Monday, October 31, 2005

You Know You've Made The Right Pick...

...when you get this kind of same day reaction from the crew (via e-mail):

This morning, with his administration growing weaker by the day, President Bush caved to pressure from the radical fringe of the Republican Party and nominated Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Alito is a notoriously right-wing judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He has consistently ruled to strip basic protections from workers, women, minorities and the disabled in favor of unchecked power for corporations and special interests.

And he hates puppies and kittens.

We asked him to bring it and he done brung it. Kudos Mr. President.

Best Halloween Joke in History, Take 2

A seasonal favorite, from the archives of Fraters Libertas ...

How do hillbillies celebrate Halloween?

They pump kin.

The enduring charm of that joke stems from its universal quality. The denigration of "hillbillies" represents the joke in its classic form. But since the apex of anti-hillbilly consciousness in the 1950's (marked by the satirically withering Beverly Hillbillies television program and the sardonic Ma and Pa Kettle franchise) the "hillbilly" has subsided in our nation's pantheon of disdainful ridicule.

But in the grand tradition of American pluralism, you can use that joke to attack the niche lifestyle group, ethnicity, national origin, or municipality of your choice. It works for anyone for whom you wish to allege has improper levels of intimacy with their direct relations. And doesn't that describe everyone's enemies? For example:

How do people from Hopkins celebrate Halloween?

They pump kin.

Ah yes, it works beautifully every time and it never fails to bring smiles to bigots, xenophobes, and closed minded chauvinists of all ages. And today, Halloween, is the day to use it for its maximum effect.

Have fun kids and Happy Halloween from Fraters Libertas.

Trick Or Treat?

This morning, President Bush announced his next nomination for the Supreme Court:

Once again, I considered a wide variety of distinguished Americans from different walks of life. Once again, we consulted with Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate. We received good advice from more than 80 senators. And once again, one person stood out as exceptionally well suited to sit on the Highest Court of our nation.

This morning, I'm proud to announce that I am nominating The Great Pumpkin to serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Every Halloween the Great Pumpkin flies through the air with his bag of toys, and just think...if you and I sit here all night, we may get to see him!"

Coming on the heels of the Miers debacle, news of The Pumpkin nomination already has the chattering classes chattering.

Conservative columnist George Will was far from pleased, "He nominated a pumpkin? A f***ing pumpkin? What the f*** is going on here?"

Meanwhile, talk radio shock jock Hugh Hewitt welcomed the announcement, "This is a great day for America. President Bush has a solid record on the judiciary and we should respect his judgment on this matter. I'm certain that The Great Pumpkin will make a great justice. Critics of The Pumpkin nomination are nothing more than East Coast elitists who likely have never set foot in a real pumpkin patch."

John Hinderaker, from the influential blog Power Line, urged conservatives to avoid a rush to judgment, "Let's wait and see how The Pumpkin handles the Senate hearings. I think it might be helpful for the court to have someone with a business background. The Pumpkin has done a lot of good work for Viacom, United Media, and Dolly Madison over the years."

Wodehouse: Mattering By Being Willing Not To Matter

Good article in the October issue of First Things by Joseph Bottum called God and Bertie Wooster , which looks at the work of P.G. Wodehouse and why it was so important in the 20th century:

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse--"P.G. Wodehouse," as he signed his work; "Plum," as he was called by his friends--wrote more than fifty novels, over three hundred short stories, and some twenty-odd plays: a total of ninety-seven books before his death in 1975 at age ninety-three. And the curious thing is that not a single one of them mattered. Not a single one of them converted a soul, or turned a tide, or saved a battle, or carried a flag, or seized a day. He published several million words during his lifetime, and even amid the verbal bloat of our own hyperinflated times, it's hard to imagine a more pointless waste.

Except--well, except that maybe in the sheer insouciance of their failure to be important, they came to be very important indeed. Maybe P.G. Wodehouse matters precisely because he was willing not to matter. Maybe we should take seriously the fact that a major English literary talent of the twentieth century was content to use his perfect prose for no purpose greater than the construction of pleasant farces, gentle comedies, and the buzz of language as it passes through an Edwardian fantasy world of stern aunts, spineless noblemen, soppy girls, and young men in spats.

Still, there was something in those ninety-seven books that the twentieth century needed. You can't say modern times lacked serious fiction, or biting satire, or experimental poetry. You can't say the world was short on big ideas, or intellectual politics, or what Friedrich Nietzsche called philosophizing with a hammer. But maybe we were a little deficient in laughter during the twentieth century. Maybe we still are, in the twenty-first.

Wodehouse may be our best answer to Nietzsche, but he isn't entirely clear on how Young Men in Spats trumps Thus Spake Zarathustra. But suppose that laughter offers blessed escape for a while from the terrible mattering that possessed modern times. Suppose that Christendom--the deep unity of Western culture through the years--survives best not when it is trying to respond to the relentless thud with which secular history marches, but when it dances a little. And suppose that God's grace doesn't dwell just in the tears we shed at the tragedy of the world, but also in the play of comedy. Wodehouse titled one of his best novels Joy in the Morning, after a passage in Psalm 30 that Jeeves quotes to Bertie Wooster: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." And it's true. Joy does come in the morning, and laughter from reading P.G. Wodehouse. That's a small grace, but a real one.
MOB Gaming

The weekly contest at Radio Blogger to name the Crosley Solo Blog of the Week has come to be a showcase for the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB). Last week, Hammerswing75 became the first MOB blog to break through and take home the radio. This week, three of the five finalists are MOBsters including The Savage Republican, Psycmeistr's Ice Palace, and Peace Like A River, which is making its third fifth straight appearance in the final five. If Jeff doesn't come through soon, he risks earning a Vikingesque reputation of not being able to win the big one. Vote early, vote often and remember to keep it in the MOB family.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Tiki Bar Is Open

I hereby curse AnonyMonkey for finding Tiki Bar TV before I did.

Watch all nine episodes. Then hit the nearest liquor store and watch all nine episodes again...but, beware the Trap Door.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

St. Paul Wellstone

Yesterday, Chad had this observation on the perpetual adoration of Wellstone!:

There's no doubt in my mind that if the current trends continue, this is where the Wellstone hero worship is heading. We already have camps, schools, civic centers, and memorials for Wellstone. Can the Church of Wellstone be far behind?

It's closer than we thought. Fellow MOBster Rambix discovered a certain item a local suburban newspaper that shows it's already here. Read the headline and notice the section it's in and pray.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Is Our Children Learning?

The Pioneer Press alerts us to the latest effort by the public school system to educate our children. In an article entitled: Fitting in, finding focus: Safe Space aims to boost academic performance among gay, lesbian students we learn of yet another crisis crippling our ability to teach the children well:

It is common in education circles to speak of the "achievement gap" between racial groups, but "there's also an achievement gap with [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] students," said Michael Fridgen, a Hastings teacher and trainer on GLBT issues.

What often happens with GLBT students, [student Jen Winston] said, is "school work gets put on the back burner" as they struggle with the stress of coming out to themselves and others, as well as possibly facing harassment. "They have a lot more going on than just school," she said.

And what better place to deal with the stress of coming out of the closet than in a small, enclosed space isolated from the mainstream culture? Yes, taxpayers, it's the Safe Space Closet.

Actually, they're calling it the Safe Space Lab. From the triumphant press release from the St. Paul Public Schools:

The Saint Paul Safe Space Lab, which is co-sponsored by the City of Saint Paul and the school district, offers academic tutoring, the opportunity to take classes for credit, mentoring, support services, arts opportunities and athletic activities. According to Alan Horowitz, who leads Out for Equity, the Lab is the first after-school site that combines academic, social and support services for GLBT youth.

According to the Pioneer Press, the key to closing the gay gap is the following rigorous curriculum:

The lab will be open after school and by appointment. It will offer two classes - one on interior design and another on human relationships - starting next week.

I don't know who the curriculum director is, but I bet he also serves as the district's Director of Stereotype Reinforcement. What's next at the Safe Space Lab, advance placement courses in flower arranging and the collected works of Judy Garland?

Sure, we can all laugh at the misdirected priorities and political correctness run amok. Until we realize this behavior, like all excesses, has a cost.

It cost about $40,000 to prepare the space, which had been sitting empty, said Pat Quinn, the district's director of school services. The district used to rent the space to a day care center - for about $45,000 a year - until the center ended the lease in the summer of 2004, Quinn said.

Staffing consists of 2.5 full-time equivalent positions, Horowitz said, plus three interns and the class instructors, who are regular St. Paul Public Schools teachers.

$85,000 out of pocket this year for facilities, plus labor costs for 2.5 full-time unionized employees. Not a bad chunk of change for a district whose schools are "burning!" (if you can believe journalists from the Star Tribune).

But the frivolous use of that hefty sum isn't cause for circumspection by the folks we've placed in trust of the public treasury and our children. No, it's the cause for celebration - and you're all invited.

The free, public open house will begin at 7 p.m. At 8 p.m. two popular teen authors, James Howe and Alex Sanchez, will read from and sign copies of their new books. Howe is a children's author who has published more than 12 books. He is best known for the comical "Bunnicula" series, "The Misfits" and "The Watcher." His latest book, "Totally Joe," chronicles a teen romance. Alex Sanchez is the Lambda Award-winning author of the "Rainbow Boys" series.

In case you're not able to make it downtown for tonight's reading, here's a summary review of "Totally Joe" (if only because I am afraid to Google for "Bunnicula"):

Howe has created a character that lives and breathes with all of the inconsistencies, fears and longings of your normal average seventh-grade homosexual.

Normal and average, I suppose, only because he sits in at the Safe Space Lab.

And what better place to learn about all of this than your local public school? By the way, the Safe Space Lab in not located in just any public school:

It opens today in the basement of Wellstone Elementary School.

The legacy continues.
They Hate You, They Really Hate You!

The good folks at Wal-Mart are learning the hard way what happens when you try to mollify your critics by pandering to them. From an editorial in Wednesday's WSJ we learn of their efforts to throw a bone to their opponents:

Hoping to make nice with detractors, Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott has called on Congress to increase the $5.15 minimum wage.

Not surprisingly, their most rabid opponents quickly dispatched with the bone before once again unfurling their fangs:

Senator Ted Kennedy, whose latest bid to raise the national minimum was spurned last week, had this reaction: "When even the head of Wal-Mart, one of the most anti-worker companies in the world, says that a minimum wage of $5.15 is out of date, we know it's long past time for an increase." That's probably not the response Wal-Mart was looking for.

No, I'm sure it wasn't. The truth of the matter is that the Ted Kennedys and other Wal-Mart haters of the world are going to continue to nip at the heels of the retail giant every chance they get, whether or not Wal-Mart shows any signs of compromising their positions. In fact, the more Wal-Mart compromises, the more likely the pack of critics will be to press the attack. They can sense weakness and the smell of blood makes them even more ravenous.

They are not going to happy until Wal-Mart:

- Stops selling guns.

- Devotes two aisles in every store to soft-core porn.

- Donates 10% of their profits to the ACLU.

- Provides full health care benefits to all employees, their domestics partners, cats, and ferrets.

- Agrees to abide by "sustainable growth" compacts and abandon the dreaded "big box" store concept.

- Implements a quota hiring program for the transgendered.

- Opens express abortion clinics in all stores.

Of course at that point about 98% of current Wal-Mart shoppers would be completely disgusted with the company and it really wouldn't be Wal-Mart anymore.

The lesson in all this is best summarized by this part of the Journal editorial:

It's a shame that a company that offers a wonderfully wide selection of quality goods at low prices, and provides 1.3 million people in the U.S. with jobs, could have image problems. But Wal-Mart isn't going to solve them by trying to win over the liberal special interests. As Senator Kennedy illustrates, that's a fool's errand.

Unfortunately, there never seems to be a shortage of fools willing to try.

Conservative Crackup?

Tune in to the Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow and catch comedian Brad Stine in the second hour. Brad lays claim to the title "America's conservative comedian":

He's an educated, cerebral comic who is also a proud, patriotic conservative. "Modern comedy is full of acts who are pushing the envelope of society," Stine says. "But those who use comedy for social commentary tend to be liberal. I represent something different, something I think is more in line with most of America."
When In Doubt, Attack

Victor Davis Hanson offers the president some advice at National Review Online:

But now, with the Miers' withdrawal, the president might as well go for broke to reclaim his base and redefine his second term as one of principle rather than triangulating politics. So he should call in top Republican senators and the point people of his base--never more needed than now--and get them to agree on the most brilliant, accomplished, and conservative jurist possible. He should then ram the nominee through, in a display to the American people of the principles at stake.

There is probably no better way to bring the base back together than a no-holds-barred brawl with the Dems.

Hanson also reminds the president of a lesson that has been taught again and again, but rarely learned:

The odd thing is that so far the conventional advice to the president--keep the discussion on Iraq only to U.S. national security, not the upheaval of the existing corrupt order; reach out to the Democratic Senate; curb your idealistic rhetoric with Syria or Iran; ignore shrill enemies; nominate someone that the opposition will not seriously object to--has only emboldened critics here and abroad.

What you may see as compromise, your enemies view as caving in. It's high time for Bush to drop the gloves and start throwing.

The Real Legacy of Paul Wellstone

Last Saturday, on the Northern Alliance Radio Network, we discussed the cult of personality surrounding the late Senator Paul Wellstone, which seems to continue to grow stronger as each year passes since his death in a 2002 airplane crash. We questioned whether the reverence, bordering on worship, that is now shown for Wellstone matches his record of accomplishment (or lack of) as a United States Senator.

Last night, while watching a documentary on the man called...

wait for it...

you know it's coming...

what else would it be but...

Wellstone!, on a local PBS station, I discovered something heretofore unknown to me that Senator Wellstone had indeed accomplished during his twelve plus years in the Senate. Way back in 1991, Wellstone helped stop passage of the Bush (41) energy bill:

His first year in office, he led a coalition in 1991 to defeat an energy bill that would have opened Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife refuge to oil drilling.

Not only that, but the bill would also have sought to expand nuclear energy in the United States by encouraging companies to build more plants.

More domestic oil supplies and nuclear energy? That wouldn't come in handy at all now, would it?

The next time you're opening your wallet to shell out two-fitty a gallon for gas or experiencing shell shock after opening your heating bill this winter, you may want to pause for a moment and remember the man who helped make it possible.


(By the way, at the end of the documentary, the kids at Wellstone Elementary School can be heard singing the school song, "I Go To Wellstone." They're not bad, but I prefer the NARN version myself.)

SP adds: James Phillips writes in with his thoughts on the Wellstone hymn:

Thanks for the fine rendition of the Wellstone School song last Saturday on NARN. You will be happy to know that the chorus is still in my head (I go to Wellstone, my school is Wellstone, . . . .) and won't stop.

Question. Who of two dead people had a greater impact on Minnesota? Wellstone! or Herb Brooks? I'm inclined to think that other than the beatification by the DFL'ers, in real terms, Herbie has had a greater impact. But no cult of personality has arisen. What Would Herb Brooks Do? What a great idea for a bumper sticker.

The Elder Adds--Steve e-mails to wonder if Wellstone will become bigger than Jesus:

The Dead Kennedys (don't tell JB a solid-right conservative mentioned them to you) once wondered "Will Elvis take the place of Jesus in 1000 years?" Might we not ask the same about Wellstone!?

Wonder if there's any value to calling Wellstone! the liberal Jesus. Ya think?

There's no doubt in my mind that if the current trends continue, this is where the Wellstone hero worship is heading. We already have camps, schools, civic centers, and memorials for Wellstone. Can the Church of Wellstone be far behind?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Everybody Cares About The Weather
But Everybody Should Know Better

According to the headline to this story in London's The Independent, Britain has now experienced its "hottest October 27th ever". The Independent's intentionally ominous use of the word "ever" is clearly meant to strike the global warming fear in me down to my very withered and tortured lump of a soul. The mental leap we're all supposed to make is that since the earth itself formed from the rapidly expanding remnants of the Big Bang some 4.5 billion years ago there has never been an October 27 in Britain when temperatures came even close to the level that they did today.

But...hold on for just a minute here. Britain, or the United Kingdom, really didn't exist until England swallowed up Wales in 1536. So today's record temps in the U.K. were the hottest in Britain, by definition, since around 1536. We're still talking about extreme temperatures within a 469 year span, though. That's still pretty

Wait...The Independent story specifically addresses the hottest "October 27th" in Britain's history. Well, by my recollection, the Gregorian calendar, which designates one day per solar year as October 27th, wasn't even adopted by Great Britain until 1752. Still...that's 253 years of non-hot weather on the 27th of October. Pretty frightening statistics, don't you agree?

Well...maybe not. Reading a couple paragraphs past the headline in the very same article that is trying to frighten me into driving this, we come to my favorite global warming disclaimer (emphasis mine):
Just four days before Hallowe'en, Britain was enjoying the warmest 27 October since records began in 1880.
And there we have it...125 years of records...and today's temps are supposed to mean that there's an imminent weather related Armageddon on the horizon? Come on, people. We ain't even in the ballpark of "the hottest ever" temperatures on this planet. I have a hard time believing that they were even the hottest temperatures in the past 500 years.

The Brits experienced nothing more than the warmest temperatures in the past 125 years on one particular day on one location on a planet whose climate is constantly changing despite, and in spite of, all the efforts of its inhabitants to stabilize it.

Prince Charles said yesterday that climate change is the "greatest challenge to face man". I fear that the greatest challenge to face man may actually be those who brandish embellished and contrived weather statistics.
And Next Year The Indians Will Win The World Series

Hugh Hewitt on the Harriet Miers nomination battle as heard on his radio show yesterday:

HH: I'm winning. We're winning this thing.


HH: Well, again, I love that, because she's not going to withdraw.

Whether you agreed with Hugh on the nomination or not, you've got to admire his undying optimism in the face of all but certain defeat. He'd be the kind of guy who not only would stay with you in the foxhole to the bitter end, he'd also tell you (and probably truly believe) that you were going to be victorious right up until the moment you got overrun. Well fought sir.

Children of a Lesser God

(Sniff) Our little boy's done all growed up:

A tip of the Sou'wester to Shot in the Dark via Bogus Gold for the tip that the Kommissar over at Politburo Diktat is putting together a blog family tree. As if going into the baseball Hall of Fame, I had to decide whose hat I was going to wear to declare my "blog father" -- Captain's Quarters or Fraters Libertas. It was after my first appearance on the Northern Alliance Radio Network that Ed, Brian and Chad encouraged me to start a blog. With no slight to Captain Ed, my nod went to Fraters only because it was Brian "Saint Paul" Ward that extended the appearance invitation.

A family tree question that was asked was the date one's blog was initiated, which got me to thinking that next month marks my first anniversary as a blogger.

Has it really already been a year? Sigh. The time just flies by, doesn't it? One day they barely know how to link, the next they're running circles around spokesman for the American Lung Association. Happy anniversary Craig.

Speaking of blog family trees, I wonder why this spawn of Fraters is not yet listed? Sure, he hasn't posted recently, but he had a nice run for a while.
The Appearance of Impropriety

Yet another Pioneer Press employee has been suspended for his participation in partisan political activities. The Plain as the Nose on Your Face Award goes to anyone who can correctly guess which partisan political philosophy was being endorsed.

During the Presidential campaign last year, it was intrepid reporters Chuck Laszewski and Rick Linsk "Rocking for Change" with Bruce Springsteen and Bright Eyes and, all in support of John Kerry.

It appears Laszewski's preference for change only extended to the dream of a John Kerry presidency. A few months after that dream's rude awakening, ol' Chuck went on to lead the newsroom lynch party against editor Mark Yost for daring to criticize the status quo of his colleagues and their unrelenting gloom and doom coverage of the US military's efforts in Iraq. The money quote:

You have insulted them and demeaned them, and to a much lesser degree, demeaned the reporters everywhere who have been threatened with bodily harm, who have been screamed at, or denied public records, just because they wanted to present the closest approximation to the truth they could.

I am embarrassed to call you my colleague.

The more they Rock for Change, they more they stay the same.

Now it's Pioneer Press editor Tim Mahoney caught attending a Washington DC protest against the war in Iraq. That protest's vision of reality, according to one of its sponsors:

More than two years after the illegal and immoral U.S. invasion of Iraq, the nightmare continues. More than 1600 U.S. soldiers have died, at least another 15,000 have been wounded; even the most conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths number in the tens of thousands. Iraq, a once sovereign nation, now lies in ruins under the military and corporate occupation of the United States; U.S. promises to rebuild have not been kept and Iraqis still lack food, water, electricity, and other basic needs.

With that level of gloom and doom, whoever wrote that is someone Chuck Laszewski would not be embarrassed to call a colleague.

And it was that doom and gloom that must have attracted Tim Mahoney to march back in September. But, because of a sticky ethical clause in Pioneer Press contracts, he's is in the cross hairs of management. Or should I say, on the cross. At least that's where the accused is hanging himself:

"There is an issue of conscience, of religion," he says. "I'm not trying to put myself forth as any kind of pious person at all. I'm not. But it's a matter of personal belief. It seemed to me--and still does--completely harmless to the interests of the Pioneer Press."

Sure, it all "seems" harmless to Mahoney. But then again, he's not exactly famous for his judgment, is he? (See the "immoral" and "illegal" rhetoric above).

On one level I actually agree with Mahoney. A ban on political activities by press members is nothing more than window dressing. This man's attendance at a rally is not going to affect his performance at the paper one way or another. If he's biasing the newspaper's coverage with his extremist views, he'll continue to do so, whether or not he's allowed to publicly expose the depths to which his obsessions drive him. And, as an occasional consumer of the Pioneer Press's product, it is beneficial to know where these people officially stand on the issues they're covering, so I can correct for that in my attempts to actually understand what they're reporting on.

But I also fully understand the Pioneer Press's position and their need to limit certain displays by their employees. They're in the business of providing information, in particular on politics and government. A product most desirable when it's presumed to be objective, or at the very least, delivered in a good faith effort to provide objectivity. The press's well-deserved reputation for left wing bias is hurting their sales and having their employees marching and carrying on with political extremists and clowns further sours the impression of the customer base.

It is entirely reasonable for the Pioneer Press to ask their employees to limit their behavior in this regard. And to levy consequences when their policies are ignored. Any conscientious employee should recognize that. Anyone with a commitment to professionalism and a concern for their employer's well being should recognize that. (Employers - remember them, the folks that pay you every two weeks?) Instead we get people like Chuck Laszewski and Tim Mahoney, flaunting their egotistical excesses and ignoring their employer's wishes, then wrapping themselves in the robes of martyrs of conscience. Then getting their union to intervene and file grievances on their behalf, which makes you wonder who these people actually think they're working for.

My advice to these gentlemen is to grow up. And accept the fact that the nature of their chosen profession prevents them from acting out on every vainglorious impulse of contempt they have for the Republican party. If they decide that attending and International ANSWER rallies is vital for their self esteem, the Pioneer Press may not be the best outlet for their talents. Instead, maybe the City Pages or the Socialist Worker would be better fits. There, attendance at anti-Bush rallies won't get you suspended. It just might get you the employee of the month award.
It's Over

Harriet Miers Withdraws Nomination:

White House counsel Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to various media reports early Thursday, Miers sent a letter to President Bush requesting that he remove her name from consideration for the associate justice position.

Bush will reportedly honor her request.

Somewhere, Hugh Hewitt's mighty heart is breaking.

Maybe there's hope for the Packers after all.

UPDATE: The body is still warm and already the post-mortems have begun. I hope that supporters of Miers will not spend a lot of time and energy blaming Miers' critics for the nomination ending this way. The process was a debacle from start to finish, and, at the end of the day, the person who bears the ultimate responsibility for that debacle is George W. Bush.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Glass Warfare

From today's WSJ (subscription required):

British pubs have long been known for serving lager or bitter in all-purpose pint glasses whose only adornment was a government stamp attesting to the fact that they held exactly 20 fluid ounces. Now, in order to boost beer sales, pubs are swapping that iconic glassware in favor of specially shaped glasses with unusual features. Among the new frills is the "nucleator," a laser-etched "S" on the inside of a Stella Artois glass that creates a steady stream of bubbles after the Belgian lager is poured from the tap.

The "nucleator" sounds like something that Duff Man would be promoting.

Behind the change is an effort to stimulate British beer sales, which have fallen 7% since 1997, while spirits sales have increased 50% and wine sales are up 36%, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, a trade group. Sales of beer in pubs and restaurants, as opposed to stores, are down more than 20%.

The time when pubs served customers a plain pint glass filled with warm beer is long gone," says Pete Dalzell, operations director for Pathfinder Pubs, the division of Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries PLC that includes the Pavilion End. These days, "the presentation of our drinks is as important as the presentation of our food."
The Brits are taking their cue from Belgium, where bars and cafes have traditionally matched glasses to specific beers to complement their aroma or appearance: inverted cone shapes for pilsners, tall and narrow glasses for wheat beers, stemmed goblets for ales. Many come in half-pints rather than just pints. The United Kingdom's beer industry likes the smaller glasses, too, because they help its efforts to attract more women drinkers.

I experienced the same thing in Germany a few years back. As opposed to the U.S., most bars and restaurants only served one brand of beer, while offering the different styles of beer from that brewer (hefeweizen, lager, etc.) in appropriate glasses which sported the brewer's label. Holland follows this pattern to a certain extent as well, although seemingly not quite as rigidly as the Krauts.

As much as I love the Imperial Pint glass, I applaud the change. Different styles of beers are quite distinct and each deserves its own unique glassware.

As part of a campaign it calls "Beautiful Beer" to improve beer's image and attract more female drinkers, the British Beer and Pub Association this year began producing goblets that are shaped like wine glasses and hold one third of a pint. The trade group's research showed that glass shape and size greatly influenced the perception of beer, particularly among women.

At lunch at the Bierodrome in London, Chloe Wright, a 23-year-old marketing executive, and her friend Clare Cruickshank, a personal assistant, 24, ordered Hoegaarden. "I like for it to come in its own glass," Ms. Wright says. "If it looks pretty, I'll drink it."

That just happens to be Atomizer's motto as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Icing The Groin

Several Minnesota Wylde players are claiming that crappy ice is tearing up their groins.

"Ice has been bad everywhere," Gaborik said. "Sometimes you can't control where your legs are going."

Forward Brian Rolston said the ice in Chicago "was horrible. It was terrible. The thing is your legs start to get fatigued and the ice is so bad, you have to work harder to skate and that's when injuries happen."

But Rolston said it's not just Chicago.

"The ice at most of the rinks is not where it should be," he said. "It gets bumpy, the puck jumps and it gets harder to skate on it. The whole league is suffering from groin injuries. No question, it's the ice surface. . . .

"Our ice hasn't been the greatest, but I don't blame the ice guys. You've got these multi-venue arenas, so it's impossible for them to have ice perfect for every game."

I can only harken back to the classic Met Center of my youth where players would routinely rave about the quality of the ice. Always gets me just a little thinking of what a glorious place that was to watch a game.

Please Help Me Mr. Government Man/A Liberal Arts Degree From Vassar Aint Gonna Help You This Time

I love hearing stories about the general cluelessness of the typical urban liberal. Ensconsed in their cozy little world of chai lattes, Coldplay and black clothing, they go about their sophisti-macated lives rarely having to deal with what is often called the real world.

And when the real world does intrude, their first instinct is to call the government to help them like a child.

This urban gal (from Friday's NYT) found out that even the Ever Helpful Government wanted her to take care of her own problems like an adult:

With her husband and two sons out of town, what's a smart, sensible city woman to do if she finds a rabid raccoon in the garage of the family's weekend house?

Dial 911.

It was the obvious solution, or so thought Marie-Claude Stockl after discovering a foaming-at-the-mouth visitor at her Ancramdale, N.Y., retreat. Ms. Stockl, a pharmaceutical executive from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, accustomed to resolving apartment issues with a single phone call to the doorman, assumed the police would rush to her rescue.

Instead, the officer on duty expected her to exercise a little country self-sufficiency: "Just shoot it!" When she explained that she didn't own a gun, the officer retorted impatiently, "Then use your husband's gun!"

Their conversation went around in circles, and Ms. Stockl hung up, fuming. Ten minutes later, the raccoon died. Thinking that Dutchess County officials would want to track rabid animals, Ms. Stockl called again, asking the same officer if he would like to come by and dispose of the corpse. "Oh no, that's fine - you can do that," he drawled.

Nice snarky little touch there with the "He drawled" from the babe who wrote this piece for the Times. I kind of doubt a guy in New York drawled, but it was necessary to make the urban lass seem like the normal one and the guy espousing common sense seem like a hick.

Reminds me of the old days when a woman would jump up on a chair when she saw a mouse and shriek until her husband or some other capable man would come to do away with the critter.

The more things change and all that...
The Blame for Plame Falls Lamely On The Name

Only in America could you have a seemingly never-ending scandal that could shake the administration to the core with one of the key players sporting the nickname "Scooter." Seriously, how does someone with a moniker that you associate with the odd kid in third grade who liked to eat paste gain access to the halls of power anyway?

"Dick, I need a report on what our options are with North Korea. Can you have Scooter put something together for me? Oh, and tell him to stop leaving his skateboard in the Oval Office."

The other "only in America" aspect to the story is that the guy who probably did the most wrong in this little episode, the guy who was deceitful and lied in an attempt to influence public opinion about the administration's foreign policy, is not the one under investigation. In fact in many circles, Joe Wilson is being held up as a hero.

What a country.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Down The Hatch

Hatch In, Philbrook Out In DFL Governor's Race:

The DFL race to reclaim the governor's office saw heavy churning Monday as a big-name candidate got in, a long-shot candidate bowed out and a deep-pocketed candidate opened a $500,000 television ad campaign.

Attorney General Mike Hatch's long-awaited campaign announcement was muffled a bit by the exit of nonprofit founder Bud Philbrook and the hefty ad buy of real estate developer Kelly Doran.

And Now Back To The Game...

Is anyone else out there p-o'd that those greedy, money-grubbing bastages at FOX tried to squeeze ONE MORE commerical into the World Series last night at an EXTREMELY bad time?

What am I talking about? I'm talking about right before Konerko's grand slam. He came up to bat with the bases loaded. The Astros decided to put in a new pitcher. FOX goes to commercial. Next thing we see the ball already on it's way to the plate and Konerko jacked it.

No lead up. No anticipation. No shots of the crowd getting ready for a huge at-bat. No shot of the pitcher coming in from the bullpen or Konerko taking a deep breath before he stepped up for one of the biggest at-bats of his career.


So thanks for nothing FOX. I'm glad you got a chance to pimp Pam Anderson's new show YET AGAIN!

And don't even get me started on the announcers. I think I actually heard Tim McCarver say "The team that will have the advantage tonight is the team that puts more runs on the board."
More On Education Myths and Reality

To provide a local angle to the discussion on education myths on last Saturday's NARN show, I thought I'd provide some numbers from the public school district that I live in. St. Louis Park is an older, first-ring suburb just west of Minneapolis. Somewhat blue collar, very middle class, and definitely not one of the wealthier western suburbs (such as Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Wayzata). Here's a few figures to gnaw over from the Minnesota Office of the State Auditor:

Total enrollment: 4410

Percent of enrollment classified as minority: 27.37%

Percent classified as limited English proficiency: 6.76%

Percent of enrollment in special education: 16.79% (the highest of thirteen west-metro school districts)

Pupils per licensed instructional staff a.k.a. average class size: 15.36 (lower than Wayzata, Minnetonka, or Eden Prairie)

Average teacher salary: $48, 717 (not bad for nine months of work)

Total revenues per pupil: $13,307 (that puts SLP 4th out of 166 similarly sized school districts in the state)

Total local levies per pupil: $3,560 (that's the highest in the state--talk about hitting close to home)

Total operating expenses per pupil: $10,254 (7th in the state)

Total expenditures (including capital & debt service) per pupil: $15,262

So what's my point? Every few years we're hit with another levy increase referendum and with it a campaign stressing the school's district's desperate financial straits. This despite the fact that we already pay the highest amount per pupil in the entire state.

If you consider the amount of money we're spending, the relatively high teachers salaries, and low class sizes, the school district should be producing above average results. But the latest basic skills tests (BSTs) for St. Louis Park show that the district's students are performing BELOW the state average in reading and writing. Granted, it's only slightly below, but the point is that it's obvious that something is not working. And yet, the solution that I most oft hear offered up is mo' money.

More money to do what exactly? Lower class sizes? Raise teachers salaries? We've already done that and it ain't working.

I want the public schools in St. Louis Park to succeed. But to continue to throw money at the schools when money clearly isn't the answer is insane. It's time to stop the madness.

(If you missed the show on Saturday, you might want to check out the book Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, especially the Money Myth, the Special Ed Myth, the Class Size Myth, the Teacher Pay Myth, and the Myth of Helplessness.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fifty-seven Channels And A Helluva Lot On

Let's see what we have on the tele tonight. Gopher hockey, Wild hockey, and the first game of the World Series. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Praise the Lord and pass the remote control baby.
Education Myths VI

Today, we will welcome Marcus Winters, contributor to Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, to the Northern Alliance Radio Network show. The books lists eighteen education myths and, to warm up for the appearance, I've been posting three a day. Here is the final trio:

The Disabled Need Not Apply Myth--"Private schools won't serve disabled students."

The Democratic Values Myth--"Private schools are less effective at promoting tolerance and civic participation."

The Segregation Myth--"Private schools are more racially segregated than public schools."

Be sure to listen in to the NARN today at 1pm when we'll discuss the entire list.
Don't Boogaart The Brawling

The Wild have themselves a remarkable young rookie in Len Boogaard. "Boogie" runs 6-7 and 260 pounds making him one of the biggest dudes in the league and a serious presence on the ice.

Like the fabled Ogie Oglethorpe from Slapshot ("This young man has had a very trying rookie season...what with the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him...") Boogie was used as a circus act during his stint in the juniors:

"So all these years, he's been basically told, We don't want you to play and we don't think you can play. We just want you to be out there to fight."

Boogaard was like a marketing tool -- sell tickets, rile up and entertain the crowd. And if frightening the competition was a side effect, good for him.

Lynn, shaking his head, said, "One or two shifts a game, he was told to fight."

The fans loved him, but being the village pugilist isn't an easy role. It turns out Boogie actually has some skills, which is why the Wild took a chance on him.

So he's starting to get more shifts and the coaches think he can make an impact with his play. That's not to say he still doesn't drop the mitts or intimidate his opponents:

Some guys just by looking at the size of me, they just turn around and skate to the bench," he said.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Yeah. 220... 221, whatever it takes

Spent the week at home with the boy. The downside? Not much time to squeeze in things like showering, shaving, brushing your teeth, or getting dressed. The upside? No need to shower, shave, brush your teeth, or wear anything but a t-shirt and boxers. Three-month olds don't seem too concerned with such socially mandated hygienic niceties.

I even did a bit of shopping for the boy today and discovered that my second least favorite acronym (after IRS) is MEA. Instead of the largely empty store that I was expecting, I found it crawling with kids and parents. It lead me to cut the shopping experience short, which both of us seemed to greatly appreciate. He is indeed his father's son.

Another nice aspect of being home during the week is the ability to listen to talk radio. A lot of talk radio. I'm talking nine to ten hours a day. Yes, the "merchants of hate" were selling and I was buying. Now if I could only do something about those commercials on The Patriot. I think if I have to listen to another pitch from Mary Ann Kuharski and the "Billboard People", I'm going to join Planned Parenthood. I'm joking of course, but damn those kids are annoying. Makes me long for the days of Damere, the Sudanese slave boy.
Head games, and I can't take it anymore

Hirsch leaves Gophers:

The University of Minnesota men's hockey team, ranked No. 1 entering the season, received a blow Thursday when it was announced that Tyler Hirsch, the leading scorer last season, has left the team for personal reasons.

Hirsch, 21, of Bloomington will apply for a medical hardship waiver and hopes to return to play his senior season next fall.

"He came in, and we had a little chat. He said that's what he wants to do, and we support him 100 percent," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "He led our team in scoring last year, and obviously he's an outstanding player, but at the same time we want to make sure Tyler's healthy."

In a statement, Hirsch said it "was not an easy decision, but one that I feel was the best decision for both myself and the team. I will use this year to concentrate on other aspects of my life but plan on returning to the team next season."

Somewhere, Sisyphus' mighty heart is breaking.
Education Myths V

This Saturday, we will welcome Marcus Winters, contributor to Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, to the Northern Alliance Radio Network show. The books lists eighteen education myths and, to warm up for the appearance, I'm going to post three a day through Saturday. Here's thirteen through fifteen:

The Inconclusive Research Myth--"The evidence on the effectiveness of vouchers is mixed and inconclusive."

The Exeter Myth--"Private schools have higher test scores because they have more money and recruit high-performing students while expelling low-performing students."

The Draining Myth--"School choice harms public schools."

Stay tuned for the final three tomorrow and be sure to listen in to the NARN at 1pm when we'll discuss the entire list.
Yeah, mind power, Swede; mind power.

Congratulations go out to Wayne, proprietor of Questions and Answers and proud member of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB), for recently receiving a major award:

Today I was honored by the incomparable Adrian Warnock on his UK Evangelical Blog. He has awarded me the "Warnie Award" for Blogging excellence.

Atomizer is going to be so jealous when he hears about this.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hired Gadonka

Robert e-mails to wax poetically on our local gridiron gang:

The Pack is in town for an October battle
Their fans will drive in like a herd of green cattle
The cheese on their heads will be soaking up sweat
From the beer-induced worship of their hero, Brett

On our side of town, things haven't been happy
In fact you could say things are downright quite crappy
The Vikings, you see, suffer loss after loss
They can't score a touchdown without Randy Moss

Poor Daunte gets sacked every time he yells "HUT!"
And he can't make a play when he's down on his butt
But that's nothing compared to these new allegations
That happened while they had their little vacations

The boys took a trip out on Lake Minnetonka
With a bar full of booze and some hired gadonka
On two chartered boats each equipped with a crew
They set sail to party 'til midnight or two

What happened soon after still isn't too clear
Decorum prohibits me writing it here
Suffice it to say, the ladies were handy
Even though they lost Moss, they still got quite randy

The crewmembers freaked and reported the actions
The captains then had the appropriate reactions
They came back to shore and offloaded our boys
And told them they couldn't have fun with their toys

If that had been all that had happened that night
Then probably no one would be that uptight
But word soon got out that some girls on the crew
Were pressured to join the debauchery, too

The airwaves exploded with wild allegations
And rumors spread quickly on radio stations
The Vikings were facing a PR disaster
The season was getting worse faster and faster

A beleaguered coach Tice then appeared on his show
To tell us we didn't know all that we know
To make us feel better and lighten our cares
He predicted a big win against the poor Bears

And then came Big Sunday and what did we see?
The Bears beat our Romeos twenty eight to three
Most of us watching it saw the demise
Of our formerly powerful football franchise

But we've been down this road with the Vikings before
Remember Les Steckel in 1984?
We came back from that and we'll do it again
'Cause Daunte's a hero, a leader of men

There's no sense in beating this really dead horse
Let's go to the Dome and let's show up in force
We'll cheer for our Vikings and make them feel fine
And maybe, with luck they'll traverse the goal line!

So starting this Sunday, let's have a new take
We'll all jump on board or get lost in their wake
So let's get behind them, we know they can score
Be it out on the water, or here on the shore!
Born To Cut And Run

The latest song parody at Nihilist in Golf Pants is a take on a Springsteen oldie:

Our troops slug it out in the middle east 'gainst insurgents and mujahideen

Who drive by Saddam's mansions of glory in suicide machines

The war's a quagmire just like Vietnam

There's no exit strategy

And we know it was based on a lie

The Terrorists strap the bombs to their back

It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap

We gotta get out with our young

Cause wimps like us, maybe ought to cut and run

Separated At Birth?

Wacky former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein...

...and wacky former Jewish comedian Buddy Hackett.
Education Myths IV

This Saturday, we will welcome Marcus Winters, contributor to Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, to the Northern Alliance Radio Network show. The books lists eighteen education myths and, to warm up for the appearance, I'm going to post three a day through Saturday. Here's ten through twelve:

The High Stakes Myth--"The results of high-stakes tests are not credible because they're distorted by cheating and teaching to the test."

The Push-Out Myth--"Exit exams cause more students to drop out of high school."

The Accountability Burden Myth--"Accountability systems impose large financial burdens on schools."

Stay tuned for more throughout the week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Pond Would Be Good For You

Bill e-mails to alert us to the announcement of the first ever U.S. Pond Hockey Championships:

Minnesota hockey fanatics are hoping Mother Nature will send a cold blast their way in January so they can pull off the inaugural U.S. Pond Hockey Championships.
On a balmy fall morning Tuesday, two hockey-playing Minnesota governors - one current and one past - were on hand as organizers described the three-day event set for Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.

It's being billed as America's largest outdoor pond hockey tournament.

"While we all enjoy the pristine venues of professional, high school and college hockey these days, there's something to be said for the elements, the unnatural, the unpredictable and irregular pattern of pond hockey," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was flanked by former Gov. Wendell Anderson, a member of the 1956 Olympic team that won the silver medal.

The tournament, set for Jan. 20-22, will feature up to 96 men's and women's teams of four people each. They'll play on 24 rinks shoveled off prior to the games by the two teams on deck.

Winners of three divisions will have their names etched on a giant golden shovel.

No word on whether they considered calling it the "Ralphie Classic" after the state's dishonorary hockey commissioner. If you want more information on the event you can check out the official site. I definitely plan on lacing 'em up for this baby. It could be interesting if the guy who claims to enjoy chasing people around with his big stick finds a team to play on as well.

Just the latest example that demonstrates that Minnesota is indeed the State of Hockey.
More Tax Cuts & Giveaways to Bush's Corporate Cronies?

From the Tax Report column in today's WSJ:

Corporate income-tax revenue soared to $278.28 billion from $189.37 billion.
Alert Merriam and Webster

Yesterday in describing the unwarranted enrichment of the Pandagon bloggers, I wrote the following:

But it turns out all the bogus gold in the world isn't enough to buy the silence of a man's conscience.

Bogus gold, a term perfectly encapsulating my feelings toward the material success generated by the profane, superficial political analysis provided at said Web site.

Bogus Gold is also, of course, the wholly owned property of local blogger and bon vivant, Doug Williams. He's got a fine political, media, and cultural analysis blog called, you guessed it, Bogus Gold. In fact, I'm quite sure he coined that phrase. Or at least a computerized anagram engine did - at his direction. According to sources, Bogus Gold contains the exact lettering as "Doug's Blog" and he wisely chose the more intriguing combination of letters for his site.

Giving credit where credit is due, I'm sure I never would have come up with the term "bogus gold" without Doug's influence. He is the one injecting it into the mainstream consciousness, if only because no one reads Federal Trade Commission press releases on illegitimate high yield credit card distribution.

Now it appears Doug is objecting to my use of the term yesterday, inferring some veiled slight against him by its use in a pejorative context. Nothing could be further from the truth. The use of bogus gold in informal discourse is actually a tribute to Doug Williams. His etymologic creation has been operationalized for common usage. And I think it could take off, big time. In all walks of life, the resentment towards others unjustly cashing in is virulent. Until now there's been no way to succinctly express the sentiment (especially since "ill-gotten booty" has been forever tainted by the Minnesota Vikings adventures on the high seas). But starting today, anytime you run across a web site pulling down revenues far beyond its merits, it'll be known as a bogus gold. This usage will have no direct relationship to Doug, who's considerable blogging talents certainly exceed his profits. But that's the kind of sick, ironic twists that occur in the old wordsmithing game.

If this all takes off as I suspect, bogus gold will be used so much, it could become a generic term unto itself, like Post-Its or Kleenex. Yes, Doug Williams appears to be on his way to becoming the Kleenex of the blogosphere. Bless you, sir!
"Get Your Blogspot S*** Together Google"

Interesting article in the WSJ today (available for free) on spam blogs or "splogs" and the problems they are causing for search engines:

A typical splog might contain entries discussing how to play poker, with embedded keywords such as "online casino" and "Texas Hold 'em," making it turn up in searches for gambling Web sites. The splog may link to Web sites that receive commissions for sending customers to Internet casinos.

The splogs also are a big source of frustration for several search-engine start-ups that focus on blog searches, such as LLC, Technorati Inc. and Feedster Inc. Technorati estimates that 2% to 8% of the 70,000 blogs created daily are phony blogs or splogs. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and majority owner of IceRocket, recently went online with a complaint that Google's blogging service lacks sufficient controls to prevent automated software from creating splogs in bulk. Title of his message: "Get Your Blogspot S- Together Google." (Blogspot is the name of the Web site where Google provides free hosting to blogs created with its Blogger tool.)

"It's the biggest problem on the Net right now after identity theft. We have to kill millions of the splogs per month" from IceRocket's index, Mr. Cuban said in an interview. He said that while spammers use a variety of blogging tools to create their phony sites, most that he encounters have been created with Blogger -- something Mr. Cuban attributed to the tool's ability to create blogs quickly, easily and free of charge. Following the weekend outbreak, IceRocket temporarily blocked new Blogger sites from appearing in its index.

Blogs: on the way to becoming as mainstream and annoying as e-mail.
Education Myths III

This Saturday, we will welcome Marcus Winters, contributor to Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, to the Northern Alliance Radio Network show. The books lists eighteen education myths and, to warm up for the appearance, I'm going to post three a day through Saturday. Here's seven through nine:

The Myth of Decline--"Schools are performing much worse than they used to."

The Graduation Myth--"Nearly all students graduate from college."

The College Access Myth--"Nonacademic barriers prevent a lot of minority students from entering college."

Stay tuned for more throughout the week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Footnote to History

Radio producer Duane Patterson, aka the Radio Blogger, provides this transcript of a conversation between nationally syndicated shock jock Hugh Hewitt and the Governor of the great state of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty. The topic, an opening on the state Supreme Court, Pawlenty's approach to interviewing candidates, and Hugh's unsolicited bid for the position.

Tim Pawlenty: So here are some things that I ask them. I say you know what? We learn a lot from success in life, but we learn more from failure. So tell me what your biggest failures have been, and what did you learn from it?

Hugh Hewitt: Well, Duane comes to mind.

TP: All right. Duane comes to mind.

HH: And we've...I've overcome that, and so the show's on the air every day. So that's happened. I'm responsible for Fraters Libertas.

TP: Yes. Well, I'm just going to do the interview right here, right now, then.

HH: Okay.

TP: What is the hardest thing Hugh Hewitt has ever done in your life, and what did you learn from it?

HH: The hardest thing was going through Senate confirmation in 1987, because those knuckleheads in the United States Senate drive you crazy. But you just keep your good grace about you, and your good humor, and you go on with it. So there. But I think probably the hardest thing would also be getting to know the Fraters Libertas guys.

We'll accept the Governor's stunned silence and repeated topic changes as evidence he does not endorse this smear on our character (or, more likely, that he has no idea what HH I talking about). But knowing us is the hardest things Hugh's ever done? That's quite a statement, coming from a guy known for driving a snowmobile up a tree. But we'll take the recognition wherever we can get it.
It's Not Me, It's You

The Pandagon blog is one of the leading lefty political sites on the national scene. Along with Daily Kos and Atrios, its proprietors have been the deans of the school of poltical analysis via hyper profane, seething one-liner derision. (Examples here and here.)

Simplistic, juvenille, obscene, to be sure. But, as Messrs. Kos and Atrios have also proven, that's enough to become extraordinariliy popular in liberal media circles. The Pandagon crew gets tens of thousands of readers, big time advertisers, national publicity and fame, and, believe it or not, women. From a New York Times Magazine profile of the Pandagon tandem:

Jesse and Ezra, whose blog is called Pandagon, were lying with two cute women in
tank tops -- Ezra's girlfriend Kate and Zoe of Gadflyer -- on futon beds that had been placed on the tiny stage of the performance space. Their computers and wireless mice and some carrots and radishes and paper plates with Chinese dumplings were scattered between them. A month ago, at the Democratic convention, Zoe had accidentally spilled a big cup of 7-Up on Jesse's computer, killing it. She and Jesse now looked as if they might be dating.

Jesse Taylor gets paid and got laid (probably) from blogging, meaning he's earned more tangible benefit out of the medium than 99% of its adherents. But it turns out all the bogus gold in the world isn't enough to buy the silence of a man's conscience. Jesse Taylor is getting out of the blogging business, with a message for his fans.

The major reason is that I decided I wanted to stop opining and start doing. It's easy enough for me to write about the issues of the day and tell other people what they should be doing to win, it's another thing to help someone win. I'm tired of being angry - I want to start being productive.

You have to respect a man with the integrity to review his life's work and soberly assess it as a waste. ButI feel sorry for the fan base of Pandagon. After years of eagerly lapping up this guy's writing, lauding him and hilarious and brilliant, and propelling him to the heights of liberal blogging success, they're all told by the man himself that it was nothing more than easy, unproductive, angry ranting. And now he's moving on to bigger and better things.

I've enjoyed the past three-plus years here, but it's time for a new challenge, and it's also time for me to take on a more serious challenge than daily ranting.

This all reminds me of that scene from Stripes, where Bill Murray's girlfriend is dumping him for being a lazy, no-good bum:

Anette: But I need something more. I need somebody who is going to develop with me and somebody who is going to grow with me. Good bye.

John: Grow? Who could grow more than me? Talk about massive potential for growth. I am the little acorn that becomes the oak. You can't go. All the plants are gonna die.

But loyal Pandagon readers need not fear. In the blogosphere of the left there is always someone else ready to water the plants. Pandagon is now run by a coule of folks every bit as angry, foul-mouthed, and unproductive as we've come to expect.

Speaking of blogger exits, a much more graceful and lamentable one has also occured closer to home. John Bonnes, the Twins Geek, is ending his innovative baseball commentary site.

There will be regrets. There is so much left undone. started because:

1. Baseball is a beautiful game and
2. The more you know about it, the more beautiful it is and
3. Dammit, coverage of the local team should maybe do that. Analysis, research
education - doing that for baseball should be the greatest job in the world.

To some extent, I think that's happening a little more, but I still feel that most of the local coverage is more interested in cranking out something superficially digestible or (even worse) inflammatory than telling us about the depth, beauty and intricacies of the game.

That is true. The is a desperate need in the marketplace for better baseball coverage than the local papers provide. Twins Geek gave it a valiant effort over the past few years, but his tale proves there's only so much a guy can do at night, in his basement, working in his pajamas. I believe this fate awaits all bloggers, eventually:

I'm burned out by a thousand little flames. The time. The ISP costs. The programming. The relentless task of posting every day. The lack of revenue. The system problems. The frustration of trying to grow a different kind of publishing
model. The editing. The emails. The comments. The links, the other sites, the research, the syndication, the ads. Most surprising (and disappointing) is that I'm tired of the writing. And I'm tired of doing all of them, but not doing any of them well.

We thank John for a job well done and wish him the best in the future. His insights into the local nine will be missed. But the thing about blogs is that they're like dogs. When they die, no matter how much you loved them, it's very easy to find another one to replace it and move on. The best place to go to fill the Twins Geek void is Aaron Gleeman who's doing the best local sports commentary and linking in town.

Education Myths II

This Saturday, we will welcome Marcus Winters, contributor to Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, to the Northern Alliance Radio Network show. The books lists eighteen education myths and, to warm up for the appearance, I'm going to post three a day through Saturday. Here's four through six:

The Class Size Myth--"Schools should reduce class sizes; small classes would produce big improvements."

The Certification Myth--"Certified or more experienced teachers are substantially more effective."

The Teacher Pay Myth--"Teachers are badly underpaid."

Stay tuned for more throughout the week.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Urban Studies

Doug Grow of the Star Tribune, on Minneapolis Mayoral candidate Farheen Hakeem and her dream:

Her dream is to bring together members of the gay and lesbian community with the Muslim community. "It's a difficult bridge to build," she admitted. "But just imagine if I can pull it off. We'd have George Bush's greatest nightmare. We'd have the terrorists and the perverts working together."

Imagine the synergy. Together, there's nothing they can't destroy! Maybe that can be the new slogan on the "Welcome to Minneapolis" signs on the highway.

It's been more than a decade since I lived in the City of the Lakes and it seems times have changed a bit. In my day, a coalition of gays, lesbians, and Muslims was the Saturday night floor show at the Leamington, not the critical mass needed for electoral victory.

Actually, it's the coveted demographic profile in Minneapolis AND it's a floor show. Hold on to your funny bones ...

But before the next political race, [Hakeem] plans to continue doing gigs. (Her next one is Tuesday night at Jitters in Minneapolis.)

As always at her gigs, terrorists and perverts get half price on purple hooters and kamikazees all night long. Tickets are going fast, don't you dare miss it!
Consuming Prom

Finally, a school adminstrator (albeit private) is doing something. Principal Cancels Prom.

Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland had heard all the stories about prom-night debauchery at his Long Island high school: Students putting down $10,000 to rent a party house in the Hamptons. Pre-prom cocktail parties followed by a trip to the dance in a liquor-loaded limo. Fathers chartering a boat for their children's late-night "booze cruise."

Going as far as cancelling a prom is leadership. The kind of leadership that would be called "Judgemental" by many and the kind of leadership you would never see out of a public high school principal. One of the main reasons parents send their kids to parochial schools is so they don't have to deal with these trashy, consumerist elements of popular culture, yet it was going on big time:

Hoagland began talking about the future of the prom last spring after 46 Kellenberg seniors made a $10,000 down payment on a $20,000 rental in the Hamptons for a post-prom party. When school officials found out, they forced the students to cancel the deal; the kids got their money back and the prom went on as planned.

But some parents went ahead and rented a Hamptons house anyway, Hoagland said.

Pathetic. For whatever reason, you don't hear conservatives talking much about consumerism and it's effect on our culture, but it is every bit as damaging as any of the other myriad social pathologies we have to deal with.

And the Brother had something to say about it:

It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake--in a word, financial decadence," Hoagland said, fed up with what he called the "bacchanalian aspects."

Of course, not everyone is happy. Some parents are now bitching that--you guessed it--this is unfair.

Edward Lawson, the father of a Kellenberg senior, said he and other parents are discussing whether to organize a prom without the sponsorship of the 2,500-student school.

"This is my fourth child to go through Kellenberg and I don't think they have a right to judge what goes on after the prom," he said. "They put everybody in the category of drinkers and drug addicts. I don't believe that's the right thing to do."

Mr. Lawson is representative of a certain type of parent that Catholic schools have to deal with--the parent who sends their kids for the prestige and social standing and could care less about the values. I love the irony in his statement that he is upset that they are judging this behavior because he doesn't believe that's the right thing to do. Well who are you to judge them?--someone could ask.

Catholic schools need to let parents like Mr. Lawson know in no uncertain terms that him and his kind are not wanted. Tell him to take his money and find a secular school that will get your kid into a good college. Catholic schools are supposed to be about shaping the values of young people, not about getting them into good colleges so they can join the hard-driving, grabbing-dough-with-both-fists secular society.
The Other Giant Sucking Sound

A couple of good posts on abortion:

Evangelical Outpost's take on a too-real conversation that could easily be over-heard today.

And the Nihilist lists the Top 11 New Marketing Slogans For Planned Parenthood.

Education Myths I

This Saturday, we will welcome Marcus Winters, contributor to Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, to the Northern Alliance Radio Network show. The books lists eighteen education myths and, to warm up for the appearance, I'm going to post three a day through Saturday. Here's the first three:

The Money Myth--"Schools perform poorly because they need more money."

The Special Ed Myth--"Special education programs burden public schools, hindering their academic performance."

The Myth of Helplessness--"Social problems like poverty cause students to fail; schools are helpless to prevent it."

Stay tuned for more throughout the week.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Two members of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB) are in the running to be named the "Crosley Solo Blog of the Week" at Radio Blogger. Kiihnworld and Peace Like A River are among the five finalists to win a Crosley Solo Radio and bragging rights for the week. Early and often people, early and often. Just remember, never go against the family.
More Proof Of Absolutely Nothing

According to the National Climatic Data Center, last month was the warmest September on record with global temperatures coming in at 1.13°F above "average". I'm certain that the usual suspects will embrace this information as more indisputable proof that global warming is gripping our fragile globe with its grisly claws of death. They are all fools.

The recurring flaw in these monthly proclamations is in those two little words "on record". Reliable record keeping began in 1880 so any mention of "average" or "mean" or "normal" is strictly limited to information gathered in the past 125 years. Since the earth has been around for some 4,500,000,000 years, can someone please explain to me why I'm supposed to be alarmed about climate changes over a 125 year span?

125 years constitutes .00000277% of the earth's entire lifespan. To put this in human perspective, a similar percentage of my 38 year lifetime is equivalent to roughly 33 seconds. How many of you out there would care to have their lives evaluated on a mere 33 second span? If one were to look at a certain 33 second segment of my life that occurred in November of 1982, I would be characterized as a babbling inebriate with a propensity towards evacuating the contents of my stomach all over a certain pub owner. Okay, bad example, but you get my point.

So, when you hear the inevitable cries of alarm about global warming in the coming days, remember to put it all in perspective. And be careful about what you do in the next half minute or so...your reputation is on the line.
Not Exactly E-Harmony

Some time back I slogged my way through The Lunar Men : Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World by Jenny Uglow. And I mean slogged, because it was not exactly an enjoyable read. The book concerns a visionary group of men who regularly met in 1760's England to discuss science, art, business, and politics, usually over a pint of ale or two. It sounded a bit like Thursday night trivia at Keegan's

When I originally picked the book up, I was expecting to be riveted by the exploits of this league of extraordinary gentlemen whose ranks included Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, James Keir, William Small, William Withering, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and Thomas Day. Instead I was mostly bored. Unless you're really into the wonkier aspects of science and engineering (like Atomizer), you'll likely find yourself bogged down in the five hundred pages of material that Uglow offers up.

However, there are a few interesting anecdotes, my favorite being the story of how Thomas Day tried to find the perfect wife:

Day brooded miserably for a while, before deciding on a radical plan. Although he was only twenty-one, he was determined to find a wife (out of "duty", thought Anna Seward rather kindly). His demands were modest:
He resolved, if possible, that his wife should have a taste for literature and science, for moral and patriotic philosophy. So might she be his companion in that retirement, to which he had destined himself; and assist him forming the minds of his children to stubborn virtue and high exertion. He resolved also, that she should be simple as a mountain girl, in her dress, her diet and her manners, fearless and intrepid as the Spartan wives and Roman heroines.

As Anna admitted, "There was no finding such a creature ready made." Since no woman fitted his ideals--and those whom he had stooped to fancy had jilted him--he would have to create the wife he wanted, all by himself. The plan was to adopt two girls and bring them up according to the best Rousseauian scheme. And as they grew up, Day "might be able to decide, which of them would be agreeable to himself for a wife."

It was alarmingly easy to procure guinea-pigs for this experiment. With an old schoolfriend John Bicknell, Day went first to the orphanage in Shrewsbury, picked out a girl of "remarkably promising appearance" and named her Sabrina Sidney (after the river Severn, and his hero, Algernon Sidney). The next stop was the Foundling Hospital in Coram Fields in London, where he chose a second girl, "Lucretia." They were eleven and twelve respectively; prepubertal dolls.

Needless to say, his experiment in trying to create the perfect woman failed miserably.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Kessel Era Opens...

...with a resounding thud:

Kyle Greentree's overtime goal lifted Alaska Fairbanks to a 4-3 upset of top-ranked Minnesota.

Greentree added two assists as the Nanooks (1-0-0) beat the Golden Gophers (0-1-0) in the season opener for both teams.

Rumor has it that Sisyphus was already overheard leading chants of "overrated" at Mariucci tonight.
Hey, We Get Our Groove On Too!

The Strib. A bloggers meat and potatoes. A guy goes poking around on their site and within 3 minutes you have blogable material.

The mighty minds of the editorial have come down from their perches to give us their take on the purple-helmeted warriors.

It's pretty standard stuff. Like most of us they are disgusted with the Vikings actions (apparently they DO have standards for behavior!). In fact you might even read something similiar on a conservative website. However, I doubt a conservative website would feel obligated to start a paragraph with this:

We are not prudes about this. What consenting people do behind closed doors is their business.

Well I for one am glad you cleared that up because that is exactly what I was starting to think. I mean who but a prude could object to a bunch of drunken oafs having public sex and harassing the wait staff? Who but a prude would care if some dudes peed on their lawn?

It's an interesting insite into the mind of the modern liberal that they found it necessary to point out that they aren't uptight puritans like they imagine conservatives to be.
We Like Our 'Hos Here

As if things couldn't get any worse for our local gridiron gigolos, it turns out that they brought in out of town talent for the infamous cruise:

Strippers flew in for the party. Football players pulled up in limos. As a pair of chartered boats eased onto Lake Minnetonka, booze started flowing and, according to crew members, a sex party began.

Investigators now believe that the strippers from Atlanta, Florida and elsewhere apparently work for a high-class escort or call-girl service that caters to professional athletes, two law enforcement officials said.

What, our local home-grown skanks ain't good enough fer ya? Salt in the wounds boys. Salt in the wounds.

UPDATE: Dementee has similar thoughts. (Did I really just write that?)
A Lesson From The School of Hard Vox?

Another possible under card has been suggested for our "Great Debate Tour":

Vox Day vs. Stephanie Miller

That one just might have to be set up as a rhetorical cage match.

Harmon e-mails to endorse the debates:

I think your idea for a set of debates is great. As a former debate student I would love to see this form of public discourse become more popular. I would like to add that the debates should be scored. Not by celebrities, "journalists" or partisan hacks, but by debate teachers. I would love to see the notes of such a person of the recent Hitchens/Galloway contest where Hitchens presented his points and Galloway responded with "slimy slug".
Buddy, You Just Don't Know Jack

Yesterday, John Derbyshire made a refreshingly candid admission in an article at National Review Online. He really doesn't know what he's talking about (and neither does anyone else):

I was glad to see Michael Ledeen, in The Corner recently, let loose with the following flash of candor, in re our president's latest pick for a Supreme Court justice:
I used to be proud to call myself an intellectual, but I have learned that most of the time intellectuals are wrong. Hell, most everyone is wrong most of the time. So I am not impressed by George Will's call for some sophisticated deep thinker for the S[upreme] C[ourt], and I do have some sympathy for the idea of a normal human being sitting alongside the deep thinkers.

Leaving aside the whole Supreme Court issue, Michael is voicing a thought I myself have rather frequently nowadays: The thought that I don't know jack, that my opinions are no better than anyone else's, and that the same thing is true of all the rest of those of us who flatter ourselves with the title of "opinion journalist." "Everyone is wrong most of the time." Yup, and that includes us bloviators.

Let's face it, this whole opinion-journalism business is just a racket. Nobody knows squat about what's happening, much less about what's going to happen, and most of us some of the time, along with some of us most of the time, even have to struggle to come up with a wretched opinion.

Opinion journalists, bloggers, talk radio hosts, and loud mouth know-it-alls (yes, I know that's a bit redundant) would be well advised to read the entire piece and take Derbyshire's words to heart. At least that's my opinion (for what it's worth).


Today's WSJ reports that Arabized Simpsons Aren't Getting Many Laughs:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- When an Arab satellite TV network, MBC, decided to introduce "The Simpsons" to the Middle East, they knew the family would have to make some fundamental lifestyle changes.

"Omar Shamshoon," as he is called on the show, looks like the same Homer Simpson, but he has given up beer and bacon, which are both against Islam, and he no longer hangs out at "seedy bars with bums and lowlifes." In Arabia, Homer's beer is soda, and his hot dogs are barbequed Egyptian beef sausages. And the donut-shaped snacks he gobbles are the traditional Arab cookies called kahk.

An Arabized "Simpsons" -- called "Al Shamshoon" -- made its debut in the Arab world earlier this month, in time for Ramadan, a time of high TV viewership. It uses the original "Simpsons" animation, but the voices are dubbed into Arabic and the scripts have been adapted to make the show more accessible, and acceptable, to Arab audiences.

No bacon and no beer make Homer go crazy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Wreck Of The Vikings Is Caroled

The Nihilist In Golf Pants has taken the Vikings sordid tale of water borne debauchery (now being referred to as "Filategate" in these parts) and set it to Gordon Lightfoot's haunting classic "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." The results are impressive:

When hors d'oeuvres time came, the waitress came on deck sayin'.
Fellas, you're too rough to feed ya.
At Nine P.M. she still wouldn't cave in,
When they offered, "Let's have a go at-ya"
The captain wired in that the boat was comin' in
As the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when the party lights went outta sight
Came a bunch of neighborhood urination.

Sing the whole thing.

Culture Of Death? What Culture Of Death?

Clinic broke law on abortion notification, judge rules.

Planned Parenthood's St. Paul clinic could be liable for thousands of dollars in damages after a judge ruled the clinic broke the law when it performed an abortion on a 17-year-old girl without first telling her parents. Planned Parenthood will ask the judge to reconsider his ruling.

Why risk losing a sale? I can imagine the strong-arming that might take place when a girl is considering her options at the hands of these death merchants: "What is it going to take to put you in an abortion today?"

And it would be interesting to know who the damages will go to...

The Wild spanked the hated Canucks last night 6-0. Oh I know, I know no one cares about the NHL but now that I have no desire to watch the Vikings any longer (final straws and all that) the Wild should be a fun diversion this winter.

And in case you forget why this sport is so damn cool, a little reminder from this morning's Strib: (Lileks: "See, what would you do without the paper!")

Five minutes later, after Roloson made a phenomenal sliding save to rob Brendan Morrison, Bertuzzi dragged defenseman Alex Henry out of a skirmish.

A spirited fight ensued, Bertuzzi's first since Jan. 29, 2004.

"It just happened," said Henry, sporting a cut over his left eye. "They were pushing in front of the net there. They got a couple sticks in on Rolie. I don't think I shoved him first, but he was in front of me and dropped the gloves. That's what these games are about."
The Bizarro Pair?

Our buddy Swiftee over at Pair O' Dice has the bizarre misfortune of having the same name as a local Alan Aldaesque blogger. Swiftee speaks of this humiliation in this post by citing some of his bizarro nom de plume's posts including how the dude cried when he went to the Wellstone Memorial.

Swiftee's comments are hilarious, but for some unitentional humor, go to his doppelnamer's (I made that word up) site and have yourself a hardy larf, including this little gem titled "My Inadequacies As A Man."

I have a feeling this post came from an annual ritual in his household (similar to Frank Costanza's Airing Of Greviances during Festivus) where his wife and family lists all of the ways he has let them down during the year.

Magazines. Talk Shows. Movies. Advertising. All around, men are being defined with increasing frequency and, quite frankly, I have come to the realization I am not measuring up.

Who came to the realization?

Sometimes I feel inadequate and, well, this subject is difficult to talk about but I no longer feel the same lust...for football.

THAT I can see, but this, this damns him for eternity:

I am sorry, I have looked hard, and more than once, but I don't find Cameron Diaz in the least bit attractive. Is it possible I am not a man at all but some sort of cross breed that has eluded the diagnosis of medical professionals?

Possible? Yes, but I believe these type of dudes are still clinically men, but that's about the only way they can be defined as such.

I have read an Elizabeth Berg (ed: Mitch's ex?) novel. Two, actually, as long as I am being honest. And I enjoyed them. No, a gun was not pressed against my forehead.

Tires and oil are always changed by mechanics. A screwdriver is a foreign instrument when placed in my hand. I haven't built anything out of wood since 11th-grade shop class. I am more likely to read Sanskrit (ed: I believe Mitch knows sanskrit) than a magazine containing the prefix "moto" anywhere on its cover.

I'll admit it: I have cried in the last 10 years. And not just when my favorite hockey team was knocked out of the playoffs. (ed: was it during a Bruce Springsteen song by any chance?)

I go days without turning on a TV and I am fine with that. I own no video games or satellite dishes. I have basic cable. I do not have a killer sound system. I am allergic to country music.

Wow. The reason this post is an instant classic is that he is trying to be funny. But while doing so makes it clear that as a liberal man he is superior to all of us stupid hicks who work on cars, utilize screwdrivers, make things of wood (heh heh) or watch TV. Yup, he's beyond all that.

He seems to think that by embracing his inner Mark Dayton, he has cast aside all that troubling biology stuff and those mere thousands of years of evolution. That all it takes is a simple change of heart and a man can become a woman. This in a nutshell is a perfect microcosm of the heaven on earth, socialist mind set--if only people would think differently, then we could overcome our natural world of original sin and biological determinism.

So once again, my advice is to sack it up buddy. Remember the wise words of Dennis Miller:

I always thought women found it attractive when a man cried--that they wanted us to be vulnerable. But the first time I cried in front of my wife she looked at me like 'Who is this gerbil'"