Thursday, August 31, 2006

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

How do you know that we're smack dab in the middle of the late-summer media doldrums? When the Wall Street Journal has a page B1 article on how bloggers handle their summer vacations:

In the height of summer-holiday season, bloggers face the inevitable question: to blog on break or put the blog on a break? Fearing a decline in readership, some writers opt not to take vacations. Others keep posting while on location, to the chagrin of their families. Those brave enough to detach themselves from their keyboards for a few days must choose between leaving the site dormant or having someone blog-sit.

To be sure, most bloggers don't agonize over this decision. Of the 12 million bloggers on the Internet, only about 13% post daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Even fewer -- 10% -- spend 10 or more hours a week on their blogs.

Yet for the sliver of people whose livelihood depends on the blog -- whether they are conservative, liberal or don't care -- stepping away from the keyboard can be difficult. Unlike other jobs, where co-workers can fill in for an absent employee, blogs are usually a one-person show. A blogger's personality carries the site. When the host isn't there, readers tend to stray. August is a slow time for all blogs, but having an absent host makes the problem worse. Lose enough readers, and advertisers are sure to join the exodus.

Good Lord. This subject matter would be considered inane navel gazing if posted on a blog. What is the world coming to when it's considered worthy of gracing the pages of the Wall Street Journal?

Daily Double

1. The second hour of last week's NARN Volume I show live from the State Fair featuring an interview with Terry Keegan and the gal from Ole and Lena's tator-tot hotdish on a stick booth.

2. Yes, there is a blog for everything as evidenced most recently by Minnesota State Fair Blog.

What A Difference A Day Makes

Last night, the Tigers and Pale Hose both rallied for three runs late in their respective games to win (allowing the Tigers to salvage a split of their double header with the Yanks) while the Twins fell to the pathetic Royals. This afternoon, the Twins took care of business against the Royals, while the Tigers and White Sox both lost. It's gonna be a whale of a finish.

The Unrelenting Struggle

A message from the President of Fraters Libertas:

Ladies and gentlemen, as you well know, we are engaged in a long and difficult twilight struggle against a dedicated and diabolic foe. Our enemy wants nothing less than complete hegemony over our lands and the complete destruction of our way of life. At times, it is easy to fall into a false sense of security and forget this hard, unpleasant truth. But there will be no peace, no real security for any of us until this enemy is defeated. The latest outrage perpetrated against us demonstrates just how high the stakes are and how truly evil our foes are.

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Ralphie, an oft-decorated and highly regarded member of the elite bobble-head corps, has been reported missing, presumably captured while conducting a mission in the SFOT (State Fair Operating Theater). Ralphie was initially reported missing last Saturday, but it was hoped that contact would be re-established. Those hopes were dashed when disturbing pictures of Ralphie appeared on an enemy agit-prop website.

In clear contrivance of all international law and basic human dignity, Ralphie has been kidnapped and transported across recognized borders. From the propaganda material available on the site, it also appears as if Ralphie has been tortured and coerced into making false statements against us. There are also unconfirmed reports of attempted brainwashing and forced conversion to the enemy's bizarre religion.

Barbaric acts such as this show us the true face of the enemy and once again demonstrate the futility of appeasement and compromise. I am certain that they are celebrating this horrific action as a great victory and believe that it will weaken our will to fight. But they are wrong.

Instead of causing us to lose heart and hope, Ralphie's kidnapping will only strengthen our resolve to see this battle through and truly deserve victory. And it is in that spirit, the Spirit of Ralphie if you will, that we commit ourselves to his safe return. This will not stand.

At this very moment, I am ordering the mobilization of the Fraters Defense Forces (FDF). Reserves are being called up and we are preparing for an extended campaign to secure Ralphie's release. There will be hard moments in the days and months ahead and some will surely label our response as disproportionate. While we did not start this latest conflict, we will be the ones to finish it.

We will fight them in the blog posts, we will fight them over the airwaves. We will never surrender. We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom, for Ralphie as well as the rest of us, will prevail.

May God bless Ralphie.

The Song Remains the Same

In the spirit of Chad's warning of disturbing news to come, I present this report from the LA Times about departing CBS News anchorman Bob Schieffer:

... he has a new career he's pursuing on the side: songwriting.

A longtime writer of romantic poems, Schieffer recently partnered with a composer to set a few of them to music. The results were so promising that he's met with a music industry executive about getting them recorded in Nashville.

"I'm very serious about this," the anchor said, reciting lyrics of one of his songs titled "There to Here":

Don't let this moment pass
we may not come this way again
don't know how we got from there to here
but here we are
let's make it last.

Is it just me, or does it seem like Schieffer's romantic poetry relies heavily on another songwriting Bob of note, Seger, and the lower-their-defenses, misdirection, pity screw masterpiece We've Got Tonight:

Still here we are,
Both of us lonely
We've got tonight, who needs tomorrow?
Lets make it last, lets find a way

Who knew Bob Schieffer was such a manipulative horndog?

As admirable as that may be, it cannot make up for the unpardonable sin of plagiarism. As with every practitioner of this dark art, even a modicum of investigation reveals a litany of past offenses.

For example, this romantic ode delivered to Al Gore on the CBS Evening News:

The Electoral College was a good idea that has outlived its usefulness.
We've spent enough time in the Electoral College
to graduate to something better
like electing the candidate who gets the most votes.

Which resembles almost identically the structure and emotional color of this Roy Orbison classic:

Cry-i-i-i-ng over you, cry-i-i-i-ng over you
Yes, now you're gone and from this moment on
I'll be crying, crying, crying, cry-i-i-ing
Yeah crying, crying, o-o-o-o-ver you

And this violet verse dedicated to Bush bashers everywhere:

The President said this week that we are winning
and that this violence just shows that the other side is getting desperate.
But if this is winning, you have to ask the question:
How much of this 'winning' can we stand?

Which appears to be lifted almost verbatim from this Gordon Lightfoot classic about infidelity and the resulting madness of self-deception (is it always about sex with this guy?!):

Sundown ya better take care
If I find you been creepin round my back stairs
Sometimes I think its a sin
When I feel like Im winnin when Im losin again

Some may decry the elevation of perky morning sprite Katy Couric to the helm of the CBS Evening News dreadnought. Me, I'll just be thankful for some original, and non R-rated, commentary.

Breaking News

Stay tuned for an important message from the President of Fraters Libertas on a very disturbing development.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's Dollars To Donuts

In case you missed last week's NARN Volume I broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair, you can now listen to the first hour here. It featured politics, Hugh whining about his trivia loss, Duane milking a cow, and 5th District Congressional candidate Alan Fine. What more could you ask for?

If you just want to hear the play by play of Duane's bovine adventure, you'll want to check out this clip. In true Power Line fashion, I'll post the second hour of last week's show tomorrow.

This weekend the entire NARN menagerie will once again be out at the Fair broadcasting live on Saturday from 11am-5pm and Sunday from 12pm-4pm. NARN Volume I, also known as the Tip of The Spear, will be on from 11am-1pm on Saturday and noon-2pm on Sunday.

It promises to be another weekend of fun and frivolity at the Fair and you just never know what you might see. A political wonk doing pull-ups. A portly producer of a nationally syndicated talk radio show eating tator-tot hot dish on a stick (I told you that he was a Twins fan).

We're going to be joined this Saturday by Minnesota Attorney General candidate Jeff Johnson at 11:30am, De'Anna the Hypno-Chick at noon, and Mark Kennedy at 12:30pm. And we'll probably line up an eating contest or two with only the finest of Fair fare.

If you get a chance, stop by the broadcast booth and say hi. We might even turn a mike on for ya.

Newspaper Employment Contract Resembles Sit Com

From Season 8 of Seinfeld, the episode "The Muffin Tops", incompetent schemer George Costanza relays the details of his new job and the disposition of his old one:

Jerry: Oh right, the new job, how is it?

George: I love it. New office, new salary. I'm the new Wilhelm.

Jerry: So who's the new you?

George: They got a new intern from Francis Louis High. His name is Keith. He comes in Mondays after school.

From Editor and Publisher, details on the Toledo Blade's attempts to replace disgruntled union laborers and the disposition of their former jobs:

One day after locking out some 200 non-editorial employees in three bargaining units, the general manager of The Blade in Toledo, Ohio says the paper is operating fine, and with less than half the number of workers who were kept out.

Joseph Zerbey, vice president and general manager of The Blade, says only 50 to 60 temporaries were needed to replace the locked-out employees that were barred from entry on Sunday. Those included members of the Teamsters Local 20, Toledo Typographical Local 63, and Toledo Mailers Local 1135, according to the paper.

How in the world does a company survive replacing 200 full-time employees with one-quarter as many temps?

Because of the untenable work rules here, we don't need to replace everyone," Zerbey said. "We brought in a lot fewer people than we locked out." He declined to elaborate on the work rules, but said they require more people on certain jobs than he believes are necessary. "There are rules in there that a normal general manager would never do," he said about the locked-out unions' contracts. "There are restrictions in there that don't allow us to do our job, [and institute] manning requirements."

An interesting example of the destructive stranglehold union contracts have over the operations of most American newspapers. Other examples of a more local nature include those eloquently presented in these fine Internet postings.

It almost makes you feel sorry for them. But given these same newspapers' advocacy for all things collectivist and anti-corporate in nature, it's hard to feel sympathy over someone reaping what they so cavalierly sow.

Speaking of which, believe it or not, there are some potentially very powerful people out there who'd like to mandate the efficiency of the Toledo Blade's former employment contracts for a municipality near you:

... more than the rest, however, [Keith Ellison] emphasizes the role of unions. "We need to talk affirmatively, not defensively, about labor," he says. "What brought the working class into the middle class?

Hard work? Ingenuity? Not paying one's parking tickets or taxes? No!

The union movement. And what is returning the middle class back to the working class? The absence of the union movement. I believe you can't just have a critique of the system without a vision of how to fix it. One way I know labor is part of this is by how much the corporatist types take aim at labor. When they see having the right equipment so you and I don't get cancer as being too expensive, as cutting into their profits, well, my goodness! Labor has to be part of the fix, even as we negotiate international contracts."

Even with that Cynthia McKinney like non-sequitur at the end, any guess which candidate the Star Tribune would endorse come general election time?

When Smart Companies Make Bad Choices

A lengthy article in today's Wall Street Journal on the recent struggles of Dell in the consumer market serves as a reminder that even the best companies can't rest on their laurels for long these days. In the past, Dell has often been heralded (and rightly so) for its innovative approaches to manufacturing, sales, product distribution, and inventory management. But since 2000 the value of Dell stock has dropped by 60% while rival HP's has climbed 30%. One of the reasons is that Dell chose to focus on the business rather than the consumer market for laptops. Another is that they sought to cut costs at the expense of their customers:

As the tech downturn ended around 2003, Dell continued cutting costs and focused on being efficient. Around that time, Dell executives decided to hire temporary workers to man their five U.S. call centers, rather than recruit more-expensive full-time staff. By 2005, 75% of Dell's call-center staff -- those who take calls from customers wanting to buy a PC -- were temporary workers. Three years earlier, the majority of those staffers were full-time employees.

The move backfired. By late 2005, Dell noticed its U.S. consumer sales were flattening. Ro Parra, a Dell senior vice president who was asked to look into the problem, pinpointed call-center problems as one cause. He discovered that the temporary call-center workers who wanted full-time jobs weren't being promoted. Turnover in the centers had soared to 300% a year from 30% in 2002.

You try to staff your call-centers, which for Dell is the only place where customers interact with a real person while purchasing a computer, with temporary workers and then see your sales stunted? Not exactly a head scratcher that.

"We were very efficient, and we made those decisions that work with the short term, but they were really damaging to us over the long term," says Mr. Parra.

It's surprising that with all the core-business consultants, case studies, business books, lessons learned, game-planning gurus, and metric-loving MBAs out there, companies, good even great companies, continue to take customer service for granted. The oldest, simplest directive for business success, "serve the customer" is still often the one most ignored by far too many companies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Riddle Me This

An open question to Democrats:

Why is it not okay to talk about terrorism to advance your political situation, but perfectly acceptable, in fact laudable, to talk about a natural disaster to achieve the same goal?

And if you want to say, "It isn't about Hurricane Katrina, it's about how the Bush administration failed to respond to it" then why can't the same questions be raised about terrorism and the Democrat's plans for preventing and responding to attacks?

It's revealing to note that while the good folks at have pledged to "never forget" Hurricane Katrina, they don't seem nearly as interested in memorializing another anniversary that's just around the corner.

UPDATE: Derek at Freedom Dogs has more:

This is true. I say it is as simple as taking sides in terms of God's laws vs. natural laws, or moral decisions vs. the natural happenings. What I am getting at here is that old moral relativism thing. 9-11 was clearly a morally evil act perpetrated by men--Islamo fascist activists--and lauded by an even greater group as witnessed ever since in posters and T-shirts glorifying Osama Bin Laden.

Where as Katrina, although devastating, was a natural disaster not aimed or intended for anyone. The moral question can only be applied to one of these events. Both saw massive aid efforts from the government, citizens and religious organizations. Both caught us with our pants down. Both cost dearly in lives, hardship and our economy. And similar versions of both could happen again tomorrow.

What can not be said about both events was that they were equal in terms of their impetus on a moral level. And it is not surprising to see those that favor moral relativism to take sides in this way.

Who Will Stop The Rain?

S.D. investigates PAC donations from Entenza's wife:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.--At least two Democratic political action committees failed to report $55,000 in contributions from the wife of Minnesota House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, according to the South Dakota secretary of state.

Secretary of State Chris Nelson said he has given the information to South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long. The attorney general said he can't confirm or deny that such an investigation exists.

Nelson said the items indicate South Dakota PACs might have violated the state's campaign-finance law.

He didn't name the PACs but said they are related to a controversy surrounding contributions made by the wife of Entenza, a St. Paul DFLer.

Nelson's office started looking into the matter in July after news reports linked the contributions of Lois Quam--a top executive at the Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group--to at least two Democrat-controlled PACs in South Dakota.

The contributions were made in 2003 and allegedly went through the PACs to the South Dakota Democratic Party, which sent most of it back to Minnesota's DFL Party. Documents faxed anonymously to Minnesota reporters purportedly show the money ended up in a DFL campaign committee controlled by Entenza.

For Matt Entenza, the rain keeps comin' down.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Was It Good For You, Honey?

Last Saturday at the State Fair, we had a very special NARN broadcast featuring Hugh Hewitt and his erstwhile producer Generalissimo Duane. Hugh was kind enough to drop by the booth and talk politics with us. Duane was kind enough to stop by and milk a cow. Live on the air. Make Marconi proud we did.

And we made Jay Larson a very happy fellow. The way he was grinning ear to ear you would have thought he had just heard news of a plague outbreak in Minneapolis (he is in the buryin' business after all). He's taken a lot of abuse (mostly well-deserved) from Duane over the years and he was relishing this moment of payback almost as much as the sixteen corn dogs he consumed that day at the Fair.

As in most intimate encounters, things were a little awkward between Duane and Honey (yes, that really is the name of the cow) at first:

But the ice was quickly broken and, not wanting to waste any time with foreplay, Duane got right down to business:

He seemed surprisingly familiar with the udder area for a Southern California boy:

His technique was a little mechanical, but he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty:

His strong hands were soon pumping in a steady rhythm:

The play by play couldn't have been any closer:

They're not radio knobs Generalissimo:

I suggest you end with a counter-clockwise swirl:

All that work, for this? Don't quit your day job.

Was it good for you?

Honey wants to cuddle:

Typical man, can't wait to move on:

It's been two days since their hook-up and I understand that Generalissimo still hasn't called. I guess that's what happens when you give away the milk for free.

[Thanks to Atomizer for snapping the pics.]

Sore Loser Separated At Birth?

U.S. presidential loser Al Gore and...

...Mexican presidential loser Andres Manual Lopez Obrador and...

...Keegan's trivial loser Hugh Hewitt?

The Sweetest Thing

Thanks to everyone who showed up at Keegan's on Friday night to either compete in the trivia contest or to watch the proceedings. I believe it's safe to say that a good time was had by all and somewhere between $1500 and $2000 was raised for Soldiers' Angels. By the way, if you're interested in "adopting" a soldier, you can sign up directly at the Soldiers' Angels site.

For the champs, we get a year's worth of bragging rights. And don't think that we won't take advantage of every day either. For the chumps, a year of being on the receiving end of plenty of mocking derision. Victory is indeed sweet.

UPDATE: The Nihilist in Golf Pants put it to song.

Margaret graciously accepts defeat.

Derek has the pics.

Mmmm...Wet Hops

From Friday's Journal:

The end of the growing season has been celebrated by everyone from apple growers to winemakers, but lately brewers have started marking the renewal of their own annual cycle, with beers that are brewed with hops picked only a few hours before. Called "fresh hop," "wet hop" or harvest beers, they begin appearing in late September, typically on tap and lasting only until the kegs run dry.

Harvest ales started showing up in the last decade or so in hop-growing regions like Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. But as the style catches on and more farmers plant hop yards, the beer is increasingly found outside of its traditional home. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. sold its Harvest Ale in all 50 states last year, up from five in 2000. Late next month Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del., will release its first fresh-hop beer, Fed-Extra Mild, an English-style ale with two varieties of hops: one freshly picked and shipped overnight from the West Coast, and a second grown in an employee's yard. And while the majority of wet-hop beers are poured from tap handles, some brewers are now bottling it. Denver's Great Divide Brewing Co. started bottling its Fresh Hop Pale Ale three years ago, and now the brew is distributed in seven states including Texas, Florida and Massachusetts.

When first plucked from its stalk, a hop flower is green and about 60 percent water by weight. For brewing purposes, hops are usually dried and refrigerated, or made into pellets that resemble rabbit food. Wet-hop beers use flowers that have been picked just hours before, so they still possess the volatile flavors that are lost during processing. Brewers compare beer made with these moist hops to a meal cooked with just-picked herbs -- entirely unlike one made with dried oregano and parsley from the back of the pantry.

"It's like being able to get vegetables from the farmer's market," says beer aficionado Richard Sloan, a computer programmer from San Diego. "You better be there, or they're gone."

I gotta me some of that. Does anyone know if any local brewers are going to produce a wet hop beer this year?

Another beer related event to look forward to this autumn is Summit's Big Brew:

This year we are celebrating our 20th year in business and beer takes center stage! On September 30th, Noon-10pm the brewery will move its headquarters to Harriet Island to celebrate our anniversary with Cake, Soul Asylum, The Suburbs, Richard Thompson, Tapes 'n Tapes, The Alarmists, Big George Jackson, Minnesota Pipes & Drums.

Tickets will go on sale August 7th at the brewery and

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fraters Mater? Glad We Had Her

One of the true measures of a man is how he handles defeat. If he accepts it gracefully and acknowledges his opponent's victory, he is a man of honor and integrity. If, on the other hand, he whines, complains, invents excuses, and tries to pretend the he really didn't lose, he does not deserve to call himself a man.

There have been some complaints that it was "unfair" that Atomizer's mother was one of the players on our trivia team that cleaned up on Hugh Hewitt and his fabulous flops on Friday night at Keegan's Irish Pub. It's a little pathetic that a team consisting of "men" like Hugh Hewitt, Duane Paterson, James Lileks, and Dwight Rabuse would somehow not think it "fair" to have to compete against a petite grandmother from Edina. But more than that, this is a tale of management decisions that worked and those that didn't.

In 2004, George Steinbrenner watched Johnny Damon lead the Red Sox past his Yankees in the ALCS. In 2006, he went out and added Damon to his team and this year, the Yanks are leaving the Red Sox in the dust.

In 2004, Atomizer's mother anchored the team the won the First Trivia Throwdown, besting both Hugh's team and our Fraters squad. This year, I added her to the team and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, Hugh dumped Medved and the Crazy Uke from his roster while adding Duane and Dwight. This result was confusion, poor team chemistry, and another failed bid to win the title.

Good leaders put together good teams. There is nothing "unfair" about that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Did I Happen To Mention?

That we beat Hugh Hewitt like a bongo drum at trivia last night at Keegan's Irish Pub in Minneapolis? Butchered his team like a hog we did. This one is going enjoyed for a long time. A VERY long time.

UPDATE: We crush Hugh in trivia and Duane milks a cow on the air (pictures coming-many, many pictures) during today's NARN broadcast from the State Fair. What a weekend. And it's only Saturday afternoon.

Consider It Whupped

The trivia scores have been tabulated and they show a resounding truimph for...

...Team Fraters Libertas. Twenty-two correct out of twenty-five thank you for much. Hugh & Crew finished in a VERY distant tie for second place with a score of a mere nineteen. Another crushing disappointment for the team that just can't seem to win the big one.

The after-glow of victory? We're soaking in it. That and many post-game celebratory drinks. More later as time and the dictates of sobriety allow. For now, the champagne is flowing freely all across Fraters Land. The party goes on. The mocking has only begun.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Ion Mihai looks at the role that the USSR played in fermenting Islamic terrorism in a piece at National Review Online:

Today's international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general. Israel humiliated Egypt and Syria, whose bellicose governments were being run by Soviet razvedka (Russian for "foreign intelligence") advisers, whereupon the Kremlin decided to arm Israel's enemy neighbors, the Palestinians, and draw them into a terrorist war against Israel.

General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania's intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia's foreign intelligence, often lectured me: "In today's world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."

Between 1968 and 1978, when I broke with Communism, the security forces of Romania alone sent two cargo planes full of military goodies every week to Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon. Since the fall of Communism the East German Stasi archives have revealed that, in 1983 alone, its foreign intelligence service sent $1,877,600 worth of AK-47 ammunition to Lebanon. According to Vaclav Havel, Communist Czechoslovakia shipped 1,000 tons of the odorless explosive Semtex-H (which can't be detected by sniffer dogs) to Islamic terrorists--enough for 150 years.

It was more than just arms. It was also a hateful ideology.

In 1972, the Kremlin decided to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S. As KGB chairman Yury Andropov told me, a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. No one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe.

According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Their illiterate, oppressed mobs could be whipped up to a fever pitch.

Terrorism and violence against Israel and her master, American Zionism, would flow naturally from the Muslims' religious fervor, Andropov sermonized. We had only to keep repeating our themes--that the United States and Israel were "fascist, imperial-Zionist countries" bankrolled by rich Jews. Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels' occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.

The codename of this operation was "SIG" (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or "Zionist Governments"), and was within my Romanian service's "sphere of influence," for it embraced Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. SIG was a large party/state operation. We created joint ventures to build hospitals, houses, and roads in these countries, and there we sent thousands of doctors, engineers, technicians, professors, and even dance instructors. All had the task of portraying the United States as an arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world.

The Soviet Union helped propagate the Islamist whirlwind that the world, including Russia, now must deal with. One Evil Empire spawning what its adherents hope to be another.

Mystery Man Unmasked

In case you missed yesterday's soggy Hugh Hewitt show from the State Fair, the fourth player on his trivia team is none other than his old college roomie, Dwight Rabuse. 10% of you correctly deduced his identity in our poll, but the most votes went to Al Franken. As if he has the chops for such a test of intellectual horsepower.

9pm tonight at Keegan's. Quit talkin' and start chalkin'.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tale Of The Trivia Tape

In advance of tomorrow's trivia title match at Keegan's Irish Pub, I've obtained the latest odds from the High Street bookies on each of the team's chances.

1. Hugh's Harpies 2-1: Once again, this is Hugh's contest to lose. He's a built his team to win and anything short of victory will be a devastating disappointment. Of course, Browns were supposed to go the Super Bowl and the Indians were supposed to win the '97 World Series. That's why we play the game.

2. Fraters Libertas 12-1: The absence of Saint Paul leaves our team with a big void to fill. The C-Span watching, self-proclaimed Civil War buff and burrito connoisseur is off on a tour of ballparks across America and will miss the match. Without him on hand to tell the Nihilist in Golf Pants to "shut the F*** up!" I don't see how our squad can expect to finish in the money.

3. NARN II 7-2: Mitch and Captain Ed are being joined by a guy named Michael who claims to have won on Jeopardy! some years ago and Inge. Inge brings something to the table, but I'm not sure exactly what it is or whether it's something you really want at the table in the first place.

4. The Peoples Republic of Minneapolis 6-1: This could be an interesting squad. A couple of local lefty bloggers and the guy Hugh likes to call the "Giant Ute," who played on Team Hewitt last time around, but was given his walking papers this year. If anybody knows how to hold a grudge, it's a Ukrainian.

5. Three Weddings and a Funeral 8-1: A group of local right-wing bloggers who prove that while nice guys don't always finish last, they usually don't win either.

6. Taxpayer's League Lushes 3-1: If Hugh's squad pulls another choke job, this is the team to watch. They've got a nice cross-section of knowledge and the always dangerous Sisyphus, the straw that stirs the drink at Nihilist In Golf Pants.

7. Team Anti-Strib 7-1: If they get enough questions with a local angle, they have a shot.

8. Threat Level Midnight 8-1: These guys are the true X factor.

9. Freedom Dogs 8-1: Despite his clear androgynous leanings, I don't think Terry Keegan is a big Bowie fan.

That leaves one spot still open for a last minute challenger to jump in. Do you have what it takes?

In Case You Were Wondering...

Yes, there is one spot remaining for a team to join in tomorrow's night's trivia competition with Hugh Hewitt et al at Keegan's Irish Pub. Drop me a line if you've got the intellectual horsepower and inclination to beat Hugh like a bongo drum.

Diversity Is Our Strength?

Fill in the blanks in this paragraph from an article about a local talk radio station:

__________ listeners are also wealthy, white, middle-aged, and overwhelmingly male. According to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Media Audit, 91 percent of the station's audience is Caucasian, while 83 percent is male. Roughly 70 percent of __________ listeners are at least 45 years old, and 60 percent have household incomes of greater than $75,000.

Rich, middle-aged, white males? Gotta be that bastion of the "angry white male" AM-1280 The Patriot, right?

Wrong. Try the local Air America affiliate, as detailed in the City Pages.

Another noteworthy chestnut that I pulled from the story was this lamentation from the rich white female owner of the station:

Perhaps pitying herself for a moment, she adds, "We have not been able to do what we wanted to do just because of lack of resources. Some people with my kind of money they have seven homes in Switzerland and Vale, and I have a radio station. I have to tell you it's put a complete crimp in my life."


Things are tough all over ain't they Janet?

More on this from Mitchell at Shot In The Dark.

So Close We Can Taste It

America's No. 2 drunkest city?:

Where is the second-drunkest city in America?

Chances are you are living in it--according to Forbes Magazine, at least. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area is surpassed only by Milwaukee in the magazine's first-ever "drunkest cities" evaluation.

Ewalt said he used a combination of government statistics from 2004 measuring rates of alcoholism, binge drinking, Alcoholics Anonymous participation and other figures.

He was surprised to see Milwaukee and the Twin Cities besting notorious party areas such as New Orleans (ranked 24th) and Las Vegas (No. 14).

"You go to New Orleans or Las Vegas, and they are very liberal about alcohol. You can drink beer on the streets," he said. "To a tourist, they can seem like very drunk towns."

It's likely, he said, that the pattern of drinking in Minnesota is more private.

While most residents of the Twin Cities will no doubt react to such news with civic pride, a few of our local prudish, panty-waisted public officials seem ashamed of the well-earned distinction:

"It seems like that survey is a bit of a stretch," said Bob Hume, spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

Hume said that only two months ago, Kiplinger's Magazine ranked the Twin Cities metro area second in its "Smart Places to Live" survey.

"The criteria there were vibrant, fun, affordable," Hume said. "Enjoy our recreational opportunities responsibly."

As wet rags like Bob tut-tut and preach to the citizenry about the proper way to have fun, the rest of us are getting loaded. Responsibly loaded. Just wait 'til next year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Woman In The Gray Flannel Pantsuit

Don't marry a career-oriented dame. Sounds like good advice to me. Who wants to put up with all the aggravation, self-centeredness, pantsuits, powerpoint presentations and general added marital stress? But who is giving such sage advice to non-married men? Vox Day? Some loudmouth conservative like ol' JB? Nope, Forbes magazine (via El Rushbo):

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage.

Shocking. Good thing we have these social scientists doing these important studies. Otherwise how would we know such common sense things like don't marry a career gal?

While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

Ouch, man. Ouch.

Read the whole thing as they say on Powerline.


Don't miss hitting the comments section.

I haven't laughed this much in ages!

"Our Schools Are Burning Down"

Sadly, the school did not burn to the ground, although one teacher did try his damndest by igniting two American flags in the classroom.

Dan Holden, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Stuart Middle School, burned the flags Friday as part of a lesson on freedom of speech, Jefferson County schools spokeswoman Lauren Roberts said.

The students were asked to write an opinion paper on the flag burning, Roberts said. The burning did not appear to be politically motivated, she said.

Wha? It wasn't politically motivated. I see. Was he cold or something? Perhaps an early frost decended upon this public school in Louisvile Kentucky in August and he was just trying to keep the churlen warm.

Louisville Kentucky. You'd think that down in the South there would be an outrage over this kind of blatantly Anti-American, adolescent posturing that passes as teaching but the only concerns seemed to be for the safety of the kids.

Roberts said at least one parent complained to the district.

"Certainly we're concerned about the safety aspect," Roberts said, along with "the judgment of using that type of demonstration in a class."

I fully expected to hear of bands of angry fathers marching down to the school to kick the snot out of this little puke and send him packing on the next thing smokin'. But, once you throw your kids in the public schools I guess this kind of thing just comes with the territory...

Fair Warning

The 2006 Minnesota State Fair starts tomorrow. The pre-Fair trash talking by the likes of Duane "Kobayashi" Patterson has already begun at Radio Blogger. Duane will teaming up with his kemo sabe Hugh Hewitt to broadcast Hugh's show from the Fair on Thursday and Friday from 5pm-8pm. If you get a chance, stop by and say hi to the boys. And be sure to mention the Twins.

Just as Hugh has cut and run from the Indians, Duane has left his formerly-beloved Angels behind and is now a full-fledged Twins supporter (Duane's always been a big athletic supporter). Not surprising behavior for a couple of brie-nibbling, Chablis-sipping fair-weather baseball fans from Southern California, but we're glad to have 'em on board the bandwagon anyway.

Farm animals, seed art, Midway rides, fried food on a stick, and live radio. It really don't get much better than the Great Minnesota Git Together.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Room For One More?

One spot remains available for the opportunity to face off against the haughty Hugh Hewitt, the formidable Fraters, and the curmudgeonly Captain Ed in trivia this Friday night at Keegan's Irish Pub. Drop me an e-mail with your team moniker and the names of your players to get your hat in the ring. You can't win if you don't play.

The Only Thing Bad For You Is Listening To These Ninnies

Suze e-mails to advise on some folks who are exposing the fraud of the food fascisti:

Thought you might find this interesting in light of the hundreds of whiney articles dissing every food product under the sun, linking it to obesity, is nice to know that someone is finally looking into a little thing we call personal responsibility and freedom of choice. It also pisses me off on the free-market front. The kinds of inefficiency these tactics cause boil my blood. Do they not get it? I also googled this CSPI group mentioned and turns out there is a whole site pointing out their scam-ridden history. 90 scares in 35 years. Why am I not surprised?

She's talking about this post at Human Events:

Steven Milloy of the Free Enterprise Education Institute has just released a comprehensive report busting the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on their 35 years of food policing. The CSPI has waged war against coffee, ice cream, movie popcorn, bacon, Fettuccine Alfredo and every other food that is loved by the American public.

The CSPI's 2005 tax return showed that they raked in $16.2 million, approximately one dollar for every calorie in Outback's bacon cheese fries.

Some other noteworthy targets in CSPI's campaigns include:

- Caffeine--CSPI claimed that thousands of babies are born deformed because "coffee, tea and other beverages containing caffeine."

- Hot dog casing--But not for the reason you think--CSPI claimed the food coloring used in the casings cause cancer.

- Beer--CSPI's claim is that beer is even worse than bacon when it comes to exposure of nitrosamines. Thousands of single guys reading this just uttered "Mmm...bacon beer."

Going after coffee AND beer? They really are worse than Hitler.

Much more about the dubious nature of most of the claims made by the CSPI, including a link to Milloy's full report can be found here.

While we're on the topic of overblown public health risks, my wife brought my attention to news of the latest "addiction":

Blackberry email devices can be so addictive that owners may need to be weaned off them with treatment similar to that given to drug users, experts warned today.

They said the palmtop gadgets, which have been nicknamed 'crackberries' because users quickly become hooked on them, could be seriously damaging to mental health.

The study, carried out by New Jersey's Rutgers University School, claims the Blackberry is fuelling a rise in email and internet addiction, with sufferers able to survive only a few minutes without checking for new mail.

Survive? So these weenies just curled up in a ball and died because somebody took their precious Blackberry away? As beneficial for society as such a scenario might be, I find it highly unlikely.

The Islamists have guys willing to blow themselves up for their cause. We can't even "survive" without our electronic gadgets supplying us with a constant stream of inane information. No wonder they hate us.

Russian Roulette

Russian jet crashes, 171 aboard:

KIEV, Ukraine - An airliner flying from southern Russia to St. Petersburg crashed on Tuesday in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry said.

The ministry said helicopters circling the site about 30 miles north of the regional town of Donetsk saw the aircraft, a Russian-made Tupolev 154, in flames.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said 160 passengers, including six children, and 11 crew were aboard the aircraft belonging to Pulkovo Airlines. Initial reports said 10 crew were aboard.

The Interfax news agency, citing the ministry, said 30 bodies had been found.

There was no word on whether anyone survived.

The jet, on its way from the Black Sea resort of Anapa to St. Petersburg, disappeared from radar screens after sending an SOS message, a Russian emergency official said.

Igor Krol, a spokesman for the Ukrainian ministry, said that according to preliminary information a fire broke out in the plane at an altitude of 33,000 feet. The crew then decided to make an emergency landing.

Pulkovo Airlines, among Russia's largest carriers, is based in St. Petersburg.

It was the third major plane crash in the region this year, and came less than two months after at least 124 people died when an Airbus A-310 of the Russian carrier S7 skidded off a runway and burst into flames on July 9 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

On May 3, an A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia crashed into the Black Sea while trying to land in the Russian resort city of Sochi in rough weather, killing all 113 people aboard.

Russian-made Tu-154s are widely used by Russian airlines for many regional flights.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Casting A Wide Net

The first hour of last Saturday's NARN broadcast, featuring our interview with Vox Day and the Loon of the Week, is now available in a commerical-free format. Click the link to listen or save it for posterity.

Let Me Hear Your Brainy Talk

A mere five days remain unil the Ultimate Trivia Showdown II: Ralphie's Revenge event takes place at Keegan's Irish Pub in Minneapolis. And a mere two places remain for teams to participate. If you don't want to be left on the sidelines, you need to act quickly. Send me an e-mail ( with the name of your team and the four players participating.

Keep in mind that this is all for a very good cause. Beating the tar out of Hugh & crew. Seriously though, all proceeds from the event will go to Soldiers' Angels and we hope to have a Soldiers' Angels representative on hand that night to sign people up to adopt a soldier.

By the way Hugh, that ain't fear that you're smelling. It's beer. We love the smell of beer in the morning. It smells like victory.

Never Say Never Again

In the past, I've expressed my misgivings about Senator John McCain, especially on the issues of campaign finance reform, judicial nominees, and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. But when you listen to McCain discuss the war in Iraq and the broader struggle against the radical Islamists (as he did on Meet the Press yesterday), it's easy to find yourself drawn toward him. His opinions on these matters are clear-headed, straight-forward, and resolute. He displays the conviction, resolve, and commitment that we desperately need and usually find lacking in our leaders at this critical juncture.

By no means am I yet ready to support McCain for President in 2008. But I am willing (more than before) to at least entertain the notion.

Mars, Venus and All That

This weekend, we got around to watching Cinderella Man. My wife's review?

"It was a good movie except for all those boxing scenes."

Vive la difference!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Love The Art, Hate The Artist

In the light of the recent revelations of Gunther Grass's Nazi past, Terry Teachout examines what happens when morality and art collide in an article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal:

The revelation of Herr Grass's hypocrisy is only the latest in a series of belated airings of the dirty laundry of prominent artists. The obituaries for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, the great soprano who died two weeks ago at the age of 90, reminded us that she lied shamelessly about her membership in the Nazi Party, admitting to the truth in 1996 only when confronted with incontrovertible evidence. And Benjamin Britten, the foremost English composer of the 20th century, was the subject of both a 2004 BBC documentary and a recently published book, "Britten's Children," that documented in detail his lifelong sexual interest in adolescent boys.

To be sure, few major artists have been known for their goodness, but nowadays we seem quicker than ever to render summary judgment on their failings. Should we be more careful about throwing stones? The next time you're tempted to do so, consider these five caveats:

- Be historically aware. Judging the sins of the past by the standards of the present can be a shortcut to self-righteousness. Make sure you have all the facts -- and that you understand their historical context -- before passing sentence. Robert Conquest, author of "The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties," was reluctant to condemn the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko for toadying to his Soviet masters. "We might yet accept," he explained, "that in Soviet circumstances [Yevtushenko's] record, with all its shifts and compromises, may merit, on balance, a positive assessment." As Mr. Conquest knew, Soviet artists like Yevtushenko and Dmitri Shostakovich lived in fear of being jailed -- or shot -- for saying the wrong thing. Are you sure you would have done differently in similar circumstances?

- Don't lose your sense of proportion. Yes, Mark Twain used the word "nigger" in "Huckleberry Finn." So what? It's still the great American novel -- as well as a powerful indictment of racism. To criticize it because it contains a once-common word now considered offensive is a prime example of political correctness run amok.

- Remember the Golden Rule. As Somerset Maugham said, "I do not believe that there is any man, who if the whole truth were known of him, would not seem a monster of depravity." When you read about the alleged misconduct of an artist, ask yourself how you'd look if your private life and thoughts were put on public display.

- The work is what matters most... Pablo Picasso treated women like dirt -- but does that make "Three Musicians" a bad painting? Richard Wagner hated Jews -- but does that make "Tristan und Isolde" a bad opera?

- ...but artists are human beings, too. George Bernard Shaw was a loyal supporter of Soviet Communism who looked the other way when Stalin started piling up corpses. That doesn't justify a ban on performances of "Pygmalion," but it does mean -- and should mean -- that there will always be a blood-red asterisk next to Shaw's name in the literary record book. The ability to make great art excuses no man his basic human responsibilities.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Separated At Birth?--Blowback

In my time on this pale blue dot, my features have been compared to Conan O'Brien (often), Michael Stipe from REM, the Marlboro Man shadow silhouette, and, as a teenager by a girl I was trying to make time with, Ed Grimley (surprisingly enough that deal was not sealed).

Andy from Residual Forces has noted another resemblance in his attempt at a Seperated at Birth?. Did anyone really think that there was any chance that he would spell "separated" correctly?

The Devil's Right Hand

Florida is shutting down several abortion mills (their motto: keep on screwin', we'll abort more!) after it was discovered third trimester abortions were being performed.

The "Doctor" (who was convicted of extortion in 2001) running the mill also had this charge against him last year:

In April last year, a former patient filed inhumane-treatment charges against Dr. Pendergraft, saying she gave birth to a live 23-week-old in a clinic restroom after an abortion earlier in the month, according to the Christian Newswire. The woman said no one responded to her cries for help for the baby, who died. The clinic doctor said the baby was stillborn, and the medical examiner's office said it found no reason to disagree.

Stillborn, aborted, died in the bathroom--what's the differene to a guy who makes his money sucking the brains out of infant's skulls?

Soothing The Savage Beast

The newly expanded Northern Alliance Radio Network will once again take to the airwaves tomorrow at 11am. This time, we will not give way at 3pm for a rerun of the Michael Savage show. Instead, the Twin Cities (and the world) will be exposed to the debut of NARN III: The Spawning. From 3pm to 5pm, King Banaian from SCSUScholars and Michael Brodkorb from Minnesota Democrats Exposed, will take the helm and take it home.

Saint Paul and I will be kicking things off at 11am and we'll be joined at 11:30am by controversial Christian contrarian Vox Day to discuss who's really riding the strong horse. At noon, footloose and fancy free funny man Michael J Nelson will come on to talk about RiffTrax, his latest venture, and whether or not he's really the whitest man walking the beaches of San Diego.

From 1pm-3pm, Mitch Berg and Captain Ed will fill the soft, gooey middle of the NARN sandwedge. Tune in this Saturday for six, count 'em SIX hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network. Listen locally on AM-1280 The Patriot or via the internet.

Some of you have been asking about the NARN schedule at the Minnesota State Fair.

Here's how it breaks down:

Saturday August 26th 11am-5pm

Sunday August 27th 12pm-4pm

Saturday September 2nd 11am-5pm

Sunday September 3rd 12pm-4pm

Stop by the booth, see your favorite NARN hosts (or Saint Paul), and say hi at the Great Minnesota Git Together.

Something's Got To Give

And that something is my subscription to The Economist. Not that there's anything wrong with the weekly magazine. Far from it. It's an excellent source for world news, especially business and economic, and provides a perspective that you will not find in the US media. If I was limited to only being able to take one magazine on a flight (and we may be headed for such Draconian measures), it would be The Economist.

However, with my daily newspaper, bi-weekly magazine, monthly journal, and book (to say nothing of the pearls posted by Saint Paul and Atomizer every six weeks or so) reading, I find myself with no time to keep up with the weekly delivery of The Economist. I'm lucky to skim through the contents and read one or two articles before the next issue lands. Then there are two of them demanding my attention and inspiring bouts of regret and guilt.

The only way out is to not renew my subscription. I will miss The Economist for a variety of reasons. I will even miss the telemarketing calls urging me to re-up with the magazine. There's something about a British accent on the other end of the line that makes even the most irritating of telephone annoyances tolerable.

Cheerio chum.

UPDATE-- Joe Carter from the evangelical outpost e-mails with a possible solution:

About a year ago I was struck by a similar problem. I noticed that there were numerous times throughout the day when I would have unproductive downtime that could have been better spent catching up on my reading. Invariably I would be in a location (e.g., public restrooms, in line at the post office) that made it difficult to carry around a book or magazine. The solution came to me while using my Hipster PDA, so in homage to Mann?s essential tool I introduce the Hipster Reader.

Building your first Hipster Reader:

1. Get a bunch of magazines and journals.
2. Rip out the pages you want to read.
3. Fold them into shapes of roughly 3"x5".
4. Clip them together with a binder.

How to use your Hipster Reader:

Carry two or three articles in your pocket or purse. Use them for reading material when you have several minutes of unproductive downtime.

My Invite Must Have Gotten Lost In The Mail

Berlin to host global town hall:

Will China take over as the world's superpower from the U.S.?" "Can humanity improve itself without profit as a motive?" "Is it possible to continue globalization without losing our cultural identity?"

These questions--among 10,000 from people around the world--will be winnowed down to 100, then submitted to some of the planet's biggest thinkers
["biggest" as is Michael Moore's waistband big?], a sort of intellectual G-8 that will gather in Berlin on Sept. 9.

The Web site dropping knowledge is sponsoring the thought summit, which will bring together 112 artists, scientists, philosophers and others near Bebelplatz Square, site of Nazi book burnings in 1933.

Actor Willem Dafoe will pose the questions to the panelists, who will gather around a massive table to discuss topics from national security to personal values, racism to environmental concerns.

Because nobody screams "intellectual" like the man who played the Green Goblin.

"We're launching what we think will be an infrastructure for a global community of citizens," said Dr. Ceasar L. McDowell, dropping knowledge's U.S. director of operations, in an interview from Berlin. "There's a need to have something that allows people to share their knowledge with each other on a platform that's not controlled by an interest group or a government, with no one trying to drive an issue."

Yeah, I'm sure that no one will be using this opportunity to drive their pet issues. Nope, just pure intellectual discourse.

McDowell couldn't vouch for the politics of the visionaries set to attend. He said that thinkers of a more conservative viewpoint had been invited, but declined to attend.

"One might look at the table and say it's overly 'left' or liberal, but our intention is to create a table where people aren't responding from political ideologies," McDowell said.

Read as: we've invited a bunch of people who hold leftist political views, but steadfastly refuse to identify themselves as such.

Dropping knowledge, a not-for-profit corporation based in Germany and the United States, is sponsored in the U.S. by the Tides Foundation, a San Francisco-based philanthropy committed to social change; the group provided dropping knowledge with $259,000 in grants last year.

Dropping knowledge also is supported by the Wallace Global Fund, a Washington-based organization that funds projects related to the environment, public policy and social justice; the Club of Rome, a think tank that works on global issues; Alllianz, the German banking and insurance conglomerate; and individual benefactors.

Let the bashing of America, George W. Bush, capitalism, and Judeo-Christian values begin!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Must Be Steelers Fans Redux

At the beginning of August, I introduced you to the chucklehead from Pennsylvania who wanted a DUI so bad that he began steering his buddy's car from the passenger seat so that his designated driver could polish off a big sandwich. That one scored pretty low on the intelligence meter...even for a drunk.

Now, amazingly just over two weeks later, we have a new contender for the title of stupidest drunk driver in Pennsylvania:
WELLERSBURG, Pa. -- Police said a man accused of drunken driving told them his 4-year-old son was at the wheel of his sport utility vehicle when it crashed into a tree.

They said 33-year-old Albert Monroe Boyce Jr., of Hyndman, told them his son, who was sitting on his lap, had turned the wheel too far to one side, sending the SUV careening off the road.

Police said Boyce had an open 30-pack of Budweiser and a cooler in the vehicle when the crash occurred.

Boyce faces a preliminary hearing Sept. 21 on charges of drunken driving, child endangerment, reckless endangerment and driving without a license.

Boyce received facial injuries in the crash, and the child was treated and released for unspecified injuries.
This poor kid's injuries from the crash may be unspecified but it is quite clear that one of the very specific injuries he will have to endure throughout his lifetime is having to share a Y-chromosome profile with an unqualified idiot...and, most likely, a Steelers fan to boot.

Baby He's Back! And On The Wagon

Late last night I received an e-mail from my old buddy Hugh Hewitt:

Hi Peeps-

How you doing? I had a great time on my Alasken cruize and the rumors that I was eatan by a bear are greatly exagareted. Actually the bear just ate my hat. But it was a nice hat.

Speaking of hats, I'm wondering if you can line up a Twins hat for me when I come to Minnesota for the State Fair. I had a lot of time to think on the cruise, especially when David Allen White was blah blahing about Shakespear and classical music. I mean c'mon, when you say classical music, you better be talking about Canned Heat, right? Anyway I realized that with the Indians well out of the hunt, I need a team to cheer on in the pennent race.

And I have decided that that team is the Minesota Twins. That's right, I'm pulling for the Twins the rest of the way. But I don't have any Twins gear to show my suport, so kindly spread the word to the good people of Minny-so-cold (that one never gets old, does it?) that I would really appreciate it if they could supply me with some Twins parapharnalia when I come to town for the State Fair. A hat or two would be great, but I'd also love bumperstickers, buttons, posters, key chains, etc. Anything with a Twins logo will do.

I also need to get caught up on the latest Twins news, so when peeple stop by to see me at the Fair, I would love to talk Twin, all Twins, and nothing but Twins.

Thanks Peeps, I know I can count on you to help me out hear. I was going to ask Lileks, but you know, he's more of a Hummels guy.

See you at the Fair.

Best regerds,


P.S my teem of all-stars is going to beat you like a bongo drum in trivea at Keegan's.

I was wondering why the Twins bandwagon suddenly tilted to the right a few days ago. Turns out it was the hefty presence of Hugh Hewitt climbing on board.

If you want to help Hugh out in his quest to support the Twins pennant drive, he'll be broadcasting his show live from the Minnesota State Fair at the AM 1280-The Patriot booth on Thursday August 24th and Friday August 25th. And he'll also be participating in the much talked about trivia contest at Keegan's on August 25th after his show. Show Hugh how glad we are to have him on the Twins 'wagon.

Maybe when Hugh's at the Fair he would consider a Twins face painting too. After all, you gotta support the team.

Salt In the Wound

Ethics board fines Entenza campaign $28,105:

Matt Entenza's aborted campaign for attorney general has been fined $28,105 by the state campaign ethics board for taking excess contributions from special interests and large individual donors.

Poor guy, where's he going to come up with $28k? Oh yeah, poor guy with a rich wife. His weekly allowance should just about cover it.

UPDATE-- Nathan e-mails to ponder:

The article said Entenza will fight the fine in court. He'll be represented by his lawyer, identified in the news reports as Alan Weinblatt.

Presumably, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board will be represented by its lawyer. Not identified in the article.

Would that be . . . . . . . . . Mike Hatch?

Hmmmmmm, any chance that could be perceived as a personal conflict of interest, or an abuse of public office for personal revenge? Any appearance of impropriety here at all?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's Just Like ____ All Over Again

Ross Douthat has an intriguing piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that examines some of the differing opinions on What Year Is It? (subscription required):

For the moment at least, where you line up on any foreign-policy question has less to do with whether you're Republican or Democrat, isolationist or internationalist -- and more to do with what year you think it is.

There are five major schools of thought on this question, beginning with the "1942ists," who believe that we stand in Iraq today where the U.S. stood shortly after Pearl Harbor: bogged down against a fascist enemy and duty-bound to carry on the fight to victory. To the 1942ist, Iraq is Europe and the Pacific rolled into one, Saddam and Zarqawi are the Hitlers and Tojos of our era, suicide-bombers are the equivalent of kamikazes -- and George Bush is Churchill, or maybe Truman.

Over the last year, though, many conservatives have been peeling away from '42ism, joining the "1938ists" instead, for whom Iran's march toward nuclear power is the equivalent of Hitler's 1930s brinkmanship. While most '38ists still support the decision to invade Iraq, they increasingly see that struggle as the prelude to a broader regional conflict, and worry that we're engaged in Munich-esque appeasement.

Liberals, too, have been abandoning '42ism of late. The once-sizable bloc of left-of-center Iraq project supporters has shrunk to include Joe Lieberman, Christopher Hitchens and almost nobody else. Most of the liberal ex-'42ists have joined up with the "1948ists," who share the '42ist and '38ist view of the war on terror as a major generational challenge, but insist that we should think about it in terms of Cold War-style containment and multilateralism, not Iraq-style pre-emption. 1948ism is a broad church: It includes politicians who still technically support the Iraq war (but not really), pundits who opposed it from the beginning, chastened liberal hawks like Peter Beinart and chastened neocons like Francis Fukuyama. What unites them all is a skepticism about military interventions, a fear of hubris, and an abiding faith in the ability of diplomacy, international institutions and "soft power" to win out in a long struggle with militant Islamism.

What unites the '48ists, too, is a desire to avoid being tarred as antiwar leftists. This is precisely the position that the "1972ists" embrace. '72ism has few mainstream politicians behind it, but a great many Americans, and it holds that George Bush is Nixon, Iraq is Vietnam, and that any attack on Iran or Syria would be equivalent to bombing Cambodia. Where 1948ists compare themselves to Dean Acheson and Reinhold Niebuhr, '72ists suggest that the greater danger is repression at home and blowback from imperialist ventures abroad. '72ism is the worldview of Michael Moore, the makers of "Syriana," and the editors of the Nation -- and its power is growing.

As 1972ists are to mainstream liberalism, the "1919ists" are to the political right: The old-guard faction that damns its own party's leaders as sellouts to the other side. For '19ists, Mr. Bush is Woodrow Wilson, a feckless idealist bent on sacrificing U.S. interests and global stability on the altar of messianic liberalism. 1919ism was marginal three years ago, confined to figures like Pat Buchanan who (like the '72ists) saw Zionist fingerprints all over U.S. foreign policy. But of late, many traditional conservatives have migrated in this direction, including William F. Buckley and George Will. As the administration flirts with '38ism, rattling its sabers at Syria and Iran, the '19ers have become convinced that the only thing more dangerous than an incautious '42ism is a still more reckless belief that the year is 1938.

And yet. A few voices have spoken up of late for the most disquieting possibility of all. This possibility lacks heroes and villains (Bush/Wilson, Ahmadinejad/Hitler) and obvious lessons (impeach Bush, stay the course in Iraq). But as our crisis deepens, it's worth considering 1914ism, and with it the possibility that all of us, whatever year we think it is, are poised on the edge of an abyss that nobody saw coming.

Comparing current events to historical eras of the past is an interesting exercise to engage in and we have a poll up where you can share your view. Personally, I think that while there are certainly echoes of history all around us, the situation we currently face is quite unlike any other. What year is it? 2006.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What Is Past Is Prologue

Since I'm one of those throwback types who still insists on using a good ol' Franklin planner instead of obsessively checking a Blackberry every twelve seconds, I usually read the daily quotes that grace the pages of the life organizer. The selection for today was starkly appropriate:

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

-Winston Churchill

The Man In Ground

So I hear the new Johnny Cash album debuted at #1 on the billboard charts. To me, it is a revoluntionary record--it was not only released posthumously, it sounds as if it were recorded posthumously!

After 5 minutes of listening to these depressing dirges I want to join Johnny six feet under.

Let's Get Into Trivial

Only two spots remain for teams to participate in the great aught-six Trivia Tilt with Hugh Hewitt and his supporting cast. The action will take place within the cozy confines of Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant in northeast Minneapolis on Friday, August 25th at 9pm. To the winners go the glory and the gloating, to the losers the infamy and disgrace of defeat.

The rules are simple:

- Four players to a team
- Twenty-five mind-bending questions posed by quiz master Terry Keegan
- No cheating
- All rulings by Terry are final and, no matter how arbitrary and capricious they are, there is no right of appeal (unless you get the ear of Terry's wife--I'm pretty sure he doesn't really wear the pants in the family anyway)

This competition is limited to ten teams and is a fundraiser for Soldiers' Angels. In order to play, each team will be donating $100 to the fine organization that supports our military.

If you are one of the select few with the gumption and grey matter to challenge Hugh Hewitt, you need to throw your hat in the ring today. Drop me an e-mail with your team name and the names of each of your players. Act fast, because I have a hunch these opening won't last much longer.

Even if you are not interested in beating Hugh Hewitt like a bongo drum, you will find much to savor at Keegan's on August 25th. Good beer, good eats, good sportsmanship good humor, and good company will all be in ample supply that evening.

They Say These Jobs Aren't Going Boys

We all know that in our cut-throat globalizied American economy of outsourcing and off-shoring the days of the skilled laborer are long past and that it's impossible for a working man to make a decent living anymore, right? Tell that to a welder. Or to the companies desperately seeking them. An article in today's Wall Street Journal (subscribers only) asks Where Have All the Welders Gone, As Manufacturing and Repair Boom?:

Welding, a dirty and dangerous job, has fallen out of favor over the past two decades, as young skilled laborers pursue cleaner, safer and less physically demanding work. Now, thanks to a global boom in industrial manufacturing, skilled welders are in greater demand than ever. Companies can't find enough of them.

The Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, in Troy, Ohio, has been inundated, on its Web site and in person, with recruiters. A notice from Liebherr Mining Equipment Co., offers full benefits and education subsidies. The Newport News, Va., company also is offering relocation assistance, something it hasn't done before, says Cort Rieser, vice president of manufacturing.

The company's Newport News plant, which builds 400-ton mining trucks, is running at capacity. "We've gone to all the overtime that everybody can handle," Mr. Rieser says. "I can't build any faster."

In Casper, Wyo., welders are so vital to J.W. Williams Inc.'s operations making dehydration and compression machinery for the oil and natural-gas industries that the company has begun offering $1-an-hour bonuses to welders who simply show up for work on time. "We need welders like a starving person needs food," says Hal Connor, the company's human-resources manager.

The welder shortage is part of a broader scarcity of skilled tradespeople affecting industries around the world. Ironworkers, machinists, sheet metalworkers, plumbers, pipe fitters and boilermakers are all in demand as production of industrial machinery continues near all-time levels. Some companies are having difficulties getting parts to build ships, bulldozers, rail cars, mining trucks and other industrial goods.

UPDATE-- Paul e-mails with a theory on the real reason there aren't enough welders:

Too difficult for them to remember the concept of "Gentle Pressure."

Me Thinks He Doth Protest Too Much

Peterson challenger touts arrests:

A long-shot challenger in western Minnesota's congressional district made sure reporters knew his latest arrest brings to near 100 times that police have taken him into custody.

Erik Thompson, challenging long-time U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in the Sept. 12 primary election, distributed a news release last week saying he was just arrested in Nye County, Nev., protesting nuclear weapons.

Thompson said he was protesting the danger of nuclear weapons, which he said exposes "a quarter million service men and women and untold hundreds of thousands of its own civilian citizens to nuclear fallout."

He is running against the Iraq war and other American military actions, not Peterson.

"I want to give the citizens of this district the only chance they will ever have to vote against these wars," he added.

Sounds like we've got our own Ned Lamont here. But he's even nuttier. A dream candidate for the lefty "netroots" crew to support, isn't he? Except that he likely doesn't have the resources to buy an election the way Ned Lamont did:

But as a mega-millionaire, Mr. Lamont was able to exploit the campaign-finance loophole that allows rich folk to spend on their own campaigns. And given his narrow four-point victory, he needed every dime. According to Federal Election Commission records, Mr. Lamont self-funded about $4 million, or 70%, of the $5.8 million he raised through August 8. In the crucial last three weeks, when the TV spots really started to fly, he pitched in about $1.5 million. That cash flow had more to do with Mr. Lamont's ultimate victory than all the Angry Left bloggers in America.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Rally Round Tha Family

The rain no doubt limited attendance at yesterday's Rally for Israel at the Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis. I'm not very good at estimating crowd size, but I'd guess that around fifteen hundred people were on hand (if I were an anti-war activist, I would say 150,000). The local media is curiously devoid of stories on the event with the exception of KSTP, whose piece, "Rally for Israel in St. Louis Park" (technically, I believe the JCC is in Minneapolis), doesn't include an estimate of the size of the crowd.

(Note the one media organization involved: AM1280 The Patriot)

There were a plethora of politicians on hand and it was a truly bipartisan gathering. US Senators Norm Coleman and Mark Dayton, former US Senator Rudy Boschwitz, US Representative Mark Kennedy, US Representative John Kline, and Hennepin County Attorney Amy Kloubuchar were all on the stage and, with the exception of Boschwitz, rose to speak. Also in attendance were congressional candidates Ember Reichgott Junge, Michele Bachmann, Alan Fine, Paul Ostrow, and even Keith Ellison (no Mel Gibson though). Plus a number of candidates for the Minnesota senate and house, Minneapolis city council members, local mayors, county commissioners, etc.

Of the pols, I found John Kline to be the most impressive speaker. Surprisingly enough, the most bombastic and bellicose, if perhaps a bit inappropriate, defense of Israel was delivered by Senator Mark Dayton. Dayton's passion left little doubt as to where he stood regarding Israel and you had the impression that he wanted to hop in a Merkava and personally have at Hezbollah.

The crowd was probably mostly Jewish (as evidenced by their knowledge of the prayers and songs in Hebrew), but there were some Christians representin' as well and one of the speakers was a minister from a local church. There were also a few scruffy-looking youths who showed up to distribute "anti-war" literature, but they were largely ignored until they were quietly shuffled off the premises by some of the local boys in blue.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the rally was the clarity of the message delivered by the speakers:

- Hezbollah is a terrorist organization sponsored by Iran and Syria.

- Israel has the right to defend itself and do whatever is necessary to halt Hezbollah's attacks.

- This is not just Israel's fight. This is another front in the battle of Western Civilization against Muslim fanaticism.

While there was some hope expressed that the UN cease fire would bring peace, the prevailing attitude toward the resolution and the UN in general was one of grim cynicism and the sense that it was only a matter of time before hostilities would recommence. An Israeli liaison to the local Jewish community, who was due to return to Israel today, commented that the cease fire would be celebrated as a victory by the Arab street and that no one would be celebrating in Israel.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Separated At Birth?

Matt e-mails to submit the following SAB:

Sharp-eyed newsman Brit Hume and... Muppet Sam The Eagle?

The Good Ol' Days

From Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism by Eric Burns comes a vision of journalism from William Corbbett, aka Peter Porcupine, publisher of Porcupine's Gazette:

My politics, such as they are, are known to every one; and few, I believe, doubt of their continuing the same.

Professions of impartiality I shall make none. They are always useless, and are besides perfect nonsense, when used by a newsmonger: for, he that does not relate news as he finds it, is something worse than partial; and as to other articles that help to compose a paper, he that does not exercise his own judgment, either in admitting or rejecting what is sent him, is a poor passive tool, and not an editor.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Wanna Get Trivial

WHAT: Second Semi-regular Hugh Hewitt Trivia Throwdown

WHERE: Keegan's Irish Pub in nordeast Minneapolis

WHEN: Friday August 25th at 9pm

WHY: Why not?

The competition will also be a fundraiser for Soldiers' Angels and each team will be required to kick in $100 toward the cause in order to play. This entry must be paid prior to the event. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards: a year's worth of trivia bragging rights.

We've already filled three of the six open spots, so if you want a piece of the action, you need to let me know ASAP.

If you are interested in fielding a team, you must follow these steps to register:

1. Put together a team of four trivial minded people and come up with a catchy moniker. Like "Hugh Gass"

2. Send me an e-mail ( with the name of your team, and the name of each player.

3. If you are one of the first six next three respondents, I'll confirm your registration.

Don't forget that we're going to hold one last spot open to be auctioned off at a later date as well.

Even if you don't play, you're gonna want to come down to Keegan's and watch the fun. Will Ralphie's Renegades live up to the hype or once again choke under the pressure? Will Atomizer still be sober enough to hold a pencil by the time the game starts? Will Captain Ed wear his form-fitting Notre Dame jersey for good luck?

The answers to these and many other questions will only be known if you stop by Keegan's on Friday, August 25th.

Profiles in Bad Job Placement

It seems RT Rybak won't be diving off any floats in north Minneapolis any time soon. Yesterday he and police officials assembled in the area to make a major announcement about how they're going to fight the rapidly escalating violent crime in the city and they nearly got brained themselves:

But then several of the about 100 people gathered in the strip mall parking lot at W. Broadway and Dupont Avenue N. shouted down Mayor R.T. Rybak. Then they silenced interim Police Chief Tim Dolan. And then pretty much the rest of the assembled police and city officials who tried to describe the new plan, which will deploy as many as 40 officers daily to target members of three gangs police say are responsible for a large chunk of the violence on the North Side.

First to challenge the city leaders was Al Flowers, a member of a group designed to improve police and community relations. Like several other members of the crowd, he said he was concerned that the department's gang initiative will allow officers to racially profile young black men in North Side neighborhoods. He had to be restrained by officers and fellow community members.

Sounds to me like they need to design a group to improve relations between police and the group designed to improve police and community relations.

You Think You Get All This Milk Free Boy?

Trent from Dayton, MN (soon to be re-named Freedom, MN) writes in to hip us to a new baby book called Baby, Mix Me A Drink.

The concept is a baby book that teaches the little urchins to make use of themselves--in this case to fix the parental units a cocktail. How perfect is this for the Elder and I? We both have lil' ones at home and we were just commenting on their lazy nature, how they just lay around eating, napping and pooping without really contributing anything to the household or society (which is why I suppose the left thinks it's okay to terminate their nascent lives in the womb).

I have always planned on starting a light industrial small business in my garage utilizing my boy's free labor when he turns 5, but now he can do something for me sooner.

So listen up ya little crapper. Your days of lounging about, drooling all over your onesie, staring enraptured at lightbulbs and attempting to jam your entire hand into your beak are over!

Lamont, You Big Dummy!

In a piece in today's WSJ (free for all!), Daniel Henninger connects the dots between Lamont's primary victory and the foiled terrorist plot in Britain and suggests that Republicans ask their Democratic opponents what they would do to combat terrorism:

And in the past year, Democratic leaders have criticized not just in Iraq but warrantless wiretaps of suspected terrorists, interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, the Swift financial monitoring program, and data-mining phone records. The pull-out-from-Iraq letter was just the culmination.

This is the context in which the post-Lamont Democratic establishment plans to run as an antiwar party. Commencing a phased withdrawal from Iraq, as they suggest, with the mission unfinished, in my view will cause suicide-bomber recruitment to skyrocket in a delirium of victory over the American infidels. And those bombers won't remain inside the imaginary security line around Iraq but will travel to the capitals of Europe, to Israel and to the U.S.

In a better world, the U.S. war on terror, at its core, would be bipartisan. That world was what Joe Lieberman's politics represented. That world is dead. Democratic support for the Republican administration's plans to fight these terrorists is down to about zero. This means the Democrats must have a plan of their own to defeat terror. Every Republican running for office at every level this fall should force his opponent to describe it. And if they aren't certain about the details, they can call Ned Lamont.

The question can now be framed as to whether a particular Democratic candidate is a Lieberman Democrat or a Lamont Democrat. The answer will speak volumes about where they stand on the most pressing issue of the day. And despite what DFL Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar's campaign ads might say, it ain't health insurance.

You're Not A Sieve, You Just...

Language choice colors radio debate:

Republican attorney general hopeful J.B. Van Hollen told primary opponent Paul Bucher "you suck" during a break in a radio debate Thursday.

Van Hollen issued a statement accusing Bucher of throwing temper tantrums, interrupting him and trying to bully him and the moderator during the debate on "Mid-Day with Charlie Sykes on Newsradio 620 WTMJ" at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis. Van Hollen later said he stooped to Bucher's level and apologized.

"The voters deserve an honest debate on the issues that matter and I regret that I lowered myself to his level with my language choice," Van Hollen said.

Bucher shot back on the air "I don't suck."

Witty rejoinder that. Later he added, "You're the one that sucks, you big sucky sucker."

Stand With Israel

Israel Solidarity Rally this Sunday at 4:30pm:

"We Stand with Israel, We Pray for Peace."

Minnesotans will gather to show support for Israel in this time of crisis. Program includes Jewish and Christian Leaders, elected officials, recognition of young people just returning from Israel, music, and an Israel Action Center: Help Israel on the spot!

Grounds of the Sabes JCC
4330 S. Cedar Lake Rd.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Small World

On a conference call tonight with three people from Minneapolis, two from Tokyo, and one from Shanghai, my colleague from Shanghai asked the Tokyo folks if one of their co-workers was going to be in the office today.

"No, he's at Heathrow."

We all groaned in sympathetic understanding. Nothing more needed to be said.

Let's Get Trivial, Trivial

WHAT: Second Semi-annual Hugh Hewitt Trivia Throwdown

WHERE: Keegan's Irish Pub in nordeast Minneapolis

WHEN: Friday August 25th at 9pm

WHY: Because

That's right kids, it's once again time to match wits (and khaki Dockers) with Hugh Hewitt and his squad of trivia tramps. This year, Hugh's lineup includes James Lileks, his producer Generalissimo Duane, and a special player to be named later. If Hugh tries to bring David Allen White back from his trip to Alaska we may have to file a protest, although the areas of Professor White's expertise aren't exactly what I would consider Terry Keegan's bailiwick (he thinks Macbeth is a single malt Scotch and his idea of classical music is The Chiffons).

The contest will be a little different this year in that only ten teams consisting of four players each will be allowed to participate. That's right only TEN. One of those teams will be Hugh's, one the fearsome Fraters foursome, and one composed of Captain Ed, Mitch Berg, and two yet-to-be-named equally follicly challenged individuals. Rumor has it that they will be sponsored by Hair Club for Men. That leaves seven spots open to you, the Joe Six Packs and Sally Housecoats of the public.

The competition will also be a fundraiser for Soldiers' Angels and each team will be required to kick in $100 toward the cause in order to play. This entry must be paid prior to the event. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards: a year's worth of trivia bragging rights.

If you are interested in fielding in a team, you must follow these steps to register:

1. Put together a team of four trivial minded people and come up with a catchy moniker. Like "The Scott Farcus Affair"

2. Send me an e-mail ( with the name of your team, the name of each player, and indicate whether you want to pay with a check or through Pay Pal.

3. If you are one of the first six respondents, I'll confirm your registration.

Simple, ain't it?

But wait you say, I thought you said there were seven open spots? Yes, there are. After we fill the first six, we'll hold the last spot open for the highest bidder (min. bid $100). This is for a good cause after all and the more money we can raise for Soldiers Angels, the better.

If you're afraid of being trampled by the Four Horsemen of the Trivial Apocalypse (aka Team Fraters) or if mind games just aren't your bag, you still should come on down to Keegan's to watch the fun, enjoy a pint or two, and cheer your favorite squad on to victory.

Hugh: Generalissimo...are they booing me?

Generalissimo: Uh, no, they're saying "Hoo-gh! Hoo-gh!"