Friday, October 31, 2008
Pong came out in the mid-1970s as the first home video game (did we call it a “video game” back then, I don’t remember). I never owned Pong but I did buy the Radio Shack knock-off in late 1977 or early 1978. I wound up taking it to college my freshman year in the fall of 1978. That made me, and I wear this with a certain pride, one of the first college kids ever to sit around in his dorm playing video games.
In retrospect, Pong and its look-alikes were incredibly dull games. Two paddles and a ball. Wow. I’m pretty sure my Radio Shack version was only in black and white as well. Of course, I only played it on black and white TVs so I can’t be sure.
Ahhhh, and maybe another.
Oh, but don't overdo it. No, no...ohhhhhh, too late.
C'mon, just slow down and pace yourself and...awwwwwwww, man.
OK that's enough, time to sleep it off.
Have a great weekend! And don't drink every beer you get in your trick or treat bag on the first night.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
BOSTON -- A criminal investigation has been launched into the death of an 8-year-old Connecticut boy who accidentally shot himself in the head while firing an Uzi at a Massachusetts gun club during the weekend.
Christopher Bizilj, of Ashford, Conn., lost control of the weapon on Sunday while firing it at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club.
A criminal investigation involving state and local police is being conducted, according to Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett. Officials are focusing on whether the statute that governs firearms in Massachusetts was violated.
"At this point, I have found no lawful authority which allows an 8-year-old to possess or fire a machine gun," Bennett said in a statement.
Bennett also questioned whether it was a "reckless or wanton act" to allow the boy to use a fully loaded automatic weapon.
Update: OK we don't get to vote for U of I trustees anymore. Not that I ever did when I could.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
If a customer clearly out of view of the staff and management is sneaking a smoke, only the customer should be fined.In other words, the smokers should always be ticketed. The owner should only be ticketed if there is a reason to believe they were aware of the smoking in their establishment and did nothing about it.
If the establishment is full of smokers puffing away right in front of staff and management, then both the customers AND the owners should be fined. This would also apply to employees if they were the ones smoking.
Monday, October 27, 2008
WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (AP) -- An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.Putting the "nut" in gun nut.
The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, Police Lt. Lawrence Valliere said.
The boy was with a certified instructor and "was shooting the weapon down range when the force of the weapon made it travel up and back toward his head, where he suffered the injury," a police statement said. Police called it a "self-inflicted accidental shooting."
I suppose the increased use of SNL material has a lot to do with the need to fill time, particularly on the cable news outlets. The availability of the skits online helps propel their popularity in general which then feeds back to more media coverage. Still, I’m getting a little annoyed at the “Hey, did you see the latest SNL skit taking jabs at the candidates?” lead-in to news stories on TV.
It's gotten so popular, NBC has been running SNL political specials on thurday nights in the weeks leading up to the election. They never used to do that (maybe they did in 2004?). Rather, in the normal SNL time slot thye would run a "best of" show featuring SNL political skits from the past.
Having said all that, I suspect the Joe Biden/Jack Murtha take-down that opened Saturday’s show isn’t going to get much play because it was too “insider” for most people get. Unless you live in Western Pennsylvania or are a political junkie, the material was just too obscure. But we’ll see.
Fow what it's worth, my all time favorite SNL skit from a presidential year came in 1980 when the three candidates, Reagan, Carter and Anderson (I forget who played who in the skit), all showed up in the same men’s room and began a spontaneous political debate using urinals as podiums. Oh, and Walter Cronkite gave no air time to the skit that following week.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
...chances are that in ten days, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will have a big decision to make about who he sends to Washington.Obama snubbed him for the VP slot, isn't he due?
The trouble with this speculation, of course, is that the decision ultimately comes down to the whims of one exceptionally unpredictable politician. Virtually no one, including Blagojevich, has completely ruled out the possibility that the governor might pick himself to fill the seat - a move so controversial that it is almost never attempted.
Still, there's no harm in speculation, so without further ado...
You can almost certainly rule out Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel, one of a troika of superpowered Illinois Democrats in Washington (along with Obama, and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin). At 48, Emanuel is already the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. Ahead if him are current Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is 68 years old, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who is 69, and Majority Whip James Clyburn, who is 68.
The math would seem to suggest, then, that Emanuel may well become Speaker of the House some day - a historic ascension which would make him the highest-ranking Jewish officeholder in American history. It's doubtful he would give up an excellent shot at the Speakership to move to the back of the line as a freshman United States Senator (although Emanuel will be only 49 next year and would have plenty of time to climb the ladder in the Senate; Robert Menendez gave up the same position Emanuel holds, that of caucus chair, to accept a Senate nomination).
The same would not be true of State Senate President Emil Jones, a Blagojevich ally, would be selected to fill the seat. At 73, Jones holds a position of exceptional prominence in Illinois politics, which he would be sacrificing to become 100th in seniority in Washington. Blagojevich may also be reluctant to send one of his few friends in Springfield out of the state.
Selecting Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would solve one of Blagojevich's biggest problems; it would remove a potential rival for his reelection to the governorship, a position which Madigan reportedly covets. On the other hand, Blagojevich is a long-time political enemy of Madigan's father, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, and as such, he probably has little desire to do any kind of favors for the Madigan family.
Blagojevich will be under some pressure to appoint a minority, and there are a number of possibilites there. At 67, Rep. Danny Davis is probably too old for an appointment as a freshman Senator, but it's well known that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. would welcome the appointment. Another possibility there is Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who would be the first Hispanic Senator elected from Illinois.
The hot rumors revolve around Illinois Veterans' Affairs director Tammy Duckworth, who would, I believe, be the first Asian-American woman in the United States Senate. Although she has never held elected office (she narrowly lost a race for Congress to Rep. Peter Roskam in 2006), she is apparently very well-liked by Obama, Durbin, Emanuel and Blagojevich, and a good relationship with those four power brokers goes a long way.
Outside of minority picks, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston has been very clear that she'd like the appointment. She's certainly a solid liberal, but she's had some bad press over the last few years (her husband pled guilty in 2006 to a check-kiting scheme and served five months in prison, though Schakowsky herself was not accused of any wrongdoing).
State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who sought the seat in 2004 and lost to Obama in the primary, would also be a solid pick, as would Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn. Hynes and Blago apparently have a frosty relationship (a lot of people have such a relationship with Blagojevich), but Hynes could be appointed to the Senate to forestall a potential primary challenge for the Governorship in 2010. The same is true of 32-year-old State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who, like Hynes, Madigan and Quinn, is rumored to seek the Governor's office.
Then there's always the possibility that Blagojevich might appoint himself. He's just...er, unconventional enough to actually do it, and since most of the other powerful Democrats in Springfield currently seek the Governorship, he might be in better position to survive a 2010 primary (which would be more likely to come from a U.S. Rep, like Schakowsky, Davis, Jackson or Gutierrez.
Overall, there's really no telling what Blagojevich will do if he gets the opportunity. Rumors are currently swirling around Duckworth, but rumors are awfully fickle.
But seriously, it looks like a (literally) lose-lose situation for Blago. If he appoints himself, he loses the Senate race in 2010. If he appoints someone else, he loses the gubernatorial election in 2010. Illinoisians just aren't going to re-elect this guy to anything. I guess the only question would be, what pumps up his pension more: two more years as Guv or a short two year stint as U.S Senator?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The dumb video with the recorded version of the song.
The live version.
The "unplugged" version.
Some special bonus fun. And the acoustic version.
Friday, October 24, 2008
And here's CNN's reaction. They have a cool map like Fred's but are ever so more serious about it.
I’m sure there will be some changes I don’t agree with should the convention be convened. Still, I think it’s important for government to be responsive to changing times and new ideas. So I hereby order all of you to vote yes for the state constitutional convention, no matter how bad the wording is on the ballot. Keeping Rich Miller off the streets and writing about the Con-Con will also be good for everyone.
See, I've heard of Beer Pong but I have never played it and really didn't realize how established it is.
My drinking games days ended about the same time I got out of college in 1983. We had such classics as Quarters and, um, some other stuff I can't even remember the name of anymore. Although I think a played more than one game of beer backgammon. We also did something that called Beer [rhymes with pong]s. But that was about it. No lavish props, no serious beer-based competition involved.
Today we have Beer Pong (also known as Beirut) and it's a force to be reckoned with.
Here's how the foremost authority on everything describes Beer Pong:
Beer pong ... is a drinking game in which players throw a table tennis ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in one of several cups of beer on the other end. The game typically consists of two two-player teams, one on each side of a table, and a number of cups set up on each side. There are no official rules, so rules may vary widely, though usually there are 6 or 15 plastic cups arranged in a triangle on each side. The number of players on a team can vary as well, from one to three or more.
When a ball lands in a cup, the defending team must consume all of the beer inside that cup. The cup is generally not completely filled. A recent Time article stated that cups were 1/4 to 1/3 full. The game is won by eliminating all the other team's cups before all of one's own cups are eliminated. The losing team must then consume all the beer remaining in the winning team's cups.
There are specially made Beer Pong tables.
And Beer Pong balls designed for the sport.
Like I said, I'm past the age where I need to pound beer as a matter of sport. I prefer to do it at my own (slower) pace these days.
Have a great weekend! And enjoy a beer with or without your balls.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I know, I know, more places would be more expensive and there are poor vice presidential candidates in need of clothes to consider, etc. But let’s just imagine we had a few more dollars for say, three additional early voting sites. I would think sites on the north, east, and southwest sides would be good. Places with plenty of parking would help.
Anyway, the idea is good and if it were more convenient I might even vote early.
AIG may, in fact, be saving a few dollars by not renting the bus. Apparently they are only out the cost of the deposit not the entire cost of the bus. I’m not sure how much it costs to rent the bus or how much the deposit was but I’m assuming there was at least some savings for the company. Keep in mind too that there was a $15 per rider charge to get on the bus (which is being refunded) that also would have help offset the overall cost, so I’m not seeing where AIG is really saving all that much money.
Having said that, the money was coming from an already funded employee activity fund. No word on if AIG is planning on taking that activity money back and apply it to their debt to the Treasury but I doubt it. My guess is that they will use it for some other less visible employee activity.
And yes, I know this is a trivial matter in the scheme of things but I’m a trivial person in the scheme of things too.
Oh, and one other thing. I found out that at least one AIG employee has been harassed here in Springfield because of the perceived sins of the larger company management. I’m told that a local employee wearing an AIG badge was verbally abused at a local box store for the whole AIG mess. People, get a grip. Do not take your frustrations out on low level workers shopping at a retail store. That employee has nothing to do with AIG corporate decisions and that employee may wind up being a victim of the situation if the Springfield office is sold (they are up for sale), or the office is disbanded or layoffs come or whatever.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The AIG office here in Springfield, which employs several hundred workers, sponsors an annual bus trip to Chicago for its local employees and one guest per person. The AIG workers, for $15 dollars a head, can take a bus to Chicago and can spend the day shopping or whatever. Riders are dropped off and picked up at one location on Michigan Avenue. The rest of the day is up to the employees. This year’s bus trip was scheduled for this Saturday.
But here’s where it gets sticky for AIG. The $15 out of pocket cost per person doesn’t pay for the entire cost of the bus, so AIG pays for the rest out of some employee activity fund. Apparently, someone at AIG, fearing bad publicity, decided the bus trip needed to be cancelled at the last minute. The problem is, the way I understand it, AIG saves no money since the bus has already been paid for. A bigger problem is that some people participating in the trip went and bought things like non-refundable theater tickets for Saturday. These people now either have to eat that cost or drive up on their own.
This is certainly not the end of the world for anyone, but it sure is stupid. Remember, all AIG was paying for was part of the cost of the bus, which they are still on the hook for. They weren’t doing any wining or dining or entertaining, just providing a portion of the transportation cost. But they had to cancel because they thought it wouldn’t look good. Well, I think this looks worse.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.
According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.
The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.
If we were all given a clothing stipend like that, this recession would be over very quickly.
If you are over 40, you might remember that the “supermarkets” in town were once smaller than your typical Walgreen’s.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The way I see it, we have about a 99% net gain in favor of the smoke-free environment. That’s huge and I’m certainly able to live with that.
I was also glad to see Gateway to India won the Best Indian Food category given all the competition it has in town.
All snarkiness aside, congratulations to Kate Catalano of Brewhaus for being the Best Waitperson runner-up. We look forward to her sound beer advice on our trips there. She also sometimes hangs around to listen to our inane ramblings between beer recommendations.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Update: The Trib didn't even endorse Illinoisian Adlai Stevenson back in the 1950s. Stevenson was from downstate though, and as we all know here, Chicago hates downstate!
First a little history. Iceland lifted a 75 year prohibition against beer in 1989. 1989! Before that you couldn't buy beer in Iceland. Had that prohibition still been in effect I would have blamed their financial woes on that, but as it is I guess I'll have to go with the larger global crisis.
By the way, Iceland is a really cute country. Here's a picture of it's capital, Reykjavik.
Since 1989, Iceland which manufactures few things and exports almost nothing, has seen the rise of a few breweries. One Icelandic beer is Viking beer.
Another is Thule.
Another is Egils.
And this is the light version of Viking. The "Lite" logo reminds me of something but I seriously can't think of what.
I'm not sure you can buy any of these here in the the U.S. but you can order them online. For a price. A hefty price. Here.
I did a calculation and even at the cheapest shipping rate, it would cost me $78 for a six pack of Viking (although a six of Thule would run me only $48). To help out the the hard-hit people of Iceland I am almost inclined to order one, but if I did, the Mrs. would probably ship the beer and ME to back Iceland where I would probably live here.
Have a great weekend! And remember: Save Iceland, Drink Viking.