Saturday, December 31, 2016

Golden Griddle

Those nasty Russians hacked the U.S. power grid! I read it various places yesterday. Maybe not:

Computer code connected to Russian cyberattacks by U.S. intelligence agencies has been found hidden in a laptop at a Vermont public utility, a development that emerged a day after the Obama administration hit Russia with sanctions for hacking in this year’s U.S. election.

The laptop wasn’t connected to the power grid at the time, the Burlington Electric Department said in a statement Friday. It said it scanned its computer network and found the malware after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent out an alert about the code to owners and operators of critical infrastructure.

“We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding,” utility spokesman Mike Kanarick said in the statement. “Our team is working with federal officials to trace this malware and prevent any other attempts to infiltrate utility systems. We have briefed state officials and will support the investigation fully.”
A laptop not connected to the grid is not a hack, any more than an attack on the DNC is an attack on the election. There are bad guys everywhere on the web. There's a decent chance you have some nasty Russian code on your computer, too. But are you in danger? I think you know the answer.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Galesburg Is Waiting Edition

All right old dude, before I mosey on back to Galesburg tomorrow, we have to make some football picks!

It should be a magic moment.

That's right, Geritol Fan. Filled with magic and HYYYYYYYYYPPPPPPPE! And since we're also at the end of 2016, that means we're headed for the national semifinals in college football, where three of the teams deserve to be there, and one does not. We'll get to that particular observation shortly.

So you're bagging on the Washington Huskies, then, huh?

No. I believe they should have been seeded higher, actually. But we'll get to that. First of all, watch me work!

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+6.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. At last, we can put da Bearz out of their misery. Somewhere in California, Gino is coming to grips with yet another losing season and might be considering where it all went wrong. Here's a hint:

But that's just the start
As for Vikings fans, it's been a tough, injury-filled season that started with hope and now ends with some soul-searching. What needs to happen for the Vikings? They need to decide who their quarterback will be for next season, and whether they want to continue the Adrian Peterson Show. I think the Vikings are going to improve next year, but if they don't, there will be a lot of questions about whether the coaching staff and front office are earning their paychecks. Vikings 21, da Bearz 9.

I wonder about the Vikings, too. I suspect they'll get rid of Peterson and hope to find a suitable replacement at some point in the off-season. Chances are there will be players available. The larger question is the one Benster is asking -- do you trust the current staff with the future? If I'm looking for a culprit, I'm not looking at the head coach. Vikings 31, Bears 24.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-3) vs. Detroit LOLions. Just before Thanksgiving, all the media were writing the obituaries for the Packers. Funny how a month can change one's perspective. The Packers have looked fantastic and are arguably the one team nobody wants to play. Detroit is very good, especially at home, but they've won all of their close games. This is something that's hard to sustain. The LOLions still have to confront their history, which teaches us that they cannot win a big game, at least since 1957. It's not 1957, and this time, Detroit fans will not have to complain about a Hail Mary. Packers 42, LOLions 31.

Shootout! I dunno. I'm still nervous about the Packers defense, which has been taking the ball away but still giving up big plays. If there is a limiting factor in their chances, that would be it. The Lions have become pretty abysmal at running the football, which puts a lot of pressure on Matthew Stafford. Stafford has been quite good this year, but I suspect his broken finger is a larger problem than he's letting on. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers is at the top of his game and will remain there. Packers 28, Lions 20.

Cotton Bowl, in Jerryworld -- Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-7.5) vs. Western Michigan Broncos. Time for a little MACtion for the Badgers. Western Michigan is a sneaky good team and they have not been beaten all year. They handled Northwestern and Illinois and that makes me a bit nervous about them. I wonder if the Badgers even want to be in Dallas, especially after what happened in Indianapolis. If it's any consolation, at least the Badgers didn't get screwed over by the Committee. But we'll get to that. I think the Badgers should win this game, but it won't be easy. Badgers 28, Western Michigan 26.

First, an annoying musical interlude:

Yes, the Badgers are playing the school from Kalamazoo. Will the music play well? I think so. The Broncos are a good team, but the Badgers should be able to wear them down on offense. If the Badgers get to the lead early, it will be a bit of a beatdown. If not, all bets are off. Wisconsin 37, Western Michigan 21.

Peach Bowl, in Atlanta -- Washington Huskies (+13.5) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide. No love for the Huskies? They look pretty good to me! It's no secret that Alabama has been a juggernaut all year, but how much of that is their prowess, and how much of it is beating up on a shockingly weak SEC? I want to see what happens when Alabama gets challenged. When you win for so long, you forget how to pull yourself out of trouble. And I sense some trouble coming. Washington 35, Alabama 7.

Whaddyer, nuts? I can't say I'm an expert on the Huskies, since I haven't seen any of their games this season, but I have seen Alabama and they are a fearsome squad. This season the Pac-12 teams have been doing their best Big XII imitation -- a lot of offense and not much defense. I'm not sure that formula will work against Alabama, who can shut you down and score touchdowns from both sides of the ball. I think Alabama is #1 for a reason. Alabama 34, Washington 20.

Fiesta Bowl, in Glendale, AZ -- A School in Columbus (-3) vs. Clemson Tigers. Oh, I've been waiting for this one. Are you ready for a hot take, old dude? Here's your first clue:

It's getting all Oletangy in here
Ohio State owes the Committee a thank you, because they have no business being in this game. Penn State beat Ohio State head to head, and is the Big Ten Champion. If you're an Ohio State fan, you should accept that you were the inferior team. But of course, it doesn't work that way. Penn State is still the better team, but not the better brand. If I were the president of Ohio State, I would have turned the bid down and done the right thing for the Big Ten. But no. If the Big Ten championship game didn't matter, why was it played? Was it just for laughs? I'm not laughing. The Buckeyes should learn a lesson from this, but they won't. Next time, win your conference and you won't need to get bailed out. Thankfully, Clemson didn't need to rely on the kindness of strangers and should easily win this game. Clemson 56, No-hio State 0.

Hoo boy. This needs to be said:

Not that we have an opinion on the matter...
I'm willing to accept the premise that Penn State should be in the tournament, but 56-0? Naw. That ain't happening, Buckeye hater! I suspect it will be a very entertaining game; you need to make sure you don't trash the hotel room in Galesburg after this happens. Ohio State 27, Clemson 24.

We'll see about that. Happy New Year everybody! Ben out!

Bring Out Your Dead Pool 2017 -- Carryover Plus One

As you've likely noticed, 2016 will go down as a year in which a lot of celebrities and others left this mortal coil. Oddly enough, one of the best ways to survive the year was to be listed in the Dead Pool for this blog: We only had four people listed who began their long dirt naps in 2016:

Picklesworth was correct on Nancy Reagan and Harper Lee
Fearless Maria was correct on Craig Sager
Ace Commenter Brian (are you out there?) was correct on Fidel Castro

So this year, we are doing things as follows:

  • If you are already competing, you get to keep your current picks and add one more individual, for a total of seven entries. If you have picks that have already died, you retain credit for those.
  • If you are not in, you can join and pick up to seven names not already in the pool
  • It's first come, first served, so get your names in by the end of the day on Monday, Jan. 2. You can post your picks in the comment section of this entry
  • If someone dies before Jan. 2 and they are not already on your list, they don't count
Rules of thumb:
  • You can pick Sid Hartman, but he's going to bury us all
  • Ditto for Keith Richards
  • We do not wish anyone to die, but we all enjoy being freelance actuaries
My additional pick for 2017 is Don Rickles. Now, the floor is yours. Play on, playas.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

il miglior fabbro

Walter Russell Mead, getting to the nub of it yet again, this time about Israel and the peace process that never seems to lead to peace:
The pretense that the peace process has survived from the hopeful years of the early 90s is a form of self-delusion. In fact, the Palestinians rejected the possibility of peace in the 1990s just as they rejected much more favorable plans in the late 1940s and the 1930s. Over and over again the solution that one generation contemptuously rejects becomes the utopia that its children long for. Those who say that the possibility for the two-state solution is fading are not all wrong; Israel is getting stronger and the Palestinians keep getting weaker, and as that happens their bargaining position grows worse.

For security reasons, nationalistic reasons, and religious reasons, many Israelis want the settlement process to continue. The Palestinians are powerless to stop it, and it gets harder every year for the Palestinians and their allies to slow it down. Facts on the ground are being created day by day, and those facts will inevitably play a role in future negotiations. What the Palestinians desperately need is to reach the best agreement they still can, and the terms will be worse ten years from now than they are today.

The odds are that the Palestinians will be unable to pull themselves together in this crisis just as they have so often failed in the past. For more than 100 years, the political incompetence of Palestinian leadership and the unorganized, fractured state of Palestinian society have been the secret weapon of the Zionist movement. That remains the case today.
I can also predict that, should this blog still be in operation in ten years' time, we'll still be talking about a peace process and that there won't be any peace.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We can be like they are

As nearly everyone has noticed, 2016 has been a tough year for celebrities. The list of famous people who have passed away in this calendar year is remarkable, and we've had two more in recent days -- George Michael and Carrie Fisher.

Some of the performers in question have been moribund for a long time -- Michael hadn't released anything of note for years, to use just one example. An aphorism often credited to Charles de Gaulle -- "the graveyards of France are filled with indispensable men" -- rings true. We don't get to keep everyone. It's also a reminder that we are all on the same general path, although our individual trajectories vary widely, and for a lot of us who valued the lives lost in this year, we are forced to think, if only briefly, about our own mortality. If you are, as I am, over the age of 50, it's quite reasonable to assume you are playing the back nine. We mourn for many reasons.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


We got back from my hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, yesterday. It was a short visit, really only a day, but it was nice to see most of my family. And by being in Wisconsin on Christmas Day, I missed the weather chaos in the Twin Cities.

We're definitely in a news lull here -- it's tiresome to continue writing about the latest eruptions of rage coming from the Left, especially since it's increasingly evident that the incoming Trump administration is going to be spending significant resources trolling its enemies. It's not a game worth playing, really.

I'm giving some thought to how this feature will operate in 2017. I've vowed many times to spend less time on politics and more time on other topics; perhaps this will be the year to make that happen. I'm not going to shut things down here, but it's possible we won't have as much content as in previous years. We have a lot going on in our lives these days, as my children are now (mostly) adults. The dynamic has changed. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Bound for Wisconsin Edition

Old dude, it's time to head across the St. Croix River!

Are you fleeing the State Patrol again?

Of course not. I live a life of great dignity and honor. And HYYYYYPPPPPE! Which, I recently checked, is not in violation of any laws of the State of Minnesota.

Okay. Good to know.

C'mon, Geritol Fan! You know why we're going there -- and if you behave yourself, we might even let you bring back the good Metamucil?

Is that the Spotted Cow Metamucil?

Good lord. What is wrong with you? Never mind, we don't have time to complete that extensive list. We've got tasks ahead. Watch me work!

Minnesota Vikings (+6.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. Normally, I would say this game is going to be pretty smooth sailing. We have learned that Adrian Peterson will not go, and it's still an open question whether Harrison Smith will go for the Purple. For the Vikings, this is their Super Bowl. They aren't mathematically eliminated yet, but it will take about fifteen different things to happen, including a Canadian goose taking a dump on Ed Hochuli's shoes. Now, personally, I'd sure like to see that happen, but Ed Hochuli is an attorney and he'd probably file a long-winded lawsuit. The Packers had a narrow escape last week against da Bearz, but I imagine the Packers are going to win a fairly close game this time, but probably without similar drama. Packers 28, Vikings 17.

You've been reading my picks in advance, right? Or have you been talking to the custodian at my office, who always talks about the Packers with me when he's making his morning rounds? The Vikings will not be as listless as they were last week against the Colts, but I don't think they have enough offensive firepower to overcome the Packers this week. That offensive line is still sieve-like and the Packers have enough pass rushers to get home. And I also think Ty Montgomery will have another big day. Packers 27, Vikings 17.

Detroit LOLions (+7.5) vs. Dallas How 'Bout Them Cowboahs. I do not have much love for the Cowboys. They are, well...

However, because of freaking lucky the Lions have been this season, they inexplicably, despicably remain ahead of the Packers. Thus, it makes sense from a strategic perspective to root for the Cowboys this week. I will be doing so, but wearing a Hazmat suit, and feeling a strong need to take a shower after the game. My message to the Cowboys is simple -- don't screw this up. Cowboys 38, LOLions 10.

Will the Cowboys play to win, or are they going to trot out Tony Romo or Butt Fumble Sanchez instead? Will they turn Zeke Elliott loose, or will he remain in the Salvation Army kettle for the duration? That's the question. I think the Cowboys will keep their foot on the gas. I also think Matt Stafford will continue to struggle with his broken finger. He's been really good this season, but it's hard to grip a football properly with a broken finger, especially when Demarcus Lawrence is in your breakfast nook. Cowboys 28, Lions 20.

Washington Gridlocks (-3) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Da Bearz gave it their best shot last week against the Packers, but it wasn't good enough. Now they get a Redskin team that is still alive for the playoffs, but needs help. What I'm worried about for da Bearz is whether they have anything left in the tank following last week's tough loss. The Redskins are hard to figure out, but I think they should be able to pick up a win. Gridlocks 85, da Bearz 2.

All of America needs to say this:

85 to 2? Seriously? I don't know what will happen in this one, to be honest. I'm less than convinced the Redskins are going to have much juice themselves, after a tough and utterly inexplicable loss to the otherwise moribund Carolina Panthers. Alshon Jeffrey is playing for a contract. That's what you need to know. Bears 31, Redskins 21.

We have to wrap this up, because we are headed to Wisconsin tomorrow, and we need to get back to watching the scintillating Dollar General Bowl, featuring Troy and Ohio University. The real state university of Ohio. MACtion, baby! Ben out!

A tidy summation

Walter Russell Mead, making essentially the same point I've been trying to make recently:
President Obama will no doubt have a lucrative and high-profile retirement. He’s younger than most Presidents, and he will be staying in Washington for the time being. But his immediate legacy is clearly a disaster for Democrats: in early 2017, the Party will control a minority of state houses and no branch of Federal government. With so little, it’s very difficult to regenerate and develop a farm system. The Democrats’ bench is already extremely shallow; it probably won’t get much more crowded over the next few years.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s signature policy initiatives are withering on the vine. The Iran Deal looks unlikely to survive the next four years. Obamacare will likely be gutted early next year. The President’s international climate change frameworks aren’t supported by the incoming administration or the incoming Congress. His nuclear non-proliferation efforts failed. Dodd-Frank’s regulations may be repealed. His free trade agenda has stalled. His immigration reform efforts have led to a backlash that will make life even harder for the people he tried to help. The list goes on…
Darn shame, right? The largest problem Democrats face is the bench Obama leaves behind. Politics is largely about showing up and, in a lot of places in the country, Democrats don't show up. You have a surfeit of political figures in larger metropolitan areas, but in smaller towns and exurban enclaves, Democrats don't have much traction. The DFL wins statewide elections in Minnesota because there are enough like-minded people in the metropolitan area to offset the lack of support DFLers get elsewhere. Well over half of the state's population is in the metro area.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, what power Democrats have is largely limited to Milwaukee and Madison, which together fall well short of having half the population. Wisconsin's population is spread out across a larger number of communities and many of them trend conservative. The Democrats have a difficult time winning arguments because the people making the arguments are all concentrated in the same places, which leads to groupthink. I'm not sure how the donks can solve this issue.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Remember this typical mid-80s ditty?

It's supposedly about the usual Topic A, but there's an undercurrent as well:

You are an obsession 
I cannot sleep 
I am your possession 
Unopened at your feet 
There's no balance 
No equality 
Be still I will not accept defeat

Seems like more than a few people can't accept defeat these days. Writing for Commentary, Jonathan Tobin has noticed:
Like the effort to force recounts in swing states won by Trump, the attempt to persuade the Electoral College to see the president-elect as part of a Russian plot or to channel The Federalist Papers and pick someone else flopped. So now that the fantasies that the bad dream can be made to go away are exploded, what are Democrats who are still refusing to accept they lost to do?

The answer from the left is “resistance.” That’s what — which helped organize some of the protests at the various Electoral College ceremonies as well as other anti-Trump demonstrations — is saying. What form will “resistance” take? That’s far from clear. The group’s leader Anna Galland seems to be primarily interested in more mass street theater. According to radical TV talker Keith Olbermann, it should consist of daily reminders to Republicans that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and refusing to refer to Trump as the president.
Stomp those little feet a little harder. It's a wonderful thing, actually, if you're a Trump supporter. Back to Tobin:
What this means is that rather than a fraction of the party’s extremists starting the new administration enmeshed in a new derangement syndrome, it appears the critical mass of the party that won 48 percent of the vote is unable to move past a disappointing election.

That’s a critical mistake not so much because it is unproductive—which it is—but because it allows Trump look like a relative moderate. After a year of warning the country that Trump was a threat to democracy who would never respect the process, it turns out that it was the Democrats who have been the sore losers and unwilling to pull together for the good of the country. If, as is likely, the bulk of the Democratic Party continues to act as if Trump is not a legitimate president who won a free and fair election, then they will be the ones who are marginalized. 
I don't blame them, I guess. There's a lot of hard work ahead for the Dems. Barack Obama left the cupboard bare. There's no bench and no obvious candidates to challenge Trump in 2020 who aren't septuagenarians. The Democrats are largely confined to large metropolitan areas and are having a hell of a time finding people to carry their banner in large swaths of the country. It's not a formula for longtime success.

You protest 
You want to leave 
Oh, there's no alternative

It would appear not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Hall of Fame Journey

Hey, did you hear that Journey is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I've been getting crap from my siblings about it ever since the announcement was made yesterday, because I'm a known Journey-phobe.

I don't really care. I understand that a lot of bands have their fans and my music snobbery has largely subsided over the years. I am happy that ELO gets in this year. They were a great singles band and Jeff Lynne probably is the most accomplished of the late-period Beatlemanics.

Of the bands/performers on the outside, I'd say the biggest snub is Todd Rundgren, who has a strong resume, including a number of hits and strong work as a producer. There are others. The list of inductees is here. Who would you like to see join the Cleveland pantheon?

il miglior fabbro

John Hayward, making the point that needs to be made, yet again:
Most Americans don’t want anyone undermining the legitimacy of an incoming administration even before the new President gets to the Oval Office. But Democrats are all-in on this strategy to de-legitimize Trump, and it’s turning their entire party into a pull-your-own-teeth convention of amateur dentists. We like to congratulate ourselves on the “peaceful transfer of power,” but that phrase has little meaning if the legitimacy of the victor is smeared prior to the inauguration.

These practitioners of “faithless elector” political reincarnation declared they had some special authority to declare Trump unfit for office – not because he allegedly violated any legal standard for the presidency, but because they really hate him, and hate the people who voted for him.

Accepting the legitimacy of an election does not require submission to the new President. Not a speck of agreement with Donald Trump is required to get through Inauguration Day. There isn’t even anything wrong with declaring unalterable opposition to everything on his agenda and hoping he fails, as Rush Limbaugh was robustly criticized for saying of President Obama in 2009. Vigorous dissent is a legitimate thing. But subverting our electoral system is quite another.

Democrats aren’t doing themselves any favors by churning out post-election Hot Takes about abolishing the Electoral College. Even casual voters are getting the message that left-wingers aren’t serious or principled in their opposition. The nation hungers for adult leadership, and Democrats are acting like children on a playground, demanding six strikes before they promise to give up the bat. 
It's all about power and this ongoing meltdown is remarkable. And Hayward gets to the most important point -- the amount of hate on the Left seems inexhaustible. As always, the whole thing is worth a read.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Meanwhile, in Ankara

Gavrilo Princip, call your office
An awful scene:
A gunman shouting "Do not forget Aleppo!" assassinated Russia's ambassador to Turkey at an Ankara art gallery on Monday in what leaders of Russia and Turkey called a provocative terror attack.

Ambassador Andrey Karlov's shooting was captured in real time in photos and video that quickly spread through the Internet worldwide.
It wasn't all he shouted, either:
"Allahu akbar (God is greatest). Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!" [Mevlut Mert] Altintas is heard shouting in video of the incident.

"Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it," he said.
He got his wish. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more about this story.


What could be more persuasive to a potential audience than this sort of presentation:

"This is my America!"


Seriously, though, who finds people like this woman persuasive? You can see how she turns to the camera, which suggests her anger is also performance art. Do you win hearts and minds by shrieking? It's a technique most people abandon once they get to kindergarten. On the bright side, the woman in the video has now been seen by millions of her fellow countrymen and a general consensus is forming: you may not be happy Trump will be president in a month, but you have to be pleased that this woman is highly unlikely to be attending your Christmas dinner.

Monday, December 19, 2016


It's finally going to be done today -- the Donald will officially become President-elect. But for the moment, the battle continues in Pennsylvania:
Thousands of emails land in their inboxes every day. Copies of the Federalist Papers and other books urging political courage are being mailed to their homes. They are even getting phone calls in the middle of the night.

Such has been the life of Pennsylvania's 20 electors for President-elect Donald Trump since the Nov. 8 election.

On Monday, they will travel to the state Capitol to cast their votes to assign Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes to Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence during what has, in the past, been a ceremonial and largely unnoticed event.

Not this year.

This time around, the electors will be greeted by organized protests, urging them to assign Pennsylvania's electoral votes to anyone but Trump.
And in some instances, it's been nothing less than harassment:
One elector, Ash Khare, said he and each of the 19 others have been assigned a plainclothes state police trooper for protection.

"I'm a big boy," said Khare, an India-born engineer and a longtime Republican from Warren County, who estimates he receives 3,000 to 5,000 emails, letters, and phone calls a day from as far away as France, Germany, and Australia. "But this is stupid. Nobody is standing up and telling these people, 'Enough, knock it off.' "
No justice, no peace, Mr. Khare. And justice is however the people harassing you define the term.

It's been going on all over the country, too:
Michael Banerian, a Michigan elector and youth chairman of the state Republican Party, said he has received several messages threatening violence.

“You have people saying, ‘You’re a hateful bigot, I hope you die,’” Mr. Banerian told The Detroit News. “I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive.”
Even in Idaho? Sure:
In Idaho, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney issued a statement last week calling on Trump foes to stop harassing the state’s four electors.

“While there is no federal requirement binding electors to their pledge, and while Idaho is one of 21 states that does not have state-level legislation to force an elector to comply, attempting to sway an elector’s commitment to their party through insults, vulgar language, or threats simply lacks civility,” Mr. Denney said.
An overt threat is more than a lack of civility. This madness ends today and the psychosis of the Left will enter a new phase. I don't imagine it will be more rational than what is happening now.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Baby It's Cold Outside Edition

We're here. See, we're here. We ordinarily like to get this feature up on Friday, but nothing was happening today -- seriously, did you want us to pick the freaking Camellia Bowl?

Gino is a big fan of the Camellia Bowl. Didn't you know that?

Makes sense -- I hear all the bowl officials from the Camellia Bowl needed to post bail at some point. Thankfully, we are back from being on assignment and now we're ready to unleash the HYYYYYPPPPE!

About that hype. . . I think it's frozen and sitting in a snowbank.

No, old dude. It is on FI-YAH! I'll admit it's cold outside, but not that cold. And it least the HYYYYYPPE! isn't as creepy as this:

No kidding. Let's not even think about that travesty.

No reason to do it, Metamucil Man! Watch me work!

Indianapolis Colts (+5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. This is why they built that big stadium. The predicted high temperature here in lovely Minnesota is as follows:

Somewhere, you can hear Bud Grant saying, don't worry about it! Instead, it will be toasty warm in Ziggy World, where the DFL politicians will look on from the luxury boxes in great comfort. As for the game, even if Adrian Peterson suits up, the Colts a sneaky good team. They have been playing better lately and Andrew Luck will probably have time to throw, at least some of the time. Colts 27, Vikings 13.

I get your thinking. I don't happen to agree with it. The Vikings will probably not use Peterson that much this week, but he'll get a chance to shake the rust off, at least a little bit. The key to having him is that defenses can't commit so many players on the back end, which should open things up for Sam Bradford, at least a little. That's probably enough to make the difference against a still suspect Colts defense. Vikings 27, Colts 13.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-5.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. I'm going to be straight with you guys -- this game makes me very nervous. It is going to be a very cold day in Chicago and I have no idea how much mobility Aaron Rodgers is going to have. Da Bearz are a better team than their record would indicate, and they already played the Packers tough in Lambeau earlier this year. I still think the Packers are going to win, but it's going to be a very tight game. Packers 19, da Bearz 17.

That actually sounds about right. On paper, the Packers are the superior team, but I too am nervous about A-Rodg's mobility. The Bears are getting better at rushing the passer and I think the Packers offensive line is still banged up. I think it comes down to a big play on defense, and the Packers are more likely to deliver one. Packers 21, Bears 16.

That seems like enough for this week. We could pick the Lions, but we're too busy watching the Camellia Bowl to research that game. Ben out!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Gophers Boycott

This escalated quickly:
After refusing to practice Thursday, Gophers players donned their maroon game jerseys and announced that they are boycotting all football activities — even their Dec. 27 bowl game, if need be — in protest of the University of Minnesota’s decision to suspend 10 teammates as a result of a September sexual assault allegation.

Those 10 suspended players stood directly behind seniors Drew Wolitarsky, Mitch Leidner and Duke Anyanwu — with the rest of the team arrayed behind them in support — as Wolitarsky read from a typed, two-page statement, laying out the players’ demands.

“The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed and the suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted,” Wolitarsky said.

Wolitarsky said the players want an apology from university President Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle, adding that the players “demand that these leaders are held accountable for their actions.”
I have no idea what happened in September, but I suspect the penalty given to the players, especially those who weren't directly involved in the incident, is a bit much. There's a much larger battle involved on college campuses, especially where due process is concerned. It's a conversation that needs to happen, but it's not going to be pleasant. There's a lot more at the link and it's worth reading.

Big Zuckerberg is Watching You

So how are you doing on the fake news front? Big Zuckerberg is watching you:
Facebook is taking a major step to appease its mostly liberal post-election critics, who charged that disinformation that proliferated on its platform affected the election outcome (read: helped elect a candidate they oppose).
Fake news leads to false consciousness, you see. The danger is obvious, as Jason Willick writes for the American Interest:
But conservatives are already raising concerns that the new regime will go far beyond its stated aims, and for good reason. In the wake of the election, Clinton supporters eager to blame ostensibly less enlightened people for her loss and media mandarins distressed about the collapse of their authority expanded the definition of “fake news” to include any content they found politically objectionable. The Washington Post published a hysterical report decrying the supposedly vast influence of fake news that relied on a now-discredited report that used broad and opaque criteria to dismiss partisan news sites as “Russian propaganda.” The anti-fake news crusade, in other words, has gathered momentum in part by exploiting all of the same human impulses that can make actual propaganda so potent in the first place—tribalism, hysteria, and confirmation bias.
My social media feed is replete these days with tribalism, hysteria, and confirmation bias. People who regularly congratulate themselves on their compassion for those less fortunate than they are have turned into modern-day Menckens overnight, demanding the ungrateful wretches who voted for Trump get something good and hard, especially poor white people who live in benighted places like, well, most of the country. I don't think we'll see less of that on Facebook, though.

The larger problem, as Willick notes, is that the commissars Facebook is deputizing aren't necessarily neutral, either:
And then there is the fact that some of the fact-checkers Facebook has enlisted to help with its effort—most notably, PolitiFact—have a clear record of bias against conservative viewpoints, rating as “true” or “false” statements that are essentially expressions of opinion and then casually mixing their own predispositions with objective facts in a way that tends to subject the Right to greater scrutiny. Not that these fact-checkers favor the far-Left—their partisanship is more often one of “sober-minded Democratic centris[m],” as Nathan Johnson has written.
I'm not convinced the worldview of the self-appointed sober-minded is actually true, but we'll leave that aside. I decided a long time ago to keep my politics away from Facebook and other social media sites, primarily because I'd rather not fight with people I like for reasons other than their political views. It can be a slog to sift through the Occupy Democrats photomemes and similar detritus to get to the grandchildren pics that I really want to see, but it's worth doing. A working scroll bar makes a big difference.

The endgame is obvious -- back to Willick:
If elites in business, government, and media respond to reports about the real but limited problem of “fake news” by de-legitimizing non-liberal opinions more broadly, they will simply undermine their authority further and reinforce the problem they are hoping to solve.
Good and hard, I would imagine. More at the link.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

More advice that won't be taken

Mark Hemingway, writing for The Federalist, provides some practical advice for the Democrats:
If you’re worried about an FBI investigation influencing a presidential election DON’T NOMINATE A CANDIDATE UNDER FBI INVESTIGATION. And you really, really, don’t want to nominate a candidate under investigation whose top aide’s husband is also being investigated by the FBI for child pornography who is also allegedly in possession of emails relevant to the candidate’s FBI investigation that he’s keeping on the same computer as his grody sex pics.
I'd also suggest that, for the future, you avoid the following fugitives from Madame Tussaud's:

Youth movement
The 60s are over, man.


Here and there, amid all the shrieking, I sometimes see people saying they are going to be resisting the future Leader of the Free World. So what will that resistance look like?

Do you envision our port side friends buying guns and ammunition? Are they going to build a bunker like the preppers and stock up on provisions for the coming war? Or are they just gonna keep doing what they're doing now?

I'm sure their cause will become even more attractive.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Baseball HOF Ballot -- A Quick Synopsis

Not worth writing about politics at the moment, so let's take a quick glance at the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Results are due shortly, so before we run out of time, my best guesses:

In this year:

  1. Jeff Bagwell. Just short last year, with 71.6% of votes. Has always had the credentials, but played in the steroid era so like just about everyone not named Ken Griffey, Jr. he is viewed with suspicion. A great player nonetheless.
  2. Tim Raines. Last chance, didn't miss by much last time with 69.8% of the votes. He should have been in on the first ballot, but playing much of your career in Montreal doesn't help, nor does being a direct contemporary of Rickey Henderson. Doesn't matter, though -- he should be in, and he will be.
  1. Trevor Hoffman. Didn't miss by much, but I'm lukewarm about his candidacy. Relief pitching is different in the modern era and his value seems inflated. He will make it eventually, though.
  2. Ivan Rodriguez. By the numbers and by the eye test, the best catcher of the modern era. Does have a steroid taint, though, which may keep him out for a while. An interesting case -- if he gets in, the floodgates may open for other players with similar problems, including another first time ballot player, Manny Ramirez.
  3. Curt Schilling. A dominant post-season pitcher and one of the best power pitchers of his era. I prefer Mike Mussina, but Schilling has his advocates. He probably would be well served to keep some of his political opinions to himself, even though that shouldn't matter.
The rest of the players on the ballot, along with handy statistical summaries of their careers, can be found here. Unless I miss my guess, Arthur Rhodes and Casey Blake are going to fall short. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

For the record

The recount in Wisconsin is over, and Donald Trump still won:
Wisconsin and Pennsylvania certified Donald Trump's election victory on Monday, delivering what will likely be one of the final blows to Green Party candidate Jill Stein's recount effort.

Stein pushed for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, states where Hillary Clinton was thought to have an edge but ended up in Trump's column last month.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission certified that the Republican actually picked up 162 votes during the recount, resulting in a more than 22,000 vote victory over Clinton. The final tally changed less than one percent from the original count of the November 8 election.
Thanks for the clarification, Jill.

Tea for the Tillerson

I don't know if it's the right approach, but once again the Donald is taking a different path:
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department, dismissing concerns about the businessman's close ties with Russia, two people close to Trump's transition said Monday night.

Trump's decision caps a lengthy process that often played out in public and exposed rifts within his transition team. It also sets Trump up for a potential fight with Congress over confirming Tillerson, who has connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump's argument is that familiarity will be helpful:
In a weekend interview with "Fox News Sunday," Trump cast Tillerson's deep relations with Moscow as a selling point. As Exxon Mobil's head, he maintained close ties with Russia and was awarded by Putin with the Order of Friendship in 2013, an honor for a foreign citizen.

"A great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company," Trump said.
We're spending a lot of time worrying about Russia lately, even though we'd been assured just four years ago that Russia isn't such a problem:

When the 1980s call, do you accept the charges?

The current Secretary of State is John Kerry, the dictionary definition of a pompous ass and a figure of mockery in much of the world. It's possible that Tillerson could be worse than Kerry, but I'm not quite sure how. I might have preferred someone like Mitt Romney, but Trump's reading of the situation is understandable. In the business world, we often talk about "transferable skills" and the skill set of a CEO for a multinational corporation likely is a better fit than, say, the skill set of a pompous ass. I also imagine Tillerson will be far more likely to stick with Trump's program. That matters as well.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Zero Mostel Transition

I'm finding it difficult to write about Team Trump's transition, because too much of what I'm reading plays like this:

Everything is going to hell in every possible way. There are more monsters than days of the week. I can't even keep track of how many people are existential threats. How will we ever recognize an actual existential threat if everything and everyone is already an existential threat?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Run the Table Edition

I had to steal this title from what is now the mantra of the Green Bay Packers -- yes, friends--

What are you, Jim Nantz?

Get the Nantz out of your pants, old dude. Let me finish my brilliant thought. All the Packers need to do is run the table.

It feels more like this to me:

I'll tell you what -- those people are running faster than Joey did:

Oooh, that video sucks. Now that we've gotten our kitsch quotient for the week out of the way, it's time to feel the HYYYYYPPPPPE! and watch me work!

Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. Jacksonville Jag-u-wires. The good news for the Vikings this week is that Mike Zimmer was cleared to travel for this game. He even has a special outfit planned to protect him this week:

Have you ever considered a career in piracy?
However, the Vikings do have a problem. This game has trap written all over it. Even though the temperature will not be nasty down in sunny North Florida, the Jaguars are decent at home, and they can score. The Vikings defense played very well last week against the Cowboys, but got let down by special teams miscues and the general ineptitude of their offensive line, which has been banged up all year. I am probably going to be criticized for this, but it's well known that I have no shame. Jaguars 20, Vikings 9.

Actually, that's plausible. The Jags are a strange bunch -- they have a poor record, but they have good talent on both sides of the ball. The Vikings will have a fight on their hands for sure, because the team is offensively challenged, to say the least. I think it's a low-scoring affair. Vikings 16, Jaguars 13.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+7) vs. Detroit LOLions. The Lions have surprisingly not folded yet. By this time most seasons, they are irrelevant and already deep into their planning to botch the draft. This year, however, it's been different. And the reason is they win close games. However, yet again, that is difficult to sustain. Make no mistake, the Bears are a sad, pathetic shell of a team. Here is a picture from a recent practice:

If you look carefully, you can see Jay Cutler 
Somebody has to win this game, right? Yeah, somebody does. Da Bearz 31 LOLions 24.

Uh, no. I'd love that result, but it's not bloody likely. The Lions are actually pretty solid and I have been consistently impressed by the improved play of Matt Stafford, who has finally learned that you need to look at the whole field now that Megatron is gone. I do think the Lions defense can be had, but the Bears are so injury riddled that it's difficult to see how they score much, especially since I am assuming Jordan Howard will have seven guys draped all over him. Lions 23, Bears 17.

Seattle Seabags (-3) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. This game is going to be fun. Green Bay is projected to get a lot of snow tomorrow. Maybe not this much, but close:

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Seattle is a very good team, but not having Earl Thomas available is going to change their defensive capabilities. Aaron Rodgers has gone on record saying he prefers to play in the snow and in a game where the pass rush should be less effective, both quarterbacks should be able to get outside the pocket. I think it's smart to go with the ever-popular "desperate team at home" approach to this one. Packers 31, Seabags 24.

I think the two most important players in this game are Jimmy Graham and Jared Cook, the respective tight ends for these squads. I think there's damage to be done in the middle of the field and both tight ends are big, athletic targets. Both Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are less than 100% healthy, but they should be able to move somewhat. Home team advantage? Yes, I think so. Packers 24, Seahawks 23.

Run the table, baby! Ben out!

Friday, December 09, 2016

When the moon hits your eye

It's not particularly difficult to spot "fake news." The real challenge is getting past the narrative. Consider a woman who seems to be aggrieved at the moment:
Hillary Clinton on Thursday decried the spread of fake news online, calling it an “epidemic” that Congress should take action against.

“The epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year — it’s now clear the so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” Clinton said during a speech on Capitol Hill.

Some Democrats have argued the spread of anti-Clinton fake news online contributed to her electoral loss to Donald Trump.

The issue has received renewed attention this week after a gunman entered a pizzeria in Washington that was at the center of a false viral conspiracy theory that alleged it was home to a pedophilia ring operated by Clinton and her inner circle.
That free speech thing is definitely a problem, especially when a deranged gunman enters a pizzeria bent on causing mayhem. Better shut up those third parties!

If we're trying to understand recent events and the larger trends that have driven them, perhaps we ought to look at a different pizzeria:
Weeks after it inadvertently became the center of a nationwide scandal and was forced to close, Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., has reopened.

The pizza joint became embroiled in a massive culture war when its owners told a television station that while they would serve pizza to any LGBT customers who walked through their doors, they would not cater a gay wedding due to their religious beliefs. Their comments, made shortly after the state’s recently-signed religious freedom law was signed and met with an angry response across the country, soon became the subject of vandalized Yelp pages and a fundraiser spearheaded by TheBlaze host Dana Loesch that managed to raise nearly $850,000 dollars for the restaurant. In the meantime, the restaurant was forced to close due to threats.
It's worth remembering some of the things people posted on Yelp about this particular eatery:

Free speech
Just a guess -- people in places like Walkerton, Indiana, remember things like this. And they vote. It's at least one reason Mrs. Clinton has more leisure time than she'd anticipated a few months ago.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Existential threat?

As the old saying goes, personnel is policy. And the President-elect has made quite the pick for the Environmental Protection Agency:
Liberals and the environmental left have gone into a tizzy over the selection of Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt as Donald Trump's pick to head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi says the Pruitt nomination must be blocked "for the sake of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we will leave our children." New York AG Eric Schneiderman says Pruitt is a "dangerous and an unqualified choice." Independent socialist senator Bernie Sanders declares the Pruitt pick is not only dangerous but also "sad." The League of Conservation Voters calls Pruitt not just a global warming skeptic but "an outright climate denier."
If you think that reaction is a bit strong, try this one from Obama hand Dan Pfeiffer:

High praise indeed
Pruitt has been a prominent member of a group of attorneys general who have been fighting against EPA rulemaking, especially where the energy industry is concerned. This isn't particularly surprising, given he is from Oklahoma, a state that produces a lot of energy. Does that make him an existential threat?

The larger meaning of the Pruitt nomination is simple -- the Washington bureaucracy needs to be reined in. Trump may actually be serious. We'll be watching.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Dead but too dumb to lie down

For better or worse, Donald Trump is going to be president The recounts aren't going to change anything. In Michigan, they are likely not to happen at all:
The State Court of Appeals has encouraged the Michigan Board of State Canvassers to reject Green Party candidate Jill Stein's recount petition, marking the latest turn in a flurry of legal drama over the recount.

The ruling comes after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in a 2-1 decision U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith's Monday ruling allowing the recount to proceed immediately. In that ruling, the federal court determined the order issued by Goldsmith could be dismissed if state courts ruled the recount to be out of order with state law.

Following the state court ruling, Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement he would file a motion in federal court seeking to dissolve the temporary restraining order.
Once Schuette shows up at the 6th Circuit, the recount will be done. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, nothing much is changing, either:
The totals show for day 6:
Trump has lost 429 votes
Trump has gained 568 votes
Clinton has lost 405 votes
Clinton has gained 546 votes

Trump has gained a net of 139 votes
Clinton has gained a net of 141 votes

Clinton has gained a net of 2 votes after 6 days.
What does Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, get for all this? Well, certainly she gets a lot of names and addresses of people willing to give money to left-wing causes. More importantly, she gets the names and addresses of people willing to finance a fool's errand. There's a lot of value in idiocy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Wolf, we cry

Writing for the Federalist, J. D. Davidson reminds us of the credibility problem the mainstream media now have:

Arguably, the media long ago lost all credibility with its fawning coverage of the Obama White House. Faced with the task of covering a president who shared all their favorite progressive narratives, biases, and priorities, the press abdicated its responsibility to hold political leaders accountable.

From the collapse of Obamacare to the ginned-up narrative undergirding the Iran deal, the Washington media establishment balked every time it should have held the Obama administration’s feet to the fire.

We do need someone to hold Donald Trump's feet to the fire. But do you imagine the MSM is up to the task? Back to Davidson:
Now that the tables have turned, we have a somewhat different problem on our hands. Instead of enforcing progressive orthodoxy and towing the White House line, the media will be tempted to cover Trump the way they have been since November 8, with feigned outrage, hysteria, and condescension. In both cases, the media are abdicating their duty.

For a media establishment with only slightly better approval ratings than Congress, that’s a problem for all of us. If Americans don’t believe the press because journalists automatically denounce everything Trump does in the misguided belief that it’s their duty, then who will be able to credibly report on the Trump administration’s actual mistakes and abuses of power?
Davidson suggests the job could fall to conservative media, who are not necessarily all on board the Trump Train. But will they be effective? I doubt it. We get in line, too. I've been watching Trump greet the parade of mendicants who appear at Trump Tower with bemusement, as erstwhile ferocious critics like Mitt Romney head through the glitz to meet the President-elect.

I'm going to keep my powder dry for now. I am doing my best to avoid the siren song. As we move forward, the din from the Left will grow more shrill and less effective. As that noise starts to subside, bad things could happen. Stay vigilant.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The New Brighton Kangaroo Court -- Local Letters to the Editor Edition

I am not finding a link to a remarkable letter that New Brighton city council member Brian Strub wrote, which appeared in the Nov. 30 edition of the New Brighton Bulletin, so I'm forced to retype it here.

Every year elections would have saved New Brighton taxpayers thousands, for many years, and increased voter participation -- we had only 2,900 voters in 2015. Gina Bauman stood in the way of this common sense change and flip-flopped from her initial support for this measure after realizing that it could shorten her own 12-year political career if she lost another election.

In contrast, I proposed shortening council terms, including reducing my own, for all four council members. When was the last time an elected official voted to reduce their term in office? I did on November 10, 2015 and the ordinance passed 4-1.

In the year since, Bauman claimed support for a popular vote on the November 2016 ballot. This vote did not occur because of Gina Bauman. Just days before the legal deadline Bauman submitted a petition full of errors and mistakes. Over 30 signatures were rejected for including minors, ineligible voters, and non-residents. A number of petition signers supported the even year change but were confused by misleading labeling on the petition. If submitted sooner, the city would have been legally obligated to provide an opportunity to correct the petition errors. Waiting until the last minute took away your ability to vote on even year elections. 

Bauman's efforts to fight even year elections has distracted the city council from more pressing issues. I for one, am ready to discuss other issues that improve the quality of life in this fine city of ours.

Brian Strub
New Brighton City Council Member
New Brighton

As anyone who has followed this case knows, nearly every assertion Strub makes here is false. The findings of fact in the case before Ramsey County Judge Lezlie Ott Marek were clear. As a reminder, I republish the order from Judge Marek, which includes the findings of fact from the case, below:

So let's sum up, shall we?

  1. The City did not pass the ordinance in a timely manner. For the ordinance to have been lawful, it would have needed to be passed by June 1, 2015, not November 10, 2015. You cannot blame Bauman for that.
  2. The petition was not full of errors and mistakes and in fact it complied with statutory requirements.
  3. The timing of the petition was indeed "just days before the legal deadline." Which means, of course, that it complied with the statutory requirement for timely submission.
  4. The City improperly rejected the petition.
  5. Since the City Council did not pass its ordinance in a timely fashion and also improperly rejected the petition, it was in violation of the relevant Minnesota statutes.
  6. The City lost its case decisively.
Now, a few questions for Mr. Strub:
  • If you still believe in saving money, are you willing to propose another ordinance that moves elections to even number years, which would extend everyone's term a year? You could do that at any time. If your stated goal of saving money is correct, why stop now?  Have you considered reintroducing your ordinance, which would be timely based on the statute?
  • Speaking of money, how much money has the City spent on fighting this losing battle? Does the total exceed the anticipated savings from moving the election?
  • How does your letter help to resolve the issues you and the rest of the City Council have created?
  • If you are willing to shorten your term, have you considered resigning your position?
Gina Bauman had every right to pursue the remedies she pursued and she did so properly. Brian Strub can spin it any way he'd like, but the facts of the case are clear.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Lord I Can't Go Back There Edition

Old dude, they're going back to Indy! But the Committee refuses to give Wisconsin and Penn State the respect they deserve!

Well, you don't know that, because the final pairings haven't been announced yet. But you're probably right about the Playoff.

Many people in Indiana have that attitude, Seabiscuit!

Well, that is true. And I have to honor my word about a promise I made the other day: Skip Bayless is a genius, and who am I to question him?

I'll just leave that burnt offering alone.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, watch me work!

Big Ten Championship, at Indianapolis: Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-2.5) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions. Wisconsin's winning the Big Ten West was a surprise, but not completely unbelievable. Penn State winning the East? That was a shocker! If you are a fan of team in Ohio, and I don't mean the Browns, you better hope to the heavens that this game is close. Penn State is a deserving team and they have been getting better all season long. However, the Badgers have played all the big boys in the Big Ten and are not scared of Penn State. Badgers 45, Sad Valley 21.

I agree with the pick, but not the points. The Badgers have made their name with defense this season and will hold Penn State's explosive offense down somewhat. At this point, Penn State's star running back Saquon Barkley is going to play, but he comes in with an ankle injury that is likely to limit him. The Badgers do a great job of pursuing and keeping teams off the edge, so it's difficult to see where Penn State will get their big plays. On offense, the Badgers are improving, but I don't see them scoring 45 points. I do think they will win, however. Wisconsin 24, Penn State 14.

Houston Texans (+6.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. What a difference a week makes. Suddenly, the Packers looked like the Packers again. The good news for the Packers is that they still get to play of their divisional opponents and they get the Seahawks at home next week. There is still the matter of this week and how they will do against an inconsistent Texans team. The biggest thing the Packers are going to need is to put points on the board right away. It's also important for every Packer fan in attendance to not boo. Positivity, baby! Packers 35, Texans 21.

Brock Osweiler, the Texan quarterback, has been a big disappointment for the Texans. He looks the part, but he seems to make bad decisions under pressure. The Packers will be providing rather a lot of pressure this week and while the Texan receivers are talented enough to win their battles, Osweiler is going to have a tough time completing passes from his back. This one should go well for the Green and Gold. Packers 28, Texans 20.

San Francisco Kaepernicks (pick) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. I'm wondering Gino's going to protest how bad the Bears are playing by taking a knee throughout the entirety of this game. If you are unfortunate enough to get this game on television, you might consider burning your television. It's going to be Must Not See TV. But since Gino is a good guy, and Colin Kapernick is not, I figure da Bearz are going to win and Gino's fantasy team will go down in flames. Da Bearz 56, 49ers 8.

We were fortunate enough to get an advanced screening of this game:

Maybe we had the wrong channel. In any event, it's not likely to be a very good game. Someone will win, though. Bears 17, 49ers 14.

Hopefully your holiday preparations give you more joy and HYYYYYYPPPPPPE! than da Bearz are likely to provide. But that's a low bar. Ben out!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Open thread

Comcast covers itself in glory yet again, so I  have no Internet service at home. I'm not especially adept at blogging from my phone, so we'll call this one an open thread.

Having said that, I would ask that you keep the two young women from Mounds View High School who died yesterday morning in your thoughts and prayers. Life is precious and the car crash that cost them their lives was horrific.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pigs in the dining room

A week later, in the afternoon, a number of dogcarts drove up to the farm. A deputation of neighbouring farmers had been invited to make a tour of inspection. They were shown all over the farm, and expressed great admiration for everything they saw, especially the windmill. The animals were weeding the turnip field. They worked diligently, hardly raising their faces from the ground, and not knowing whether to be more frightened of the pigs or of the human visitors.

That evening loud laughter and bursts of singing came from the farmhouse. And suddenly, at the sound of the mingled voices, the animals were stricken with curiosity. What could be happening in there, now that for the first time animals and human beings were meeting on terms of equality? With one accord they began to creep as quietly as possible into the farmhouse garden.

At the gate they paused, half frightened to go on but Clover led the way in. They tiptoed up to the house, and such animals as were tall enough peered in at the dining-room window. There, round the long table, sat half a dozen farmers and half a dozen of the more eminent pigs, Napoleon himself occupying the seat of honour at the head of the table. The pigs appeared completely at ease in their chairs The company had been enjoying a game of cards but had broken off for the moment, evidently in order to drink a toast. A large jug was circulating, and the mugs were being refilled with beer. No one noticed the wondering faces of the animals that gazed in at the window.
-- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"

Now I know why Gov. Dayton said the U.S. Bank stadium would be known as “the people’s stadium.” 
It’s because the big-shot DFLers who have been given access to some of the best seats in two exclusive suites in the Vikings Magnificent Palace are, technically, people.

Calling it “The Special People’s Stadium” just didn’t have the proper populist ring to it.

Those seats, in the rarefied and inebriated air along the 20-yard line, were essentially free to a cabal of party loyalists, until Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson called to ask about them.

Sultans of Swag Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale then scrambled to collect checks from public officials who took advantage of the chance to watch mediocre football in the house that taxpayers bought. That must have been awkward. The DFL insiders came for the “free lunch” and ended up buying the timeshare.

Still, it was a heck of a deal. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) honchos retroactively determined those tickets were worth $132 apiece, and added $68 for food, for a total of $200. The public officials, all DFLers from what I can tell, dug deep for the dough and all was well.

Nice try. If you are not a DFL insider, just try to buy seats anywhere near those boxes for $132 for Thursday’s game against Dallas. The cheapest I found in the entire stadium were for $195, and those closer to the party’s party box were much higher. That didn’t include food or VIP parking.
-- Jon Tevlin, Star Tribune, November 29

The best person in Minnesota government, Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles, has noticed the faces in the window:
The state's top auditor said he's opened a "priority" investigation into the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority's control of two prime luxury suites in U.S. Bank Stadium. Separately, the state senator who sponsored the bill authorizing the stadium said she's "disgusted" by the lack of transparency by the authority over who uses the suites at Vikings games and other events.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said Wednesday that he had begun an inquiry into the MSFA's "control and use of suites in the U.S. Bank Stadium."

The nonpartisan office conducts routine audits on the financial activities of state agencies and boards and investigates potential wrongdoing.
You don't want to be in the crosshairs of Jim Nobles. So who has been using the suites?
Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they and the four MSFA commissioners use the suites to host potential clients who are looking to rent all or portions of the stadium, which opened in August. Last week, they released the identities of 12 current and former public officials who reimbursed the authority $200 for their tickets to the suite.

In the past two weeks, reimbursement checks were deposited from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and her husband, Gary Cunningham, city attorney Susan Segal and her husband, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans (who attended two games and deposited a total of $800) and City Council Member Jacob Frey, who said he was there to talk to X Games officials and doesn't even like football.
Any time of the year, don't you hear? Spendin' cash, talkin' trash
I'll show you a real good time, come on with me, leave your troubles behind
I don't care where you've been, you ain't been nowhere til you've been in
With the in crowd, with the in crowd, in crowd!

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

And that's why Jim Nobles is on the case.