Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Get your popcorn -- this is gonna be fun.
Monday, December 29, 2008
- Not surprisingly, there was a fair amount of chatter in the blogosphere in response to Paul Mulshine's anti-blogger cri de coeur over the fate of newspapers that appeared over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal. Mulshine writes for the Newark Star-Ledger and is one of the more iconoclastic columnists around; I may be the only person who thinks this way, but he occupies space in my mental filing cabinet with Ruben Navarette and Steve Chapman, since all three of them are sensible on some issues and nuts on others. I'm not offended that Mulshine doesn't think much of bloggers, because in the main he's right. There's a reason why most bloggers have a blogroll. Anyone who is honest knows that the majority of blogs out there aren't worth your time. It's work to find the good ones. I'm sure it galls a guy like Mulshine that his industry is dying in the face of competitors that he couldn't have even imagined when he began working in the newspaper business 900 years ago. Mulshine and his colleagues are on the business end of Schumpeter these days. It can't be pleasant.
- Which brings us to the news that long-time Twin Cities sports columnist Patrick Reusse will be the new morning man over at KSTP, paired with the eternally vanilla Jay Kolls, whose career conclusively demonstrates the importance of marrying well. Our astute friend Brad Carlson has a good writeup on the topic. It's a gamble for both Reusse and KSTP to do this, but it's pretty obvious that Reusse's main employer is circling the drain right now. Might as well try something new while you can. Reusse is a lefty but he's very funny and my guess is that he'll find quickly that he'll do better with humor than polemics. I wish him well and suspect that he'll be a big improvement over Willie Clark, the guy that KSTP ashcanned.
- Christmas was a lot of fun and it's always good to get home to lovely Appleton. Since I wasn't feeling well, I didn't get out and about much during the time I was there, but you can see that the Fox River Valley continues to thrive. There's a vast, Woodburyesque shopping area on the southeast side of town that has developed in the last 5 years. The stores are all thriving, too. Appleton's main industry has always been papermaking; while there might not be as much newsprint being sold these days and a huge mill in nearby Kimberly recently closed, my hometown looks to be pretty prosperous these days.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wisconsin Badgers 31, Florida State Seminoles 27. This is the matchup in the Pond's Sport Shop Bowl. The Badgers have never played the Seminoles before and it's not clear that either of these teams is exactly representative of what their respective programs should be like. At one time the Seminoles were feared, but not so much anymore. The boys at the Anderson's Resale like the Badgers, though, so let's go with them.
ACTUAL RESULT: FSU 42, BAD-GERS 13. Turns out you shouldn't listen to the boys at Anderson's Resale. Do you sense the natives are getting a little restless at the recent performances of Brett Bielema's boys? I've recently been reading a biography of Bear Bryant and ol' Bear liked to party like Brett apparently does. The difference is that Bear took care of the business end first.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk 37, Minnesota Golden Gaffers 27. The Gophers are playing in the tradition-laden Tippy's Taco House Bowl. The last time the Gophs appeared on this stage, Glen Mason got fired. Tim Brewster probably won't be fired after this game, but one may never know. Kansas is not a traditional football power, but they play in a better league and should win. And remember, Smile with Smith!
Green Bay Packers 49, Detroit Lions 7. The Packers have been snake-bit this season. The Lions have been snake-bit for 50 years. Of all the things that are sad about the Lions this season, perhaps the saddest is watching the once-proud Daunte Culpepper getting his rather ample butt kicked. He has the mobility of the statue in Soldiers Square.
ACTUAL RESULT: PACKERS 31, LIONS 21. The Pack does enough to put the final donut on the Lions. And now I make another prediction: the Lions, having hit absolute, 100% rock bottom on the frozen turf of Lambeau, now begin to rise. If (a big if) the Lions hire a first-class football man to run their operation, they go to the Super Bowl within 5 years time. Let's be honest, NFC North fans -- is there another team in the division that you see that will be an insurmountable force any time soon?
New York Football Giants 24, Purple Guy 21. The Vikings need this game more than the G-Men do. The Vikings always lose games like that. Ask this guy, who will be coming to Appleton after the season is over to enjoy a tasty patty melt at Damrow's Restaurant, followed by drowning his sorrows with a pitcher of Schlitz at Kaiser Bill's.
ACTUAL RESULT: VIKINGS 20, GIANTS 19. Better to win it outright than to back in. It looks like their reward is a visit from the red-hot Eagles, currently laying waste to the Cowboys as I write this.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I would strongly encourage you to give Jim's blog a look. I will be cross-posting articles on Jim's blog periodically as well. There are a lot of stories to tell and Jim will tell them well.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Remember that the two campaigns made about the same number of challenges. Al Franken withdrew more challenges than Coleman did, about 500 more. This was a tactical decision on Franken's part. Because the challenged ballots were adjudicated first, Franken had 500 more votes to add than Coleman did in the challenge phase. Not surprisingly, Franken went into the lead. He got the headline he wanted, which was the whole point of the exercise.
But the remainder of the previously challenged ballots get added back into the totals this week. That means that when the ballots that were challenged but withdrawn are added back into the mix, Coleman will add about 500 more votes than Franken does. Norm will be back into the lead by about the same margin he's been leading all along, about 225 or so.
It will go to litigation, of course. And those absentee ballots are potentially a problem. But when the final results of the litigation take place, I predict the following things will happen:
1) The phantom votes from Dinkytown will get withdrawn, because there is no physical evidence that they exist. Since Franken and his people are insisting that they count every vote, they won't be in a position to demand that votes that don't physically exist be counted. No one can find the "missing" votes for good reason. They don't exist.
2) Taking away those 133 ballots from Franken will mean that Norm is essentially about 400 votes up.
3) If the additional "wrongly rejected" absentee ballots get counted, Franken would have to get almost 1000 of the 1600 to overtake Norm. That's possible, but highly unlikely, especially since some of the votes will belong to Dean Barkley.
I might be wrong, of course. But I doubt I am. If I am wrong, tell me why.
Cross-posted at Truth vs. the Machine
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Ben did not score but played well in defeat, grabbing a few rebounds and playing good defense, often against taller opponents. Big Blue's record now stands at 4-2 and the squad will get a holiday break, returning to action on January 10 for a rematch against Mounds View 73. Game time is 2 p.m. at Island Lake School in Shoreview. When you want coverage of 7th and 8th grade in-house basketball in the northern suburbs of Ramsey County, and who doesn't, there's no better place to find it than Mr. Dilettante.
I'd like to suggest you consider one more charity this year. The Tia Foundation is based in Phoenix and assists people living in desperate poverty in Mexico. What makes Tia different and worthy is the approach it takes. It doesn't simply parachute in, drop supplies and then leave. The services that Tia provides are designed to people in these communities take control of their own care, which is the best way to improve of the health of their citizens. From the Tia website:
In the poor rural villages of the developing world, the most basic of health clinics are scarce. Often, providing a clean environment for childbirth, or treating the most basic illnesses and injuries are close to impossible. In the communities where Tia works, most family homes have dirt floors and no doors or windows. A daily struggle to raise enough food using unmechanized farm tools just to feed the family occupies much of their time. Village farm families live up to a twelve hour walk from the nearest hospital and vehicles are nonexistent. Women still die in child birth and young children are lost to diseases compounded by undernourishment.The lack of essential services can mean the difference between life and death, not only for an individual, like a subsistence farmer, but also for the vulnerable family. For that farmer, the arduous long journey over rough mountain roads to the nearest medical care means that a major laceration or fracture can be a death sentence. The loss to his family compounds with the resulting downward poverty spiral of malnutrition and disease. With a trained health care technician who has a modest medical kit, the farmer can be sufficiently stabilized to endure the trip to a regional hospital, thus mitigating the risk to the susceptible family.
To guarantee long-term village health, the most effective way is to train local health care workers and give them the essential tools necessary to treat common illnesses and injuries. The key to long-term solutions involves implementing a sustainable program that teaches villagers the skills they need and provides them with links to necessary local resources, so they can become self-determining.
The individual in charge of the Tia Foundation is a friend of mine, Laura Libman. I met Laura nearly 30 years ago when we served together on the district board for Key Club International, the world's largest high school service organization. Even as a high school student, Laura was a smart, committed leader and someone who believed in teaching people rather than simply dropping a check or a care package on someone's doorstep. Laura started Tia because she has spent a lot of time in Mexico and has seen firsthand what the challenges are. The Tia Foundation is doing great work. I'd encourage to to check their website and see for yourself.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Let's face it -- Coleman has been very good to Minnesota conservatives. He's one of the most reliable suppliers of straw men in this market. He's never hestitated to make a cheap political point at the expense of conservatives or conservative values, whether the topic was his crusade against Frau Molnau and the evil forces of MnDOT, or pre-emptive trashing of Archbishop Nienstedt. He is the very model of the modern major metro liberal and his familial ties (brother of the St. Paul mayor, namesake son of a longtime state legislative force) have given him a kick-butt street cred in the skewed version of Minnesota political royalty, which operates in ways that are similar to the ward-based dynasties of Chicago, except that famous sons in Minnesota sometimes lose elections.
Really, it would be a shame for ol' Nick to be sidelined now. His value as a conservative piñata is unparalleled. The dude needs a perch, and sharing a cube with Eric Black over at MinnPost hardly seems like the right way to go. Since fortune favors the bold, here goes.
Nick, you can work for me. And you can start tomorrow.
So what are the advantages of moving your operations to Mr. Dilettante? Oh, there are so many.
- Prestige galore. The Mr. Dilettante brand is known throughout the blogosphere for a devotion to discussions of politics, music and the arts and there's reason to believe that at least a few dozen other bloggers have read Mr. Dilettante in the past. And as a contributor to True North and Truth vs. the Machine, you'll have the opportunity to leverage your readership into triple digits, easy. Based on the current circulation numbers at your soon to be former employer, you'd have to be thrilled with that. I've actually met Gary Miller and Andy Aplikowski and would be happy to put in a good word for you.
- Complete freedom. No nervous bean counters or supercilious metro editors here, telling you what to say or suggesting that you tone it down a bit. In fact, I'd be highly supportive of letting you say whatever you'd like, Nick -- may I call you Nick? The more outrageous, the better. And I'm reasonably certain that you'd see a lot of links from other bloggers, who are always eager to offer their trenchant analysis of your work. Conservatives are very supportive and nurturing that way.
- A commitment to lifelong learning. At Mr. Dilettante, we've been able to triple the usual readership of this feature from time to time by picking the right people to insult. You've never been especially hesitant to criticize someone, so you have a leg up on other potential candidates for this opportunity. I've noticed that you have not been in the habit of criticizing Jim Oberstar much, but I'd be happy to teach you. I'd even be willing to share my secret methods for getting web hits by mentioning more arcane targets. For just one example, you'd be amazed how many hits you can get by mildly criticizing Eric Carmen's solo career.
- A very steady, devoted readership. No reason to worry about declining readership here -- this blog almost always gets double digit hits every day. Click on the Sitemeter and see for yourself.
- A generous compensation package. I'll be willing to split the proceeds I make from publishing this blog with you 50/50. Try and get an offer that generous from anyone else. Just try.
Nick, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for you. It would be a shame to see your voice be stilled just because the economy has hit a rough patch. What would the Archbishop do without having you around to correct him on doctrine? How would the structural engineers and infrastructure experts cope without having you around to contradict them? Dammit, you're needed. Don't just take the abuse from those mouth-breathers at Avista -- seize the moment. Carpe diem, baybee!
What have you got to lose? Pick up the phone, Nick. Give Mr. D a call.
Cross-posted at True North
Last 5/Next 5
Can't Hide Love, Earth Wind & Fire
Ruby Baby, Donald Fagen
Groovin' High, Dizzy Gillespie
Raised on Robbery, Joni Mitchell
Trampled Underfoot, Led Zeppelin
Got to Give it Up, Marvin Gaye
Love Vigilantes, New Order
Phone Booth, Robert Cray Band
Big Time, Peter Gabriel
Dolly Dagger, Jimi Hendrix
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I've long since come to the conclusion that Rod Blagojevich is clearly the stupidest governor in all of our 50 states, and he may be the stupidest governor I've had occasion to write about in the four decades when I've been co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. And a stupid man (or woman) in high political office can be very dangerous to all concerned. I have long said that as a political operative I would prefer a smart opponent to a stupid opponent. If you're pretty smart yourself, you should be able to figure out what another pretty smart person will do. But whether you're smart or stupid, it's hard to figure out what a stupid person will do. That's even more true when the stupid politician is your political ally. Stupid people do all sorts of things that are against their own interests. Like tell the press on Monday that you wouldn't mind being taped, even when (as we learned on Tuesday) that you've been saying all kinds of things that you should have known could easily send you to the slammer.
"The most fascinating part is yet to be told," Jennifer Rubin writes, "how someone this unhinged gets to be governor and gets re-elected without anyone blowing the whistle." Well, the short answer is that this is Chicago, and Chicago politics is unique, as I argued in this blogpost, which starts off with an examination of the question how the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers thrived in the Chicago civic establishment or what I call le tout Chicago. The answer to the question of how Ayers and Blagojevich rose is family connections. Ayers is the son of a former Chairman of Commonwealth Edison (now Exelon). Blagojevich is the son-in-law of 33rd Ward Democratic Committeeman Dick Mell. Ward committeemen are hugely important in Chicago politics: Dan Rostenkowski and his father had been the 32nd ward committeemen from 1935 to 1995; the ward committeemen from the 11th ward since some time in the 1940s have been Richard J. Daley, Richard M. Daley and John Daley; the 13th ward committeeman Bill Lipinski, retiring suddenly from Congress in 2004, was able to get the Democratic nomination for his son Dan Lipinski from a group of ward committeemen despite the fact that Dan Lipinski was a political science professor at the University of Tennessee and hadn't lived in Chicago for years.
The win brings Big Blue's record to 4-1 on the season. They take the court next on Saturday, Dec. 20 for a battle against Roseville 5 at 1 p.m. at Brimhall Elementary School. Remember, Mr. Dilettante is your exclusive home for exhaustive analysis of northern Ramsey County in-house youth basketball action. If you can find better coverage anywhere, I'd be quite surprised.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Christopher Walken was right, of course. We need more cowbell.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The fun story is that apparently Blago was trying to auction off Barack Obama's Senate seat and was offering to help the struggling Tribune Company sell off Wrigley Field, as long as it would fire certain editorial writers at the Chicago Tribune that were proving peevish to Blago.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this guy is a moron. He had to know the feds were listening in on his conversations – in fact, he as much as invited them to do it. Per the Chicago Tribune:
"I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it," he said. "I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously, and those who feel like they want to sneakily, and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate."
Apparently, so does Blago. A good rule of thumb for a corrupt politician: the best way to come acropper is to yell, "come and get me, copper!" More to come.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Good. Conservatives should oppose the incoming president with all their might when it is necessary, but the opposition should be rooted in political philsophy and policy differences, not conspiracies. Time for Leo Donofrio and Philip Berg to go away.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The loss leaves Big Blue's record at 3-1 and they will return to action next Saturday with a 10 a.m. matchup against St. Anthony at the St. Anthony Community Center. As always, Mr. Dilettante is the go-to blog for breathless reportage on in-house basketball in Northwest Ramsey County.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
- First, Saxby Chambliss wins his runoff election in a rout. That pretty much puts the 60-vote, filibuster-proof Senate dream of Harry Reid to rest. Will that mean that Reid will now have less reason to attempt to seat Franken, as has been rumored?
- Meanwhile, 171 votes from Maplewood surface that hadn't been counted on election day, giving Franken an extra 37 votes. While that probably won't make a difference in the end, it's still disconcerting for two reasons: first, that Franken is already waaaaay too close, and second, it makes me wonder what has happened to the citizens of Maplewood, which is usually a fairly sober precinct. Maybe something that 3M buried in the ground years ago is leaching into the water table?
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
I Feel So Good, Richard Thompson
Rock Steady, Aretha Franklin
All or Nothing at All, Frank Sinatra
Don't Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston
Age of Consent, New Order
It's Tricky, Run-DMC
The Windows of the World, Dionne Warwick
Mother's Little Helper, Rolling Stones
Guess Things Happen That Way, Johnny Cash
Black Beauty, Duke Ellington
What are you hearing today?
Monday, December 01, 2008
- So it turns out that, out of the 135 people currently involved in the Obama transition team, 85 are old Clinton hands. I guess you have to look at it this way: it's better that old Clinton hands are involved than really old Carter hands or really, really old LBJ hands. And Ramsey Clark isn't the only old LBJ hand out there. When you look at it, suddenly retreads like Larry Summers don't seem so bad. I do think they should alter the slogan to "(The More Things) Change (The More They Stay The Same) That You Can Believe In," although that makes it look like an old song title for the Human League.
- On the topic of old Clinton hands, someone actually did notice that Barack Obama was pretty critical of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy chops during the campaign. The response the president-elect provided was pretty revealing, because it follows a pattern that Obama and Biden used during the campaign. When a tough question gets asked, they laugh at it, then deflect it. It's an effective tack for now, but some of the issues the Obama team will face aren't very funny. And it's not enough to slough off the words Candidate Obama said as mere rhetoric now.
- Which brings us to the matter of Mumbai. Mitch Berg has an excellent essay at his place about the meaning of Mumbai and its implications for the rest of us. He ties what happened in Mumbai to the importance of understanding why the Second Amendment, at bottom, is the guarantor of all the other rights we have. "Citizens in any 'free society' should be a pack, not a herd or flock," Mitch concludes. Just so.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The act of behaving like a dilettante, of being an amateur or "dabbler", sometimes in the arts. Also the act of enjoying the arts, being a connoisseur. Can be perceived as superficial.
When I chose the name of this blog nearly 3 years ago, that was the first word that popped into my head, so I ran with it. I've never fancied myself an expert on anything, although I know a lot about certain things. But this blog is, and always will be, the work of a amateur and (I hope) a connoisseur. And while there's little doubt that treatments around here can be a bit superficial, it's always been my goal to avoid being superficial.
We're at a point now, with over 1,100 posts on the blog, to make a few changes. As I mentioned last week, I am going to be joining the team over at Truth vs. the Machine, one of the pre-eminent spots for conservative commentary in the Minnesota blogosphere. The team there includes some really smart, perceptive and talented people and I count myself both honored and fortunate to have the chance to play in their sandbox. But in order to participate there, it will mean that I will have to change the way I operate this blog.
Here is what I envision will happen once I am fully onboard at TvM:
- Mr. Dilettante will be, generally, less political. I'm not going to be able to give my best effort at TvM if my political writing stays here. The one exception to this rule will be political discussions involving local issues, i.e., directly related to issues in the City of New Brighton and House District 50B. That will stay here, because it's not the ground I intend to cover at TvM.
- Mr. Dilettante will have a larger focus on popular culture concerns. I already write a lot about sports and music here, but I'm equally interested in film and other media. Expect to see more of that in the coming days and weeks.
- In my preliminary exchanges with Gary Miller, the proprietor and majordomo at TvM, we have talked about having an emphasis on both politics and Catholic issues. Their current lineup tends to be more evangelical, although they aren't entirely a bastion of sola scriptura and the topics that TvM has covered are certainly more catholic (and heterodox) than conservative politics and theology. Among other things, TvM is the current perch for Carnivore, one of the best 2nd Amendment bloggers going. Gary and I have more to discuss about my role there and it would be premature to speculate, but it's reasonable to anticipate that a fair amount of my work at TvM will concern the intersection of Catholicism, especially Catholicism in the American idiom, and the political and social scene. It's a topic of great interest and rich with potential. Having said that, I don't envision my role to be simply that of another conservative voice and/or armchair theologian. Part of what has made TvM such a good blog is that the team has a sense of humor and an understanding of the absurdities of the passing scene. There's plenty of opportunity for fun, too.
- I will continue to cross-post articles at True North when and where it makes sense, both from TvM and from here. True North is an excellent resource and we owe it to our colleagues like AAA and Chief to keep it going.
I appreciate everyone who has supported this enterprise as it has developed over the past 3 years. Writers all hope to find an audience and the audience that has found this blog is one that I cherish greatly.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
It comes down to which definition of "small donor" you accept:
Someone who donated to the Obama campaign by scraping together $199, period.
Or someone who donated $199 to the Obama campaign several times, perhaps totaling close to the $4,600 legal limit for the primary and general elections. In aggregate, that would vault him/her out of the small donor category that was so useful to the political campaign's public relations campaign portraying the donor base as about two times as broad as it really was.
The reported numbers show that Obama actually received 80% more money from large donors (those giving $1,000 or more total) than from small donors.
Drunk women who stagger about in high heels are to be protected - at public expense - from twisting their ankles.
They will be handed flip-flops to wear by police outside nightclubs as they wend their way home. The scheme is part of a £30,000 drive by police and councillors to prevent 'alcohol-related harm'.
It has been prompted by fears that women wearing stilettos or similar footwear could tumble over.
Officials also claim that female revellers are at risk of cutting the soles of their feet by walking barefoot.
The flip-flops will be given to anyone whose footwear is 'uncomfortable, inappropriate or soiled' and will be paid for with a Home Office grant.
The scheme is to begin next month in the centre of Torquay, Devon, a popular destination for hen and stag parties. It will be run by Safer Communities Torbay, a partnership between police, Torbay Council and the Local Education Authority.
Police officers will carry bags of coloured flip-flops on their rounds and will hand them to those who look unsteady on their feet.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.
"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."
Maybe the people who did this will be able to watch the news reports about it later on their new $599 LCD television sets. And did this horrific event cause anyone a second thought?
Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life.
"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."
Only a few stopped.
"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible."
Hard to argue that.