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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Favre on Acid!

Well, okay, not really. But it's hard to believe that he isn't on some sort of serious hallucenagenic drug when he says that this year's Packer squad is the most talented group he's ever played with.

Let's see. No guarentees at running back. Check. Offensive line still a huge questionmark. Check. No proven receiver behind Donald Driver, who really out to be a great #2 guy, not an average #1 guy. Check. No real improvement on a D-Line that was pitiful last year. Check. Brand new coaching staff on both sides of the ball. Check.

I'm glad Favre is optimistic, and I hope that the team is at least fun to watch this year (something they very much weren't last year), but... most talented group he's had in GB?

That's some good stuff he's dropping there, dude. Seriously good stuff.


Brewers Make the Move

Trading Carlos Lee to the Rangers for a bunch of guys I have never heard of, but who have so far been quite impressive. And given the near miracle work Doug Melvin has done in both Atlanta and here in Milwaukee, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until it is proven to be a bad deal. I still doubt that the Brewers can make a legitimate run at the playoffs, but the National League is so bloody weak this year, that it is just barely possible.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday's List

Yes, after a long and uneventful hiatus, Friday's List returns! In honor of training camps opening, here's my top 15 list of Fantasy Football running backs this year. I may do a top 15 all-time down the road a piece. But that would require research and stuff.

15. Willis McGahee. If Buffalo had a QB, he'd probably be higher. But they don't, so he isn't. Actually, he mostly made it into the top-15 because everyone else has even bigger questions about them as we enter the 2006 campaign.
14. Willie Parker. The question is, will wee Willie Parker get the rock more at the goal line now that the Big Bad Bus has retired? Personally, I don't think so, but I think Parker will begin to put up Tiki Barberesque numbers this year and get 10+ TDs anyway-- most of them from beyond 15 yards.
13. Brian Westbrook. Has the talent to be higher-- but unfortunately he's played for Andy Reid the past few years where the run to pass ratio is about 1-6.35 million. Gets bumped up in leagues that accord yardage more emphasis than TDs.
12. Rueben Droughns. This is higher than most folks have him, but I really think Droughns is the complete package on an improving team.
11. Cadillac Williams. Wore down and then got broke for a bit last year, but with a new year, he should return to his early '05 form. And with Chucky running the show, he should wrack up yards and TDs.
10. Ronnie Brown. The kid has skills and won't have to share the rock with The Toker any more. With a legit passing game, the running lanes shouldn't be quite so clogged, either.
9. Domanick Davis. If he can play a whole season, he'll be most excellent for your team. But he still has to run behind Houston's offensive line, so that's not a small IF. I'll be curious to see if any of the fans' wrath over not having Reggie Bush falls on Davis.
8. Steven Jackson. The departure of Mike Martz will likely help Jackson's stats-- and he certainly has the talent to produce a lot of stats.
7. Lamont Jordan. Had a very good year last year. This year, I think he'll have a great one.
6. Edgerrin James. If he weren't playing for Arizona, I'd probably put him at #4. But he is playing for the Cardinals, so he's luck y to be this high.
5. Tiki Barber. Somehow manages to put up gaudy stats year in and year out. I guess he's just such a good guy you don't hear about him as much as some of the big mouths. Squeaky wheels and grease and all that.
4. Clinton Portis. Not in the same category as the top 3, but in a very good system for his skills.
3. LaDanian Tomlinson. The #1 guy for the past few years, LT slips to #3 on the basis of a questionable QB and the sheer awesomeness of the two guys in front of him.
2. Shaun Alexander. He only set a record for number of touchdowns in a season last year. You'd think that would get you the #1 spot the following year, wouldn't you? Not quite. Though it was very close.
1. Larry Johnson. Any RB with any talent at all that runs in the K.C. offensive scheme will be a top-10 back. Larry Johnson has a LOT of talent. He may challenge Shaun Alexander's newly minted season touchdown record this year.

Go Pack Go!


Let the Stupidity Begin!

Camps are opening all over the land, and thus begins the annual tradition of holding out. The really stupid annual tradition.

Now, I realize that the owners hold most of the cards in negotiations, and that unlike the NBA or MLB, NFL contracts are not guarenteed (except the signing bonus), but you're still getting paid handsomely to play a game. And holding out often seems to lead to poor conditioning and subsequent injury. Plus, you are labeled as a bit of a malcontent-- thus lowering your marketability later on.

This is all doubly true for rookies-- because no matter what you bargain for as a rookie, it will pale beside what you will get as a 3rd or 4th year pro that has performed well to exceptionally well. Holding out as a rookie is about the stupidest thing you can do. It retards your ability to get up to NFL speed, it labels you as a whiner, and, in the long run, it will likely actually cost you money as you lose out on millions to scratch out and extra $500K now.

There are exceptions-- talents like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens continue to get lucrative contract offers despite their childlike personalities and penchant for taken plays-- heck, whole series and even games-- off. But for most NFL players, the small short term gain from holding out is simply not worth the long-term loss.

All of which is relative, of course. A one-week holdout at the start of training camp is not a big deal relative to a hold out that lasts until opening day or even into the regular season. So, the following list is, at this point, merely a listing of potential morons. The level of moronicness is yet to be determined:

So, there's my preliminary Stupid Brigade. No doubt there will be other maroons to add as more training camps open.

I just can't wait to hear all those poor babies complain about being underpaid and overworked. Sniff. Just breaks your heart, doesn't it?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Forks at the Ready!

Stick 'Em! The Brewers that is. They are done. 4-8 since the All-Star break, and their bullpen looking worse by the outing-- which is impressive. But not in a good way. Started their homestand by losing two out of three to the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates, owners of the worst record in the National League and the worst road record of any team in the majors.

The big saving grace for the Brewers was going to be the return of Ben Sheets and Toma Okha to the starting rotation. "Just hang on 'til they return!" was the rallying cry. Well, Okha has pitched two beautiful games, but D-Bow blew one of them, and Sheets pitched a gem on Tuesday-- 1 run through seven innings-- and Dave Bush promptly coughed up 4 runs in the eighth.

So much for that theory.

I'd like to think that now, at long last, we know that we're sellers (a poor team that can trade a player to a competing team for prospects) not buyers (ie., the NY Yankees) since we are 6 games under. And if we're sellers, not buyers-- if we've given up on this season and are focusing on the future-- then we can trade Carlos Lee for... well... quite a lot I should think. He's one of the top sluggers in the league, and a decent to above average left fielder.

I'd like to think that... but all indications are that the Brewers aren't going to trade him. Why not? I have no freadin' idea.

The only thing I can figure is that trading Carlos would be bad PR and hurt box office receipts. And it may well do that. In the short term. But if you get a good bullpen guy and a couple of prospect for Lee, you'll be filling up those seats for many years to come as the Brewers make a legitimate push to be a playoff caliber squad.

Meanwhile-- stab them with your steely foks!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On Appeasement

A timely essay by Orson Scott Card. I don't wholly agree with OSC's lauding of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq-- and I still wish Don Rumsfeld would get the axe-- but the argument against appeasement has never been stronger.

I am a strong proponent of compromise and moderation-- but those words only make sense when both sides are willing to honor their side of the compromise and both sides back down from their extreme positions. The Palestinians have never honored their side of any compromise, and far from backing down from their extremism, Iraeli appeasement actually seems to have ramped up Palestinian rhetoric and bloodthirst by several notches.

There can be no negotiation with those without honor or compunction. You cannot appease terrorists. You can only root them out and crush them.

We must remember the lessons of World War II-- the parallels with the present situation are too stark to be ignored.

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Lieberman and Lamont Update

Joe has Bubba out campaigning for him now. Does Clinton still have a lot of cachet with Democrats? Probably, probably. The man veritably oozes charimsa.

Only two weeks until Connecticut's primary-- and polls put the race at a dead heat. Fascinating. Truly fascinating.

And disturbing. Lieberman is a good guy and a fair-minded moderate. He's been called a Kennedy Democrat, and I think that's a reasonably accurate description. Not many of those left, and I despair for our country if the opposition party to the ridiculously socially conservative, yetfically out-of-control, Republicans throws him out for a loony lefty who has no real positions beyond "I hate Bush" and "Let's pull our troops out of Iraq ASAP."


Summertime Blahs

I know I haven't been posting much lately-- bad case of the summertime blahs has set in. Weather is hot and sticky, my allergies are bugging me, and it's just a lot easier to watch poker on TV or do some routine stuff at the office than to try and be creative. Just so that I'm not a total wanker, here's the list of 11 finalists to replace Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner:

Umm... never mind. Seems that nobody knows who's on that list of 11. Including the NFL Owners who are supposed to vote on it in two weeks. There are times when the NFL really does remind you of a severly autocratic, arbitrary theocracy whose policies and procedures are so murky as to be pretty much opaque. Then you watch the games and draft your fantasy football teams and somehow offering up your allegiance to the high-priests of football seems a small price to pay to get that junkie fix you've been craving for seven months.

Training camps start opening this week. The Hall of Fame game is a week from Sunday (Oak v. Phi).

King Football Returns!


Friday, July 21, 2006

About That House

Remember back in June when I advised betting your house that Tiger Woods would win the U.S. Open? Well, that was a typo. I meant the Open. The one over across that big pond thingie. 'Cause Woods is dialed in through two rounds at that Open, -12 and holding a one stroke lead over The Big Easy, Ernie Els.

All that stuff about Woods winning one for his dad? I meant to write that there's no way Woods would fail to defend his 2005 British Open title. Yeah, yeah. That's it.

So, did you bet your house on Woods winning the British Open like I told you too?


Thursday, July 20, 2006

What Is It With the Jews?

Why do people hate them so much? Honestly, I just don't get it. I understand that religion can be divisive, and the more fanatically held the belief, the more likely it is to engender atrocities, death and murder, but why have the Jews been such a target of other religions? Especially given that Judaism is the root of both Christianity and Islam.

I suspect they've just always been an easy target for those seeking a scapegoat on which to fix the public's wrath. Certainly that's part of it. But the amount of anti-semitic propaganda throughout history-- the vileness and nearly constant presence of it-- is really quite startling. And disturbing.

Recently I suppose some of the vitroil is a byproduct of Israel's strong ties to the U.S.-- two for one! Hate the zionist pigs and the western capitalist devils all at the same time!-- but still I find it puzzling how many people feel sympathy for the Palestinians and nothing but antipathy for the Israelites.

For example, check out the letters the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published yesterday in their "Your Opinion" section. Five letters and every single one of them condemns the Israeli response to some degree. Only one of the five even mentions that the conflict was started (in a relative sense-- in reality the conflict has been going on for centuries) by Hezbollah terrorists capturing Israeli soldiers during an illegal raid into Israel. Not one of them mentions the near constant barrage of rockets being launched from Lebanon into Northern Israel-- with absolutely no regard for who or what the rockets strike.

There are two main reasons the death toll is higher on the Palestinian side than the Israeli side. 1) The Palestinians mostly live in sqalor, victims of their despotic and terrorist sponored governments, and are much more vulnerable to fire, explosions and disruptions of their infrastructure because everything is old and poorly maintained where it exists at all. 2) The Palestinians have absolutely no idea what they are shooting at, quite often lobbing their rockets into areas without any people or buildings to hit. Of course, sometimes they kill their fellow arabs, as well, but we don't hear about that.

And if the skew of the opinion letters the Journal Sentinel elects to print isn't bad enough, there's always the article from the L.A. Times they choose to run on the front page. The article contains extensive and detailed descriptions of the horrors being suffered by the Lebanese because of Israeli attacks, but mentions the rocket attacks of Hezbollah on Israel in one, dismissive sentence:
Tens of thousands of Israelis also have fled their homes, to escape Hezbollah rocket attacks, but they have not suffered the food, water and medical shortages facing the Lebanese.
Because their country isn't dirt poor and run by Syrian thugs. But that is no doubt Israel's fault as well. Another curious line in the L.A. Times piece:
The most harrowing reports emerged from the Hezbollah-dominated southern region closest to the Israeli border, where residents have been trapped in bomb shelters and basements for nearly a week while earth-shaking battles raged outside.
Likely true enough, but strange that the article doesn't mention almost the exact same harrowing conditions in the cities of northern Israel. To wit, this description from the Jerusalem Post:
Nahariya Mayor Jackie Sabag said the whole town has shut down, with businesses closed. Sabag urged all residents to comply with army orders to stay in underground shelters. All soldiers serving in Northern Command Headquarters in Safed also went down to shelters due to Katyusha attacks.
Well, the hyperbole is lacking, but you get the idea. Apparently the fact that the Lebanese are suffering more because their country is a mess and the crazed militants that are allowed to roam freely there have abducted two soldiers from a neighboring country is completely beside the point.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Johnny Depp: Saving the Globe!

There is clear and hypothetical evidence that the
number of pirates is inversely correlated with global temperatures-- more pirates, lower global temperatures, less pirates, higher global temperatures.

The connection is undeniable. Big kudos to Johnny Depp, then, for almost single handedly bringing coolness back to being a pirate. Jack Sparrow, despite the eyeliner and foppishness, is undeniably one hip pirate. Sparrow has caught the world's imagination and consequently greatly increased the interest in pirates and the number of young people dressing as pirates.

Unfortunately, global temperature changes do not occur overnight, so the impact of the increase in piratology may not be felt for a while. And if this type of behavior:

is to continue, one blockbuster sequel will be insufficient to tip the balance. We need more pirates!

Why Al Gore is wasting his time talking about emission standards and public transportation is beyond me. The man is missing the obvious. All we really need to do is go here, and purchase a pirate costume. Especially the women-- we need way more pirate women in the world.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Those Loveable Losers...

The Cubs. Sitting on a scintilating 35-55 record, they take a 5-2 lead into the sixth inning only to emerge from that inning behind 13-5. They gave up not one but TWO grand salamis in the inning, plus a two-run shot. Sixteen Mets batted in the inning.

Couldn't happen to a nicer team.

Well, maybe the Yankees. Yeah, the Yankees would've been better. But other than that, 11 runs against in one inning was pretty sweet.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Summerfest Summary

For those of you unwashed heathen that are without knowledge-- Summerfest is a yearly music festival held on Milwaukee's lake front. It's eleven days long and roughly a million people go each year. It truly is the world's biggest music festival.

I was not able to make the big gig this year, sadly. But everybody's favorite liberal, temporary costello, was there with a vengeance. And he blogged it. Most cool. Check it out to get a small taste of what makes Summerfest the most awesomest party/music event/food fair/drunk fest in the world. Oh, and to see a pic of tc his ownself.

Nice work, tc.


Now THAT's Inflation

No point or anything here, just an interesting observation. During the course of researching for a book I'm working on, I noted that in 1864 the taxes (state and local) on a 40 acre farm (house, barn, the works) in the area where I live were around $20 a year. Last year, I paid about $2300 on my house and 3/4 of an acre of land. So I paid 115 times as much for less than a tenth of the land.

I have no idea what $20 in 1864 compares to in 2006 dollars, but I just found the difference fascinating. And if you don't, you're a ninny, so there.

UPDATE: According to this web page (and I have no idea if it's accurate), $20 in 1864 is worth about $300 today. Do you think if I sent in $300 for my taxes that the state would mind?


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rolling Fast?

That's the newest concept from the Left (warning to John-- if Andrew Sullivan made you feel dirty, do NOT click on the link as it leads to Michael Moore's website) to protest the War in Iraq. Instead of fasting until you are near death, as Gandhi did, you take a break for a few hours, maybe a day or two. Tim Blair's take (safe for hard-right viewing) on the phenomenon is priceless. Actually, Blair has been on a serious roll lately-- I love his "headlines". Very Onionesque, though the creepy bit is that all the stories are real.

I must also state that my sympathy for Cindy Sheehan is officially worn out. The woman is nuts, so far off the rails that she can't even see the embankment the tracks run on any more. Anybody that can write some as idiotic as this:
Standing apart from our hundreds of supporters were about a dozen Freepers who were holding various signs (which is as much there right, as it is ours) with very "clever" messages on them. A few of the signs had the very pithy "Freedom Isn't Free." Well, I'm sorry, but the very definition of freedom is that it is free. Freedom is a birthright of every American and we have the Bill of Rights to prove it. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anywhere that our young people have to fight insane wars for greedy swine to earn anyone any kind of freedoms. If freedom wasn't free it would be called "expensivedom."
is too stupid to engender anything but pity and scorn. The very definition of freedom is that YOU are free, not that IT is free. Free to be a moron and free to make ridiculous statements. When freedom isn't free it isn't called "expensivedom" you dolt, it IS called tyranny, or alternatively, Communism.

Apparently to Sheehan, only Americans have the right to be free-- after all, we're the only ones who have a Bill of Rights. Lucky for her she was born in America. Lucky for her, the sons and daughters, husbands and wives who lived in the American Colonies in the 18th century didn't take freedom for granted and were willing to fight to keep it.

Lucky for her there are braver, smarter, and less selfish people in the world willing to protect freedom even for people as dreadfully short-sighted, intolerant, and depressingly stupid as Cindy Sheehan.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

On Hamden and stuff

UPDATE: As to why I worry about signficant increases in Executive Power, well, Andrew Sullivan has several posts that illustrate why I have issues with this Administration. You can see them here, here, and here. John is excused if he does not have access to a shower immediately available. Note: These are not specifically related to Hamden.

Mojo and John both had fairly strongly felt responses to my contention that the Hamden ruling was a good one as it demonstrated, to me at least, that our system of checks and balances is working appropriately. John throws in a John Yoo quote, which I basically disregard. Mr. Yoo is about as partison in favor of military tribunals and expanded powers for the Presidency as tc is against them. Though he has better credentials.

Mojo has lots to say, and as usual, his arguments are persuasive. He has, apparently, actually read the entire Supreme Court ruling, something which, I admit, I have not even contemplated. He uses various precedents from previous times of conflict, and finds that the majority of the blame for the military tribunal fracas to be the fault of Congress. Mojo also details some of Hamden's peers in Gitmo-- which, while illustrative of just what it is we are facing, has no real bearing, as even the most despicable murderer has a right to a fair trial under our rule of law.

Which, for me, sans reading the entire Court opinion, is the root of the thing. The military tribunals were ill-defined, secretive, and smelled distinctly of kangaroo court. Perhaps it is the fault of Congress. I don't really care whose fault it is-- my point is that the Supreme Court recognized that there was a big loophole and they denied the President access to that loophole unless and until Congress clarifies the situation. Alternatively, the Attorney General may seek to prosecute the detainees through our regular court system rather than through military justice channels.

I probably muddled the picture by mentioning the torture issue, but I did so because I find the Administration's stance there to be similar to their stance with Hamden and many of the other Gitmo detainees. Basically this: "We're going to do what we want to do in absence of compelling arguments or legal restrictions to the contrary." There is a compelling argument to be made for increasing the severity and frequency of "coercive interrogation" in a world where al-Qaida with nukes might well equal millions dead. But we can not win a war against a vicious, unprincipled enemy by becoming vicious, unprincipled killers ourselves. It is in the interest of the Executive Branch to push for as much power to protect the country as possible. It is in the interest of the other two branches, and the country, to make sure that those pushes are closely overseen and that newly granted powers are not abused.

Finally, Mojo asks me four questions. I have not read as deeply as he, and perhaps I am a blind dupe of the mainstream media's spin of Hamden and related issues. Personally, I don't think so. Personally, I think I read widely enough, and think things through thoroughly enough, to feel fairly confident that, while my analysis may not be DOBA, it is a reasonably good synthesis of the overall gobblygook.

But I could be wrong.

Okay, the questions:

Where were the balance of power issues?

The balance of power issues are primarily in the defining of the President's powers during times of war. Our enemy in this war is unique, and the end point of said war is about as ill-defined as such a thing can be. It is the nature of the Executive Branch to push for expanded powers during times of war-- this is well established, and completely acceptable. The problem being that with an ill-defined end point, where do we draw the line on when the President can define things the way he wishes? When do expanded powers cease to be of military significance, perhaps necessity, and become peace time over-reach by the executive branch?

Defining the how, what and where of the tribunals for detainees that aren't exactly prisoners of war, but aren't citizens (covered under U.S. legal and civil codes) is uncharted territory. In a time of war, perhaps there is a pressing need to have those trials expediently and even secretly. But at some point, that pressing need is no longer so pressing, and, to me, that is essentially what Hamden said-- there is no need to proceed without clarification and increased transparency.

What actions on the part of the President constituted a sidestepping of legal strictures?

Using war time powers to establish military tribunals for detainees that aren't really prisoners of war. I don't think the President did anything criminal. I don't really think he did anything wrong, per se, but the precedent established was dangerous, in my opinion. Secret military courts with little or no civilian oversight for individuals who are defined as "suspicious" by the military is pushing the envelope too far, in my opinion. And in the Court's as well.

How was Hamdan a rebuff to those sidestepping actions?

As Mojo himself states, it throws it back to the President to have Congress clarify the situation or to use other means to prosecute the case. This is how it is supposed to work-- there is a gray area, one branch attempts to define that gray area, and an individual or group who feels that their rights are being trampled unduly by that branch's decision, petitions the appropriate other branch for redress.

What policies, orders, or statutes can be cited which show a denial or circumvention of due process rights to those who are afforded such rights?

Um... I think I answered this above, though I cannot cite specific "policies, orders or statutes" for you. Military detainees must have some rights-- they can't simply be non-persons. Either they are covered by the military code of justice or by U.S. criminial and civil code. Simply making them disappear is exactly what we opposed when we liberated Iraq-- it's what tyrants and tyrannies do-- even if they do it with the best interests of their country in mind.

I'm not saying George Bush is a tyrant. I think he's attempting to do his best to protect our country, and I think he is pushing hard to get as many tools as possible to do that. That's his job. It is the job of Congress and the Supreme Court to tell him when and how what he is asking for is inappropriate and out of line with what our country believes in and stands for.

A fine line to be sure, and a moving one, but I am encouraged by the Hamden decision because from my viewpoint, things worked just as they were designed to by our Founding Fathers. 230 years later, in a vastly different world, our system of checks and balanceds still works.

And that's a very good thing.

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The Rabid Left

They are gunning for Joe Lieberman, one of the few Senators that actually seems to take principled stances and is willing to work with Republicans to get things done. He's also taken the positions that ousting Saddam was a good thing, that leaving Iraq too soon would be disastrous, and that the President has the right to nominate whom he pleases and that they should be confirmed barring significant and substatntial cause to the contrary.

What a heathen.

When Russ Feingold strays from the party fold, he's a visionary, a stout-hearted man unafraid to stand on principle. When Feingold foists a really crappy piece of legislation on us in combination with Republican John McCain, nobody seems to hold him accountable.

The difference? Feingold disagrees with the President on nearly every issue, says so loudly and often, and that galvanizes the far-left of the Democratic Party. Lieberman has the gall to believe that George Bush isn't always wrong and that there's more to running the government than bellyaching from the sidelines while you try to hamstring whatever it is the other side is trying to accomplish.


Interestingly, in the Time article linked above, there is a quote from Ned Lamont-- Lieberman's opponent in the primary-- but none from Joe himself. It's possible that Lieberman declined comment, but given that a blurb in Time is free campaign fodder, it seems really unlikely. It seems much more likely that Time never actually asked Lieberman what his thoughts on Lamont were.

For the record, I've always like Joe Lieberman. I think he's a decent guy, who usually does try to do what he feels is best, and I appreciate the fact that he attempts to govern rather than just crab and wail about the other side. Also for the record, I feel much the same way about Russ Feingold, although I disagree much more vehemently with most of his actual positions these days.

Also, also for the record, this is a great quote from Lieberman:

"I know George Bush. I've worked against George Bush. I've even run against George Bush. But Ned, I'm not George Bush," Lieberman said during the debate, televised nationally by MSNBC and C-SPAN. "So why don't you stop running against him and have the courage and honesty to run against me and the facts of my record."
And still more for the record, despite what the Time article might lead you to believe, Lamont did not come to his $90-$300 million bank account through starting his own business. He inherited it via being the grandson of a former chairman of J.P. Morgan (about 1/3 of the way into the article). He is, in fact, a privileged son of wealth. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it does take a little shine off of his everyman/businessman underdog image.

It is stunning to me that there is a significant quantity of lefties out there that really don't like Joe Lieberman and are willing to risk losing the seat altogher because Joe isn't as rabid as they are. Especially for Ned Lamont, who seems dreadfully underwhelming to me.



Saturday, July 08, 2006

Brewers at the Break

Okay, okay, there's still a games to go before the All-Star Break, but I think some conclusions can be drawn about the team nonetheless. tc wanted to bet me that the Brewers wouldn't make the playoffs, and I declined, mostly because only four teams from each league get to go. But they have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs. Not a great shot, but a legitimate shot.

The Good:

The Bad:

So, we'll see. I don't think they will make a run for the playoffs, but I think they have the talent to stay in the chase. And if things click right... well, who knows. Mainly, they have to figure out how to win on the road. If they can play .500 on the road from here on in, they'll be in the mix at the end of the season.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Milwaukee is Sinking

At least, it is according to the lawsuit that Wispark has filed with the state. That suit claims that the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewarage District (MMSD) is to blame, since they attribute the sinking-- and subsequent damage to their building-- to MMSD's deep tunnel and it's engineering. Or lack thereof.

To review, the deep tunnel was MMSD's solution to rampant sewage dumping back in the '90s. The problem is that Milwaukee's sewers are combined with its rain water run off system, so when there were hard rains, the rainwater would overwhelm MMSD's ability to treat the water and large quantities of partially treated or completely untreated sewage would wind up in Lake Michigan. One solution to that problem was to separate the sewage and runoff lines, but that would've been really expensive, and since the suburbs have separated lines, the cost would've wound up exclusively on the city.

So instead they dug the $2.5 billion deep tunnel, which is essentially a gianormous, 405 million gallon, holding tank. A holding tank under downtown Milwaukee which serves most of Milwaukee County and parts of Waukesha County, so they could spread that cost around to communities outside of the city proper. Anyway, the deep tunnel is meant to hold the excess rainwater and sewage during and after storms until the treatment plant can catch up with the overage. The theory is explained here, if you're curious. I say theory, because in practice, the deep tunnel has only helped reduce the problem, about 86%, not solve it-- something which separated sewers would have accomplished.

But even if you are willing to say that $2.5 billion is worth it for an 86% reduction, it now seems that when they dug/built the tunnel they did a pretty lousy job. It leaks, and consequently the ground around it is shifting and sinking. And so are many of the buildings above it.

The above mentioned lawsuit is only for about $11 million, but you can bet that if the plaintifs win there will be plenty of other property owners in downtown Milwaukee queuing up to sue for damages to their buildings. Not to mention the legal fees the tax payers are absorbing as MMSD tries to point the finger at everybody and anybody but themselves.

And so Milwaukee continues to sink, both figuratively and literally.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy 230th!

I was too busy enjoying the fruits of the labors of millions of our predecessors here in the U.S. to blog yesterday, so a belated Happy Birthday to America! 230 years and counting (official like-- for European settlement, we're closing in on 400 years), which is not too shabby, though somewhat pale in comparison to many of the countries in Europe.

Still, the Fourth of July is a wonderful day-- most (all?) of those older countries can't really point to a date and say, "That's when we were born. That's our country's birthday." When would England put that day? When the Romans left? When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church? When their constitutional monarchy was established? There is no definitive date.

Kinda cool, no? The Fourth, in addition to being a day off from work to grill, drink beer, and light off small packages of explosive materials (all of which I did yesterday), is a chance to celebrate our past and to remember what makes this country great. Simply put, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

We get bogged down in the trivialities and the miasma of contentious politics, and I'll admit I'm waiting for someone to sound the clarion call to get back to those basics, but despite it all, that's still what this country is all about. We need to remember that, and we need to hold our leaders to account when they lose focus-- or when they never had it to begin with.

So, I hope you all enjoyed the Fourth (even those of you hinterlanders who live in other benighted parts of the globe-- I kid, I kid), and regardless of whether you are American or not, I hope we can all remember the importance of Thomas Jefferson's words.

People are people. We are flawed, we are majestic, we are vain, we are selfless, we are stupid, we are brilliant, we are funny and we are annoying. Nobody has a headlock on the truth-- but if we remember what the important things are and avoid getting lost in the dross of life, we'll be okay. The Framers new that-- they let the little things (even the big things-- like slavery) slide so as to get the important things done. It's worked for 230 years, and I see no reason it can't work for another 230 as long as we don't lose touch with our roots. With our values.

With our history.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

17 Days to Camp

The Cleveland Browns open their training camp on July 23rd, a mere 17 days from now, albeit only for the rookies. Football, the king of sports, is almost back kiddies.

Here are some key questions to ponder as the new season looms-- discuss amongst yourselves:


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