30 April 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

The Rain in Minnesota Falls Mainly on the Weekend. Even the neighborhood rabbits are waterlogged.

The Rangers and the Stars are out. For the underdog set, this may be a good year to get behind the Oilers and Sabres.

John Kenneth Galbraith died Saturday; 97 is a pretty good run. Galbraith famously argued that America was so obsessed with over producing consumer goods, that it had increased the perils of both inflation and recession by creating artificial demand for frivolous or useless products - and that was in 1958. He was the real deal, and now seems like as good as any time to start up this one.

The local baseball team was humiliated in Detroit.

Friday. Tigers 9, Twins 0.

Saturday. Tigers 750, Twins 1.

Sunday. Tigers 6, Twins 0.

Would you buy a Ford if you could only fill it up at certain gas stations? Would you buy a TV that won't receive certain channels? What if the internet that benefits the whole world was killed off by the miserable bastards you elected? It could happen . . .
If passed, it would allow phone and cable companies to charge content providers (websites) for the privilege of driving along the ISPs stretch of the info super highway (usually the last mile right before content ends up on your screen). If content companies can't pay the fees, they end up in the slow lane -- and you get to wait and wait and wait. Or maybe you won't get to use those sites at all.
Liverpool 3 - Aston Villa 1

If it's possible, it just seems to get worse for Sudan. Tim Cavanaugh articulates my thoughts (better than me) on the Hollywood gang finally discovering this issue:

But what's the clear categorical distinction between intervening in Iraq (which I think it's fair to say Clooney and many other Darfur hawks opposed) and this one? Why does it always seem like progressives support any intervention that clearly does not advance any American interests? (I don't think invading Iraq advanced our national interests, but people made that case, which you definitely can't in the case of Sudan.)
The National Organization for Women is (predictably) opposing the war in Iraq. As John Hinderocker wonders, "What's their theory? That a Baathist/al Qaeda takeover would be good for the women of Iraq?" I wonder what their story would be if Bush proposes an invasion of Sudan to set things right.

27 April 2006

Outa Here

Parts of 5 days in Las Vegas is plenty.

McCarran is a fairly reasonable airport overall I think. The free wi-fi here certianly puts Las Vegas airport officials above the screwheads at MSP, who use wireless as another method to pry $10 from travelers.

Shared a taxi ride with a guy who seemed convinced I had my own plane waiting for me. Don't know where he got that idea. Talking to him was a bit like one of those Bob Newhart one-sided phone call comedy routines. When we got to the terminal, I threw in my share of the fare, but he only had $100's. He told the driver he'd get change from the skycap. There were about 10 people in line for that. Wonder how much the driver's blood pressure went up while he waited.

Call it a breakdown of will, but I ate at a Chili's here at the airport. Maybe it was the smell of room service breakfast in the hall when I left The Mirage, or I just wanted to sit at a table, but I went against my better judgment (and personal credo to avoid lame-o chains and franchises whenever possible) and ordered up. I'm not sure what was more disheartening; the plastic fork and knife, the barely-elementary school-grade food, or the sign on the wall that proclaimed "Chili's - Like No Place Else." Yea, except for the thousand other Chili's that litter the nation. My resolve is strengthened; back to anti-Chili's ode for this American.

Hey - boarding is about to begin . . see ya on The Tundra.

Presidential Election Tampering Punishable by Law

Yea, W got elected last time around all right . . . but thankfully those that tampered with the election are getting their comeuppance:
Four Kerry-Edwards campaign workers - including the sons of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt - had their charges in the Election Day 2004 tire-slashing reduced to misdemeanors and accepted the deal.

The fifth Democratic staffer accused of crippling Republican vans won a jury acquittal by sticking with a fight against the felony charge. All five defendants had been charged with damaging 40 tires on 25 rented vans parked outside Republican Party offices on W. Capitol Drive, hours before they were to be deployed for electioneering.
When will these people understand that voting is for everyone?

26 April 2006

Plodding Through Day 4

Wednesday at NAB: Outa the chute, through the now-customary stop for cappucino and banana, shared a cab with an LA dude and a London dude, got a private demo of new Avid tricks, worked over the remnants of North and Central Halls of the LVCC, and, for a paltry $10, I tried out a CTS-V and a Solstice (I'll take the former, please):

And speaking of transit - since early Sunday morning, I've travelled by rental car, city bus, monorail, taxi, charter airline, mountain bike and (a lot) on foot. And I've got the reciepts for my expense report to prove it.

Tomorrow, back to the Tundra.

UPDATE: Dinner at Lupo in Mandalay Bay; minestrone, gnocci and Chianti, some coversation with a nice fella from Charlotte, and bit of limoncello for dessert. Some Vegas-style novelty; the taxi to dinner was a Hemi, and the taxi back was a hybrid.

Mirage Pool Playlist

Submitted for your approval:

"Perfect Way" - Scritti Politti
"Goodbye to You" - Scandal
"Why Don't We Get Drunk" - Jimmy Buffett
"It Takes Two" - Marvin Gaye
"Laid" - James
"Something About You" - Level 42
"Talking in Your Sleep" - Psychedelic Furs
"Lonely Ol' Night" - John Mellencamp
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" - Yes
"You Sexy Thing" - Hot Chocolate
"Follow you Down" - Gin Blossoms

Not exactly what's pinging around my MP3 player, but, you know . . . Vegas and all.

Desert Assignment; Day 3

Not a lot of exotic activity on my part; 4 hours on the floor in the morning asking questions about all the amazing technology, then hook up for a run to L & L. Trouble came, though, as we discovered that during a convention you can fast fall off the grid of taxi coverage. We easily got a cab at the LVCC (as we could have at any hotel or the airport), but got hung out to dry by three cab companies to try to get back.

Of course there's no rules foiling our attempted return from lunch; it's learned behavior. Because of the pinch on numbers of cab licenses, the slim take for the drivers, and perhaps the price of gas, taxis prefer multiple shorter trips over "longer-haul" fares. After eating, we called Lucky, Henderson, and Checker/Yellow, and all three blew us off. They used the "no cars in the area" bullshit, or just never getting anything there in the 40 minutes we waited. This L & L is less than 2 miles from the Convention Center, so it's not like we asked a cab to come out to Reno.

So there's just another view of the two sides in this bizarre place; there's the Las Vegas for people who stay within the web of the business/entertainment core, and the Las Vegas for those who live or work outside that web. We ended up catching a bus and then walking a few blocks. Didn't kills us.

Another couple hours slurping it up on the floor bobbing and then back to Sig & Roy's for some R & R to nap off my L & L.

After the sun went down, I hoofed it over to Steve's new place, which is, uh, pretty nice. Had dinner in a casual place that also had both the Wings/Oilers and Flames/Ducks side by side in HD. Nothin' wrong with that. Tried to stay up for the double OT result in Edmonton, but I was following the game on NHL radio via the internet and that mode it tough to stay awake.

Back to Wynn for a moment: Sure it's opulent, and it's the hot new thing on the strip for now, but it's also a bit more grown up. Ultimately, every place on the strip is a nice room, a few decent dining options and a casino. To me, there's something appealing about a more grown-up approach, and something revolting about "theme gone mad." I hope the era of overtly themed and comic book-y approaches for hotel/casinos is over. God knows that in Vegas' golder era, you attracted guests with amenities and attractions, and not some empty promise of an escape to north Africa, medieval England or (gulp) the circus.

The other thing I think about as a sometimes-consumer of these services is that I'm willing to pay a premium for atmosphere. Here comes my snobbery, but Las Vegas is really overrun by the ripped jeans crowd, the fanny pack crowd and the pushing-kids-in-baby-strollers-up-The Boulevard-at-10 PM crowd. To all these crowds; get away from me. It's not unlike when air travel got a lot cheaper and lots more people started flying - air travel moved much closer to bus travel.

One more thing: Lucky, Henderson and Checker/Yellow cab companies; screw you guys.

25 April 2006

Does This Visor Make Me Look Like a Cheap Shot Artist?

Early in the 05/06 NHL campaign, former Los Angeles Kings forward Sean Avery got called on the carpet for supposedly bashing French-Canadian hockey players and was required to apologize; this being the sensitive touchy-feely NHL:
Avery told the Canadian sports television network that he thought (Coyotes defenceman Denis Gauthier) delivered a "clean hit." He added: "I think it was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not back anything up.

Avery later released a statement through the Kings, apologizing for the comments. Said Avery: "I certainly did not want to offend anyone with my comments earlier today. I am an emotional guy who sometimes says things that shouldn't be said. I apologize if I offended anyone."
Avery is no charmer. On the ice, he conducts himself like a pitbull with a toothache. He lead the league in penalty minutes before being dismissed by the Kings late in the season for insubordination.

But he's right. Not about all French-Canadian players, but about Denis Gauthier. Avery's crime was not failure to be sensitive to cultures other than his own, it was poorly communicating his feelings. Gauthier is a classic cheap-shot artist who wears the visor on his helmet (the equivalent of announcing you are not a fighter in the NHL) and never confronts or takes down an opponent face to face.

Late in the regular season, Gauthier, now with the Flyers, ran Kyle Wellwod in the end boards from behind and earned a 2-game suspension. Last night, as the Flyers were getting pasted by the Sabres, Gauthier was at it again, this time waiting until Tomas Vanek was at his most vulnerable behind the net before riding him into the glass. Gauthier got 5 and 10 for the hit, but Bob McKenzie thinks it should be more.
Gauthier's hit on Wellwood and the hit from behind on Vanek were garbage. I think Colin Campbell and the NHL should suspend Gauthier. This guy should forfeit the right to play in the postseason. This was a nothing game because the score was so out of hand, and Gauthier went way over the line. That's embarrassing and he should be suspended.
Sean Avery was the kind of nuisance player that drives me crazy, but as Gny. Sgt. Hartman said of Pvt. Joker, "he's got guts, and that's enough."

24 April 2006

Day 2; The Full Bug

So since today is the first day of the big show, what does a company man do? Head for the mountains of course.

John Z and I picked up some pretty pretty good bikes and headed southwest. We got a good tip for a set of trails from the bike shop, found the trail head on the first pass and joined a guy from Gainesville who was in Las Vegas while the Mrs. was on business.

Scrubby brush and dirt/gravel/rock trail. Rocks sticking out to challenge inner tubes and the usual sandy-rocky in the washes. We rode about an 8-10 mile loop which rose and descended about 1800 feet. Highest elevation was about 4,700 feet; just a hint of thin air.

Good weather, definitely dry. The grade was moderate uphill and some "technical" downhill (love the disc brakes). The wildlife featured little green lizards, some variety of squirrel/gopher thing, and a real noisy quail or partridge or Corninsh game hen or something. None of them seemed predatorail, but we kept to the trail as to not get perforated by the flora.

The sore shoulders indicate a day well spent.

On the way back to town, we were overflown by Air Force One, which, regardless of it's passenger complement, really looks cool in the bright sunshine. Afterwards - plate lunch, a shower and 2 hours at the show. Then spendy meat with a pal.

23 April 2006

Area Code 702; Day 1

Setting the scene for the above photo: 6:13 AM; Pop Tarts, banana, decaf cappucino, and and the drone of CNN Airport - never was there more inane programming. At least it helps blanket the chatter from the Rhodes Scholars sitting around me, aptly debating all the low-brow issues of the day.

Yes, that's my 727 above. Because I'm typing this now from the desert, the craft proved itself sound. Despite the fact that it's avionics were first brought to life before the world knew the name Lee Harvey Oswald, we were still able to get the wheels down without incident. Most of those on the flight seem to have 'peaked' in that era as well, and had there been the terrible need to rush the cockpit, there would not have been too many able to join me.

Terminal 1 at McCarran is still looking ratty, such is charter travel. Outside shockingly sunny to a Tundra dweller like me; low 80's I suppose. The strip seems to have grown to the south, otherwise it's all strangely familiar.

Mirage this time. Where I've stayed in this town is the way I count how many times I've been here; (counting on fingers here) Imperial Palace, Luxor, Paris, Monte Carlo twice - I guess this makes six. The room photo on the hotel's website is shockingly like mine, except I have a view of the freeway and whatever mountains are to the west. Checked in way early, got some lunch, and spent some time by the ol' pool. Now some time to roost before dinner down the street.

Got the mysterious wi-fi working on the laptop thing, so I was able to check out the result from Villa Park. Although I like 'Boro's Hasselbaink and Viduka, bravo to the Hammers for making it to the FA Cup final on Marlon Harewood's strike. Too bad the guy's not in shape. Live it up today, Hammer, for on May 13th you're going down.

22 April 2006

Reds to the Finals

Liverpool 2 - Chelsea 1 - Final

Well Chelsea didn't make it easy.

At the hour mark, the Blues brought on Damian Duff and Joe Cole for Hernan Crespo and Geremi and immediately tightened the screws. Liverpool brought on Cisse for Crouch and Morientes for Garcia, but both were disappointing placeholders for the final 20 minutes. Chelsea really controlled play, and most of the final 30 minutes was in the Liverpool end.

The Reds also subbed Djimi Traore for Harry Kewell, who was clearly hurting, but like the other two, Traore had no where near the impact of Kewell.

Luis Garcia had to miss three golden opportunities before getting Liverpool's second in the 51st minute. Good thing, as that screwhead Drogba got one back for Chelsea at 70 minutes with a brave header of a high pass just before Reina's arrival.

The Reds are heading to Cardiff to face Middlesborough or West Ham.


Halftime from Old Trafford

Liverpool 1 - Chelsea 0 after 45 minutes.

Riise curls a free kick through the blue sieve at 21 minutes. Pretty tight game, perhaps a few more chances for the Reds, but Chelsea has a bit more possesion.

Turns out the game was available on pay-per-view, and I didn't have to venture into Downtown Thugland to catch the match at the British-like pub.

More to come.

21 April 2006

FA Cup Semi-Final Saturday

Q - What does Didier Drogba do after scoring a hat trick against Liverpool?
A - Turns off his PlayStation

Q - What's the difference between a tea bag and Chelsea FC?
A - The tea stays in the cup longer

Q - What do you get when you cross a Chelsea Fan with a pig?
A - No one knows; there are some things a pig just won't do.

Q - Why does Arjen Robben whistle whilt on the toilet?
A - So her remembers which end to wipe.

Let's go you Reds!

20 April 2006

More Insurgent Attacks

Rambix knows context:

The Minneapolis Warehouse District was the site of another skirmish last night, despite increased military police presence. Armed insurgents engaged in a fierce battle on Hennepin Ave., between 3rd St. and Washington Ave. In an uncharacteristically timely report, the Red Star's website has the story: "Gunfire erupts in Minneapolis as cars roll down street".

Minneapolis' warehouse district turned violent early this morning when people in two vehicles began exchanging gunfire.Authorities have yet to figure out why the shots rang out as the two cars rolled along Hennepin Av. between 3rd and Washington streets. The shooting occurred just after 2 a.m. bar closing time.

Several combatants were evacuated to field hospitals. Standby for further dispatches from the front as events warrant.

What did Wu Hao do Today?

Hard to tell, since he's been detained and unheard from for almost 2 months. Not like that's odd for such a paranoid nation:

(Hao) personifies a generation of urban Chinese who have flourished thanks to the Communist Party's embrace of market-style capitalism and greater cultural openness. He got his MBA from the University of Michigan and worked for EarthLink before returning to China to pursue his dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker. He and his sister, Nina Wu, who works in finance and lives a comfortable middle-class life in Shanghai, have enjoyed freedoms of expression, travel, lifestyle and career choice that their parents could never have dreamed of. They are proof of how U.S. economic engagement with China has been overwhelmingly good for many Chinese.

Problem is, the Chinese Dream can be shattered quickly if you step over a line that is not clearly drawn -- a line that is kept deliberately vague and that shifts frequently with the political tides. Those who were told by the Chinese media that they have constitutional and legal rights are painfully disabused of such fantasies when they seek to shed light on social and religious issues the state prefers to keep in the dark.

Our president has not forgotten, and hit Hu Jintao with it in person.
As the relationship between our two nations grows and matures, we can be candid about our disagreements. I'll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship.
Of course, to most of the Legacy Media, that's just W forcing his NeoCon jive on hapless world citizens.

Shakespearean Drama

Root, root, root for the home team:

Down 9-4, the Twins scored four runs in the sixth inning, chasing Angels starter Ervin Santana. The Angels made it 10-8 in the seventh, but Torii Hunter homered, trimming the lead back to one. Leading 10-9 in the ninth, the Angels turned to Rodriguez, the wunderkind closer from Venezuela.

The Twins immediately loaded the bases, but Rodriguez promptly retired Justin Morneau and Tony Batista for the next two outs. Lew Ford worked the count full, and watched a slider in the dirt for ball four. Tie game.

The Twins used closer Joe Nathan to pitch a scoreless 10th, and in came (former Twins reliever J.C.) Romero, who had turned some heads with his old teammates recently when he said the Angels bullpen is the best he's ever been a part of. Luis Castillo drew a one-out walk, stole second base and was standing on third with two outs.

With Nick Punto due up, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire turned to (Michael)Cuddyer. Cuddyer looked at the first strike. With a 0-1 count, Romero tried a change-up. Cuddyer hit it over the center field wall.
Twins 12, Angels 10 . . . good night everybody, drive friendly.

Greener Than Thou

You are what you drive. Period. Sometimes, that means you are a misinformed phony.

People think they want hybrids and they'll buy them, even if a conventional car would make more sense for their pocketbook and for the environment. The danger is that automakers will co-opt the hybrids' green mantle and, with the help of a government looking to bail out its troubled friends in Detroit, misguidedly encourage the sale of hybrids without reference to their actual effect on oil consumption.
Kitman's right, but my view isn't quite as harsh because I think today's Prius buyer is a direct descendant of those who bought VW Beetles 45 years ago. The car may not have been perfect upon it's debut (drum brakes, no heat, zero torque), but it did signal a sea change in the type of products available to American drivers. That change is needed today as much as it was then.

The sheep-like mentality of American car buyers is legendary, and it holds true for both the buyer of the $70K LX470 and the hybrid Prius (both Toyotas if you noticed). The difference is that while the buyer of the hulking vehicle shrugs and lives with the choice they've made, the driver of the miniscule vehicle doesn't let greater (if not dubious) efficiency be their only reward: They frequently demand legislative platitudes and special treatment in the tax code for their choice, which is arguably not always worthy of such reward.

18 April 2006


All over the place:

Major League Baseball has a bereavement list. Who knew?

I know he doesn't like the president; we hear it every Sunday morning, but do you wonder where John Kerry is on real issues. For that mater, where is Bono on Darfur, Barbara Streisand on the oppression of women in Islamic nations, and Michael Moore on Katie Couric's new contract?

You think your government sucks? Try this one. Pay no mind to that sneaky guy trying to buy you off . . .

Don't screw with the Easter Bunny:
"The next thing you know my wife is sucker punched by the manager, she is pulled to the ground by her hair and then the Easter Bunny jumps on top and starts punching my wife in the head."
Just another day for a typical blogger:
She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?
Hey, Trent, get of my side:
"It is ludicrous for the Senate to spend $700 million to destroy and relocate a rail line that is in perfect working order, particularly when it recently underwent a $250 million repair," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is planning to challenge the funding when the $106.5 billion war spending bill reaches the Senate floor.
Let me in, and everyone I know, and while you're at it, change your laws to accomodate me.
America has a seller's market in immigration, but thanks to Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law, we no longer favor skilled workers from developed nations, but instead favor unskilled immigrants from the Third World. Kennedy's bill promptly cut the number of European immigrants in half and increased Third World immigrants to 85 percent of the total.
NHL Playoffs start on the 21st - Let the good times roll! I like the Red Wings or Flames from the West and either the Flyers or Senators in the East.

Hope for Academia

Every now and then they do the right thing on campus:

By leading her students in the destruction of an approved student organization display, Professor Sally Jacobsen's actions were inconsistent with Northern Kentucky University's commitment to free and open debate and the opportunity for all sides to be heard without threat of censorship or reprisal.

It has been heartening that student and faculty groups that do not necessarily support the position of Northern Kentucky Right to Life have come out strongly in support of the organization's right to be heard through their display. This reflects a
commitment to the importance of free speech and inquiry as a hallmark of our University.

Professor Jacobsen has been removed from her remaining classes and placed on leave from the University. She will retire from the University at the end of this semester. The Faculty Senate, representing more than 1,000 NKU faculty members, has taken strong action today that affirms the importance of free expression as a defining quality of the University.

It doesn't matter on what side of the abortion issue you stand: You should be standing for freedom of expression on college campuses. For everyone. Happily, this seems to be the prevailing attitude at NKU.

17 April 2006

Meet the New Hamas, Same as the Old Hamas

TEL AVIV, Israel - A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside a fast-food restaurant in a bustling area of Tel Aviv during the Passover holiday Monday, killing nine other people and wounding dozens in the deadliest Palestinian attack in more than a year.

The new Palestinian government, led by Hamas, called the attack a legitimate response to Israeli "aggression." Israel said it held Hamas ultimately responsible — even though a different militant group, Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility — and would respond "as necessary."
More from Hinderocker:

A 21-year-old Palestinian named Sami Salim Mohammed Hammed blew himself up outside a Tel Aviv restaurant today, killing at least nine. The attack was carried out by Islamic Jihad and endorsed by Hamas, the current ruling party in the Palestinian Authority.
Another banner day for the savages.

The Violence Veto

Tigerhawk nails it:
So I don't blame Comedy Central, or Border's Books, or the world's media organizations, for refusing to depict Mohammed out of fear of retaliation. Their job is not to defend freedom of speech, but to earn profits for their stockholders. Acting as a fiduciary, I would make the same decision. But let us not tolerate these same organizations claiming that they also support freedom of speech. They are lying when they say they do, because in order to defend freedom of speech, you have to be willing to protect speech against the inevitable threat of violence.

Welcome to the Tech Bench

A day in the life at the Etch-A-Sketch help desk:

Q: My Etch-A-Sketch has all of these funny little lines all over the screen.
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I turn my Etch-A-Sketch off?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What's the shortcut for Undo?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I create a New Document window?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I set the background and foreground to the same color?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What is the proper procedure for rebooting my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I save my Etch-A-Sketch document?
A: Don't shake it.

14 April 2006

Television by Losers, for Losers.

Daytime TV: The Horror . . . Maury's losers today include a 4-year old who comes in at 120 lbs., her mother and her aunt, all from my town; Saint Paul:
Here's a bit of Briana's feeding schedule, according to the show: At 10 a.m., when Briana wakes up, she eats leftovers including ribs, macaroni and cheese and an entire pizza. "And I don't stop her," says Daisy. One hour later, Briana eats breakfast, which consists of two bowls of sugary cereal, two sausages and three eggs. At 1 p.m., she consumes a bowl of noodles and six cookies. At 3 p.m., Briana eats cheeseburgers, French fries and ice cream. At 4, the menu consists of a large bowl of potato chips. At 6, four pieces of chicken with macaroni and cheese. At 7, Briana will have another big bowl of ice cream. And if she wakes up at night, she gets pizza.
They went all the way to one of the tee vee coasts for help with poor Briana, when advice was just down the street and available from me: Briana, you are a fatass, and your mother is a loser. Even though you are 4, you had better start to learn how to rely on yourself.

Oh, and make sure you learn how to blame Bush, Pawlenty, Rumsfeld, Coulter, Crawford, etc.

Caveman Update

Man never shared the Earth with the dinosaurs, but he currently gets to walk among the Neanderthals.

"The attacker stormed the church armed with a knife and shouted 'There is no God but Allah' and 'Allah is the greatest' before stabbing the worshippers," one of the Mar Girgis church employees said.
This happens every single day somewhere.

Season on the Shelf

No post-seson for the Wild, which is fine with me. Only the strongest should survive in the brutal NHL playoffs, and this year, it just wasn't in the cards for the fellas. No glaring deficits on the ice; they just needed to be a little higher caliber (at the right times) all around.

The team finally settled on a #1 goalie, a few free agents were pleasantly surprising and the Trencin Kid really broke out of his shell.

And after the last home game, they gave away the sweaters off their backs, whether they were going to fit or not.

See ya in fall, boys.

UPADTE: Vancouver is out. Man, it was only a few months ago they in first place in the Northwest Division. Ha ha!

13 April 2006

We Must Commit More Money to Education

Because there's all sortsa Big Education administrators that need paying off.

First, pay off the head of the pension board after woeful underperformance:

(T)he Minneapolis teachers pension board in March extended the contract of its executive director, Karen Kilberg, a year beyond the date when the fund would cease to exist under the merger. It also granted her a six-month severance. The entire package is worth $215,000.
Wow! Pay her for a year PAST when her gig is over; she must have done a grat job, right?

The Minneapolis teacher pension fund has enough money to meet only 45 percent of its future liabilities, according to the Legislative Commission on Pensions and retirement. The Minneapolis fund earned $218 million less from 1994 to 2004 than it would have earned had it performed as well as the State Board of Investment, which handles money for the Teachers Retirement Association.
Way to go Karen. I can only imagine what lucky public entity will next benefit from your deft touch. Hey, while we're pissing away the money, let's make sure the short-timing superintendent lands on her feet:

The tab for the departure of former Minneapolis Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles has topped $250,000. The latest bill is for almost $61,000 in legal fees from the law firm that investigated allegations against Peebles and then advised the school board in the run-up to her forced resignation. That's atop the $179,500 the board agreed to pay Peebles to resign instead of being fired in January. The district is paying about $11,000 more to terminate the Cadillac lease it assumed from Peebles as part of the buyout.

The board in July asked lawyer Dennis O'Brien of the Littler Mendelson firm to investigate two anonymous letters that alleged Peebles had used district staff and resources for personal chores and college work. As the investigation neared a conclusion last winter, O'Brien was a key behind-the-scenes player who advised the board on options and dealt with Peebles' attorney. But that racked up $26,000 in legal fees for January alone, when she resigned.
What a zoo. Minneapolis has so solidified cart-before-the-horse as standard operating procedure, they think horses naturally walk backward. If you are paying taxes in that town, you are getting the shaft. What a disgusting model of civic accountability. And murder.

Run For the Border

Does this shoe on the other foot make my head look empty?
In 2002, a dozen American college students, in Mexico legally, participated peacefully in an environmental protest against a planned airport outside of Mexico City. They swiftly found themselves deported as law-breakers for interfering in Mexico’s internal affairs.

If Mexico was willing to strip these students of their duly-obtained travel visas, imagine what it would have done had the students broken into the country surreptitiously—not just summary deportation but undoubtedly howls of complaint to the U.S. government for winking at this double violation of Mexican sovereignty. Open borders propagandists in the U.S. constantly present deportation as a patent act of cruelty that no right-thinking person would tolerate. Yet Mexico has no qualms about deporting not just illegals but legal immigrants as well whom it deems fractious.

You have to admire the Mexican elites. They have a clear-sighted understanding of their country’s national interest—which lies above all in getting as many Mexican citizens as possible into the U.S. for their billions of dollars in remittances—and they’re unapologetic about pursuing it. Mass demonstrations that include illegal residents demanding that Mexico override its laws to accommodate them wouldn’t cow those elites for an instant. Too bad American officials can’t summon the same commitment to the wishes of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose the rewarding of law breaking.

One Bad Apple

Lots to learn about today's America in this story.
Ultimately, however, I think this case really comes down to the definition of "journalist." Ask yourself: If O'Grady's original story had appeared under his byline in The New York Times, would Apple have ever brought suit? Of course not. Note that Apple didn't even have the guts to take on Ziff-Davis, but rather went after O'Grady's poor little ISP. What the Apple lawyers have bet on, it seems, is that they can pivot the case upon the question of whether a blogger is a real journalist or not and then convince the judge he's not.
These days, the MSM is hurriedly trying to pull up the drawbridge to protect the "professionals" inside from the nonjournalists beyond the walls. But the public isn't fooled. For all the sniffing by the MSM about bloggers in pajamas and amateur journalism, most readers have figured out they can trust the reporting of a lone blogger like Iraq the Model as much if not more than the entire news apparatus of Reuters. The cynical lawyers at Apple are trying to capitalize on that dispute and use the ignorant courts as its weapon in the process.
Remember when Apple marketed itself as the anti-big brother, the machines for everyone else, and the tools that empowered the average person to do great things? Yea, that was so 1984 . . .

Bottom line: Journalism does not belong exclusively to those who list "journalist" as the occupation on their tax returns.

10 April 2006

Immigrant Song

We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow. The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands, To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.

So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins, For peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing.

The Mrs. and I were married in Italy five years ago. The process was a bit more involved than renting a DVD from Blockbuster. We needed copies of birth certificates translated into Italian. We needed those notarized by an Italian speaker. Those needed endorsement from the office of the Secretary of State of Minnesota. Those needed to jump through more hoops at an Italian consulate - nearest one for us being on Michigan Avenue. More of this sort of procedure went on once we got to Rome. We dotted I's and crossed T's, and ultimately delivered an impressive stack of stuff to city hall in Positano where a delighted city clerk clapped her hands together and said "you will be married on Wednesday."

At no time did we holler at anyone for not "doing it" in English. We never stomped our feet and accused the Italians of making life difficult for us. We never accused Italians of overwrought nationalism. We never broke out the Stars and Bars and marched up Via del Corso demanded some imagined rights like spoiled children. We did not behave this way because it was not our country. We also did not do this because we have respect and reverence for Italy and were grateful for the opportunity to be married there; the only sanction being to play by their rules. No problem. Happy to comply. This is where my head is at with these absurd immigration protests. Although it says editor on my business card, I'm unable to craft all this into 3 neat paragraphs, so forgive the Larry King-like all over the place stream of consciousness:

Where are all the people who actually care about American sovereignty? They certainly are not in Washington, where they cannot decide what day of he week it is. The fools are too spineless to do anything that might be seen as taking action, and both side think they can out feet-drag the other side of the aisle so THEY wind up looking like the good guys to the Hispanic electorate.

Yea, Hispanic, and primarily Mexican. Funny how the Scots, Canadians, French, Japanese, etc., are not demanding the world on an American platter. This blog has long lamented the death of shame, and how it is wholly absent form so any who wield so much power. How can Vicente Fox look at himself in the mirror? His people are making the rats on the proverbial sinking ship look like procrastinators. What a crappy leader; what a crappy state Mexico is in.

It just makes my head ache to see all the usual suspects out for a protest: Illegal immigrants, living wage advocates, Haliburton runs everything-types, social justice socialists, homeless hucksters, dried-up Black Panthers, hybrid car drivers, free-tuition heavies, the mandatory abortion crowd, the impeach Bush now gang, trans-gender bicyclists for the whales, and the nemesis of Opus the penguin; Ladies Against Women. Each and every one of them wants it all for free and without barrier, real or imagined.

What was missing, though, among all the twisted Che boilerplate, and all the anti-globalization bile, and all the save-the-redwoods literature was not one person with the slightest sense of irony. One guy who took the podium over the weekend in St. Paul was the head of a hotel company pleading for all the sub market-wage labor he could get. If this guy had been a republican, the crowd would have stoned him to death for such crass eagerness to exploit cheap labor for his glass and chrome empire, but when you're among progressives, you can puke up any soft of jive and get ignoratnt ovations.

At best, the brunt of these mobs are poorly represented. At worst, they must be among the most naive or stupid of any class of immigrant. What a display of nerve and lack of class to march in the streets and flying the flags of foreign countries all while telling Americans how it's gong to be. Just because you made across the border does not entitle you to the prize of citizenship and all its spoils. You scream for rights and demand your dignity; try complying with the laws of the land and then come see us about your alleged dignity.

The lazy mantra is that the Mexicans are here doing the jobs that Americans won't take. Does anyone on Earth besides me wonder about the downward wage pressure from a revolving door of terribly poor people willing to work for anything that keeps these wages below what Americans are accustomed to? If there were no illegal immigrants, do you think the entire hospitality industry would screech to to a halt? Of course not. A night in a Super 8 would cost $9 more, Barbacoa would be an extra $1.30, and the roof on your garage would be maybe $100 more. In all 3 cases; that's nothin.'

These days, too many Americans are afraid of America. They are so desperate to place all cultures and values equal to our own that they cannot see ourselves shedding our own national identity. To cherish this country and what it stands for is not selfish, racist or condescending. It is fundamentally necessary.

Good night and good luck indeed.

09 April 2006

Mental Floss

I really prefer media that is serious. I don't mean somber or boring, and I do need my share of entertainment, but I seek out information worth my time and capable of teaching me something.

So much media out there is pure folly and you know what it looks like - The listing of which celebrity has a birthday today, or sending that reporter to the soup kitchen every single Thanksgiving. This is not serious news and it's a waste of time. However, I just had to take a few days to push away the serious mental vegetables and reach for the Ding Dongs - No news since Friday afternoon.

I got the Zuke outa the barn Saturday and rode it home under sunny skies and 48 degrees. Not a bad early-April day here on the tundra, but add 70 mph wind chill for 35 miles and that's no day in the valley of the sun. Then I ate my own weight in pork chops.

Sunday had me following that golf game, which I can take or leave, but, doggone it, it looks so good in 1080i. If I had Bill Gates' money I wouldn't attempt to rub elbows with that cult at Augusta National, but I gotta admit their track is beautiful. Cheeseburgers'n'beans to chase.

As a bonus, Liverpool continued in their fine form by dispatching Bolton uneventfully, and the Wild, now mathematically eliminated, put the whoop on the Divelance at The Can. Even though it's too late, we've been good in the past 8 tilts; splitting with Vancouver away, beat Edmonton twice, lost to Detroit and Calgary, and spanking the Avs tonight.

What else . . . the summer shoes are on the GTI, I got the dog hair out of the casters on my Shop Vac (don't ask), the grill really needs a bath and someone needs to put a dart in that candyass Robben and that creepy Chelsea side.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get back to the serious. Tune in to find out.

06 April 2006

More Precious Than Thou

Coke; it's just a can of pop. Unless you are a member of the hyper-involved.
Unfortunately, facts often don't carry much weight with student activists. Those of us around in the 1960s know why. Facts can spoil the romance and allure of protest. That's because, too often, campaigns like "Stop Killer Coke" aren't so much about improving lives as about striking self-righteous poses, parading in front of cameras and playing the rebel.

In fact, the rebel pose frequently masks a herd mentality. The Coke boycott has made headway at schools such as Carleton and the University of Michigan. How can self-respecting activists at Macalester be left off the progressive bandwagon?
Thanks to a few children at Macalester there apparently will be no choices offered the rest of the students and faculty; for the "progressives" know better and will be the only arbitrars of correctness.

Hey Chuck, Tax THIS

Rand Simberg knows what's wrong, and it only starts with Charles Grassley.

In a 2005 test of the system by the Treasury Inspector General, 35% of answers were incorrect. The Treasury Inspector General tested the system again to measure the quality of the taxpayer assistance during the 2005 filing season. The bad news, according to a Nov. 15 Government Accountability Office report: The accuracy rate for responding to tax law questions was basically unchanged from 2004. The poor performance was attributed to the representatives not using the prepared guide scripts or not interpreting the law correctly.

Not interpreting the law correctly is what defines a wrong answer.

Read it all. Grassley's attitude that only government can save you is so 1992.

05 April 2006

Gut Check Time

Although it goes against my regularly reliable instincts, I agree with Nick on this one:
So we are told: Friday's shooting was "an aberration." (Would it be OK if it were routine?) That it was random. (Would we feel better if the killer had shot the guy he was trying to kill, instead of a bystander?) That the killer was "a deeply troubled person." (Mayor R.T. Rybak said that.) Well, Your Honor: Duh.

What I'm hearing sounds like, "Don't worry, folks! The killer was a troubled person who shot someone by accident! No one has died since Friday! Enjoy your visit! Please walk around the crime tape! Remember Minneapolis when making convention plans! Duck if you hear loud noises!"

This is not cutting it.
A day or so after Alan Reitter's murder, Mayor Tinkerbell was out walking the city to show how safe it was. He happened to be walking with a battalion of uniformed cops and several news crews, so, you know, it was a very legitimate demonstration of the happiness and bliss that is downtown Murderapolis. Hey Mayor, thanks for clogging Hennipen and First Avenues for your shallow publicity stunt.

04 April 2006

Five Years Ago

Very bright Mediterranean sunshine, close friends and family, magnificent setting and a wonderful outcome. I'd gladly do it all over again.

Love ya, Sweetie!

Photo a la Flamer

The Best and the Brightest

Idiot. Hack. Weasel. Liar. Racebaiter. Loser. Bitch. Narcissist. Embarrassment. Adult Child. Hatemonger. Drama Queen. Crook.

Nineteen minutes and not one question answered. Enjoy the video.

You'll also notice that anyone with a pulse can now get a law degree, and the depths to which the legal profession has sunk.

01 April 2006

Busted by the New York Times

Oh yea, the Oracle: The all-seeing, all-knowing Times. Why should alternative media even get out of bed when you have the Times acting as newsfilter for the whole planet?

On March 8th, The New York Times went front page with Donna Fenton. She had left Biloxi after Hurricane Katrnia, and was living in Queens with other hurricane refugees more than six months after the rain stopped. By now, Fenton had memorized the hotline numbers for FEMA and the Red Cross and Air America. She was angry at Bush and Chertoff and Brown and all the others who made the a hurricane come right to her house, blah, blah, blah.

What's that? It's all crap?
"Yesterday, the New York police arrested Ms. Fenton, charging her with several counts of welfare fraud and grand larceny. Prosecutors in Brooklyn say she was not a Katrina victim, never lived in Biloxi and had improperly received thousands of dollars in government aid. Ms. Fenton has pleaded not guilty.
The Times loves to bleat on about how there's no editorial oversight or gatekeeping in alternative media. "Who will check the bloggers?" has become their mantra. The question should become who will encourage the New York Times to do some elemental fact-checking before they trot out the daily anti-Bush diatribe?

More here:
On Saturday (the Times) said it had misidentified a man featured in the iconic "hooded inmate" photograph from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Today it discloses that a woman it profiled on March 8 is not, in fact, a victim of Hurricane Katrina--and was arrested for fraud and grand larceny yesterday. As it did in the Abu Ghraib mistake, the Times ran an editors' note on page 2 of its front section, along with a lengthy news article (this time on the front page of Section B). Again mirroring the Abu Ghraib episode, the newspaper revealed a surprising and inexplicable lapse in fact-checking on the part of a reporter and/or editor.