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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fun With the Internet

Go do some Google Image searches for your favorite song titles. Some of the results are quite amusing. Here are a few of my favorites:

Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb

Tom Petty Room at the Top

The Kinks Celluloid Heroes

Genesis Tonight, Tonight, Tonight

U2 Trip Through Your Wires

Yeah, okay, I was a little bored today.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

All the Birds Come Home to Roost

Or since I'm talking about the Milwaukee McGee's, perhaps it should be All the Turds Come Home to Roost. Regardless, Michael McGee, Sr. recently lost his racist, hate filled radio show after ripping on the mother of conservative Milwaukee talk radio host, Charlie Sykes-- oh, and the mother of Sykes had just died when McGee decided to rip into her and Charlie.

Yesterday, a months long state and federal investigation of Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee, Jr. resulted in his arrest for bribery, extortion, and various other crimes that remain sealed. From the details in the criminal complaint, it appears that the feds have McGee Jr. on tape shaking down multiple business owners in his district for bribes in return for his support for licensing and other issues. It's possible that McGee Jr. will wiggle his way out of this one the way he wiggled out of his arrest for resisting an officer, his arrest for threatening to kill the woman pregnant with his child, and various allegations of perjury and violating a restraining order. But I doubt it-- with the Feds on board, and McGee on tape discussing dollar amounts it's going to be awfully hard to argue he was set up, or that it was a mistake.

Bonus ironic tidbit: It also appears that part of the money McGee received for shaking business owners down went directly to the lawyer he hired to help him defend himself against recall attempts by members of his district. The reason they were attempting to recall McGee? Because he was a corrupt, power-hungry politician who seemed to bring nothing but bad publicity to his district.

Karma-- don't mess with it. It might take a while, but it catches up with you eventually.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oil Addicition and OSC

An interesting and thought-provoking piece by Orson Scott Card over at ornery.org. I don't agree with all of it-- I think he's over-stating the undesirability of large lots and areas without sidewalks for one thing-- but I heartily agree with the general gist of the essay. There's a a reason that coal and natural gas and oil are called non-renewable energy sources. We can't make any more of any of them-- when they're gone, they are gone. And we better start planning for the day they will be gone, or at least in much shorter supply, before the inevitable shortfall sends the world spiraling into a catastrophic economic collapse.

Here's the key passage for me:

We can continue to live richly, by ceasing to consider huge houses, endless driving, and big box stores a desirable thing in our lives.
Absolutely. I like land, and I use our large yard extensively for family and social activities, but the sizes of new houses these days is just perposterous. And when I lived in L.A. and my 15 minute commute took 45 minutes to an hour, it just about drove me nuts. Big box stores don't bug me that much-- I enjoy Menards and Home Depot quite a bit, for example-- but I do think that the constant plunking them down in remote regions is annoying.

I want my kids to have all I had and more-- worldwide energy depletion is going to make that really, really difficult. Especially with China and India increasingly embracing the culture of the automobile.

Also for the record, while I remain skeptical of exactly how big a difference humans make in the global warming trend, I do not believe it to be a scam like OSC. Which, for me, makes wheening us off of a car culture all the more desirable.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lest We Forget

Since I found it there, I will link to this video through Andrew Sullivan's blog site. Go there and watch the video. And as you celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, remember all the brave men and women who have your back.

Lubbock Loses Its Collective Mind

Making a shop clerk at a local lingerie shop register as a sex offender is just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. If the community wants to get all prissy and Victorian about this stuff, fine, pass ordinances outlawing lingerie stores, but to make a store clerk register as a sex offender-- impacting the rest of her life-- is just stupid and wrong.

Random Bits

Some common misconceptions about fuel mileage as the price of gasoline continues to rise.

There is a service today for Frank Fabiono, Jr., a Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputy killed last week during a routine traffic stop. Trouble was that the person he stopped was high on cocaine, drunk out of his mind, and an illegal alien to boot. Oh, and he has a criminal record extending across three states and had just bought a gun from a gang member.

Governor Doyle forgets his 2002 pledge to decrease the size of state government, not increase property taxes, and he continues to play shell games with various funds and fee increases. A bigger donkey in the governor's mansion is hard for me to imagine. And does he honestly believe that if the state of Wisconsin taxes "big oil" that said "big oil" won't find a way to pass that on to the consumers? I submit that as wily and shrewd as Jim Doyle is, there's not a chance of that-- so he is merely posturing and pandering. Not that anyone is surprised by that, I'm sure, he is a politician after all.

The 3rd and final (yeah right) film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise comes out this weekend-- just in time for my birthday!-- and I am curious to see it. #2 wasn't as fresh or intriguing as #1, but it was pretty good, and Johnny Depp is a fun actor to watch, even if he tends to be a bit of dope in real life. I do have trouble suspending my disbelief that ANYBODY would be willing to go through half of what Orlando Bloom's and Keira Knightley's characters go through for Jack Sparrow, but that's a minor complaint in the rollocking good fun.

Finally, as we leave the 1/4 pole of the perposterously long major league baseball season in the rearview mirror, my Milwaukee Brewers are still firmly in first place in the National League Central. Yes, they've cooled off a bit from the blistering pace of early May, but they are still playing really good baseball, and in the ridiculously long MLB regular season there are going to be several ups and downs for every team. The reason I believe they are a legitimate playoff caliber team is that their pitching is by far the best it has been since the early '90's, and they are playing together-- as a team. Chemistry is important in all sports, but I think baseball is second only to football in terms of the importance of team chemistry.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When Cultures Collide

When my kids were a bit younger, they enjoyed the Veggietales videos. If you are unfamiliar with the Veggietales franchise, they are animated tales based on various Bible stories with "walking", talking vegetables playing all the roles. The stories are fun variations on themes like sharing, greed, envy, bullying, lying amongst others, and though they are definitely Christian-based, and say so openly, they are not "beat you over the head with Bible" stories.

In a word, they are FUN. Every video has various original songs woven into them, some of which are VERY catchy, and Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato make an excellent vegetable Abbott & Costello team. And they teach wholesome, character-building lessons-- whether you buy into the Christian angle or no.

Imagine my surprise then when I took my daughter to Chuck E. Cheeses for her birthday (my god, she's 9. 9! How is that possible already?) and they had Veggietale videos on their numerous monitors! Now I don't hate on Chuck E.-- it is a fine place for kids 10 and under to go, provided their parents don't mind dropping a decent chunk of change for some mediocre pizza and a lot of overpriced games. I would've loved it if we had had them when I was a kid. But it is the epitome of excess, commercialism, modernism and, to a degree, nihilistic self-centered pleasure seeking. Not unwholesome, but certainly not... grounded and humble and selfless.

Not the sort of place I'd ever expect to see Veggietales.

So, my question is: Has Veggietales sold out by placing their videos in a place that is at best tangentially affiliated with their stated mission of trying to promote positive images in popular culture and corporate integrity?

I kind of think they have. Granted, their animated characters are no doubt reaching a huge audience at the many Chuck E.'s scattered across the country, but I'm hard pressed to believe that their message is being heard in an environment chock full of zombie blasting games, air hockey, games of chance not so very much different from roulette or craps, blatant commercialism and, yes, greed. Especially since most of the time, the giant rat's house is so loud you can't even hear the messages the Veggietale bits are trying to impart.

I'm glad the Big Idea people are still making Veggietales and other similar media products, but I am disappointed at what I can only characterize as a sellout.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Trying to be Positive

My wife bugs me from time to time to be more "half-full" and not so much "half-empty", as in the proverbial glass of water. And she's got a point-- I do tend to slide into cynicism and snark fairly easily. Perhaps not as much as friendly neighborhood liberal blogger, BP, but still... she's got a point. So does friendly neighborhood Madison blogger, Mama H., who recently suggested that I am becoming a "turdaholic".

Um... yikes.

But still, it's difficult when the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation seems determined to drive me over the edge. Just saw this story talking about an intersection that I use many times a week. It is a choke point for any trips my family or I take to the west of where we live. So, annoying enough to discover that it will be closed for the entirity of the summer, the peak period for trips to soccer and baseball diamonds, playgrounds, the Zoo, and on and on. But they are going to put in a ROUNDABOUT! Oh... my... God... what drugs are these doofie on?

The article talks about how safe the roundabout is and then talks about the success they've had on residential streets. Of course, the intersection in question is for a major state highway and a major county road, somewhat different, one might suspect, from a residential street in a subdivision. The article also talks about how roundabouts make the decision-making process easier.... Really? I've been through a few of the roundabouts cited in the article, and I have to say they were quite likely the most confusing traffic situation I have ever come across, with the possible exception of the Michigan Left Turn.

Remember the really dreadful European Vacation movie? One of the only really funny bits in the film was when the Griswald's get trapped in the roundabout in England, simply going round and round because they can't get out. Oi.

The intersection as it is currently configured allows travelers on Highway 38 to continue north and south at 45 mph, with separate lanes and stops required to turn onto, or off of, Highway K. With the roundabout, traffic on 38 will have to slow to a crawl to enter the roundabout. I hope I'm wrong, but this seems like an absolutely dreadful idea.

And the superintendant of my school district is strongly defending paying over $1 million to a consulting firm while schools in the district have to cut programs and staff AND the district is again asking for a referendum for more money. Read a few of the comments to get a sense of the level of frustration in Racine generated by Tom Hicks and the RUSD. I'm right there with them.

So... yeah. Positive. Okay. Right. The Brewers are RAWKING! The most unturdlike team in Major League Baseball right now. Which is just awesome. A tough road swing through N.Y. and Philly should be a good test of just how good this team is at the moment. But they are fun to watch, and they have some really nice juju flowing.

Mike McGee, Sr. did get yanked off the airwaves, so that was good. 'Course his son took over for him, but it's a start.

Ok, ok, what else. It's Friday. That's good. A major drug ring in Milwaukee was broken this week. Nice. My son's baseball team had it's first practice-- I mention this since I'm coacing it this year. Fifteen 6 and 7-year-olds. At times I did feel like I was herding cats, but overall I think it went pretty well.

Spring is here, and summer is coming. Had a beer on the deck and ate a delicious steak that I grilled with my lovely wife last night, so that was excellent.

Half-full, half-full. Right. Got it. Just better not be the completely full beer I opened only a minute ago. 'Cause then there's going to be trouble.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

If Only

this report weren't from The Onion. But, sadly, it is, and in a few weeks Barry Bonds will pass Hank Aaron for the all-time homerun record. Barry Bonds is a cheater and a turd, and it is a shame that he will hold the record. I watched a few highlights of games yesterday after enjoying my Brewers winning yet again-- still the best record in baseball-- and Barry Bonds' character was summed up nicely by the "bonus" coverage of his at bats.

In the first "bonus" coverage, Barry hits a sharp grounder to second base, easily snagged by the defense. The second baseman throws to first base, and Barry is just barely visible in the picture because he is WALKING down the first base line. On a groundball to an infielder, Barry can't even be bothered to jog, much less run hard, down the line. The donkey cares not a whit about his team, nor baseball, nor anything but himself and his glory-- even if the second baseman had bobbled the ball, tripped over his own feet getting up, and then slipped onto his butt, he still would have had time to throw out Bonds.

Later, "bonus" coverage showed Bonds ripping a ball to right center field for a homerun. Bonds disdainfully drops his bat, raises his arms in the air, and does a slow jog around the bases, clearly soaking in the adulation of the misguided San Franciso fans.

Classy guy.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Belated NFL Draft Thoughts

Though there are tons of opinions out there regarding the recent NFL Draft, my favorite evaluatioin goes to Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook, now of ESPN.com Page 2. Great stuff-- insightful and funny, with some cheesecake thrown in as well. His breakdown of the Mel Kiper "phenomenon" towards the end of the piece is really cool. One of my favorite lines:Denver traded up from the 21st to 17th positions to get Jarvis Moss. Cincinnati was drafting at 18th, and perhaps the Broncos feared that because there were clouds over Moss' reputation, he was sure to be the Bengals' choice.

He might be on to something there.

I was underwhelmed by the Packers' draft, but we'll see-- which is generally all you can say about the draft until three or four years down the line, by which time you've forgotten all about it. The one thing I REALLY don't get is why Ted Thompson declined Cleveland's fevered pleas (they really wanted Brady Quinn) to trade their second round pick (and a 3rd--5th?-- as well, I think) AND their first round pick in '08 for the Packers' 1st round pick.

Cleveland's 2nd round pick was a high one, so the Packers move back about 20 spots to get an extra 1st next year (likely at least a top 15, and possibly a top 10 or top 5). Plus an extra pick later in this year's draft. Thompson's explanation for not making the trade? He's never been able to "wrap my head around the concept of trading future picks". He can't figure how to value future picks relative to current picks-- he can't fit them into his beloved board.

Um... yeah. Ted? You're the GM of a professional sports team. You might want to investigate this whole "trade for future picks" thing. It's something that TMQ notes Bill Belichick and the Patriots do pretty well-- and they seem to be doing alright now that they've "wrapped their heads around it."

Good grief.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tree, Falling Apple... ah heck... Turd

I've ripped on Michael McGee, Jr. on this blog from time to time. It should be noted that McGee, Jr. got his hateful and bullying nature the way many people get their character--or lack of it-- straight from his father. Michael McGee, Sr. hosts a morning radio program on WNOV-860 AM in Milwaukee, and he regularly says things that make Don Imus' comments seem like cotton candy and puppy dogs. The N-word is common place (but ok, apparently, since McGee is black). He openly states that he prays for people to die. He calls people who disagree with him every name in the book, and then makes up some new insults for them.

And then there's this rant from Wednesday's program. Wherein he cheers the recent death of Kay Sykes, mother of Charlie Sykes-- who is a conservative morning talk-show host on WTMJ-620 AM in Milwaukee. Wherein McGee says he thinks Kay Sykes had it comin' for raising such a fool. Wherein he states that his gut feeling is that Charlie killed his mother because he got tired of waiting for her money.

He isn't joking. Listen to the audio and you can tell he means every single word.

Mike McGee, Jr. is a turd, but that's not very surprising since he was raised by one.

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ESL: Sports Edition

So, I'm used to the Wisconsin sports teams getting a bit of short shrift from the national press-- the Wisconsin football and basketball teams have had to prove themselves for years before they get anywhere near the respect that other "established" schools get. Before Brett Favre was a legend, back when the Packers were perennial doormats, it took several years of playoff appearances before the Pack got anywhere close to the attention that Dallas or San Francisco got.

This isn't unique to us-- New England suffered through the same thing in the early Bill Belichick days, and most "mid-major" schools still get short shrift in college athletics, despite all of their successes in recent years. It's the nature of the beast-- large markets get covered more thoroughly since there is a larger customer base there, and teams with a reputation for winning get to live off that reputation for many years, even if they aren't winning like they used to.

I have therefore been unsurprised that the Milwaukee Brewers have been a little bit... underreported, despite having the best record in Major League Baseball. Oh there's the occassional "special report" on how well they are doing, but in the day to day link listings on sites like espn.com and sportsline.com, the first links are nearly always to the Red Sox game, the Yankees game, the Mets game, the Braves game and possibly an Indians, Twins, White Sox or Dodgers game.

Watchagonnado? The Yankees are the Yankees, and despite sucking out loud this year, they are still the Yankees. I get that. But. When the Brewers FINALLY do make the link list, why does it have to be for something bad? And particuarly, why does it have to be for something bad THAT DIDN'T EVEN HAPPEN?!?

That was today's link at sportsline.com (no longer there, thankfully, though now there are TWO links to the Yankees' game, and none for the Brewers). Bad enough that we get linked for a game we lost, but the sportsline people couldn't even get their facts straight! The link should read "Bucs keep Brewers from going 10 games over .500", something which the Brewcrew hasn't accomplished in 15 years. The Pirates most definitely did NOT keep the Brewers under .500, as they still have the best record in the National League at 18-10. Little bit of a difference between being UNDER .500 and not being 10 games OVER .500, don'tchathink?

Bugrit, millenium hand and shrimp. I'm tired of being the Rodney Dangerfield of sports.

Go Brewers!

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