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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Big Game Tonight

The Wisconsin Badgers are currently the #2 men's basketball team in the country. Highest ranking ever for the team. Rarified and heady air. They are riding a 17 game win streak, longest in school history and longest active streak in men's basketball this year. Dizzying stuff. They have beaten Ohio State (#4) and Pittsburgh (#7) at home and Marquette (#15) and Georgia (who has beaten LSU and Kentucky on Georgia's home court) on the road. Crazy good stuff. They are 7-0 in the Big 10. Hard to wrap your head around.

But an awful lot of fun if you live in Wisconsin.

Tonight the Badgers travel to Indiana, to face the #25 ranked team in the country in a building where the Hoosiers have yet to lose this year. Tough, tough road match-up.

Go Bucky!


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hurry Back Mike!

The Bucks have been in freefall since losing Michael Redd. They had climbed a game over .500 and seemed to be geling as a team, then Redd goes down and they are 2-11 since. As I write this they are getting drubbed by Miami by 23 in the second quarter. They were down by 21 at the end of the first quarter.

Ye gods.

If there's a silver lining it's that the loss of Redd has forced Andrew Bogut to step up as a scorer, and if Bogut can become a solid 17 point/10 rebound guy for the Bucks, they will be a good team when Redd returns. 'Course, by then it might not matter any more, even in the weak Eastern Conference.



Jim Doyle's Nanny State

Our governor wants to ban smoking in all public places throughout the state. Hee haw. Gotta protect us from ourselves, eh, Jimmy Boy? Funny, though, that we haven't banned any other vices that are bad for the user and those around him or her-- alcohol, gambling, over-eating, watching too much TV, wearing ugly clothes.

We should ban all of those, too, don't you think? I mean, alcohol has a lot of bad health effects, and I'm pretty sure that it's easier to verify the number of people injured or killed by drunk drivers than it is the number of people injured or killed by second-hand smoke. Let's ban alcohol in all public places. Oh wait, the Tavern League of Wisconsin is pretty tight with the state legislature, huh? And they already don't like the ban on smoking proposal, so banning alcohol probably won't fly. Okay, well lets skip that one, then.

But gambling! Hoooo Nelly, that's a bad 'un. People gambling away welfare checks and mortgage payments. Students robbing people to get money for their gambling addiction. Let's ban that, too. Oh, wait. The casino interests in Wisconsin donated a lot of money to you, didn't they Jimbo? Nearly a million schamolians it seems. Okay, well, let's not ban that vice, then.

Over-eating! Ban all fast food establishments in Wisconsin except Subway! Fast food is bad for us, and the health care costs for overweight people is skyrocketing-- nearly as great as the costs from smoking. Fix this problem, Jim my man, by making Wisconsin a model of health consciousness. Never mind the billions of dollars of revenue you'll suck out of our state-- we need to set a precedent!

And TV! Zoinks. Ban TV, ban all video games. Save the children for God's Sake why aren't we doing something to save the children! Ban it, ban it, ban it! Stop the insanity-- make those children be active. State law, all children must be active for three hours every day. 15 jumping jacks each morning. Ten push ups before bed. SET THE F*ING STANDARDS HIGH JIM!

And please, please, while your out there doing the age old job of governments to protect people from themselves, PLEASE ban all the ugly clothes out there these days.

We're gonna be a model state, baybee!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Can't Win for Losing

Just when I'm starting to feel like I made a major mistake voting for G.W. in the last election, I see something like this and I realize that it was a no win situation. Kerry might not have been as bad as Bush, but seeing him hanging with people like Khatami certainly leaves doubt, and indeed makes me wonder if he might not have been worse than Bush. Hard as that is to imagine given how badly Bush has bolloxed things up.


If the next presidential election is Obama vs. McCain, I'll probably vote major party-- though I'm not certain which way-- but if it features any of the other mainline candidates, I'm writing in my brother. He'd make a good president. I'd feel bad for him, since the job is thankless and wears you out, but he'd make a good president. And we could use one of those right now.


Immutable Laws of Nature

There are quite a few of these, dating back to Newton and the boys. An object in motion tends to stay in motion while an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Energy can be changed from one form to another but it cannot be destroyed. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

To these, I append the following:

For every table in a common area there will be a number of pieces of gum stuck to the bottom of the table proportionate to the number of people using the common area in a given period of time.

Boil it all down, and I think it basically comes to this: For every 1,000 people sitting at a table in a year, one piece of gum will accrue to the bottom of the table.

I base this law on the observation of tables here at UW-Parkside. We are currently remodeling/expanding our student union, and consequently all of the tables that were housed in the old union are currently stacked along the walls of the hallways that traverse the basement level of the univeristy. These hallways are almost never used by students, but they are very wide-- about 15 feet across-- making them an excellent place to stick tables that are not currently in use. And if you stack one table upside down on another table, you can fit twice as many tables in the little warren of hallways running beneath the university's buildings.

And, since they are upside down and at about waist level, you can easily see-- far, far too easily, trust me-- all of the little lumps of dead gum that students have left on the undersides of all the tables. Blech. Truly disgusting-- but completely universal. There isn't a single table that doesn't have at least five or six pieces of gum stuck to it, and many have a dozen or more.

The tables are new since I started working here, so less than six years old, and I would estimate that a 1,000 people a year at a table is a reasonable estimate, though it might be a bit higher. Actually, now that I think about it, the number of pieces of gum may be dependent on other variables-- demographics of the population sitting at the tables, official efforts to stomp out gum sticking, availability of gum, etc.-- but the basic premise that tables in public areas will develop gum adhesions is incontrovertible in my mind. So, the next time you sit down at a table in a public area, just remember what is lurking just above your kneecaps.

And shudder.

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Monday, January 22, 2007


Dennis the Peasant, who hasn't been posting a lot lately, minces no words and takes no prisoners in a recent post ripping some of the right-wing bloggers. I wouldn't be quite so vehement in my criticisms, but I found his take interesting and amusing.


Congrats, Mr. Dungy

While the Bears v. New Orleans game was pretty much a snoozer, the Pats v. Colts game had just about everything in it. The only thing missing was Adam Viantieri, formerly of the Pats and now with the Colts, either making or missing the game-winning kick with no time left on the clock. That would have been perfect.

But it was a fun game to watch regardless, and I'm very happy the Colts won on a number of levels. Chief reason is my dislike for Bill Bellichick, and my tiredness with the Pats being in the Super Bowl all the time. I am a fan of parity, and I am a fan of fresh blood in the big games-- except for my home teams. If any of them want to set up shop as a full-fledged dynasty, I'm good with that, hypocrisy be damned.

The Colts' victory was nice in a number of other ways, as well. I like Tony Dungy and I don't think he gets enough credit, so having him win against the team that has taken the Colts out several times was excellent. And now, though I don't personally care too much about it one way or the other, all the "Peyton Manning can't win the big game" blabbermouths can kindly stop gabbing and find a new hobby horse to ride.

And there's the African-American coach angle, which is nice, but which I'm afraid we'll be hearing far too much about in the next two weeks. Seriously, racial equality will be a reality in America when the fact that there are two minority coaches in the Super Bowl is no big deal. Or when the fact that a minority, or a woman, has a chance to win the Presidency is no big deal. This isn't to minimize the accomplishment-- you have to have a first time before the fourth or fifth time becomes the norm-- but I fear the hyperbole will be hard to stomach.

Of course, most of the pre-Super Bowl hyperbole is hard to stomach, regardless of its content, so at least this time some of the excessive bloviating will be warranted.

And, oh yeah, congrats to da Bears, too, I suppose. I really wanted the Saints to win, though that would have meant horrendous quantities of bloviating on the importance of the Saints to the residents of New Orleans and Louisiana, but da Bears are the better team and deserve to go. Congrats to Sean Payton and the Saints regardless of Sunday's loss-- great season, boys.

Final note-- Bill Parcell's is retiring! Woot! #6 down!


Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday's List: Most Hated Coaches

I have been fortunate during my life to never have a truly despicable coach. I've had a bad coach or two, but never a mean, spiteful A-hole in any of the myriad of combinations that A-holes come in. So, this list is entirely national spotlight coaches-- college or professional-- and it is probably skewed to the sports I watch most, football and basketball. As a warm up, here's Tuesday Morning Quarterbacks' take on coaching.

Remember, these are coaches I hate-- which, ironically, means most of them have been very, very successful:

12. Mike Sherman. Because he ruined the Packers for a minimum of two years. Granted, most of that was in his role as a GM-- as a coach, I think Sherman was mediocre-- but he is still one of my most hated coaches. If for no other reason than he lost the Philly game, costing us a likely Super Bowl appearance, and then scapegoated Ed Donatell for his own failings as a coach.

11. Steve Spurrier. He was a pioneer in the "Roll up wins at a college football factory, abandon school to grab a big contract from a gullible owner in the NFL, return to college football factory for even bigger contract after failing miserably in the NFL" strategy. Nick Saban would perfect the strategy a few years later.

10. Pete Rose. Exhibit #1: He's a major league jerk. Exhibit #2: He did the one thing you absolutely can't do as a coach in major league baseball-- and then has the brass to whine about being a victim when he's caught. Exhibit #3: He's an unapologetic jerk.

9. Larry Brown. A coaching Ho, whom I have never liked. It's more than just the bouncing from job to job, grabbing the cash as he goes, but I'm not sure what-- maybe that I think he's overrated, yet continues to be this Great Coach figure in basketball. This is funny.

8. Larry Kehres. Coach of the Division III Mount Union Purple Raiders, Kehres regularly runs the score up on overmatched opponents, illustrating that poor sportsmanship is not confined to the big boys of NCAA football. For details on Kehres' poor sportsmanship, read this TMQ column (you'll need to scroll down almost to the bottom under: Bad Sportsmanship Watch).

7. Nick Saban. No, he's not the first coach to abandon one job for the big $ at another job, but the way he did it was pretty appalling.

6. Bill Parcells. Anybody with the nickname "The Big Tuna" should be reviled on general principle. Arrogant and condescending, yet I begin to wonder how much of his success in the past was due to having Bill Belichick as his defensive coordinator. And there are the man boobs. Shudder. A prime candidate for The Bro.

5. Bill Belichick. He's not a preener, which is something. But he is a jag in a variety of ways, and I'm tired of his team winning all the time.

4. Pat Riley. Preening donkey, who bails when his team is struggling, and takes over just when the return of injured stars guarentees the team will do better, making him look good.

3. Isiah Thomas. A bully who pretends to be the victim when he's called out. Whining cry baby, would be another way of putting it.

2. Brian Billick. Preening, condescending prick. I think that sums it up pretty well.

1. Bob Knight. He's in a class by himself, really. Lessee, threw a chair onto the court in a childish tantrum, grabbed a player by the throat in practice in a childish fit of anger, curses like a truck driver during post-game interviews, and generally acts like a spoiled second grader when he can't have the red crayon.

There are no doubt many others I am forgetting, but this is a start. Feel free to kick in other candidates, folks.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We Might Secede!

No, nothing so dramatic as seceding from the United States or anything. But, maybe just maybe, the Village of Caledonia-- where I currently live-- will secede from the Racine Unified School District (RUSD). Certainly there are efforts afoot to make that happen, which is quite intriguing.

Longtime readers (any left after my December hiatus?) will remember that I pretty abhor RUSD because they seem to spend like drunken sailors, produce below average students, and have no shame or compunction in asking tax payers to fork over additional funds when they can't meet their fiscal responsibilities. I am fortunate that my children attend one of the Magnet schools in RUSD, and all of the teachers I have met seem very professional and competent, but the RUSD is a bad school district.

The RUSD was formed in 1961 (not several years ago as the above linked flier states) to accomplish three basic things-- cost savings through economies of scale, standardization of curricula within eastern Racine schools, and conformity with changes in state law mandating that school districts with K-8 schools also have a high school within their district. While the second and third elements have been accomplished, the RUSD is actually less fiscally responsible than the fifteen separate Caledonia school districts were prior to its formation.

At any rate, the process of forming a new Caledonia school system is a long, complicated one, and its odds of succeeding seem remote. But I'm a fan of exploring the possibilities, and if nothing else, perhaps the exploration will make RUSD sit up and take notice. Doubtful, but you never know-- when a huge chunk of your tax base begins rumbling about dumping you, it can make some folks pay attention.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Forgive Us Our Trash Baskets

I, as are we all no doubt, am often forwarded those seemingly innumerable "funny" emails along with those containing whimsical or "deep" thoughts about life, the universe and everything. Most of the funny emails aren't particularly, and I already know the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42, so I generally just delete them. For whatever reason, I read one that I received entitled Kids at Church and, surprisingly, it was actually somewhat funny.

Particularly this one:
"And forgive us our trash baskets
as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."

Don't know why, but it tickled me. And it's also kind of "deep" in a whimsical sort of way, because we all have things in our trashbaskets (metaphorically speaking) that we could use forgiveness for, and we really do need to forgive others who are cluttering up our baskets with their trash.

So. I hereby forgive each and all of you for any trash you have put in my baskets, and I ask forgiveness for any of my trash I might have put in yours.

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ES&L: Local Paper Edition

As a reminder, my ES&L posts are not English as a Second Language related. Instead, they refer to the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves which examines fractured, disjointed, and misapplied grammar and punctuation. So, my posts highlight particularly amusing or egregious grammar, spelling and punctuation errors in other people's writings.

This one popped out at me from my local newspaper, the Racine Journal Times:

Spot the error? PeAl is a loud sound, the tolling of a bell for example, that resonates and can be heard for a long distance. PeEl, on the other hand, is to remove layers from something to get at what's inside. An easy error to make, yes, but how does that error make it all the way to the paper's front page with nobody catching it? I spotted it immediately, and I'm a good, but not great, speller.

Bad enough the paper went for the bad pun-- the article is all about the controversy of building an ethanol plant, which will use lots of peelable corn-- but then they totally screwed up their punch line. Sad.

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Monty Python's Personal Best

Watched the Eric Idle show and the Graham Chapman show in the past week. Idle's selections were okay, but confirmed for me that he is my least favorite of all the Pythons (with the possible exception of Terry Gilliam, who is hard to judge since he pretty much only did the animated bits and writing). Now, that judgement is relative-- I still like Idle, and he does have some brilliant bits, but I think he's the weakest link in a really strong chain.

The Graham Chapman's Personal Best show was fantastic. So many things about him I did not know, and the interviews with the five remaining Pythons was easily the best of the series. Plus, the Flying Circus bits were also great-- particularly the Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion sections.

I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy the Personal Best series.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nifong Update

Though he's done a lousy job filling in for me over the past month, John H did do a nice job of filling in for me in the past-- so now that I'm, more or less, back I will update one of his stories of interest. The continuing saga of the rape allegations against the Duke Lacrosse team, and North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong whom pushed the case hard. So hard that many people, including John H., felt that he was simply grandstanding and attempting to make hay from a high-profile, racially charged case rather than dealing with it in an appropriate manner per legal precedent.

Today, there comes word that not only have the charges been dropped against all of the Duke students, they have all been invited to return to campus and finish their education. In addition, the North Carolina Bar Association took disciplinary actions against Nifong a few weeks ago.

All of which is well and good, but the fact remains that Nifong put these three students through the wringer, cost them money, reputation and part of their young life, for virtually no reason. Certainly the allegations needed to be investigated, and if proven to have foundation, then the full weight of the law should have been brought to bear, but when it quickly became clear that the allegations were suspicious at best, completely unsubstantiated at worst, Nifong should have backed off.

The Duke students weren't guilt free-- they put themselves in a bad place where bad things could happen and they shouldn't have been there in the first place-- but they did not deserve what they got. And that's Nifong's fault. Despite tc's... errrr... BP's protestations that he was just doing his job.


I Give You... BP!

Concerned that people might mistake him for Tucker Carlson, most likely because of the bow-tie, temporary costello, or tc as he is known to most of us here, has changed his moniker to Billy Pilgrim. Don't know how he can wear one of those one-eyed specatcle thingies, but there it is.

Billy Pilgrim, for the unwashed heathens amongst you, my unwashed heathen readers, is the protagonist in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse 5. It is, if I recall correctly, a fine, fine piece of literature. But it's been a while-- it would be interesting to reread now that my world view has changed quite significantly since I last read it.

At any rate, in keeping with past precedent and because I find it vaguely amusing, I shall here after refer to that bastion of liberal thought and Over Capitalization as BP.

Welcome, welcome.


Label, label, label

One of the funnier lines from the Alister Sim version of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is in his post-ghost visitation giddiness, and wants to send a huge turkey to Bob Cratchit. He needs a label to put the address on and initially can't find one, so he's poking around his desk mumbling "Label, label, label" and grinning like a lunatic. Most excellent.

Anyway. This is relavent because Blogger recently upgraded to include the use of labels in it's interface, so my new posts will all be "labeled" into a variety of different topic areas. In addition, I have retrospectively labeled many, though not all since the process is rather clunky to do retrospectively, of my past 600+ posts.

So, now all of my brilliant observations and random babblings (or at least most of them) are available all nicely clumped together and easily accessible! Woot.

And I have finished most of the heavy lifting on the history book, so I should be posting more in the near future. Double Woot!


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