A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wow, This is Really Gonna Happen

I will soon have a published book. Tremendously cool feeling. My history of the Town/Village of Caledonia is set to leave the publisher on Aug. 22. It weighs in at a fairly substantial 380 pages. It does have quite a lot of photos and other illustrations, but still a lot of writing and editing. I am quite pleased with the end result. Here's the cover:

Woot! Double woot!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

45 Pound Alarm Clock

Say hello to the newest member of the Libertarian Librarian family:

This is Colter. He's only 5 months old and already weighs nearly 50 pounds. Yikes! He's a Newfoundland/Labrador mix. Best Dog Evah!

Got him from the local pound. Came housebroken, trains super fast, good with kids, likes to play but isn't too rambunctious (well, sometimes, but for a 5 month old puppy he's pretty low key).

He makes an excellent alarm clock. It his really, really hard to sleep through a big, happy, 45 pound puppy jumping on you and trying to lick your face. Maybe not the best way to wake up, but not the worst by a long shot.

Lots of new, lots of news. But more of that later. Right now my alarm clock wants to play fetch

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Great Way to Waste Some Time

ted.com has some of the coolest, most interesting, flat out fascinating webcasts I've ever seen. Get a bunch of smart, talented people together and see what happens. What a great concept! This guy's 37 minute juggling/learning/space/art/motion/rhythm segment is mind-blowing.

Actually, most of the stuff on the ted site probably can't be considered a waste of time-- it's too informative and useful! But it is a great way to spend some time.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Condescend Much?

Most reviewers are a bit pretentious, full of the believe that they are somehow better able to evaluate the worth of something than the common man. If such were not the case, they probably wouldn't be reviewers.

But this guy. Woof. This little gem, regarding Titanic, pretty well sum up Sean Nelson and his views:
If you are one of those unfortunate young people bamboozled by the stock characters, the corny melodrama and the desperate romantic window dressing of this disaster (of an) epic, don't worry: You're not alone. You just have terrible taste.
You're either with him, or you're a moron. Ugh.


Friday, May 02, 2008

The Neverending Project

I look back at me, twelve years ago, and wonder how I marvel at all I have learned since that time. About lots of things, of course, most important amongst them, how to be a good husband and father. But also in how to DO things. Around the house and yard, I mean.

In the first apartment I rented out in California, at the age of about 26, the toilet that backed up one night and I had no idea what to do about it. Seriously-- I didn't even know that the there was a turn off valve for the toilet in the bathroom. I was pretty much clueless.

Enter the fixer-upper. When I got the job at UW-Parkside, we had just enough to buy a house at the bottom end of the housing market. Just enough. So, we wound up with a house that needed: walls ripped out, floors ripped out, other walls built, floors replaced. The bathroom was a disaster. Seriously, in retrospect I'm not sure how we lived with it for the first month we were there.

We gutted it. Found an old mouse nest in one wall-- one of the most vile smells I've ever encountered, disintegrated rat mixed with really old mouse urine and poop.

Over the last eight years I have learned how to do all of the following: Plumbing (sweating pipes, installing waste lines, replacing the rusted out crap water lines we had with all new copper lines, installing hose bibs, you name it), electrical (a challenge, since we have concrete block exterior walls and no basement), flooring (I can tile like a pro, baybee!), cabinetry, painting, siding, installing doors, removing doors, caulking, sealing, adding walls, finishing walls, trim work, planting trees, adding a garden, adding a firepit, and probably many other things I've totally forgotten we have done with the place.

I have tools now-- power drill, circular saw, jigsaw, sawzall, ratchet set, table saw, miter box, many screwdrivers, chisels, wrenches and various other hand tools. I spend a decent chunk of my time at Menards and Home Depot.

But after eight years, I'd like it to feel done, one of these days. Which it almost certainly won't. So, every now and then I have to go back and look at how awful the layout and construction, or lack thereof, was on the house when we bought it. And think about how much better it is now-- probably nearly unrecognizable to the previous owners.

Also worth about 50% than what we paid for it, even in today's soft housing market. And the kids are getting old enough to help me a little and to learn some tips and tricks. Which is very cool.


Where's my saw?


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Best Studio Ever

Ok, back in this post I mentioned writing about all of the things I list, so this one is counting towards spending time with my family.

I believe that Pixar Animation is the best studio ever.

Take a look at their films: Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille.

Crikey! The worst one in the bunch is probably A Bug's Life and that was a very good film. Lightyears ahead of Ants, which came out at the same time, and superior to almost all the other animated movies since-- with the exception of the other Pixar films. Toy Story is a classic that redefined the genre. All of them have a depth of script and character that is quite remarkable, yet all of them capture a simple truth of life-- or, perhaps more appropriately, recapture a simple and cherished truth of childhood.

Has there ever been any child, anywhere, at any time, that hasn't imagined their toys talking? Coming to life when all the people are gone? Or tried to picture themselves as a bug-- imagined what all those little critters were so busily doing all the time? Monster in the closet? Check. Okay, so maybe it was under the bed or outside the window, but we have all been terrified by something in our bedroom... and we've all wondered how it got there in the first place.

Finding Nemo-- see A Bug's Life, only with fish and with a story so well done that we don't just suspend our disbelief, we lose it altogether. The Incredibles? No brainer. We've all wanted to be superheroes at some time or other-- yet it isn't just another superhero cartoon. It digs much deeper, without losing its whimsy. Cars? People have been wondering about cars having their own personalities since the first days of the combustion engine. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Herbie, My Mother the Car, Christine and on and on. Cars just takes it that one step further-- what if it was just cars?-- and wraps it up with a sincere reminiscence of the days of Route 66 as the mother road. And a tip of the hat to NASCAR, to boot.

And now, Ratatouille. I had my doubts about this one. It didn't seem to fit-- nobody really imagines life as a rat, and most movies or books about rats aren't terribly flattering to the rodents. But they pulled it off. With grace and charm and wit and some truly fantastic and bizarre ideas that somehow are still believable, they pulled it off. It is a marvelous film. Not their best, but then their best is THE best.

Two other thing that Pixar does very well: they manage to make things that are generally only of interest to small groups-- cooking, fish, NASCAR, comic books-- and make them fun and interesting and engaging for everyone. And they manage to remember the past fondly without descending into the maudlin or morose.

So, what does all this have to do with my family? Well, I've seen every single Pixar film with my kids, and most of them with my wife and kids. Which is perhaps Pixar's greatest achievement of all-- their films are great (not okay, not pretty good-- great) for both children and adults.

Which totally rocks, because even as my kids get older, they'll still want to see Pixar movies with me. Well, maybe not when they are between 12 and 18, but pretty much all the rest of the time. The movies are that good and the memories they leave are that special.

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Cat Herding 101

One of the hardest parts of coaching 5-7 year-olds is finding a frame of reference they can understand. Whilst trying to teach them to throw I have discovered that the phrase "snap your wrist at the end" means absolutely nothing to them. "Snap your wrist? I can't even snap my fingers yet and he wants me to snap my wrist?"

"Throw off your left leg."

"Which leg is my left one, coach? Oh, okay. How do I throw off of it, coach?"

There's a lot of demonstrating, less verbiage.

It's actually a really useful lesson in rethinking how I express myself to others. I'm a very linguistic/verbal person-- I trust in my rhetoric and my wit to get me through things. But that doesn't always work-- not everyone is a linguistic/verbal learner.

It's also been quite an experience in grabbing, and maintaining, attention. 7 year-olds aren't too bad, they've been in school for a year or two, so they are a bit used to listening to an authoritative adult voice, but the 5 year-olds. Whoof.

Flip side, they remind me not to take things too seriously. Last week I was trying to explain the proper way to field a ball and one of the kids kept staring up into the sky. I couldn't figure out why.

So, I looked up. And right there above my head were these pure white contrails against this brilliant blue sky. It was lovely. So, the whole team took ten or fifteen seconds to look up and absorb the wonder of it all, and then we got back to learning how to get our gloves down to block the ball, rather than trying to trap the ball like a bug.

And the thrill that I get when they GET it, whether it is throwing, catching, hitting or something else altogether is one of the most rewarding things I've experienced in my life. Just watching them put it all together and come out the other side with a big smile on their face is absolutely fabulous.

It is also excellent practice in not losing your patience.

I recommend it most highly.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Caledonia: Journey to a Village

That is the title of my forthcoming book on the history of the area in which I currently live. Not great, but not awful. Not my first choice, but not my last either-- it'll do, pig, it'll do. MOVIE REFERENCE!

Seems I might be a bit loopy tonight. Lucky you guys (guy? gal? Bueller? Bueller? MOVIE REFERENCE!)

Focus. Focus. Clearly a bit rusty here. Okay, so, a book about Caledonia, from 1835 to the present. Should be around 375 pages, altogether, with roughly a third of that being pictures, maps and other non-written bits. Fun? Yes, but also very time consuming and right now, at the moment of final crunching, rather tedious. I love the broad strokes-- it's the finishing touches that drive me nuts. Takes just as long, but it d/n feel like you're getting much accomplished relative to the time invested.

But the finishing touches are important. Otherwise the project/item/creation looks... unfinished. Not so good. So, a wrasslin' with the syntax, grammar and punctuation I will go. Do go. Have gone. Errr... yeah.

I think it turned out really, really well. I have to say I am proud of the work I did on it. And having an actual, bound book with my name on it will be most awesomely excellent.

Hopefully by this July or August.





Whoa, This Thing Is Still Here?

Figured it would be gone by now, so little regard have I shown it.

Sorry for the long no posting-- so much time, so little to do. Or something like that.

Not that you care (You? Probably just me at this point of inactivity-- yikes, I'm posting to myself! The voices, the voices!), but I have been buried under, in no particular order: Getting the book finished, spending time with my wife and kids, coaching soccer and baseball with 5-7 year-olds, remodeling the house, applying for new jobs, learning how to be a better manager, playing online poker and old-school Nintendo games, watching a few TV shows, wondering what it would take to get Hillary to just go away, gardening/landscaping/spring cleaning and all the miscellaneous detritus of life in the 21st century.

Quite a list that-- I do believe I will do a post on each and every one of those topics.

Well, at least most of them.

No really. Just you watch.


Friday, March 28, 2008

E,S,L: Sports Edition

I should've been a sports journalist. Seriously. I know I write better than most of the guys I read at espn.com or sportsline.com. Frankly in most cases it would be difficult to write worse. Possible, but I would have to really work to write that badly.

Mostly I let it roll off my back-- I like what I do and I like that what I do helps people-- but every now and then something truly egregious pops up and I do a literary double-take. Such a moment occurred this morning when I read the following:
Losing one front-line veteran arm was enough, but make it two and then add No. 1 starter Erik Bedard to a live underdog in Seattle.
This gem of a "sentence" is supposed to have something to do with the California Angels' pitching staff. Anybody got the faintest idea what it is supposed to mean? There is of course the fact that this is a fragment, not an actual sentence, but that is pretty common these days. No, I am more concerned with the content in this case.

The first part is comprehensible-- the Angels lost two veteran pitchers to causes mentioned in the previous paragraph. The referencing is weak-- it was not immediately obvious to me that the veteran pitchers mentioned were the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph-- but it isn't too difficult to decipher the phrasing. But what does "...then add No.1 starter Erik Bedard to a live underdog in Seattle" mean? Did we genetically splice a pitcher and a beagle? And why is this bizarre creation living in Seattle when we're talking about a team in southern California?

Mr. Bedard is never mentioned again.

Ah well-- at least we aren't using text messaging abbreviations in newspaper and online content.



Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Can I Get an Amen

Bit of a kerfuffle over Barack Obama's pastor and that pastor's commentary in some of his sermons. You might have heard about it.

I've been busy so I had not had time to watch Obama's speech on the topic until today. I've read a few others who have embraced it as one of the best and most profound speeches on race and racism in America ever, but I only just found time to watch it. Or if you prefer, read it.


Seriously-- wow.

I like John McCain and I actually agree with his policies more than I do with Obama's, but after sixteen years of Clinton and Bush and the politics of vilification and obfuscation and triangulation I think maybe our country needs Obama's vision and eloquence and faith and, yes, hope more than we need anything else.

There are tons of good bits in the speech, but this one in particular resonated with me:

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”

Amen, brother.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wish I'd Said That

Great post over at Andrew Sullivan. I wish I had said what AS excerpts or what AS adds at the end of the quote. But I didn't. So all I can do is link. I will add that, in the absence of ultimate fixes, it is vital to continually examine your current positions, beliefs and ways of doing things since what worked/made sense last year or ten years ago may be completely irrelevant or inappropriate today.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Praise of Dexter

A show about a serial killer with a moral code, if not an actual moral compass, and a job as a crime scene investigator-- blood specialist. Sounds crazy? It is a bit, but the wickedly sharp writing and tremendous acting by everyone in this Showtime turned CBS drama make it one of the best shows on television right now.

Dexter is only a vigilante serial killer-- he only kills people he knows really deserve to be killed. Snuff filmmakers, repeat drunk drivers who are not remorseful, "angel of death" nurses and the like. His foster father-- a cop-- trained him how to act normal even though he lacks most of the emotional and social responses of the rest of society. Now Dexter blends... and kills. But only those who deserve it.

Additionally, there is a mystery involving a different serial killer who knows Dexter's secret but is willing to keep it, for now, because they are playing a strange game of killer Clue. Plus, the regular drama of a good cop show (Dexter works in the squad room with the detectives and sergeants) and a fascinating love interest with Dexter's girlfriend. She was repeatedly raped by her ex-husband and consequently has little to no interest in the physical side of the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Perfect for Dexter who d/n really get the emotional/sexual things the way the rest of us do. Except that recently Rita is showing signs of getting past her past trauma enough to find Dexter attractive... could be trouble. And this is only four episodes into the show.

I'm not sure how realistic, psychology-wise, the actual concept is-- sociopathic serial killer keeps his urges under control except to kill bad people and manages to blend in-- but it is certainly a lot of fun to watch. And the show is well enough written and acted to suspend any disbelief over the central theme of the material.

It's wickedly good stuff. Hopefully they can maintain the tension, mystery and excellence.

Watch it, I think you'll like it.

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Can't Unring THAT Bell

This is just disturbing. Yikes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More Reasons to Avoid Another President Clinton

Despite huge financial, organizational and name recognition advantages in March of 2007, Hillary Clinton's campaign has managed to mismanage its way to being the long shot to get the Democratic nomination. What does that say about her ability to lead the country? As Andrew Sullivan notes in his continuing efforts to illuminate all the reasons to avoid Hillary Clinton as president, a Clinton White House is likely to be "a bunch of extremely unpleasant people being extremely unpleasant to each other."

Exhibit B: Barack Obama has chosen/developed the phrase "Yes We Can" as his catchphrase/slogan/battle cry. It proved very effective, so very soon after the Clinton campaign realized that it was gaining traction, they introduced Hillary's catchphrase/slogan/battle cry (after realizing that "Ready on Day One" was not gaining traction). Their choice? "Yes She Can". Now, questions of plagiarism and timing aside, which slogan is more inclusive? More expressive of a president that will listen to the people? Shows more understanding that the crisis that America is experiencing cannot be solved by one individual but requires the country as a whole to step back and figure out how to do things better?

Exhibit C: Rush Limbaugh, and other Right-Wing Airbags, is urging his listeners to vote for Hillary in the primaries. In part because he suspects-- rightly I believe-- that the Clintons are so enamored with power and their "right" to the nomination that they will do whatever they deem necessary to get said nomination, including ripping the Democratic party apart. In part because he suspects-- and again, rightly I believe-- that she will be much easier to defeat in the fall than will Obama.

Exhibit D: Obama puts many 2004 Red States in play. He will win the same big Blue States that Clinton will win (New York, Massachusetts, California, Illinois), but he will also put places like Missouri, Alabama, the Carolinas, and others into play. In part because of his broader appeal, and in part because of the polarizing effect of Clinton.

Yes WE Can.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thoughts on the Primaries

Mama H. asks for my thoughts, so how can I refuse?

I am happy McCain won. He has plenty of warts and I was very disappointed in his deal brokering with Bush that helped overturn centuries of U.S. opposition to torture. But I think he is far superior to any other Republican candidate-- including Ron Paul, who originally captured my imagination and then turned out to be nearly as loony as the pundits claimed. He actually does have foreign policy experience, unlikely Hillary, and he is the smallest government candidate outside of Paul. He is also not a raving Christianist moonbat like Mike Huckabee. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice.

I am thrilled that Obama is ahead. I just wish that the Clintons would go away and sulk in a corner somewhere. But that is not likely to happen-- they are too close to returning to power to abandon ship now, even when it would be beneficial for their party and probably for the country. I am hopeful that Barack will be able to withstand their negativity, mudslinging and machinations. To do so, I think all of the points listed here by Andrew Sullivan are valid and important.

Obama has run an amazing campaign and despite Clinton's "big" victories on Tuesday, he lost very little ground to her. It is very much his race to lose-- or Clinton's to steal. I suppose that last is what most concerns me. Once again, Sullivan probably sums it up better than I can:

The secrecy and paranoia also remind one of the Clintons' history, especially Senator Clinton's. From Whitewater through the long nightmare of cattle-futures through legal documents mysteriously "discovered" long after they were sought, to the secret healthcare task force that helped kill healthcare reform for over a decade, the Clintons are now following their long pattern. They hide stuff they need to hide and stuff they don't need to hide. What we are learning is that these people have not changed. And their sense of personal privilege, their boundless paranoia, and their constant lies about themselves must be front and center in this campaign. Do we want to go back there again? After Bush and Cheney, do we really want another couple of co-presidents in love with total secrecy and above-the-law personal privilege?

Why do the Clintons believe that they are somehow above the normal rules of other politicians? And why does the press allow them to get away with this? Why aren't there demands for them to fully disclose their financial details now? No excuses. No delays. Now.

For me, Hillary Clinton encapsulates nearly everything that is wrong about politics. More interested in power than the people. Secretive. Almost compulsively negative. Privileged. Willing to play the victim card. Feeling entitled. Blech. Double blech.

I will be very happy if Obama wins because, for the first time in my life, I will get to choose who I vote for to be the next president not as the lesser of two evils but as the greater of two goods.

That would be cool.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Am Sad

After 16 years at the helm of my beloved Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre is retiring from football.


I knew this day was coming, and coming in the near future, but after last year I-- as well as nearly everyone else who cared even remotely about the topic-- thought that Brett would be back to make one more run at the Super Bowl. It just seemed like all the pieces were there-- good offensive line, emerging stable of talented receivers, a go-to running back, a very good to excellent defense that meant that the offense didn't have to score 30+ every game, a young, energetic and talented coaching staff.

It's as good a situation as imaginable for an aging Hall of Famer whose skills are still top notch and who wants to buff his legacy a little more and maybe get another ring.

So, naturally, Favre calls it quits.

Double sigh.

In many ways I really don't get it. He came back last year despite the team's struggles the two previous seasons (4-12 in '05 and 8-8 in '06) and there were a LOT more question marks in the last off-season than in this one. So why now?

But in some ways I do get it. Favre says that being "mentally tired" is a big factor in his decision and I can totally understand that. The NFL is a young man's sport and, by professional sports standards, Favre is old. Younger than me by about six months, but still old by the standards of his profession. And he looked old and tired on that miserable, -30 wind chill game against the Giants back in January.

Can't say that I blame him-- I went outside during half-time of that game just to see what it felt like and it was unbelievably horrendous. And I was outside for about five minutes. Favre was outside for 3+ hours and was getting hit by some massive, fast-moving gentlemen for much of that time. I imagine the turf at Lambeau felt like concrete.

So, that part I get. Much as I wish he would stick around for a year or two more, I understand the rationale. And though his last pass in the NFL will now be a game-ending interception, going out after the amazying 13-3 season the Pack put up last year is pretty darn close to the story book ending that John Elway had a decade ago. He went out on top-- and there is something to be said for that.

And thus begins the Aaron Rodgers era. I do not envy that young man-- trying to follow a legend cannot be an easy thing. But I've liked what I saw of Rodgers last year (which, admittedly wasn't much since Favre misses so few plays). If he can stay healthy I think he can be a good QB. Probably not a Hall of Famer or even a Pro-bowler, but at least average and maybe better than... if he can stay healthy.

We'll see.

In the meantime I must echo a sentiment that is being expressed all over Cheeseland today:

Thanks Brett. You occasionally drove us crazy, but you were always fun to watch, you played the game with the enthusiasm and almost child-like giddiness that is so often lacking these days, and you helped restore glory and tradition to Titletown, USA.

It's been a fantastic sixteen years. You'll be missed.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama Rolls Through Virginia

At least according to Matt Yglesias. Assuming the whopping 2-1 disparity holds up across the entire vote, I will be curious to see how the Clintons can spin the loss as anything other than huge. For some ideas on that count, do read the comments below Matt's post. They are really funny.

My personal favorite:

According to the linked exit poll, Clinton won among lapsed Catholics.

Everyone knows the Democrats can't win key swing states in the general election without the lapsed Catholic vote.

Therefore, the superdelegates should make Clinton the nominee.

Hee hee. Go Barack!

Meanwhile McCain is struggling to put away that pesky Mike Huckabee. The fact that Mike Huckabee can get anyone smarter than a toaster to vote for him is mind-boggling to me. And I mean no offense to toasters. Some of them, like this one, are quite bright-- for toasters.

Man, this is fun stuff.

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Shorter Clinton Campaign Spin

Really, only Texas and Ohio count. All those other states-- not so much.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Who Didn't See This Coming?

Turns out Bio-fuels on a large scale actually cause more greenhouse gas emissions. What a shock. Yes-- that was sarcasm. Bio-fuels, in particular ethanol but also various grasses and seaweeds as well, have been put forth as a fuel alternative to oil and gas for decades. Turn them into alcohol and then burn the alcohol in modified combustion engines or mix it with regular gasoline. The conclusion has always been that the amount of oil and gas consumed transforming the bio-source into combustible energy was at or close to the zero-sum range. That is to say, to make a gallon of ethanol required the consumption-- through direct (ie, running equipment to make the ethanol) and indirect (ie., running the machines necessary to build the ethanol plant) causes-- of close to a gallon of gasoline.

On top of that, there were always concerns with side-effects like the incompatibility of ethanol with small engines (borne out by the fact that most outboards, snow blower, lawn mower and other small engines run poorly on ethanol and wear out faster, requiring people to buy more of them and more frequently) and the possible inflation of food prices as corn and other crops are converted to fuel production (borne out by the rapidly inflating costs of beef, soda and other products that rely on corn or corn byproducts like corn syrup). Plus, you get worse gas mileage with ethanol, meaning you use more of it to go the same distance as with gasoline. Now throw in the fact that more forests are being converted to crop production to keep up with the bio-fuel demand and the fact that sub-prime land is being converted to crop production to keep up with demand and you get more erosion, more runoff, more animal displacement and probably a variety of other ills.

Ethanol is a bad answer to a real and very difficult problem. But I've known that since high school when it was a big topic for several of the debate topics we had back then. How come it took billions of dollars and oodles of wasted time, energy and resources for so many people to realize it? It's a boondoggle of gianormous proportions that benefits nobody but the ethanol industry and, to a small degree, corn farmers.

Now, on a small scale bio-fuels can work. No doubt everyone has read the "I run my car on old French Fry grease" stories. And perhaps there is a breakthrough in the processing that can make them feasible on a large scale. But right now, it's a boondoggle and if the government wants to help, it should be facilitating research into how to improve the process rather than forcing motorists to use a crappy fuel in their cars and small engines for no discernible purpose other than to line the pockets of those in the ethanol business.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

And So It Begins

I heard an advertisement on the radio this morning on my way into work and-- I'm not kidding-- at first I thought it was for Larry Clinton. It featured three "normal" people in southeastern Wisconsin talking about how Larry Clinton was really qualified for the job. What job? School Board? That's about the only thing up for grabs around here. Then I listened closer-- DUH!--Hillary Clinton running for this little office known as POTUS.

It just never occurred to me that there would be presidential primary ads in Wisconsin. Our primary is so late in the process that there has never been an election where my primary vote mattered. Given the thumping Romney took on Tuesday, my primary vote almost certainly won't matter on the Republican side as John McCain has it sewed up pretty tightly.

But on the Democrat side....

Well, that my friends is an animal of an entirely different color. Sort of a mauveish, tealish, gingham sort of color. Quite odd. But interesting. Yes, very interesting.

At present Larry Clinton (Yes, I probably will continue to refer to Hill as Larry for the rest of this post and likely all future posts) has an edge of Barack Obama because of her Super Delegates. Now, these folks can leap buildings in a single bound and melt steel with their eyes, so you can see how having 193 of these people to Obama's 106 is an advantage. But in the plain old, ordinary non-bending railroad ties into pretzel delegates, Obama is ahead 635 to 630. And the next several primaries/caucuses on the Democrat side are Nebraska, Washington, Maine, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. All of which favor Obama. A virtual dead heat right now. It would be hard for the two candidates to be any closer at this point in the race.

Which brings us to Tuesday, Feb. 19-- the day of Wisconsin's primary vote. We're in play. We will be bombarded by advertisements and visits like nobody's business between Feb. 12 and Feb. 19. Part of me can't wait. Part of me is dreading every minute of tedious advertising I will have to slog through while driving to and from work and watching tv after work.

But it is fun to matter, even if it only happens every thirty years or so.

Who am I voting for? Well, let's see: Barack and Larry have very similar policy initiatives and though the experience issue is central to Larry's campaign, it's hard to see how she has a whole lot more than Barack. She's been a senator longer, but otherwise she's been... umm... First Lady? This is solid experience for running the country? As for Barack, well I think this post over at Andrew Sullivan's place pretty well sums it up for me.

And their character and demeanor and oratorical skills could hardly be more starkly in opposition. Larry is tied to the scandals and muck-raking of her husband. She hesitates not at all to play the gender/feminism card. Her rhetoric is boring, pedestrian and still inevitably tied to berating George Bush and condemning the past. She has the charm of an iguana and the compassion and empathy of a rock.

Barack has Reznock, but compare him to all of the questionable Clinton donors and I think I'll take the young man from Illinois, thanks. As to demeanor, well there is really no contest is there? It's not a man v. woman thing or an age thing-- it's simply that Obama has more presence than Clinton. He commands attention, she demands it. An important distinction, at least to me.

And the rhetoric and oratory? Ye gods, what a mismatch. I watched the Tuesday night speeches to the assembled faithful and the contrast was not just startling, it was alarming. Larry has no panache, no passion, no themes, no... nothing. She's got nothing. Tired, boring, rote and rooted in the past pretty well sums her speech up:

Then listen to Obama's speech (part 1 on the left, part 2 on the right:

There are a few missteps that keep it from being truly great, but it is still a fantastic bit of oratory. He has the cadence, the delivery and the words to captivate an audience and the message behind the show is just dead on balls accurate (It's an industry term). He is a natural. "We are the change we have been waiting for" (The 7:46 minute mark of the part 2). I had goosebumps-- for a "thanks for campaigning for me" speech!

Now I admit I don't like Larry much, nor do I like her husband. I think they are political opportunists of the worst kind-- on a level with Karl Rove and the smart portion of the mean portion of the Republican party. But even if I believed her, and I most definitely don't, I see nothing in her skill set that makes me think she'll be able to accomplish most of what she envisions. And I don't think she'll win in the fall-- she's too polarizing. There are too many people that actively dislike her and all that she and her husband embody. I think McCain trounces her-- I know I'll vote for John in a heartbeat over Larry.

But Barack... well, that's a different story. It's close and things may well change between now and November-- but right now I'd vote for Obama over McCain.

He's got the mojo, man. Don't fight the mo.

Yes we can.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Also Spooky

Though in a completely different realm. This past Saturday Milwaukee's two I-A men's college basketball teams, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee, both played at home. Their home arenas are across the street from each other-- Marquette at the Bradley Center and UWM at the U.S. Cellular Arena (the Bradley Center is on the far left, the U.S. Cellular Arena just to the right with the white roof, behind the red brick building). Both games tipped off a few minutes after 7 pm Central time and the two games ended within a minute of each other.

All coincidental enough. But here's the really spooky thing. Both Milwaukee teams won. Both scored 79 points. And both of their opponents scored 71.

Zoinks. What are the odds of both games ending 79-71? Across the street from each other at nearly the exact same time?

And since I am mentioning my alma mater UWM Panthers-- what a season they are having! Shortly before the start of the season Coach Rob Jeter kicked his leading scorer from the year before off the team for violating team rules and being a disruptive force on the team. They won three of their first four games against total cupcakes, but once they hit better opposition they lost six in a row to fall to 3-7.

At which point Jeter kicked Torre Johnson off the team for violating team rules and being a disruptive force on the team. At the time Johnson was the team's leading scorer this year-- averaging over 17 points a game. Which left me with the belief that, since this season was already in the tank, Jeter was cleaning house of all the bad apples with the vision of better chemistry and respect for the rules in seasons to come.

Funny thing though, since kicking Johnson off the team the Panthers have gone on a tear, winning nine of their last ten and moving into third place in their conference. Quite amazing. A testament to Jeter's coaching and the importance of team chemistry.

Congrats Rob Jeter.

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Monday, January 28, 2008


I am not sure what this little You-Tube gem means, nor how or why someone thought to make it, but it is both awesome and spooky:

And in other political news, Obama is now edging ahead of Clinton in Colorado. Plus, Ted Kennedy has endorsed Obama.

Maybe the Hillary camp should have Bill go back out and wave his finger at the cameras some more.

Oops. Wrong video. ;->

Bush Gets One Right

I will get some oxygen ready for BP if he happens by in the near future, but I think even he would agree that this Executive Order is a good thing for the country. Earmarks are a scourge to our economy and our country as a whole, greatly facilitating Congress' ability to kowtow to the lobbyists without ever having to acknowledge their complicity to the actual voters.

Granted, Bush should've done this years ago-- back when his party was running things in Congress and blowhard hogmeisters like Ted Stevens were ramming through ever piece of pork they could dream up-- but better late than never. And yet another argument for divided government.


Get Back

That was the song that was number 1 on the Billboard charts on my birthday. Not too shabby-- hard to top The Beatles. On the day of my wedding, however, I am stuck with the Macarena. Blech. I do not recognize the two songs that were #1 when my children were born: "Too Close" by Next and "Doesn't Really Matter" by Janet. Apparently single-name artists were big when my kids were born.

Curious what was number 1 when you were born? Go here. Kinda fun.

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