Monday, July 31, 2006

A Sort Of Homecoming

Later today, I'll be packing up the wife and child (they call it a duffel bag, I call it a baby transporter) and heading off to Wisconsin for a week with the kinfolk, who will be gathered from around the country. There'll be drinking, driving vintage automobiles, dancing (at my aunt and uncle's 60th wedding anniversary celebration), and dredging up fond memories of the past (not necessarily all at the same time). There will also be the challenge of trying to remember the names of all the childrens from the various family offshoots. Despite the fact that at least 60% of the girls seem to go be some variation of Katherine (Kathy, Cathy, Katie, Cady, etc.), I usually end blanking most of the time and going with the tried but true, ""

"Mommy, who's that goofy man who never remembers my name?"

"Oh that's Cousin Chad. Just smile and be nice to him. You only have to see him once a year."

(Under her breathe)

"Thank God."

Are You Saying "Boo" Or "Boo-urns"?

On Saturday, after we were stiffed by Eric Burns on the Northern Alliance Radio Network show, we were most definitely saying "Boo!" with gusto. We had scheduled the host of Fox News Watch and author of Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism to appear at noon, but when the appointed hour rolled around, he was nowhere to be found (in other words, he wasn't picking up his phone). That left John and me with three segments to fill. Three segments that we hadn't prepped for. Can you say "tap dancing"?

Of course, we don't harbor any hard feelings and hope to reschedule Eric Burns for an upcoming show. In the meantime, I will enjoy finishing off the rest of "Infamous Scribblers." It's quite an enjoyable read and I look forward to discussing it on the air with Mr. Burns at a future date.

Would You Like Some God With Your Cleaning Products?

I'm all for spreading the "Good Word" to all corners of the earth and all, but something about this approach to evangelism leaves me a little cold. Again, from Friday's Wall Street Journal:

For the other 1,400 (mostly Hispanic) attendees at the Heavenly Vision Christian Center, a nondenominational evangelical church, leadership has become a key concept in their lives. Not only are the congregants expected to mentor 12 disciples -- newcomers to the church -- but they must also encourage the disciples themselves to become leaders. This cascading structure, called G-12 -- or Government of Twelve -- has proved to be a good way of gaining members while keeping the old ones engaged. The idea is to imitate the delegated leadership of Jesus' 12 disciples. In North America, more than 380 churches have registered to use the G-12 system.

The Wharton business school couldn't have designed a better growth strategy. According to the imperatives of G-12, leaders have to follow four steps -- win new adherents, strengthen the adherents' Christian beliefs, take them on as disciples and send them off to replicate the process -- to complete the nine-month program called "The Ladder of Success." Each leader meets with his "cell" (often in his home) apart from larger Sunday services. Disciples learn fundamental Christian doctrines as well as techniques for problem-solving, teamwork and leadership.

When used in this context, I have a hard time disassociating the word "cell" from communism. And the whole approach smacks too much of multi-level marketing for my tastes. Perhaps I'm being naïve, but when saving a soul becomes just another tally on a tote board (or, heaven forbid, a spreadsheet) and the bottom line becomes "growing the business" through a four-step process, we risk losing sight of the deeper meaning and everlasting nature of our faith.

Check Your Sacks At The Door

From a piece by Charlotte Hays that appeared in Friday's Wall Street Journal:

Perhaps the nicest thing about attending the National Organization for Women's 40th birthday event last weekend was that I didn't have to pack a lot of fancy party clothes--the dress code was strictly old feminist. The mindset was of the same vintage. Though there was a "summit" for young feminists on Friday before the conference got under way in earnest (and I do mean earnest), most of the 700 women in attendance were no spring chickens. They were joined at the Crowne Plaza by a handful of hen-pecked, middle-age men, always touchingly eager to demonstrate their ardent sympathy.

(Monday morning at the company water cooler)

Man 1: "Hey Seth, did you see that ballgame on Saturday? Man that guy was throwing some heat."

"Man" 2: "No, I was attending a NOW birthday event with my wife. I don't like sports much anyway."

Man 1 (slowly backing away): "Ummmm...Okay...Well, see ya around."

A Swift Forearm To The Noggin

Swiftee telling it like it is on the sad state of public edumacation in MN:

I mean why don't they simply issue a statement to the effect that "we are committed to the same socialist world view that you are and we want to continue to provide your kids with the indoctrination they need to perpetuate our political agenda." "In order to do that, and to maintain our 60% graduation rate at the same time we'll need more money, lots more."

"Like you, we support the idea that public schools are, in addition to left-wing training centers, job factories for union workers. To maintain artifically high salaries in the face of stagnant academic records and declining enrollment, the teachers union needs a steady stream of cash to allow it to have the political clout it takes to keep the legislature dancing to our tune. We all know what that means...more money, lots more."

"So send it in."

Truth well told.

Oh I know, I know...YOUR school district is different. Keep telling yourself that. Socialist world view? Not in MY district!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Knowing When To Say When

Heartfelt thanks to Tigers manager Jim Leland for allowing Jeremy Bonderman to stay in today's game long allow to pull a Pedro and let the Twins rally from a 3-0 deficit for six runs in the eighth and a 6-4 victory. A sweep at the hands of division-leading Detroit would have been tough to take.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

To The Greatest Day of Our Lives

Gentlemen of the moving party, thanks again for your kind assistance in my exodus to the promised land of the far eastern suburbs (the promise being, I think, no line ever at Chipotle). I know how we all love the back-breaking rigor of moving someone else's "stuff" for no direct personal benefit, but at least the weather is predicted to be 105 degrees, with occasional tropical downpours, and that should provide some distraction from the suffering at hand.

Thanks to meticulous preparation, hopefully things won't be too bad. The plan is for me to acquire the truck around 8:30 AM (although I received a rather somber message from a clerk to call back the rental company tomorrow morning, not sure why, stay tuned). I'd like to begin the move in earnest around 9:30 AM. We begin the festivities at my current abode in the sweltering core of the Jr. Twin City. This is where the majority of stuff will be, including most of the furniture, which is only about 5 major items and assorted boxes and smaller fare. And yes, I'm including the 24 piece sectional couch as one item. And my meat freezer is counted among the "smaller fare."

Tentative schedule would be to have the whole shebang wrapped up by 3:00 (truck needs to be back by 4 PM). And after that, as promised, the finest in hospitality and thanks. That's right, all the Special Export Extra Light you can drink - or until the 12 pack runs out, which ever comes first.

If questions my cell will be on, and if I properly understand the instructions, this time the ringer will be as well. Thanks again and we'll see you soon.

UPDATE: Bad news/good news.

The truck I originally rented allegedly has a blown transmission and the rental company left me high and dry with nary an empathetic sigh to spare. Luckily I'm not a vindictive sort, so I let them off with a devastatingly long pause before acknowledging their cancellation of our deal. BTW, Chad, expect my return to blogging in earnest next week, with a 12 part series on the worst truck rental company in St. Paul and why no one should ever patronize them.

After some effort, I did locate another vendor with a sufficiently large truck and I've secured it for Saturday. It is all systems go. The very best news is that I've got it for the full day and no need to rush this done by 3:00. Meaning Chad can still do the NARN show and catch up to us on the back end and we'll wait so he can partake in the most brutal and challenging (and thus rewarding) moving maneuvers to be done.

Thanks again for your help and let me know if any questions. And no Atomizer, being hung over is not an acceptable excuse for missing phase 1. Peace, SP.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My Brother's Keeper

A selection from Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism by Eric Burns on the brothers Franklin:

The apprenticeship, which was supposed to have brought the two Franklins closer together, had begun five years earlier, when Benjamin signed a document called an indenture, swearing to "readily obey" his brother. The indenture also required that the apprentice "shall not commit Fornication, nor contract Matrimony within the said term: At Cards, Dice or any other unlawful game he shall not play....He shall not...haunt Alehouses, Taverns, or Play-houses." Benjamin was, at the time he agreed to these terms, twelve years old.

In hindsight, such a document should have been drawn up with JB Doubtless upon the beginning of his apprenticeship here. Or perhaps I should have beaten him more when we were youths. I suppose it's all water under the bridge now.

A reminder that Eric Burns will join us tomorrow on the Northern Alliance Radio Network at noon to discuss Infamous Scribblers and, time permitting, perhaps also his earlier book, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol.

And, speaking of the invisible airwaves, rumor has it that JB Doubtless will be joining the notorious NIGP (Nihilist in Golf Pants) as a co-host tomorrow on The Patriot Insider, the lead-in for the NARN, heard from 9am-11am on AM-1280 The Patriot and on the internet. There is nothing wrong with your radio. Do not attempt to adjust the dial. We are controlling transmission.

Well, at least for four hours on Saturday we are. Tune in, turn on, and call in. 651-289-4488.

Painting The Field Purple

Amid rising levels of sectarian violence in the local blogosphere, the worst fears appear to have been realized and civil war is imminent. In fact, planning for the first large scale battle is already underway.

Yes, it really is true, Kevin from Eckernet is attempting to organize a paintball showdown:

Ok, I hope to be putting together a Battle Royale of the Blogosphere on a field of combat. Yes, I'm trying to put together an Minnesota Blogosphere Paintball game.

The particulars are yet to be decided (or even thought about) but for now I am trying to guage interest. Preferably I would like to have the teams be the Right side of the Blogosphere vs the Left side of the Blogosphere. So hopefully we can get enough interest from both sides.

Gonna try to work in a charity in there as well. Not sure if I should just pick one or if the proceeds go to the charity of the victor's choice.

I imagine the lefty bloggers will be using blue paint and the righties red. If you're interested in participating, indicate so in the comments at Kevin's post.

Meanwhile, Rew from The Power Liberal is organizing the lefty legions and already is talking smack:

So here's the idea: righty blogger v lefty blogger paintball tourney. Of course, the lefties have a huge advantage, as we don't have nearly as many yellow elephants running around, but I think they can make up for it with their obvious fascination with guns.

We're thinking end of summer, begining of fall. And by begining of fall I mean, of course, that they will fall quickly to the ground because of our accuracy and prowess. Let meknow if you're interested, and, if you can show me which end of the gun things come out of, cause i just don't know...

When I first heard about Kevin's idea, I thought it would be like shooting fish in a barrel for the starboard side sharpshooters. With gun nuts like Mitch and Kevin and wild-eyed men like Swiftee (imagine the Scots from "Braveheart") leading the charge, it would seem all but certain that the righties would sweep the lefties from the field of battle like the Gopher hockey team sweeping one of the outmanned ECAC squads.

Then I realized that many of the local lefty bloggers are urban dwellers, thus giving them plenty of real life experience coming under fire and dodging bullets, especially those living in Minneapolis. It might not be such a cakewalk after all (although I'm certain that we'll be welcomed as liberators with flowers and chocolate).

Many questions will be answered when the two sides finally meet.

Will the lefties instigate the conflict and then beg the UN to intervene and declare a cease-fire?

Will Learned Foot really deploy the tactical nuclear paintball device as he's threatened?

Does Mark Gisleson still think that he has the 'nads to take a welt or two on his skin for a cause?

Will Kevin Ecker really live up to his pledge to treat enemy combatants captured on the field of battle according to the Geneva Conventions or should the lefties be worried about the dog collar and pair of panties in his trunk?

These questions and many others will only be answered once the dogs of paintball war are let slipped.

If I Wanted Your Opinion, I'd Beat It Out Of You

This week's award for Worst Analysis of Political Blogs To Appear In The Mainstream Media goes to Don Davis of the New York Mills Herald, although it is a bit of a stretch to label his paper as part of the mainstream media. Davis advises his readers (all 1158 of them if EVERYONE in New York Mills bothers to read his column) to be careful of blogs:

All blogs are not created equal.

Most are not news and not reliable. They are someone's opinion, often not an informed opinion.

Ah yes, the vaunted "informed opinion." And just who is to decide whose opinion is informed and whose is not? Why, informed media types like Don Davis of course:

Blogs have been common for about five years, with them becoming increasingly popular among political commentators, candidates, parties and journalists. But you must do some research before believing what you read.

As opposed to what you read in an august publication like the New York Mills Herald, which should be unquestionably accepted as the Gospel truth.

The word "Pawlenty" put in a Google blog search the other day produced 15,344 hits. The first two results weren't blogs at all, but Twin Cities news organizations' Web pages.

The third hit was from "Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police." He had this to say about Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: "Every time I soften a little, and try to think of how much better Tim Pawlenty will govern than would Mike Hatch (?) next term, our Governor does it again. This time, Pawlenty called for a two year Federal moratorium on prescription drug advertising. If his re-election depends on nonsense like this, he has already lost. The unconstitutionality of this proposal is self-evident."

Does anyone really care what Speed thinks about Pawlenty, other than Speed himself?

A much better question would be, does anyone really care what Don Davis thinks about anything, particularly which political blogs people should be reading, other than Don Davis himself?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

People Of The Book And Bottle

The August/September 2006 edition of First Things includes an obituary from Louisiana that caught the eye of Richard John Neuhaus:

It happened some months ago, but the clipping has just come to my attention. Kraemer is a very small and very poor little town down in the bayou in which people make what living they can from selling alligator skins and skulls. The local paper, the Beauregard Daily, carried the following obituary:

"Willie 'One Eye' Kraemer, 91, a native and resident of Kraemer, died Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005. Visitation will be from 5 to 10pm today and from 8am to funeral time Thursday at St. Lawrence Church in Kraemer. Mass will be at 11am Thursday at the church, with burial in the church cemetery."

After listing numerous survivors and those who went before, the obituary concludes with this:

"He hunted alligators and enjoyed drinking. He was Catholic."

Rest in peace, One Eye.

Amen brother.

The Perfect Guest?

Moving has become one of those much-talked about "jobs that Americans won't do." Unless that is, you happen to be a thrifty American of Irish descent.

This Saturday, with temps forecast to be in the upper 90s, our own Saint Paul will pack up his earthly belongings (sans his extensive collection of "Swank" magazines) from his hip bachelor pad in Saint Paul (the city) and relocate to a palatial estate on the outskirts of Stillwater (the quaint river town where wives drag their husbands on the weekend).

Rather than loosening up his purse strings a bit and paying someone to perform this most menial of labor, he has instead recruited a crew of friends and blogging colleagues with the lure of food and beer. I imagine that this involves a twelve-pack of Milwaukee's Best, a 12" sub sliced into very small pieces, and a grab bag of Cheetos. You got ten minutes to eat and wash up and then it's back to work, understand?

"Taking it off, Boss?"

"Take it off, Atomizer."

The awesome responsibility involved in overseeing this operation (imagine Saint Paul in a straw hat with shades on, chewing a toothpick and stroking a shotgun) means that he will miss this week's edition of the award winning Northern Alliance Radio Network show. He will miss the collegial banter, he will miss the Loon of the Week, and most of all, he will miss This Week In Gatekeeping (can you hear the music?).

He will also miss an opportunity to chat with Eric Burns during the show's second hour. Mr. Burns (excellent) is the host of Fox News Watch (which can be seen locally on Saturdays at 5:30pm on Fox News) and the author of the recently released Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism:

Infamous Scribblers is a perceptive and witty exploration of the most volatile period in the history of the American press. News correspondent and renowned media historian Eric Burns tells of Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Sam Adams?the leading journalists among the Founding Fathers; of George Washington and John Adams, the leading disdainers of journalists; and Thomas Jefferson, the leading manipulator of journalists. These men and the writers who abused and praised them in print (there was, at the time, no job description of "journalist") included the incendiary James Franklin, Ben's brother and one of the first muckrakers; the high minded Thomas Paine; the hatchet man James Callender, and a rebellious crowd of propagandists, pamphleteers, and publishers.

He also has penned a book called, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol. A guest well-versed in the media, the history of journalism, and alcohol? Yeah, I think we might be able to come up with an insightful question or two for him.

Such as, is Neal Gabler really as humorless as he comes across on the show?

Tune in Saturday at 11am to AM-1280 The Patriot if you live in the Twin Cities or listen live on the 'net.

Oh and if you're not busy on Saturday, Saint Paul could always use another strong back. Just don't go talkin' any of that union nonsense around him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Not In My Bush!

Kent e-mails to point out that the quaint bumper sticker I noticed the other day has a track record:

On the Bush bumper sticker--here's a link for ya:

lgf: CBS: "Without Favoritism"

Where that same bumper sticker is photographed on a van with two other things--a devil bobblehead and CBS press parking pass.

The bumper sticker that I saw on Saturday was bigger, bolder, and therefore even coarser than this example. Class acts all.

The Urbane Sophistication OF NPR (Redux)

This little NPR anecdote from USA TODAY (courtesy of is priceless:

Daniel Schorr is used to producers popping into his Washington, D.C., office at National Public Radio to ask, on deadline: Which war came first, Korea or Vietnam? (Answer: Korea.)

But when one asked, "You covered the Spanish-American War, didn't you?" Schorr couldn't help but respond, matter-of-factly: "That was 1898."

"Oh, sorry, of course," the younger man said, excusing himself.

I assume that these NPR producers are educated people (allegedly). Educated people who don't know that the Korean War preceded the war in Vietnam? Frightening.

But remember folks, they're the intelligent alternative to the "shrieking midgets of AM radio."

UPDATE-- Rod e-mails to add:

Most frightening is that they are turning to Daniel Schorr, of all people, to get straightened out.

And don't forget. NPR has now added Ted Koppel to their stable (aptly named) of contributors. I heard a fine piece by Ted the other day. Ted visited Gitmo, and talked to the C.O. The C.O. told Ted that each of the inmates deserved to be there, because of their actions. After reporting that statement, Ted added "I found that hard to believe.". Did Ted add any facts to support his supposition? Of course not--only that he is TED KOPPEL.

Why we continue to send them tax money is beyond me.

I Could Use A Lemon Squeezer

From the June issue of Modern Drunkard (via Discovery News) comes this tale of some very happy monkeys:
It turns out that being "drunk as a monkey" isn't an insult after all, say scientists. Monkeys drink more alcohol when housed alone, and some like to end a long day in the lab with a boozy cocktail, according to a new analysis of alcohol consumption among members of a rhesus macaque social group.
Perfectly respectable behavior for monkey or man, I must say.
In the study subjects, "blood alcohol levels often exceeded the .08 percent level, which is the legal limit for most states in the U.S.," said Scott Chen, one of the study's authors.
I'm assuming Mr. Chen is referring to the limit at which it is illegal for most American humans to operate a motor vehicle as I am unaware of any state laws that prohibit monkeys from drinking well past the .08 mark if they so choose.
The study also found that booze affects monkeys much the same way it affects people.

"It was not unusual to see some of the monkeys stumble and fall, sway, and vomit," Chen added. "In a few of our heavy drinkers, they would drink until they fell asleep."
Hmmm...sounds like a typical day here at the sprawling suburban headquarters of Fraters Libertas. Especially the monkey vomit. This place is rife with the stuff ever since JB left without telling us where he kept the mop.
In another study, the scientists gave a group of male monkeys 24-hour access to the beverage dispensers. According to the researchers, a spike in consumption immediately followed the facility's working hours.

"Like humans, monkeys are more likely to drink after stressful periods, such as soon after the daily 8-5 testing hours and after a long week of testing," said Chen.
Let me get this straight...after going on daily nine hour benders for weeks at a time (hardly a stresssful activity) these monkeys had the fortitude to kick it into heavy drinking gear once all of the scientists left each night?

Man, I have GOT to find a way to party with those little dudes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Floundering Founder

While at lunch today, I was fortunate to catch the appearance of Air America co-founder, Sheldon Drobny on the Dennis Prager show. While I applaud Drobny's willingness to appear in such a forum, I was far from impressed with his performance. Listening to him make unsupported assertions, back away from taking positions, pretend that he was under attack, and refuse to admit that he was even on the left, was not exactly entertaining, but it was enlightening. In fact, a transcript of his appearance would well serve as a future reference on the state of the American left in 2006. One of his utterances in particular was a revealing window into the post-modernist mind:

"I can't prove that anything I say is true and neither can you."

There you have it.

If you missed the interview, look for it to be appear soon as a podcast on Prager's Town Hall page.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does Test Slogans For Next Election Cycles:

Testing lines for 2008, Democrats with presidential ambitions accused President Bush and the Republicans of making a mess of the economy and Iraq while arguing that Democrats offer the best hope for a rising middle class that's preferred the GOP.

"They're not taking care of America. They're bankrupting our country and failing to address the problems," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D., N.Y.) said Monday, citing skyrocketing gas, college and health-care costs.

Speaking to the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist think tank, she and three other yet-declared presidential candidates argued that Republicans have ignored the very people who make up much of the country. Democrats won't, they promised.

"It's the American dream, stupid," said the former first lady in a riff on her husband's successful 1992 campaign mantra, "It's the economy, stupid."

Just when you think it's safe to get back in the political waters, a lame catch phrase that's been done to death (and then some) re-emerges as a virulent new strain to ruin yet another vacation season. The sad thing is that someone actually got paid to come up with that clunker. Back to the focus groups, please.

Biting The Hand That Feeds You

Hatch faults Star Tribune in News Council complaint:

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch is accusing the Star Tribune of asking "sleazy" questions after it was revealed that a political rival had hired an investigator to conduct research on Hatch.

The inquiry didn't result in a story being published, but Hatch sent a letter Monday complaining about the news-gathering to the Minnesota News Council, which hears complaints against media outlets.

The reporters' inquiries last week about a parking ticket and Hatch's daughters constituted "malice" and an effort to "throw dirt," he wrote.

"I ask the Minnesota News Council if it has any standard of decency as it applies to a public official's family?" Hatch wrote.

Maybe he should ask Rod Grams about that.

This is a rich. Over the years, Hatch's actions as Attorney General, particularly has crusade against health insurance companies, have received glowing reviews from the Star Tribune. Some of the stories published in the Strib almost read like press releases from Hatch's office. And the Strib reporters, especially one Glenn Howatt, always seemed to have access to information that only the companies under investigation and the AG's office were privy to. The "leaks for good pub" relationship appeared to be mutually beneficial and it's surprising to see Hatch and the Strib now throwing down over details of Hatch's personal life.

Which tells me that there just might be some "there" there after all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Arsenal of Theocracy?

Ross Douhat has a must-read article in the latest First Things on the plethora of silly books that have recently come out warning of the emerging American theocracy:

So the rise of the Religious Right, and the growing "religion gap" that Phillips describes but fails to understand, aren't new things in American history but a reaction to a new thing: to an old political party newly dependent on a bloc of voters who reject the role that religion has traditionally played in American political life. The hysteria over theocracy, in turn, represents an attempt to rewrite the history of the United States to suit these voters' prejudices, by setting a year zero somewhere around 1970 and casting everything that's happened since as a battle between progress and atavism, reason and fundamentalism, the Enlightenment and the medieval dark.

Suckling At The Guvamint Teat (literally)

Friday's Wall Street Journal had a piece on the great breast milk versus formula controversy, called The Formula Follies. One aspect of the story that caught my eye was this little factoid:

While one government agency is promoting breast-feeding, however, another is handing out formula. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, administered by the Department of Agriculture, gives states grants to provide free formula, food and breast-feeding support to low-income women. Nearly half of all infants in the U.S. are enrolled, and 54% of infant formula in the U.S. is distributed through WIC.

I'm all for helping poor mothers provide their infants with proper nutrition, but I have a tough time believing that almost HALF the babies in the United States require this sort of government assistance. And 54% of the all the infant formula in the US is doled out by the government?

The fact that the program is administered by the Department of Agriculture leads me to believe that this is about more than helping poor mothers. I know it's hard to imagine those rugged individualists who farm bellying up to the public trough, but you think that the current size and scope of this program might just have something to do with the interests of the milk producers of America? It appears that cows aren't the only ones getting milked through the WIC.

UPDATE-- Bert e-mails to add:

Not just dairy farmers, but also....

1. The guys who make the stuff. It's a tremendous profit margin industry--count the number of "free samples" offered to new moms in hopes of getting them hooked.I usually get about a week's supply with each kid.

2. The child care industry needs a lot of formula-fed kids to induce moms to go back to work. Somehow "working outside the home" doesn't resonate with moms when baby is at the breast. (something like $10-40 billion annually for kids in their first year...yikes!)

3. Doctors get a lot of visits because formula doesn't have the antibodies that momma's milk has. One comparative anecdote: my kids' doctors visits before age 1; 1 or two except for growth checks. Formula fed: 10 ear infections or so. Add in ear tubes and such, and the Kaiser Foundation estimates that (~1999 numbers) formula adds about $1500 per child on formula to medical costs in the first year. Multiply that by 2 million formula fed kids each year and it increases medical costs by $3 billion annually.

4. Soybean farmers--not just for dairy feed, but also for soy formula when milk formula-fed babies get milk allergies. In fact, the gain in milk consumption due to formula is likely offset by dairy allergies developed from formula--plus the fact that Mom doesn't need to eat as much cheese and ice cream to keep up the pace.

5. And finally, worthless bags of--I mean bureaucrats benefit a lot by doing this, needless to say.

But seriously, something like 35% of kids these days are born out of wedlock, which statistically means that they're likely to be somewhat poorer. Sad to say, your statistic doesn't surprise me.

But I thought that most out of wedlock births were logical choices made by smart, career-orientated, "I can have it all," Murphy Brown-type women who need a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Are you saying that our entertainment culture has presented a skewed view on this matter?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Juvenile Lefty Bumper Sticker of the Day

Spotted on a car in my neighborhood while walking on Saturday evening:

The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own

Hurry fellas, a classy dame like that isn't going to be on the market for long.

UPDATE-- Ed e-mails:

Oh, come on, man. She was talking about her shrubbery. You know, the ones she let the Knights Who Say Nee make a path through.

"A path! A path!"

Friday, July 21, 2006

Turn Out The Lights...

...the party is officially over. Indians trade Wickman to Braves--Tribe acquires Class A catching prospect Maximiliano Ramirez:

The Bob Wickman era has come to a close.

The Indians traded Wickman, their all-time saves leader, to the Braves for Class A catching prospect Maximiliano Ramirez on Thursday, marking their third deal involving a veteran member of the active roster in the past month.

Out of contention by the middle of July? That's gotta hurt.

Oh well, there's always next year, right Hugh? It's only been what, fifty-eight years now? I'm sure that 2007 will be your year. Or 2008. Definitely no later than 2009.

UPDATE--Nothing like a little icing on the post-party cake:

Down a run heading into the fourth inning, the Twins loaded the bases and started scoring runs after Aaron Boone's error. Minnesota went on to put up a season-high eight runs in the frame and then piled more on later for its eighth straight win. Rondell White had four hits and drove in four runs.

Too many 40-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers & trustees of modern chemistry

Reading the comments section at the evangelical outpost, I learned of the release of Road House 2: Last Call. I gotta admit that it's a great title, but I'm afraid it can't hope to match the high standards of the original "Road House" without Patrick Swayze. He really took on the role of the "cooler" and made it his own. There will never be another Dalton.

Separated At Birth?

Scott e-mails to submit the following SAB:

Victim of daily heart aches brought about by unchecked bashing and stereotyping by American right wing media, Kofi Annan and...

...victim of daily heart attacks brought about by unchecked bashing and stereotyping by Bible-thumping Aunt Esther, Fred Sanford?

Will The Center Hold?

The recent trouble making by Hezbollah has reignited fears, particularly among the Sunnis, of a "Shia Crescent" stretching from Iran to southern Lebanon. A larger concern for the United States is how the Shiites in Iraq are going to react. The prospects of long-term US success in Iraq largely rest on the continuing cooperation, however imperfect, from Shia politicians, religious leaders, and organizations. If, prodded by the events in Lebanon and rising sectarian strife in their own land, they start to break toward Iran and Hezbollah in any significant way, the situation in Iraq would become completely untenable.

In a piece in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Michael Rubin warned of the wider danger that the conflict in Lebanon is creating:

An old Arab proverb goes, "Me against my brother; me and my brother against our cousin; and me, my brother and my cousin against the stranger." Forced to make a choice, Sunni Arabs are deciding: The Jews are cousins; the Shiites, strangers. U.S. diplomats may applaud the new pragmatism, but the reason behind it is nothing to celebrate.

Faced with a similar choice, what will the Shiites of Iraq decide?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

And You Thought The Bread Lines Were Bad

My fairly regular travels have led me to despise the myriad procedures that one must undergo to board an airplane these days. E-ticketing has helped alleviate the situation somewhat, but I still find the processes at US airports grating, wasteful, and often ill-conceived. One of my biggest pet peeves is the need to remove your shoes when going through security. It's a demeaning irritant that adds an extra complication to process that's already enough of a bottleneck the way it is (especially for infrequent fliers).

But after my experiences at Russian airports last week, I'll never complain about the US system again. Okay, that's not really true. Of course, I'll complain again, but at least I'll have more of an appreciation about how much worse things could be.

Perhaps, if you were to really put your nose to the grindstone, bear down with all the mental acuity at your disposal, and devote years to the effort, you could come up with a design that would make the process of getting through a Russian airport less efficient. Perhaps. Apparently concepts such as flow, queue theory, throughput, and bottlenecks are foreign to the planners who laid out the Russian airports that I had to battle my way through. There appeared to be little logic given to the placement of security checkpoints, check-in counters, and customs desks. When the new baggage x-ray machine arrived it was apparently just dumped in the middle of the floor and left in place with only feet to spare between it and where the lines to check-in formed up. This despite the fact that there were acres of empty space on the other side.

Sometimes you feel like cattle when you're at an airport in the United States. In Russia, you literally are prodded, herded, and penned up at various points in the process. When you go to the baggage claim pen, the door isn't opened until all the bags are on the carousel. Naturally the passengers press up against the door like a mob waiting for general seating to open up at a Who concert. When the door does open, we all spill inside and scramble for our luggage. Upon finding said luggage, we all immediately turn around and try to get out the same door, while flashing a baggage claim ticket to the guard. Not exactly the smoothest flowing operation in the world.

The only upside to the Russian airport experience is that the rules (if there are any) are usually much looser than in the US and not enforced with the same vigor. When we were flying from Moscow to Chelyabinsk, we were sitting in the airport lounge twenty minutes prior to our scheduled departure sipping a drink. A few minutes later, an announcement was made and we walked outside, hopped into a van, and were ferried out to the plane. We boarded ten minutes before our scheduled departure. Which would have been pretty sweet if a thunderstorm had not popped up and forced us to sit on the tarmac for forty-five minutes in the stuffy aircraft.

In the airport lounge on the way from Chelyabinsk back to Moscow, one of my coworkers had his flight was delayed and he was trying to get onto our Aeroflot flight (he was on his way to Switzerland). Pretty soon a swarthy, gold-chain wearing guy (another coworker described him as "Soprano's looking), who easily could have been mistaken for a taxi driver, was offering to sell him a ticket for 9000 rubles. Apparently, the "face value" of the ticket was 4000 rubles. This guy was openly scalping airline tickets in an airport lounge. Business as usual in the new Russia I guess.

Eventually, my coworker did get on our flight by purchasing a ticket from the Aeroflot counter. Although the dubious nature of his receipt did lead us to wonder just how legitimate that transaction was as well.

I'll close with my suggestions for mottos for a couple of the Russian airlines that I was on.

The domestic version of Aeroflot (a big difference from the international division): "Sweating on the oldies."

S7 nee Siberian Airlines (which does have pretty planes): "Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

Pain Don't Hurt

Although it could be a little uncomfortable if you pull a muscle laughing too hard while listening to Mike Nelson's RiffTrax commentary while watching "Roadhouse." As Lileks has pointed out, this is truly a fantastic multimedia concept.

Vote for "Showgirls" in the RiffTrax Poll too. Riffing on "Showgirls" will be like shooting particularly dim-witted carp in a barrel, but it should make for hilarious commentary from the always witty Mr. Nelson.

A Marine In Need

Teaparty at Les Enfants Terrible brings our attention to the story of a wounded Marine from Minnesota who could use our support:

Corp. Johnathan L. Benson, 21, a North Branch son, was severely injured in Iraq on June 17 and admitted to Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on June 21.

His parents, Marjorie and Steve were in the office at the Texas medical center last week, along with Staff Sgt. Marty Martinez for an interview with the Post Review.

It's a very difficult time for this young man and his family, and they are very much in need of support from folks back home.

Yet, while there is the hint of anguish in their voices, Benson's parents are full of pride in their son and hope for a brighter future for him.

Benson is a 2003 graduate of North Branch High School. During his years at NBHS, he played football, soccer and track and enjoyed working with the school plays. He joined the Marines right out of high school. His destiny was to be sent to Iraq, where he sustained injuries twice.

He was in his second tour of duty in Iraq in June when he was injured by a blast from an IED (Improvised Explosive Device)--more commonly known as a roadside bomb--that struck the vehicle in which he was riding near Habbaniyah, Iraq.

His family said a Navy corpsman riding behind them helped save his life, along with others.

In his first tour, Benson received a Purple Heart for injuries with shrapnel. He received his second Purple Heart for his injuries at Habbaniyah. He lost his left leg and part of an arm and has numerous internal injuries. "He's in serious condition," said his mother from Texas," but he still has his sense of humor."

He sounds like a gutty guy. And he certainly deserves encouragement in his recovery.

But, Corp. Benson has a long road ahead of him and his mother's heart's desire is that people back home will show concern and support by writing to him during this long, long process of recovery.

If you would like to send Johnathan a card of
encouragement, write to:

Corp. Jonathan Benson
c/o Marine Liaison
Brooke Army Medical Center
3851 Roger Brooke Drive
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-6200

Drop a card in the mail today.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mister, We Could Use A Man Like Vladimir Ulyanov Again

Since my return from my recent travels, I've frequently been asked what Russia is really like. Knowing that it's impossible to answer such a query in just a few sentences and realizing that my week-long experience in two Russian cities hardly qualifies me to be providing a definitive response, I usually come back with, "Interesting. It's a very interesting place." Lame? Yes, but expedient and moreover, quite accurate.

One of the things that I found most interesting and a bit unexpected was the presence of many reminders of the Soviet days. While I realize it's been a mere fifteen years since the dissolution of the USSR, it was strange to discover a main street still bearing the name of Karl Marx, a giant statute of Lenin, and revolutionary building art in Chelyabinsk. The statue saluting the WWII tankers was easier to understand, but I found it odd that the architects of an evil system that oppressed millions would still be honored.

I didn't notice this as much in Moscow, although you could still find hints of the former worker's paradise here and there. I suppose it's not really practical (or desirable) to try to wipe out all traces of the Soviet period, but when I saw teenagers, who probably weren't even born before the collapse, sporting trendy nostalgic t-shirts bearing the USSR logo, it left me a little cold. There's much to be said for remembering the past as long you remember the way it truly was.

More Than Just Oil Being Drilled In Edmonton?

Christie Chorley Official Site:

I write this statement as a result of two weeks of unrelenting and untrue rumours linking my name with former Edmonton Oiler Chris Pronger, and his reasons for leaving Edmonton. These rumours have affected me professionally and personally and have had significant impact of my reputation. I release this statement because a number of media outlets have asked me to speak publicly and I hope this statement will satisfy their needs.

The international scope of this damaging gossip has been shocking and devastating.

Let me be clear and direct, I DO NOT KNOW CHRIS PRONGER PERSONALLY. I have only interviewed him as a part of a large media scrum. I have never had a one-on-one conversation with him and I have never been alone in a room with him. Despite this, and for reasons unknown to me, I have become the subject of many baseless rumours. My career is still young, I have worked extremely hard to achieve what I have professionally and I do not want these unjustified rumours to affect my life in any way.

I did not have sexual relations with that defenseman, Mister Pronger.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The World Turned Upside Down

Remember being warned a few years ago that Iraq could become another Lebanon?

Now we're hearing that Lebanon may become another Iraq:

Unless fighting between the Israeli army and the Hezbollah radical Shiite movement stops soon, Lebanon may turn into a pocket of terrorism, because extremists will flock to it from Iraq.

Hmmm...Let's hold off on that cease-fire just a bit longer, eh boys?

Kicked Upstairs?

Another odd move as Isles give GM job to Snow:

From the franchise that brought you scam artist/owner John Spano, those fishsticks uniforms and enough egregious hockey and bumbling management to all but destroy the legacy of one of the National Hockey League's dynastic powers of the 1980s, we now have the curious one-month reign of general manager Neil Smith.

After an exhausting if not necessarily exhaustive search, the oddest duck in the NHL's petting zoo, Islanders owner Charles Wang, awarded Smith a three-year contract in June (along with a neat leather jacket with the Islanders' logo). On Tuesday, he fired Smith--we'll see if Smith gets to keep the jacket and the more than $2 million he signed for over the course of the deal--and gave the job to Garth Snow, an Islanders goalie with a pretty decent record of stopping pucks but nothing else on his résumé that would suggest he is even remotely qualified for the job.

My first thought on seeing this story was that it seemed like only yesterday when Snow was playing net in the NHL. It turns out he was:

Garth Snow announced his retirement from the game just two minutes before being named general manager of the Isles.

Talks about a management fast track.

UPDATE-- Chris e-mails to suggest an explanation:

Now I see why Snow was hired. This guy knows how to work a team.

Who Knew Strange Things Happened In Long Island?

Be sure to follow the link and scroll down. And read the comments. Good stuff.

Separated At Birth?

Paul from Colorado e-mails to offer up a SAB:

The actor who played a Minnesotan in the movie "Fargo" John Carroll Lynch and...

...the blogger who became a Minnesotan after moving here from California Captain Ed?

What's Wrong With Anvils & TNT?

Now that my son is nearing his one-year birthday, I have the inclination to post my thoughts on the present state of children's television. For example, my undying enmity for "Dora The Explorer" and desire to crack her stupid monkey's head open and eat its brains a la Faces of Death. But time is currently at a premium and so those thoughts will have to wait for another day.

Instead I will ask if other people find this kid as creepy as I do. He's four-years old and bald? I know, I know. There's a perfectly reasonable explanation. But when I watch the show, I can't shake the idea that the kid has leukemia and is on his way to a chemo treatment. Very unsettling.

UPDATE-- Paul e-mails with some advice:

I know your son is probably too young to be influenced, but letting him watch Caillou is a really bad idea. I'm not joking. The basic plot of each show is that Caillou has to deal with something that scares him or he doesn't like. Caillou whines and complains a lot about whatever issue is being addressed that day (he's like a cast member of the "Real World"). Then an adult in his life explains to him that whatever he's dealing with isn't that bad and he comes around in the end.

My daughter watched this show as a 3 year-old and picked up on the whining. As I watched Caillou with her I would see him uttering similar phrases in the same whiny tone that she used (i.e. I don't want to...). She eventually grew out of it, but there were several months where we had to forbid her from watching the show, because it made our life hell.

My advice is to have him watch Sponge Bob as much as possible. That show really is entertaining for people of any age.

I whole-heartedly concur with the Sponge Bob endorsement.

UPDATE II-- LC adds:

My wife won't let our kids watch Caillou. I've never seen it, but she cites the whininess as Paul did. I think she picked up on it before the kids did, so we didn't run into a case where they emulated his behavior.

Instead, our kids started picking up the whiny attitude from the kids of the DFLers across the street, but we were able to nip that one with a little more effort. Nice people, but discipline is not a word in their vocabulary. Kids get virtually everything they want, and every behavior problem is "just a phase - they have to learn to adapt to their environment". Scares me to think that this is likely the glasses through which many Democrats view foreign policy. It suddenly all makes sense.

Don't Cry For Me, Minnesota

Entenza drops out of AG race:

Democratic state Rep. Matt Entenza dropped his campaign to be Minnesota's attorney general on Tuesday, one turbulent week after revelations that he paid a researcher to gather information on a fellow Democrat.

"While I'm confident that I could win the race for attorney general, obviously in this environment staying in the race would hurt the Democratic Party," Entenza said at a news conference on the Capitol steps.

For those who haven't been paying attention:

Entenza's campaign was thrown into turmoil with the revelation that he had hired a Chicago researcher to get information on current Attorney General Mike Hatch, a fellow Democrat.

Entenza first said he merely wanted to find out more about the way the office worked. But his answers appeared to evolve as more information came out, and Republicans gleefully attacked his credibility.

Critics also questioned Entenza's ability to oversee health care companies - a signature issue during Hatch's tenure. Entenza's wife, Lois Quam, heads a UnitedHealth Group unit called Ovations that provides insurance for retirees. Quam has exercised millions of dollars in stock options at a time when executive compensation is under scrutiny.

So what's next for Mr. Entenza?

Entenza didn't take questions after his withdrawal, leaving uncertainty over his future plans. Melendez said he didn't think Entenza would seek re-election to his House seat.

Poor guy. Oh well, he's always got his wife's millions to fall back on.

The Urbane Sophistication of NPR

Last night, I got a chuckle when a heard a National Public Radio news report on the now infamous conversation between Bush and Blair over Lebanon. The reporter was recounting the remark made by Bush and said:

President Bush was overheard saying, "...what they need to is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this," well, we'll say "stuff" although Mr. Bush chose to use a different four-letter word.

Actually, Mr. Bush chose to use A four-letter word. As opposed to, you know, a five-letter word like "stuff."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Good For The Goose...

Our travel plans from Moscow to Minneapolis last Friday left us with only an hour between our Aeroflot flight landing in Amsterdam and our Northwest flight departing for the Twin Cities. We were fortunate in that Aeroflot got us in a few minutes early. And I might add in style. Their business class lived up to billing, unlike the poor excuse for premium seating that I experienced on KLM from Amsterdam to Moscow earlier in the week. Crammed in the middle of three seats between a lanky Yank and a beefy Brit (who turned out to be quite an interesting if difficult to understand bloke) was not what I considered an upgrade. Aeroflot definitely had the edge. And since they are now also part of the Sky Team (miles baby, it's all about the miles), they will be the carrier of choice for this particular segment heretofore.

Anyway, we made our flight without incident. After settling in and having a Scotch, dinner, a couple of glass of wine, and running off a string of trivia victories on the in-flight entertainment system, I was ready to catch a few hours of much needed restorative slumber before touching down at MSP. Yes, all was definitely right with the world.

Until I was rudely interrupted with word of an in-flight medical emergency somewhere over the nether regions of northern Canada. The crew went into full blown crisis mode and we were shortly told that we would be diverting to Goose Bay. Apparently a teenage girl had a seizure (grand mal variety) during the flight and needed prompt medical attention. Word spread quickly, as it usually does it such circumstances, that she had also had a similar seizure at the gate before boarding. This led to speculation about why she had been allowed to board the flight in the first place and questions about the competency of the medical staff at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

We made an approach to Goose Bay, but did not land. The pilot informed us that the runway equipped for instrument approaches was under construction and so we had attempted a visual. The weather was a bit soupy and we didn't have the minimums required to land. On to Gander, Newfoundland.

At this point, it was obvious that were a long way off our original flight path and that we needed to take on fuel to make Minneapolis. Sure enough, after we landed in Gander and medical personnel removed the girl and her father (she was reported to be in good condition, the father's state, especially mental, was unclear), the pilot informed us that we would need to gas up.

Most of the passengers took the affair in stride. There was some minor grumbling about what kind of father would have let his daughter get on the flight or why the medical authorities in Amsterdam would have allowed it, but overall there seemed to be an appreciation that it was just one of those things. One woman in front of me broke open her souvenir candy to share and there was a good deal of camaraderie on display. Of course this was in the World Business Class section. God only knows what the prols back in coach were doing to each other during the delay. Unspeakable acts no doubt.

Finally, after fueling up and revising the flight plan, we left Gander. We arrived in Minneapolis four hours later than originally scheduled. For me it was an annoyance. For those who missed their connecting flights, a major hassle. It was an experience that I haven't had before and leaves me with one burning question:

Do we get the miles for Gander?

You Don't Know How Lucky You Are, Boys

When you hear the words "Russian women" it's hard to not conjure up images of the classic babushka. But the reality on the ground (at least in the cities) is quite different. Think more along the lines of Anna Kournikova.

Now I'm not saying that the streets of Moscow and Chelyabinsk were filled with Kournikova lookalikes, but a high percentage of the women we encountered had it goin' on (as the kids like to say these days) and were not afraid to strut their stuff (quite literally). This is not your grandmother's Russia.

The men on the other hand tend to be walking exhibits of "What not to wear." I'm hardly a dedicated follower of fashion myself, but I do usually know when something just doesn't work. And there's was a lot not working with these guys, especially with the footwear. Did you get a free bowl of borscht with those shoes?

Lots of Traffic, Few Triumphs

And this week's winner in the category of "Worst Analysis of Political Blogs To Appear In The Mainstream Media" is a piece in today's Star Tribune by Mark Andrew and Patrick Lilja called Bloggers starting to dominate the political battles:

But later in 2005, conservative bloggers' supremacy began to crumble, overtaken by a progressive blogging element that seemed to materialize out of nowhere. In late 2003, Instapundit had an estimated three times more visitors than the next most popular blog of any type. Two years later, the largest progressive blog, Daily Kos, had four times more visitors each day than Instapundit. It wasn't that Instapundit had lost readers--in fact, it had nearly doubled in size during that time. Daily Kos simply outdistanced it, with its readership increasing exponentially by more than 30 times.

By the middle of 2005, the top progressive blog sites averaged more than 2 million page views per day. More importantly, however, those blog visitors were all people who sought out the sites on their own and were interested enough to take the time to stay informed. For example, one highly ranked progressive blog site, Talking Points Memo, used its newfound influence to make a particularly successful effort in rallying opponents of President Bush's plan for Social Security.

Today, progressive bloggers appear to be the frontrunners. While conservative bloggers focused their strategy on developing uniform messaging and targeted a demographic they understood well for many years, most of the progressive sites coalesced from various activist and interest groups that had been looking for similar communities. Also, the progressive bloggers greatly benefited from the demand for information to counter Bush's reelection campaign in 2004.

So that's what we've been doing? Developing uniform messaging and targeting a demographic? I must have not gotten that memo.

One would also think that with all the power and influence that these progressive blogs supposedly now have, they would have an impressive string of electoral victories under their belts. Last time I checked, they had yet to get off the schneid.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

That's A Bold Statement

Lance Armstrong's opening remarks at the ESPYS tonight included the following comment about the French World Cup soccer team:
All their players tested positive ... for being assholes.

Going Straight To Hell At No More Than Three Miles An Hour

Usually, I tend to dismiss the portrayal of Americans as a bunch of lazy, spoiled, overfed swine. But then I read something like this (from Saturday's Wall Street Journal) and I have a hard time defending my countrymen:

On a recent afternoon at Walt Disney World, Dennis Robles was cruising around on an electric "mobility scooter" that the park usually rents out to people with disabilities. Mr. Robles doesn't have a problem walking -- he says he was simply saving up energy for late-night dancing.

"I'm pretty healthy," says the 37-year-old truck driver from Brooklyn, N.Y. "Just lazy, I guess."

The power scooter is an increasingly ubiquitous sight, with an estimated 1.2 million in use nationwide. But while the $1,000-plus vehicles have been hailed as a boon for the infirm and the elderly, they are now finding a new constituency: able-bodied people who simply don't feel like walking. In addition to theme parks like Dollywood and Minnesota's giant Mall of America, the scooters are popping up everywhere from Las Vegas casinos to grocery stores. When scooter demand outstrips supply at Wal-Mart, greeters "evaluate the situation" and make sure that people using the scooters can demonstrate a legitimate need, according to a company spokesman.

Given the fact that most Americans no longer work jobs involving physical labor and get winded walking into Home Depot when the parking lot is full, this is not a welcome development. If you're healthy and too damn lazy to walk around the Mall of America, a casino, or Walt Disney, you're going to end up not having a choice about using that scooter sooner rather than later. I fear for the future of our land.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I'm Living Twenty-Five Hours A Day

At 7am on Friday July 14th (10pm Thursday July 13th in Minneapolis), I awoke at a hotel near the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport.

A little more than twenty-four hours later, after stops in Amsterdam (planned) and Gander, Newfoundland (not planned), I'm finally at home watching the Twins beat the Indians (3-2 in 10 innings) and sipping on a Summit ESB. And you think you had a long day?

Can't you just bake cookies instead?

The "Grandmothers for Peace" were out in force the other day...sigh...dang it, I hate to pick on someone's grandmother, but then I got to thinkin', perhaps they're exploiting that whole angle in the hopes they'll get a pass. You might as well call yourself "Cute Little Babies for Peace" or "Fuzzy Bunnies for Peace". It's a preemptive strike. (Oh, the irony!) And how come they never have any of those so called "grandchildren" with them, hmm?

Look, we all want peace, right? Of course we do, doesn't that go without saying? It's just that some people think peace is achieved by shutting up and being good and some people think it's achieved by making the other guy, the one who's making things non-peaceful in the first place, shut up and be good. And sometimes the only way to do that is to, you know, kill them, or at least make it very clear that you could. I pray for peace every single day, as does every person I know. But it ain't gonna happen by standing on a posh retail corner in 2-inch kitten heals and a tennis visor, where the only danger is the possibility of being hit by a sale from Talbot's. (Though I did appreciate the dedication to to cute footwear even while wasting an afternoon holding up meaningless signs under the hot sun.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Manuela Said She Saw The Brakes Fail

"What are the odds of the same airline having two accidents in the same week?" I thought, trying to reassure myself as our Sibir Airlines 737 began its descent into Balandino Airport in Chelyabinsk. Besides, 737's have a good safety record and our pilot was an excellent flier, right? Right?

Fortunately, the landing came off without incident. In fact, the only threat to our life and limb was occurred when the cabin door was opened and gargantuan mosquitoes fell upon us like blood thirsty Cossacks on stragglers from the Grande Armee retreating from Moscow. It was not unlike something that you would experience in the north woods of Minnesota, except we were sitting inside a plane on a tarmac at an airport just outside a rather large (1.2 million people) city.

Besides mosquitoes, the area also is similar to Minnesota in climate and terrain. Warm summers and cold winters (actually much colder than Minnesota). Lots of trees, lakes, and dachas (somewhat similar to a cabin). And hearty folk who appreciate the glories of hockey and are apt to indulge in a cocktail or two (or thirteen).

You know the stereotypical image of the Russian dinner with round after round of toasts celebrated with vodka? There's usually an element of truth in all stereotypes and this one is no different. The days are long and so are the nights.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wrong Numbered

OK...IF you were reading this blog at oh, three or so yesterday afternoon, you may have seen a post put up by me, a long rambling soliloquy (if you read out loud to yourself that is, as I do) about lots of different stuff that then mysteriously disappeared into the ether an hour later.

Last night when my popsy discovered I'd been erased from the hallowed Fraters pages, at first I felt the same way I felt on prom night lo these many years ago...when I sat waiting until the wee hours for my "date" to pick me up, finally giving up and falling asleep in my tafetta gown, a half-eaten brownie in my mouth. I showed him, though, he's been blind in one eye ever since.

Kidding! I'm kidding, I totally ate the whole brownie. Anyway, once my ego recovered I started to think, hey, this whole incident could be my "Lily White Sessions", my lost recordings shrouded in mystery that when finally unearthed, really weren't that good. I'm all for adding an air of mystery to things, I'm all for weird mythologies and dark rumors of deceit and backbiting, especially when they come at my expense. At any rate, here's that post from yesterday:

My worst fear:

Grizzled old dude in a rocking chair on his front porch, a glass of moonshine in one hand and a fresh squirrel in the other:

"Ahh didn' learn ta read and buy m'self no G-dern computer so's Ahh could read the estrogenous-laced rantings of no G-dern woman!" (Slams down hand holding moonshine, liberally dousing himself with it, which only further enrages him.)

"See whadda mean? And hennyways, dudn't 'Frater' derivate from the latino 'fratra', meanin' brethren? Las' tahhm Ahh looked, no dern womanly genders in the word 'brethren', lessen they the kind of gal who's partial to them preeformance enhancin' East Germany swimmin' pills, you know whaddamean...heh heh..."

That's not really my worst fear, of course; that's a tie between nuclear annihilation and someone calling me while I?m watching "Entourage". And that whole scenario is stupid anyway, since the only one making a big deal around here about my having two 'X' chromosomes is me (wait...does that mean I'm female or that I have Down's Syndrome?) and hillbillies probably don't even read blogs, certainly not this one. I just want to reassure everyone that I'm not here to throw out all the Farrah posters and cover everything with Laura Ashley wallpaper.

Went to the movies last night and saw a preview for M. Night Shamalamadingdong's latest effort, "Lady in the Water". From what I gleaned, it's about a portly sad-sack (Paul Giamatti) who discovers his swimming pool is home to a creepy lady who looks like if Laura Prepon had been left in a bucket of bleach for too long. Then a bunch of scary things happen, and then of course comes the patented Big Reveal. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that this time, it turns out that Paul Giamatti is really the one who lives under water. What?? That M. Night, he's fooled us again! Bravo!

I'm also quite sure that the studio execs are hoping the phrase (uttered by Mr. Giamatti in a panicked stage whisper) "I hear splashing sounds at night" will be the "I see dead people" of this summer. Not nearly as bone chilling, in fact anyone whose spent any time in a frat house has heard that too many times to count, but it seems none of the execs are willing to inform M. Night that he jumped the shark two movies ago. Heck, I'll even go so far as to say "The Sixth Sense" was a one-off.

What was the main event? Oh yeah, "The Devil Wears Prada", starring Anne Hathaway and, uh...who is that old know, accents, awards, what the hell is her name...oh yes, Dustin Hoffman. It was fine, frothy and silly and watchable even though it slurped from the rote-movie-template well way too many times.

Anne H plays this dowdy journalism student who dreams of writing for the New Yorker (the only possible reason I can imagine any young girl wanting to write for the New Yorker would be the off chance of meeting sometimes contributor Steve Martin, and consequently starring as his way-too-young girlfriend in the next excruciatingly dull movie he makes. "Shopgirl" was what would've happened to Scarlett Johanssen and Bill Murray if they'd hooked up at the end of "Lost in Translation"--I know, ick double ick, after watching them kiss I wanted to scrub my brain) so she accepts a job as the assistant of a horribly mean fashion magazine editor.

Her new boss actually expects her to work a lot for not much pay and this TOTALLY MAKES HER MAD until her gay friend tells her she should dress better.

Here comes the music, it's time for a fashion montage...see Anne Hathaway try on every outfit in Kingdom Come while Stanley Tucci gloats! Told you so, Annie, told you you'd look better if you combed your hair, you silly twat! Why, underneath her shapeless sweaters and unplucked eyebrows she's beautiful, and now she loves her job.

Of course, her dopey boyfriend doesn't like it: "I don?t even know you anymore! You should stay home and indulge my bitchy whining, not do what your boss wants even though it's your first job out of college!" I think we're supposed to root for him, but I couldn't really tell. I thought he was a tool.

I won't say any more in case anyone reading this wants to see it, but it's not like I can wreck it anyway since the story's been told a thousand times. It was at least done pretty well, Meryl Streep was fun to watch, I give it a B.

In the back of yesterday morning's Strib was a piece by Beverly Beckham of the Boston Globe lamenting the perpetually sour demeanor of someone she considers a friend, and how she wishes this woman would look around and see that life's not all bad, she doesn?t have cancer, she's pretty, she's rich, would it kill her smile every once in a while? A lovely and true message, but the piece made me chuckle anyway, imagining the situation from her "friend's" point of view...

(Cue swirling Romper Room-esque dream sequence graphic...interior, cocktail party. We see a woman, she is having a terrific time, laughing and chatting until...)

" comes Beverly...'Beverly Beckham of the Boston Globe! Beverly Beckham of the Boston Globe!' Cripes is that annoying...Oh, what a surprise, she's wearing that stupid cat sweater that's apparently never seen the inside of a washing machine... Ugh...I swear on my Appletini, I'll choke her if she tells me one more time I've got a case of the, toots, I've got a case of the Beverlys...dang, she could try the patience of a, Beverly, I haven't read 'Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul'... "

All I'm saying is, it's a two-way street.

Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work

State uncorks effort to stop wine seller:

For the past two years, a consultant with the Traveling Vineyard, a Massachusetts company operating in nearly 30 states, would come to your home. Along with friends, you'd sample a pinot or chardonnay, and then fill out a form if you wanted to buy some.

On Tuesday, state authorities raided a landmark Minneapolis liquor store, Surdyk's, seizing about 40 cases of wine in an effort to shut down the Traveling Vineyard. Surdyk's ships prepackaged and prepaid orders from the company to its customers.

The state alcohol enforcement division says the Traveling Vineyard can't legally sell wine without a license.

Lose Weight The Susan Sarandon Way!

Big Ed e-mails:

I was listening to the Fraters Libertas radio show Saturday [Technically I believe its called The Northern Alliance Radio Network] and caught some discussion about a "rolling fast". I got to thinking, what a great idea. From what I heard, this rolling fast is organized by some Hollywood elite, the purpose of which is a "fast for pizza". Boy, this sounds so good to me. How can I join them? I guess I can fast one day a week, if I can eat pizza the other 6 days. And, I get to rub shoulders with Hollywood elite! Those people are genius.

What a support group. I have struggled most of my life with my (over) weight. I have tried many different diets, but none sound as good as what Sean Penn, et. al. are promoting. How much weight might I lose? Currently, I am on the B & B diet, but haven't lost any weight. Beer and burgers.

Hot Town, Summer In The City

This Saturday's Second Annual AM-1280 The Patriot Listener's Picnic at Boom Island in Minneapolis promises to be a scorcher (especially with temps forecast to be in the upper 90s). The event, which runs from 11am-3pm, includes:

- Live broadcast of the Northern Alliance Radio Network including an on-air audience participation trivia contest with fabulous prizes

- Inflatable play devices (for the kids--get your mind out of the gutter Atomizer)

- FREE food (good catered stuff too, not like the nasty burnt brats your dad used to make at family picnics)

Captain Ed is hoping for the same potato salad that he enjoyed at last year's Patriot picnic. "Hey Ed, Idaho called. They're running outta potatoes."

- FREE Frisbees

- FREE WILLY! Sorry, got a little carried away there. But rest assured, there will be plenty of fun. And it is all free.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Piper At The Gates Of Heaven

The music world lost a true genius today with the passing of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett. His lyrics and his music touched me in ways I cannot even express in words.

When I first heard Syd's 1970 solo release "The Madcap Laughs", I was going through a real rough patch in my life but one song spoke to me on so many levels that I was able to pull through, with a little help from alcohol and just a schtickl of LSD now and again. That song, Love You, still serves as a source of inspiration whenever things get a little hard for me to bear.

I hope you relish it as much as I:
Love You

Honey love you, honey little,
honey funny sunny morning
love you more funny love in the skyline baby
ice-cream 'scuse me,
I've seen you looking good the other evening

Oh, you dig it, had to smile just an hour or so
(are) we in love like I think we be?
It Ain't a long rhyme.
It took ages to think
I think I love it in the water, baby...

Honey love you, honey little,
honey funny sunny morning
love you more funny love in the skyline baby
ice-cream 'scuse me,
I've seen you looking good the other evening

Flaking you are an nice little one
to put it all around, its just good
I like it, hey hey hey
S'pose some time that day
we'll be swinging along over across to me

Honey love you, honey little,
honey funny sunny morning
love you more funny love in the skyline baby
ice-cream 'scuse me,
I've seen you looking good the other evening

Goodtime rocker woman we'll stray our pieces
little creepy we shine so sleepy,
so whoopee!
That's how you look...

Honey love you, honey little,
honey funny sunny morning
love you more funny love in the skyline baby
ice-cream 'scuse me,
I've seen you looking good the other evening
Powerful...powerful stuff, man.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Get Along Kid Charlemagne

I saw Soul Asylum on Saturday night. Mainly because it was free, partly because I used to like the band quite a bit back in high skrool and college. The event was general admission--a ticket policy I usually avoid at all costs--but this was Rochester and people generally behave like adults in this area even at concerts.

As I stood in the crowd I felt foolish. What am I doing here? Looking around it was much more of a MPLS crowd than I anticipated. People were fighting their way to the front of the stage the old First Avenue Way--sharp elbows, grim determination and zero concern (bordering on the pathological) for your fellow concert goers. Some people who looked like they should know better fired up some weed. I rolled my eyes and waited for the music to begin.

There's Dan Murphy. He looks like he did in 1991. He's still wearing thrift store clothing and the ubiquitous Chuck Taylors. Does he dress this way every day? I think he does. That isn't a stage outfit. The man is in his forties and he's still making some kind of statement with his duds. Sigh. He doesn't seem to be very happy to be playing tonight. There's Pirner. Talented guy, no doubt and he's thankfully lost the dreads from years back, but I wonder if it feels odd at all to be still singing songs of angst and depression and frustration--teenage themes--when you're over 40.

I guess if you subscribe so heavily to an alternative culture as a yout, it's hard to find something to take it's place when you actually become an adult. So how long can somebody keep trudging out these adversarial culture songs and still mean it? Maybe it's time to make peace with the jocks and get on with things. Remains to be seen I guess, but judging from these two guys it looks like they are going to keep it going for a while.

Don't Blame Me...

Alcohol Drought Hits Retailers' Sales:

The late delivery of new excise labels for imported wines and spirits, due July 1, is denting grocery chains' sales and leaving drinkers with a narrow choice of local vodka and beer.

"This really makes our life hard. Shelves are empty, and as customers won't spend money on alcohol, revenues are down," said Roman Uvarov, marketing director at discount retailer Dixi. "Suppliers give us contradictory information, and we don't know when [foreign] alcohol will stage a comeback."

It was like that when I got here.

You Just Don't Understand

Reading the Russians:

That Russians elude understanding -- because they are too different, too deep or too irrational -- is an image promoted by both Russians themselves and foreigners. Winston Churchill called Russia "a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Fyodor Tyutchev, the 19th-century Slavophile poet and diplomat, wrote that Russia's essence was invisible to the "foreigner's haughty eye." And 20th-century philosopher Nikolai Berdayev went as far as to say that the Russian psyche was structured differently from the European; the Russians had their unconscious where the Europeans had their consciousness and vice versa. But it is Dostoevsky's characters who best embody the Russian people's unique and irrational elements. The rationalistic, moralistic self-interest of the bourgeoisie was alien to the Russian, whose soul was as broad and open as his native land. The Russian needs to be swept up by something greater--a cause, a faith, an idea.

There's something to all this epic mystic booziness, of course -- Russia did come up with Stalin and Rasputin in the same century. But the real purpose behind Surkov's statement was to deflect criticism from Russia's obvious return to centralized authoritarian government. You can't criticize us because you can't understand us. Read Dostoevsky to understand Russian contradictions. (When the opposition political parties recently complained they weren't being given proportionate media coverage, Putin spoke out on their behalf and they were soon being lambasted at length in prime time.)

Mmmm...epic mystic booziness...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Taste Of The Good Life

The Scotch whisky tasting affair at Keegan's came off quite well last night, although attendance was a bit light. Perhaps people do still hold to the "don't drink brown after Memorial Day" guideline. Those who did turn out were treated to a bevy of fine Scotch whiskeys and free cigars provided by St. Croix Cigar in Hudson, Wisconsin. Prizes were also given to those able to demonstrate their knowledge of Scotch and our own Atomizer walked staggered away with a bottle of Johnny Walker Green, which retails for somewhere around sixty bones.

The crowd was jovial and engaging and seemed to grow more so as the tasting went on. A table of attractive lasses served to dispel the myth that women don't drink whisky.

After the tasting was completed, we were treated to the spectacle of Atomizer racing around the bar guzzling the leftover Scotch samples like Spaulding Smails, while Terry Keegan was attempting to collect and recycle same said Scotch. It was good to see that not a drop of the precious fluid went to waste.

Friday, July 07, 2006

When Will They Ever Learn?

Wal-Mart Warms to Al Gore:

Former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore is planning to address Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives next week at the retailer's quarterly conference on sustainability, part of the company's recent efforts to become an environmental leader, a Wal-Mart spokesman confirmed.

Gore will speak on global warming, the subject of his recently released documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." The conference is an outgrowth of Wal-Mart's mission, outlined by Chief Executive Lee Scott last November, to minimize its negative impact on the environment. At the time, Wal-Mart committed to, among other things, reduce energy use in its stores, improve the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet and substantially cut down on solid waste produced by its stores.

Throwing the beast a bone only makes it more rabid.

A Dram A Day--The Last Full Measure

In anticipation of TONIGHT'S spectacular Scotch tasting event at Keegan's Pub in Minneapolis (7pm), I thought I'd whet your appetite with the FINAL preview of a pair of the fine selections of whisky that we'll be enjoying.

Today, we finish with Mr. Jackson's reviews of Clynelish:

Region: Highlands
District: North Highlands

Color - Pale gold.
Nose - Sea, perhaps seaweed, and peat.
Body - Medium to full, smooth. Visibly oily.
Palate - Starts malty (sweetish when water is added), becoming fruity-spicy (mustard?), with notes of seaweed and salt.
Finish - Remarkable, lingering spiciness. Stays very fresh with a, with an emphatic mustard flavor. Reminiscent of mustard and cress. A tremendously appetizing malt.
Score - 81

And Dalwhinnie:

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside

Color - Bright gold.
Nose - Very aromatic, dry, faintly phenolic, lightly peaty.
Body - Firm, slightly oily.
Palate - Remarkably smooth, long-lasting flavour development. Aromatic, heather-honey notes give way to cut-grass, malty-sweetness, which intensifies to a sudden burst of peat.
Finish - A long crescendo.
Score - 76

We also have an e-mail from Doug on one of his favorite Scotch memories:

While Talisker is certainly is a good scotch. My vote is for the 15 year old (or older) Laphoraig. I well remember my first experience with it. It was in Long Beach CA and a friend of mine that went to Harvard and his English friend and classmate of his invited me out for a drink. His English friend, who had been the city manager of Hong Kong, offered to buy me a snifter which ended up being two. Shortly after that he managed to disappear and I was stuck with a substantial bar tab. (six drinks at $15.00 ea in 1988 plus tip wasn't a small tab) But the Laphoraig was so good I really didn't care. Well, I kind of did but it was still worth it.

I saw him one more time before I left Long Beach and asked him (in a teasing manner) about the bar tab. His answer was so disarming that it still brings a smile every time I thing about it. I quote "Sir, an English gentleman doesn't concern himself with such trivial matters" Needless to say I was still stuck with the bar tab.

Boy, he's a real bounder, isn't he?

We'll see you tonight at Keegan's.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Dram A Day--Part V

In anticipation of Friday's spectacular Scotch tasting event at Keegan's Pub in Minneapolis (7pm), I thought I'd whet your appetite with a daily preview of one of the fine selections of whisky that we'll be enjoying.

Today, we roll on with Glenkinchie:

Region: Lowlands
District: Eastern Lowlands

Color - Gold.
Nose - Softly aromatic. Lemon grass. Sweet lemons. Melons.
Body - Light but rounded
Palate - Soft, spicy. Cinnamon and demerara, then gingery dryness. An extraordinary interplay.
Finish - Fragrant, spicy, oaky dryness.
Score - 76

I'll have a Glen, any Glen.

No Need To Stoop To Conquer

A line from an editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal on the Mexican election caught my eye:

That's just one illustration of the distance Mexico has come in recent decades, culminating in Sunday's fiercely contested election in which nearly 60% of Mexico's eligible voters participated. Although final results are not in (the result will not be certified until September), Mr. Calderón's lead will be statistically hard to overcome, helped by the fact that Mexico's nonpartisan Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) oversaw what seems to have been the cleanest and most transparent poll in Latin American history.

So it turns out that poor, allegedly benighted Mexico can conduct a free and fair election after all. So far at least, Mexicans are handling their cliffhanger election at least as well as America did in 2000. Gringos such as GOP Representatives Tom Tancredo and Jim Sensenbrenner might take note.

Talk about a gratuitous shot. It was completely uncalled for and not germane in any way to the rest of the editorial. Other than opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants and favoring tougher border enforcement, what have Misters Tancredo and Sensenbrenner done to deserve such abuse?

I would expect no less from the likes of the Star Tribune editorial crew, who could effortlessly slip a gratuitous shot at President Bush into an editorial on the Minnesota fishing opener, but I hold the Journal to a much higher standard.

Workdays In Hell

Time to share a few more e-mails on workplace music.

Tobin from Indonesia (take that Power Line!) raises a legal issue:

It may be a great service to your readers suffering from "cubicle music hell" to mention that it's actually against broadcasting laws to play commercial radio stations over an office PA. Yes, it's a widespread practice (especially in retail), but the last office I worked in made sure to legally torture their employees by purchasing satellite music from the Muzak service company.

I don't know all the ins and outs of what's legal and what's not - maybe another reader could shed more light on this.

And Henry shares his experience, which is similar to the tale that another reader shared with us back in 2003 after my first post on the subject of malicious music in the workplace:

I sympathize with your correspondent who was tormented, like a damned soul exposed to insipid music forever--or at least what seemed like eternity.

In the 1970s, I was subject to a similar benefit. Our department shared space with another that had control of the background-music tape machine generating this blessing and insisted on cranking up the volume. (I think every fifth playback was "Here Comes Peter Cottontail," so you know this constituted torture, especially when played loudly enough actually to be heard.)

One of my colleagues located the playback unit, removed the cover, lit up a Lucky Strike, puffed up a good, hot fire and touched the tip to a transistor, blowing its little electronic brain. It took six months to effect a repair. Nobody complained about second-hand smoke that day.

The fixed unit was moved to a locked cabinet, but the speaker shared by my cubicle and the one next door was out in the open. My neighbor had wire clippers and height enough to reach into the ceiling by standing on his desk. He cut the speaker's wires, providing silence, but only for a little while. The ceiling surgery had created an electronic imbalance that was traced to our dead speaker all too soon.

The farce finally came to an end when some pious (insert expletive) played a tape of funereal music on Good Friday. "We called it 'the Casket and Sunnyside Top 40," after a trade magazine for funeral directors. Talk about wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth. There might have been suicides, had not the big boss walked through our area. He was set upon by damn near everybody, bitching loudly and frankly. He listened, said, "Oh, and walked away. I don't know what he did, but we never, ever, heard background music again.

Softened By Soccer?

Apparently the "beautiful game" has contributed to the demise of the "stiff upper-lip" traditionally exhibited (and skillfully parodied in the Zulu War/tiger sketch in "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life") by the English in trying times. Quentin Letts explains in a piece in today's Wall Street Journal:

English men have long prided themselves on a certain resilience. It has been this way since at least 1815, when Lord Uxbridge was hit by a cannon ball in the closing moments of the Battle of Waterloo and said, in mild surprise: "By God, I've lost my leg." To which his neighbor, the Duke of Wellington, replied: "By God sir, so you have." Today's England was, therefore, a little surprised to switch on its TV sets last weekend and find one of its best-known men weeping over the result of a soccer match.

The fellow's name was David Beckham, captain of the England soccer team. It is hard to overstate his fame in England. "Becks" is the most prominent player of his generation, a man who has made a fortune not only for his skills on the pitch but also as a male pin-up. One of Mr. Beckham's many endorsements was for Gillette razors, whose television ads linger adoringly on his chin of manly stubble. Last Saturday, that same chin wobbled with lachrymose blubbing. The England team was about to be eliminated from the World Cup in Germany and 31-year-old Mr. Beckham, a Conservative-supporting father of two, was inconsolable. Tears rolled down his cheeks like autumn raindrops. His eyes spouted like a garden sprinkler.

When the final whistle blew a few minutes later the England players, almost to a man, sat down and bawled, to be joined by thousands of England fans in the stadium and elsewhere. It was not much better the next day when Mr. Beckham announced his resignation as England captain. He could barely complete his press conference, he was so close to breakdown.

What on earth was happening to the country which bred Captain Oates? Frostbitten Lawrence Oates was the polar explorer who in 1912, not wishing to delay his comrades, stepped out of his tent to certain death with the words: "I am just going outside and may be some time." Now that was manly. That, once, was the English way. It seems hard to believe that just 94 years later an English "hero" such as Mr. Beckham could behave so drippily about the result of a ball game.

Pull it together boys. Now is not the time to go wobbly on us. Perhaps you should focus on a more manly sport. Like cricket.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Dram A Day--Part IV

In anticipation of Friday's spectacular Scotch tasting event at Keegan's Pub in Minneapolis (7pm), I thought I'd whet your appetite with a daily preview of one of the fine selections of whisky that we'll be enjoying.

Today, we encounter the formidable Talisker:

Region: Highlands
Island: Skye

Color - Bright amber red.
Nose - Pungent, smoky-accented, rounded.
Body - Full, slightly syrupy.
Palate - Smoky, malty-sweet, with sourness and very big pepperiness developing.
Finish - Very peppery, huge, long.
Score - 90

Talisker; indulge only if ye be men of valour.

Pocketbook Separated At Birth?

Tight-clawed proprietor of the Krusty Krab and former Navy man who never met a penny he couldn't pinch, Mr. Krabs and...

...tight-fisted proprietor of Keegan's Irish Pub and former Navy man (well, technically I guess he was in the Marines) who believes "free" is the most obscene four-letter word, Terry Keegan?

The Base Wants Borders

John Hawkins from Right Wing News polled right-of-center bloggers on immigration. The results are not all that surprising:

1) Do you think the Senate Immigration Bill or the House Immigration Bill would be best for America?

A) Senate Immigration Bill (12% -- 6)
B) House Immigration Bill (88% -- 44)

2) Do you think passing legislation similar to the Senate Immigration Bill or the House Immigration Bill would most benefit the Republican Party in the 2006 elections?

A) Senate Immigration Bill (9% -- 4)
B) House Immigration Bill (91% -- 43)

3) When it comes to immigration law, which of these two options best describes the approach you believe we should take:

A) I think we need to work on enforcement, securing the border, a guest worker program, increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed to become Americans, and legalization of illegals currently here all at the same time. (14% -- 7)

B) I think we need to work on enforcement and controlling the border first, before working on a guest worker program, increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed to become Americans, and legalization of illegals currently here. (86% -- 44)