Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh Home on the Plains

Because I used to live in Pleasant Plains, I thought I would contribute to the effort to come up with a slogan for the village:

Pleasant Plains – Almost Ashland!

Pleasant Plains – The Two-Lane Commute Lover’s Dream

Pleasant Plains – Not Great, Just Pleasant

Pleasant Plains – Home of Another Casey's!

Pleasant Plains – We Got Sewers!

Pleasant Plains – We Have No Teams Called The Cubs

Pleasant Plains – Where Lincoln Would Have Lived Had It Been the State Capital

The Patti Brand

Patti needs to realize that we are interested in only one thing about her:

[Patti] Blagojevich told MSNBC Thursday that viewers of reality show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here" will expect her to use obscenities. But she says they'll be disappointed.

Blagojevich spoke from Costa Rica, where the NBC series is being filmed.
While some need to publish or perish, Patti will need to swear or fail at being a bankable celebrity. It’s called branding.

When Rod first got busted last winter, I said that his only path to continued prosperity was to take the crazy-corrupt-politician-with-chutzpah act to the extreme. He’s been doing a pretty good job of it and if he can stay out of jail, he might be able to cash in.

Likewise, if Patti can maintain the foul mouth, she’ll be in demand. Can’t you see her showing up on talk shows with the bleep button guy at the ready? Guest appearances on sitcoms where she lets loose on a string of expletives? It’s kind of a one trick pony with a limited shelf life, but right now that’s all she’s got.

My other idea is that she can have an affair that is mysteriously uncovered by the media and go the Jon & Kate route. Here we are now, entertain us!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Perfect Constitution

Even getting past that minor detail about slavery, if the Constitution is never flawed then why do we have so many amendments and the ability to add more? The GOP continues to really reach in its effort to discredit President Obama.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Barack Obama: Slow Driver

White House life means Malia and Sasha now see their dad practically every day, which wasn't the case for most of their lives, [Michelle Obama] said. [Barack] Obama was a five-hour drive away from their Chicago home when he served in the Illinois state Senate in Springfield, before he became a U.S. senator and spent weekdays in Washington.
Uh...if you can't make it to Chicago's south side from Springfield in 3.5 hours, you must be stopping off somewhere for something. Or driving like 50 mph. I bet Obama stopped at the Dixie for some fine dining.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A bad day for trees:
CARBONDALE - The May 8 wind storm left about 3,100 trees downed in the Carbondale. In the wake of that loss, city officials announced last week that the city would launch an effort to plant trees throughout town.
And Carbondale is what - a fifth the size of Springfield?

Zoho Writer

I'm testing Zoho Writer from and I plan to publish this post to my blog directly from the Zoho Writer application.

Zoho Writer is an online, word processing application that offers me the advantage of being able to retrieve my documents anywhere. And that would matter if I had any documents I wanted to retrieve anywhere. Still it's intriguing.

OK, now to publish.

Wow, it even published the graphic.

Monday, May 18, 2009

He Makes HOW Much?

Here. Now you can easily go look up exactly (not just a pay range) how much your state worker friends make. Search by name or postition or agency or location or all of the above.

Straight Down the Middle

Folks unwaveringly entrenched in dogma drive us all crazy, but I find the triangulating “centrist” even more so. If Mr. Left says the sky is blue and Mr. Right says the sky is yellow, then Mr. Center will feel smugly confident in assuming the sky is, in fact, green without ever even looking up.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Little Chicago With That Whine?

Living downstate, I’m well aware of how horribly put-upon we are by those bad people in Chicago. But get this:

Armed with a study by the legislature's research office, state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, said that between 1999 and 2007, road fund expenditures in the Chicago area ranged from about 32 percent of the statewide total to 44 percent.

That comes despite the region having about 63 percent of the state's population and 57 percent of the cars.

Whaaaaaaaa! It’s unfair! Chicago gets everything and we get nothing! Whaaaaaaaa!

Oh, what? We get more road per capita than they do? Well, ahem, never mind. Let’s talk about something else, like corrupt politicians! Whaaaaaaaa!

Now, of course this may make some sense in that the distances between destinations are greater downstate than they are in the greater Chicago area. There’s economy of scale up there. But there are also other circumstances where it might make more sense to spend more there than here.

This has been another message from the Downstaters Against Provincial Whiney-Ass Babies.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hairgo Blago

The dude is really branching out. I feel his impeachment and removal from office has allowed him to blossom and realize his full potential.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Don’t Do The Crime If You Can’t Do The Time

I don’t fully agree with it, but I understand the Obama administration’s reason for not wanting to release the controversial detainee photos right now. It may save some American lives. Fine, I get that. But let’s think about the bigger picture here.

If we hadn’t been abusing prisoners, there would be nothing to worry about. This is a strong argument for why prisoner/detainee/enemy combatant abuse is rather counterproductive. DON’T TORTURE AND ABUSE AND THERE WON’T BE CONSEQUENCES FOR DOING SO. Jeebus, people!

On a more cynical level, why were these pictures taken in the first place? If you’re going to go the morally bankrupt route and abuse prisoners, why take pictures? What good does that do? Is it to satisfy some masochistic lust for torture porn? This is the part I really don’t understand.
But for now, we (and the world) know these pictures exist and that in and of itself is bad enough. What a wonderful legacy the Bush years have left us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Looks at Books

Kevin Drum says you must read books to be smart. I disagree.
Understanding "broader categories" — the context into which individual pieces of knowledge fit — requires you to read books. Full stop. Maybe someday it won't, but it does now.

...I'm generally a scourge of cranky elders who always kvetching about how ill educated kids are today compared to the golden age they used to live in. Spare me. But that doesn't mean the opposite is true either. Kids who grow up on the internet may be great at looking up odd bits of information quickly, but my experience is that they often suck at figuring out what that information means and what conclusions it's reasonable to draw from it. That's because they don't know the context. They don't know the rest of the story. And that's because they don't read enough books.

This seems like a silly argument Kevin is making. You can read as little or as much as you want on a subject via the internet. Information doesn’t have to come in book form. I’m 48 years old and read plenty of books up until a few years ago. But I find the aggregate “context” of many different items on the web as informative and often more so, than the lengthy writings in a single book. Now, obviously, if you really want to become well-versed in a subject you need to consume (not necessarily just read) a lot of information on the subject. I think that can be done through a variety of media. Also, back in the day, I don’t remember lots of people buying lots of informative books. I think more people know more about more things, even if they aren’t experts, because of things like the internet and narrowcasting cable channels.

I understand Kevin’s invocation of “context” but getting that context isn’t limited to reading books. At least I don’t think it is. My problem is that I had a good book-learning background before making the leap to newer media like the internet. So maybe I’m already equipped with contextualization skills because of that. But I don’t think so. There are many things I think I’ve become at least moderately versed in without cracking a single book on the subject. I have nothing against books, but I think Kevin is perhaps overstating thier relative necessity to understanding.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Derecho: Land Hurricane

The other day, when Facebooking/blogging about the storm that slammed into Southern Illinois, I noted that its winds were hurricane force. Well, check this out:

Ok, technically it was not a hurricane that ravaged Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, it was an event known as a derecho (Spanish for the word "straight"). The long-lived, violent straight-line windstorm killed six people, damaged hundreds of homes and knocked out power to more than 200,000 residents.
Also, look at this amazing animation of the storm. Notice we here in Springfield were recipients of rain from the northern and less violent portion of the storm.

Computer Bug

I’m probably going to kill the soul of this story by over explaining it, but…

I have a HP TouchSmart PC. As the name suggests, it has a touch screen.

Yesterday, I left my office window open to let in some fresh air. Unfortunately, it also let in a few bugs. No big deal. However, last night I was in my office in my chair at my computer desk watching the television off to my left. Suddenly, I hear the beeps associated with using my touch screen. I look over and my computer is jumping from one web page to the next, seemingly all by itself. Then I see the cause. A flying bug, drawn to the glow of the computer screen, is bumping into it and clicking hyperlinks.

Well, I thought it was funny.

Shorter Kev 05/11/09

For some reason, I’m among those who fail to understand that State of Illinois workers are taxpayers too.

Kevan Kavanaugh’s commentaries can be heard regularly on AM 970 WMAY.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Marriage Adveristy

I found this statistic interesting:
According to the latest state figures, through September 2008, there had been 12,167 same-sex marriages in Massachusetts — 64 percent of them between women — out of 170,209 marriages in all.
Maybe there are just more lesbians than gay men, but what I think this really means is that men of any sexual orientation are more adverse to marriage than their female counterparts.

More importantly, this gives me an opportunity to post a picture of two women kissing.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Devastating Carbondale Storm

In case you haven't heard, Carbondale, IL was hit with a strong storm that may have involved a tornado. 100 mph winds were reported and lots of damage. My daughter goes to SIU there and told me what was going on. Rather than live blogging what I knew, I live 'Facebooked' instead. Mainly because this was of greater concern to friends and family than to whatever blog audience I still have.

--[Daughter] just called...SIU campus hit by what she thinks was a tornado. Many windows were blown out in her dorm (Schneider Hall), including all on the top (17th) floor. All the trees in sight are down. Carbondale in 'chaos'. Well, that's not new for a Friday.

--She said they were watching the rain and hail and trees (!) blow by when the lounge window blew out in front of her. They ran and hid in the bathroom. They were then asked to evacuate the building.

--...after the storm had passed, that is.

--It'll be interesting to see if more windows were taken out by the storm than the great Boomer/Allen snowball fight of '79.

--St. Louis Post-Dispatch says C'dale got 100 mph winds and there were some injuries:

--The Southern Illinoisian online is strangely silent. Maybe they got hit?--

--For comparison, 100 mph is a Category 2 hurricane

--[Daughter] texts that she can confirm a tornado...

--...and things must be calming down some since she's back at work at the [Place Where She Works].

--She texts that they still have no power tho...


--We are supposed to go down to Giant City in two weeks with the [Friends] and the [Other Friends]. Hope the cabins are still standing. I can't get through to the lodge on the phone.

--Emergency text sent out to SIU parents says graduation ceremonies have been canceled for tomorrow. Guess the kids will have to hang out for another year!

Update: Only the graduation ceremonies scheduled for today (Friday) were affected and they have been rescheduled for Saturday and Sunday. That according to an official emergency text from the university. So maybe things aren't so dire???

Thursday, May 07, 2009

NIMBC (Not in My Brave Country)

David Kurtz has a couple of statistics for comparison:

Number of Gitmo detainees that the GOP hopes to keep off mainland U.S. soil with its "Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act": roughly 250.

Number of Axis POWs detained in camps on the U.S. mainland at the end of WWII: roughly 425,000.

I really don’t understand the fear some people (read: wingnuts) say they have about having alleged terrorists housed in detention centers, prisons, what have you in the United States. I’m not talking about legal complications, real or imagined, I’m talking about a fear that these guys will somehow escape and run amok terrorizing the nation.

First, even a hardcore, America-hating terrorist isn’t superhuman. They can’t turn into The Hulk and smash (Smash!) their way out of a prison. If they could, they would have left Gitmo years ago. They don’t have super powers. And I guarantee you, there are far more dangerous and often deranged individuals already behind prison walls right here in the good ol’ USA. Hell, I used to live right down the highway from what was at the time the nation’s most secure prison in Marion, IL. The worst of the worst were there and I never missed a minute of sleep over their presence.

Secondly, we've already successfully housed hardcore terrorists in this country. Remember Timothy McVeigh? Or the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993? Some of the WTC attackers are still in U.S. prisons.

Frankly, if they wanted to build a terrorist super-max prison right in Sangamon County, I’d be all for it. More jobs for us.

Update: TMP has a copy of a GOP scare e-mail on the subject here. Notice the nce Drudge siren included. What a bunch of bedwetting cowards. Well, not really. These guys aren't afraid but they want you to be, just like the good old days after 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq war. A frightened populace is much more malleable to their way of thinking. Who are the terrorists again?

Update II: Oh, and look at the description of one Rep. Boehner’s top 10 scary people:

Mustafa al-Hawsawi

One of two key financial facilitators entrusted by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (KSM) to manage the funding for the hijackings. Met with Osama Bin Laden and his top lieutenant soon after the 9/11 attacks.

OMG! If he smashed (Mustafa Smash!) his way out of prison he would probably roam the countryside spreading bad financial advice! The terror!

Seriously, many of the Gitmo detainees, and probably all of The Top Ten Most Scary Men Ever, are guilty as sin and should be tried and then sent up for life. But they really are no threat to us now. Their power, such as it was, came from being free men participating in a larger organization. All of that is over for them.

Bad Pictures

Pssst…Hey, SJ-R. Most of the new color photos in your online obits section look REALLY bad. Just sayin’.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How Low Can He Go??

Rod Blagojevich DOES TOO have standards:
Dennis Hof is the owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, made famous on the HBO series "Cathouse." Hof says he wanted to hire Rod Blagojevich as his apprentice, whatever that means, but Blago's people turned him down.
But some people don’t:
Hof told WBBM-AM, "I think I'm going to go after Drew Peterson. He doesn't have an old lady now. At least they can't find her. He might as well be on my show and have some fun with the girls."

Peterson's publicist says "this might be something he might be interested in exploring."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Movie Genres I Just Can’t Stand

Mob movies (The Godfather, Scarface)

Outside rebel changes rigid, small-minded town (Footloose, Chocolat)

Superheroes (Batman, The Hulk)*

*The campy, 1960s Adam West version of Batman is good, however.

Tube Testing and the Age of the Mr. Taylors

I was reminded today that their used to be TV repairmen who came to your house and fixed TVs. They all faded away by the mid 70’s or so because, well, TVs mostly stopped breaking from anything other than old age. But I remember growing up during the 1960s having Mr. Taylor, the pipe-smoking TV repairman, come to our house on a fairly regular basis to fix our TV set. The set had a wood cabinet, a black and white picture, and was full of glowing tubes when you took the back off and turned it on. Mr. Taylor mostly came to replace tubes because that’s what went out on those TVs. He would show up in a white van with his logo on the side, packed with wires and tubes.

I also remember my dad and I trying to fix things ourselves before having to resort to calling Mr. Taylor. We would look for any tube that seemed dark. We would pull it out and head to the drug store where they had a tube tester machine and a supply of replacements. Often, we would find the problem, pick up the replacement and get the TV working again. But, as frequently as not, Mr. Taylor had to be called.

All of that came to an end when they started making “sold state” televisions. That is, TVs without tubes (other than the picture tube). By 1972 we had a solid state TV that didn’t need to be serviced as often (there were still some tubes but by then, at age 12, I was a master of the tube tester). Not only was it low-maintenance, but it was color! The old black and white tube monster became a second TV for the house (first time that had ever happened in our home) and lasted many more years...I think until about the time the tube tester machines were removed from the drug store.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Lady with the Crazy Eyes

If people who comment in the online SJ-R had their own congressional district, Michelle Bachmann would be their representative. I wish I could find a Best of Bachmann video compilation.

Flu as Hype

Matt Y.:

Now that the “swine flu” epidemic is maybe looking not-so-bad, there are signs in the air of a backlash against the speed with which the US government, the World Health Organization, and other government agencies worked to ring the alarm bell. I think that would be a big mistake. Part of the essence of the emergence of a new flu strain is that you can’t get a solid, statistically valid sense of how deadly it is until it’s already infected tons and tons of people. But by then it’s way too late to ring the alarm. You need to act, in the first instance, on the fact that a new flu strain could be extremely dangerous so it’s highly desirable to stop it from spreading widely.

Second, the way you stop a flu virus from spreading widely is that you’ve got to raise the level of public concern.

Right from the beginning I figured if this outbreak of flu wasn’t a “big one”, the backlash would come and probably be translated to other potential disasters and even disasters already in the making like global climate change. This seems like such an obvious point, but still there are those who insist that their instinct (or political biases or whatever) are more reliable than science and concerted preventative action.

You don’t break out the fire extinguisher after you see how much damage the fire has done. And you don’t put out the stove fire and then declare that it was never any big deal. As Yglesias says, with a new strain of virus you can’t KNOW what to expect. Better safe than sorry. Or dead. We can live with the “hype”, it's the ignorance that will kill us. Note too, that by limiting the the number of people exposed to this not-so-deadly virus, we reduce the chance of it mutating into something far more deadly. This is a NEW virus that we have no immunity to, so anything can happen.

Update: Or as someone else put it:
…the irony of good public health planning is that if it works, you might not know you needed it.

Serious Insights: Troll Edition

I’m so glad my stupid troll is gone from these pages. He still makes his ignorant arguments in the SJ-R comments sections, but that’s OK as long as he isn’t allowed to use my name anymore.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tan Lines

These people are going to look funny when they take their masks off. But the won't have the flu!

Cable News Follies

There’s really no shortage of bad things to say about cable news channels in 2009 and I particularly like the way they can be so easily manipulated and used. A few years ago, say seven to ten years ago, when these channels would seek out a Republican spokesperson of some sort, they would almost invariably be sent a blonde white woman.

Recently, I’ve noticed the Republicans have been sending only black men. I’m pretty sure these guys (and Michael Steele) are the only black men in the Republican Party but somehow they are the ones who appear on the cable news channels (Fox doesn’t count cuz they’re all Republicans and not news but propaganda anyway). I’m guessing that the idea is to pretend that the party of the right is friendly to woman (then) and blacks (now). It certainly isn’t working but it’s kind of funny to watch.


Updating my post from yesterday on the imposter posting comments in the SJ-R online:

The SJ-R, 24 hours later, still has not removed the bogus comments attributed to me [see Update II below]. Apparently, all they did was close the imposter’s account. How long will it be before this guy simply registers with a slightly different version, again incorporating my full name and the name of this blog? The SJ-R should not be allowing “real” names to be used unless they can verify it’s really that person. This really sucks. And I hold the SJ-R responsible for it.

Update: I’m guessing that if I registered as “Don’t Subscribe to the SJ-R” or “Bernard Schoenburg at the SJ-R”, those accounts would not be allowed to post comments.

Update II: After I complained again, the SJ-R infoms me they have now removed the comments. Thank you SJ-R! Now let's change your account registration policy.

Update III: See Will's story comments below. I guess I'm not alone and it could have been (and still might get) worse. Unless the SJ-R decides to do something about it.

Serious Insights: Statehouse Coverage Edition

Well, I guess Rich Miller should just give up now.