard of, winning awards for short films you'll never see, thanking people you don't know. And then you've got your handful of major categories that viewers actually care about.

It's the same plot, over and over.

We've seen this film before.
Exactly. The show isn’t any better or worse than it used to be 25 or 30 years ago, and that’s just the problem.

Creepy Awesome

Thanks to the SJ-R for letting me, a 47 year-old man, vote for the “High School with the Hottest Girls”. Oh, and for the “High School with the Hottest Guys” (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

One other note to the SJ-R: The Pleasant Plains school district actually extends INTO the city of Springfield. Just thought you’d like to know since there was not one category, good or bad, that had Plains as an option. And everyone knows that’s were the kids of the hottest parents go.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why Flying is Safer

This has to be one big reason there are always at least two pilots on board.

LONDON, England (AP) -- A British airline said Monday that one of its flights was forced to divert to Turkey after the co-pilot died in mid-flight. He died of natural causes, the airline said.

GB Airways said the Airbus A320, carrying 156 passengers from Manchester to Paphos in Cyprus, landed in Istanbul on Sunday after what was termed a medical emergency on the flight deck.

The co-pilot was pronounced dead once the plane had landed.
But no one seems concerned about buses which never have two drivers. And, yes, it does happen!

Blogging the Vote

OK, which of you bloggers suggested this to the SJ-R?

Chick-Fil-A has a healthy lead; no doubt the result of Dan removing the cookie from his machine and voting over and over again.

My suggestion for a question: How soon should the Springfield City Council pass an ordinance requiring Giardono's to open a store here?

Mickey Mouse Medical

No large corporation should be denied the right to enjoy a piece of the military spending largess.

Fifty medical workers -- doctors, nurses, therapists and administrators among them -- sat in a room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center gazing at a slide of Donald Duck on a screen.

The oft-cranky Disney cartoon character, wearing his blue sailor jacket and cap, was in a palpable rage. His webbed feet had lifted off the ground, his beak was gaping, and his white-gloved hands were tightly clutching an old-fashioned two-piece telephone.

"We can clearly see he's frustrated," said Kris Lafferty, a trainer for the Disney Institute who was leading workers at the Northwest Washington hospital last week in a four-hour seminar on customer service. "Why do we think he's frustrated?"

A year after a scandal erupted over the long-term treatment of soldiers at the hospital, the Army has turned to Disney for help. "Service, Disney Style" is newly required for all military and other government employees at Walter Reed.

The Army is paying Disney $800,000 to help revamp attitudes at the hospital.

Well, in that case, I’m glad they aren’t using South Park or The Simpsons cartoons. Maybe they could try episodes of Little Bear or Kipper the Dog. They run on PBS I believe and probably could be used at a lower cost.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Socialism on the March: Police Edition

Since the scare/buzz word for universal healthcare coverage is "SOCIALISM!", I thought I might do a series on the socialist scourge that currently infects had hampers our free society. You know, as a public service.

First up, the cops. Collective law enforcement is socialist. The Nazis had police employed by the government as did the Soviet Union, Mussolini's Italy, Castro's Cuba, Iran, Communist Red China, North Korea, and Saddam's Iraq. Are these the nations we want to emulate. Of course not.
Private security firms could be hired by individuals, groups of homeowners, and businesses to provide the safety and protection they need. Safety isn't a right. Having government entities (police departments) providing security is the wrong way to go because, well, everyone knows that everything government touches is overly expensive and inefficient. It also stifles free-market competition that would make security more efficient through magic of the market.

Why should those who work for a living have their hard earned money diverted for the protection of those who don't contribute as much to the economy? If I make more money, I should be able to buy the level of security I can afford. If I'm too poor to afford protection, I need to work harder and get a better job so that I can. Providing police protection for everyone, stifles the desire to succeed.

Come back later for more Socialism on the March.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Senator Rod Blagojevich

I raised this question a long time ago: If Barack Obama becomes president, who will be appointed to replace him to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate? Governor Rod Blagojevich would be responsible for picking that replacement. Who should he pick? Eric Zorn has a list of possible choices:

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky
U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel
U.S. Rep. Luis Guitierrez
Ill. Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan
Ill. Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias
Ill. Comptroller Dan Hynes
Former Ill. Sen. Carol Ronen
Dan Seals
Tammy Duckworth
Ill. Rep. Jay Hoffman (D.-Collinsville)
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (nothing I see in the law prevents him from appointing himself)

I think that last name is a real possibility, if not a probability. I don’t know, maybe Blagojevich’s gumption does know limits.

I’m not steeped in Illinois Democratic politics so I’m not at all sure who would be the best choice. Gut feelings make me think Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth and Lisa Madigan might be good. But then I’m not at all familiar with a few of the names on the list and I’m not really able to come up with other names as I venture into the Rich Miller territory of substantive Illinois politics.

Anyone got any favorites or suggestions for the (probably) next senator from Illinois?

Friday Beer Blogging: Space Edition

Satellites being shot down, lunar eclipses, Fidel Castro admits he's an alien and resigns...the week has all been about outer space. Hence, space beer blogging.

I've never heard of the movie Beer Drinkers in Space but apparently its now out in stores or something. See the movie's trailer/mini documentary here.

And what if Australians were allowed in Space? Think a few Fosters wouldn't make their way on ship for the trip.

There's a space beer asteroids video game that can be gotten here.

Finally, check out this beautiful song by Tankard . It's called Space Beer. Video and lyrics here.

Below are just some of the lyrics.
Read in the morning paper
They're shooting up another satellite
Experiment on the final frontier
To create the ultimate beer
Precious yeast spinning in orbit
Unrestrained gravity fades
Nobody knows what this brew will be
A magic potion? Chemistry?
Everybody loves the new beer
So good you want to drink it day in night
It's better that and Pils, any Ex
Makes you feel like really good sex
If you're sick, don't fear the doctor
'Cos he has wonderful news:
A case of Beer will replace the pills
A drink of healing cures your ills
A new idea - great innovation
Future beer - it's a sensation

Chuck it down, tap another barrel
Magic potion out of space
Chuck it down, it's a drinker's heaven
Live it up and drink this beer
Space beer! Space beer!
Space beer - this is what I like
Space beer - it tastes alright
Have a great weekend! And don't space out picking up some beer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Laws of Silence

Wasn't it already optional before is was required?

I mean, on a personal level. Which is what it ultimately comes down to anyway.

Satellite Downer

Look, we paid big money (via tax dollars) to destroy this satellite. Couldn’t’ they have done this over the mainland United States so we could have seen it? You know, get some entertainment out of this expense.

Maybe they could have added a little extra explosive to make it really spectacular. Doing it during a lunar eclipse like last night’s would have been a good move to since the sky would have been darker and there would have been the built in audience of eclipse watchers. A double feature! And don’t shoot down (pun!) my idea by saying something like the satellite never flew over the U.S.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Politics of Sex

Before this thing really gets rolling, I want to go on the record as saying I don't give a shit if John McCain had an affair. I didn't care that Bill Clinton had an affair. It's not at all important and is no one's business.

That said, and unrelated to any alleged affair, I think McCain is a putz, or at least has become one in the last six years.

Why We Blog

Acronyms Gone Wild

I realized something strange today: The acronym for “as soon as possible”, ASAP, has a stronger, more urgent meaning that its root. At least that’s how it works in my small mind.

I was typing an e-mail at work today and suggested the recipient follow through on my request ASAP. I looked at it and thought that overstated the urgency. Only after I substituted ASAP with the seemingly less demanding “as soon as possible” did I realize the irony.

For some reason, in my mind, ASAP means RIGHT NOW, while “as soon as possible” means do it in a timely manner but don’t kill yourself getting it done. While usage probably is responsible for most this disconnect, I suspect that having ASAP in all caps and often followed by and exclamation point also plays a part.

Sticking It To The (Gas) Man

Rick Monday in comments from a previous post has a helpful consumer tip:
Here is a little community tip. I live near Thorntons [gas station on Wabash]. Whenever they spike their prices, last week I think it jumped over 30 cents/gallon in one day, I head over to Sam's. Sam's doesn’t usually increase their prices throughout the day.
You’ll need a Sam’s Club card to get gas there though. I recommend anyone who buys a lot of milk (and gas) to get a Sam’s membership. The lower price of milk alone pays for the annual membership.
But back to gas prices in this city. I really don’t get the sudden and coordinated 30 cent jumps in price. The price then slowly deflates a few pennies a day until the inevitable spike hits again. It has become routine now. I usually gamble on when the low price is at or near its lowest and then fill up before it goes up. But it looks like Rick has figured out a good way to beat the system.

Presidential Predictions Revisited and Revised

Since waiting until it’s totally safe to make a prediction isn’t any fun, I’ll go ahead today, well in advance of the important March 4th primaries in Texas and Ohio, and change my prediction: Barack Obama will get the Democratic nomination for president.

Previously, I had picked Clinton to win base largely on the notion that the two candidates were equally preferable but Clinton had the establishment of the party at her back. My first scenario had her necessarily picking Obama as her running mate, both to coalesce the party and to appeal to the largest part of the voting populace in the general election.

Where I went wrong was assuming the two candidates were equally preferable. Apparently, they aren’t. Obama just has more of the good ol’ charisma. There just aren’t many policy differences between the two, but Obama is appealing to that part of us that just likes a good-looking, engaging, positive-sounding leader. Ronald Reagan had this (and that was about all, if you ask me), as did Bill Clinton. This appeal may not make the best president in terms policy but it is still part of the president’s job to, in some way, gain the trust of the governed.

So I see an Obama/McCain match-up. What I really can’t imagine right now is who these two men will pick for running mates. I still say there is no way Obama picks Clinton and I don’t see Clinton accepting anyway. But who knows. Maybe Bill Richardson?

McCain is likely going to have to pick so true wingnut to even get the conservative base to show up at the polls in November. And if conservatives understand that running for vice president is a farm team system for future presidential candidates, maybe they can find it in them to vote for McCain. Just who that should be, I have no idea. Everyone I can think of would just be a drag on the ticket. How about Aaron Schock, if he agrees to give up his run for congress? I can dream, can’t I?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Embargo Worked!

Castro resigns!
HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Fidel Castro announced his resignation as president of Cuba and commander-in-chief of Cuba's military Tuesday, according to a letter published in the state-run newspaper, Granma.

Take that you stoopid libruls. Were going to win the the Cold War!

Update: The embargo will continue. Hey, why mess with success?

Maybe to move things along when he gets to Congress, Aaron Schock "The Monkey" can propose arming Jamaica with nuclear missiles.

Billy Bob Thorntons Reconstruction

Yeah, don't worry, Thorntons will be back soon, bigger and better than ever. This took me by surprise too. One day there were cars lined up to get gas and the next everything was being torn down.

Someone should time how quick it takes to get the new mega-convenience store and gas station up and running. Thorntons version 1.0 had been around for a long time. Clearly it could no longer house all of the junk food possibilities available in the early 21st century. Reboot!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Washington: The Land of Lincoln

Sorry, but Springfield does NOT have the "most significant Lincoln site in the country".
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The fully restored former refuge of President Abraham Lincoln was brought back into public view Monday during a Presidents Day ceremony.

The president spent some of the country's darkest hours in the home where he lived from June to November of 1862, 1863 and 1864.

The Civil War president ordered the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in those states which had seceded the Union, during his time at the cottage in 1862.

On Monday it was buzzing with preservation enthusiasts. A tour through the expansive white home with dark shutters reveals a sparsely decorated space with simple wooden desks, chairs and love seats.

"We think this is probably the most significant Lincoln site in the country because, aside from the White House, it's the only one that represents his presidency," said Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which spearheaded the restoration effort.

Lincoln and his family lived at the cottage during the warmer months of the year to escape the heat of the low-lying capital. The president commuted from the cottage to the White House daily, often traveling alone on horseback, against the wishes of his advisers.
Wow, Camp David before David was a camp. Still, here in Springfield we all know the "most significant Lincoln site in the country" is the airport north of town that bears his name.

Past Pets

I guess Pass Pets has closed it doors at White Oaks Mall. Anyone who's had to take there kid to mall has been grateful for in-house zoo to help entertain.

I assume they just weren't making money. But I'll tell you what, White Oaks should have been subsidizing them since that place was a big draw for people who weren't necessarily even in the market for a new dog or pet supplies.

Pass Pets was there for a long time. I would have guessed to to have been one of the original stores from when the mall first opened in 1977, but apparently it wasn't.

The Death of Brian

I didn't really know Brian, but went to high school with him. Actually, he only attended my high school freshman and senior years and went somewhere else the other two years.

Brian's' obituary was in the paper last week.

We will have our 30th high school class reunion later this year. There's a web site dedicated to the event and the preparations for it. At that web site, Brian wasn't on the list of those in the class of '78. Odd.

I assume the organizers of the reunion have been using the school yearbook as the basis for their list. Brian wasn't in the yearbook senior year, probably because we had our yearbook pictures taken before the start of the school year and he had not yet returned to our school.

To verify my thinking that Brian had in fact graduated with us, I went to my box of high school memorabilia and pulled out a program from graduation night. There was Brian's name. I was right. But for all these years, I'm betting Brian has been left off reunion mailing lists and perhaps more. Maybe he didn't know or even care. I have no way of knowing.

Anyway, I've let the organizers know so that his name can be included in the list of graduates and, sadly, to the page dedicated to those members of the class who have passed on.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No More Ice Cream

Well, maybe the threat of taking their ice cream away will get people's attention.
NEW YORK ( -- Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.

At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continue to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.

That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.

Haagen-Dazs, which is owned by Nestle, said bees are actually responsible for 40% of its 60 flavors - such as strawberry, toasted pecan and banana split.

I don't know, I tried to dismiss the disappearing bees as something to worry about some ago, but the problem persists.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Glock Schock

Well I see Schock the Monkey is already at it:
A state lawmaker running for Congress says recent shooting sprees that killed people at Northern Illinois University and a Chicago-area shopping center might have had "different outcomes" if Illinois law allowed citizens to carry a concealed firearm.

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, has proposed the Family and Personal Protection Act, which would require individuals to complete a training course in handgun use, safety and marksmanship before they could get a concealed-carry permit. The legislation, House Bill 4544, hasn't yet been considered in the General Assembly.

"I can't imagine a more helpless feeling than being in a classroom or in a shopping center and having someone walk in with a weapon and start opening fire," said Schock, who also is running for the 18th District Congressional seat now held by retiring Rep. Ray LaHood. "I can't imagine being more vulnerable than that."

Mr. Schock you really are a peach. Let me explain to you why a conceal-carry law wouldn't have had any effect on the outcome of the NIU shootings: The vast, vast majority of people do not want to and will not carry guns no matter how legal it is. My bet is that even in conceal- carry states less than one in 50,000 students carries a gun to glass. The odds that another gun would have been in that classroom would have been about zero. I don't know anyone who wants to heft around a gun all day. I'm sure there are such people but not many. Only gun nut true believers have fantasies of freely carrying around there macho penis extenders.

And even if there had been some kid in row 20 with a handgun in his backpack (is that even safe?), the tragedy still would have unfolded in much the same way. The gunman got the drop on everyone. If I had had a gun in that room, stored away safely as it would have to be, my first instinct would have been to get the hell out of there, not fumble around for a my gun hoping I didn't get shot first. And if my first shots missed (or hit someone in front of me trying to get away)? Guess who would be target #1 at that point. No, our gunman had the element of surprise and then quickly took himself out. Not even John Wayne was going to stop that.

I'm not making an argument against conceal-carry per se here, but it's proponents really are greatly overestimating it's benefits and are merely exploiting tragedy for political reasons.

Indy at 500

Here’s the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie, India Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It looks a lot like the fun of yore.

If anyone cares.

Mao We Dance With Your Dates?

What the hell

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amid a discussion of trade in 1973, Chinese leader Mao Zedong made what U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a novel proposition: sending tens of thousands, even 10 million, Chinese women to the United States.

"You know, China is a very poor country," Mao said, according to a document released by the State Department's historian office.

"We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands."

A few minutes later, Mao circled back to the offer. "Do you want our Chinese women?" he asked. "We can give you 10 million."

After Kissinger noted Mao was "improving his offer," the chairman said, "We have too many women. ... They give birth to children and our children are too many."

"It is such a novel proposition," Kissinger replied in his discussion with Mao in Beijing. "We will have to study it."

Yes, I wonder if after studying the proposal it was ultimately rejected on some technical grounds. You know, like who got to pick the women or something.

But seriously, this would have been right at the end of Mao’s life. I wonder if the Chairman wasn’t declining somewhat at that point.

Silly TV: The Day After

I just couldn’t resist last night and had to tune into Ch. 20’s hard-hitting and heavily promoted piece comparing the food served in the public schools here to the food in the county jail.

Let me first say that I got it all wrong yesterday. The point wasn’t to induce outrage (criminals eat better than our kids!). No, in fact there was no point to it at all that I could discern. It simply told us what kinds of things the school kids have offered to them for lunch and compared it to what those in the county jail get. And it was about the same thing except there was a little more emphasis on nutrition for the kids and the prisoners could buy more junk food with there own money. That was it.

I never understood the point of the story. There was never any connection made between the two food programs. I was left thinking that both were fine and seemed to be doing the job they were intended to do. So what was the question? Where was the story? Beats me. Maybe they were indeed using some idea out of the "Stupid Stories You Can Run During Sweeps" manual, but just fucked it all up. I have no idea, but whatever it was supposed to do, it failed. Well OK, it did get me to watch.

Friday Beer Blogging: Obama Edition

I'll make this simple; watch this CNN video. Just do it, I'll wait.

It's a report from Kenya where the locals are celebrating Barack Obama's winning streak by...what else, drinking beer. But not just any beer, Senator beer. Kenyans have dubbed it "Obama Beer".

Obama's father, as you probably know, was Kenyan and folks there have Obama fever. That is, when they don't have an Obama hangover.

Have a great Presidents Day weekend! And have a beer for Obama, but not too many, it will make you Obamit.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Flood of Information

This is a question for weather nerds (like me) only. Should floods really be considered weather? Not flash flooding due to heavy rainfall in the immediate area; that I understand. I’m talking about rising river levels from some past storm or, worse, water coming from way upstream. The National Weather Service issues flood warnings like this, but I really don’t see that as weather.

Maybe the NWS is the best vehicle for issuing such warnings, I don’t know. Would the NWS forecast earthquakes if earthquakes were able to be forecast? Or does the event have to come from above ground for it to be weather?

The weather folks also track sunrise and sunset info but not meteor showers or lunar eclipses (well, some TV weather people do; the sky is their beat). We need a more consistent definition of weather. And where do the presidential candidates stand on this? Oh never mind, they’re all in the pockets of the powerful weather lobby.

Silly TV

I heard a commercial on my radio this morning for the Ch. 20 News in which they were promoting a hard-hitting investigative story on who has better food, the Sangamon County jail or the city’s public schools. It even had sound effects of food being slopped onto a tray. Exciting!

Let me guess, those bad, bad people in the jail are getting better food than our children. Oh, the outrage!

I wonder where they got the idea for this. Probably from the back pages of the “Stupid Stories You Can Run During Sweeps” manual. I know I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to find out the results of this important investigation...if I'm not watching the much more serious The Daily Show on at the same time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Congress? There’s No Congress in Baseball!

Why is Congress holding hearings on steroid use by baseball players? The cable news channels were, at one point while I ate my lunch, all carrying the hearings live. Again, I ask why?

Congress doesn’t have something better to do, I dunno, like holding the Chaney/Bush administration accountable for their ongoing misdeeds perhaps? But no, we have to talk baseball. And the folks in Congress clearly don't know anything about baseball. I don't know all that much either and I can still see their ignorance.

Sure, Roger Clemens is full of shit. We all know that. But what's being accomplished by these hearings? Steroid use, like crying, is already not allowed in baseball. There are sanctions for those who get caught breaking the rules. What more is to be done? And what is it exactly Congress can do.

I’m sure steroid use is a bad thing and all, but it really isn’t that important. If the baseball industry wants to police themselves on this, that should be enough. If they don’t want to do anything about it, I’m good with that too. It just ain’t important.

This is starting to remind me of the Song Lyrics Are Killing Our Kids hearings from 20 years ago. Say, whatever happened to that corrupted generation of kids from the 80s? They must be pushing 40 by now. I suppose they’re all in jail or dead or drug addicts now.