Monday, April 12, 2021

Under Curfew

 We're okay here. I don't think a curfew is necessary, but whatever. About the only way our neighborhood would go up in flames is if we were in the midst of an apocalypse. And despite some of the rhetoric we're hearing lately, we are not in an apocalypse. We are, most certainly, in a time where cynics and opportunists are in the saddle.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Golden Ticket

 So I got my vaccine yesterday, amusingly enough at the Vikings headquarters in Eagan:

Purple pride

It was the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, which requires only a single dose, so I will not have to return to the Vikings fortress. After 24 hours, the side effects have been minimal; a little bit of a runny nose and general fatigue, but I've been able to work and approach normal productivity. And if everything goes as it should, I will be able to say I'm fully vaccinated within a month. 

Most importantly, I have my card, which may shape up to be the most important document in my possession if the gubmint has anything to say about it:

As coronavirus vaccinations slowly release the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new question is emerging: Should countries and the private sector embrace the idea of a digital vaccine passport for travel, working and dining? Though proving you're vaccinated to travel isn't a new concept (some countries have required yellow fever vaccines for years), doing so for COVID-19 would be on a far grander scale than ever before.

This is a terrible idea, for all the obvious reasons. If your ability to travel, to conduct your life in a normal fashion, to have a life at all, are contingent on jumping through a hoop of Joe Biden's choosing, we're well and truly screwed. But why should I worry? Dobie Gray explained it to us way back in '65:

I'm in with the in crowd (Do-do-do)

I go where the in crowd goes (Do-do-do)

I'm in with the in crowd (Do-do-do)

And I know what the in crowd knows (Da-da-da-da)

It's worth noting I got my vaccine because I got the call from the State of Minnesota, after providing the grandees a lot of information that has nothing to do with my actual need for the vaccine. At this point, it's still a lottery and there are others I know who likely are at greater risk than I was, but they wait. But I have the card, the golden ticket. Does it make sense?

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The blog is still alive

Have not written lately. Obviously.

Needless to say, much is going on. I will get back to weighing in soon. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Welcome back my friends, to the Chauvin that never ends

 We're going to be starting the Derek Chauvin trial tomorrow and Minneapolis will again be in the spotlight. I haven't gone downtown much in recent months to see the fortifications for myself, but there's enough concertina wire and barricades up around the government center to stop much from happening at the place where the trial will take place. 

Tunnel of love

I don't know who the grandees are trying to protect, but this sort of fortification suggests an extraordinary level of fear. The trial is going to last for at least a few weeks and while there are certainly going to be all manner of protesters downtown, it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to breach the perimeter, but I also think the problems will be elsewhere in town. 

The problem for the local government is simple enough -- the optics of George Floyd's demise are both egregious and potentially incorrect. Although Keith Ellison and his merry band of prosecutors will never admit it publicly, they don't have an airtight case. It's quite possible Floyd was already a dead man by the time Chauvin got to the scene. He had a lot of fentanyl in his system at the time of death, quite possibly a lethal dose. His defense team will certainly present evidence to that effect to the jury. 

I sincerely hope Ellison and his team have an answer prepared. If not, someone may end up on the business end of that concertina wire.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

RIP, Rush Limbaugh

 It's on his site:

Sui generis

I didn't listen to Rush that much -- he was on the air while I was at work and the only times I would hear him was if I had a day off or was in transit as part of something I was doing on the job. It would have been impossible to work and listen to him at the same time, because he would command your attention.

When I first became of aware of Limbaugh and his program, I assumed he would be destroyed, labeled a modern-day Father Coughlin, driven from the airwaves and polite company generally. He was driven from ESPN, but that was a side gig. He always engaged a massive audience with his microphone and his show was appointment radio for tens of millions of listeners for over 30 years. 

I am friends with two guys who are weekend talk show hosts and bloggers here in the Twin Cities, Mitch Berg and Brad Carlson. I've been on Brad's show several times over the years, mostly to talk about football and a few times to discuss Catholic issues. Doing radio well is hard work -- you have to engage your audience every time or you'll be gone soon. Even as a guest, it's a challenge. You have to be able to present your ideas quickly and cogently and keep things moving. The list of successful long-time talk show hosts is short, precisely because it's so tough to do. Rush Limbaugh made it seem effortless, but it wasn't. He had to be able to buttress every utterance he made. He had enemies who spent three decades trying to chase him from the air. He had to be on guard every moment. And he pulled it off. He towered over his enemies and challengers. No one was ever close to him.

Rush leaves the microphone at a parlous time. His detractors control the executive and legislative branches and they are in a hurry to change the world. These same detractors are eager to control discourse; wokeness is loose upon the land and hatred is in the saddle. Our voices may not be as authoritative or engaging as Rush Limbaugh's, but we have to make our voices heard.


One of our usual Wednesday night stops during the summer of 1983. As you can see from the flyer, it was easy to get altered for a low, low price: 

We liked the Vulcan Mind Probes WAAAAY too much

Factored for inflation, the 2021 cost of one of these drinks would be about $3.50. You can't actually get something like this for less than $10 any more. Sin is not as cost-effective as it used to be.

Friday, February 12, 2021

You should not find it surprising...

... that the modern Democratic Party is full of scoundrels. But in case you weren't sure, spend two minutes with this video.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Creeps in this petty place

 The title isn't precisely what Shakespeare wrote. But for our purposes, it works. Your betters have a pronouncement:

Told by an idiot

No, it's Shakespeare. The full passage:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Andrea Mitchell, it should be noted, has a degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a member in good standing of the Ivy League. By the way, she shares alumni status at Penn with the Bad Orange Man, but that's a secondary issue here.

Ted Cruz was correct. Andrea Mitchell was wrong. Jennifer Rubin is non compos mentis on her best days. Our betters, who hold the commanding heights of power and influence in this moment, are dumb. Especially when they try to dunk on other people on Twitter. 

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Benster and D Pick Your Games---Super Bowl Mercenary Bucs Edition

 Yes, I'm still here, and not bitter at all about the NFC Championship Game. Life goes on, and we can talk about the Super Bowl. 

Well, I'm bitter. But there's not much to be done about it now, so yeah, on with the Superb Owl. And let's have some halftime entertainment!

That ain't The Weeknd, old dude. And I've never seen so many rugby shirts in my life, by the way.

Nah, it's Up With People, as compared to most Super Bowl halftime shows these days, which are usually Up Yours.

Left Shark does not approve. 

But anyway, back to the game. The one thing that is clear for me is that 99% of America is rooting for the Chiefs. The only people rooting for the Bucs are Bucs fans, Brady bandwagon fans that followed him from the Patriots, and AFC West rivals. I'm not one of those three groups of people. I never have rooted for the Bucs, I don't like Brady, and I root for the Packers, who last I checked play in the NFC North. 

A useful sorting out, Grasshopper. Very well done. By the way, what are you feeling?

I am still feeling the HYYYYYYPPPEEEEE!, and it is time to watch me work.

Kansas City Chiefs (-3) vs. Tampa Bay Bucs The Chiefs are back to defend their title and return to face a Bucs team that they beat in this very stadium in late November. It must be acknowledged that the Bucs have a huge advantage in not being able to travel, and will make history as the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. My big question is how in the world did the Bucs get so many mercenaries under the salary cap? It's like they were borrowing tips from the Saints. Tampa has a lot of unlikeable people on their roster. Brady is a proven cheater thanks to Deflategate, and was part of Patriots teams that was caught breaking NFL rules multiple times. AB is the dictionary definition of a diva wideout and is one of the few players I never want the Packers to sign or trade for. Suh is a dirty player, and Gronk just annoys me with his frat bro stuff. Yeah, I know that Tyreek Hill has his own legal troubles, but the Bucs have far more people who football fans can find easy to hate. The Chiefs will have a healthier Patrick Mahomes. Sorry Patrick, you are not the MVP of the league. The MVP wears 12 and plays for Green Bay. The Chiefs have more experience than the Bucs, and should be the first team to repeat since the Patriots back during their first dynasty. I also love how explosive the Chiefs can be on offense, and they have a better defense than people think. Chiefs 35, Mercenary Bucs 21.

That's all spot-on. The Chiefs can deal destruction in multiple ways and in Mahomes they have a quarterback for the ages. Brady has done amazing things in his career and he was just barely good enough to beat a Packers team that went moronic at the worst possible time. The Chiefs are simply a better team, top to bottom. Bet the chalk and take the points. Kansas City 34, Tampa Bay 26.

Enjoy your football this weekend, and thanks for reading this feature all season long. Until September, Ben out. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

No one for the Hall?

 We'll get the announcement this evening -- will anyone make the Baseball Hall of Fame this year? To be honest, I doubt it. Here's the list of candidates:

Curt Schilling -- I think he's worthy. The only guy with a shot this year. His tendency to be a conservative loudmouth has hurt his candidacy. It shouldn't matter, but sportswriters tend to be PC and it's hurt him. He has one more year on the ballot and the writers may decide to throw him a bone then; otherwise, he's a cinch on a Veterans' Committee in the future.

Bloody socks and bloody shirts

Roger Clemens -- Steroid guy; not proven but strongly suspected. Also a prickly personality. He was clearly the greatest pitcher of his generation and probably top 5-6 of all time, but he's probably not going to make it.

Barry Bonds -- Mr. BALCO. If he'd been able to control his jealousy at McGwire and Sosa and had stayed off the juice, he'd have been in the HOF years ago. Now, probably not.

Omar Vizquel -- great defensive player and ended up close to 3000 hits. Unfortunately, he seems to be a domestic abuser as well. Don't think he's gonna make it.

Scott Rolen -- one of the best third basemen in history, but he wasn't flashy and didn't attract attention to himself, so he's underrated. He's climbing the ladder and should make it as early as 2022 or 2023.

Billy Wagner -- dominant lefty relief pitcher. Not sure he's special enough to make it.

Gary Sheffield -- a legitimately fearsome hitter, but has the steroid taint and was also roundly considered a bad dude. Not likely to make it.

Todd Helton -- climbing the ladder; he played his entire career for the Rockies, so his power numbers are suspect, but he was a great hitter and won three Gold Gloves. Not this year, but eventually, yes.

Manny Ramírez -- like Sheffield, a legitimately great hitter and one of the most colorful characters in the history of the game. But he's lousy with steroids so he's not going to make it.

Jeff Kent -- a great hitter at a traditional defensive position (second base); has the numbers, but never seems to get the traction. A candidate for the Veterans Committee in the future.

Andruw Jones -- defensively elite center fielder who also hit more than 400 home runs, but his career fell off a cliff at the age of 30. He may make it eventually primarily for his defensive excellence, but he's a borderline case in any event.

Sammy Sosa -- over 600 homers and while he's never admitted to steroid use, everyone thinks he did. He's gotten weird post-career as well. No chance.

Andy Pettitte -- great pitcher, but a serious steroid taint. Not likely to overcome the stigma.

Bobby Abreu -- a modern-day Ken Singleton or Dusty Baker; a talented player who is seriously underrated. But no one thinks Baker or Singleton is a Hall of Famer, either.

There are three first year players who I think could stay on the ballot, although I don't see any of them making the HOF during the normal 10-year process. They are:

Mark Buehrle -- a high-quality lefty who mostly pitched for the White Sox. He's a lot like Mickey Lolich, but only old guys like me remember Lolich. 

Torii Hunter -- like all Twins fans, I love Torii Hunter. And he was a hell of a player, one of the best center fielders of his era. But he's not going to make it.

Tim Hudson -- a good righthander who won over 200 games in his career. His career numbers are quite similar to Catfish Hunter, who is in the HOF, but Hudson's taste in teammates wasn't as good. 

The rest of the 1st year players (Dan Haren, Barry Zito, Aramis Ramirez, Shane Victorino, A. J. Burnett, Nick Swisher, LaTroy Hawkins, and Michael Cuddyer) aren't going to make it. Even die-hard Twins fans would admit Hawkins and Cuddyer aren't worthy.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Benster and D Pick Your Games----Aaron Gets What He Wanted Edition

 Old dude, the Packers don't have to travel for the NFC Championship Game for once. This time, a team has to come to Lambeau in the snow. 

Yes. Here's a picture of Tom Brady arriving at Austin Straubel Airport for the game with some of his teammates:

Indeed, Geritol Fan, it is Tom Brady and his band of mercenaries who have to come up to the proving ground of the NFL.

Indeed. And let me guess -- might there be some, uh, hype involved.

You've been part of this for at least ten years. You know the answer. Of course I am feeling HYYYYYYPPPEEEEEEEE!, and it is time to watch me work.

Tompa Bay Bucs (+3.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers Some people say that Aaron Donald is still getting blocked by Elgton Jenkins to this very day. In all seriousness, that was a great performance by the Packers to beat a very good Rams defense, and earn a rematch against the Bucs. Obviously, we all know what happened in October, but that was a long time ago. Yes, I know that the Bucs are healthier on defense, but it is important to note that the Packers have played a lot better on defense. What is especially encouraging is that the Packers have had success against teams that run the football well. The Packers shut down in consecutive games Derrick Henry, David Montgomery, and Cam Akers to a large extent. It's also important to note that Allen Lazard did not play in October down in Florida, and he had a great game against the Rams even with the drop of a touchdown pass earlier in the game. This game will not be easy, as the Bucs play good defense and we all know that Brady is used to this stage. But I like the Packers to move on in a close game and send the Bucs back home without a home Super Bowl. Packers 24, Bucs 21.

At first, I hated this matchup. But as the week has gone on, I feel better about it. Brady was only okay against the Saints last week and that was in a dome. It will be snowy and windy in Green Bay and it's been noticeable that Brady struggles with long horizontal throws. I think there's a pick six coming on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Packers have had a chance to devise a game plan for Devin White and Lavonte David, who destroyed them last time. Don't let White come downhill; make him chase Robert Tonyan all over the field. Bucs will not go down easily, but they will go down. Packers 33, Tampa 24.

Buffalo Bills (+3.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City dodged a major bullet last week, thanks to Chad Henne playing well in relief of a concussed Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has been cleared to return to action, and obviously tilts the field in favor of the defending champions. However, the Bills have been playing very well lately and did play the Chiefs close in the regular season. Kansas City throughout their run the past few years have had wins that were aided by a bit of fortune. Last year they survived 3 double digit deficits, and last week Dan Sorensen should have been flagged for a hit to the head on the controversial fumble late in the first half. I have nothing against the Chiefs, but those points have to be acknowledged. In fact, I think the Bills can hang in there, and pull off a major upset. Nobody Circles The Wagons Like The Buffalo Bills 35, Chiefs 34.

I was tempted to pick Buffalo, but we do need to disagree on one. Mahomes may not be 100%, but 85% of Mahomes is better than 95% of the league. Buffalo's weak running game will prevent the Bills from holding a lead should they get one. It'll be a shootout, but I like the Chiefs. Kansas City 38, Buffalo 28.

One question, old dude. Did our buddy Brad Carlson pick games this week?

Yes. Yes he did. You can see his picks here.

Enjoy your football weekend. Ben out.