Sunday, June 29, 2008
Again, it seems to me that this isn't a problem. But, I bet government has a solution at the ready. And, we probably know what that solution is. And, it will probably make things worse than they already are.
My favorite letter was this one:
To the Editor:
After a career in public service, I regretfully say, I would not do it again.
Philosophy and point of view led me to doing good instead of doing well, so I never expected to become rich. But now that I’m in my 10th year of a frozen judicial salary — less than summer students are being paid at law firms — I have concluded that whatever I may have accomplished for the public, I have wasted 25 years of my life by serving on the bench.
Emily Jane Goodman
New York, June 23, 2008
The writer is a New York Supreme Court justice.
That is freaking outstanding!! For a New York Supreme Court justice to write in and say she wasted her life is hilarious!! I hope this is not a fake, because this letter is the stuff of legend.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I just got done watching the conclusion of one of the biggest upsets in collegiate sports history. The Fresno State Bulldogs, who were seeded 4th in their region (out of 4 teams) managed to get out of there, then win their superregional against a tough Arizona State team, then get it together in Omaha to win the College World Series. That they got as far as they did was amazing. They even spotted the Georgia Bulldogs a game in the best-of-3 series. This is a huge upset, along the lines of Villanova beating Georgetown in 1985 or maybe the 2007 Fiesta Bowl (Boise State over Oklahoma). But, this won't get nearly the play it should because college baseball is not a national sport. It is regional.
It's too bad that college baseball isn't a bigger deal. That is probably because it's a non-factor in a lot of the Midwest and most of the East. Winter really gets in the way of good baseball in these parts. For example, Minnesota has a pretty solid program. They have won many Big Ten titles and have made many trips to the NCAA tournament. But, they never get anywhere in the tournament. Heck, Wisconsin doesn't even have a team. Given that the Big Ten and Big East don't have strong baseball programs nationally, that eliminates much interest in New York and Chicago. If there is no interest in market 1 or 3, that limits the national appeal.
The V on top is supposed to symbolize the San Joaquin Valley and its agriculture. The valley is where Fresno is located.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Buhloone Mind State is an album by De La Soul, their 3rd album. A lot of the youthful exuberance of their previous work was not there on this album, but it's a good album anyway.
The problem here is, WHO GAVE CLANK-FU A MICROPHONE?!!! Haven't we learned years ago that Shaq can't rap?!! I mean, this is terrible! OK, I admit that when Shaq first had a guest verse on "What's Up Doc?" by the Fu-Schnickens, I thought it was cool. But, when he put out an album, that was already overkill. Then, he kept putting out product. And, it got worse and worse!!
The moral of the story is, Shaq and mics don't mix. I say this despite Shaq generally being a good citizen, and one of the best centers to ever play the game. Maybe not as good as Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but right up there amongst the greatest. But Shaq, please stop picking up microphones and rapping into them. You rap about as well as you shoot free throws.
His line about pilots is genius: "Captain...he's a f#$&#&$ pilot, let him be happy with that! Tell the captain Air Marshal Carlin says, 'go f#$& yourself!'"
George Carlin is one of the all-time greats. He definitely got more jaded as the years go by, but frankly I can't blame him. I enjoyed his cynical take on things. In some small way, I kinda felt like a kindred spirit, especially when I was more cynical than I am now (I am still plenty cynical). But, my favorite thing about Carlin is his ability to rattle off about 35 different things to help illustrate his points. It was great, and so was he.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I'll have more to say on Carlin later, but I wanted to note his passing as soon as I found out about it.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I wonder if the greenies have jumped the shark. It seems to me that their sense of urgency isn't necessarily based on a short timeline to save the planet. It's based on there being only a window of opportunity to get their agenda passed into law before people realize that this isn't nearly as big a deal as it's made out to be. It looks as though this window may be closing. This movement is all about control over humanity. We can't drive what we want, we can't live where we want, we can't use the products and services we want, and it's all in the name of saving the planet. At its best the green movement is silliness. At its worst, it threatens our way of life in ways that we haven't even totally grasped. My personal favorite is stuff like this. I know this sounds like I believe there is some conspiracy. I don't. But, there are some people who would benefit greatly from the successful implementation of the entire green agenda. But, their motives are never questioned. They need to be.
To paraphrase George Carlin (talking about how plastic was going to destroy the planet), "We're going to save the planet? We can't even take care of ourselves, and we're going to save the planet?!! The planet is fine. It's gone through earthquakes, meteor strikes, storms, mass extinctions, the magnetic reversal of the poles, and we think the planet is doomed because of plastic? The planet is going to keep a-floatin' around for a long, long, long time."
The game itself was not that great. It was an exciting game, but the Saints built a big lead and gave it away, losing 10-9 to the Sioux Falls Canaries. The collapse was not fun to watch. But, the Saints definitely put on a good show. Many have heard of the various activities that go on at Saints games, but until you actually go to a game, you have no idea. A pig delivers the ball to the umpire. The PA announcer heckled a dude to give a foul ball to a kid...multiple times. People had root beer floats poured on them. People had cottage cheese poured on them. A Japanese dude sang karaoke. Someone in a Sasquatch costume (or was it a wookie) ran around between innings. It's almost as if the ballgame is an afterthought. Oh, you can get beer for 3 bucks. It's not a big beer or anything, but 3 bucks!!!
I gotta tell you, I had a blast. I definitely want to go back. The closest atmosphere to Midway Stadium I have seen is at Warner Park in Madison for Mallards games.
Note: This is my 100th post since starting back in February. I will try to make sure the next 100 are better.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
One thing that really stood out for me out in Denver was how friendly and social people are out there. As someone who is admittedly not the most outgoing person in the world, it was nice to see that people come up and talk to you, and it's considered normal. Now, I think part of this is the fact that Denver has a lot of transplants, so people need to talk to each other more to find some sort of community. The other caveat is that my sister and I spent a lot of time in a Sconnie-friendly bar. Still, people were pretty social everywhere we went. It was cool.
This is diametrically opposed to Minnesota. I have two major pet peeves about Minnesotans: apparently all the women are taken, and people in general seem to be really reserved. I will address the all women are taken thing later on, probably in a rant. But, it amazes me that people don't talk to each other in this state. At one of the ball games I was at in Denver, we were jawing with some Rockies fans, and it was cool. Meanwhile, I went to two Twins games this week, and no one said a word to anyone who they didn't already know, at least in the area where I sat. Another example: go to a bar in most other cities, and there is a good amount of intermingling. In Minnesota, it's like a middle school lunchroom...tables of people huddled together, keeping to themselves, not daring to talk to anyone at another table. This makes it really hard to meet people. I mean, I am fortunate to have fallen in with a couple of good groups of people here, so I don't lack for friends. But, the barrier put up in social settings in this state makes it really hard to go up and talk to people. I am not sure why this is, but it happens time and time again. It is really hard for someone like me who is shy anyway. In Denver, people talking to you forces you to break out of your shell. In Minnesota, shyness and reservedness is basically a prerequisite for being a Minnesotan. My own reservedness is reinforced by the fact that no one breaks out of their shells.
I don't know, maybe it's just me. But, people aren't very social around here. They definitely were in Colorado.
I guess posters of athletes and stuff like that isn't enough anymore. I didn't know how deprived I was to only have framed photos of Eric Davis and Michael Jordan in my room along with my Brewers pennant.
I guess the economy isn't that bad if we can afford silliness like this.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I mean, it's nice to see how Brother Ali raises his son (he talks about it quite a bit in his music), but is it worth publishing how a niche artist like Brother Ali is a father? And, I say this despite liking Brother Ali's music. I don't agree with his politics all that much, but at least he is putting out music that isn't misogynistic. That's what is good about the local hip-hop community here. It isn't the usual "look at all the crap I have" stuff that has essentially made me stop listening. But, the scene here is not anything close to what Atlanta, New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, or Chicago has. However, that is another post. The point here is, I think the Star Tribune entertainment staff wants badly for Minneapolis to have street cred. This is in addition to them wanting a return to the 80s heyday for the Minneapolis scene, which admittedly was outstanding. They should want that. But, an article about how the Rhymesayers raise their kids? Does it really matter all that much?
Here's the usual disclaimer for any post that talks about hip-hop: I know most, if not all of my few readers, hate hip-hop. You don't need to tell me that.
Oh, happy Father's Day....especially to Ed, my late father (who definitely disapproved of my watching Yo! MTV Raps back in 1988).
UPDATE: Here's another tribute to Russert from The Stencil, whose author is from the Buffalo area like Russert.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
There has been a lot of political rhetoric about gasoline, likely because there is a lot to be potentially gained by doing so. This is yet another example of how far apart we are on things here. On one side, you have the people who blame oil companies. These people paint oil companies as evil profiteers who are getting rich off the hard-working American who struggles to pay their bills. On the other side, you have the people who blame the dirty hippie environmentalists for not letting us drill for oil because global warming is killing all the polar bears. I think that's about where the two sides stand.
It seems to me that the problem is a supply and demand problem. Demand is rising quickly, and supplies are not keeping up. There are many reasons for this, but the net effect is rising prices (yeah, I took intro micro and macro economics). One side demands a lowering of demand, the other a rise in supplies. I tend to agree that we ought to be working to stabilize supply lines, and not shutting the door on drilling. Yeah I know, the environment. But, the reality is until something better comes along, we need to have oil production. I can see the point about lowering demand, but without coercion, it can only be lowered so much. And, I am against coercing people onto buses and trains. I like buses and trains, but that's my choice.
As for me, the high gas prices had scared me off buying a car for now. Here's the thing, though...$40 to fill up a gas tank is pricey, but it's not that bad (if I get a car, it will hopefully not cost much more that). Of course, if prices continue to rise, all bets are off for me.
I will likely talk about this more, especially as I look more into the election this year.
Above is a picture of Coors Field my sister took before the game last Friday night. It's one of those new old-style parks. Located in the LoDo section of Denver, it's helped to reinvigorate that part of town. It has wide concourses, many concession stands, many bathrooms, and is very clean. The seats are pretty good, and are angled towards the diamond. Having watched many baseball games of late at the Metrodome, it was refreshing to see this. It was interesting to see that the hot dog of choice there is Hebrew National (pretty good dogs, by the way). Obviously, Coors is served there (Bud is served too, which is strange...but probably temporary once MillerCoors operations take hold). The Rockies fans were generally supportive, although a good chunk of them seem to have Dodger fan syndrome (arrive in the 3rd inning, leave after the 7th). Also, the Rockies fans were generally congenial to us Brewers fans. A few thanked us for the Brewers helping the Rockies get into the postseason last year. So, Coors Field was an enjoyable experience.
As for the games themselves, the Rockies beat the Brewers in 2 of the 3 games in the series. Friday, Ben Sheets pitched well, but the bullpen blew it, so the Rockies won that one. On Saturday, the Rockies came out of the gates strong and the Brewers never really had a shot. Sunday, the Brewers got an early lead and barely hung on, with particularly tight situations in the 7th and 8th innings.
Overall, I had a good time at Coors Field. Hopefully, I can get there again sometime.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Anyway, a Rockies fan was in there and was ranting about how he hated all these people moving to Colorado and not adopting their sports teams. He saw me nodding in disagreement. I told him as much. I tried to explain to him the hold that a person's home teams and hometown have on them. He moved around a lot growing up, so he admitted he didn't quite get it. But, he gave my sister and me credit for actually traveling to Denver.
The next night, I was talking to a woman about the guy I talked to the previous night back at the same bar. She was trying to tell me how nice Coloradoans are generally. I brought up the other guy, then she told me that there is some sort of tension between Colorado natives and transplants (of which there are many). She was engaged to a Wisconsin native who moved out there. She was right about Coloradoans, they were generally very cool.
Another interesting thing I saw was a bumper sticker that looks like a Colorado license plate. It said something to the effect of:
"Not a native, but I got here as soon as I could."
The bottom line is that in the few days I was in Colorado, I noticed there is an interesting underlying tension between natives and transplants. There has been tremendous growth in Colorado, and almost all of it has happened on the Front Range. Colorado grew 30% between 1990 and 2000, and by 13% since 2000. Colorado has been a beneficiary (or victim) of internal migration, as shown in this table (PDF format). Many of the transplants have come from California (Californians are populating a lot of western states).
This many people moving into Colorado has strained the state's infrastructure, jammed their roads (I-25 has some impressive traffic jams), and packed their schools. This article (again, PDF format) talks about the growth in Colorado, although it makes erroneous conclusions as it is from an anti-growth group. You can understand why natives are a little upset. But, it was interesting to see people articulate this in a bar populated with Wisconsin transplants after a Brewers-Rockies ballgame.
I have not posted in a few days. This has happened before, but usually because I haven't had anything about which to post. This time it was because I was on vacation, spending a few days in Denver, CO. My sister and I went to see the Milwaukee Brewers play the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies won on Friday and Saturday nights, but the Brew Crew salvaged a win in the finale on Sunday. Also on the trip, we checked out Boulder and took a tour of the Coors brewery (I have now toured the home breweries of Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors). We had a great time! Since I had never been to Denver before (layovers at DIA not withstanding), it was interesting to see another city and meet new people. I will have a couple of posts with things that I found interesting about Denver and Colorado.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
But, when 1.6 million people attend a state fair, you can afford to take chances with your grandstand acts. This would never happen at the Wisconsin State Fair. 400,000 more people live in Wisconsin than Minnesota, but 600,000 less people go to the Wisconsin State Fair than the Minnesota one.
First off, there is this belief that Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa are all pretty much the same, and that Minnesota is the center of this region. First off, both of these things are patently untrue. While these three states are similar demographically, they all have different economies. Iowa tends to still be somewhat agrarian, Wisconsin is still industrial, and Minnesota is more service-oriented. The workers in these states have different worldviews, and different needs. Second, the idea that Minnesota is the center of this "region" is laughable. Wisconsin leans east in its ways, and is a lot more like Michigan than like Minnesota. Besides, there is a very large center of influence not far from Wisconsin, that being Chicago. If any place pulls weight in Wisconsin, it is Chicago, not Minneapolis. With Iowa, you have to remember that there is a lot of Minnesota between the Twin Cities and the border. Most Iowans do not get their news from Minnesota (Wisconsin doesn't either, for that matter). The population center of Minnesota is just too far and not big enough to exert that much influence over Iowa.
It is because of these factors that Pawlenty for VP will make little difference in Wisconsin and Iowa. As for Minnesota, I read Minnesota as reverting back somewhat to form as a liberal bastion in this election cycle. Long-term, Minnesota is still trending towards the center, but I still think Obama will get Minnesota's electoral votes. Having Pawlenty on the ticket will make things closer, but I still think Obama wins this state by a decent margin. This is not the year for the GOP to break the 8-election losing streak.
If Wisconsin and Iowa go red, I would bet that Pawlenty being on the ticket will have little to do with it.
This post is not to blame GM executives or environmentalists or oil companies or politicians or labor unions. This is to speculate as to what might happen to Janesville. Janesville is a city of 60,000 people in southern Wisconsin, about 40 miles south of Madison. I have only been there a couple of times, but it seems to be a decent enough city. It's certainly nicer than the two cities down the Rock River from it, Beloit and Rockford. But, with this closing, Janesville could go downhill fast.
For that city's sake, I would hope there is a contingency plan that can be put into place. After all, auto plants in the United States have been closing as long as I can remember. Janesville leaders had to have known there was a possibility that they would be on the chopping block at some point. If I was a leader in Janesville, I would already have planned for an assessment to find out how much it would cost to tear down the plant, clean it up, and reuse the land (or at least find a way to reuse the buildings). I would find out how much GM would be expected to pay for this to happen. I can't imagine GM would want to keep a closed plant that likely won't re-open. So, get this land back into circulation, parcel it out to diverse companies looking to expand or relocate, and sell, sell, sell. This is a chance for a city that was heavily dependent on one industry to diversify its portfolio. With well over 2,000 people being laid off, there is a ready workforce there; at least some of whom are highly-educated (think engineers) and mechanically inclined (most everybody employed there).
As bad as this is for a small city like Janesville, there is a chance to become even better coming out of this. For their sake, the region's sake, and Wisconsin's sake, I think they really need to succeed.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Now that clock tower will never be fixed.
Northern Alliance Wannabe - Written by a Cubs fan, but I have the link anyway. He is a blog buddy of my brother's and makes some good points about many things. Definitely worth the read.
City Comforts Blog - In my quest to find blogs that deal with cities and the planning thereof, I stumbled onto this one. This person wrote a book with the same name, so I may have to read it. I don't know that I agree with everything that is written there. But again, I like cities, so there is likely some common ground.
I am temporarily linking to Memeopolis. I haven't decided if I like it yet. I found it looking for blogs with Minneapolis listed as an interest (as I just added Minneapolis to mine). It seems to be a lifestyle blog more than anything, but the woman who writes it seems to have a good sense of humor. So, it will probably stay.
Actually, this was closer to 11 miles. I have never walked that much in one day in my life. But, I did it! Now, there are caveats to this, one being that I stopped for a quick lunch, and was also subject to traffic lights, so there were little breaks in the action. But, I am still happy I was able to do this.
The Chicago Cubs had a great month, going 19-10. They swept Arizona and the Dodgers at home. They had a little trouble with the St. Louis Cardinals at the beginning of the month, but played well enough to leapfrog them in the standings. So, are the Cubs running away with it? Well, keep in mind that the Cubs got fat off a subpar NL West (although sweeping the D-Backs is impressive), and have played 34 home games vs. 23 road games. While the Cubs are very talented, they have not been overwhelming against the division (18-15), and have lost series to St. Louis, Houston, and Milwaukee (twice, at Wrigley). For now, they are 36-21.
St. Louis continues to surprise me with clutch pitching and timely hitting. But, they have come down to earth a little bit, going 16-13 in May. They took 2 of 3 from the Cubs at the beginning of the month, but lost 3 of 4 in Milwaukee. They took the series against the surprising Tampa Bay Rays (who inexplicably are in first in the AL East). St. Louis will be interesting to watch. I am still skeptical, but for now they are 34-24, 2.5 back of the Cubs.
The Houston Astros had themselves a pretty good month in May, but the ying and yang of their season was shown in bookmark series against the Brewers. The Astros swept a slumping Brew Crew to begin the month, but got swept in Milwaukee this past weekend. They went 18-12, and got past Milwaukee to be in third, although by only a half-game after the aforementioned sweep. The Astros stand at 30-28, 6.5 back of the Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers got into a rut in May. Prince Fielder still is not playing up to standard, with only 8 homers so far. I want nothing more than to send him some meat. Drop the vegetarian diet!! Also, the Brewers are having trouble in the bullpen and at the top of their order. The Brewers went 13-15 this month, including getting swept at Fenway against the Red Sox. That was part of a five-game losing streak. They also had a six-game losing streak, getting swept by Houston and Florida. There's enough there to believe the Brewers can still make a run. But, they better have a better June. 29-28, 7 games behind Chicago.
The Cincinnati Reds also had a good month in May, going 16-12. They had a nice series against the Cubs, and swept Florida and Cleveland. Adam Dunn keeps doing what he does best, which is hit home runs. The Reds also have some good young talent, including Joey Votto. I am not sure if the Reds can continue at the pace they did in May, but they are right there at the moment. They also swept the Braves this past weekend. They are 28-29, 8 games back.
And, assuming their usual spot at the bottom of the division are the Pittsburgh Pirates. But, they went 15-13 this past month. I haven't had much of a chance to see how things came together for the Pirates, but they swept the Braves and the Giants (although the Giants aren't that good this year). They took 2 of 3 in St. Louis, and 2 of 3 at home against the Cubs. At the moment, the Pirates are 26-30, 9.5 games back of the Cubs.
So, what have we learned? The NL Central is not a bad division, but they are beating each other up. The Cubs look to be in good shape, but they have been the beneficiaries of a lot of home games. The Cubs have played 34 home games, and have only lost 8 of them (4 to the Brewers). But, everyone but Milwaukee had a winning month in the division. So, the Cubs have set the pace, but there is a lot of season left.
Oh, and we also learned that the Braves would be junk if they were in the NL Central. They sit at 6-10 against the division so far.