Wednesday, April 30, 2008
And yes, he is dressed in a green hoodie, red sweats (or "sweaty pants" as he calls them) and blue Crocs.
The light is now bolted to the ceiling of my shed. Hyper Drummer Boy now has to use flashlights he finds around the house.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Since the beginning of his Congressional stint in 1994, LaHood was chairman of the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton in 1998…(Emphasis mine.) Then in the very next paragraph:
"Bipartisanship is the only way to succeed in a legislative body," LaHood said.Ha. The biggest act of political PARTISAN hackery during the 1990s came in the ridiculous (and failed) impeachment trial. Yeah, keep up the bipartisanship, Ray baby.
For what it’s worth, I think the notion of bipartisanship for its own sake is overrated. People disagree on issues and elected officials should fight for what they believe in, not seek some mythical bipartisan holy grail.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Has any nation "destabilized" Iraq more than the U.S.? And I'm not just being flip here. Even if you seriously think this war is a good idea, there's no way you can deny the massive, unfathomable, "destabilization" that the U.S. invasion has caused that country.
Hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced, infrastructure destroyed, ethnic violence, a barely functioning government (and that's being generous), a destroyed economy, and on and on. And folks, it was the U.S. that unleashed all this. We saw the can, used the opener, and out came the worms.
The cheese crackers, peanuts and (covered!) soft drink they "served" him on the flight. Not a bad image gallery for such a young lad. It's almost artsy enough for photo blogging.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
So, for your great entertainment, I'll be posting a few more random cell phone quality shots. Enjoy!
We were in Florida a few weeks ago, Indian Shores to be exact, and I took this after discovering that if I violently shake the iPhone while taking a picture, it will distort the image. So here we have a wavy sunset over the waves.
Holding the phone steady results in a much lest interesting shot.
What's odd is that supposedly only the 20 pound bags were affected by this rationing while they also sells 50 lb bags, of with there were plenty available.
The more normal sized bags and boxes were in ample supply as well.
The only thing that was different about the rice section from any other time I had been there was this small sign.
The whole time I was in the store, I saw no one with any rice in their cart. None. What's the matter with you, Springfieldians, can't get into the rice hording fad?
WTAX-AM 1240/FM 107.5 has won an Edward R. Murrow Regional Award for its spot news coverage from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.Wow, I can't think of any Springfield story bigger than that. I'm guessing WMAY was busy covering actual news rather than submitting B-list story coverage to this bunch. But hey, congrats WTAX. You've served your long-ago legacy well.
The station submitted condensed versions of its coverage of a Dec. 19, 2007, plane crash in Sangamon County that killed three men from Calvary Temple. It was judged as the best submission among entries from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio and will be submitted for an Edward R. Murrow National Award, to be announced in June.
Friday, April 25, 2008
OCALA, Florida (CNN) -- Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns -- the maximum requested by federal prosecutors.
"Snipes' long prison sentence should send a loud and crystal clear message to all tax defiers that if they engage in similar tax defier conduct, they face joining him," said Assistant Attorney General Nathan J. Hochman of the Justice Department's Tax Division.
This is not a crime of violence, nor does Snipes pose any risk to the public. He cheated on his taxes. Or, from what I understand, simply didn’t bother paying them at all. That’s a bad thing and he should be punished. But punishment doesn’t necessarily have to mean prison. In this case, he should be punished financially for what amounts to a financial crime. Get all the back taxes from him and fine him double or triple the amount or whatever. Make it monetarily painful. But prison? For three years? We lose even more taxes from him not working AND we get to foot the bill for his stay in prison (unless he’s being made to pay that too).
Our prisons are already busting at the seams from overcrowding. I saw a statistic the other day that the U.S. has like 5% of the world population but 25% of all people being held in prison worldwide. It’s ridiculous. And hugely expensive. We have to get away from this incarceration mentality. It’s expensive and, in many cases, counterproductive.
The dumbest thing about these beer company sites the the lame electronic bouncer at the door. Almost every such site has a gateway page requiring you to enter a birth date.
They want to make sure you are of legal drinking age before you look at beer. Or something.
Some, like those here in the U.S., state that you must be 21 to look at their digital beer.
Others simply ask for your birth date so you can demonstrate you are old enough in the country in which you live.
Entering a birth date that makes you too you results in denial of entry.
The Guinness folks ask for this information and then explains why.
Yes, this "ensures" you are the age you say you are. There, of course, is absolutely nothing to prevent anyone from entering any date they want, making the verification process totally worthless. I don't get why they do it. What's the harm in looking at beer even if you are underage? We are such silly people.
Have a great weekend! And no peeking at beer pictures if you're underage.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Teens who keep blogs are more likely to engage in personal writing. They also tend to believe that writing will prove crucial to their eventual success in life.
Bloggers Rule. Even more than GrLs. Blog your way to better writing, fame and wealth!
But the thing in the story about students using emoticons in their school writing assignments :-( .
NEW YORK -- Dazzled by the bull market in gold, people are digging through drawers for old dental caps, fillings and bridgework they saved years ago and selling them at prices that would make the tooth fairy blush.
Instead of hanging on to the pieces as souvenirs, many are turning them over to pawnbrokers, coin shops and specialized firms that buy “dental gold,” hoping to take a bite out of the metal’s historic run to $1,000 an ounce.
“People are really cashing in. If a dentist passes away, their kids come in with a big pile of gold teeth,” said Scott Taber, owner of Taber Coins, a Shrewsbury, Mass., coin dealer that buys dental gold and then resells it to a gold smelter.
He said he used to see only a few customers a month selling gold teeth but now gets that many each week. “People are digging up the gold and starting to sell it,” he said.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
However, driving to work today I looked at the sidewalk and brilliantly realized we already have a kinda, sorta right-of-way system that could be expanded to include bicycles. I know, this too would be expensive (but not as much) and bring its own set of problems since you would then be mixing bicycles and pedestrians, but it might be the best compromise option for selected routes. I’m sure smarter people than me have thought this trough a little more thoroughly, but with gas at $3.69 a gallon and rising (not to mention global warming, etc.) it might be time to start taking these discussions a little more seriously.
Imagine if your health insurance -- and for the purposes of this thought experiment, you have health insurance, and it's decent -- covered everything save your liver. For that, you need liver insurance. Or maybe it does cover your liver, but not your right foot. That requires right foot insurance. Or maybe it covers everything but your brain. Got some brain insurance?And even if you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, I bet it’s not very good. I’ve had (and now have) pretty good health insurance coverage, but even when that’s been the case, the accompanying dental insurance has hardly covered anything. Right now I have a health insurance card and then a separate dental insurance card provided by the same insurance company and paid for by the same employer. (Actually, I’m particularly lucky to have the best dental plan of all –my dentist is a relative.)
That's the odd space dental insurance occupies. None would argue that what happens in your mouth is unrelated to your health. An abscessed tooth is considerably more dangerous than a sprained ankle, and diseases that begin in the gums can travel down to the heart.
I’m not sure how dental care got disconnected from healthcare in general. I suspect it has something to do with having never been connected in the first place. We almost treat dental issues as if they are cosmetic and barely worth considering as basic healthcare. Oddly, I think we view cosmetic surgery, even the entirely elective vanity stuff (as opposed to reconstruction from some trauma) as tied more closely to traditional healthcare than dentistry.
Is it this way in other countries? I bet not, especially if you consider almost all other developed countries have some sort of universal healthcare. This is probably just some odd state of affairs we just accept here for no other reason than that’s just the way it’s always been.
Or maybe we‘re just a nation of anti-dentites.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Coincidentally, Richard Roeper touches on the subject in his column today.
I always marvel at bicyclists and in-line skaters and joggers who put so much trust in the traffic behind them. They're very brave. Or maybe they just don't care if they're pancaked.I’m not attacking cyclists either; quite the opposite. I just think cycling works better on its own terms and not in conjunction with vehicular traffic. It may be a wild-eyed dream to hope for a large scale separation between the two, but it’s something worth thinking about.
Late Saturday night/Sunday morning, a 22-year-old bicyclist was killed on the North Side when he collided with a vehicle driven by a 29-year-old woman. I'm not saying it was the bicyclist's fault -- but when I hear about such a tragedy, I'm only surprised that it doesn't happen more often. (According to a Sun-Times News Group report, witnesses said the bike "came out of nowhere" and "tried to beat the light.")
I'm pro-bike. I have a bike. I'm all for bicyclists and skaters and everyone else sharing the city legally with motorists.
But I'm always amazed at the sheer numbers of non-motorists that put themselves right in the middle of traffic, apparently just hoping for the best.
Also, while cyclists in traffic are still few these days, any large increase I think would add to the danger exponentially and would not be offset by the reduction in motor vehicles. Again, I have nothing official to back that up, it’s just a guess.
Monday, April 21, 2008
There are plenty of reasons to think Blagojevich is the Worst. Governor. Ever. But this paranoid “he hates us!” bullshit is not one of them. I see letters to editors and calls to local talk radio wanting “downstate” to force Chicago to become its own state and stop stealing all of our tax dollars, cuz ya know they get it all and we get nothin’. (This is ironic since much of Springfield’s economy depends on state government jobs and operations. Most communities would love to get the slice of the pie we get here)
Springfield’s childish, irrational and provincial inferiority complex it has toward Chicago really is unbecoming and makes us all look like a bunch of whiny hicks. Really, get over it. We have a large and diverse state that, fortunately, includes one of the world’s great cities. If you don’t like it, I hear there is plenty of room for you in Wyoming.
As usual, no one knows for sure. But go read the article for the specifics of both arguments.
We used to live in Plains. It was a nice quiet place to live but it’s down the two-lane highway a piece and not really close to anything. It’s not an unbearable commute to Springfield, but one of the reasons we saw a benefit to moving from Plains to the west side of Springfield, was that we could get more house just from the savings on gas for our work commutes. And that was in 2001 before gas prices exploded. I would hate to be commuting from there now.
For that and other reasons (lots of people prefer not to live amongst the corn stalks, and the traffic on 2-lane highway 125 to and from Plains during the morning and evening commutes is already horrible, for example) I don’t see Pleasant Plains becoming overwhelmed with new residents and businesses. Sewers are great and all (believe me I’ve had to deal with many septic systems in my life, including the one at our old house in Plains) but they just aren’t a big deal-maker for most people. Businesses, yes, do often need a good sewer system to operate, but I still don’t see the incentive for many to locate in Plains.
Update: To be clear, I’m glad Pleasant Plains is getting a sewage system and I’m sure it will generate some growth in the community, but I don’t think the town is going to be facing so many growth problems that task forces and planning committees need agonize over how to control it. On the other hand, better safe than sorry, everyone needs a hobby, etc, etc.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Here's a simple test provided by the Canadian immigration folks used to determine if you would qualify to live among the Great White Northers. I got a 71, so they're all about having me come live with them. How 'bout you? Got what it takes to be a Canadian?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Anyway, the aftershock we felt about 10:15 this morning is being reported as a magnitude 4.5. At least we’re going in the right direction. I will say that is the first aftershock I’ve ever experienced.
The SJ-R site is getting hammered this morning, especially after the aftershock (did I say that right?). I couldn’t get on for the longest time. In a way, it’s a credit to the paper that they have a web site people know to turn to for late-breaking news. Props to the online guys at the SJ-R.
Oh, and you all know they’re laughing at us in California, right? Just ignore them. Our Big One (New Madrid) is going to totally destroy their Big One someday. Not to mention destroy about everything else around here.
I guess that’s why some enterprising and befuddled frontiersmen decided to build a New Salem northwest of Springfield. Crazy, misdirected Southern Illinoisans.
The only other two quakes I've felt both occurred while I was awake. One happened the night before I graduated from SIU Carbondale in May of 1983. The other here in Springfield about 1968 (?) when I was just a kid. The latter actually felt stronger than this morning's as I remember it.
(CNN) -- A magnitude-5.2 earthquake, centered 131 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri, shook southern Illinois early Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
There were few reports of damage immediately after the predawn quake, which struck at 4:36 a.m. (5:36 a.m. ET), but CNN affiliate WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky, showed footage of rubble left in a street after a cornice fell off a brick building there.
The epicenter of the earthquake was about three miles below ground, six miles northwest of Mount Carmel, Illinois, and 38 miles north-northwest of Evansville, Indiana, according to the USGS.People as far north as southern Michigan and as far west as Des Moines, Iowa, reported feeling the quake, according to The Associated Press.
Air traffic was halted for an hour at Indianapolis International Airport while the control tower was evacuated, CNN affiliate WRTV-TV in the Indiana city reported.
At least 30 people reported feeling the quake in Clarksville, Tennessee -- 227 miles south of the epicenter -- according to the USGS Web site.
Buildings swayed in Chicago's Loop and people were shaken awake in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the AP reported.
Update: From the SJ-R:
The quake was centered 6 miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles fromEvansville, Ind.I also understand that this quake occurred along the Wabash Fault not the more notable and famous New Madrid Fault. We still have "The Big One" to look forward to someday.
Initially pegged as a 5.4 earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey revised its estimate to give it a value of 5.2.
Update II: Apparently, from what i'm hearing on WMAY, a lot of people around here didn’t feel the quake, or at least they weren’t awakened by it. I’m no expert on earthquakes but I’m guessing that the higher up you are (depending on the structure you’re in etc, etc.) the more pronounced the sensation is. We sleep on the second floor and perhaps that contributed to us feeling the quake. Or maybe it’s because we live in a more recently built home (1990) made of the usually crappy modern building materials. I wonder if I had been in my office in the basement I would have felt it as much.
Update III: Today is the 102nd anniversary of The Great San Francisco Earthquake. Just us Midwesterners paying homage?
It’s also my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday. Hmmmmm.
Update IV: Again from the SJ-R, the quake I remembered from my childhood was indeed in 1968.
The strongest earthquake recorded in Illinois was in 1968, a 5.3-magnitude temblor centered near Dale in Hamilton County, about 75 miles southeast of St. Louis, according the USGS. Minor damage was widespread, but there were no serious injuries or fatalities.
Googling further, the actual date was November 9, 1968. I knew it was a Saturday morning. I was sitting in our living room in our house on South Spring St. watching cartoons when the big mirror above our TV began to bang against the wall. 40 years on, it seems like that one was bigger, but I guess not by much with today’s being magnitude 5.2 vs. 5.3 in the 1968 quake.
Have a great weekend! And Pope open a a cold one for me too.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
"Americans have always been a people of hope," he said. "Your ancestors came to this country with the experience of finding new freedom and opportunity.
"To be sure, this promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one thinks of the injustices endured by the native American peoples and by those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
From the U.S. Census Bureau (via Digby):
Classics (born from 1900 to 1920)
Baby Bust (I) (born from 1921 to 1945)
--Early cohort (born from 1921 to 1933)
--Late cohort (born from 1934 to 1945)
Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964)
--Leading Edge Boomers (born from 1946 to 1957)
--Trailing Edge Boomers (born from 1958 to 1964)
Baby Bust (II) (born from 1965 to 1976)
Echo Boomers (born from 1977 to 1994)
--Leading Edge (born from 1977 to 1990)
--Trailing Edge (born from 1991 to 1994)
Depression cohort (born from 1912 to 1921)My youngest sister was born 40 years ago tonight right here in Springfield while it stormed outside. My grandmother, who died just two years later, watched me and my other two sisters while my parents were at the hospital. Happy 40th Sarah! We are less then eight years apart but apparently of different generations. Who am I to argue?
**Memorable events: The Great Depression, high levels of unemployment, poverty, lack of creature comforts, financial uncertainty
**Key characteristics: strive for financial security, risk averse, waste-not-want-not attitude, strive for comfort
Pre World War II cohort (born from 1922 to 1927)
**Memorable events: men leaving to go to war and many not returning, the personal experience of the war, women working in factories, focus on defeating a common enemy
**Key characteristics: the nobility of sacrifice for the common good, patriotism, team player
World War II cohort (born from 1928 to 1945)
**Memorable events: sustained economic growth, social tranquility, The Cold War, McCarthyism
**Key characteristics: conformity, conservatism, traditional family values
Baby Boomer cohort #1 (born from 1946 to 1954)
**Memorable events: assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, political unrest, walk on the moon, Vietnam War, anti-war protests, social experimentation, sexual freedom, civil rights movement, environmental movement, women's movement, protests and riots, experimentation with various intoxicating recreational substances
**Key characteristics: experimental, individualism, free spirited, social cause oriented
Baby Boomer cohort #2 (born from 1955 to 1964)
**Memorable events: Watergate, Nixon resigns, the cold war, the oil embargo, raging inflation, gasoline shortages
**Key characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government, general cynicism
Generation X cohort (born from 1965 to 1979)
**Memorable events: Challenger explosion, Iran-Contra, social malaise, Reaganomics, AIDS, safe sex, single parent families
**Key characteristics: quest for emotional security, independent, informality, entrepreneurial
Generation Y cohort also called N Generation (born from 1980 to 2001)
**Memorable events: rise of the internet, September 11 attacks, cultural diversity, 2 wars in Iraq
**Key characteristics: quest for physical security and safety, patriotism, heightened fears, acceptance of change, technically savvy, environmental issues
BAGHDAD — A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions on Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias.Shitty puppet armies never work out so well. Especially when you pit them against their own countrymen at the service of a government they don’t support.
The retreat left a crucial stretch of road on the front lines undefended for hours and led to a tense series of exchanges between American soldiers and about 50 Iraqi troops who were fleeing.
Capt. Logan Veath, a company commander in the 25th Infantry Division, pleaded with the Iraqi major who was leading his troops away from the Sadr City fight, urging him to return to the front.
Captain Veath’s pleas failed, and senior American and Iraqi commanders mounted an urgent effort to regain the lost ground. An elite Iraqi unit was rushed in and with the support of the Americans began to fight its way north.
The building, now gone, was spacious and had a good atmosphere. The food was decent. We had an office Christmas party there one year, I used to meet up with friends there, eat nachos and drink beer at the bar, I also often used to take dates there during my single years. During that decade, I probably spent more time in BBC than any other eating establishment in town. Maybe more time than all of the others combined. I guess what it comes down to sometimes is not how good a place is on its own merits but what experiences you had there.
Update: Other runners up include:
Damons (for reasons similar to BBC plus trivia games)
Norb Andy’s (goes without saying)
Max’s (version 1.0)
The Golden Bear (we went there A LOT as kids)
The Flaming Pit (see if anyone remembers that one from the 70s)
Lums (just kidding, yuk!)
Tops Big Boy (WAY better than Sonic)
Gumbo Ya Ya (OK, there service could have been better)
Hurt or not, I'd be done working forever if I even had the money he made from his new sports drink and the associated TV ad he made golfing on the moon. Of course, that attitude is exactly why I'll never, ever reach the level of success that would allow me to retire early. How ironical.