Monday, June 29, 2009

Radio Free Dilettante — End of June Edition

About as random as you can get!

Last Five:
Alright, Okay, You Win, Peggy Lee
Having a Party, Sam Cooke
I Thank You, Sam & Dave
Virginia Plain, Roxy Music
Love Rollercoaster, Ohio Players

Next Five:
Chicago, Graham Nash
Angel, Aretha Franklin
Four Sticks, Led Zeppelin
Read About Love, Richard Thompson
Big Gun, AC/DC

In case you weren't sure

Warren Buffett got a lot of attention in the last election cycle because he supported Barack Obama. Here's what he said about the amazingly dumb "cap and trade" legislation that narrowly passed the House on Friday:

WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I think if you get into the way it was written, it's a huge tax and there's no sense calling it anything else. I mean, it is a tax. So it -- and it's a fairly regressive tax.

And if you remember, Barack Obama said this, also documented at the link:

OBAMA: I can make a firm pledge: Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

Change you can believe in.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Little Town

I made a quick trip back to my hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin over the weekend. The occasion was my nephew's baptism.

Typically, it's not a quick trip from my current home in the suburbs of the Twin Cities to Appleton, Wisconsin. According to Yahoo Maps, it is 296.8 miles from my house to St. John's Church in Little Chute, Wisconsin, the neighboring town where the baptism actually took place. It used to be a pretty tough trip, because for many years there wasn't an adequate east-west highway going across the northern half of the state of Wisconsin. For reasons that I've never really been able to determine, when the interstate highway system was developed, the Fox River Valley was not part of the system. And to this day, Appleton, which had an official population of over 72,000 people in the 2000 census, is still not served by an interstate highway. Green Bay, which lies 30 miles to Appleton's northeast, got an interstate in the 1970s, but otherwise the most significant infrastructure change in the last 50 years hasn't touched Appleton at all.

Despite this, Appleton and the other towns along the Fox River have largely thrived over the years. Appleton is a very prosperous town with a manufacturing base largely built on paper mills. Even though we seen the heralding of an increasingly paperless society over the past 20-30 years, there's still a lot of paper around and that is not going to change.

The city continues to reinvent itself. The main drag in town, College Avenue, was once the center of commerce in town. When I left for college in the early 80s, you could find four department stores downtown -- Sears, J.C. Penney, Gimbel's and Prange's. Prange's was a big store for a small town, with 6 floors of shopping and a bargain basement. There were also dozens of clothing stores, jewelers and other shops along the street. About 25 years ago, a huge regional mall was built on the outskirts of town. Now, all the department stores are long gone from downtown and while there are a few merchants with storefronts on the streets, College Avenue is no longer a retail destination. The mall won that battle, but downtown Appleton has now become very different place, with a performing arts center, hotels and an array of nightspots that draw visitors from all over the state of Wisconsin.

I've been to a number of towns in the Midwest that are pretty depressing places. Rockford, Illinois is a very sad town, as is South Bend, Indiana, to say nothing of Beloit, Wisconsin, where I went to college. There's a sense that time has passed these places by and that they aren't coming back. Appleton isn't like that. You can see that Appleton is alive and thriving. It's a happy thing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Radio Free Dilettante - Stolen from Stinger Edition -- UPDATE - NOW WITH ANSWERS!

UPDATE: My alert readership got most of these right. The answers are now included, in case you happen to be interested.

I warned Stinger that I was going to do this, so we could call it "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," but the truth is, I'm stealing the idea from him. That's because it's a really cool idea.

Here's what Stinger came up with: instead of doing a "Last Five/Next Five" playlist of songs, he instead posted a lyric from each song and invited his readers to guess which song it is. And now I'm going to do the same.

So following are 10 lyrics, from 10 songs, that came up in a row on iTunes this morning. And as is often the case with iTunes, they suggest a bit of a story.

Your task: identify the song from the lyric (and the artist) and post the answer in the comments section. While you could certainly get all the answers from Google, what fun is that? See what you can come up with. I'm willing to wager that if we leave this open for a day or two, the Mr. Dilettante audience can come up with all 10 songs. As it happens, none of these are horribly obscure, but there are a few testers. So let's see how you do. By the way, in most cases the line quoted is the first line of the song, if that makes it any easier:

1. "There's a man who leads a life of danger."
Answer: Secret Agent Man, Johnny Rivers

2. "A man decides after seventy years that what he goes there for, is to unlock the door." Answer: Crazy, Seal

3. "But the town has no need to be nervous." Answer: Tombstone Blues, Bob Dylan

4. "We get it almost every night." Answer: Dancing in the Moonlight, King Harvest

5. "Stay with me, my love I hope you'll always be." Answer: Follow You, Follow Me, Genesis

6. "Sweet, wonderful you. You make me happy with the things you do." Answer: You Make Loving Fun, Fleetwood Mac

7. "You've got style, that's what all the girls say." Answer: Dress You Up, Madonna

8. "Mother doesn't go out any more. Just sits at home and rolls her spastic eyes." Answer: Sunday Papers, Joe Jackson

9. "I hear the click clack of your feet on the stairs." Answer: Stray Cat Blues, Rolling Stones

10. "Out of the tree of life I just picked a plum." Answer: The Best is Yet to Come, Frank Sinatra

Have at it, y'all. And be sure to visit Stinger, who still has one of his lyrics out there.

More Change You Can Believe In

I am enjoying the Friday evening document dumps. In case you missed it:

According to the Post report, the 44th president is now starting to think that closure of the internationally-reviled Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which Obama announced with so much fanfare on his first day in office last winter, may be impossible to actually accomplish before the one-year deadline he set for himself before actually planning where else to put these prisoners.

In other words, fanfare aside, status quo ante. Democrat or Republican, same deal. Ex-Vice President Dick Cheney will be so pleased that the Obama-Biden folks finally accepted his advice to protect national security.

Read the whole thing -- Andrew Malcolm of the L.A. Times knows how to lay down the snark.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wanna Be Startin' Something

I don't have any great insights to offer on the passing of Michael Jackson. He was a very complicated figure and a challenge to wrap your mind around, because he was a tremendously talented entertainer with almost unfathomable demons.

But what I choose to remember today is how great a performer he could be. And in lieu of a Guilty Pleasures, let me offer some of his best performances. If you have others you like better, post your suggestions in the comments. Not too put too fine a point on it, but it's one hell of a body of work. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random Things We've Learned Today

Every day provides possibilities for new insights. So what have we learned today?

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford apparently forgot who Wilbur Mills was. Now his career is floating face down in the Rio de la Plata. Better to know this about Gov. Sanford now, before he ran for President. At a minimum, I don't think it's too much to expect a governor to be able to govern his zipper. I don't know if Sanford's Argentine mistress was as, shall we say, flamboyant as Fanne Foxe (pictured here), but I'm guessing we'll find out soon enough. Good riddance.

I think we already knew this, but John Kerry is one of the worst joke-tellers on the planet. And he's a nasty piece of work, too. Try this one-liner from Sen. Shecky, discussing l'affaire Sanford:
“Too bad,’’ Kerry said, “if a governor had to go missing it couldn’t have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin.’’

The Democratic-centric crowd laughed.
Comedy gold, no? For a guy who is supposedly more nuanced than his opponent in 2004, this guy seems to be lacking a little bit of what's the word, discretion? Common sense? Je ne sais quoi? But the good news is that this probably gets ol' Dave Letterman off the hook.

What is worse? Inviting a bunch of thugs to a barbecue, or rescinding the invitation even though the thugs planned to blow you off anyway? Well, perhaps President Obama can invite a different thug to dinner. Well, maybe we should wait for independent confirmation on that last link, considering it's from Al Jazeera. Oh, wait: here it is. Maybe Chavez can put in a good word with the mullahs on Obama's behalf.

Every One's a Wiener

UPDATE: We serve hot dogs, the Basiji serve blood sausage. Enough with the charade, m'kay?

I thought this was silly before, but now it seems, well, bizarre:

The United States said Monday its invitations were still standing for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 celebrations at US embassies despite the crackdown on opposition supporters.

President Barack Obama's administration said earlier this month it would invite Iran to US embassy barbecues for the national holiday for the first time since the two nations severed relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"There's no thought to rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

Or perhaps no thought at all. Not to put too fine a point on it, but why the hell would you want to invite a bunch of thugs over to your barbecue? If you need a reminder of who these people are and what they represent, check out this link and keep scrolling.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sarkozy and the Burqa

This is interesting:

President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed Parliament on Monday, laying out a vision of France that included a withering critique of burqas as an unacceptable symbol of

Speaking at the Palace of Versailles, Mr. Sarkozy confronted one of the most hotly debated social issues in France, saying there was no room in the republic for burqas, the garments that some Muslim women wear to cloak their bodies and faces.

“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.”

That, you might say, is a bold statement. Dude must want a fatwa or something.

One of the more important differences between the United States and France is the the French have no trouble being categorical in their views, and this is an example of that. While you'll often hear jokes about the French being "cheese eating surrender monkeys" or somesuch, the idea of France and what it means to be French is something they take very seriously.

Europe generally, and France in particular, have much to worry about concerning the spread of fundamentalist Islam. Mark Steyn has written quite a lot on this subject. Much of the reason is that the French colonial empire extended well into the Muslim world and now former French subjects from the Maghreb are coming to France. The burqa is indeed symbolic of a type of Islam that is as certain of its worldview as the French are of theirs. Those who have battled the French in the sometimes horrifying banlieue areas around Paris and other large French cities are quite often the same people who would, if given the opportunity, impose the burqa.

We don't have the issue here, at least yet. The issue is larger than the burqa, though. And Sarkozy knows this.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The world was watching

This is part three of a series. Parts one and two are linked.

30 years ago today it was an outwardly quiet day on the streets of Guatemala City. I had gone into the city for my morning class at the Instituto Guatemalteco Americano and had come back to my Guatemalan family's house for a typical lunch -- frijoles negros (served at every meal, even breakfast), fish and fruit. The conversation at the table, which was often muted at best, was almost funereal. I didn't understand everything they were saying, but I sensed something bad had happened in Nicaragua. It had.

The word had already reached Guatemala that a Nicaraguan soldier had stopped an ABC News reporter, Jim Stewart, at a checkpoint and killed him. Here is how Time magazine described the scene:

Arriving at a national guard outpost in northeast Managua, the heart of the fighting last week in strife-racked Nicaragua, ABC Correspondent Bill Stewart sensed it would be safer to approach on foot. Though his van was emblazoned with FOREIGN PRESS signs, he did not want to do anything that might spook the government troops. In one hand Stewart carried his government-issue press pass; in the other, he held a white flag. His interpreter walked several yards ahead, explaining that they meant no harm.

One of the soldiers raised his rifle, and Stewart dropped to his knees. The guardsman motioned to him to lie down and kicked him sharply in the side. Then the soldier stepped back a few paces and calmly took aim, and shot the correspondent behind the right ear, killing him. Out of sight near by, Interpreter Juan Francisco Espinoza was also murdered. The grisly episode was filmed from the back of the van by ABC Soundman Jim Cefalo and Cameraman Jack Clark, who were not molested.

That evening, Stewart's assassination flickered across millions of U.S. television screens, shocking viewers and touching off a series of official condemnations in Washington.

As we watched the evening news on Canal 3, I saw the footage myself. I knew it was happening hundreds of miles away, but I also knew that my parents would be terrified by what they saw. I asked the father if I could make a call home to tell my parents I was all right. He thought that would be okay, but suggested that I wait until after dinner, which would be served in a half-hour. Five minutes later, the phone rang.

It was my mother. She had seen the film. Everyone had seen the film. Although Bill Stewart worked for ABC, all the networks had the footage and Uncle Walter Cronkite had told her all about it. I assured her that I was safe, hundreds of miles away from the fighting, and that the Sandinistas weren't in Guatemala City. I wasn't convinced that she was convinced I was safe, but she knew that I would be home in a month.

The next day, as the father drove me back to the IGA for more lessons, I noticed that there were a lot of soldiers on the Avenida de la Reforma. Dozens, in fact, all heavily armed. The father explained to me that the presence of soliders on the streets meant that we were safe. This time, I tried very hard to be convinced.

It's On

The moment of truth seems to have arrived in Iran. I don't know what will happen, but as always, Yeats is on the case:

To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

The surnames are different today and I hope the result is different. But the sentiment still seems right to me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Wearing of the Green

Green seems to be the color the Iranian opposition has adopted. In solidarity, Mr. Dilettante will be wearing green as well.

That is all.

The Penny in the Well

This is the 1,500th post on Mr. Dilettante.

I started this blog during my lunch hour on December 13, 2005, mostly as a lark. It's turned into something else over time -- sometimes it's been a bit of an albatross. But now, 3 1/2 years on, Mr. Dilettante is still here.

I wrote something in that very first post that still rings true to me:

Blogging is like dropping a penny in a well; you listen for a splash and sometimes you don't hear one. But we'll do what we can to give you a worthwhile splash or two.

We'll keep dropping pennies in the well here and once in a while, we'll make a splash. Thank you for your support of this feature.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shoreview Red Update 061809

Heartbreak in Arden Hills -- the mighty Red fall behind to Shoreview Royal 12-5 in last inning, then stage a furious rally, only to fall short 12-11 this evening at Cummings Park.

Ben went 1-3 with a walk, driving in a run and scoring another. The loss brings the Red's overall record to 4-7. As always, you've found the place for the best coverage of in-house 13-year-old baseball, especially in northern Ramsey County.

Watching the Watchers

I've been following the curious case of Gerald Walpin, who was serving as an Inspector General for the AmeriCorps program until he was unceremoniously fired by the Obama administration. Walpin had been investigating how some of the money was being spent and began looking into the actions of Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player who is now the mayor of Sacramento. Johnson is a longtime friend and supporter of the President and there are reports that he was using AmeriCorps funds for personal use. Byron York of the Washington Examiner has been reporting extensively on the case and his latest dispatch is here.

At first glance, it appears that something is fishy about the chain of events. What's especially troubling is that once the decision was made to fire Walpin, members of the administration portrayed the 77-year old Walpin as somehow lacking in mental capacity following a May 20 meeting. Walpin isn't letting that portrayal go unanswered:

"It appears to suggest that I was removed because I was disabled -- based on one occasion out of hundreds," he said, adding that the administration is grasping at "non-existent straws" to explain its actions.

"I would never say President Obama doesn't have the capacity to continue to serve because of his (statement) that there are 56 states," Walpin said, adding that the same holds for Vice President Biden and his "many express confusions that have been highlighted by the media." Obama mistakenly said once on the campaign trail that he had traveled to 57 states.

That's going to leave a mark. Meanwhile, the White House has some questions to answer from Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who has long been a champion of inspectors general. York picks up the story:

At Wednesday's meeting, Sen. Grassley's staffers wanted to know more about the White House review. "Unfortunately," Grassley writes in a letter sent late Wednesday afternoon to White House counsel Gregory Craig, "Mr. Eisen refused to answer several direct questions posed to him about the representations made in his letter." Grassley says that since Eisen refused to answer the questions in person, Grassley would submit a dozen of them in writing. Here they are:

1) Did the [Corporation for National and Community Service] Board communicate its concerns about Mr. Walpin to the White House in writing?
2) Specifically, which CNCS Board members came forward with concerns about Mr. Walpin’s ability to serve as the Inspector General?
3) Was the communication about the Board’s concerns on or about May 20, 2009 the first instance of any communications with White House personnel regarding the possibility of removing Mr. Walpin?
4) Which witnesses were interviewed in the course of Mr. Eisen’s review?
5) How many witnesses were interviewed?
6) Were any employees of the Office of Inspector General, who may have had more frequent contact with Mr. Walpin than the Board members, interviewed?
7) Was Mr. Walpin asked directly during Mr. Eisen’s review about the events of May 20, 2009?
8) Was Mr. Walpin asked for his response to the allegations submitted to the Integrity Committee by Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown?
9) What efforts were made during Mr. Eisen’s review to obtain both sides of the story or to afford the Office of Inspector General an opportunity to be heard?
10) In addition to the claim that Mr. Walpin was “confused” and “disoriented,” the letter also says he exhibited “other behavior” that led to questions about his capacity. What other behavior was Mr. Eisen referencing?
11) If the initial and primary concern had to do with Mr. Walpin’s capacity to serve for potential health reasons, why was he only given one hour to decide whether to resign or be fired?
12) If Mr. Walpin’s telecommuting arrangements since the beginning of this year were a major concern, then why was Mr. Walpin not simply asked to stop telecommuting?

As York points out, Sen. Grassley is expecting the White House to provide a response in writing by Wednesday, June 24. It will be interesting to see if the White House complies. Eventually every administration finds that they want to get rid of some sort of meddlesome priest. To put it mildly, this sort of thing is not change we can believe in.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shoreview Red Update 061709

Nice win for the mighty Red tonight, as they held off the Centennial Twins 10-5 at Cummings Park in Arden Hills. The Red broke out to an early lead and played very steady baseball throughout. The kids are playing very consistent ball right now and the results are quite encouraging.

Ben went 1-3 with a clean single and later scored a key run. The win brings the Red's overall record to 4-6. No resting on laurels, though -- they return to action tomorrow, looking to avenge an earlier heartbreaker against Shroreview Royal. Game time is 6:30 p.m., back at Cummings Park. And as always, if you want to know the very latest about 13-year old in-house baseball in the northern suburbs, you'll want to visit your best source, Mr. Dilettante.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Internet is For-EVAH. . .

. . . And sometimes a guy who slings a bunch of bad juju deserves to get his nose rubbed in it.

Consider the case of the lovely and talented Matthew Yglesias, a fairly prominent lefty blogger and acknowledged member of the smart set who has been known to sling it pretty good. He made this charming comparison recently over at that bastion of bien pensant thinking, the American Prospect:

Ahmadinejad is in most ways a classic right-winger, a demagogic nationalist and cultural conservative. In a manner somewhat reminiscent of a Sarah Palin, however, he clothes this right-wing politics in a language of class resentment, painting his more pragmatic and reformist opponents as decadent elites out of touch with ordinary people.

Of course, Yglesias would admit that it's unfair to compare Palin to Ahmedinejad. After all, Ahmedinejad has some redeeming qualities:

Unlike the populists of the American right, however, [Ahmedinejad] merges this rhetoric with something resembling an actual populist economic agenda. The main element has been the use of oil revenue to expand the state sector of the economy in an attempt to distribute wealth more broadly throughout the country. This approach has gained Ahmadinejad a loyal following among the rural poor and public employees. . . .

So do you think that's fair? Your mileage may vary. But it's not the first time that free-thinker Yglesias has sung the praises of the bearded fellow, as the ever-alert Jim Geraghty notices. Geraghty found this post from back in 2006 that looks, shall we say, a little silly now:

I keep talking about this with people in real life, but it deserves a blog mention as well -- Mahmoun Ahmadinejad has a pretty sweet hipster style. It all starts with a beard not unlike the one I and many of my twentysomething male friends sport. But it goes deeper. The man went without a tie to address the UN General Assembly. And I was in a bar where the TV was showing his interview with Anderson Cooper (it's DC, these things happen) and while there was no sound, he certainly looked witty and charming. There was also this clip of him walking down some hallway shooting the shit with Kofi Annan. It's like diplomacy! Bush should try it.

I mean, dude.

So I'm trying to picture hipster Ahmedinejad sitting around listening to his Death Cab for Bibi (er, I mean Cutie) records, maybe sipping on a fair trade coffee or somesuch. But I'm old, so I guess I can't figure it out. As the Spinners might say -- so much rhythm, grace and debonair for one man? Lord.

Now, I know that Sarah Palin is icky and all that. But seriously, dude, how much of a hipster do you have to be to admire Ahmedinejad more than Sarah Palin? Never mind, don't answer that. Just pray that you are never that hip.

Radio Free Dilettante 061609

Your assignment:

1) Tell me what iTunes is trying to tell us here
2) Figure out which of the following is one of Stinger's favorite bad songs

Last Five:
I'm Your Puppet, James & Bobby Purify
One Piece at a Time, Johnny Cash
Complete Control, the Clash
Burning Love, Elvis Presley
Wooden Ships, Crosby Stills & Nash

Next Five:
Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup, Nat King Cole
Big Balls, AC/DC
Chevy Van, Sammy Johns
Mississippi Kid, Lynyrd Skynryd
Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel, Todd Rundgren

Ledeen on Iran

The one guy I know of who has really been following Iran all along is Michael Ledeen and his column for Pajamas Media has some very interesting thoughts. Read the whole thing, of course, but here are a few observations that strike me as correct.

What’s going to happen?, you ask. Nobody knows, even the major actors. The regime has the guns, and the opposition has the numbers. The question is whether the numbers can be successfully organized into a disciplined force that demands the downfall of the regime. Yes, I know that there have been calls for a new election, or a runoff between Mousavi and Ahmadinezhad. But I don’t think that’s very likely now. The tens of millions of Iranians whose pent-up rage has driven them to risk life and limb against their oppressors are not likely to settle for a mere change in personnel at this point. And the mullahs surely know that if they lose, many of them will face a very nasty and very brief future.

I agree with that. If the mullahs lose control, it's Ceaucescu time for them all. Here's something else that Ledeen says that is especially intriguing. Cherchez la femme:

Does Mousavi even want to change the system? I think he does, and in any event, I think that’s the wrong question. He is not a revolutionary leader, he is a leader who has been made into a revolutionary by a movement that grew up around him. The real revolutionary is his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. And the real question, the key question in all of this, is: why did Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei permit her to become such a charismatic figure? How could he have made such a colossal blunder? It should have been obvious that the very existence of such a woman threatened the dark heart of the Islamic Republic, based as it is on the disgusting misogyny of its founder, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

There have been numerous reports coming out of Iran that the muscle the mullahs have using are hired guns, especially members of Hezbollah. Ledeen:

The young Islamic revolutionaries of the late 1970s are now middle aged, and do not wish to slaughter their neighbors. That is why the mullahs have imported killers from abroad: the five thousand or so Hezbollahis who, according to Der Spiegel, have been brought in from Lebanon and Syria. Dissidents on Twitter report clashes with security forces who do not speak Farsi, and there are even some rumors suggesting that Chavez has sent some of his toughs from Venezuela. Who knows?

That might be the key. The Hezbollahi will fight like hell, because they rely on the patronage of the Iranian regime and if they lose that, they will be in a lot of trouble back in Lebanon and elsewhere. But I strongly doubt that the regime will continue to survive, fighting back a sea of millions, with only 5,000 trained killers. That is why time may be on the side of those desiring freedom from the tyranny that Khomeini and the rest of the mullahs imposed some 30 years ago.

One last thing: up to this point, President Obama's response has been pretty cautious and muted. He's come in for some criticism for that, but I'm not going to join in that criticism. We don't have a lot of levers in Iran right now. Sometimes playing it cool is the right approach. This might be one of those times.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ballad of a Thin Man -- Tehran Edition

But something is happening, and you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?

So what is happening in Iran? Something very big, I suspect. I think this is 1989 for the mullahs. The question is, which 1989?

Is it Tiananmen Square? We are just 20 years on from those horrible moments, when the People's Liberation Army killed the people.

Or is it the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989?

Or will it be the fall of Ceaucescu?

Something very big is happening right now. What will it be?

What do you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

MNGOP - How's the Whither?

The Minnesota GOP has elected its new leadership -- Tony Sutton is now the state party chairman, Michael Brodkorb is the new vice chairman and David Sturrock is the new secretary/treasurer. There's a good roundup over at Freedom Dogs.

I didn't have a lot to say about the campaign because I'm hardly a party insider, but I do have a few thoughts I'd like to share.

It's been a bad few years for the GOP in Minnesota. The electoral winds have been pretty bad nationally and it wasn't realistic to expect great performances in either 2006 or 2008, but the erosion of support has been pretty alarming and, to be honest, the level of support we've seen at the local level has been surprising. I live in District 50B, a district that has historically been a swing district, yet in the last two cycles it's gone very badly for the GOP here. The DFL representative here, Kate Knuth, is a very bright individual, but she's a down the line liberal with enormous gaps in her understanding of the way the world works. Yet she has had a formidable campaign in both cycles, in large measure staffed and funded from sources outside the district. The GOP candidate, Lori Grivna, was certainly better qualified than her opponent, but never really got very close to winning in either election. And the level of support she received from the state party apparatus wasn't especially impressive.

There's one exception to this: we saw a lot of help from one individual in the state party leadership; the former vice chairman, Dorothy Fleming. Dorothy has been one of the most tireless workers for the party that I know of and she served a valuable role within the party, because she was highly attuned to the concerns of the rank and file within the various BPOUs. I don't know Dorothy well but have spoken with her at a number of events and she was more interested in understanding than instructing the rank and file.

As it happens, Dorothy lost her bid for re-election to Michael Brodkorb, who is a very smart fellow and a very talented political operative. He's also been one of the most effective bloggers in Minnesota, running Minnesota Democrats Exposed for the past few years. I don't doubt that he will be a valuable asset to the state party as a thinker, tactician and organizer. But I really suspect that the party will miss the contributions that Dorothy Fleming has made more than people might realize. I've long believed that professionalism is a double-edged sword in politics and while Dorothy isn't a knife-edge political operative, she gave the party a human face that has great value.

I really hope that Sutton, Brodkorb and the new leadership team look hard at finding a role for Dorothy Fleming within the party. If they're not sure how to proceed, they might want to consider what Chief at Freedom Dogs suggests. For the party to succeed in the short- and the long-term, we need tacticians and individuals who are skilled at cultivating the grass roots. Chief also suggests that Dave Thompson (who lost to Sutton) could and should have a role in the state GOP going forward. I agree with that as well.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Burying the Lede

Not much gets by Ed Morrissey, including this jaw dropping bit of news buried deep in an L.A. Times article he links at his post:

In Washington, the Justice Department said Friday that three more Guantanamo detainees had been transferred.

The detainees were sent back to Saudi Arabia, their home country, where officials will review their cases before sending them to a rehabilitation program. One of them was identified as Ahmed Zuhair, a relatively high profile detainee who, has been protesting his detention since 2005 through a hunger strike and has been force-fed liquid nutrients.

So why were we holding Zuhair? Read on.

During a hearing in Guantanamo in October 2004, Zuhair was accused of involvement in the 1995 killing in Bosnia-Herzegovina of William Jefferson, a U.S. official with the United Nations. At the tribunal, U.S. officials said Jefferson's watch was found on Zuhair.

Zuhair also was convicted in absentia by a Bosnian court in a 1997 car bombing in the town of Mostar. He also allegedly told another detainee he was involved in the bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole in 2000, according to evidence presented at a Guantanamo proceeding.

You have to read through 12 paragraphs before we get to that little tidbit. Go ahead and click the link and count for yourself. It's almost as if the Times would rather not mention it, doncha think? The news does raise a couple of questions.

First, how the hell do you "rehabilitate" someone with a track record of murder, car bombing and attacking a U.S. ship?

Second, if they won't keep a dude like this in custody, who will they keep?

Finally, who really thinks it's a good idea to do this?

These questions aren't necessarily rhetorical. Maybe one of my alert readers has a good explanation, but the rationale for this decision surely doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Put another way, it really beats my pair of jacks, as P. J. O'Rourke would say.

Oh, make sure to read Ed's take on the matter, too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The effort/reward ratio

So I wrote three posts on Wednesday:

A long piece, filled with adventure and regret, about my adventuring in climbing a volcano in Guatemala some 30 years ago. No comments.

A "Guilty Pleasures" piece with Fearless Maria that is full of fun. 3 comments.

A one line post calling an elderly but evil man a "55-gallon drum of duck vomit." 20 comments and counting.

If you ever wondered about the relationship between effort and results in the blogopshere, there it is.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Narrative Watch

I wrote a one liner about the elderly douchebag who killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum yesterday. We then saw the Narrative approaching. To paraphrase: Hey, doesn't this prove that Janet Napolitano is right?

Well, no. The invaluable Instapundit found this piece, which took the trouble of finding the wretched deep thoughts of Herr von Brunn which I reluctantly excerpt here:

The Big Lie technique, employed by Paul to create the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, also was used to create the HOLOCAUST RELIGION ... CHRISTIANITY AND THE

"Christianity" destroyed Roman Civilization. The "Holocaust" Religion is destroying Western Civilization. The Aryan gene-pool dies, "unwept, unhonored and unsung."

Empahis his. He ain't mine. He ain't yours. He ain't anybodys. So knock it off, lefties, lest I assign you the Unabomber. M'kay?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This is part two of a series

It might seem odd to speak of an easily accessible, active volcano, but that is what Pacaya is. The volcano lies about 25 miles south of Guatemala City and is almost always doing something. It's become a pretty big tourist attraction in recent years but it wasn't necessarily much of one when we went there in 1979. As far as I know, we were the only group that went through there that day. And therein lies a tale.

We went there as a group and entered the park at San Francisco de Sales, which is the normal approach. It was a cloudy, cool day when we went there and we had a fairly long hike through the brush to get to the volcano itself. You don't need any special tools to climb the face of Pacaya, but it's pretty arduous and with the summit at about 8,400 feet, the air is pretty thin.

I'm not sure how I did it, but somehow I managed to get separated from the rest of the group as we climbed upward and I found myself alone. Since the clouds were low, we eventually reached a level where we were inside the cloud. I looked at my blue t-shirt and was surprised to see that it was covered in wet soot. The volcanic ash that was floating out from the caldera was mixing with the raindrops and had turned me into a chimney sweep. I couldn't see the rest of the group and was getting tired, so I sat down for a few minutes and thought about what to do.

That was a mistake. The surface of the volcano was covered in loose rock and the rocks were sharp. They almost cut through the seat of my pants. I was probably about 500 feet from the summit, exhausted, dirty and lost. It wasn't what I was bargaining for, to say the least.

I thought about trying to continue the climb, but I wasn't sure where the rest of the group was and was afraid that I wouldn't find them at the summit. The one thing I knew, or thought I knew, was that I could go back down the mountain. So I started to walk down. I was trying to be careful and walk downward slowly, but gravity seemed to take over. Almost without trying, I found myself walking faster, then actually running down the slope. I wasn't trying to run, but the force of gravity was pulling me down so quickly that I had to run. And falling wasn't an option, because the nasty sharp rocks were everywhere.

I don't know that I've ever been as scared in my life as I was for those 3-5 minutes that I ran down the slope of Pacaya. Eventually I reached the base of the mountain and the land flattened out. I was able to stop and I collapsed on the ground, trying to catch my breath. Then I noticed something. I was nowhere near the base camp. In fact, the camp was nowhere in sight. Nor was anyone else.

I started to walk, past farm fields nestled into the hillsides, through a ravine and along a barbed wire fence. I had no way of knowing if I was heading the right direction or not and since it was 1979, I certainly didn't have a cell phone or any way of communicating with the rest of the group. I walked for at least a half hour, praying as I walked, and then I saw the base camp.

I waited there alone, covered in now dried soot and almost trembling in fear. About 15 minutes later, the first members of the group started appearing on the side of the mountain. After about a half hour, everyone was there.

"What happened to you, Mark?" they asked. I didn't really have an answer other than to say that I got lost. I was never so happy to be found, though.

Guilty Pleasures Part Forty-Seven -- No More Teacher's Dirty Looks

Well, we finally have a free evening and so my partner in crime Fearless Maria is here to help us take another look at the world of music. So Maria, are you done with school for the year?

YYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so done with school! But I thought you knew that already.

Well, yeah, I did, but maybe your readers didn't know that.

Well, if they couldn't read the word YYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS, I guess they'll have to go back to kindergarten! Too bad, so sad!

Sometimes I wish I could go back to kindergarten, Maria. I really liked naptime!

Lazy dude! You still like nap time, Dad. Here's an example. "I'm going to go watch some football," Dad says at 1 o'clock. Then around 6, Mom says, "Mark, it's time for dinner! This is our third time telling you!"

Well Maria, the Vikings have that effect on me. But never mind that. We're hear to talk about music, not naps, right?

Yeah, baby! Just kidding. So Dad, what songs are in the cupboard today?

Well, Maria, in honor of your summer vacation, I thought we could look at some songs that are related to school. So let's begin. Back around 1972, when I was about your age--

When I'm Sixty-Four!

Let's be fair, Maria, I'm not that old yet.

Just kidding, Dad! You were saying. . . .

Ahem. Yes, as I was saying, back in 1972 Alice Cooper had a big hit that discussed what you're doing right now. Here it is:

So what do you think of that one, Maria?

Freaky dude with a fencing sword, singing an awesome song. Odd combo!

So do you like the girls over to the side in the silly outfits?

What do ya think? Hmm, it's spelled with an "N" and an "O." We learned that word in kindergarten. Do you know what word that is?

Yeah, it's the one I always tell you when you ask for a dog, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- you're right, Dad. Guess you didn't sleep through that one in kindergarten, did ya?

Maybe we should move on to the next one. This was from about the same time, actually 1973, I believe. It's Steely Dan, singing about a totally different academic environment:

Well, by the way those girls in the background look, I think that's Unreally Dan. By the way, I hope they still don't sell those clothes at the Mall of America!

No chance of that, Maria. Shall we move on?


Okay then. Speaking of sartorial splendor, check out this next video. It's one of the greats of rock and roll, Chuck Berry, offering his hard-got wisdom about all things scholastic:

Looks like he had to kill a lot of paisley to put that shirt together, huh Maria?

Definitely! Apparently he hasn't heard of "too much color is too much color." What do you think, folks? I'm right, I'm right, I'm right ha ha ha ha ha ha!

True, but that song is probably as good a lesson in rock and roll as any. So he's got that going for him, Maria.

Well, of course he does. He was one of the first guys, right? And he was definitely the first guy to do that guitar walk thing!

Yep. So let's move on to a band that actually stole a Chuck Berry song, but not this one. It's the Beach Boys, suggesting that we should:

So Dad, did the Beach Boys really go surfing wearing long sleeved plaid flannel shirts?

I don't think so, Maria. That wouldn't work very well.

Well, they do need a good washing! I guess they didn't have dry cleaners then?

No, but they never had too much trouble finding matching shirts, that's for sure.

Probably made it easier for their manager to keep the wardrobe straight. Do you have any more songs, Dad?

Why yes. Yes I do, Maria. Here's one from 1980, from a short-lived band featuring two pretty cool dudes, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. It's Rockpile, singing:

Hey Ben, guess what? You've got a new class next year! It's called "Teach Me Love, I Can't Learn It Fast Enough!" And your new teachers are Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds!

He's got a lot to learn, Maria. But this lesson is complete. And now it's time to vote. Pick your favorite song and put it in the comments.

And Chuck Berry's shirt doesn't count as a song! Sayonara!

Just so you know

James von Brunn is a 55-gallon drum of duck vomit.

That is all.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Shoreview Red Update 060909

A big win for the Big Red, which knocked off the first place Centennial Angels 13-11 this evening at Rice Lake School in lovely Lino Lakes. The boys played exceptionally good defense against the big, hot-hitting Angels and had enough offense to get the job done.

Ben went 1-2 with a walk, stole a base and scored. He also made a nice outfield play out in right field. The Red are now done for the week. As always, look to Mr. Dilettante for coverage of 13-year old in-house baseball in the northern suburbs.

Iowahawk Is A Genius -- Yet Again

Remember this silly piece from yesterday regarding the joys of being "funemployed?" Seemed ripe for satire to me. And unsurprisingly, the best satirist on the Internet is on the case. An excerpt:

Katelyn Martinez, 28, lost her job as a sommelier at an upscale Costa Mesa oxygen bar on Feb. 1, and has no regrets.

"I used to be glued to my BlackBerry all the time," she said. "I can't imagine doing that again, especially after the repo man took it. Finally I can be alone to talk with my thoughts. Many, many thoughts."

For many younger people, Dwight said, work is less central to their lives. According to her surveys, more and more young people are saying they are willing to trade off a high pay, high pressure job for one with flexible schedules and a lot of vacation time. "The new Admistration has been very responsive to that -- just look at all the millions of new jobs with zero salaries and 52 week vacations," said Dwight, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado.

Of course, read the whole thing.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Vista Hermosa

This is the first of a series.

It's difficult to believe that 30 years have passed since I was there. In the summer of 1979 I had completed my sophomore year in high school and embarked on the greatest adventure of my young life. With 2 years of high school Spanish in my head and almost no other relevant life experience, I boarded an Eastern Airlines flight at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. I went to Miami, changed planes and boarded a Pan Am flight to Guatemala City, where I and 15 of my schoolmates would spend about half the summer as exchange students.

I had never been any further from home than Chicago in my life. While I thought I was prepared for what I would see and experience there, I was quite mistaken. The program that my high school had set up was tied to families in Guatemala, not to any particular school, and the family that I stayed with was somewhat apart from the other students from my school. Worse, they did not speak much of any English. It wasn't a great setup for a shy kid from Wisconsin.

The Guatemala of 1979 was outwardly placid, but there was tension galore. Some 335 miles to the south, the corrupt Somoza government of Nicaragua was losing its grip on power to the Sandinistas. My family lived in a suburban enclave known as Vista Hermosa, an area filled with large ranch style homes nestled into the hillsides. I had my own room in the large house I lived that summer, with two servants available to me whenever I needed anything, although it wasn't easy to tell them what I wanted since I could barely speak Spanish and they could barely speak it either, since their native tongue was Kaqchikel, a Mayan dialect. My family would set up elaborate games of croquet on the broad lawn and I had plenty of time to read and think. It was idyllic in Vista Hermosa, but with each trip into the city we saw increasing signs of trouble. As we would approach the Avenida de la Reforma, we would see soldiers on the streets. The first week or so, they were unarmed and traveling mostly in pairs. By the end of June, they were lining the street, each equipped with automatic weapons that were just about as big as they were.

As the month went on, we began to see more and more vehicles with Nicaraguan license plates, mostly big Mercedes. These were the cars of the rich Nicaraguans, who were fleeing the approach of the Marxist Sandinistas, who vowed that they would bring justicia. The Sandinistas also vowed that they would be luchando contra el Yanqui, el enemigo de humanidad.

It was pretty hard for a 15 year old kid to understand why the Sandinistas were hot to be "luchando contra el Yanqui, el enemigo de humanidad" (fighting against the Yankee, the enemy of humanity), but my family seemed to take things pretty seriously. Outwardly they would make a point of showing that they weren't afraid of what might be coming, but in dinner conversations that they assumed I wouldn't understand, they worried openly whether the Sandinista wave would arrive in Vista Hermosa.

This was the backdrop for a summer I'm still trying to sort out, some 30 years on.

See the USA in Something Other Than a Chevrolet

Could be a Hyundai, or maybe a Toyota or Honda or something else. Just not a GM car, if this polling is to be believed:

Only 42% of those who currently own a General Motors car are even somewhat likely to buy a GM product for their next car. That figure includes just 30% who are Very Likely to do so.
I don't know who would buy a GM car right now. It's somewhat ironic, since GM has steadily improved their product quality over the past 20 years. The first GM car I owned was a 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon, which was underpowered, steered poorly and blew out two head gaskets. We replaced that heap with a 1997 Chevy Lumina, which I've written about at some length in the past. It was a much better car and we got 150,000 miles out of it without doing much more than routine maintenance. Some of the newer models that have been rolling off GM's assembly line in this decade have been very well regarded.

The cars that really hurt GM's (and by extension, Detroit's) reputation were the ones that they made in 1970s and 1980s, which were pretty poor. No one misses the Nova or Chevette or the Cadillac Cimmaron, to name just a few infamous examples. GM hasn't made anything that bad for years. But the damage is done.

I bought my car earlier this year and we probably won't buy another one for at least a few years. By then it wouldn't surprise me if there aren't any new GM cars left to buy.

Radio Free Dilettante - June is the New September Edition

Music for a damp day:

Last Five
I Heard That Lonesome Whistle, Hank Williams
Wine, Electric Flag
Stay Away, Nirvana
Go All the Way, the Raspberries
Atomic, Blondie

Next Five
Without Love, Nick Lowe
Season of Hollow Soul, k.d. lang
Joy to the World, Three Dog Night
Got to Be Real, Cheryl Lynn
September Gurls, Big Star

res ipsa loquitur 060809

So what if the jobless rate is over 9% now -- you might be one of the "funemployed."

Man, this is harder than it looks.

Flip flops? Naah, it's for the public good!

Robert Gibbs "talks to the dinosaurs."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Busy Weekend/Mask

So posting has been very light to non-existent. Hope to get my act together tomorrow.

Most interesting thing I've seen on the blogs this weekend is the dustup concerning the propriety of outing anonymous bloggers. Ed Whelan, a fairly prominent fellow who blogs at National Review, decided to "out" an anonymous blogger who goes by "publius" at the Obsidian Wings blog, mostly because Whelan became annoyed at some of publius's comments. There's an excellent roundup over at Instapundit.

My two cents: I have a pseudonym for my blog, but I blog under my real name for the most part. It seems like the right thing to do. However, I understand why some people choose to remain anonymous. I think Whelan made a mistake in outing this guy, because I'm not sure it really solved anything and made Whelan look petty in the process.

What you do think?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Talk Like an Egyptian

There are critiques all over the intertubes today about President Obama's speech in Cairo. I'd only make two points, myself:

I'm really tired of the moral equivalence trope, especially the odious comparisons of the systematic attempt to exterminate Jews to the current experience of the Palestinians in places like Gaza. If you had people within your midst who were willing to kill you at a moment's notice, chances are pretty good that you'd react the way the Israeli government has acted over the years. Self-defense is rational. The behavior of the Palestinian Authority, not so much.

To set up my second point, I happened upon this critique from the portside offered by Peter Daou over at HuffPo. It pretty much speaks for itself. At one point in his speech, Obama talked about American efforts to ensure that women have the right to wear the hijab. Daou ain't buyin' what Obama is selling here:

With women being stoned, raped, abused, battered, mutilated, and slaughtered on a daily basis across the globe, violence that is so often perpetrated in the name of religion, the most our president can speak about is protecting their right to wear the hijab? I would have been much more heartened if the preponderance of the speech had been about how in the 21st century, we CANNOT tolerate the pervasive abuse of our mothers and sisters and daughters.

Me too. The issue isn't whether or not Muslim women have the right to wear the hijab. The real issue is self-determination for women. And men, too. And in places like Cairo, Egypt, those rights aren't currently on offer.

Shoreview Red Update 060409

The Red lost a 9-7 heartbreaker on Thursday evening to Forest Lake Gold up at Forest Lake. Though the game was a loss, it was the team's best overall performance of the season. Ben took the collar but did drive in a run and was flawless in the field.

They will be back in action on Tuesday. Keep it right here for exciting 13-year old in-house baseball action!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A word from our sponsor

Yes, these are some of the products I sell, as featured on WGN television. I have never worn a powder blue tuxedo, however.

Queen of the Blues

Update: Mrs. D reminds me that we did see Koko Taylor at our alma mater, Beloit College. She played at the Folk 'n Blues Festival a number of times, including twice in the 1980s, in 1984 and 1987. I missed the 1984 show (I was out of town that day) but did see her in '87. I'm surprised I forgot that. They've had some pretty good acts play there over the years, as this list would indicate. The show I remember the best was Buddy Guy and Junior Wells in 1983. That was a treat and worthy of a post of its own.

Koko Taylor died yesterday. Never saw her live, but anyone who ever lived in Chicago knew her music well. Her most famous song, written by Willie Dixon, was Wang Dang Doodle, which featured a roll call of great names (Automatic Slim, Razor Totin' Jim, Butcher Knife Totin' Annie, Fast Talkin' Fannie and a whole lot more) all pitchin' a ball down to that union hall. Wonderful stuff. RIP.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Guilty Pleasures Part Forty-Six -- Vaguely New Wavish Pop

Tired of politics tonight, so let's look back. About 30 years back, to be precise. Fearless Maria is not here tonight, since it's past her bedtime. But I'll bet she'll weigh in on these in the comments section.

I got the idea for this edition of Guilty Pleasures from my friend the Night Writer, via Mitch Berg's blog. While Mitch is best known for his prolific political writing, he also writes excellent, incisive posts about music from time to time. Today he had a post up about Ian Hunter, the former lead vocalist for Mott the Hoople, who amazingly celebrated his 70th birthday today. In the comments on Mitch's post, Night Writer mentioned that, back in the day, he was trying to decide whether or not to buy Ian Hunter's best solo album, You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic, or a record by another Ian, Ian Gomm.

That got me thinking. I hadn't thought about Ian Gomm in years. But he occupies a very specific space in my memory. His one hit in the U.S. came in 1979. It's a pretty good song and it leads off our parade of songs tonight:

The song takes me back to my high school days, in 1979. Musically that was the year that disco peaked and then jumped the shark. Gomm's song seemed like a nice antidote to the steady diet of Donna Summer, Village People and the like that were on offer that year. You didn't hear bands like the Clash or even Talking Heads that much in Appleton in 1979. But something like Gomm's song got airplay.

And there were others that seem to fit the sort of vaguely New Wavish sensibility that I got from Gomm. There was this one hit wonder, a fairly big song from the end of 1979, from a Canadian band called The Kings

Definitely a fun song, but not especially threatening. Then there was this one, from late 1978, another one-hit wonder from the British band Sniff'n the Tears. You'll hear this one on the radio once in a while and I'm sure the boys appreciate the royalty checks after all these years:

Then there was this one from a Texan named Moon Martin. His most successful song was "Bad Case of Loving You," which was a big hit for Robert Palmer, but the song that Martin got on the radio was this one:

And then there was this regional hit from The Shoes, a band out of Zion, Illinois. These guys never broke big time, but because Appleton was well within the Chicago sphere of influence, you'd hear this one a fair amount back then.

All good songs I think, but I have a hard time sorting them out in my mind. Part of it is that none of the artists really were able to capitalize on their initial successes, for a variety of reasons. But I'll bet if you're old enough, you remember them all. As always, pick the one you like the best in the comments section. And for all you Fearless Maria fans out there, don't worry, she'll be back for the next edition of Guilty Pleasures.

Radio Free Dilettante – 060309

Last Five
Brother Louie, The Stories
Conquest, the White Stripes
Think it Over, Buddy Holly
Which Way to America, Living Colour
Paperback Writer, The Beatles

Next Five
Duncan, Paul Simon
Tea in the Sahara, The Police
Fishin' Blues, Taj Mahal
Little Wing, Jimi Hendrix
Brand New Day, Van Morrison

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Some things I learned over the lunch hour

USA Today reports that people oppose closing Gitmo by over a 2-1 margin.

Do you think that Iran's nuclear program is legitimate? The Leader of the Free World does.

On a related note, let's invite the Iranians over for a 4th of July picnic! The article suggests the following:

A State Department cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late last week said that U.S. diplomats could ask their Iranian counterparts to attend the festivities, which generally feature speeches about American values, fireworks, hot dogs and hamburgers.
Two very quick questions. Don't many hot dogs contain pork? That might be a bit of an issue for our guests. There is a solution, of course -- you could serve an all-beef hot dog. But probably not these ones.

No, really?

The Master Fisker

When it comes to fisking an article, few do it better than Doug Williams. Behold as he patiently dispatches Star Tribune greenie Kim Carlson. Just a little taste:

She, who's whole schtick consists of lecturing about how her own "greenness" makes her better than other people, tries to understand why people could possibly become hostile from one teensy reference to their benighted "brown" ways... "killing people and causing billions of dollars in damage." I mean really. She told you about putting fish guts on your yard, didn't she?! She told you to serve crappier food from your backyard grill, didn't she?! She can only assume if you didn't do it you wanted to cause death and destruction. If that's your lifestyle choice, why is it such a big deal when she points it out?
As always, you need to read the whole thing. Don't hesitate.

Just sayin....

It's passing strange when evil evil EVIL!!!!! ELEVENTY11~!! Dick Cheney is more tolerant of the idea of gay marriage than Barack Obama.

While you were worrying about Chrysler and GM

Most of the news out of Detroit these days has concerned the bankruptcies of Chrysler and now GM. There are a lot of issues to sort out with all of this, but one thing that's especially problematic is this: the reality that the United Auto Workers will own large portions of both companies. But the problem may not belong to GM or Chrysler. The problem will belong to Ford.

Ford has decided to eschew the government bailout process and is attempting to solve their own problems. Ford has done better in recent months than either GM or Chrysler, but that's a relative term since all have been losing money at an enormous rate. But Ford has a problem that will eventually make a very interesting case study for the Harvard Business Review -- how does one compete in a heavily unionized industry when the union you bargain with has an ownership stake in your competitors?

Here's the question for the audience -- how do you think that's going to work?

Shoreview Red Update 060209

Have been remiss in my reportage of the mighty Shoreview Red. They played twice over the last few days, losing a close one 10-7 to the politically incorrect Coon Rapids Indians yesterday at Cummings Park, and dropping one to Shoreview Navy back on Friday. For Ben, the loss to the Tribe was especially painful, as he got hit by pitches twice during the game, although the first one drove in a run. He did get a hit on Friday, but the game itself wasn't one we'd care to remember. You can fill in the details.

The Red next take the field on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., returning to distant Forest Lake for a game against Forest Lake Gold. We'll keep you posted here on Mr. Dilettante.

Monday, June 01, 2009

res ipsa loquitur 060109

Maybe you'll take a check? U.S. debt is $668,621 per household.

Not sure what to make of Judge Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment? You aren't the only one.

Do you wonder why the housing market is so horrible, especially in Calfornia? Let my friend Gino explain it to you.