Sunday, July 31, 2005

I'm A Luva Of The Fightas

The Sports Guys gives us his Idiots Guide to the NHL Lockout:

Q: What's the second-worst part of the deal?

As the owner of eight hockey fight tapes from the '70s and '80s, as well as someone who still regards Stan Jonathan's beating of Pierre Bouchard as the highlight of my childhood, I was outraged with the new fighting rules. Not only will anyone who instigates a fight in the final five minutes of a game receive a game misconduct and automatic one-game suspension, the length of the suspension doubles for each additional incident. Basically, they're imploring us to turn the channel with five minutes left if either team is up by three goals.

The NHL has turned on the bat signal -- we need Vince.
(It's almost like they're openly taunting Vince McMahon to start the XHL at this point. I know I've written this a million times, but if the XHL goes head-to-head against the NHL on Tuesday nights -- well, which league would you watch? I know where I would be.)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Scouting 'Em Out

In January of 2003 I had a chance to watch then fifteen year old Sydney Crosby play hockey and I opined:

Perhaps even more impressive than his five points were a couple of passes he made, including a back-handed cross-ice saucer pass that had NHL written all over it. Remember this kid's name. You might be hearing it a lot in the future.

Two and half years later, guess who was the #1 pick in today's NHL draft?

As expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Crosby first overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.

Crosby, who turns 18 on Aug. 7, is the most anticipated hockey prospect in years. The prodigious forward was a star with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League during the past two seasons.

One other draft note: two Minnesota kids were taken in the first round today (three if you count Brian Lee who hails from Fargo and played at Moorhead). Anyone want to guess how many Colorado natives went that early?
Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From The Elder

Lori e-mails:

Thank you, Elder.

As soon as I read your entertaining disclosure, I printed it(minus a few colorful sentences) for my 17 year old daughter. She thought it was a hoot and we had a good talk about weed, paranoia, motivation, and economics. But I did have to explain that the Elder was actually this twenty-something blogger
[Note: Actually thirty-something blogger]. (Us older people are clueless.)

Thank you for providing me with a teachable moment and with our pop culture these days, there's a lot to be covered.

Congratulations to you and your wife and also, congratulations on the success of the Northern Alliance Radio. I learn so much from new media.

Over There

Regarding the hardships suffered by Knight Ridder reporter Hannah Allam during her reporting tour of duty in Iraq (lack of a good manicurist, unreliable karaoke service), Sisyphus (at Nihilist in Golfpant) has stepped up to create a new charity seeking to address these particular needs. His mission statement:

Unfortunately, no one seems to care about another group that is forced to live under conditions every bit as difficult: the journalists tasked with undermining our mission in Iraq.

Don't miss his Top 11 Items most in need of donation, including...

11. Decent non-fat soy lattes

10. Gift certificates for a day of beauty at the Spalon Montage in the Baghdad Green Zone.

9. Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers (so the insurgents will know not to target reporter?s vehicles)

8. The e-mail addresses of anti-war members of the military in Iraq.

4. Karaoke machines.

Remember folks, give 'til it hurts. They won't come back if they can karaoke over there.
Yesterday's News

On the Hugh Hewitt program yesterday, Hugh discussed his new policy for conducting interviews with mainstream media outlets. The reporters must agree to do them LIVE! on air. Hugh's philosophy:

I of course want my listeners to get a chance if not to see the sausage that is MSM "news" being made, at least hear it being ground fine. I had hoped to compare whatever I was able to provide [Washington Post reporter] Ms. Goldstein with whatever it is that she publishes on the subject. Interesting all around, no?

But she declined to conduct the interview she requested. How interesting to note that the Post is willing to use sources that insist on anonymity, but not sources that demand transparency.

It's a fine idea by Hugh and it's too bad he found no takers for his offer. Of course, Hugh's idea isn't exactly original. In fact, the idea of fulfilling print media requests over the radio airwaves may have been birthed right here in the Twin Cities. By none other than your pals at Fraters Libertas. You may recall from this past January this promo for the Northern Alliance Radio Network:

Hour 3: The epic meeting of the medias on the battleground of the public airwaves and in the public consciousness. Yes, its MSM standard bearer Mark Yost of the Pioneer Press spending an hour in the wolves' lair of blogging and talk radio. And we're thrilled to announce that this will be an historic occasion. For the first time in the long, august history of journalism, an intrepid editorialist will be practicing his craft LIVE ON THE AIR!!!

Yes, Mark is interested in finding out more about this whole blogging phenomena and he wants to interview the Fraters Libertas and the rest of the NARN crew for an article to appear in the pages of the Pioneer Press. And it will all be happening LIVE ON THE AIR!!!!

And it did turn out to be just as exciting and ground breaking as those exclamation points and ALL CAPS predicted. (The results of Mark's interview were discussed here.)

Let's hope someday Hugh Hewitt gets an interview request from a journalist with as much integrity as Mark Yost so he can experience what it's like to be interviewed on air.

And let's hope John Hinderaker from Power Line is listening. He seems enamored by the idea and hails Hewitt as "brilliant" for conceiving it. I'm sure he would have described us similarly, if only he listened to the Northern Alliance Radio Network. For his future reference it is on 12 - 3 PM, Saturdays on AM1280 the Patriot.

Friday, July 29, 2005

See Her in the Funny Papers

The plight of Knight Ridder reporter Hannah Allam, featured in today's Day By Day.

In this cartoon, Chris Muir points out another of Allam's reasons for leaving Iraq (as quoted in Editor and Publisher).

"When I first started, there was a real collegial press corp," she explained. "We knew Iraq was dangerous, but not for us. In the old days, we could travel, the coverage could be comprehensive and complete and you could have a life. Go out to karaoke at night or to parties."

But, in the past few months, Allam said the atmosphere had dramatically changed for journalists. "It suddenly came that you couldn't travel," she said. "You begin to wonder if you can give your readers a full picture. It is extremely difficult and not as much fun."

So ... she's outta there. Her speculation on not giving a full picture kind of proves Yost's original point about how the mainstream media isn't reporting the whole story about what is happening in Iraq. Ironically, it was Yost's comments which caused her to lash out with her ridiculous accusations about the US military being too sheltered from the truth about what is really happening in Iraq to accurately speak about it. Accusations which now seem like a classic case of projection:

"the operation of expelling feelings or wishes the individual finds wholly unacceptable - too shameful, too obscene, too dangerous - by attributing them to another."
Summertime And The Livin' Is Ghetto

From this morning's WSJ Tony and Tacky column:

GHETTO BLASTERS: When adults try to be hip and reach out to today's youth, they often miss the mark. That's what happened after Miami authorities announced a "Ghetto Style Talent Show" and a watermelon-eating contest as part of a summer-camp picnic today for city children. After critics complained about stereotyping, Parks Director Ernest Burkeen (ed note: who is black) apologized Monday and the talent-show name was changed to "Funky." Although the watermelon-eating contest was not canceled, Florida International University professor and race-relations expert Marvin Dunn called it an "insult to black history and black pride." In fact, he told Tuesday's Miami Herald: "If I eat a piece of watermelon, I do it inside."
Hey Jesse, Now Jerome

Today's nominee in the category of unfortunate historical allusions is the good Reverend Jackson. From the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire:

UNDERCOUNT: Complaining he was barred from testifying, Jesse Jackson blasts an all-white "apartheid panel" at Senate hearing on whether a new Nielsen television-ratings system undercounts minorities. The ex-presidential candidate supports the new Nielsen rating and wanted to express opposition to legislation backed by News Corp. that could have forced changes. A spokesman for Sen. Burns of Montana said Jackson wasn't invited because he's "not an expert."

The Rest of the Story

Just back from a Southern California jaunt and a fine trip it was. No souvenirs except the Santa Monica beach 3rd degree sunburns over 80% of my body. Thank goodness my Speedo was at the cleaner's and I wore regular trunks, or it would have been over 95% of my body. I'll leave the body mass index calculation implications of that to you.

Anywho .... picking up on a blog post I abandoned before my trip ...

A couple of weeks ago, while documenting the self righteous outrage among the press regarding Mark Yost's criticism of their efforts and accuracy in reporting on the war in Iraq, we highlighted the remarks of Knight Ridder Baghdad bureau chief Hannah Allam. Specifically, it was her denigrating of the efforts of US troops, characterizing them as pampered and ignorant of the truth. This excerpt was taken from the bulletin board style "Forum" section of Poynter Online:

Mr. Yost could have come with me today as I visited one of my own military buddies, who like most officers doesn't leave the protected Green Zone compound except by helicopter or massive convoy. The Army official picked me up in his air-conditioned Explorer, took me to Burger King for lunch and showed me photos of the family he misses so terribly. The official is a great guy, and like so many other soldiers, it's not politics that blind him from seeing the real Iraq. The compound's maze of tall blast wall and miles of concertina wire obscure the view, too.

The history of propaganda teaches that if you don't publicly challenge false assertions, no matter how absurd they are, they will be widely disseminated by outlets that have few standards for ethics or accuracy. And before you know it, it becomes the conventional wisdom.

Unfortunately, that process appears to be well underway. In an unsigned editorial last week, the Star Tribune begins the process of wide dissemination of the notion that US soldiers in Iraq do not have adequate basis to testify about the success of our efforts there, because they are sheltered from the truth:

Bloodshed and chaos dominate reporting from the country because that is the reality which journalists risk their lives daily to chronicle. The optimists tend to be soldiers and civilian officials corralled inside the heavily fortified "green zone" in the center of Baghdad.

One Knight-Ridder reporter recently described the problem. When she went to lunch with a friend in the military, he "picked me up in his air-conditioned Explorer, took me to Burger King for lunch and showed me photos of the family he misses so terribly." It's "not politics that blind him from seeing the real Iraq," she said. "The [Green Zone's] maze of tall blast walls and miles of concertina wire obscure the view, too."

That paper's use of this recycled quote is made even more despicable by the fact they don't even bother to provide a citation for who the reporter was or the context the remarks were made in, so the reader can properly judge their validity.

But there it is. Now festering in more minds, adding to the theory that US soldiers in Iraq are not people we should be trusting to provide information about what is exactly happening in Iraq. Instead, they insist you trust the heroic members of the press corps. And what kind of info are you getting from them? A brief survey of the opening paragraphs from Hannah Allam's reporting of late:

July 14: The Iraqi Defense Ministry has squandered more than $300 million buying faulty and outdated military equipment in what appears to be a massive web of corruption that flourished under American-appointed supervisors for a year or longer, U.S. and Iraqi military officials said this week.

July 10: Suicide bombers struck throughout Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 38 people and wounding dozens in a series of attacks aimed mainly at the country's overwhelmed and vulnerable security forces.

July 7: The group al-Qaida in Iraq announced Thursday that it had killed Egypt's top envoy to Baghdad. The statement accompanied a chilling video of the diplomat blindfolded and under insurgent interrogation.

June 11: Ten Sunni Muslim tribesmen died after American-trained Iraqi police commandos kept them in an airtight container for more than six hours in 115-degree heat, outraged Sunni clerics and politicians charged Monday.

May 14: Two weeks of intense insurgent violence have made it crystal clear that Iraq's parliamentary elections, hailed in late January as a triumph for democracy, haven't helped to heal the country's deep divisions. They may have made them worse.

You starting to pick up a bit of a plot line here? The implacable and daring insurgents, the overwhelmed and vulnerable and frightened security forces, all fighting under the cover of corrupt and incompetent American supervision. A tidy little tale, one that, if accepted, might lead to the eroding of public support for the war, a withdrawal of American troops, and ultimately dire political consequences for the Bush administration. With stakes this high, one can see why so many reporters are true believers of the story. And why they are so desperate to shout down those voices (Yost, the US troops) trying to tell the other side of the story.

BTW, I hope you enjoyed Hannah Allam's war reporting while you could. She's had enough and is packing up shop and moving to Cairo. She claims reporting in Iraq is too dangerous and "not fun" any more. I didn't know those were prerequisites for news reporting, but it's good to finally have Ms. Allam's priorities exposed to the light of day. Here's another glimpse into the priorities of Knight Ridder's bureau chief, from NPR's On the Media:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: You had described this, this remarkable incident at the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention last week. What was that story?

HANNAH ALLAM: There was a salon in Baghdad where I used to go after stressful days to get a manicure or just to relax, and it was run by two really funny Iraqi women. And we've become friends in the past two years. And I was in there three weeks to a month ago, and my cell phone rang, and instinctively I just picked it up and said hello - in English. And there was just this silence that fell over the room. People stared at me, and I realized what I had done. And then my friend, the Iraqi owner of the salon, came over and said - you know, it breaks my heart, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you put yourself in danger. You've put us in danger. Now they know that you're a foreigner - the other customers, and it's not safe for you to come here any more. That was the, the last refuge for me, and now it's gone as well.

As Sherman once said, war is hell ... on your finger nails. Lord knows how hard it can be to find a good manicurist in a war zone. We wish her better luck in finding a salon that meets her standards in Cairo.
Scofflaw Dad (or A Good Walk Spoiled)

Thanks to all those who e-mailed or posted with congratulations on the addition to our family. We're adjusting to life with baby and he's adjusting to us. So far, so good. I'm not going to go all kid-blogging crazy on you, but here are a couple of observations from a newbie parent:

- It's amazing what you can do with just one free hand (keep your mind out of the gutter Foot): making coffee, laundry, dishes, eating, reading, typing, etc. Although, I have not quite mastered the CTRL-ALT-DELETE maneuver required to log in to my lap top.

- Without getting into all the gory diaper changing details, let's just say that although the squirt gun is small, the range is impressive.

Anyway I really appreciate the kind words, speculation about Nathaniel's blogging career, and advice on parenting that I've received so far. Like this e-mail from Barbara (better known as Girl in Right):

Congrats on Nat the Junior!! There's nothing better than a little one who looks at the world with wide eyed enthusiasm.

And hey, if writing about "Blake" and his drug issues makes you feel better, well you just go right ahead and keep writing. I'm sure you never wanted to be on the Supreme Court, anyway. Or President. Of Nathaniel's Boy Scout Troop.

Sigh. So much potential. Poor Nat.

Gee thanks. Barbara's not the only one urging discretion. Sandy from the MAWB Squad has a list of new parenting advice including:

Disclosure: You might want to rethink public disclosure like this. There's no benefit to your child to know the complete truth about their parents youthful indiscretions until much, much later in life.

Sage advice indeed. But since I think I have a little time until Nathaniel is reading this blog (twelve to fourteen months I figure), I might as well take the opportunity to air a little more dirty laundry. In fact, just yesterday I had a run in with an officer of the law. My crime? Walking.

Yes, I was issued a citation for walking. Okay, it was just a warning, but still...walking?

It was a beautiful summer day here in the Twin Cities and I elected to take advantage of it by squeezing in a brisk constitutional. My wife and I usually walk every day, but she's still a little worn out from that whole giving birth thing and so I was solo. I needed to pick up photo paper and a new printer ink cartridge, so I decided to walk to a nearby Office Max. Part of my planned route would take me down a regional bike trail.

When I reached the entry point to the trail, I found it blocked off with yellow police tape and a sign advising that the paved trail would be closed for repairs for two days. Oh well, I figured, I'm not biking or blading so it shouldn't be a problem for me. I proceeded down the trail. I noticed a couple of roller bladers who did the same.

I soon reached a second police tape barrier indicating that the trail was closed. I blew past it as well, rounded a corner in the trail, and saw the roller bladers stopped by yet another construction sign and some sort of peace officer who appeared to be writing them a ticket. Now at this point, I could have turned tail and easily escaped notice. But I was curious to see what was going and sure that I wasn't doing anything wrong so I plowed ahead.

The officer in question worked for the Three Rivers Park District (formerly Hennepin Parks). He greeted me brusquely and asked what I thought I was doing. Walking, I replied. "What part of 'trail closed' don't you understand?" I attempted to explain that since I was on foot I assumed that I could get around any construction related closure. He wasn't buying it.

"You have valid ID on you?"

I handed him my drivers license. He continued to write out citations to the two roller blading ruffians. At this point, I thought that I might be getting a ticket. A freakin' ticket for walking down a closed trail? I was silently steaming and preparing my defense strategy. No holds would be barred. Every possible angle would be argued.

When he explained to the bladers that they were being issued warnings, I breathed a bit easier. But I was still I little peeved that I had to sit there and stew while he scribbled out my citation. Was it really necessary to go through the motions? Hadn't I already learned to respect the power and authority of the mighty Three Rivers Park District? Was this warning going on my permanent record?

I quietly pocketed my warning and continued on my journey, having to employ a detour on local railroad tracks in order to reach my destination. The rest of the trip went off without incident. When I arrived home I explained my encounter with the law to my wife.

"What did you get in trouble for?"

"Well, you see I was just walking..."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Deep In Indian Country

Our friend Gary Larson is back at it again, this time with an article at Intellectual Conservative titled The 'Untouchables': Wealthy Tribal Casino Interests:

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act intended to improve the lot of impoverished Indians on reservations. Instead it created a new, superrich class of savvy capitalist Indians.
Um guys, nobody is saluting

The folks at are flogging the deceased Rove pony for all its worth, as evidenced by the latest e-mail plea:

It's been almost a week since we all started writing letters-to-the-editor about the Karl Rove CIA-leak scandal. So far a whopping 34,928 letters have been written by MoveOn members.

No mention of how many of these cut and paste specials ever saw the light of day at respectable newspapers (which of course excludes the Strib).

That's a new record for us. The media is beginning to report on Rove again, but we need to create some buzz--the sort of public outrage you can see when you're walking down the street.

"Dad, what are those freaks over there doing?"

"That son? Why that's public outrage."

That's why we want to create a downloadable poster that you can print out and hang up in your office, home, locker, car and wherever else seems right.

Yes, because bringing your ultra left wing politics into the workplace is perfectly appropriate.

But here's the thing: we aren't quite sure about the right slogan to write on the poster.

Somebody suggested just putting up, "Fire Karl Rove." Another favorite was, "Fire the Liars."

Witty zingers both. Can you feel the buzz?
Over, Under, Sideways, Down

I finally got around to renting the much-ballyhooed movie Sideways a few days back. I usually avoid almost everything coming out of Hollywood for many reasons (not the least of which is the plain fact that they hate me and everything I stand for) but mainly because most of the movies just plain stink.

Shockingly enough, this one actually lived up to the considerable hype and I found the tale of two approaching-middle-age dudes (Paul Giamatti as Miles, a depressed school teacher and his randy pal Jack played by Thomas Haden Church) who go to the wine country for some male bonding before Jack gets married to be funny, poignant and original.

But that apparently was not enough for the director of this movie, Alexander Payne. Entertaining his audience, hitting the right emotional notes about marriage/love/depression/getting older, creating beautiful shots of California wine country--all that was not enough for the guy.

He had to take gratuitous shots at Christianity and the President.

The shot at Bush (if you know the context, you'll forgive me for the construction of this sentence) came after Miles had to dash into a bedroom to retrieve Jack's wallet where a trashy couple was having bizarre sex with the President and Vice President on the TV in the background.

It was no accident that the camera lingered on the TV so we could all have a good laugh at the not-so-subtle trash by association point that was being made. You see, to Hollywood, Republicans are hicks who apparently keep very messy houses and have perverted sex.

The poke at Christianity comes in the deleted scenes. When the two guys get to the hotel, Jack takes a shower and Miles is bored. He looks around the room and then opens the drawer in the bedstand to find Gideon's bible. Taking it and rolling his eyes contemptuously, he throws the bible into the trash.

He threw the bible in the garbage. Subtle, no?

Here was a guy in his mid-forties, divorced, suffering from depression, working a dead-end job with silly, unrealistic dreams of being a "writer" who lived in a crappy one bedroom apartment and had no direction in life whatsoever who was saying "I don't need THAT!"

I wanted to say "Listen man, you're a total loser. Nothing has worked out for you doing things the secular humanist way. Perhaps the things you would read about in that book in the trash would help you get your life together."

Christianity is exactly what a putz like Miles needed to get his life back on track. But to director Payne, it was an opportunity to literally trash Christians in an extremely juvenile and hateful way.

Regardless of how much I liked the movie, when it was over I was asking myself why I keep signing up this abuse and keep giving money to people that hate me.
Speak Softly And...

...keep a big stick handy:

A hockey player all his life, Jeff Taylor wasn't about to fall back on defense against a three-person advantage Wednesday, especially at home.

Moments earlier, he had been roused from his sleep by pounding on his door. Two men, backed by two women, pushed their way in, punched him and shoved him to the floor of his Fargo apartment at 1412 3rd Ave. N., Taylor said.

A closed fist to Taylor's jaw knocked loose his dentures, enraging the 36-year-old enough that he shook off two of the intruders.

"That kind of gave me the force of God," he said. "I just got my teeth. When they knocked them out I thought they broke them."

Taylor, who lives alone, said three of the intruders ran. He held down the remaining man until two returned and kicked in his front door. The man under Taylor struggled free and locked himself in a bedroom.

Inside the room, he pulled an air conditioner unit from the window to escape.

That's when Taylor armed himself. He grabbed a hockey stick and ran behind the blue two-level house, where the getaway car idled in the alley.

"As they were driving away I smashed out their back window," Taylor said.

The blade on his stick broke off. Taylor figures it must still be in the back seat of the car.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Tiny Sucking Sound

If the vote tallies being reported on C-SPAN are correct, it appears that CAFTA has passed. Economic sanity prevails in Congress. Barely.

Make Minnesota Alabama

Speaking of classic rock parodies, here's our latest effort.

Make Minnesota Alabama
(Sung to the tune of Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Wing nuts keep on turnin'
Our noise machine creates a din
Bloggers want to make Minnesota
Into Alabamy on a whim
And I think it's a win, yes

Well, I heard City Pages whine about 'em
Well, I heard the Strib put 'em down
Well, I hope these rags will remember
New media man don't need 'em around anyhow

Make Minnesota Alabama
Where the taxes are so few
Make Minnesota Alabama
We don't care 'bout burnin schools

In St. Paul we praised the governor
And it's true we raised a few
Slashing budgets does not bother me
Long as Tim provides the brew
Funny 'cause it's true!

Make Minnesota Alabama
Where the taxes are so few
Make Minnesota Alabama
Shut up granny, eat your dog food!

Now Stillwater has got the convicts
Boo, boo, boo
And they can clean the highways too
Unions workers makin' way too much
To be pickin' up after me and you
Tell the truth

Make Minnesota Alabama
Where the taxes are so few
Make Minnesota Alabama
Ain't willing to pay for a better you

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It's Nearly A Laugh...But It's Really A Cry

I received a very interesting e-mail from a friend this afternoon. It's a chilling tale of intrigue and suspense. So chilling, my friends, that I must relate it to you now. Only the names of those involved have been changed (to current cast members of MTV's The Real World: Austin, mind you) to protect the...ummm...innocent:
My friend Dr. Wes found a laptop on the street in the Cedar/42nd Ave. area of Mpls. He couldn't get past the passwords, so he gave it to me so I could try via XP startup disks. The battery was dead, so I gave it to my coworker Melinda, whose boyfriend Danny is a computer geek. He got into it last night, and discovered that it's owned by the Department of Defense! He quickly shut it off, and called the DOD. They told him to bring it to the nearest FBI office, which he did this morning. The FBI told him they didn't want it, and that he should "mail it to the Pentagon".

WTF? They don't know what's on it, only that the DOD owns it. Shouldn't they be a bit more concerned that it was just laying in the street? I'm probably getting it back from Melinda tomorrow; I get to either a) send it to the Pentagon, or b) wipe it clean and add it to my home network for more storage space (and possess government property, possibly with classified info on it, thus making me a felon).

Incidentally, Danny just became an American (he's British) a couple of months ago; he thought he was doing the right thing in the age of terrorism, being extra-vigilant and all that, and is now a bit confused as to why the FBI doesn't seem to give a shit...

More later, when I get the laptop back.
I don't know which part of this story disturbs me most. It could be the fact that there was a laptop owned by someone at the DOD just lying on the streets of Minneapolis. It could be that a foreign born computer geek was easliy able to gain access to the encoded files on said laptop. It could be that the DOD doesn't seem real concerned about the whereabouts of a laptop that could very likely contain some classified material. It could be that, despite the whole Zacarias Moussaoui saga that played out here a few years ago, even the local FBI didn't seem to have the time to bother with investigating the matter.

Disturbing revelations, all. I honestly believe, however, that the most frightening thing about all of this is the fact that in a few short hours, a misplaced Department of Defense laptop will be in the hands of my virulently anti-social and seldom sober friend Nehemiah.

Be afraid, America. Be very afraid.
I'd Like To Thank The Nihilist Academy...

I'm truly sorry that I couldn't be present to accept my Rock Solid award in person but I was busy with those pesky chipmunks who have now taken up residence in my backyard shed.

I'm all out of deadly gas bombs so I had to spend most of the day coming up with a creative way to rid myself of them for good. I ended up wiring the shed with cable TV so I could force the little bastards to watch the Twins roll over for the Yankees this evening.

If that didn't kill them, nothing will.
Must See TV

I don't know how he pulled this off, but our old friend Greg Wallace (from What Attitude Problem?) will be appearing on the Daily Show with John Stewart tonight. He'll be discussing .... you guessed it ... the "gayification" of NASCAR. I have no idea what that means, but I predict at least one Dick Trickle joke.

Knowing Greg as I do (which is barely), this has a chance to be hilarious. His email promotion for the show raises expectations further:

There comes a time in one's life when we all do things we wish we regretted. This is one such time. To fully appreciate this, please tune into The Daily Show tonight on Comedy Central to see yours truly get his 15 seconds of fame/humiliation.

I guess it was one of those things where I didn't want to wake up five years down the road and wonder what it would have been like if I had said no. They are doing a spot on the "gayification" of NASCAR (don't ask). They found me through my blog last January and finally got me up to Chicago a few weeks ago to shoot the spot. Fortunately, I have no children to whom I must explain this, just my two dogs. My sense is they will love me anyway. I don't watch television, so I'll simply have to see the clip when the show sends me a tape, which they've promised to do.

Samantha Bee interviewed me and she was very nice off-camera. It's a game to them. We'll see. The good thing about this (I keep telling myself) is that our culture is so shallow and attention-deficit that the day after tomorrow no one will remember that it even happened. And of course no one at church will admit to even watching the show, so it's not as though my rep is totally trashed.

Oh, I'm sure it will be fine. If not, it promises to be great TV. And thanks to the Internet, reviews of his performance will be around for centuries. It's one small humiliation for Greg, one giant leap backward for his entire line of descendents for generations. I can't wait. Catch it all on Comedy Central tonight!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Book Burnin'

Blake e-mails with another tale of bakin' on the clock:

I worked with a guy like Larry, only he was a fellow Librarian Assistant in the Fresno County Library in Fresno, CA. He had been a Religious Studies major at CSU Fresno, and now he was a professional info-hack. Although he always claimed to be a Mormon (and swore off of coffee), he was a prodigious user of cannabis, defending himself by saying that the Prophets had counseled using "the good herbs" for natural medicine, and since he only used "the best" he felt it fit under that category. In between that, he spent his time reading works by prominent Rosicrucians, selected works of Alistair Crowley, Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell, and surfing various Raelian [sic?] websites. He wanted me to accompany him to a peyote ranch in NM for a "spirit walk" a la Casteneda, but I demurred. He did prevail upon me to try one of his "award-winning" brownies, however. This was my first experience with cannabis, and as my system is hypersensitive/reactive to medications the results were, shall we say, "enlightening?" The brownie was a rather large square and I ate the whole thing at a sitting. Like you, nothing happened at first and I thought, "What the hell...?" Then, of course, the skin of my arms starting projecting outwards in three-dimensional cubes, like some damn Escher drawing, and the universe took on a rather intriguing 50-degree slant. I won't bother you with further details, but this particular dessert treat made for an interesting evening. The next day, he was greatly amused. "You weren't supposed to eat the whole thing! I make them really potent, and you were only supposed to try about a quarter of it. Hell, no wonder you were ate about 6 "servings" of weed."

Many times over the next year he brought his desserts to work and suggested I join him, claiming that it even made our standard inner-city porn-viewing homeless derelict patrons amusing. I never did, though; its hard to run InfoTrac searches with armpits and fingers designed by Salvador Dali, you know?
Keepin' It In The Family

Every organization needs a succession plan and a multi-national conglomerate like Fraters Libertas is no different. It's important to know that you have resources available to fill critical roles in the future. For example, what would happen if Atomizer stepped in front of a bus tomorrow (other than the local Bombay Sapphire distributor not being able to send his kids to college)? A deep bench is indeed an invaluable asset.

The problem is that good help is tough to find. We hung a sign in the front window of the sprawling Fraters office complex a couple of months ago, but the quality of applications that we received was disappointing. A number of good candidates were no doubt turned off by our "No Flemish Need Apply" policy (Saint Paul insisted on it) or Atomizer's requirement of four year's of rodent extermination experience. The one applicant who actually might have worked out fled from the interview in tears after her snide remark about Applebee's chicken fingers incurred the wrath of JB Doubtless. "Here's a witty rejoinder for ya!"

We finally decided that the answer was an internship program. But bringing on a college or even high school student would only be a short term solution. To ensure the viability of the Fraters franchise, we need to look beyond 2005 or even 2010. We're talking about young talent that we can tap well into the future.

And, at the risk of being accused of nepotism, I think it's safe to say that with the birth of our son on Saturday, the investment in that future begins now. Nathaniel is seven pounds six ounces of pure blogging potential. He doesn't seem to have a lot to say right now (eat, sleep, cry, expel bodily waste, eat, sleep, cry, expel bodily waste...), but he figures to have plenty to opine on in the future. Look for a hard hitting review of onesies soon.

Nathaniel, Mom, and I will be spending the next few weeks at home and so blogging, like sleep, may be intermittent. However, what I may lose in time in the Land of Nod, I should more than make up for in blogging material. From what I understand, these little babies can be gold (gold Jerry!) in that area. Other local bloggers seem to have done quite well with kid blogging. Heck, some have just about made a career out of it. Now I just need a cute nickname. Maybe Nat...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

All He Needs Are Some Tasty Waves, A Cool Buzz, And He's Fine

After reading the Eagan police report in today's St. Paul Pioneer Press, I began to wonder if Chad The Elder had wandered from the AM1280 studios in search of emergency sustenance:
Possible drug activity: Someone at McDonald's, 3045 Holiday Lane, called police Friday after hearing a customer say he had been smoking all day and now has the "munchies".
Then again, Chad rarely goes to McDonald's when he's baked. He prefers to stay home, crank up some Phish on the stereo and devour an entire 14" deep dish Meatzza Feast pizza. As Chad likes to say: "That Domino's dude delivers some mighty tasty 'za."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Coach Enjoys Kissing His Sister

At the risk of treading all over The Elder's hallowed territory, I'm going to comment here about the end of the NHL lockout. Specifically, this St. Paul Pioneer Press article about the newly approved rule changes contains a few quotes from Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire that really caught my eye.

One of the new rules eliminates the ridiculous practice of calling a game a tie if neither team scores a goal in the brief overtime period and replaces it with the always exciting shootout. Lemaire had this to say about that:
The shootout is great for fans, but the results are not always good. I think it will favor the top teams. You go into a shootout against Colorado, who's got the better chance to win?
Yes, Jacques, Colorado has a better chance of putting the biscuit in the basket during a shootout than the Wild does. Please tell me how in the hell that makes the shootout any different from the 65 minutes of hockey that both teams just completed.

What the elimination of the tie actually accomplishes is that it prevents both teams from skating around in circles for the entirety of the overtime period in order to guarantee at least one more point for each in the standings.

Coach Lemaire continues:
If you're home, the fans will be excited about a shootout, no doubt. But what if you don't win? Sometimes you tie games in the end and you're happy. You go to a shootout and lose, as a player, you still lost, and that stays in your mind.
Moses, smell the roses! What utter tripe. Part of your job as coach, Mr. Lemaire, is to make damn sure that every single humiliating and demoralizing loss by your team DOES stick in their much so that they never want it to happen again. I have zero confidence in a team that is coached by a man who claims to feel happy after achieving an incredibly ignoble tie.

If Lemaire's attitude regarding shootouts is any indication, it looks like the Wild players (or is it "the Wild's players"? God, how I hate that name) will be joining the Minnesota Twins in watching their sport's post-season from the comfort of their easy chairs.

Friday, July 22, 2005

US Responsible For Obesity Epidemic In Iraq?

The following is a letter sent from a soldier in Iraq to a newspaper columnist. The names of both parties have been omitted to protect the innocent. Or the not so innocent.

Dear Mr. ****,

Hello from FOB Lima! I just wanted to thank you for your excellent column from a couple of weeks ago. Sorry I didn't get a chance to write earlier, but it sounds like you know what it's like from the field - no down time. Anyway, it's been making the rounds out here and everyone agrees we need more reporters like you.

I'm with the 155th from Ole Miss, and let me tell you how good it is to finally hear somebody in the media getting the story straight. Fact is, things are changing for the better in Iraq, and it's thanks to the US of A.

I thought I'd share some stories that reinforce your point. We're working in Karbala, and I'd say at least 90 percent of the population loves us. Sometimes there are so many kids around waving to us that it creates a mini-traffic jam. I've even noticed a few fat kids starting to appear - didn't see too much of that during Saddam's reign, now, did you? I can already imagine how the liberal media would twist that

story: "Obesity Epidemic in Iraq" instead of celebrating that these kids have the freedom to eat what and how much they want for the first time.

Of course, if you read about Karbala in the media, you'll probably think that the whole city is a bunch of jihad-crazed terrorists and we're afraid to even enter city limits. Yeah, right! Then how'd our team build five water stations? I mean, I'm not denying that there are terrorists out there, but we're making progress. Terrorists have temporarily disabled two, but it's still a net gain. And we're not finished yet. Maybe if those reporters left the Green Zone some time and spent some time with the people, like we do every day, they'd find out that the Iraqis want to become more like Americans, and that they don't hate us at all. I mean, our translator's even taken to hankering for country music!

Another example is the first reality show in Iraq - definitely a sign things are changing here for the better. It's about a couple planning for their marriage. Our translator was telling me all about it - the bride's brother actually was killed by terrorists during the filming, but the family didn't let itself be intimidated. That's how addictive freedom can be. If you ask me, that's the change here that I've noticed since getting stationed here in January - the terrorists are still out there, but the people aren't intimidated any more. It's like there's been a trickle down effect from the Army's bravery. Now if a bomb goes off outside a recruiting station, the next day the lines of recruits are just as long. That's having faith in the new Iraq.

They're finally understanding the American way. With that sort of attitude, the terrorists don't stand a chance.

Well, I've gotta fire off some emails back home, but just wanted to say, keep up the good work. Seeing smart commentary like yours is a real morale boost.

Thank you, and God bless, 1st Lt. ****** ****

The Real World Baghdad? He's right, Zarqawi and crew don't stand a chance.

UPDATE: More on unintended consequences here.

I'd like to sup with my baby tonight

Although it's nothing compared to what areas of the country are currently suffering through, it's been noted that, until a break in the action on Monday, we've been sweltering through what passes for a heat wave in these parts:

It was a good run for the Twin Cities: nine days of 90 degrees or better. But we could have been a contender if only we had held on until Tuesday.

Then we would have tied for the second-longest hot spell in the state's history.

Last weekend, the 2005 MS75 (seventy-five mile inline skate from Hinckley to Duluth) was held. This would have been my fifth straight year participating in the fundraiser to help fight multiple sclerosis, but developments on another front prevented me from joining the fun. Looks like my timing was impeccable.

That will leave us tied for the third-longest heat wave, right up there with July 1932, July 1937, June and July 1949 and the hot, dry summer of 1988.

Ah yes, the summer of '88. Having experienced more than my share of summer that year, I would also add LONG to the list of adjectives used to describe it.

Back when the summer of 1988 began, I was a mere lad of nineteen. By the time it was over, I was a lean, well-tanned (tanned as well as someone of Irish-German descent can ever hope to be) man of twenty. The long, hot, dry summer of 1988. My summer on the lawn crew.

Lawn and landscaping crew that is. Most of the time I was on the lawn patrol, although I did a little sod busting as well. It may not sound like the most glamorous job in the world, but for a college kid looking to make a few bucks while home for the summer, it fit the bill. It offered a chance to work outside, the opportunity for overtime (important to maximize your income during the summer months), and best of all, involved little or no thinking. I was the perfect man for the job.

The pace at the beginning was frantic. Lawns needed to be cut every week, our crew was undermanned, and thus we were overworked. Early on that summer, I spent many an hour steering a "walk behind", becoming a pro with a weed whacker, and discovering that carrying a gas-powered leaf blower on your back in the heat of the day can get a little sticky. Not that I minded. The more green I cut, the more green I made.

Looking back on those days, one thing that really stands out for me is not only what I did at work, but what I did after work. It was not unusual to spend ten to twelve hours working outside, come home for a quick bite, go down to the park and play hoops until it got dark, and then hit a local watering hole for a pitcher or two (or three). And then get up the next day and do it all over again. Ah, the energy of youth.

As the summer wore on and grew increasingly hotter and drier, the need to cut lawns diminished. But since most of our jobs were contracts that covered the entire season, we went out and mowed anyway. By the end of July, we were essentially just running the machines over dirt, stirring up huge clouds of dust as we went. We were hot, sweaty, dirty, and most of all miserable.

I don't know how long the dry spell lasted, but it seemed like it didn't rain at all from the beginning of July until almost the end of August. I can still recall a stifling hot afternoon late in the summer when we had just finished up at an apartment complex. Suddenly, black clouds rolled in and the skies opened up for a tantalizingly short lived spot of precipitation. We were whoopin', hollerin', and dancin' around like kids running through a sprinkler. It was our manna falling from heaven. Rain never felt so good.

It was a summer that offered many a learning experience for a young man in my position. And many of those experiences involved Larry. Larry was a lifer on the lawn crew. Not in the sense that he would spend his career working for this particular company in this particular field. It was just the type of work that Larry probably had done up to that point in his life and would do again throughout it.

Larry was in his mid to late thirties. I was paired up with Larry my first day on the job and rode with him in a pickup for most of the summer, so I got to know him pretty well. He claimed to have been in the Navy and had the tattoos to prove it, but, like most of Larry's stories, you took that claim with a grain of salt. He had been married a couple of times and had a few kids here and there. He liked to smoke unfiltered Chesterfields, enjoyed a beer or twelve on a regular basis, and was one of the first examples that I ever noticed of irrational economic decision making.

Every day Larry would stop at the Super America (gas station and convenience store usually referred to as "SA" in these parts), buy two packs of smokes, donuts for breakfast, a couple of sodas, a sandwich for lunch, and maybe a Gatorade. He was dropping over $20 a pop for his daily fixins. He never bought a carton of cigarettes, a case of Coke, or bread and meat to make sandwiches. He never ate breakfast before work. He never brought a lunch from home. He was an early inspiration for my October 2002 post, Life In The Deli Express Lane, in which I speculated on the lifetime cost of such a convenience lifestyle.

He liked to talk a lot about p***y (here after referred to as P). The P he had gotten. The P he was getting now. And the P he was going to get in the future. In his mind, he was quite a man of the world and proud of his accomplishments in this arena. I was considerably less impressed with his game when I actually met his then girlfriend when we stopped by their apartment one day at lunch. Her name was CC and, after getting a gander at her, I could never listen to the song "CC Rider" the same way again.

But Larry's main interest in life was getting stoned. Most of the time I knew him, he was under the influence of the herb. And he wasn't real shy about it either. My first day on the job, I was told to ride with Larry. The pickup truck hadn't even reached the end of the company's driveway before Larry broke out his little porcelain pipe and started packing it up. Later, I came to marvel at his ability to simultaneously pack a bowl, smoke a cigarette, and drive the truck (with trailer full of lawn equipment behind it). That first day, he noticed me noticing him and offered, "You want a hit?"

Now being a FNG as well as a nineteen year old kid trying hard to fit in with the crew, I didn't express what initially came to my mind, "Are you freakin' crazy?" Instead, I played it cool and nonchalantly shrugged and demurred, "Nah, not today" as if I had just turned down an offer to partake of a Cherry Life Saver rather than an illicit drug.

During the long, hot summer of 1988, Larry would bake at least two or three times a day in my presence. If memory serves, he never missed an opportunity to offer to share the pleasures of the pipe with me. And every time, probably hundreds of times over the course of the summer, I politely but firmly turned him down.

Until one day. I don't recall exactly what lead me to just say yes to Larry. Maybe it was because it was near the end of the summer and I only had a week or two left before I returned to school. Maybe it was because it was a Friday and I wanted to start the weekend early. Or maybe I felt that somehow, after being asked day after day and declining, I owed it to my brother in lawns. Whatever my motivations may have been, I took the plunge.

After a couple of decent pulls, I still wasn't feeling anything. Larry had always assured me that he only smoked "the good s***", but now I was beginning to have my doubts. As I put pipe to lip and prepared for another hit, Larry warned me, "You better be careful man. That's some real good Hawaiian s***." I smiled as I inhaled deeply. Yeah, whatever Larry, I thought. Seems more like North Dakota ditch weed.

I was just about to share these sentiments with Larry when it hit me like a ton of hemp sandals. If it was an after-school special, this is where the Hendrix riff would have kicked in. And indeed, I was soon kissing the sky. I was not a complete stranger to the world of weed, but Larry's warning was well founded. This was some good s***.

At first, I enjoyed the ride. Cruising along in the truck I was flying high. Sitting on Cloud Ten (one higher) man. Life was beautiful. Stoned out of my gourd and getting paid for it. Why didn't I do this every day at work?

Oh yeah. Work. Our first stop of the day was at a prominent estate on Lake Minnetonka inhabited by one of the heirs of a family that had made its mark in the local milling scene. Mowing under the influence wasn't all that bad. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to operate a walk behind in a competent manner. However, another chore tested my dexterity and coordination.

The house had a large deck area in back that was not accessible from the ground. Part of the job was to clear it of debris each week with a leaf blower. Apparently the owners didn't want the "help" inside the house, so one of us would strap the gas-powered leaf blower on, and clamber up the side of the house to reach the deck. Under normal circumstances it was actually a somewhat enjoyable task to perform. Under the haze I was operating in at that time, it was a challenge.

I slowly and carefully scaled the side of the house and reached the deck. Then I performed what was probably the most thorough and complete cleaning of the deck area ever. I blew every leaf, twig, and piece of dirt off. It probably took me three times as long as normal, but damn was that deck clean. I likely would have spent the whole day up there cleaning it down to the subatomic particle level had Larry not summoned me with a shout of, "What the hell are you doing? Let's go."

After reaching the ground, I realized that being stoned in dusty ninety plus degree heat and operating a leaf blower gives you a bout of cotton mouth without equal. I also began to experience one of the key downsides of smoking weed on the job. Time crawls by. To me it seemed as if we had been on the job for hours on end and that surely it was almost time to go home. In reality, it had only been a couple of hours since we arrived.

At that point, I was ready to return to "normal." It had been fun for a while, but the fun had passed. I wanted to get that feeling of control back. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of smoking Larry's "really good s***" was that the high lasted a really long time. Way too long for my comfort.

I pounded a Gatorade to momentarily relieve my saliva free mouth and hopped in the truck with Larry. I don't know why regular pot smokers take such pleasure in seeing others who normally don't partake get stoned, but Larry was having a grand old time knowing that I was still reeling from the hits earlier in the day. He informed me that we were going to meet up with the rest of the crew and take lunch at another site and that our boss Rick would be there. For some reason Rick and I had never hit it off that well. Maybe it was my often sarcastic sense of humor. Maybe it was the time I put a live gopher in his lunch cooler as a practical joke. Hey, how was I to know that he'd reach into it while driving? Anyway there wasn't a lot of love lost between us and the prospect of having to see him in my current state suddenly filled me with dread. Yeah, the ol' paranoia started kickin' in hard and heavy.

Larry picked up on this and drove me to the point of panic by telling me that it was obvious to anyone that I was stoned. That Rick would surely notice and no doubt fire me on the spot. The drive to our lunch location was pure hell. I was petrified that Rick would pick up on my condition and was trying my damndest to sober up in a hurry. "Don't act stoned. Don't act stoned. Don't act stoned?" was the mantra I quietly repeated to myself over and over as we neared my appointment with certain doom. Larry, now the very embodiment of the Serpent in my mind, found the whole situation hilarious and cackled at my plight.

Luckily my fears proved to be unfounded. We arrived at the appointed location, shot the breeze with Rick for a few minutes, and went off to have lunch. He never even looked twice at me, and in hindsight, the chances of him suspecting anything were slim. Of course, with my marijuana induced paranoia (made worse by Larry's prodding) there wasn't much room for rational thought or logic.

After a couple of more hours, the effects finally wore off completely. By then I was completely shot and wanted nothing more than to go home and crash. But I still had to toil for a few more hours. It was one of the longest working days of my life and taught me a valuable lesson:

Stoned, paranoid, and stupid is no way to go through a day at work.

It was a lesson that I've learned well. The most important lesson that I learned during the long, hot, dry summer of 1988 is a lesson that summer jobs, like my stint on the lawn crew, have been teaching college age kids for years and years. Stay in school, study, and get a degree. You don't want to be Larry.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

behind every joke there's some truth

How can I not link to a post called, The Syllogisms of Seinfeld: The Connections Between Logic and Humor?

Type #1 -- Hasty Generalizations -- occurs when a generalization is made from too few cases or, as often seen in humour, when the generalization is obviously not true as a literal statement (a clear exaggeration).

"So, what you are saying is that ninety to ninety-five percent of the population is undateable?"


"Then how are all these people getting together?"


- Elaine and Jerry, in "The Wink"

A Wide Open Field

Due to travel and other schedule conflicts, the mighty Fraters trivia squad will not be on hand at Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant tonight to extend our current winning streak to three weeks (and forty-nine overall). This means that tonight's trivia title is anybody's to win and those squads thus far unable to savor the sweet nectar of victory have a window of opportunity. A window that no doubt will be slammed shut with extreme prejudice next week upon our return. And yes, even though we won't be there to hear it, we fully expect to be booed in absentia. We would want it no other way.
Should It Pay To Work For A Non-Profit?

There's a very interesting article in today's Pioneer Press by Edward Lotterman on what the dispute between Minnesota AG Mike Hatch and Medica demonstrates about why people work:

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has an uncanny knack for raising questions that illustrate fundamental issues in economics. His suit against Medica, which goes to mediation today, is a prime example. It involves a core question in economics: What motivates people to work?

The suit involves pay for Medica's board of directors. Hatch charges the directors "hijacked" the organization and are paying themselves excessive amounts for serving on the board. Board members average $50,000 to $60,000 annually. Medica replies that this is fair for the effort required and on par with other nonprofit HMOs nationally.

50 to 60K a year to serve on a board is hardly excessive when measured against the for-profit companies. The question is whether people working for non-profits should expect to receive less pay and benefits:

Many believe that those who work for charitable or nonprofit institutions should accept less money than those doing similar jobs at for-profit businesses. This belief lies at the heart of the attorney general's suit.

The lines are not clear, however. Managers of nonprofit social service agencies often earn much less than those doing similar work in businesses. The gap for custodians or webmasters is smaller. Accounting and legal firms may charge nonprofits less for their services than they do businesses. But nonprofits typically pay the same price for gasoline, light bulbs and copier paper as everyone else.

And claims processors at nonprofit HMOs earn about as much as their counterparts at comparable for-profit institutions, as do and cardiac surgeons at nonprofit hospitals. So do most other salaried workers with comparable responsibilities.

For what it's worth, I come down on this side of the argument:

Others respond that you get what you pay for. If you want people with the experience and skills to run a large organization, they must find it worth their time, one way or another. Moreover, an inexperienced board is more likely to fall captive to the organizations' full-time managers. This is a far more common problem in large anonymous member organizations such as Medica or mutual insurance companies and pension funds than overpayment of directors.

In some respects, the need for a strong board with high caliber members is greater at non-profits than at regular businesses. There are no shareholders with a stake in the business to keep tabs on the board and bring pressure against it if results don't meet expectations as there are at for-profit companies. There is no stock price to use to gauge performance (however imperfect that measurement tool can be). It's in the best interests of non-profits like Medica (and their customers) to put together the best board they can. And that usually doesn't come cheap.

UPDATE: It doesn't get much better than this. Thanks King.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

True Colors Shining Through

Glen Reynolds, The Instapundit a.k.a. the J.J. Hunsecker of the 'sphere, notes that California AG Bill Lockyer is in the news again for all the wrong reasons and asks:

First Lockyer was advocating prison rape and now this. Does he have a political tin ear -- or is he just a jerk? It's hard to believe, though, that California couldn't find someone better for the job.

We received an anonymous e-mail from someone who knows Lockyer quite well that appears to answer the question:

Years ago, when he was a State Senator, Governor Wilson called a special session of the legislature to toughen criminal penalties. One of the bills offered was a "one-strike" rape bill offered by Senator Bergeson. Senator Bergeson and the Governor's Office had brought in to testify before the Judiciary Committee in support of the bill a woman whose daughter had been raped and stabbed 40 times by a repeat offender rapist. At the time of her testimony, her daughter was still in the hospital.

Anyway, after she was done with her very moving testimony, Senator Lockyer let go with a tirade about how tired he was of the Governor's Office bringing in these people who tell these stories and waste the Senate's time. He ranted that he was going to review the budget for the particular office of the Governor that was responsible for this (Office of Criminal Justice Planning) for wasting their time.

A hush fell over the room and that Chairman, Democrat Senator David Roberti looked ill. Eventually, one of the other witnesses, who was not a government employee, laid back into Lockyer. By this time, of course, Lockyer had left his seat and was happily chatting with someone to the side of the room, ignoring what was going on. Senator Roberti, to his credit, apologized.

I witnessed all that myself.

Every so often, he will let slip the mask he wears, and you can see the raging lefty that he really is. Whether it is threatening Clinton donor Ken Lay with prison rape, or telling residents of gated communities that they would be burned out of their homes.

Based on that testimony, I gotta go with jerk. Don't worry, we will not be revealing our source no matter what consequences may come as a result. It's a matter of principle and I'm more than willing to have Atomizer go to jail to uphold that right.
Newsflash: MoveOn Thinks Roberts Is An Extremist

Stunned. Stunned I am that is coming through on their promise to fight "If Bush announces an extremist nominee..." From an e-mail sent out this morning:

In the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats have called on President Bush to nominate a moderate for the Supreme Court--someone who would honor the legacy of independent Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But last night, President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts, a far-right lawyer and corporate lobbyist, to fill her post on the Supreme Court.

We've got to stop Roberts. He opposed clean air rules and worked to help coal companies strip-mine mountaintops. He worked with Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr), and tried to keep Congress from defending the Voting Rights Act. He wrote that Roe v. Wade should be "overruled," and as a lawyer argued (and won) the case that stopped some doctors from even discussing abortion.

I also understand that he once shared a cab with John Ashcroft (yes, that John Ashcroft).

This is one of the most important domestic fights of President Bush's career. We can win--Americans overwhelmingly want a moderate judge. But to win, we need to get the word out early that Roberts is out of the mainstream.

President Bush could have chosen many fair-minded and independent jurists to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Instead, he chose a corporate partisan loved by Bush's right-wing base but out of step with the rest of the country. of course is in "the mainstream" and in step with the rest of the country. Let the lunacy begin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Roberts Just Another Extremist Judge

Sisyphus at Nihilist In Golf Pants is out with his Top 11 Indications that John Roberts is Out of the Mainstream:

4. He agrees with more than half of the Ten Commandments.
Soldiers' Angels Update

Andy from Residual Forces is also on board the adopt a soldier blogwagon. There's still plenty of room left.

UPDATE: Swiftee reminds us that he's in:

I usually prefer to keep my altruistic acts a private matter between myself and the BIG GUY [Mitch?] (I've got a reputation to uphold), but the peer pressure is becoming unbearable.

If you gents were not sooo busy googling trivia answers at Keegan's, you'd have noticed that I had already taken full responsibility two weeks ago for moral boosting duties where PFC Stevan ******** is concerned.

One's imagination runs wild speculating on the contents of one of Swiftee's morale boosting "care" packages.
Bush To Plug Hole By Fingering Dike

Bush to introduce court nominee tonight:

President Bush settled on a nominee for the Supreme Court on Tuesday and the White House made arrangements for a nationally televised prime time announcement. "I'll let you know when I'm ready," he said at a midday news conference where he declined to tip his hand.

That only intensified speculation on his choice for the first opening on the court in more than a decade and a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

The announcement was set for 9 p.m. EDT from the East Room of the White House. The nominee's family was expected to be with Bush and the candidate.

Let the fun begin:

Who should President Bush announce tonight as his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court?
Judge Edith Jones
Judge Edith Clement
Edith Bunker
Judge Judy
Judge Amy Gray
Paula Abdul
Free polls from

(Sorry about the title. I just couldn't resist.)
Memo To Mark Yost

TO: Mark Yost, Associate Editor St. Paul Pioneer Press

FROM: A concerned bystander

RE: Why they hate us

I understand that your boss isn't too happy with all the talk that your column on media coverage of the war in Iraq has generated and, as a result, he has slapped a gag order on you to quell any further discussions of the matter. I strongly applaud this move and urge you cease and desist from engaging in any conservations on the column, people's reactions to it, and the reaction to those reactions, both in public and in private.

Such conversations are drawing unwanted attention to the column, to you, and to the newspaper. In the advertising business this is known as "buzz" and that's the last thing the Pioneer Press needs these days. Because if people hear about this column they might start reading the paper. Even subscribing to it. Then the advertisers start banging on your door. Next thing you know, you're actually building a reputation as a legitimate competitor to the Star Tribune in the local marketplace instead of cowering in the shadows and picking at the Strib's leftovers.

None of us would want that, right? I mean c'mon Mark, it's one thing to take the field with the Park Bugle, but do you really expect the Pioneer Press to play in the big leagues?

Remember Mark, this is St. Paul, Minnesota. We don't like to make waves or stand out in any way. We like it here. The Pioneer Press is a nice little newspaper just trying to get by. So why can't you just be a good little columnist and play nice with your friends in the media?

From now on, let's pretend that this little, unpleasant column never even existed. When people ask you about the reaction to the column, you say,

"Column? What column? I didn't write any column about media coverage of the war in Iraq. You must be thinking of Jack Kelly at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Ask him to be interviewed on TV. Write blog posts about him. Link to his newspaper's web site. Talk about him at the water cooler. Read his newspaper."

You'll look back on this one day and realize that it really was the best thing for you, your column, and the newspaper.

Oh by the way, the British have a message for the Pioneer Press too. They're demanding that the paper quit using a bulldog as its mascot. Something about destroying the brand image that they're worked so hard to build. They suggest that an appropriate alternative for the Pioneer Press would be a French Poodle.

Saturday in the park, I know it is the 30th of July

(UPDATE: Still plenty of time to make your reservations)

Regular listeners of local talk radio titan AM 1280 - The Patriot are probably already well aware of the station's upcoming Patriot Picnic, but in case you haven't heard yet here are all the details:

FREE Patriot Frisbee to first 300 listeners! FREE lunch provided at 11:30AM!(while supplies last)

Join AM1280 The Patriot on Saturday, July 30th for a Patriot Picnic! The Patriot Picnic will take place at Staring Lake Park of Eden Prairie. In appreciation of you loyalty to AM1280, this is a free event! There will be a LIVE broadcast, a picnic lunch, Patriot merchandise and giveaways. Please let us know if you're coming so we can plan our picnic lunch. Call 651-289-4455 or click here to pre-register.

The LIVE broadcast will feature smokin' David Strom on the recently expanded Taxpayers League Live Show (now with 50% more chortling) from 9am until noon with The Northern Alliance Radio Network following up from noon until 3pm. It should be a great day for food, fun, frolic, and FREE Frisbees.

Frisbees that will no doubt come in handy at the nine-hole championship Frolf course at Staring Lake Park. Frolf being Frisbee golf or "disc golf" as devotees of the sport (like Saint Paul) prefer to call it. Frolf in the park with the TPL and the NARN? It really don't get much better.

If you need directions to Staring Lake Park you can find them here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Urban Legends

Nathan e-mails to point out a contradiction:

I'd love to hear somebody reconcile Global Warming with New Urbanism.

New Urbanists want everybody to move back downtown, increase urban density to create ridership to support the TRAIN.

Dense populations create a heat island. So if the New Urbanists had their way, Minneapolis would get hotter and hotter.

Paul Douglas says Minneapolis endorses Kyoto. Great. The Council should order an AC ban (like a sprinkler ban, cool your department store on alternate days only).

Pack thousands of people into apartments to prevent them from moving to the suburbs, shut off all the air conditioners to comply with Kyoto, and it will take how long, exactly, for the riots to start?

I dunno. I suppose we could ask the French.

Speaking of the French, Nathan also points out (via The Q&O Blog) that it appears that their enthusiasm for car sharing has its limits:

They might have been congratulated for their "green" efforts in an area of heavy air pollution.

Instead a group of French cleaning ladies who organised a car-sharing scheme to get to work are being taken to court by a coach company which accuses them of "an act of unfair and parasitical competition".

The women, who live in Moselle and work five days a week at EU offices in Luxembourg, are being taken to court by Transports Schiocchet Excursions, which runs a service along the route. It wants the women to be fined and their cars confiscated.

Yes, sometimes its not easy being a modern Frenchman. On the one hand, car sharing is good. But on the other, the freedom to compete is bad.

"Using our cars is quicker and at least twice as cheap. And on the bus we didn't have the right to eat or even to speak," said Martine Bourguignon. Odette Friedmann added: "In the evening instead of coming to get us at 9.30pm the bus would arrive at 10.30pm. If you made any comment to the driver you'd get a mouthful of abuse."

You will take the bus. It will cost more. You will not eat or speak. It will be late. And if you complain, you'll be verbally slapped down.

Vive La France!

Bizarro World Separated At Birth?

David Strom and his wife Margaret Martin, whose philosophy of life is live like a liberal, vote like a conservative and...

Mike Erlandson and his wife Dawn Erlandson, whose philosophy of life appears to be live like a conservative, vote like a liberal?

(By the way I wonder if Dawn ever drives the 'Lade to the Green Institute or the Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development meetings?)
Soldiers' Angels Adoption Update

On July 7th at Keegan's Irish Pub, in just over two hours, volunteers from Soldiers' Angels signed twenty people up to adopt a soldier. Keegan's itself adopted an entire battalion and has been collecting funds at the pub to support those soldiers.

Among the bloggers responding to my challenge for each blog to adopt its own soldier, are The Night Writer and The Smoothing Plane. Kerry from The Smoothing Plane e-mailed with an update:

Chad, I adopted one, or he adopted me about ten days ago, following the death of the Seals in Afghanistan. Interestingly enough, like me, he is a classical music aficionado, and we've talked Grieg et. al. back and forth. Nice shootin' pardner.

Soldiers' Angels makes it very easy for you to lend a hand. Sign up to adopt a soldier here. They'll provide you with contact information. Send a letter or an e-mail once a week. Send a care package once a month.

A little work on your end here means a lot to those serving over there. Sign up today.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

MOB Expansion Continues

Please welcome the newest member of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers, Zatera Ul.
In this world nothing is certain but death and...fees?

Doug e-mails to express his confusion:

While I have lived in Minnesota for several years (and happily so) I was born and raised in the Ozark Hills. Way back there in that backwards area of this great country we had a name for people who do the kind of things Pawlenty is doing with his "health impact fee". We called it lying. I am certain that I have to be missing something here. I mean after all, didn't Tim sign a pledge not to raise taxes? Wait, never mind, this is not a tax it is a "health impact fee" Do you happen to remember a former President that made a very memorable statement when he said, under oath, "Depends on what the meaning of is is."

Minnesota is my adopted home. Having traveled the entire United States, I picked Minnesota as the most desirable place to live. The lakes, the summers and even the winters attracted me. I do however find it sad that "Minnesota Nice" seems to mean that you tax, sorry fee, the poorest of Minnesotans into an even worse position. This group of people has made the choice to smoke, a very community oriented choice and a great sacrifice which should be honored. The choice they have made to smoke means they will die early and as a result not become a burden on our great society. This group of people happens to also be the group most likely to require taxpayer support in later life. They, on the whole, have no savings and no assets to speak of and in order to help reduce the potential burden they pose to Minnesota taxpayers, they smoke. They realize that by smoking they are supporting the state. Smoking means they will die early and reduce the impact they will have on the hard working people of Minnesota. How do we, the state of Minnesota nice, reward them? We tax, sorry fee, them to death. While the sacrifice that poor smokers make for Minnesota make may not rise to the level of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, it does much to decrease the burden on the taxpayers of Minnesota.

As a person that has, by choice, made Minnesota my home it saddens me that we could elect a "Republican" governor who, with a very straight face, could defend such a obvious example of political double speak repeatedly. As for Hugh, I always thought he was a conservative. Sorry Hugh for not understanding you. You are a true citizen of "the state where nothing is allowed."

In the interest of full discloser I am not a smoker. I do eat at McDonalds however and I can see the day when my Big Mac's will have some special tax, sorry I keep using that word I really meant fee. As we all know a fee is not the same as a tax.

After writing this I have to ask for your help. I graduated from college, and in fact had a fairly good GPA, but I can't understand the difference between a tax and a fee. I really need your help here, I know there is a difference because the governor says there is but I can't seem to comprehend it. I am feeling so stupid right now and I don't know where to turn. I am sincerely hoping you can explain the difference between a tax and a fee. As I said earlier I am just a dumb hillbilly and as a result I need help understanding this. I am sure it is an easy thing to explain because when I saw Tim Pawlenty talking about it and he smiled the smile of someone that was looking down on me, he made it obvious that there was something about this whole thing I just don't understand.

I am sure you will answer me. I am from such a backwards area of the US that I am having a really hard time with this. We were so simple that we thought that when the government took money out of your pocket it was called a tax but then again we were just dumb hillbillies.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Let's See, One Apple Cruller, A Bear Claw, A Dozen Jelly And Whatever Cash You Have

I love reading the NRA's monthly magazine and especially the Armed Citizen column. It's all the stories buried by the MSM where God-fearing, law-abiding citizens blast worthless criminals to kingdom come after being attacked.

In fact, these stories are so fun to read, I had to find more and luckily found this site. There's a good ten years of stories there to keep a smile on your face and a hand on your gat.

I especially enjoyed this one, where a Dunkin Donuts employee foiled a would-be robbery:

District Attorney Robert Schwarz refused to charge an Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dunkin' Donuts employee with any wrongdoing after the armed store clerk killed one of two would-be robbers. The two suspects had entered the store posing as customers. When the clerk turned to get their donuts they drew guns and demanded cash. The clerk refused. One bandit fired a single shot at the clerk, barely missing his head, and the other bandit jumped over the counter and attempted to shoot the employee, but his gun jammed. By then, the clerk had retrieved his own handgun and returned fire, fatally injuring the suspect who had jumped the counter. The dead crook's accomplice fled the building. (The Journal, Albuquerque, NM, 9/6/96)

What a great American! The guy is just trying to make an honest living selling some delicious donuts (I've got to make the donuts) and various other battered goodies and these scum just expect him to hand over the dough. I just love the attitude of the guy that he wasn't going to bend over for these human debris and instead gave them a little taste of their own.
Dane'nt No Way Yer Gitting Any Pizza!

As a life-long conservative I support independent businessmen to be able to do (or not) business with anyone they like. For example, if I owned a bar, I would ban all Packers fans and Democrats from imbibing. It would be a Don't Ask Don't Get Booted policy, so as long as you don't mention the Pack or how you love raising taxes, you could stay. But open your big trap about any of that krep in MY bar and your gone.

But this is (or should be) America and a guy MIGHT be able to get away with something as kooky as that, but I was very surprised and delighted to find this great story in yesterday's WSJ: (am I starting to sound like Scott Johnson?)

A Danish court found Aage Bjerre guilty of discrimination Tuesday, and he will spend eight days in jail for refusing to serve French and German customers in his pizza shop on Denmark's Fanoe Island. Mr. Bjerre instituted the ban in 2003 to protest France and Germany's opposition to US led effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The initial response in tolerant Denmark included rampant vandalism against his pizzeria. Mr. Bjerre told Ap Tuesday that while he chose jail over a $900 fine, "eight days is a small price to pay when American soldiers go to Iraq and risk their limbs and lives."

Who knew any of the Danes had a pair?

We here at Fraters would like to raise a frosty Boulevard Pale Ale to Aage Bjerre of Denmark for keeping the spirit of Barry Goldwater alive and sticking it (sticking it!) to the frogs and krauts who wanted to get a slice of pie.


Friday, July 15, 2005

You wanna be taxin' somethin', you got to be taxin' somethin'

Last night, on his nationally syndicated talk show, Hugh Hewitt twice heartily endorsed Minnesota's new "health impact fee" (read tax) on tobacco, which helped seal the budget deal and end the state government "shutdown." First, with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty where Hugh said:

You know, I actually have no problem with that. I don't care what the anti-tax hard core says, I believe in taxing the heck out of cigarettes because of externalities and [unintelligible]. It's good economics.

It is? Looks like Hugh knows about as much about good economics as he does wine. Or hockey. Or music. Or...

Well, you get the idea. Let's see what someone with a bit more of a background in the field has to say:

Third, this notion that the externalities are so large from smoking has been disputed. David [Strom] has been citing Kip Viscusi's analysis, which argues that states are compensated for medical and nursing home costs from smoking already. There's a benefit to smokers dying younger -- they don't burden Social Security, they don't linger in hospitals in their 90s by and large. Cruel logic, sure -- they don't call us the 'dismal science' for nothing! -- but if you are going to add up all the external costs, you need to also add up the external benefits of reduced longevity.

Actually that is just one of four solid points that King Banaian makes to refute the arguments of Hugh and Governor Pawlenty that the "health impact fee" was the right way to resolve the budget dilemma. Read them all.

Hugh crowed a second time later in the show when he brought James Lileks on. After getting Lileks to concede that taxing cigarettes was a good and noble idea, Hugh uncorked this whopper:

I mean, it's a normal ... you got to tax something, tax smoke!

Not only is raising taxes "normal", we really have no choice because, according to Hugh, "you got to tax something." We do? Why exactly is raising taxes the only possible solution? God forbid if we could possibly have gotten by without increasing spending as much as we did. What would happen to the schools if we didn't pour an additional $800 some million dollars into them? A cynic might ask exactly what this additional educational largesse is really going to get us, but it's all "about the children" so it would be rude and unseemly to demand to see reforms or results, wouldn't it?

I'm trying to think of what other things it would be "normal" to tax at higher rates. You know, things that are voluntary and may have negative externalities. Things like, well I don't know, maybe snack foods. How about a Cheeto tax Hugh? Or a Diet Coke tax? A Docker's tax? The burden would fall chiefly on white, middle-aged men, so why not? How about a tax on crappy folk music? Talk about negative externalities.

Well, that's the end of my feet stomping. Excuse me while I run away and read my Ayn Rand again.
Just What The Doctor Ordered

Like many others, I have long admired the writing of Theodore Dalrymple. Up to this point my exposure has, for the most part, been limited to pieces of his that appear in National Review. Life at the Bottom : The Worldview That Makes the Underclass has long been on my "to read" list, but I haven't been able to see my clear to fit it into my schedule (or hoark it from the bookshelf of JB Doubtless).

I was elated to receive a copy of Dalrymple's latest work, Our Culture, What's Left of It : The Mandarins and the Masses in the mail this week. I also a little worried that it might not be able to live up to the lofty expectations that I had for it. This paragraph from the third page of the preface quickly laid those concerns to rest:

This is not to say, of course, that all criticism of social conventions and traditions is destructive or unjustified; surely no society in the world can have existed in which there was not much to criticize. But critics of social institutions and traditions, including writers of imaginative literature, should always be aware that civilization needs conservation as least as much as it needs change, and that immoderate criticism, or criticism from the standpoint of utopian first principles is capable of doing much--indeed devastating--harm. No man is so brilliant that he can work out everything for himself, so that the wisdom of ages has nothing useful to tell him. To imagine otherwise is to indulge in the most egotistical of hubris.

That, in a nutshell, is a one of the better arguments for conservative philosophy as well as an insightful critique of what is wrong with much of the modern left. In one paragraph. In the preface. Yeah, I think this is gonna be a good read.

And so far it most certainly has. The book is a series of essays on a variety of topics relating to cultural decline. One of my favorites so far is on Virginia Woolf. (Interesting note on Woolf: she was comparing people she didn't like in England to Nazis back in 1938. Talk about ahead of her time!) Dalrymple shreds the privileged, pampered yet self-pitying author with laser-like precision and cuts her to her core, which he exposes as nothing but an empty shell. The criticism is both devastating and delicious.

We're hoping to land Mr. Dalrymple as a guest on the Northern Alliance Radio Network in the near future. In the meantime, I look forward to reading the rest of his book. If you enjoy sharp writing from an excellent mind, you should too.