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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Coburn and Obama in '08

John wondered why I support Barack Obama for VP on my Tom Coburn/Barack Obama write-in ticket. This is why.

John also states that Senators do not make good Presidents. Um, 15 of our 43 presidents were U.S. Senators at some point in their careers. That's over a third, though it is true that only two went straight from the Senate to the White House-- Harding and Kennedy. Harding was not a good President, I'll grant you that. Kennedy was good though-- probably not as good as he's given credit for, but probably top-10. Truman and Nixon were Senators before they became President, and I would say Truman was also top-10, and Nixon might have been were it not for that little Watergate thingie he got mixed up in.

So, I think a two-Senator ticket is just the...err... ticket.

Coburn and Obama in '08!


Another Libertarian Victory!

While I'm busy tweaking Mojo and John's hot buttons, I might as well pass along a belated "well done" to the U.S. Senate (well, at least to the 34 "no" voters) for ix-naying the stupid Flag Burning Amendment. Realistically, anything sponsored by Orrin Hatch ought to just be burned and ignored. All right, that was unfair, but the amendment was wrong-headed and almost entirely political in nature. No surprise then that Hatch sponsored it and Bill Frist strongly supported it.

Nuts, I did it again. Sorry.

Flag burning is noxious and stupid and offensive and I personally despise anybody that does it, but this is AMERICA people-- stupid and offensive individuals are allowed to express their stupidity and offensiveness in stupid and offensive ways if they so choose. Ridicule them, revile them, roll your eyes at them, sing God Bless America to them, but don't try to limit free speech in order to avoid hearing and seeing things that you disagree with.

That would truly be UN-American.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Checks and Balances

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan sums up my thinking on this pretty well. I don't agree fully with his denunciation of the president, but I think his analysis of the balance of power issues and the dangers of perpetual war are DOBA (it's an industry term).

Our Founding Fathers built a multi-layered system of those suckers into our Constitutional framework, and it has been a remarkably foresighted and successful setup. Indeed, I recall talking with my mother this past winter about her worries that Bush was circumventing due process at Guantonimo. I said I had similar worries, but also that I had confidence in the checks and balances in our system-- they sometimes take a while to catch up to current events, but they are tremendously resilient and self-correcting.

The Supreme Court proved me right with its ruling on the Hamden v. Rumsfeld case, dealing a major rebuff to the President's attempts to sidestep legal strictures with ill-defined "war time" powers. It is sad and unfortunate that the self-corrections lag behind the efforts to circumvent or distort the balance, as that lag time frequently causes individuals to lost between the gears-- but on the whole, the system works remarkably well.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The NYT's Bad Faith Effort

I still have mixed emotions about the Times' exposure of the NSA phone tapping. But at leasat there I could see the slippery slope that the program could be heading for-- I don't want government agencies wiretapping phones willynilly without sufficient oversight and justification.

The NYT's exposure of the Treaury Department's efforts to end funding for terrorist organizations is a whole different story. Not only can I not see the slippery slope, I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist-- and so a program that was effective, had proper oversight, and basically begged the NYT to leave it alone to do what it did is compromised. Almost certainly to our detriment and the terrorists benefit.


Secretary of the Treasury John Snow is dead on balls accurate (it's an industry term) in his scathing denouncement of the NYT. Particularly DOBA bit:

You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that “terror financiers know” our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.

Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the “public interest” in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.

What you’ve seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.


Monday, June 26, 2006

That Was Weird

We got expanded cable service a few weeks ago, and while I don't watch a whole lot of TV, the new service does greatly improve my chances of seeing something good when I do sit down in front of the tube. House, for example. Great show. Well-written, well-acted, smart and intriguing. And Hugh Laurie is great-- not big news, nor shocking, I know, but I had only heard this, I hadn't actually seen him in action.

Terrific actor, terrific role. Cranky, brilliant, sarcastic, and often down right mean.

Which brings me to the weird part. We were watching Stuart Little 2 the other night-- which is pretty decent as kids' movies go-- and I could not place the dad. He's a chipper, understanding, find-the-silver-lining-in-everything kind of dad. Ward Cleaver on happy pills, pretty much. I could not figure out who the guy was playing him.

Then I was looking away for a bit, and I recognized the voice. It was Dr. House-- clean shaven and Mr. Good Hollywood Dad, but Hugh Laurie, nonetheless. Very strange.

As a side note, Stuart Little 2 has a heck of a cast. Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis (Mom), Jonathan Lipnicki (the cute kid from Jerry Maguire), Nathan Lane (Snowbell the cat), Melanie Griffith (Margalo the bird), James Woods (The Evil Falcon-- even just his voice makes a great villain), and, of course, Michael J. Fox as the voice of Stuart.


We're All Disordered Now

So, being fat isn't lack of self-control, it's Compulsive Eating Disorder. Road rage isn't a lack of anger management or impulse control, it's Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Children aren't spoiled or lacking in discipline, they're AD/HD. Or, perhaps, they're not spoiled brats, they're actually suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Good grief.

As tiring as the right-wing talking point of "lack of personal responsibility in our society" can get when repeated ad nauseum, that doesn't mean it isn't accurate. Disorders make something medical-- something beyond the person's control. In other words... not they're fault.

Now, some disorders are welcome additions to the psychology lexicon-- Obsessvie Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are both big advances over "creepy door wiping dude" and "shellshocked soldier." But some things aren't disorders-- they're just excuses to further over-medicate and absolve our society.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Chuck Norris Facts

The local radio guys (Bob and Brian so totally rock!) have been reading Chuck Norris facts on the air lately. They are hilarious-- and 108% true and accurate!

Here's a sampling:

There are lots and lots more here.

Enjoy-- just don't let Chuck Norris catch you screwing around.

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Fantasy Football Preview articles are appearing! Woot! The season can not be too far away if this is the case.

Of course, this one should only be read by the complete novice because it is almost painfully obvious in its "advice". Know your players before you draft them. Gee, do ya think so? I was going to just pick names out of a hat and see what happened, but okay, maybe I'll actually do some homework or something.

Still, Double Woot!


World Cup Update

After lots and lots of thrilling minutes of completely nothing at all happening, the U.S. lost a heartbreaking 2-1 game to Ghana yesterday. The loss knocks them out of the World Cup. I suppose I should feel bad that our team stunk it up so bad (they scored 2 goals in three games, and one of the goals was actually scored by the other team), but honestly, I'm pleased with the result.

Because now I can care even less about World Cup then I did before-- which is something of an achievement given how little I cared about it before the U.S. was knocked out.

I know that much of the rest of the world sneers at us because we don't get behind futball the way that they do-- you know, throw some bananas at the black players, threaten the officials with death, burn stuff just for kicks-- but, frankly, I'm okay with that. Because soccer is boring to watch for me, the penalty strucutre is ridiculous and perposterously subjective, and there are so many other, better, things to watch and/or do.

And thus ends my last soccer post for quite a long time.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Divisive Coulter

Ann Coulter says stuff just to be provacative-- it helps sell books. Cheap, tawdry and, frankly, pretty much schoolyard stuff. She's not the voice of the Republican Party-- though sometimes you wonder-- and she is most definitely not the voice of actual conservatives (many of whom currently want very little to do with the Republican Party since they've morphed into Bible-thumping, big-spending idiots). What she said about the "Jersey Girls" was despicable. A lot of what she says is despicable, frankly, and when Bill O'Reilly is calling you out, you're on really shaky footing.

So there's that. I don't like her, I wish she'd shut up, but it does not appear that she will any time in the near future. Bummer.

But I find it somewhat amusing and rather ironic that there is so much outrage and gnashing of teeth over Coulter's comments. For example, and because the post niggled at me when I first read it on vacation, there's this, from tc:

But mainly, I'd like to point out that notwithstanding the cliche of 'crazy
radical liberals' there is NO LEFT COUNTERPART that spews the kind of hateful,
murderous crap that Coulter does and gets a media platform to do it.

Nobody on the left is demeaning the victims of war and crime.

Nobody on the Left is calling for terrorist attacks on media buildings.

Nobody on the Left is calling for poisoning of judges.

And nobody - NOBODY- on the left is afforded the copious amounts of airtime for blathering and slandering like she is.

This is the face of The Modern Republican Party.

All right let's... breakitdown! Y'ALL! HNNGH!

Last one first: Ann Coulter is not the face of The Modern Republican Party. Much closer than I'd like, in the sense that much of the blather she spews is echoed in more muted tones by actual Republicans, but she's just not-- she has no actual influence on the party and is not known to have the ear of anyone within the party who does have actual influence. Claiming that Ann Coulter is the face of the Republican Party is as silly as claiming that Michael Moore or Al Franken are the face of the Democratic Party. Patently untrue.

Okay, the "copious amounts of time" claim. How many talk shows was Michael Moore on after Farenheit 9/11 was released? All of them, I think. Leno, Letterman, Regis and Bimbo of the Week, The View, The Today Show. This for a guy who finds the terrorists blowing up our troops in Iraq to be sympathetic figures equivalent to the Minutemen of the Revoltionary War. Al Franken received only slightly less after the release of his last book.

Poisoning of judges. True enough. Of course, Randi Rhodes did a nice piece on Air America joking about the killing of the President, and Ward Churchill has espoused support for the killing of government officials in general.

Terrorist attacks on Government buildings. Well, Churchill didn't call for terrorist attacks on media buildings, but he did figure the folks in the WTC had it coming. But okay, you got me on this one-- no liberals that I know of are advocating that kind of stupidity.

"No one on the left is demeaning the victims of war and crime." Well, that rather depends on how you define things, I'd say. Certainly Coulter's words were hateful and demeaning towards the "Jersey Girls" widows, but quite frankly I'd say that some, perhaps most, of the crap that Cindy Sheehan spews is equally as hateful and demeaning towards families that have lost loved ones in the War on Terror. And Moore's terrorist/minuteman analogy certainly demeans the victims of war and crime-- both U.S. and Iraqi.

Which leaves us with tc's opening salvo:

But mainly, I'd like to point out that notwithstanding the cliche of 'crazyradical liberals' there is NO LEFT COUNTERPART that spews the kind of hateful,murderous crap that Coulter does and gets a media platform to do it.

Which, in a way, is true. There is no ONE person that could be considered a left-wing counterpart to Coulter. Instead, there are lots and lots of liberal figures out there spewing the left-wing versions of Coulter's claptrap. Which is worse? One figure, easily dismissed, or a bunch of folks whose combined "punditrometric" weight is far greater than Coulter's?


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mark Cuban is a Boor

Rude, obnoxious pain in the arse. Just had to be said.

And the NBA is really stupid for fining him-- $250,000 to a billionaire really isn't a big deal.

A match made in purgatory.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Vacation Movie Reviews

I saw two over the course of the week-- one on Showtime and one in the theater.

The first was The Shawshank Redemption, undoubtedly the best movie version of a Stephen King story ever. I had forgotten how good this movie is-- the acting is marvelous, the pacing is excellent, and the story is intriguing on so many levels. There are many moments in the film that just give you tingles-- not of fear, but of... life. A good film can do that maybe once or twice-- Shawshank does it at several points throughout the movie.

There are no false steps, no sour moments. The fact that Forrest Gump beat it out for Best Picture in 1994, and that Tom Hanks beat Morgan Freeman for best actor, just proves the stupidity and lack of vision in voting for the Oscars. The fact that Frank Darabont wasn't even nominated for Best Director just proves how hidebound and spineless the Academy of Motion Pictures really is.

Okay, so 10 out of 10. Maybe 11 out of 10.

Review #2: Cars, seen in company with my family on Father's Day.

Pixar is amazing. They are seven for seven in making truly great films (Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Cars) The attention to detail and care they put into their films is tremendous, and the results are uniformly excellent. Would that every production company in America followed their example by filming only excellent scripts with talented actors and visionary directors and producers. That'd be nice, huh?

Anyway, at least Pixar is maintaining their high standards. I wouldn't say Cars was as good as their best-- Toy Story and The Incredibles-- but it's a darn fine film. The pacing at the beginning is a little off, but once the movie finds its groove, about a quarter of the way in, it is a fun and touching ride the rest of the way. The story is just a touch cliched, but the realization of a world consisting entirely of cars is brilliant, and there are enough small touches and sharp insights to more than compensate for this minor shortcoming.

My wife didn't enjoy it as much as I did, and I suspect that it will resonate more with boys (of all ages) than it will with girls, but she agreed that it was a very good film. And the tractors are just too funny. Don't leave before the credits are done, either-- you'll miss some really funny bits.

9.5 out of 10.


Vacation Book Review

As is my want, I took along some recreational reading materials on my vacation. For this trip, I was very jazzed to have found a new (well, relatively-- Sept. 2005) Terry Pratchett novel at the library. Sweet.

If you have not read Terry Pratchett, you should. If you have read Terry Pratchett, well, then you don't need me to tell you how good his stuff is-- but rest assured that THUD! ranks right up there with the best of his books.

If you have not read Terry Pratchett you should because his writing ranges from sublimely satirical to laugh out loud funny-- and I mean real laugh out loud funny, not this crappy lol substitute that's being bantered around these days. You should read his books because they are smart, wise and reflect human nature in all of its glory and all its ridiculousness. You should read his books because they make you think and they make you feel and they make you laugh and they even, sometimes, make you cry. And they have trolls, dwarves, gnomes, golems, magic, orangutans, cows, death, gods, dragons, cabbages and all sorts of other things.

You should read them because they are, quite possibly, the best books I have ever read. Period. End of story.

Okay, not quite. A quick review of THUD!, Pratchett's most recent work. It ranks up there with the best of his work (think I mentioned that already). A Sam Vines/City Guard book, THUD! pokes fun, both gently and not so much, at The Da Vinci Code, the stupidity of fundamentalist religion in general, the stupidity of fundamentalist Islam in particular, the stupidity of mobs, the dangers of unchecked power, and gangs of all sorts. It also highlights the importance of family-- including one of the most touching scenes I have ever read in a fantasy novel, maybe in any novel regardless genre-- and both the importance and dangers of diversity and the inter-mingling of cultures.

There is male bonding, there is female bonding, there is even werewolf and vampire bonding. Mystery, intrigue, politics. All there. All pulled together with a grace and ease and humor that is simply phenomenal and simply delightful. Finally, and very importantly, it highlights the importance of having somebody watch the watcher-- a very apropos and vital point at this juncture of human history.

Read it. Savor it. And think on it.


I Am Back

I know you all missed me terribly. Thanks for lending a helping hand, John.

Still digging out from under vacation backlog-- I will try to post this evening.

'Til then, I leave you with:

Coburn and Obama in '08!


Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup Live Blogging

US vs. Italy

6 minute mark: Long bouts of nothing happening that have characterized the first five minutes of the match continued in the sixth minute of the game.

17 minute mark: More minutes of non-excitement were broken by an actual shot on goal! Thrilling!

22 minute mark: Ahhh, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo... the Italians score! It's 1-nil. Very sad, very sad. Fortunately, it was only a 1 point goal, not one of the newfangled three-point shots.

28 minute mark: Gooooalllllllllllllllllllllllllllll! Zaccardo comes through to tie the game at 1! Serious excitement for, oh, at least 30 seconds there.

40 minute mark: Still more non-exciting bits where nobody scored and the ball got kicked around a lot. Riveting.

58 minute mark: Something happened, it's... oh... wait. Nope. Nothing. Sorry, thought something was going to happen there.

74 minute mark: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

90 minute mark: Game over. Oh wait, no. Extra time or some such. Not overtime, just extra. Continued extensive quantities of nothing going on.

93 minute mark: Game over. Officially this time.

90 plus minutes and the game ends in a tie. Wow, that rocks.

Yeah, I really can't figure out why this sport isn't catching on better in the U.S.


Sorry 'Bout The House

About a month ago I fearlessly predicted that Tiger Woods would storm to the U.S. Open title at Winged Foot, quite possibly by a large margin. I suggested Woods was a "near mortal lock" to win, and advised that houses be bet.


Sorry 'bout that.

Seems Mr. Woods didn't even make the cut at the Open. Huh. Didn't see that one coming.

Fortunately for me, I never did get that bet down. Phew, that was a close one.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Here’s One for Nick

Here’s One for Nick

Special Libertarian Librarian Correspondent John Heeder


Leveling the Playing Field

A university is forced to treat white professors equally. (!!!)

Talk about back wages due: A federal judge in Phoenix this month said that Northern Arizona University owes $1.4 million to a group of professors who have been pursuing justice through the courts since 1995. The 40 teachers, all white men, argued that they were discriminated against when the public university gave raises to minority and female faculty members in the early 1990s but not to white males. Not only that--the plaintiffs said in a Title VII civil-rights suit--the salary bumps resulted in some favored faculty members earning more than white men in comparable positions.

Read the article. Then imagine you’re a pasty-white librarian toiling away in the university system of Wisconsin. One day, you discover you’ve been passed over for raises simply because of your skin color.

Why, it’d be enough to turn you into a Libertarian!


Is Nifong’s Blood in the Water?

Is Nifong’s Blood in the Water?

Special Libertarian Librarian Correspondent John Heeder


Durham District Attorney, Mike Nifong, must be wondering if his blood is in the water. His campaign Manager, Jackie Brown, who oversaw Nifong’s primary win last month, has jumped ship on him. In fact, Ms. Brown has set up a mass mailing campaign for potential write-in candidate Lewis Cheek, to get his name on the ballot against Mike Nifong.

His own campaign manager has deserted him, just before the general election. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. His case against the Duke University Lacrosse players is on life support. (If the various players’ defense attorneys are to be believed.) The stripper who claimed rape has been painted as a, well, I just can’t bring myself to use those sort of words. Let’s just call her a lost soul.

Other than her claims, which have been challenged by a fellow stripper, there is no evidence against the Duke students. Any competent prosecutor would have dumped this case months ago. Nifong persists, and his case has steadily deteriorated.

Once again it appears that the case against the Duke students should never have been brought. Nifong’s desire to be re-elected has warped his judgment. It appears that there is no crime, and innocent college students are paying the price for Nifong’s ambitions.

Which brings up the question: what legal recourse do these students have against Nifong? It appears that the inevitable end of all this is going to be legal action against Nifong and the city of Durham.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Send Them Home – For Their Own Good

Send Them Home – For Their Own Good

Special Libertarian Librarian Correspondent John Heeder

Its time to set the slaves free. By slaves, I mean the illegal aliens this country is awash in. I’ve seen them.

In the course of pursuing a career in the software development industry, I’ve set foot in dozens of office buildings in Utah and Salt Lake County, here in the state of Utah. I’ve worked contract, and been employed by nearly 20 companies in the last ten years. In the course of seeking those jobs, or working in these buildings, there’s been one cheerless constancy in all those locations: ill-dressed, non-English speaking brown-skinned men working on the grounds or cleaning the bathrooms.

Why are they here? They’re mostly taking care of their families. Who is benefiting from their presence? Rich American landlords, and the corrupt government of Mexico. What do these men (and women) gain? A few dollars, sent to Mexico, to keep their families afloat for another week or so.

These all-but-slaves live in hovels in the bad parts of town. They are usually jammed into these places in number that exceed legal residence limitations. They are paid less than the legal minimum. They are offered no medical benefits. So how are these conditions all that different from slavery?

Not by much.

Unlike generations of other immigrants, who improved their lot for themselves and their children, these slaves never will have improved situations here in America. They send their excess funds to other countries. They’ll never save up for their own homes, higher education, good medical care, and the like. They’ll never have the money to send their kids to good colleges. They’ll stay in those hovels without hope of improvement.

As long as Mexico offers nothing for them, but is happy to ship them off to us, this problem will never be solved. As long as rich Americans and unethical civil rights activists want to use these people in various schemes, this problem will never be solved. As long as the border remains open and porous, this problem will never be solved. These poor and uneducated and unskilled of Mexico will never have a better life. Generation after generation will pass in grinding poverty and hopelessness.

Make Mexico deal with its own problems. We, the United States, are not a pressure relief valve for our southern neighbor. Build a fence along the border.

When that is done, send the slaves home – for their own good.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Steroids Investigation Hits PBS!

Even as the shockwaves from the June 7th raid of Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitcher Jason Grimsley are still being felt in the sports world, new allegations of steroid abuse are rocking the world of children’s literature and TV programming. The Libertarian Librarian was able to confirm today that the FBI agents have raided the home of Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, the studios of PBS Kids, and the offices of Scholastic Books, publishers of the Clifford books.

While there is no word yet as to the results of those searches, fellow children’s book author Maurice Sendak feels there is little doubt that Human Growth Hormone (Hgh) and other steroids will be discovered.

“Oh they’ll find growth hormone, no question,” said Sendak, exclusively to Libertarian Librarian. “The fact that Bridwell, Scholastic and PBS used Hgh and other steroids to beef Clifford up is no secret in the industry. I mean, seriously, how does a normal dog go from the size of your fist to 20-feet tall? Bridwell has always claimed that Emily Elizabeth’s love made him ‘grow so big’, but please. I’ve also heard that they had to cancel filming of new Clifford episodes because the dog is completely crippled up by years of steroid abuse.”

Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are as well as the Little Bear books, also intimated that Clifford might not be the only target in the PBS search. “It’s out of control over there. Ever since Big Bird was a success back in the late ‘70s there’s been a lot of pressure on the PBS guys to have more big animal stars.”

PBS spokesman George Shrinks, originally a one-off by William Joyce before nabbing his own show on PBS Kids, stated that Sendak’s aspersions were completely baseless. “Or course there is no steroid use at PBS,” said the six-inch tall Shrinks. “Look at me. You think I’d stay this size if I had a chance to be huge? Clifford grew so big because of Emily Elizabeth’s love, end of story. And Big Bird is just that—big. Always has been. Even as an egg. His mother had to invite over other relatives to help her keep Big Bird’s egg warm. Seriously.”

Shrinks also commented that Sendak might want to look out for his own glass house before throwing any rocks. “Maurice Sendak is one to talk. I mean, look at his characters and tell me those monsters aren’t the result of some sort of genetic engineering.”

When asked about genetic tampering allegations regarding his own creations, Sendak referred us to his lawyers.

The Howards, owners of Clifford, officially had no comment regarding the investigation. Libertarian Librarian was able to get a few quotes from Emily Elizabeth, their young daughter, who's love allegedly resulted in Clifford's phenomenal growth from tiny puppy to gargantuan red behemoth, before Mr. Howard rushed the girl inside. “I know it’s not true,” said young Emily Elizabeth—who, for reasons unknown, is always referred to by both names. “My daddy told me Clifford wouldn’t stay a scrawny little runt of a dog if only I loved him hard enough. So, that’s what I did. I loved him, and I rubbed in the special vitamin gel daddy got for Clifford every day. And it worked—my love made him grow huge.”

Libertarian Librarian will keep you posted on this important story as more details emerge.

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Well, okay, not quite yet. But I'm going on vacation after work today, and I shan't be back until the 19th. I'll pop in from time to time, but not as regularly as normal.


Once again the call goes out-- anybody want to guest blog? John H is still set up, so he can chip in whenever he'd like, but I wouldn't mind getting one or two others. Troy, Rod? Mojo? Tc?

A tc/John H tandem would be interesting-- you guys could have a bit of an online debate. Much like you did last time, only this time on the main page.

I know you are all greatly depressed by this sad and unexpected news, but struggle on as best you can-- I shall return!


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Phew! We Made It

Well, the world didn't end, so that's a relief. Anybody who bet that the world would end, you're a loser. And an idiot. I wonder what kind of odds you could have gotten on the 'World ends 06/06/06' and 'Bush's approval ratings back above 50%' parlay. Like 6 trillion to 1. Of course, you would've lost, but those odds....

So, day of the devil was pretty good to me and mine, I must say. My son played his fourth baseball game ever yesterday, and not only did he actually hit the ball (first time), he actually got a hit. Hard to describe the pride and joy you feel watching your five-year-old chugging down the first base line. I will admit I lofted a few prayers during what seemed like his five minute run from home plate to first: "Oh God, run faster!" "Lord, let the throw be wide!" "Thank you God that the first baseman couldn't handle that throw!"

You get the idea.

On top of THAT, he also got his second hit ever on his second at bat! Woot! On top of THAT, he ripped the ball really well on his third at bat (hard enough for extra bases, which is something normally reserved for the 6 and 7 year-old players). Caught. Are you kidding me? Now, you have to understand, these are 5, 6, and 7 year-olds-- that was only the third or fourth ball I've seen caught in four games. Ah well-- a hard lesson to learn, but an important one: sometimes all you can do is tell the other guy, "Nice play."

Finally, on top of all of that, his team won for the first time in four tries! I should say, our team, as I am the assistant coach-- and it is a truly wonderful feeling to see these kids playing hard, getting better, and finally winning. Some of them had never picked up a bat before. Heck, I'm not sure one or two of them had ever seen a ball before-- of any kind.

But they're getting it. Which is wonderful and alot alot of fun to watch. You can almost see things clicking into place in their little heads as the stuff that Coach Mike and I have been telling them over and over and over and over finally starts to make sense.

Ab... solute... blast!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The Jourtinel came out against the Racine Unified School District Referendum, the vote for which is occuring at this very moment. Honestly, I can only think of one other time the Jourtinel has EVER endorsed a NO vote on a spending referendum. How bad does your referendum have to be to get the Jourtinel to advise against it?

God awful terrible, I would say. Shoot yourself in the foot repeatedly bad. Rock the boat in stormy seas horrific. Really, really, really bad.


Sadly, I doubt that even the Jourtinel's recognition of RUSD's totally inept administration (as opposed to the actual teaching-- which is generally very good) will be enough to stop the referendum. The school's have been very unsubtle about making sure that every student reports home and badgers their parents to vote YES, and the mysterious 527 group Education Racine (the roots of which remain shrouded in mystery) plastered the area with misleading vote YES fliers.

But I can hope.


I Blame Al

Back in the day-- say anywhere from about the '80s through the end of the 20th century, the Democratic Party was always the fun party-- the party Party. They had candidates that knew how to party-- Gary Hart and Bill Clinton, for example. And the College Democrats on many campuses would have given the double secret probation Deltas a run for their money. Contrariwise, the Republican Party was a tight-laced, tie-wearing group of nerds-- Nixon, Ford, Reagan, GHW Bush, Bob Dole... the mind boggles.

Ever since Al Gore won his party's nomination back in '00, it's been a complete role-reversal. Gore is the antithesis of a party animal, and his wife wanted to label all those nasty rock records to save the children. John Kerry? Huh... wha? Oh sorry, drifted off there. GW Bush, meanwhile, was a college frat boy. Unsurprisingly then, there comes this.

If you're a college kid and your choice is: A) Party at the beach or B) Knock on doors and talk to the poor saps on the other side about Al Gore's movie, what percentage are going with option B? Now, I'll grant you those picking B will be very devoted to their cause, but they're still going to be outnumbered, by a huge percentage.


So Far, So Good

Though thunderstorms are approaching my location, it does not appear that they have sufficient destructive capacity to destroy me, much less the world. Fingers crossed-- there are still a number of hours left here in day 666, but I have hopes that we'll all make it through.

Interestingly, the biggest thing to happen last 666 (you know, June 6, 1906) was an explosion on the Boston subway (at least according to the June 7 NYT). Of course, nobody actually died or anything. So, if that's the best that Satan can come up with, I think we'll all be okay.

Oh, and can anyone tell me what the biggest to ever happen on June 6th was (any June 6th)?

Here's a hint.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Brewers In A Death Spiral?

It's probably a bit early to hit that particular PANIC! button, but it's getting close. The Brewers' rotation is a shambles, with injuries to #2 starter Ben Sheets, #4 starter Toma Okha, and #6 starter Rick Helling. The bullpen is getting overworked because the guys the Brewers are plugging in can't make it out of the fifth inning. Heck, often they don't make it out of the third inning, and once Ben Hendrickson managed to give up 5 runs and get pulled without getting a single out. And they just dropped four straight to the Pittsburgh Pirates-- one of the worst teams in baseball.

Their offense, which has been keeping them around .500 despite the pitching woes, went so far south you could hear didgeridoos. The Brewers scored 8 runs in the four games with the Pirates. They've lost five straight, and haven't scored more than 3 runs in any of those losses.

The other thing that had been dependable during the first quarter of the season was Derrick Turnbow, who was lights out for the first 40 games or so (12 for 12 in save opportunities). Since then, he's blown three of six save opportunities (including a must have win today) and his ERA has ballooned from 1.36 to nearly 4.

Their season is by no means lost-- they are only two games below .500-- but they can't win on the road, and if they don't get Sheets, Okha or Helling back soon they may be in too big of a hole to get out of. All of which sucks, because I'd really like to have a baseball team to root for until football rolls around again. Let me rephrase. I'd really like a GOOD baseball team to root for until football rolls around again.


The Bonds Non-call

So, Barroid Bonds finally hit #715 a few days ago, thus passing Hank Aaron for second place all-time on the home run list. I don't like Bonds (does anybody?), and I think his feat is tainted by steroids (doesn't everybody?), so I didn't especially care when it happened-- particularly since it was for 2nd place. But after the fact, I heard the audio of the playcall on the historic 715th dinger-- or rather I heard the non-playcall, since the play-by-play microphone goes dead right in the middle of the call of that homerun.

Wow, spooky. Were the baseball gods saying, "Pay no attention to the cheater rounding the bases, he will be punished in due time?" Was it really just a technical glitch at the worst possible time as the Giants' media people claim? Steve Czaban thinks that's unlikely (scroll down a little)-- particularly since none of the other microphones went dead.

Or was it something more calculated-- a producer that doesn't like Bonds and can just be seen on that grassy noll over there? I don't know, but having heard the classic call of Aaron's 715th dinger, I can say that I don't mind that Barroid's call has been banished for all-time, no matter the reason.

It just feels right.


Jason Alexander, Don Rickles' Love Child

I watched the first installment of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown last night, and George Costanza... err... Jason Alexander was one of the five celebrities. A polite way of describing his behavior was slightly in-your-face heckling of his fellow celebrities. A more accurate way of describing it would be "big fat jerk." Down right rude on a few occassions. But funny-- well, mostly. Pretty well sums up Don Rickles' schtick, no?

And then there's this:

I should note that I really enjoy poker, both playing and watching, and I particularly enjoy the Celebrity Poker Showdown because of the interaction between the B/C List stars. That said, it is quite beyond me why Bravo switched from poker pro Phil Gordon (co-host for the previous six) editions of the show) to poker pro Phil Hellmuth. Hellmuth's actual poker credentials are much better than Gordon's (heck, with nine WSOP bracelets they're better than virtually everyone's), but Gordon's not exactly a slouch. And Hellmuch is a step backwards on all other counts. Gordon is more telegenic, his voice is much better suited to being a television commentator (Hellmuth's is whiny even when he isn't fully involved in one of his famous "poker brat" meltdowns), and there was a good chemistry between Gordon and co-host Dave Foley. No such chemistry (yet, perhaps it was first show jitters) between Hellmuth and Foley-- it was almost painful to watch their segments, something that was never the case with Gordon and Foley.

On top of that, Gordon was better at couching his poker tips and strategies in layman's terms, and much better at tactfully dealing with the celebrities that join the co-hosts in the "loser's lounge" after they are knocked out of the poker showdown. Interestingly, Gordon still lists CPS as an active venture on his website, so it doesn't seem like he got bored with it and chose not to re-up. Why the switch, then?


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