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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Some Folks Need to Let Go

Terri Schiavo's death was a tragedy. But there was no connivance by the judiciary except to follow the laws as written. Michael Schiavo still strikes me a deeply disingenuous schmuck and I have trouble understanding how he got one woman to fall in love with him, much less two. And I wish Congress could work itself into the same kind of lather over pork spending that they managed over Terri Schiavo's tragic situation.

But, it's time to let go now, folks. Remember her, honor her, but for heaven's sake, let it go.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Don't Say

The San Francisco 49'ers recently held tryouts for their dance/cheerleader squad. Here's are the requirements:
The 49ers are looking for a well-rounded diverse group of energetic, well-spoken, talented women, ages 18 and over....
So, just how round do they have to be?


A Little Humble Pie

Served up for all the "professional" football pundits by Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Granted, the pie is over a month old, but I hadn't read it yet, so maybe you haven't either.

My favorite bad prediction from last year:
Houston "should make the playoffs," Clark Judge of CBS SportsLine predicted. Houston finished with the worst record in the league. Judge added that the Texans "might have made the playoffs a year ago were it not for a 1-5 stretch." This is like saying Russia might have won the Crimean War, if only it had not lost all the battles.
How anybody could've looked at the mess that was the Texans' offensive line before the season and figured they could make the playoffs in the AFC and with a schedule where they had to play Indianapolis and Jacksonville twice, Cincinatti, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Kansas City is beyond me.


Thursday's Babelfish Poem

Constructed from Babelfish re-translations of this week's posts:
I appreciate the day day much, also and even
It was large in practice
It is general, it was sufficiently well
the inverting interruptors could not know

Single and, imagine this, amusing
seems good.


I yes, it will be large but
(and by me you will not fall in love with the large buts)

The car completely of the robbers is not in the same frequency
it requests all the cars of the policies to beat in its brakes
using tubes of paper towel, marbles, pickling solutions of pipe, etc
in the splendourful gymnasium

Strike is hard (hah!) thunderous
Inspect it at the outside
Who agrees "it is decided with silence"
will carry in order to refer in him the Freddie hydrogenous

Going with the realness which fills up that interval
caught by the officials of the application of law


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Isaac Hayes Under Death Sentence

Singer and actor Isaac Hayes, who is also an outspoken Scientologist, has been taken into custody by Tennessee state troopers, Libertarian Librarian sources have learned. Hayes was apprehended by the Tennessee law enforcement officers at his home near Memphis and taken to the local prison, where he is being guarded by both state troopers and officials of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Bobby Welch, current President of the SBC, told the troopers to arrest Hayes after it was discovered that Hayes-- a Baptist in his childhood-- had converted to Scientology. The charge cited on the arrest report is apostasy, or the renouncing of one religion for another.

"The recent case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan really changed our view on how to spread God's word," said Welch in comments made this morning, soon after Hayes' arrest. "Southern Baptists believe persuasion and the influence of the Holy Spirit aid our missionaries in spreading the truth of Jesus and the Bible. But that only applies to the heathens who don't know any better. In the past, we would have allowed Hayes to go about his business, but the Imams in Afghanistan have really opened our eyes to the importance of not losing even one member of your flock. For those who have known the truth of Jesus' love, and rejected it, there can be no recourse. They must be killed. Jesus would want it that way."

Although Hayes has been a member of the Church of Scientology for over a decade, his conversion from Christianity had gone unnoticed by Baptist Church officials until the recent kerfuffle over Hayes' role as Chef in the South Park animated tv show. That show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have been under a threat of death from both the Baptist and the Catholic Church for a number of years-- a result of the show's satirical take on Christianity and on Jesus Christ.

"Stone and Parker have been the focus of righteous jihad for many years," Welch noted, "but since watching their despicable dreck is grounds for instant beheading for our members, Hayes' conversion to Scientology only came to our attention recently. Jay Leno mentioned something about it in between several of his hilarious gay-bashing Brokeback Mountain bits, and that got our attention."

President Bush called on the SBC to moderate their position, and sources within the Justice Department are exploring legal options for Hayes. They think there might be something in "that Constitution thingie," but so far have been unable to find any legal precedent that would help Hayes escape execution. Leaders throughout Europe also called on the Baptists to rescind their death sentence, though they noted that this was only a "recommendation, not a condemnation, and please don't burn any of our embassies."

Legal scholars consulted by Libertarian Librarian believe that Hayes may be legally insane, and thus immune from the Baptists' threats of death.

"Given that Scientology is basically a cult started by a hack C-list science fiction author, converting to it from anything other than cannibalistic idol worship could well be considered a sign of mental illness," said attorney George Howe, of the firm Boywe, Screwum & Howe. "Church law prohibits the killing of the mentally infirm," continued Howe, "though taking all their money and sticking them in a dungheap of a group home is perfectly acceptable."

Rest assured that Libertarian Librarian will keep you up-to-date on developments in this intriguing story.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Smoking and Queen

tc has an interesting post on each over at his blog. Check it out. I disagree with tc on many, probably most, subjects, but he knows his music, and he's even decided to "tacitly" agree with me on smoking bans.

My take on Queen with Paul Rodgers: it does not work for me. I think Rodgers may have too distinctive of a voice-- I can't get Bad Company out of my head when I hear him singing, even when he's singing Bohemian Rhapsody.

But, as I mentioned over at tc's-- I give him props for even trying to fill Freddie Mercury's spandex. Mercury was the ultimate rock showman, and the chemistry with those four lads from England was remarkable. There's really no way Rodgers was going to be able to fill that gap, but it sounds like May and Taylor are enjoying having Rodgers' with them on tour, so what the heck.


Props to my Daughter's School

I have been critical of the Racine Unified School District in the past, and I probably will be again in the future. But last Thursday I enjoyed a marvelous evening at my daughter's elementary school.

The second grade had been doing a unit on Africa, and as part of that they decorated their classrooms and then brought in all the parents. But first we had an African drumming and dancing session in the gym. Simply glorious. Five guys up on stage playing the bongoes and larger drums, one of whom sang and three dancers for a number of the songs.

It is hard to beat (hah!) the thunderous, yet intricate, rhythms of well-played African drums. You find yourself moving along to the music without even realizing it. Great fun. The drumming group got the teachers to dance, and by the end they even had the parents up and dancing.

Then on to the Saharra, Savanna, rain forest and mountain regions of Africa. All of the kids had constructed new insects that lived in the rain forest using paper towel tubes, marbles, pipe cleaners, etc. and then written a brief description of their bug. My daughter's was the only insect that utilized a drink umbrella-- I'm not certain if I should be proud or chagrined about that.

At any rate, it was fun, educational and reassuring to see all the work the kids put into their Africa projects. Doubly so, since I know the students weren't neglecting reading, writing, math or any of the other core subjects to do their Africa projects-- they just worked their butts off to do the Africa stuff in addition to their regular work.

A Review

I watched the new NBC show Heist last night. Mostly because I like Steve Harris-- he was great on The Practice. Overall, it was pretty good. A slightly grittier Oceans 11 (the Clooney version) with a more extended back story since they have ten or so 45 minute episodes to work with.

The cast seems quite good, though the main robber guy-- Mickey O'Neil (Dougray Scott) didn't quite click with me. I think they may have given him too much back story for the initial episode (he has a daughter with a woman now married to his former partner who tried to kill him, plus he's already falling in love with the cop that is chasing him-- yikes!).

Most of the writing was sharp, and the overall storyline seems good. BUT. And yes, it's a big but (and I don't like big buts).

About 3/4s of the way through the episode there's a convoluted bit where the robbers have a cab full of money from a robbed bank. It's being chased by about nine police cars, plus a chopper or two. They swap out that cab for a regular old cab under a huge overpass-- more of a short tunnel, really-- by rolling the $ cab into the back of a moving van once it enters the tunnel and having the regular old cab (driven by a guy with no idea what's happening) drive out the other end of the tunnel.

Brilliant. Except that the only reason that works is that the nine police cars following the $ cab aren't close enough to see what happens (clearly the choppers wouldn't be able to know that the cabs had been swapped in the tunnel). And why aren't the nine police cars following the $ cab close on its heels? Because shortly before the swap, the head police detective (the woman the main thief is falling in love with), realizes that one of the nine police cars isn't actually LAPD, but robbers (unaffiliated with the main bunch we're following). So, naturally during a chase following lots of stolen money and-- as far as the police know-- a young man rigged with explosives, she orders all of the police cars to slam on their brakes. The car full of robbers isn't on the same frequency, so d/n get the order and crash into the back of one of the suddenly stopping police cars.

This delay is long enough for the $ cab to reach the tunnel and get swapped out without being seen by the nine (down to seven after the crash) police cars following it.

But how do the crooks who set up the cab switch know that the cop will pick just then to realize that one of the cars isn't full of cops AND that she'll order all the cop cars to suddenly slam on their brakes-- thus making a large enough gap to allow the switch? The answer is there is absolutely no way they could know. They don't even know that one of the cop cars is full of thieves, much less that the detective will figure it out at exactly the right moment and then everyone to suddenly stop.

I hate those kind of continuity errors-- doubly so because 1) it's pretty obvious and 2) the rest of the plot line is clever and believable.

I'll give the show another shot on Wednesday, because I like Steve Harris and because 90% of the show was very well written, but if there are many more glaring stupidities like that one, I won't be watching it beyond Wednesday. Or if the love story between the main crook and the female detective is lame-- which I'm afraid it will be.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Pearls Before Swine

Is my new favorite comic strip. I like Day by Day quite a lot, too, and even-- gasp-- Doonesbury, but they get sooooo political sometimes. Pearls Before Swine is just delightfully bizarre and, imagine this, funny.


Friday, March 24, 2006

This is Just Wrong

Nanny-statism to the nth degree. I know, let's do this in Milwaukee-- then you won't be able to drink or smoke in bars. Granted, that might have a small detrimental impact on business-- but since it's a public safety issue, that's okay. Right?

Here's a thought-- why doesn't Carolyn Beck send undercover agents into bars who then arrest clearly intoxicated individuals as they get behind the steering wheel of their vehicle?

To paraphrase Pastor Niemoller's famous words:

First they came for the smokers, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a smoker;
Then they came for the inebriated, and I did not speak out--
because I was not an inebriate;
Then they came for the overweight, and I did not speak out--
because I was not overweight;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


Could Ya Be Any More Ungrateful?

A simple thank you would have been nice.


There is Always a Price

It is easy to forget that just because what we are doing now in Iraq is costly, in terms of lives, money and public relations, that doesn't mean that not doing what we're doing now would be free, or even much less expensive.

Mark Steyn explains. Quite convincingly.

UPDATE: The above link incorrectly took you to the CSI site. Oops. Sorry about that. The link is now fixed.


Bloody Hell is Controversial?

Apparently so. Good thing the AFA is on the case-- goodness knows we wouldn't want anything controversial or family inappropriate on television. Fortunately, this is likely just a case of those bawdy Australians not understanding the staid and simple conventions of American TV. Most television here in America is not so controversial.

So go back to watching your crime investigation shows with all the mutilated bodies and your Sopranos with all the mutilated bodies. Indulge in WWE and Las Vegas knowing that Randy Flanders is watching out for you and yours. No worries, mate.

Tim Blair is also on the case.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Come to Wisconsin: Redux!

Okay, I went on a rant a few days ago. I stand by all of the rant, but I should note that I do still like my state a lot-- there are many good things here. It's just that a lot of individually small issues have been piling up, and I think that's a shame. So there's that.

Now-- tc took exception to much of what I wrote, and contrary to his belief that I won't want his reactions in the future, I am happy he did so. Debate is healthy-- if it is truly debate and not just memes being tossed back and forth. Mostly that's what passes for debate these days. tc also has a somewhat annoying tendency to lump any and all conservatives together in the red-state, anti-intellectualist close-minded moralist crowd, which is unfortunate (just as it's eqully unfortunate that many conservatives lump all liberals into the unpatriotic, intellectual elitist snobs with no idea what the regular people believe camp). Because I think that makes him automatically resistant to even considering that someone with a different viewpoint than his could have a valid point.

Doubly so, if someone should have the audacity to agree with someone on talk radio. Talk radio hosts are nigh onto the devil for many liberals-- so, again, everything they say must be opposed. Which is poppycock-- Rush Limbaugh has some good ideas. He has some stupid ideas. Likewise down the line with more local folks-- in my living area, Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes. There are a few talk show hosts who merely pander to the lowest common denominator-- Michael Savage, for example-- but they are merely Jerry Springer on the radio.

As I have said before and no doubt will again, no one party or one philosophical approach has a monopoly on good ideas-- similarly, bad ideas and approaches don't come from only one perspective, either. Which is why compromise is NOT a naughty word.

But I digress.

Okay, tc's points with my responses to them:
Okay, let's go.

Concealed carry. What is the big deal here that we need this? Why is this needed by any stretch of the imagination? What possible positive effect can come of this addition to our Bang Bang Rights?
Actually, this is the least of my concerns. Why I lead with it, I'm not sure. Because I was on a rant, I suppose, and didn't really worry about structuring it a whole lot. I honestly don't care one way or the other. BUT. Considering that 46 of our 50 states currently have concealed carry, the inflated worries touted by opponents that Wisconsin will suddenly turn into Tombstone with shootouts in the supermarket and motorists attempting to blow each other away seem rather ludicrous. Ridiculously so, actually. Why hasn't there been this sort of mayhem occuring anywhere that concealed carry is legal?

And, there is in fact statistical data showing that concealed carry does actually deter violent criminals. Unfortunately, the actual study is copyrighted in the Journal of Legal Studies, so I can't just post it here, but in 1996, John Lott and David Mustard did a study on crime and concealed carry, and then published their results and conclusions in January of 1997. Both gentlemen were professors at the University of Chicago. To be upfront-- Lott currently contributes to National Review, and Mustard is actually an economist. Regardless, the study was published in a well-respected, scholarly journal, fully peer-reviewed, so it's not crackpot analysis or statistical mumbo jumbo.

I can't post the whole thing, but here's the summary:
Using cross-sectional time-series data for U.S. counties from 1977 to 1992, we find that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, without increasing accidental deaths. If those states without right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, county- and state-level data indicate that approximately 1,500 murders would have been avoided yearly. Similarly, we predict that rapes would have declined by over 4,000, robbery by over 11,000, and aggravated assaults by over 60,000. We also find criminals substituting into property crimes involving stealth, where the probability of contact between the criminal and the victim is minimal. Further, higher arrest and conviction rates consistently reduce crime. The estimated annual gain from all remaining states adopting these laws was at least $ 5.74 billion in 1992. The annual social benefit from an additional concealed handgun permit is as high as $ 5,000.
Factor in that the majority of Wisconsites seem to favor concealed carry and I have to ask-- why are you so opposed to it, tc?
MMSD and the Lakes. I have a friend who was involved with the engineering of the Deep Tunnel project, and a sister in law who has done biological work on Lake Michigan. Not saying that I'm incredibly knowledgeable on these issues, but maybe I've gotten a bit of info that doesn't get floated on Charlie Sykes radio rants.

Before the Deep Tunnel project, you know why there was no news about waste dumping? BECAUSE IT HAPPENED ALL THE TIME, AND THERE WAS NO MITIGIATING FACTOR. Whenever weather dumped excessive amounts of water into the system, it just sluiced directly into the river and the lakebecause there was no place for it to go. Creation of the tunnel system has actually decreased the annual amount of untreated runoff because in more moderate storms, the water can be stored and treated. When it is necessary to dump the water (and to my knowledge, this has always been within guidelines established by the DNR)
Dismissing opposition as "Charlie Sykes radio rants" is petty and disingenuous. Sykes is not always right, but he usually backs his points up with data and analysis-- and haven't I heard you decrying ad hominem and strawman tactics in other places, tc? Just saying.

And yes, you're right. Before the deep tunnel, things were worse. But the fact that the deep tunnel system is an improvement over nothing at all is not exactly sufficient justification to say that it actually works very well. The same argument could be made for just about anything.

The deep tunnel project cost the taxpayers roughly $2.5 BILLION, plus another half a billion or so in upkeep and improvements, since its construction in the mid '90s. We've gone from an average of about 8,500 billion gallons dumped to an average of about 1175 billion gallons dumped annually. I'll grant you that a roughly 86% improvement is not bad-- but for about $3 billion is that good enough (and we'll just discount the fact that those numbers come from MMSD-- which has something of a vested interest in making them look as good as possible)? Is that much comfort for the folks who want to use the lake but can't because all the beaches are closed?

As to being within guidelines. If so, why is Peg Lautenschlager, the Attorney General for the state of Wisconsin, suing MMSD for dumping? Um, and why did "the state Department of Natural Resources asked Lautenschlager's office to prosecute the district and the communities it serves after the May 2004 storms."?
DNR rules on piers. No real point, just an anecdote. When I was in high school, I was a draftsman at an engineering firm; one summer my boss's son also worked there for a while, until he was injured. He was injured diving off a pier. He dove into the water, and impacted on the bottom with his head. His spine was fortunately not broken, but two vertebrae were compacted and he was unable to turn his head afterward. All I'm saying is that sometimes, it's easy to point out some rules that may sound unreasonable, but there actually may be sound reasoning behind it. I'd like to know more before I discard it as ridiculaous, but I know the DNR is a favorite whipping boy.
Well, of course there is a balancing point to find between safety, aesthetics and the freedom of property owners to use their property as they see fit. Regulations are needed-- but the Wisconsin DNR seems to really, really like regulating things. And, thinking about it, limiting the building of piers to water only 3 feet deep or less, means that nobody will ever be able to safely dive off a pier. So, the young man in tc's anecdote above would be almost guarenteed to hit the bottom in the glorious 21st century Wisconsin.

Will this deter many from diving? I suppose so-- but do you really think that nobody will ever dive off a pier in the future? How many parents realize that it is now illegal to build a pier out to a safe diving depth? So, I find the DNR's justification for the restritcion-- safety-- somewhat dubious. And as a fun and exciting extra "benefit" from the new rule, the DNR may have just mandated that water quality in our lakes actual gets worse:
Today’s boats with inboard-outboard drives--often built in Wisconsin-- require about 36 inches of depth; by establishing a 3-foot standard, the propellers are churning the bottom. By what theory is that beneficial to the environment? IT ISN’T. It is terrible for the environment. But that’s what the DNR standard provides. For the environment’s sake, you want to get the out-drives away from the shore, not closer.
The DNR does many excellent things in Wisconsin. Our state parks are marvelous. They are doing good work with educating our children on the fun and importance of outdoor recreation. Regulations on hunting, fishing and trapping are necessary in a state where those activities are common and enjoyed by many. That doesn't mean I can't point out stupidity on their part when I see it.
Buying influence? Why that's something that simply wouldn't happen in a Republican-led State! except for the $600,000 sent to Thompson by mining interests, or the $377,000 given him by Real Estate industry, or the $350,000 he got from road-building folks. Here's another anecdote: When I first started an independent architectural firm, I discovered that the selection committee for State architectural contracts was told to supply 2 firms to Thompson's office for any contract over $50,000; his Secretary of State, Scott McCallum, would then select one. It was tacitly acknowledged that the deciding factor at that level of the process was how much money had been donated to Thompson and the Republicans.
Sigh. I figured this would be tc's response to my point on the corruption in Wisconsin politics. I was hoping it wouldn't be. Of course there are examples on the other side. Plenty of them. That hardly makes the practice acceptable. Indeed, it makes it even more disturbing, since it would appear to be inherent to the system at this point.

"Come and see the corruption inherent in the system! Help, help, I'm being disenfranchised!"

Come on, tc. I cited one recent example. Did I anywhere in the post say, or even imply, that such things were limited to Democrats? No. It just so happens that at the moment a Democrat occupies the Governor's mansion. If you can't get a little righteous indignation worked up over the pathetic state of Wisconsin's current political environment I despair of you being able to see anything clearly. This is an issue that EVERYONE in Wisconsin should be furious about.
Malpractice. Interestingly enough, we used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. One of the things we discovered was the at the paper was extremely well written and very reliable. except for the Editorial page, which was amusingly at odds with the rest of the paper, espousing the more radical and fringe business-oriented malarkey that was often at odds with information contained within the paper elsewhere. A new study, reported by the WaPo, indicates no correlation between malpractice awards and increasing malpractice premiums (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22197-2005Mar9.html). also here: http://www.braytonlaw.com/news/legalnews/072905_medmal.htm. In fact, a study by Americans for Insurance Reform shows indications that the increase in insurance costs is more directly related to the insurers themselves, compensating for insurance price wars in the 1990s.
Interesting article. I hope it's right, and I think focusing on insurers is certainly a worthwhile objective. Interestingly, just today Doyle signed into law a revised version of the medical liability cap. Bear in mind, the limit is only on "pain and suffering" awards, not on "economic damage" awards.
County Board members. I'm not sure I understand what the issue is here.
Representative democracy in action, is what I see. I presume that since Bruce
Murphy and Charlie Sykes have picked up on this issue, that there is some way
that fewer county board members will benefit corporations and the well-off, but
I don't know how, so I'm going to claim agnosticism on this one.

The issue is money. Public (ie, taxpayers') money. County board members are not volunteers (well, a few may be, though I doubt it, but most aren't). And I'm not saying they shouldn't receive some reimbursement for their efforts-- but do we need to be reimbursing so bloody many of them?

Waukesha's county supervisors get over $9k a year-- and there are 35 of them. That's $325,000 annually from Waukesha County's residents. The Board meets twice a month, though two of the last five meetings have been cancelled for lack of business. By way of comparison, Los Anglese County has five supervisors. 5.

Now five may actually be a bit too few, but has anybody EVER served on a committe larger than 10 or so where you really needed all of those people? Where having all those extra folks didn't just make it harder to actually do anything?

Wisconsin's state senate only has 33 members, for goodness sake.

Once again, tc, just because Charlie Sykes and Bruce Murphy are against something, it does not mean that whatever it is must be bad or antithetical to progressive thought. Tolerance, open-mindedness, opposition to ad-hominem attacks, distaste for strawmen arguments. Stay with me here. This is in fact another issue that conservatives and liberals can agree upon.

The amount of money is not huge when you look at county budgets that run into the millions, but I find it hard to escape the conclusion that much of the money is just wasted. You can accomplish the same thing with a 10 or even 15 person board as with a 35 person board-- and save a couple of hundred grand in the process. What's the downside? A couple dozen county supervisors will be out of a part-time job. I can live with that.

Especially considering that most, nearly all, of the opposition to reducing county boards is coming from... wait for it... county boards.
Sounds to me like the Oracle program was selected, under cotnract was subjected
to a pilot program, and did not meet the goals, so was terminated properly. Let
me give you another anecdote- from the point of someone who runs on of those
companies that does that 'work' you refer to. When we looked at computerizing
our drafting operation, we looked at a CAD system, and selected one station as a
start. after working with it for a while, we discovered that the limitation of a
single system was a bottleneck, and we made a decision to go to a different
system that was less pricey, to allow us to integrate more systems at the outset
to eliminate the bottleneck. Costy of learning this: about 9 grand. Sometimes,
something that meets your needs on paper doesn't do the trick in meatspace, and
you need to alter your approach. Now if they decided to go with the Oracle
system even though it didn't meet the goals, now THAT would be something that
would alarm me.

Let me highlight a portion of your response, tc. "...we made a decision to go to a different system that was less pricey...." Fair enough. Let me ask you this-- given that the product you tested didn't live up to expectations, would you give that same company another contract, or would you now be a tad leery of that company, knowing that its approach has already been shown to be insufficient to your needs and vision?

I think you would. Only natural. So, while I am mildly miffed that the state tried Oracle (we'll leave out that it was a no-bid process for now) and found it wanting in the trial, and that this will cost the taxpayers somewhere between $900,000 and $2 million, I am much more miffed that the state is now handing the very same company a $29 million contract. How does that not bother you?

Okay, now add in the fact that both contracts were no-bid. No competition. The state had a $2.1 million and a $29 million contract and they didn't even bother to see if anybody BUT Oracle might be able to satisfy the requirements. Are you kidding me? I had a $60,ooo renovation project done on my archives last year and I had to get three bids-- even though there are only two companies in the state that do what I needed doing. If the state needed a building constructed in your area and just gave the contract to a competitor without even bothering to see if you were interested in competing for the job, that wouldn't bother you?

How about if that competitor was found to have contributed to the Governor's election campaign?
You, of course, are right about Russ. But I'm not going to get into that here.
I'll dive right into the smoking ban. I'm not a smoker, never have been, but my
parents both were. But I spend a fair amount of time in clubs and bars watching
bands, and the stench of the smoke on my clothes when I get home
is...unpleasant. Now, the tavern league claims that they will lose all kinds of
money if they can't let people smoke, but we visited Florida, a smoking ban
state (run by a Republican? do tell!) and the bars seemed to be doing pretty
fine down there. And it was a treat to come home from a night out without
smelling like an ashtray. As a matter of fact, we visited with a couple who were
smokers, and they seemed to be just fine with going outside to pound a nail or
two. Now, I'm a big fan of bars and would like to see more, not less. But I
think the Tavern league may be over reacting a bit.
So, you're okay with discriminating against people participating in a legal activity because you don't want to come home smelling like an ashtray? Oh, and the "go outside and pound a nail or two" option isn't acceptable in the currently proposed ban, since "The plan also would prohibit designated smoking areas "immediately adjacent" to outside public entrances."

There are smoke free restaurants and bars in Milwaukee already-- if you don't want to smell like an ashtray, go there. Encourage others to go there. But don't tell me you're against writing discrimination into Wisconsin's constitution and then say it's alright to discriminate against smokers.
Bet that's the last time you ask me for more reaction. Now I gotta get some dang
work done. I'm sure my clients will be just fine with you distracting me.

Heh. Nope, not the last time. I hope it happens more often. Jack was supposed to do this with me, but he decided he didn't like the format. Such is life.


Alternative Thursday Babelfish Entry

Same post, English to Greek to English:

Pe'rysj I was a victory of Jlljno'js in finally makrya' from the victory of ncaa
my lake. Their loss me threw in the 4$o -- rather annoying since the leading 3
took paid. Be mistaken... pretzels. No money. No, sure no money.

En pa'si perjptw'sej, this year, despite almost each one that takes a brutal defeat in
their various props, thinks that I am in the better case fair in the
merchandise. Losing one of my final four teams (state of Oha'joy of thanks. OH,
and big thanks globally in big the Ten -- boy made that the conference vrwma'
above!), my alone hope is that the Georgetown him it finally makes in the four
from the prop her Minneapolis -- I am enough certain that no one him it does not
have that they go that far.

Thus, I will inform after the tomorrow and Weekend, but do not appear good immediately.

Sniff. No one pretzels this year, nor.

So, babelfish could handle pretzels just fine with Greek, but seemed to have lots of trouble with simple words like "anyway", "Ohio" and "stink".

"Be mistaken... pretzels. No money. No, sure no money." does not approach the zenistic properties of the Korean translation.

Anybody speak other languages fleuntly enough to see if the babelfish is any better going from, say, Russian to Spanish and back than it is in working with English? I would have to suspect it is, since English is about the most inconsistent and silly language imaginable.


Thursday's Babelfish Entry

I took the NCAA tourney post below and dumped it into babelfish. Translated it into Korean and then back again.


In last year me it wins my NCAA swimming pool from Illinois victory far was in last string. Their losses bothered rather because -- highest 3 things which it will carry to 4th receive a pay to drop. phu leys cul Inside... Do wrongly. The money which is not. Be, to be clear, the money which is not.

Anyhow it goes out and at most at this year, it has the battery which is cruel inside their various categories and, to be near even all in spite of, me it thinks that it is fair in the intermediate product. Me 4 teams (it loses the grudge of the thanks Ohio nation last. Ohio, and the whole this comfort of thanks -- offensive odor it it is big in 10 it is big! ) The boy did, my grade hope the George other fortune from Minneapolis category last is the n which will make it in 4, -- I which are very anyone which is positive that far it is for them.

It is like this, me tomorrow and it is to do newly afterwords weekend, it does not see but well now.

Sniff. phu leys cul In addition at this year.

Apparently pretzels was just too much for the poor babel fish. "phu leys cul" indeed.

I will say that this bit:
Inside... Do wrongly. The money which is not. Be, to be clear, the money which
is not.
has a very zen like feel to it. The money which is not. Indeed. Perhaps I will start a new career as a babelfish poet.

I wish I had won that swimming pool last year, though. That would've rocked.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Amen, Brother!

Actually, the Republican Party has never been my party. By the time I got fed up enough with the Democrats to think about the other guys, they had already been co-opted. But I say "Amen, Brother!" nonetheless to Larry Wilkerson (hat tip, Andrew Sullivan):

"My mum wrote me a letter the other day and she said, 'Son,' - she's 86 years old - she said, 'Son, please don't become a Democrat'.And I told my mum, I called her and I said: 'Mum, you know what? I want my party back. I don't want to become a Democrat. I want my party back.'

The Republican Party that I knew, that I grew up in, a moderate party, a party that believed in fiscal discipline, a party that believed in small government, a party that had genuine conservative values. This is not a conservative leadership. This is radical leadership. I called them neo-Jacobins. They are radical. They're not conservative. They've stolen my party and I would like my party back," - Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief aide.


The Big Dance: No Madness for Me

Last year I was an Illinois victory in the finals away from winning my NCAA pool. Their loss dropped me to 4th-- rather annoying since the top 3 got paid. Err... in pretzels. Not money. No, definitely not money.

Anyway, this year, despite nearly everyone taking a brutal beating in their various brackets, I think I am at best fair to middling. Having lost one of my final four teams (thanks Ohio State. Oh, and a big thanks overall to the Big Ten-- boy did that conference stink it up!), my only hope is that Georgetown makes it to the final four out of the Minneapolis bracket-- I'm pretty sure nobody has them going that far.

So, I'll update after tomorrow and the weekend, but it doesn't look good right now.

Sniff. No pretzels this year, either.


The Big Dance: By State

I have no idea what, or even if, this means anything, but what the hey. I think it's at least mildly interesting. Particularly interesting, no state has more than one team left. North Carolina started with five-- only Duke is left. Pennsylvania started with four. Only Villanova is left. At this point, Washington, D.C. has as many teams left as either of those basketball-rich states.

Six of the final 16 were the sole representative of their state. Four states that started with three teams are now completely unrepresented in the sweet sixteen. Sadly, Wisconsin is one of them.

Here are the state by state records in the NCAA tourney after the first weekend:

Connecticut, 2-0, 1.000 (1 school initially, 1 school left)
Florida, 2-0, 1.000 (1 school initially, 1 school left)
Massachusetts, 2-0, 1.000 (1 school initially, 1 school left)
Oregon, 2-0, 1.000 (1 school initially, 1 school left)
Virgina, 2-0, 1.000 (1 school initially, 1 school left)
West Virginia, 2-0, 1.000 (1 school initially, 1 school left)
Texas, 3-1, .750 (2 schools initially, 1 school left)
Washington, D.C., 3-1, .750 (2 schools, 1 left)
Kansas, 2-1, .667 (2 schools, 1 left-- and it's NOT the Jayhawks)
Washington, 2-1, .667 (2 schools, 1 left)
Illinois, 3-2, .600 (3 schools, 1 left-- and it's NOT the Illini)
Louisiana, 3-2, .600 (3 schools, 1 left)
Tennesee, 3-2, .600 (3 schools, 1 left-- Bruce, what happened?)
Pennsylvania, 4-3, .571 (4 schools, 1 left)
California, 2-2, .500 (3 schools, 1 left)
North Carolina, 4-4, .500 (5 schools, 1 left)

Arizona, 1-1, .500 (1 school, 0 left)
Arkansas, 1-1, .500 (1 school, 0 left)
Indiana, 1-1, .500 (1 school, 0 left)
Montana, 1-1, .500 (1 school, 0 left)
Kentucky, 1-2, .333 (2 schools, 0 left)
Alabama, 1-3, .250 (3 schools, 0 left)
Ohio, 1-3, .250 (3 schools, 0 left)
Wisconsin, 1-3, .250 (3 schools, 0 left-- thanks for the one W, UWM!)
Colorado, 0-1, 0.000
Michigan, 0-1, 0.000
Nevada, 0-1, 0.000
South Carolina, 0-1, 0.000
Utah, 0-1, 0.000
Iowa, 0-2, 0.000
New Jersey, 0-2, 0.000
Oklahoma, 0-2, 0.000
New York, 0-3, 0.000

So, a big shout out to New York for being the most inept state this year!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Come to Wisconsin!

What a great state! Yes, friends, you too can join me in the fine state of Wisconsin!

Here are just a few of the many, many reason to come to our fine state-- live here or just visit, you can't go wrong!

Yes, my friends, come to the beautiful state of Wisconsin! And always remember-- the state motto is "Forward!"


Monday, March 20, 2006

Some Hindsight

It's easy to make predictions and warn of dire consequences in the future. Particularly so if you are never reminded of your predictions and are not held accountable for how accurate-- or inaccurate-- they are. But some folks actually bother to keep track of these things.

So, for a look at back at what many thought was actually going to happen with the War in Iraq, please check out Gateway Pundit's intereting chronology. Now, I remain of the belief that the post-invasion phase of the War could've been handled much better, and I remain of the belief that Donald Rumsfeld was the wrong man for the job. That said, I remain firmly of the belief that the good news in Iraq is horribly underreported, and I find it somewhat odd that anybody would give someone like, oh, say Ted Kennedy, who was so egregiously wrong in his predictions any credibility on this topic whatsoever.

Of course, with Teddy, I've been wondering why anybody gives him any credibility about anything for a very long time.

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OTIT: Yale

You may or may not have heard, but Yale recently admitted an Afhani to its undergraduate ranks-- wonderful! See what our work in Afghanistan has lead to? Except, well, one problem. He's a former Taliban minister and advisor to Mullah Mohammed Omar, the former head of the Taliban.

Unlike the above linked article, some aren't quite so sanguine about a former member of the Taliban studying at one of America's premier schools of higher education. This guy, for instance. Who finds it odd that Yale does not want to actually discuss whether it's appropriate to have a former high-ranking member of the Taliban taking courses at Yale. This article, which is the basis for the Penraker article, is an interesting read as well.

Now, it is entirely possible that Mr. Rahmatullah has legitimately put his past behind him. It is also entirely possible that he is exploiting the system for his own benefit, feels no remorse for his past actions, and is, effectively, an enemy of the United States. Given the nearly impossible task of determining which is, in fact, the case why didn't we bring over some other deserving afghani with no ties to the Taliban whatsoever?

And why is Yale so touchy about discussing the issue?


Thursday, March 16, 2006

NCAA Records: By State

Okay, heading into the big dance, North Carolina had the most teams-- five, but which state will have the best winning percentage? We'll see. Here's a break down of teams per state:

North Carolina: 5 (Duke, UNC, NC St., UNC-Wilmington, Davidson)

Pennsylvania: 4 (Pitt, Villanova, Penn, Bucknell)

Alabama: 3 (Alabama, South Alabama, UAB)
California: 3 (UCLA, California, San Diego St.)
Illinois: 3 (Illinois, Southern Illinois, Bradley)
Louisiana: 3 (LSU, Northwestern State, Southern University)
Ohio: 3 (Ohio State, Kent State, Xavier)
New York: 3 (Syracuse, Iona, Albany)
Tennessee: 3 (Memphis, Tennessee, Belmont)
Wisconsin: 3 (Wisconsin, Marquette, UW-Milwaukee)

Iowa: 2 (Iowa, Northern Iowa)
Kansas: 2 (Kansas, Wichita St.)
Kentucky: 2 (Kentucky, Murray State)
New Jersey: 2 (Seton Hall, Monmouth)
Oklahoma: 2 (Oklahoma, Oral Roberts)
Texas: 2 (Texas, Texas A&M)
Washington: 2 (Washington, Pacific)
Washington, D.C.: 2 (Georgetown, George Washington)

Arizona: 1 (Arizona)
Arkansas: 1 (Arkansas)
Colorado: 1 (Air Force)
Connecticut: 1 (UConn)
Florida: 1 (Florida)
Indiana: 1 (Indiana)
Massachusetts: 1 (Boston College)
Michigan: 1 (Michigan State)
Montana: 1 (Montana)
Nevada: 1 (Nevada)
Oregon: 1 (Gonzaga)
South Carolina: 1 (Winthrop)
Utah: 1 (Utah State)
Virginia: 1 (George Mason)
West Virginia: 1 (West Virginia)

Phew. So far, after all of three games, the standings are:
Kansas (1-0)
Massachusetts (1-0)
Wisconsin (1-0)
New Jersey (0-1)
Oklahoma (0-1)
Washington (0-1)


The Wussification of Wisconsin

Okay, I'm going to sound like an old fart now, and maybe that's what I'm becoming, but I remember as a kid that schools and other social events and organizations did not close in Wisconsin unless there was a good eight inches or more of snow falling on the ground. Six inches was annoying, but passable, and anything four or under was a minor nuisance. One thing I definitely remember is that school was never ever cancelled before any snow actually fell simply because the weathermen thought there was going to be a big storm.

No longer. This morning, before a single flake of snow had touched the ground, there was a LONG scroll across the bottom of the local news broadcast listing all the schools, clubs, and other agencies that were closing for the day. Because the weathermen were predicting 8-12 inches of snow. Of course, the fact that they had predicted the snow to start falling at around midnight and it was now 7 am with no snow yet falling did not matter-- there was going to be a big storm today. Weathermen were all up in arms about it, after all.

Flash forward to now-- 2 pm. There's a light dusting of snow on the ground. Maybe-- maybe-- an inch. Revised forecasts now estimate that somewhere between 2 and 4 inches will fall today.

So. School was cancelled, people inconvenienced, social activities curtailed-- for 2-4 inches of snow. IN WISCONSIN! If this were Alabama, okay, 2-4 inches of snow might be difficult to deal with, but we're in freakin' Wisconsin. There's been known to be a bit of snow up here where it does tend to get a tad cold from time to time.


Absolutely pathetic. In retrospect, it's a shame that all the folks running around bemoaning this huge winter storm headed our way weren't in Louisiana last year-- they would've evacuated New Orleans back on August 23 because there was a chance that Katrina (then just forming over the Bahamas) might end up somewhere near the Gulf Coast by the end of the month.



Good grief. Rutgers is a big school-- 50,000+ according to their website-- but what's the deal with this many different LGBTQQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bi-sexual/Transgender/Q... ummm... hmm... anybody?/Q... wow. Two Qs in a row? Queer, maybe for one, but what is the other? Not trying to be flip here-- I have no idea what those two Qs are supposed to represent.) organizations? I mean, having been friends with a number of gay people, and having a gay sister, I understand that there is a need for some sort of LGBT student organization on campus-- but seven distinct LGBT orgs, plus another three devoted to various women's issues?

Seems a tad excessive to me. But maybe it's just a reflection of the Rutgers' Community-- their "Committee to Advance Our Common Purpose" has 42 members. 42! Are you kidding me? It's hard to get stuff done with a committe larger than 5 or 6-- how do they accomplish ANYTHING with 42 members?

Just by way of contrast, UW-Madison, also 50,000+ and in one of the most liberal cities in America, has three LBGT student organizations.

I have no idea what any of this means-- I just found it interesting. And, I admit, I would like to know what those two mysterious Qs are at the end of LGBT.


Thursday's Babelfish Entry

I took this post about UW-Milwaukee's seeding in the NCAA tourney and translated the first two paragraphs into Dutch at babelfish.altavista.com, then translated the Dutch translation back into English. Here's the result:

Thus, Panthers get #11 a seed in the large dancing. Woot! Although, honest, a seed could have been seen 12 preferable manier12's the battle of 5 with ongelooflijke regularity. Still, I think UWM legit have which have originated at taking Oklahoma, and perhaps even Florida -- since there is no manner in my opinion that Florida #3 a seed deserved.

In niet-sportennieuws, UWM now conservative nieuwsalternatief to the mail UWM have. The times UWM recently editors on campus started -- although it has no formal accession with the school. I have this way added the times to my blogbroodje, check them if you have a chance -- the conservative votes on our campus are a rising tendency, so that are I hoopvol the times well will do.
Interesting. When the babelfish translator converts things into English, wouldn't you kinda expect the result to be, well, English? Now, granted it isn't that hard to figure out that "niet-sportennieuws" is "non-sports news" and that "hoovol" is "hopeful" but still-- shouldn't it actually be in English? Oh, and only having the original post handy allowed me to deduce that "ongelooflijke regularity" is "incredible regularity."

Though I will say that ongelooflijke is an incredibly silly looking word. I also kinda like how Babelfish has a tendency to make the retranslation into English sound like Yoda is saying it. "The Times UWM recently editors on campus started. Hmm. Strong the Force is in the Times."

Geography 101

Here are the "locations" for the forthcoming Thursday NCAA 1st round games. I found them amusing:


And just so that Friday doesn't make any more sense, there are these tomorrow:


Now, I realize that they just pick a few sub-venues for the brackets and route everyone there, but why exactly does the Minneapolis bracket never play at the Michigan site? Instead having teams play in Salt Lake City and Jacksonville? Why does the Washington D.C. bracket have teams playing in the San Diego pod, but not in the Jacksonville pod?

The NCAA reps did actually graduate from college, right?


That 3rd Party Candidacy Thing

I was reading over at Ornery.org when I noticed a small link to "Participants at Ornery.org form a new political party." Intrigued, I clicked on it. It's basically a big forum-- or community or group-- that has formed to discuss making a new party. Right now they seem to have about 30 or so members, so they have only slightly more chance of actually impacting elections than I do, but hey-- I like their set up.

So, check them out at The Concord Party website. Join up. It's free and easy to do. Throw some thoughts for discussion into the mix. Tell your friends (you guys do have some, right?). Hell, let's stage a coup. Okay, that might defeat the purpose. But what the heck-- were any of us really happy to get to choose between Bush and Kerry last time around?


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Anti-Islamist Manifesto

Or Manifesto of 12, is a statement by 12 Muslim intellectuals who virulently oppose the totalitarianism of Islamism. You can read it, and about it, here (scroll down a bit). All twelve have now been put under "a very credible death threat" to use Andrew Sullivan's words.

A new manifesto, signable by any and all, is being formulated in support of those 12 Muslim voices brave enough to condemn the tyranny being practiced by far too many of their fellow Muslims. You can add your signature to the manifesto by simply emailing prochoix@prochoix.org and requesting your name be added.

Why should you bother? Well, Mojo has been single-handedly been adding link after link after link demonstrating the intolerance and savagery of Islamism. A summary listing of those links:

At this point, any Muslim who actually speaks out against the death cult alive and well within their religion deserves our support.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Big Wet Sloppy Kiss?

From the NCAA selection committee? Well, clearly Tennesee got one-- how they got a #2 seed is beyond me. I mean, kudos to Bruce Pearl for getting these guys to play at such a high level night in and night out, but they're a 3 seed pure and simple. LSU and BC (both 4 seeds) deserve to be ahead of Tennesee, and North Carolina (a 3) probably should be ahead of them, too. For crumb's sake, the Vols ended the season losing three of four and four of six.

Who else? Well, personally I think fellow SEC team Florida (3 seed) got a little nooky from the committee (again-- ahead of LSU?), and how Nevada got a 5 seed playing a dreadful non-conference schedule and in a dreadful conference is also a head scratcher. Air Force being in at all is probably a pretty good neck nibbler from the selection committee-- I mean, the second best team from a crappy (Mountain West) conference? Sheesh.

UCLA got more than a peck on the cheek with their #2 seed, as well. Granted they won the Pac-10, but the Pac-10 wasn't very good this year, and the winner of the Big 10, Ohio State, got the same exact #2 seed. And while Syracuse's remarkable run in the Big East tourney was impressive, they finished below .500 in the conference-- in 9th place. So, naturally they're a 5 seed, just like Pittsburgh, who finished three games better than them in conference play and with a better seed than West Virginia (6 seed) who also finished three games ahead of them in conference play.

Smoochy, smoochy, smoochy.


One More Very Late Movie Review

Also saw Tim Burton's version of Willie Wonka over the weekend. Overall, quite good-- faithful to the original story and movie without being a boring rehash. The backstory on Willie's childhood was a little strained, but once again Christopher Lee is there to rescue what otherwise might have been patently ridiculous. Christopher Lee: Saruman, Count Dooku and Willie Wonka's dentist father-- all played with that stenorous Christopher Lee voice and presence, yet all different and individual. Nice work!

Two things that made the movie less enjoyable than it should have been. #1, and this is the biggie, Johnny Depp's Willie Wonka is way too much like Michael Jackson at his freaky child molesting worst-- except of course that Wonka doesn't actually like kids. But the weird facial ticks and coloration, odd clothing, high-pitched voice... man, there were times I wondered if it was Michael Jackson but then I checked the nose and it wasn't fake. That said, Depp is excellent in the role-- it's a pity he seems a bit of a nutjob, because the man is one of the most talented actors of his generation.

#2 is Danny Elfman's soundtrack. When Elfman first starting scoring some of Burton's early films-- like Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Batman-- his over fondness for driving wind instrumentation was a fresh breath from the John Williams school of over-stringed orchestration. Now, many years and films later, it is getting tired and annoying. I think Danny needs to go back to his punk-pop/Oingo Boingo roots and rediscover some alternatives to his trademark sound.

Other than that, the acting was very good, the changes/updates made to the original are all pretty good (though the backstory on the Ooompahloompahs is a bit forced). And I just like Tim Burton's style-- not all of his films are great, but unlike his musical sidekick, Elfman, I haven't grown tired of his amazing vision as a director.

A much more enthusiastic thumbs up for this one.


A Really Late Movie Review

Spoiler alert: If you are even slower than I am in watching movies, I will be discussing important bits about the movies-- so don't read on if you have been living in a cave and don't know how the Star Wars saga turns out.

Okay, so over the weekend I watched Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith with my kids. Having heard the various criticisms of them both when they came out, my expectations weren't too high, and consequently I wasn't disappointed. Actually, they were both entertaining, and it is startling to see how far the effects have come in the nearly 30 years since IV was on the big screen.

And I rather liked Hayden Christensen in II-- I found his tightly held anger and resentment pretty believable, and what clunkiness there was I mostly attribute to the writing. Which, quite frankly, was pretty bad. Unquestionably the worst part of both films-- I don't know if Lucas lost whatever gift he had that made the banter good in IV-VI, or if the first three are just so much darker that the tone he used in the IV-VI is just totally out of place in the first three. Maybe a bit of both explanations, but in general the dialogue was dreadful. The only consistent exceptions to that observation were the scenes between Christensen and Natalie Portman, the scenes with Christopher Lee, and the scenes with Yoda. Some of the scenes between Ewan McGregor and Christensen are absolutely torturous, and Samuel L. Jackson comes across as a rather daft cardboard cutout hero.

So, the action scenes were very good, and the movies were generally fun to watch-- as fortunately the dialogue is fairly limited. And the plot had potential-- though handicapped by the fact that we know what's going to happen in the end. A definite drawback to making parts I-III after parts IV-VI. The plot was also handicapped by the dialogue-- it became somewhat difficult to figure out what was going on because much of that was explained in the Jedi Councils, which were almost as painful to listen to as some of the scenes between McGregor and Christensen.

A few other annoying bits. The largest of which is that Annakin's decision to join the darkside is waaaaaaaaaaaay to abrupt and, to me anyway, almost completely unbelievable. He goes from turning Palpatine in to about an hour later saving the old slimebucket's biscuits and killing one of the most prominent Jedis in the galaxy. After that, he starts killing willy-nilly, including slaughtering a bunch of sever-year-olds at Jedi Central. The "moment of truth" was awkward enough, but then his complete and total surrender to Palpatine was just brutally unbelievable to me-- this was a man who had struggled his entire life to leash his incredibly strong abilities and ego to serve under others. He had never once been entirely successful at subjigating his will to someone else's direction-- and suddenly he's killing kids and abandoning every priniciple he's ever believed in for a guy that an hour earlier he had nearly killed.

Not. Buying. It.

Other annoying bits-- what the hell is Obi Wan doing letting Annakin burn slowly to death on the shores of that lava lake? A) Annakin is the 2nd most dangerous enemy to the Jedi in the entire galaxy-- don't you bloody well make sure he's dead? B) Only a minute or so before, Obi Wan had bemoaned the loss of Annakin-- his brother-- to the dark side. If your apprentice, a man who was like a brother to you, is slowly and painfully dying on the shores of a lava lake on some desolate hell-like wasteland you either try to save him or put him out of his misery. You don't just shake your head and walk away.

"Well, that's that then. Pity about the lad-- loved him like a brother, but hey, I have other stuff to attend to. Guess I'll just let him slowly die here with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over most of his body and his legs cut off below the knee."

If all the Jedi can sense the Force in each other, how come no one sensed the Force, much less the Dark Side, in Palpatine?

Given that the Emperor presumably has a full biography on his new apprentice, Annakin Skywalker, why does it never occur to him that Darth's kid might be on Tatooie? Being raised by Annakin's only remaining family?

Smallest complaint-- if you have Natalie Portman, both talented and gorgeous, as the only woman of any consequence in your film, don't you A) Get her on screen far more often than Lucas did, and B) Find something like the Princess Leia slave bikini outfit for her to wear at some point in the film?

Okay, enough nitpicking. I really enjoyed Christopher Lee as Count Dooku-- his career has made a remarkable comeback, with significant roles in both The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in recent years. Good for him.

The scenes with Yoda were all great-- Frank Oz is terrific as his voice, and the CGI/Muppet stuff is wonderful.

Overall rating, II is the best of the first trio, and I'd probably give it a hesitant thumbs up. III was good up until Annakin's conversion-- then it rapidly went over the top into the theater of the absurd. Might be worth it for the battle scene between the Emperor and Yoda.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Biggest Snub?

Which team most deserved to be in and missed the cut for the Big Dance? Well, there are a number of candidates-- Maryland, Michigan, UTEP and Missouri State can all make a decent case for being slighted by the NCAA selection committe.

But for my money, the biggest snub had to be Cincinatti's. They finished at 8-8 in the Big East, the toughest conference in college basketball, and lost in the first round of the Big East Tourney by 1 point to Syracuse-- in Syracuse's backyard, Madison Square Garden. Seton Hall, who did make the NCAA Tourney, finished at 9-7, lost to Rutgers by 13 in the first round of the Big East Tourney, and lost to UConn by 34 and Duke by 53. Cincinatti lost to UConn by 11 and Villanova by 2.

Any other snubs out there folks would like to rant about?



OTIT= Oh That Ivory Tower
OTLM= Oh That Liberal Media

Orson Scott Card skewers both in his most recent column at The Ornery American. Well-worth a read.

And speaking of OTIT, this link is a bit late, but well worth listening to if you wonder why I think public education is biased left. Are all public school teachers like this guy? Of course not. But men and women like him are out there, and they are teaching our children.

But don't worry too much-- The Livingston College Bias Prevention and Awareness Team is ready to swing into action! Eliminating bias everywhere!

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

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More UWM News

So, the Panthers get a #11 seed in the Big Dance. Woot! Though, honestly, a 12 seed might have been preferable given the way 12's knock off 5's with incredible regularity. Still, I think UWM has a legit shot at taking out Oklahoma, and maybe even Florida-- since there is no way in my mind that Florida deserved a #3 seed.

In non-sports news, UWM now has a conservative news alternative to the UWM Post. The UWM Times recently began publishing on campus-- though it has no formal affiliation with the school. I've added the Times to my blog roll, so check them out if you have a chance-- conservative voices on our campuses is an increasing trend, so I'm hopeful the Times will do well.

Some comparison and contrast of the two student organized and run newspapers could be interesting-- so maybe I'll do that in coming weeks. I know you're all on the edge of your seats!

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Congress: Best Damn Demagogues Money Can Buy

Just so you don't think it's just me and Dennis the Peasant that think the whole port thing has been blown WAAAAAYYY out of proportion, here's Gregory Scoblete (no, I don't know who he is, but I like his writing and his point):
You really have to hand it to Congress - they can't fulfill their crucial oversight role, write coherent legislation, or spend your tax dollars wisely. But they sure can demagogue.

To be honest, I'd trust Dubai with my ports before I trust Congress with my wallet.

Yeah, what he said. I really should have known that the situation wasn't what I thought it was when Chuck Schumer came out against it.

And how's this for scary-- Schumer and xenophobic radio rantman Michael Savage agree that killing the port deal is a good idea. Does anybody need any further evidence that killing the port deal is a terrible idea?


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hey, didn't you use to be Rick Pitino?

When the Big East reformulated its basketball conference this year with five teams from Conference USA, everybody figured Louisville-- coached by Rick Pitino-- and Cincinatti would be the two C-USA teams that would have an immediate impact. Depaul, Marquette and South Florida were all relegated to also-ran status before the season even commenced.

Regular season results?

Louisville, 6-10 (Barely qualified for the Big East tourney where they were thoroughly thumped by Pittsburgh)

Cincinatti, 8-8 (Lost in the first round of the Big East tourney on a last second shot by Syracuse)

Depaul, 5-11 (Did not qualify for the Big East tourney-- only the top 12 of 16 teams gets in)

South Florida, 1-15 (Did not qualify for the Big East tourney)

Marquette, 10-6 (Garnered a first round bye in the Big East tourney and may well be the only former C-USA team to make the Big Dance later this week)

Go Marquette!


Cutting the Pork

Heard an interesting discussion a few days ago about how easy it is to ADD things to the federal budget, and how hard it is to ELIMINATE things from the federal budget. Any individual congressman or senator can proprose additional projects-- mostly pork-- but no individual congressman or senator can cut anything from the budget. For that matter, no individual anywhere can cut anything from the budget. Not even the President.

All the President can do is veto the whole bloody thing. So, much as I am leery of giving President Bush more authority, this seems like a really good idea. With the line item veto, Bush could have scratched out Ted Stevens' precious bridge to nowhere with a simple flick of his pen. How sweet would that be? With the line item veto, Bush could say ixnay on federal funding for things like bike paths (why does the federal government have any connection to bike paths?).

If you think about it, the concept makes a LOT of sense-- Congress is made up of lots of individuals representing small bits of the country. They have some obligation to the country as a whole, sure, but their main obligation is to the small bit of the country they represent. Only the President is responsible to everyone-- to the entire country, so logically he should be the individual capable of saying "No, this project might be great, but it is a local special interest project, and should not be funded with taxpayer money from the 98% of the country that couldn't care less about it."

Heck, even John Kerry is in favor of the line item veto! John McCain, George Bush and John Kerry all agreeing on something-- it's either a long overdue no-brainer of an idea, or a sign that the apocalypse is nigh.


Thursday's Babelfish Entry

The Babelfish translator is still around-- though harder to find these days. More remarkably, Alta Vista (remember when Alta Vista was THE search engine? Me neither) is still around. One of the fun things to do with the Babelfish translator was to translate a chunk of text into another language, then take that translation and flip it back into English and see what you get. Like so (from yesterday's David Gilmour entry):
Not surprisingly, then, I was looking forward to the release of On an Island with some hopeful expectations-- especially given that Gilmour recently dashed burgeoning hopes of a Floyd reunion effort by basically saying, "Eh. I'm happy doing what I'm doing-- why would I want to do that?" Last night one of the local radio stations played the whole thing through.

Which, after translating into German and back again, comes out as follows:
Not surprisingly then I looked this Gilmour recently broken sprouting hopes of a Floyd reunification effort forward to the release, by saying generally, particularly given by at an island with somewhat hopeful expectations --, "as. I am lucky, doing, what I do -- why would I want to do that?" Yesterday evening one of the local radio stations played the complete thing to the end.
Actually, that last sentence is very close-- surprisingly so. But the rest is typical. I particularly like "recently broken sprouting hopes." That's actually quite lyrical.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On an Island

Which is the name of David Gilmour's new album. For the unwashed, David Gilmour is the former guitarist for Pink Floyd, one of my favorite bands of all time. I love Gilmour's guitar work on all of the Floyd albums he worked on-- yes, even the last two (Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell) without Roger Waters. I enjoyed his second solo album About Face quite a bit, as well (I never heard the first, self-titled, one).

Not surprisingly, then, I was looking forward to the release of On an Island with some hopeful expectations-- especially given that Gilmour recently dashed burgeoning hopes of a Floyd reunion effort by basically saying, "Eh. I'm happy doing what I'm doing-- why would I want to do that?" Last night one of the local radio stations played the whole thing through.

Bummer dude.

Not that it's bad, or anything. Actually, it is quite the opposite of bad-- it's... pleasant. Nice enough to listen to, with some prototypical Gilmour riffs and some sax and some good bass lines. All very nice. Very pleasant.

And totally uninvolving. I found myself listening to pick out bits that reminded me of other Floyd or Gilmour songs that I liked-- because the songs themselves did almost nothing for me. The lyrics grab you not all, the "hooks" aren't really very catchy-- or feel too well-worn to stir much interest-- and it all feels very clinical. Paint by numbers.

It's got no soul. And soul--feeling-- has always been part and parcel of the Floyd experience.

There is one exception to this criticism-- the stripped down, somewhat plaintive song "Smile" is everything all the other songs on the album aren't. Stirring, powerful, well-written, and involving for the listener.

Sadly, it is the exception, rather than the rule. On the plus side, it looks like I'll be saving a few bucks-- I'll have to put it in the Monty Python's Personal Best fund.



A big shout out to my alma mater, UW-Milwaukee! Both the men's and women's basketball teams won their respective Horizon Conference tournament, and consequently both are on their way to the big dance. That's three times in four years for the men-- quite an accomplishment, especially since when I was in school there, back in the late '80s, they weren't even a division I basketball school.

Extra double bonus-- if the conference tourneys are revving up, March Madness can not be far behind. I love March Madness. Love the excitement, love the games, love the "bracketology" (yeah, it's a science-- sure it is), love the fact that February is over. No longer love Dick Vitale, but I can tolerate him for a few weeks since the rest of the March Madness experience is awesome. No, not Awwwesome Bayyybee. There will be none of that. Not here.

Go Panthers!


Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I saw part of the John Cleese "Monty Python's Personal Best" on PBS over the weekend. My god that show was funny-- I haven't seen any Python in a while, so I know-- cerebrally-- that it is a hoot, but there is a huge difference between remembering that and actually experiencing it again. There were several amusing bits-- the local ladies group reenacting Pearl Harbor by wailing on each other with purses in the middles of a muddy field, the fish slapping dance-- and then the crown jewel. The Upper Class Twit of the Year competition.

It has been a while since I laughed myself to tears, but that skit had me there after the first event-- the straight line. I think it's Michael Palin who comes up to the straight line, which the twits have to walk, and just falls over. Several times.

Then the matchbox jump. Graham Chapman's face for Oliver St. John-Mollusc as he tries to jump the "wall" of three-high matchboxes is absolutely priceless. As is Cleese's narration of the whole absurd thing.

Ah lordy. The chemistry and genius of those six lads working together was incalcuable-- SNL, Second City, The Boys in the Hall all had fabulously funny moments, but their best does not rise to the level of the best of the Flying Circus.

That said, the "in between bits" with John Cleese (supposedly 93 years old) were chuckle worthy at best. I found myself hoping that the "commentary" would be brief so I could see more of the classic MPFC bits.

All six episodes (one for each living Python, and one group effort to commemorate Chapman) will be available on DVD later this year-- a purchase I already have earmarked.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Feel Good Story?

You may well by now have heard about Jason McElwain, or J-Mac, the highly functioning autistic student that had served as the varsity basketball teams student assistant for the last four years. If you haven't, go here and watch the video, it's not real long.

Great, right? Hard working kid overcomes his disability and has the night of his life. Something to remeber forever. Super.

Except, well... there's a hitch if you ask me. Because the only reason J-Mac was in the game in the first place was because his team was already ahead by around 20 (I can't find an actual box score anywhere on the web) when the game reached the 4 minute mark of the 2nd half. The final score? 79 to 43 (you'll have to scroll down a bit). J-Mac's team won by 36! Oh, and by the way, Spencerport, the team that lost and got to see J-Mac drill 6-threes on them? They finished 0-12 in league play.

So, let me ask this: Given that he had already had the thrill of being in the game AND the thrill of making a three-pointer, why exactly was it necessary for McElwain to keep shooting every time his team had the ball? Point in fact, it wasn't. The story is just as feel good if it ends with J-Mac getting into the game and making his shot as it is if he helps his team thouroughly embarrass another school for no reason other than to see how many points J-Mac could put up.

Would everybody being calling this a great story if one of the team's regulars kept shooting threes after his team was AHEAD BY THIRTY? Not a chance-- there instead would be rousing choruses decrying the poor sportsmanship of the coach and the team. And deservedly so.

But we don't hear boo about that, do we? Instead, McElwaine's feat is described as follows:
It really doesn't get much better than this, a true example of how sports can create a positive experience. It was the type of story a Hollywood studio would dream up.
A true example of how sports can create a positive experience? You think it was all that positive for the Spencerport kids? You think they really got a kick out of watching their opponent continue to take shot after shot after shot despite being ahead by a country mile? Can you see them going home with their folks and saying, "Yeah, too bad we lost by 36 and were totally embarrassed, but wasn't it cool how the team manager overcame his autism to score 20 against us in his last home game?"

Take a close look at the posture and faces of the other team in that video. Does it look like they're having a good time? I give Jim Johnson credit for putting McElwaine in the game until he hit a shot or two. Great, nice gesture, very cool.

But after one or two it becomes: salt+open wound+vigorous rubbing.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Ports Thing

In case you still have signficant concerns over the acquisition of P&O by Dubai Ports World. Here's a handy reference sheet courtesy of Dennis the Peasant. I'm glad the issue was re-examined, and I am reassured that DPW was willing to put off the merger for six months until folks here in the U.S. were comfortable with t he transaction.

I am also sick, so I haven't-- and won't-- post much today and maybe tomorrow, but a question did occur to me. Do you think Hillary, Chuck Schumer and the many Daily Kos readers who have decried the need to have foreign owned corporations running terminals at our ports would be any happier if the only U.S. company capable of running those terminals was Halliburton?

Just wondering.


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