Wednesday, April 30, 2008


If I were going to start a web-based news organ, I think I would ask myself, "What can I really hit out the park that the MSM can't?" I think that would mean, I wouldn't set the standard for myself that I was going to scoop the local MSM. What I could do was build detailed, thoughtful features, with research and quotes and stats. What I could do is follow up stories that happened a long time ago to see if people did what they said they would do. What I could do is analysis of governmental or NGO decisions which really effect people's lives. How many people, for example are going to be in tax default because of the Co. Treasurer's decision NOT to send the tax bill to the entity with the money (the bank). Follow-ups on stuff like that would be great and there is really no space limitation for me.

What I could do would be have cartoons which were fun and provocative but which could never make it in the MSM. What I could do would be have a video sampling of sermons or homilies from various church services. Maybe even one each Sunday? What I could do would be have interactive references for golf, bridge and tennis folks. Man, could I put together a TV Listing that would whack hell out of the MSM. Why couldn't I do video of selected local Tavern each week? What's wrong with a restaurant critic?

You'd best believe I'd offer to put up a listing of JWCC current courses.

And why couldn't I do my editorials on video, letters to the editor in audio?

In other words, I'd lose the "scoop" mentality and do stuff that made the most of my format.

I'd sure fix the blogs so comments would go through in less than two business days. I'd probably have more than one view point in my blogs, too.

But that's just me and, as I've said many times, I know nothing about journalism.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Hey, Senator, you wanna run through that "disown" thang again?


How much richer the greater basin is for having shared this difficult, cranky, eccentric, tempestuous, kind, civic-minded and generous man. And how much poorer we are for not having his strong voice for public health education and the untold medical service he provided pro bono.

I knew him about 40 years. About 30 years ago, we got into a spirited shouting contest over some comment he made about a friend of mine. I got unpleasant. He got unpleasant. He got louder. I got louder. Neither of us gave an inch. Finally, he just smiled and said "A man just has to do this once in awhile." Not knowing what else to say, I said "Take care of yourself, Doc. There's not another one like you out there!" He patted me on the arm, said "Ye're a good lad," got into his car and drove off laughing.

A couple of days later, an envelope came to my office. Inside was one page on a prescription pad. In his classic script, in blue fountain pen, he had written "We must visit more often".

As busy as he was, he'd write little notes when I had a special occasions. I'm blowing the ol' grouch's cover here. He was a warm, empathetic man.

He surely made life more interesting in the basin.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


There is an actual magazine called "Mathematics Monthly".

It is published ten times a year.

Think about it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Actually Janis has nothing to do with this piece and, sadly, is still dead.

There is a wonderful sandwich restaurant in town. I eat there often. The owner is a friend. The manager is a friend. Great place. Nothing I write here will change my loyalty to the place and I heartily recommend it.

I eat the same thing there every time. Costs the same thing every time: $5.92.

This restaurant's radio and television advertising says it features free delivery.

About once every two weeks, I get the same $5.92 order delivered to my office. The price on my sandwich, delivered, is $6.50 every time. If it happened one time, it's an aberration. It's every time, so it's policy. So the "free" delivery costs fifty-eight cents. It's such a great service, I could not care less. I'm going to give the driver a ten anyhow. I'm thrilled they're even willing to deliver my tiny order amount.

I'm just curious if this is nationally produced advertising differing from the local owner's practice. Let me say again I DONT CARE AND I LOVE THE PLACE. Still, the difference between advertising and reality sounds like one of those things good people like this would want to avoid.

The owner and the manager read this blog. GUYS, I'M NOT MAD. It's just one of those weird things in the basin. Besides, some Nader wannabe might raise a stink.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


........Of which your friendly Basin is not one, here are some numbers to munch on.

Clinton = 15,095,663
Obama = 14,973,720

Sources, ABC News and Real Clear Politics.

Undeniable, if somewhat unimportant, fact: More human beings have voted for HRC in this primary season that for BObama.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


First, this extended race is bad for the party's chances in the fall (at least that's what all my Obama supporter friends have been telling me);

Second, the obscene amount of money he spends trying to win key industrial states causes him to be criticized as an "Elitist";

Third, Donna Brazille is going to explode if she has to act like she's actually neutral for even one more week;

Fourth, This campaign is very hard on White Guys who genuinely disagree with Obama on anything--they are tired of being called racists;

Fifth, Jamal sprained a face muscle tonight trying to smile while overmatched against Begala for the umpty-umpth time;

Sixth, Bill Bennett has so many proposition bets down on this race the only way he can win is to hit a middle against the spread--Obama quits, Bennett loses;

Seventh, Quincy's own Jim Burns (the one who still lives here, not the one who comes here to play golf) has used up his entire quota of letters to the editor about presidential races through 2020;

Eighth, John Lewis has flipped so many times, he is now dating Olga Korbutt;

Ninth, It is very confusing for all democrats when they have to turn to Fox News for the only non-repeating, fact-based commentary on a democrat race (Who'da thunk it?)

Tenth, Our old, dear and respected friend, Dick Durbin, needs to save some of his considerable energy for his own fall campaign.

Eleventh, How did the last national leader fathered by a man born in another country, educated at Harvard Law and who rose to national prominence in a critical time in American History do?--For those of you listening at home on the radio, have your pencils and scorecards ready, That would be Gonzo. Really bad Kharma.

Twelfth, Michael Moore? You really wanna tow the USS Ronald Reagan with a rope between your teeth, swimming against the tide?

Thirteenth, Michigan. Your passive-aggressive approach there scotched any possibility of open elections. I have news: They know. They remember.

Fourteenth, Florida. A good enough reason for any democrat not to run for president, but they have a special place in their hearts for you. The good news is that Florida democrats couldn't organize a one family weenie roast. The bad news is
that Florida democrats couldn't organize a one family weenie roast.

Fifteenth and final, conclusive reason for you to pull out now--Ta-Da--Claire McCaskill! After weeks of intensive research The Basin is unable to find a regular, loyal democrat whom she hasn't offended in some way. At least when somebody puts a microphone in Michael Moore's face, it's Michael Moore. He gets to edit his own stuff. She says her stuff to journalists who actually, like, report it. As Missouri goes......

(Note to the Humor-Challenged: The purpose of this comment is to have a little fun and to encourage the "drop out" cheerleaders to take a chill pill. Democracy is a good thing. If anybody actually makes a serious reply to this, I would encourage him to take up tropical fish or stamp collecting)

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Your friendly host in the Basin grew up around firearms and likes them not because he is bitter and from a small town, but because he likes them. Your host was one the first purchasers of an Illinois FOID card (at a very tender age, of course) and still maintains one. Inconveniently, I have also been shot twice. Each time, I found it annoying. As regular readers here also know, someone I loved very much was killed with a stolen gun, stolen from a careless police officer who was then afraid to report it missing. (As an enlightened Christian, I have stopped wishing he rot in Hell, but he's not on my Christmas Card List, either. But I digress)

The point here is, smartass title notwithstanding, I think the topic of concealed carry on campus is worthy of discussion. (please now administer smelling salts to my academic and acutely liberal friends--I said "discussion" not immediate implementation.)

An argument can be made that the possibility of armed, skilled folks in defined spaces deters "cause" crimes and violent creeps. The adoption of the original Sky Marshall plan coincided with the virtually elimination of expatriot kidnappings in the early 70's.

On the other hand, the combination of gun security, adolescent judgment and alcohol argues against on-campus unfettered "citizen" concealed carry in the formerly proposed Florida mode and somewhat like the Missouri plan. Finally, there are jurisdictional problems with mere concealed carry. Even if, for example, ISU permitted it, Normal might not, Bloomington might not. Even if Purdue permitted it, concealed carry could still be barred in Campus Town (part of W. Lafayette). In many urban campuses, the town and the campus are almost indistinguishable. An authorized carrier could be legal one side of the street and illegal the other.

Moreover, the gun safety training for simple concealed carry is insufficient to prepare the carrier for a hostage, active shooter or any other "shoot/stand down" decision. This is especially so when the carrier is on campus with another priority or three (meet girls, get a degree, meet girls, not necessarily in that order--did I mention "meet girls"?).

For all the foregoing reasons, your friendly Basin opposes "mere" concealed carry. That, however, does not mean there is not an argument for some permissively armed people on campus.

If a young person had a background check, peace officer training (for which he could get either paid or college credit) and was then a paid (even if just some kind of "stand-by" pay) employee of the University and answered to a security chain of command, I think it would be productive and might deter some misguided souls from hurting innocents. In some states, there are lesser standards for "constables" or "conservators of the peace". That training would probably suffice.

We could call this "enhanced conceal carry" "U-Marshalls" or "The Whack Job Surprise Box" for all I care. It would be very important that they had no other enforcement duties. They could not be drug cops or plagiarism cops, gambling cops or even bad check cops. Safety and weapons control would be their only assignment.

Would there come a time when one of these conservators would hurt someone or his gun would be put to unacceptable uses on a campus? Yeah, human beings are always going to defeat safety systems. Would this prevent all Va. Tech/NIU capers? No. Secret Service doesn't prevent all attacks on public officials. Would it deter some? I suspect it would. Would it shorten the duration of some? Maybe.

It seems to me there are fundamentally three arguments against my "U-Marshalls" proposal: First, it would mean the "U-Marshalls" themselves would have to divide their attention between vigilance and learning; Second, it adds a danger to the campus which wasn't there before (the firearm itself); and Third, the cost/benefit ratio of doing it just doesn't justify.

Let's be honest, a part of the objection is just the idea by some that there should be no firearms anywhere but, particularly, in the halls of ivy.

But, back to the arguments, Of course the U-Marshalls/Conservators would have their attention divided. Most everybody at the U's have to do two things or more at once. Nearly everyone has some kind of part time income gig. Graduate Assistants have to learn and watch the class for disruption/cognition at the same time. This is only different in kind, not in degree. Moreover, the background check into the Conservators already suggests they are the kind of persons who will be taking their U. experience seriously. Second, yes, until smartguns are perfected and universally available, this is an issue. But none of the recent uprisings has been from a purloined gun. In fact, I can't remember an on-campus incident where a gun has been lifted from a law enforcement officer. That's too much trouble when guns are so easy to get, anyhow. The third argument (cost/benefit) ratio is awfully hard to calculate. How much killing would be prevented? How much of the cost gets plowed right back into the university by having the UMarshall pay tuition fees and meal m0ney. Finally, how much benefit does society get from having a responsible young person start serving his community and showing ultimate responsibility at the age of 19 or so. We would have to plot a whole generation of UMarshalls to see what the benefit was, before we could weigh it against the putative cost. I'm guessing the UMarshalls would be not only successful but inclined to public service in ways which benefit the larger community. Isn't that a large part of what U's do?

Is this radical? Yeah. Does what we're doing (or not doing) now invite more on-campus gun violence. It's hard to see it any other way.

Perhaps this discussion should be longer and agonize more over these points. I certainly understand some campuses would never be able to accept or implement UMarshalls/Conservators of the Peace. I get that it wouldn't work for a Quaker School. I'm sure some would argue it wouldn't work for SLU or UIC. There would probably have to be some kind of informed consent or at least acknowledgment from entering students. Maybe for cultural and neighborhood reasons it works in Baton Rouge and not for Ann Arbor.

At the end of the day, higher educators and administrators have a duty to discuss rearranging the monopoly of force so it is not securely and solely held by the criminally inclined and the deeply disturbed.

Comments of anti-gun hystericals and Free Love Concealed Carry Doc Hollidays are equally welcome. If you think this one is easy, I urge you to think again before you write. After you think carefully, I'd love to have your comments.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Your friendly Basin has been properly chastened by two friendlies and a hostile in the last week for cleverly having removed our contact email in a recent modest redesign. Mea Freaking Culpa!

I'll get the site fixed soon. In the meantime, email is and/or The first one's preferrable but either's all right.

My Bad, as they say at the CIA right after they say "Slam Dunk!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Really now, if somebody can explain to me how an "excess" profits taxes on energy companies is going to either reduce the price of gas or increase the domestic supply, please explain it to me.

It might not be as silly as McCain's gas tax suspension but it sounds pretty unrelated to any goal we oughta have.

Straighten me out, folks

Monday, April 14, 2008


One of my sergeants in the military gave me terminology to explain something I'd observed all my life.

In describing a fairly bright guy who couldn't listen and didn't play well with others, he said "Smith cain't he'p it. He got da smaht person's disease". I looked at the Sergeant, clueless. "Saaaahn, you don't know what dat is, doo ya?" I shook my head side to side.

"Dat's when you don't think anybody else is...."

It's easy to understand, a guy like that spends most of his life truly being smarter than others around him. That becomes the operating assumption, which begets an expectation, which begets a false and dangerous "truth". This prevents the whole from being greater than the sum of its parts. As he moves on and succeeds, he runs into a new ocean with intellectually bigger fish. Suddenly, he's not at the top of the cognitive food chain. Nothing is more dangerous than being down the food chain and thinking you're on top. Little fishies know how to hide. puff ink, be poisonous, swim really fast or actually jump out of the water. The little fishy who doesn't know he's a little fishy becomes........take your choice.....bait or lunch.

If that's the disease, then the cure is probably right out of Aretha Franklin, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"

How much of that have we been seeing in the blogosphere lately? Maybe it's time we take the cure.


Remember: You suffer from the Smart Person's Disease when you don't think anybody else, that is.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Your friendly basin will be on vacation for an indeterminate number of days from four to forever. Comments are on, but moderated moderately.

As always, TYFCB

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


That story about the young woman with know the one for which some hospital blasted Senator Clinton. It's another one of those inconvenient truths.

click here


Not only did I not beat B.L. this year. She just annihilated me, waxed me.

Normally, I would feel bad. Somehow, with early DL Savings time and a late NCAA finals it doesn't feel so bad. There's baseball on every day. The Cubs magic number is already 163. The Masters starts Thursday. I've got my tickets for a few games and my own golf course is greening up.

I will survive to contest the BL another day.

But it does bite it had to Self, Dorothy and Toto

Friday, April 04, 2008


Gonzo's justice dept. in action--click here

For those of you scoring at home, "The Decider" (Goodling) is the first justice department employee in the history of the Republic to take the 5th at a Congressional Hearing.

She's a proud graduate of Regent University in Virginia Beach and the Republican National Committee. My God, who knew the talent pool was this shallow?!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Anybody else skeptical about these puppies? Not, of course that I wouldn't like to try one out.


Starting in next year's models, certain beemers will automatically shock any dog who whizzes on the vehicle. If I remember my Pavlov correctly, this means dogs will soon be whimpering before they even fire.

Somehow, I'm guessing this is going to be a bit beneath cup holders on the utility scale.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Don't you just love celebrity endorsements? click here


My Dad was not exactly a bundle of yucks. He didn't talk much, didn't joke much and didn't party much. But every April 1, he had a temporary personality change.

He would give one of his customers a telephone message "Mr. Wolf Called, please call 555-1212". The number, of course, would be the Lincoln Park Zoo. He would giggle like a schoolgirl. Even when I was a little, bitty kid, I didn't think it was very funny but it was fun to see my Dad having fun. Never could tell how the customers took it, but they kept coming back.