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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


For the past week or so I have been hearing various vague rumors and conjectures about Randy Moss, currently a disgruntled Oakland Raiders wide receiver and previous to that a disgruntled Minnesota Vikings wide receiver, becoming a Green Bay Packer. Now, I don't know what keeps happening to Moss' gruntle, that it keeps getting dissed, but I know that I don't want that donkey on my favorite team.

He's a cancer, pure and simple. He makes everyone around him worse, he's a head case, he's got a lousy work ethic, and he will poison a young team that was just starting to gel rather nicely at the end of last year. The only player I would want less than Moss is Terrell Owens, because I think Owens' cancer would spread quicker and be more deadly.

Football is a team sport more so than any other-- all 11 guys on the field for a team better be working in concert or things are likely going to go badly very quickly. And this is true on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. Moss does not play well with others, he does not try hard on plays that aren't designed to get him the ball, he does not block well down field for his teammates. He is close to the antithesis of a team player-- that position is currently being held down quite firmly by T.O., but Moss would have to be in the top 5.

He is a donkey, and I do not want him in a Packer uniform. Ever. He is an incredibly talented young man, but the talent he brings does not, nor will it ever, outweigh the negative effects his attitude and actions will have, both on the field and in the locker room. He will cancel out much of the good juju Donald Driver generates with his relentless work ethic and willingness to play through injuries.

And Moss' career long habit of not running hard on plays not designed to go to him will be particularly glaring and disastrous in Green Bay, because he'll have Brett Favre throwing him the ball, and with Brett, you never know where he's going to throw it no matter for whom the play is designed. This image pretty well sums up Randy Moss and why I don't want him in Green Bay:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More on Idiotopedia

Sadly, it is not a joke. Real people with something approximating a brain appear to have come up with it. Now, it is a wiki, which means anybody can publish entries there, or change other people's entires, so some, perhaps many, of the individual entries may be parody. But the overall concept is not a hoax, but an actual attempt to create a "conservative" alternative to Wikipedia.

As amusing as the Idiotopedia is, when you can get the poor, sad thing to work, it is very troubling as well. It bills itself as reliable, and if you lacked sufficient context or understanding, it could even seem that way. And, as this guy notes very effectively and eloquently, the creators of the Idiotopedia aren't just throwing it out to express their opinion. They are throwing out there to try and change other people's opinions. Because they believe they are right. Facts and science be damned (literally, more than likely).

Here's the DOBA bit:
The condition here could be (and has been) described as a delusional mindset, but I'm not sure it's that simple, that harmless, or that easily excused. These people are not content to simply live in their own little alternate reality. They are determined to make certain that we live there, too. This means that when inconvenient little fact come up - the ugly little facts and inconvenient truths that can slay even the most beautiful hypotheses - reality gets rewritten and the facts that disagree with the core beliefs get omitted.
Yeah. Don't know about you guys, but I don't want to live in a world where George Washington's Christianity is more important than his visionary leadership, or his precedent setting Presidency.

Idiotopedia has a new front page up, btw. Perhaps a vague attempt to take advantage of their recent notoriety-- the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, after all. Or not, since it is about as stark and unappealing as a web page is capable of being. At least it's clean. Says so, right up front. Here's the intro text (in case you can't get in, which is fairly likely):
A conservative encyclopedia you can trust.

Conservapedia has over 3,800 educational, clean and concise entries on historical, scientific, legal, and economic topics, as well as more than 350 lectures and term lists. There have been over 545,000 page views and over 15,500 page edits. Already Conservapedia has become one of the largest user-controlled free encyclopedias on the internet. This site is growing rapidly.
Educational AND clean. Such a deal! Oddly, they don't mention that they are also almost certainly the slowest user-controlled free encyclopedia on the internet. And, of course, the most idiotic.

Monday, February 26, 2007


BP has complained, both here and on his own blog, on a number of occassions that the Right is anti-intellectual, which has drawn me into the conversation to state that he is over-generalizing. A case which becomes harder for me to make when idiots like Andrew Schlafly, Phyllis' son, put together quite possibly the worst excuse for a "scholarly" web publication ever before attempted by mankind. I am talking about Conservapedia, a "conservative" alternative to wikipedia, which is so poorly written, researched and edited that it would make a Flat Earther cringe. Be patient-- this new-fangled internet thingie seems to be throwing the folks at the Idiotopedia, as I shall hence forth call it, so it loads REALLY slowly. If it doesn't crash altogether, which it does with remarkable frequency. Probably it was unprepared for the avalanche of Andrew Sullivan readers that have flocked to it in the last few days, looking for, and possibly writing, some of the worst examples of "scholarship".

The whole thing may be a hoax, in which case it is incredibly well done, but a brief bit of research makes me think it isn't. At any rate, for now I am treating it as an actual attempt to make a Conservative Wikipedia, albeit a ridiculous and pathetic attempt.

I put "conservative" in quotes in the first paragraph because the people writing most of the entries for this abomination are not conservative in any sense other than hating "liberals" and anything else they don't agree with. Here's their "About" page content:

Tired of the LIBERAL BIAS every time you search on Google and a Wikipedia page appears? Now it's time for the Conservatives to get our voice out on the internet!

Conservapedia began in November 2006, as the class project for a World History class of 58 advanced homeschooled and college-bound students meeting in New Jersey.

Conservapedia has since grown enormously, including contributors nationwide. Conservapedia already has over one-half the number of entries as the Oxford Dictionary of World History. Conservapedia is rapidly becoming one of the largest and most reliable online educational resources of its kind.
One thing they do like at Conservapedia is exclamation points. Apparently, exclamation points contain that essential element of truthiness that most scholarly publications lack. And they have half the entries of the Oxford Dictionary of World History, already. Woot! Lots of entries must equate with reliability, right? Well, they say they are reliable several times, so there you have it.
Here's Idiotopedia's entry on George Washington:

George Washington (1732-1799) was unanimously elected President of the United States of America and the Commander-in-Chief in the Revolutionary War![1] He was also a devout Christian, with his adopted daughter once stating that if you question Washington's faith you may as well question whether or not he was a patriot![2]

Washington is perhaps the person other than Jesus who declined enormous worldly power, in Washington's case by voluntarily stepping aside as the ruler of a prosperous nation. His precedent of serving only two terms was then voluntarily followed for 140 years.

Washington bravely led the colonists in revolt against the unjust British government, in its place establishing a new government. Fighting against the vastly more powerful British army, Washington lost nearly every battle in the American Revolution until winning at Trenton and Princeton, and then lost most battles afterwards until ultimately prevailing at Yorktown with the help of a new contingent of French troops.

Washington frequently invoked Christianity in his work. As General, he commanded that chaplains be included in every regiment: "The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.[3]

Washington declared in his Inaugural Address: "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of Providential agency."

Comments such as this one have led many modern scholars to conclude that Washington was in fact a deist rather than a Christian.[4] On November 4, 1752, Washington was initiated into Freemasonry at Fredricksburg Lodge, Fredricksburg, Virginia. He was passed and raised at the same lodge, becoming a Master Mason on August 4, 1753. He later served as Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon his death in 1799, he was given a Masonic funeral at his wife's request.[5]
That's it. 1/2 a page, most of which is devoted to asserting that Washington was a Christian, with only a passing reference to Washington's presidency (no notation of even when his two terms were) and a Revolutionary War summary that amounts to "Washington lost a lot of battles before he won some and won the war, eventually." But there are exclamation points! And a reference to Jesus. So, it's all good.

Solid, solid research there. No need to muss about with Washington's pre-Revolutionary War career, or his ownership of slaves, or his freeing of his slaves upon his death, or his vision for the future of the country, or his Cabinet, or his time between the War and his presidency, or his Virginian roots, or... well, you get the idea.

The Idiotopedia really is amusing-- often laugh out loud funny-- but it's also depressing, because you know there are people out there taking it seriously. Taking it's idiocy and hate to heart. Also because it gives home schooling and Conservatives a black eye.

So, I hope the whole thing is a hoax-- then I can enjoy the satire!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wisconsin Democrats Blow It

The state legislature, with a Democratic majority in the Senate and Republican majority in the House, had a chance to eliminate an unnecessary perk for legislators, but the Democrats didn't want to give up their lovely little bauble. Wisconsin's legislators accumulate sick days during their years in office, even though they don't have to show up for anything if they are sick. Instead, they simply accumulate their sick day benefits, and when they leave office, they can "trade in" that sick day pay that they did not use-- because there was no reason to-- for health care benefits. And the tax payers get to pay for the health care benefits of former legislators.

Here's an editorial on the story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It really is pretty sad. Not only will the current legislature not give up what they've already accumulated, they won't even give up future accumulations-- despite the fact that the concept of a sick day is completely meaningless for state legislators.

I take it back. It isn't sad. It's pathetic.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Bad Night for Wisconsin Sports

Only a day after being ranked the #1 team in the nation, for the first time in the history of the program, the Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team went to Michigan State last night and lost for only the third time all year. Losing on the road is never an awful loss, and Michigan State has found a groove in their last few games after sucking earlier in the year, but Wisconsin did not look good in the final 5 minutes. They looked tight and despondent, something I haven't seen from them all year long, and a discouraging sight as the season winds down to the Big Dance in March. Hopefully, the Badgers will use the loss as a learning experience and bounce back against #2 Ohio State, again on the road, on Sunday. If they beat Ohio State, they might even retain their #1 ranking next Monday. Fingers crossed.

An hour or so later, the Milwaukee Bucks continued their death spiral to oblivion, losing another Michigan team, the Detroit Pistons, by one point, 84-83 when the Bucks missed a tough runner with only seconds left in the game and were unable to collect the offensive rebound. Given that Detroit is one of the top two or three teams in the Eastern Conference, losing to them is also not a horrible loss, but the Bucks were at home, and they had FINALLY gotten all-star guard Michael Redd back after a six-week injury absence. And, at 19-35, there's really no such thing as a moral victory for the Bucks any more. They need honest to god, real victories now.

Hopefully, both games will be aberrations, Wisconsin will still win the Big 10 title, and Milwaukee will rediscover the form they had before Redd's injury, when they were 15-14.

Fingers AND toes crossed.


Monday, February 19, 2007

What is Diversity?

We hear about it all the time here at my school. We need a diverse student body and a diverse staff, yet often it seems our efforts to be "diverse" pay at best lip-service to the actual concept of a university populated by a wide variety of ethnic groups, religious groups, people with various sexual orientations, rich, poor, etc., etc. all living together and accepting of each other. Accepting be the key term, and one which cuts in many different directions. If people wish to be accepted for being black, Hindu, gay, poor, etc., etc., they must also be accepting of others who are not as they are and do not think as they do.


But vital if we are ever to actually achieve racial equality, sexual equality, religious equality, and on and on and on. The key to getting there is dialogue-- conversations without confrontations.

In the wake of the Tim Hardaway episode, Chris Broussard, a columnist for ESPN, wrote this blog entry on this very topic, and it's well worth a read. DOBA moment:
I'm not trying to get into a religious or scientific discussion here, I'm just saying that some people will accept homosexuality as fine and others will not.

Some will write me off as a bigot for this article, but folks, this is real talk. Unfortunately, we can't have real talk in America nowadays.

Whites can't voice their real opinions -- no matter how legitimate -- about race for fear of being called racist, and everyone's afraid of offending anyone. It seems the only person who can be openly criticized, or disagreed with, is the President.

How crazy is that?

Until we can honestly hear each other out -- and be civil while doing so -- we won't get anywhere. One thing I hope this article does is encourage people to have frank discussions about sensitive issues such as this one.

Here's the bottom line: If I can accept working side-by-side with a homosexual, then he/she can accept working side-by-side with someone who believes homosexuality is wrong.
Open and honest discussion. What a concept.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Summerfest Rocks!

BP is all up in arms that Toby Keith is coming to Summerfest this year, but I am psyched to learn that Roger Waters, the lyricist, bassist, and all around mad genius for my favorite band, Pink Floyd, will headline there on July 2. I haven't been to Summerfest in many years, but I've seen some of my favorite performers there, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, and Peter Gabriel, so adding Roger Waters to that list would be most excellent.

Best Take on Tim Hardaway

Tim Hardaway is a donkey, no question about it. In case you have been paying no attention to the sports world, or news in general, former NBA guard Tim Hardaway went on an in-depth rant against gay people a few days ago. This occurred in an interview when Hardaway was asked about former NBA bench warmer, John Amaechi, who recently revealed that he was gay in his autobiography.

Often in times like these-- unconfortable, awkward places where prejudice, rationality, understanding, hate, and a myriad other emotions all muddle together-- humor can offer a solution, or at least a respite. Enter The Onion, the most brilliant satirical newspaper ever written. Here's their take on the story.

Gotta love it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Only way to describe Gregg Easterbrook's, aka Tuesday Morning Quarterback, column on bad predictions posted yesterday on ESPN.com's Page 2. TMQ keeps all those predictions and forecasts made by all the "pundits" and "experts", then takes a look at how good they did. And boy howdy there's some doosies.

My personal favorites are all of the horrible Nick Saban predictions: Nick Saban Predictions: Mark Maske of the Washington Post:
"Nick Saban has the look of being a big-time NFL coach, and it won't be long before he has the Dolphins in Super Bowl contention." Bill Williamson of the Denver Post: "Nick Saban is building something special in Miami." ESPN's John Clayton: "Nick Saban … will catch or pass the Patriots" in 2006. The Associated Press: Miami will win the AFC East because "Players have bought into Nick Saban's system." Peter King on NBC's "Football Night in America" on December 31, 2006: "Nick Saban does not want to go anywhere. Saban is not going to leave the Miami Dolphins. Saban is not going to go to Alabama. Saban is not going anywhere." Three days later Saban took the Alabama job. Nick Saban: "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach."
Particularly the inclusion of Saban himself. Priceless.

Anyway, give it a read. It's funny even if you don't like and don't know football, and it's hilarious if you do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ah, The Good Old Days

I don't bop over to James Lileks blog as much as I once did, but the odd bits and pieces of yesteryear that he puts up in his Institute of Official Cheer are well worth perusing from time to time. And Lileks' annotations are often as funny as the scans themselves. I particularly like The Orphanage of Cast-off Mascots. Several of them are rather disturbing, and a few are even for products that came from around these here parts-- like this guy. Cudahy is a city just to the north of me, named for Patrick Cudahy, and where they still make bacon, ham, and various other Cudahy pork products.

For me, I think I will adopt Climalene. It's nice of her to be so concerned with poor old Mr. Soap. And she's got a cute hat.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Harry Potter Films

As the seventh, and final, book in the Harry Potter series approaches release-- and I think there are a few people already in line at Barnes and Noble for the July 21, 2007 release date-- I have been viewing the movies with the kiddipies. Having seen 1-3, I would give them a fairly enthusiastic thumbs up, and each film seems to be better than the previous one, so that's encouraging. Looking forward to #4 next weekend.

The timing on the making of the films was just about perfect-- had they started any sooner and they would have run out of new Potter books, which would have messed up the retention of the child/teen stars that are the book's central characters. Also, had they started any sooner, the CGI work would have been much less captivating and seamless.

But the heart and soul of the books is the trio of Harry, Ron and Hermoine, and the effectiveness of the movies is largely driven by the continued presence of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson in those three roles. All three not only look the part, they all seem to be fairly talented actors, and the chemistry amongst them and with the other main characters is quite believable and satisfying. And since the films have been made at roughly 1 year intervals, the growth and development of Harry, Ron and Hermoine is mirrored by the growth and development of Daniel, Rupert and Emma. As the group hits puberty, with all its associated glories, trials and tribulations, so do the characters in the movies.

It is tremendously effective. In the books, you know that the characters are all getting older, and Rowling mixes in the advent of hormones and dating and everything that entails, but often your mind's eye-- or at least my mind's eye-- still saw them as eleven-year-olds. The movies allow you to see them grow mature. Case in point-- Neville Longbottom, the hapless but loveable Gryfindor classmate of Harry and the gang. Here's Neville in the first film. Here's Neville in the fourth film.

Rowling's stories also lend themselves pretty well to the movies, since they do not depend heavily on a lot of character introspection and nearly everything that takes place in the books happens from Harry's perspective. This makes adapting them to film quite a bit easier, I imagine.

The supporting cast is also very, very good, though the death of Richard Harris leaves a mark, since he was pretty much DOBA as Albus Dumbledore and Michael Gambon is a pale imitation by comparison. But Alan Rickman as Snape and Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid are money, and the Dursley's are also spot on. Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall is almost exactly how I pictured the role in my mind when I first read the Potter books (only through book #4, btw, so no spoilers in the comments, please). Malfoy, Longbottom, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart-- all most excellent.

Whoever the casting director is for these films, he or she deserves a raise.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the first three films, and I hope that my expectations are not trampled upon by the last four. Key to that will be keeping Radcliffe, Grint and Watson together, as well as the other Hogwartsians. Five will have the same group, so I have hope that they'll be able to keep it all together through seven.

Meanwhile, off to reread the first four books, and then 5 and 6, so that I can get in that line at Barnes and Noble.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Far too little of it these days. So, I like this prayer (hat tip, Andrew Sullivan) by Tuesday Morning Quarterback, otherwise known as Gregg Easterbrook:

God (or Adonai or Allah), let me play well but fairly.
Let competition make me strong but never hostile.
In this and in all things, guide me to the virtuous path.
If I know victory, grant me happiness;If I am denied, keep me from envy.
See me not when I am cheered, but when I bend to help my opponent up.
Seal it in my heart that everyone who takes the field with me becomes my brother.
Remind me that sports are just games.
Teach me something that will matter once the games are over.
And if through athletics I set an example – let it be a good one.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Vizzini Moment

In the Princess Bride, Vizzini repeatedly uses the word "inconceivable" to describe the progress of The Man in Black's pursuit of Vizzini and his gang. After about four or five "inconceivables", Inigo Montoya looks at him with a quizzical expression and says, "You keep on saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

That's a Vizzini moment.

The U.N. appears to be having one in regards to the recent IPCC report on global warming, claiming in it's headline, and in the first paragraph of its news release, that the report provides "unequivocal" proof that the world is warming and that man is responsible for the warming. Unequivocal-- absolute, without equivocation, capable of only one interpretation, not subject to conditions or exceptions.

Only problem, in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the U.N.'s very same press-release-- the one where they claim unequivocal evidence of warming in the headline-- we find this:

The IPCC, which brings together the world’s leading climate scientists and experts, concluded that major advances in climate modelling and the collection and analysis of data now give scientists “very high confidence” – at least a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct – in their understanding of how human activities are causing the world to warm. This level of confidence is much greater than the IPCC indicated in their last report in 2001.

Today’s report, the first of four volumes to be released this year by the IPCC, also confirms that it is “very likely” that humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases have caused most of the global temperature rise observed since the mid-20th century. The report says that it is likely that effect of human activity since 1750 is five times greater than the effect of fluctuations in the sun’s output.

Now, I will grant you that 90% is pretty high. I will grant you that scientists having a "high confidence" in a particular issue, or believing that something is "very likely" would tend to give a particular viewpoint supported by those scientists quite a bit of weight.


By definition. Period. End of story.

And its this kind of stupid, alarmist, over-reach that is greatly hampering sincere, honest, and worthwhile efforts to study global climate change and develop reasonable and effective solutions. Because this kind of stupid crap feeds right into the Rush Limbaugh poo-pooing mindset.

And it also feeds into the mindset that the U.N. is a bunch of pompous, preening, squeezebags with little connection to reality and a strong propensity to want to tell other people what to do even though they clearly have no idea how to manage their own affairs, much less other peoples.

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Fuddy Duddy Republicans

Dennis the Peasant asks an important question:
Just when did the Republican Party turn into such a bunch of prissy old farts?
My guess is when they regained political power. With power comes a desire to maintain the status quo, and rocking the boat is right out at that point. Tieing themselves very closely to the fundamentalist Christian right is part of it, too. When you feel the need to appease a base that includes folks like Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, you are going to wind up turning into a wizened old prune with no ability to laugh at anything, much less your own foibles and shortcomings.

I swear I wrote the above bit on lack of humor before reading this post by Dennis the Peasant. He expounds at great length, and with a fair amount of scathing humor, on just exactly why the modern political establishment-- and particularly the GOP-- is so friggin' uptight. Definitely worth a read.


Coach McCarthy

Last year the Packers hired Mike McCarthy to replace Mike Sherman, and while I had grave doubts about McCarthy-- derisively referring to him as Mike Whatshisname-- he did a pretty good job. Took a very young team and got them to play well together, without losing his veterans, like Brett Favre, Donald Driver and Ahman Green. He was willing to try new things, like using Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila as a pass rush specialist-- which he is good at-- despite the fact that Mike Sherman chose to play him like an every down defensive end after greatly overpaying KGB.

I would have preferred Sean Payton, sure, but short of that, McCarthy did as good a job as anybody, imo, including Eric Mangini. So, kudos to Ted Thompson, and a pat on the back for McCarthy-- thanks for bringing sanity back to Green Bay, and please do an even better job next year, since it will almost certainly be Favre's last season.

And, of course, when I read articles like this one, and think about some of the truly horrible coaching searches conducted recently... yeah, good call on Mike McCarthy!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Global Warming: A Little Moderation

After Katrina and some of the record highs we had before and after, the global warming... advocates?... well, the folks that are sounding the warning klaxons over the dangers of global warming, were all going beserk. Which was dumb, because one or two years of abnormal temperatures means nothing.

The last few days I have heard three separate Right-wing talkers crowing about how the new UN report on global warming shows that temperature increases are not as great as was claimed in 2001, and that ocean temperatures haven't risen, ergo warming can't be occuring. And, of course, since we here in the midwest are mired in an extended cold snap-- supposed to get up to 5 today. It's a heat wave!-- the local talkers are all snarky about wanting more global warming to get rid of our sub-zero temps. Rush had the temerity to state that the 59 degree temps in Hawaii illustrate how stupid global warming theories are.

Anyway, claiming that a cold snap is evidence that no warming is occuring is as stupid as claiming that a hot summer is evidence it is occuring. And using a report that clearly warns of increased warming, and concludes that said warming is almost certainly the result of man's activities, to debunk global warming is... odd. To say the least.

But it does neatly encapsulate the inability of many (most?) in the global warming debate to take any but the most extreme positions and then try to fit available facts to their preconceived conclusions. This is true on both sides of the issue.

I mean, I heard one normally smart person, who prides himself on his use of logic and not getting caught up in emotion during debates, claim that there was no way man's influence could warm the earth since all of our energy comes from the sun. Take away the sun and see how cold it gets with just man's input was his argument. Completely ignoring the fact that the global warming theory is that man's activity concentrates the sun's energy in a manner similar to a magnifying glass, not that we are generating all this heat ourselves.


Let's tone the rhetoric down a few dozen notches. And let's try to figure this out, rationally. There is pretty good evidence that warming is occuring. Less clear is whether that warming has been significantly influenced by man's introduction of large quantities of "greenhouse" gases into our atmosphere in the last 150+ years. Less clear still is what we should do about the warming, if anything, and what the results of the warming will be.

But, regardless of you opinion (mine, for the record, is that warming is occuring and man has a hand in it, but I remain skeptical of measures like Kyoto in dealing with it), what is needed is less rhetoric and spleen, and more science and dispassionate observation. Much like what this guy advocates.

The key, to me, is summed up pretty well in this paper. We are making policy decisions with profound implications without really having sufficient data to make such decisions with a reasonable confidence that they are correct. DOBA moment:

If we are to reduce our world's vulnerability to climate, it could very well be that our worst enemy is the Global Warming: Yes or No? debate itself. Climate impacts cause human suffering, economic loss, and ecosystem destruction. Meanwhile, diplomats, politicians, and scientists pursue a debate that has become too narrow, at times too personal, and increasingly irrelevant to the real impacts. As a striking example of this folly, last fall thousands of diplomats, advisers, and advocacy groups gathered in Buenos Aires to address the climate problem shortly after Hurricane Mitch killed more than 10,000 people in Central America. Some in Buenos Aries even pointed to Hurricane Mitch as a harbinger of future disasters brought on by climate change. We point to Hurricane Mitch as a failure to prepare for climate impacts today.


Unfortunately, in spite of the high moral rhetoric from both sides, the debate itself stands in the way of further progress. We need a third way to confront climate change, even if it means moving beyond now-comfortable positions held fast for many years.

Can I get an amen?

Down on the Farm

The saga of Troy the gay sheep. Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Amusing and somewhat thought-provoking all at once.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Will Try Again

Though it generated a lively debate, my tirade on Gov. Doyle's proposed ban on smoking seems to have been misconstrued. Perhaps because it infuriated me so badly because I believe that Doyle's proposed ban has very little to do with public health and a LOT to do with PR and picking a target he knew there would be no backlash from.

So. I recommend you go read this guy's column on the proposed ban. I agree with everything he says, and he reiterates my points that may have gotten obscured by my "snarkiness".

Smoking should be banned in places where people HAVE to go. Courthouses, doctor's offices, daycare centers and the like. And it is. Smoking should not be banned in places like bars and restaurants unless we are going to make smoking illegal. As long as smoking is legal, banning it in places that people voluntarily go because some people don't like smoke, or are worried about their health, is discrimination. Pure and simple.

If you want to ban smoking in cars with children, I think it's a bad idea, but I can at least understand the rationale-- the children have no control over whether their idiot parents smoke in the car or not. But a bar? A restaurant? Please. Don't go to those places, then. Go to a smoke free bar, or sit in the non-smoking section-- which every restaurant MUST have.

I know I'm fighting a losing, rear-guard action here, and I'm sure mama h. and Corribus think I'm a total wingnut because I think that this kind of government overreach is horrible. But there it is-- I'd rather have Big Brother out of my life than have nice smelling bars. I'd rather not give my legislature any more control over individual liberties than they already have. And I find the way society treats smokers both distasteful and highly hypocritical.

And the fact that I think Jim Doyle is a hypocrite, a criminal, and a power-hungry preener who lies at the drop of a hat probably does add to my distaste for this proposal. But only a little. I'd dislike it no matter who was proposing it.


DOBA: Lyrics Edition

With a hat tip to BP, here are the lyrics to Alanis Morissette' s "Isn't It Ironic" modified to reflect actual irony. Best reworked lyric:
Rain on your wedding day... to Ra, the Egyptian sun-god.
Though I also like:
An old man turned ninety-eight. He won the lottery and died the next day... of chronic emphysema from inhalation of the latex particles scratched off decades' worth of lottery tickets.

#4 Returns!

While most of the football world was watching and dissecting some game down in Florida, Packer Nation was rejoicing that we will have one more year of Brett Favre before the inevitable. Now, Favre is not the QB he was five years ago, but he's still well above average, and with an improving team around him... well, expectations are considerably higher for next year than they were for this year (when I thought Green Bay would be lucky to win six games).

On top of Favre's return, and a year's seasoning for many of the youngsters that were the core of the new Pack, Green Bay has a lot of available money-- roughly $20 million-- to make moves in free agency. And most of the good free agents this year are on defense-- which is an area that Green Bay improved in, but where they can definitely use another top-notch player. Or even two.

We shall see, but it will be good to have Brett back for one more season. He's no longer a premier quarterback, but he's still better than 2/3rds of the guys our there. Don't think so? Look at this list of starting QBs (roughly in order of quality-- I spent almost no time on this):

1. P. Manning
2. Brees
3. Brady
4. Palmer
5. McNabb
6. Bulger
7. Vince Young
8. Hasselbeck
9. Romo
10. Vick
11. Rivers
12. E. Manning
13. Rivers
14. Delhomme
15. Green
16. Leinart
17. Leftwich
18. McNair
19. Pennington
20. Cutler
21. Roethlisberger
22. Grossman
23. Losman
24. Carr
25. Kitna
26. Simms
27. Brooks
28. Frye
29. Campbell
30. Harrington/Culpepper
31. T. Jackson/B. Johnson

Looking at that list, you would certainly take a few of the young guys, like Leinart, Rivers and Cutler, before Favre long-term, but for one more season, I'd take #4 over all but the first six or seven. So, one more good year out of Brett with an improved cast around him and a coach that seems to have a clue-- yeah, playoffs are a definite possibility next year.

Big question marks-- what will the Packers do at RB, and will they add a WR or TE to the mix? Personally, I think Tony Gonzalez would look good in Green and Gold for one or two years.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Food For Thought

Orson Scott Card is, as always, thought provoking and well-written. I don't agree with all of this column. For example, in my opinion Rumsfeld was a disaster in a multitude of ways and I am happy he is gone. And I'm unwilling at this time to portray anything Bush has done as "wise", but, I do agree with his big picture analysis that the premature pull-out of our troops in Iraq would disasterous. I'm with John McCain on this one.

I hope Card is right that the troop surge can effect some success in Iraq and that the political process there is not completely and inretrievably lost. I fear he is wrong, and if he is than the world could soon be in a very dangerous place indeed.

For another, sort of, take on the war, take a read through a recent Tuesday Morning Quarterback (no, really). Just below his Non-QB, Non-RB, NFL MVP award piece is a short blurb on the importance of sanitation and what we could've done with the billions we've pumped into the war. Interesting stuff. I don't know that I fully accept it, but interesting nonetheless.

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