Monday, June 30, 2008


I listened to every word WClark said on Sunday.

Nobody's patriotism was questioned.

Somebody tell me what Clark said that was factually wrong.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Several family members are close with Josh Rabe but I barely know him.

His story is not a sad one. He got to play out his dream. He got to see "What if...." He played in the big leagues. He paid the price in learning new things and preparing his body for Major Professional Competition.

But here's the real takeaway--the one you should tell your kids and grandkids: He left school early to chase his dream but, unlike so many other hopeful minor leaguers, he finished his degree in the off seasons.

Among all the other demands and opportunities in his life, this young man prepared himself for life after baseball. Josh Rabe didn't fail at anything. He drank deeply from the cup of life and now he's ready for what happens next.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


For those of you who don't know the story, Chacon was eating his team meal before a Houston Astros game. The General Manager told him to go the Manager's office and Chacon refused. Ultimately a shouting match broke out and Chacon, by his own admission, knocked his GM down and choked (there is a possibility he did it twice). The Astros took steps to terminate Chacon's employment for cause.

Does this violate the Contract between the two. Not as simple as it sounds. Was Chacon on a recognized break when he was told to perform a duty assignment in non-emergency circumstances? If he was, does that ever justify violence?

All the sports-talk geniuses are solving this one in favor of the Astros but it is not that simple. Human Relations seldom are.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Anybody else run into the whole idea of Summer Fun and Holiday parties right now? Even if I've got some time off, partying and festive activity doesn't feel right when our region stands to be devastated in economic and human terms.

Don't exactly know what "normal" is but this period in our lives is decidedly not "normal".

I'd be interested in your experiences and feelings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The songwriter Don Henley has produced so many piercing lyrics that it's difficult to single out just one as his best. But, as it applies to current events, "Dirty Laundry" is difficult to beat. It is a song about what feeds the media beast. It is all the more prescient because it was really written before today's multi-media 8 hour news cycle. If you haven't listened to it, download it and play it. Then consider what follows.

Everybody was all excited about Rick Sanchez, Al Roker and all the other usual supsects being in town a week or so ago. For my part, I thought it was a better event that Michelle Kosinski was here, but that's just a matter of taste.

Why were those folks here? They weren't here to help us. They weren't here to tell noble stories of human struggles against nature. They were here to be first when The "Car Crash" happened. They wanted breaking disaster news. They wanted Cedar Rapids pictures. They wanted what CNN got in '93: The best of all worlds, a flood in West Quincy with a burning Tank floating on top of it--Flood and Fire at the same time.

Yes, I concede that the nationwide publicity got us some volunteers and some money but, frankly, that came mostly from early wire service stories and flyover coverage anyhow. It is difficult to believe that Al Roker's waders brought us any help. The National Media is the guy who goes to the Indy 500 to see a crash death or to a bull fight to see the Matador gored and bleeding out.

As much as our local media, traditional and non-traditional, gets blasted in the blogosphere, they have had our backs here. Of course they will cover the "car crash" if it happens but they are not at the race for the sole purpose of seeing an incendiary death.

So I guess thanks are in order to the National Media Vultures for showing us the worth of our relatively responsible local outlets. Don Henley pretty much knew all along.


If this is an accurate socio-economic view of polygyny, does that mean the U.S. is actually encouraging polygamous cells by providing ADC grants, food stamps and Medicaid for women and children among the multiples?

In today's excerpt--from Robert Wright's groundbreaking and controversial book, The Moral Animal, this background on monogamy versus polygyny (multiple wives), which he discusses as a precursor to his discussion of the logic of monogamy contrasted against the historical predominance of polygyny:

"A huge majority [of human societies]--980 of the 1,154 past or present societies for which anthropologists have data--have permitted a man to have more than one wife. And that number includes most of the world's hunter--gatherer societies, societies that are the closest thing we have to a living example of the context of human evolution. ...

"There is a sense in which polygynous marriage has not been the historical norm. For 43 percent of the 980 polygynous cultures, polygyny is classified as 'occasional.' And even where it is 'common,' multiple wives are generally reserved for a relatively few men who can afford them or qualify for them via formal rank. For eons and eons, most marriages have been monogamous, even though most societies haven't been. Still, the anthropological record suggests that polygyny is natural in the sense that men given the opportunity to have more than one wife are strongly inclined to seize it. ...

"[For] societies that have hovered right around the subsistence level, ... where little is stowed away for a rainy day, a man who stretches his resources between two families may end up with few or no surviving children. And even if he were willing to gamble on a second family, he'd have trouble attracting a second wife. ... The general principle is that economic equality among men--especially, but not only, if near subsistence level--tends to short-circuit polygyny. This tendency by itself dispels a good part of the monogamy mystery, for more than half of the known monogamous societies have been classified as 'nonstratified' by anthropologists. What really demand explanation are the six dozen societies in the history of the world, including the modern industrial nations, that have been monogamous yet economically stratified. These are true freaks of nature. ...

"Laura Betzig has shown that in pre-industrial societies, extreme polygyny often goes hand in hand with extreme political hierarchy, and reaches its zenith under the most despotic regimes. ... In Inca society, the four political offices from petty chief to chief were allotted ceilings of seven, eight, fifteen, and thirty women, respectively. It stands to reason that as political power became more widely disbursed, so did wives. And the ultimate widths are one-man-one-vote and one-man-one-wife. Both characterize most of today's industrial nations."

Robert Wright, The Moral Animal, Vintage, Copyright 1994 by Robert Wright, pp. 90-94.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Well, team, the Rain Forest pro-environmental effort just got set back twenty years.

The "Lost Tribe" depicted a few weeks ago as a huge socio-environmental development....uh, wasn't. They were a "found" tribe, known since at least 1910 (Thank God for GPS technology, so we could find 'em again.). The whole thing was a hoax.

Now every time a green person speaks, uncommitted folks will have reason to be skeptical.

Way to go, Ace Photographer. "The end justifies the means" never works, in the long run.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Could somebody please tell me when Birkett has NOT been thinking about running for Governor.

Good Lord. Could somebody screen the press releases, please.........?

Thursday, June 19, 2008


In today's excerpt--hangovers:

"A hangover peaks when alcohol that has been poured into the body is finally eliminated from it--that is, when the blood-alcohol level returns to zero. The toxin is now gone, but the damage it has done is not. By fairly common consent, a hangover will involve some combination of headache, upset stomach, thirst, food aversion, nausea, diarrhea, tremulousness, fatigue, and a general feeling of wretchedness. Scientists haven't yet found all the reasons for this network of woes, but they have proposed various causes.

"One is withdrawal, which would bring on the tremors and also sweating. A second factor may be dehydration. Alcohol interferes with the secretion of the hormone that inhibits urination. Hence the heavy traffic to the rest rooms at bars and parties. The resulting dehydration seems to trigger the thirst and lethargy. While that is going on, the alcohol may also be inducing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which converts into light-headedness and muscle weakness, the feeling that one's bones have turned to jello. Meanwhile, the body, to break down the alcohol, is releasing chemicals that may be more toxic than alcohol itself; these would result in nausea and other symptoms. Finally, the alcohol has produced inflammation, which in turn causes the white blood cells to flood the bloodstream with molecules called cytokines.

"Apparently, cytokines are the source of the aches and pains and lethargy that, when our bodies are attacked by a flu virus--and likewise, perhaps, by alcohol--encourage us to stay in bed rather than go to work, thereby freeing up the body's energy for use by the white cells in combatting the invader. In a series of experiments, mice that were given a cytokine inducer underwent dramatic changes. Adult males wouldn't socialize with young males new to their cage. Mothers displayed 'impaired nest- building.' ...

"But hangover symptoms are not just physical; they are cognitive as well. People with hangovers show delayed reaction times and difficulties with attention, concentration, and visual-spatial perception. A group of airplane pilots given simulated flight tests after a night's drinking put in substandard performances. Similarly, automobile drivers, the morning after, get low marks on simulated road tests. Needless to say, this is a hazard, and not just for those at the wheel. There are laws against drunk driving, but not against driving with a hangover. ...

"Some words for hangover, like ours, refer prosaically to the cause: the Egyptians say they are 'still drunk,' the Japanese 'two days drunk,' the Chinese 'drunk overnight.' The Swedes get 'smacked from behind.' But it is in languages that describe the effects rather than the cause that we begin to see real poetic power. Salvadorans wake up 'made of rubber,' the French with a 'wooden mouth' or a 'hair ache.' The Germans and the Dutch say they have a 'tomcat,' presumably wailing. The Poles, reportedly, experience a 'howling of kittens.' My favorites are the Danes, who get 'carpenters in the forehead.'

Joan Acocella, "A Few Too Many," The New Yorker, May 26, 2008, pp. 32-33.

Monday, June 16, 2008


OK, Kiddies. The Supremes have said just tossing folks into Gitmo skips a couple of important constitution principles. I think we all get that.

Here's where it gets interesting. Does that automatically mean the U.S. District Courts have jurisdiction over these detainees and their rights/obligations? I don't read the opinion to prohibit the Government from creating a special terrorism court, so long as the right to counsel, the right to specific charges and the right to participate in their own defense is afforded to this special category of defendant.

In other words, the correct decision of the Supreme Court asked more questions than it answered........Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


In today's excerpt-the discovery of America. Author Tony Horwitz muses on the discovery of America after hearing from a Plymouth Rock tour guide named Claire that the most common question from tourists was why the date etched on the rock was 1620 instead of 1492:

" 'People think Columbus dropped off the Pilgrims and sailed home.' Claire had to patiently explain that Columbus's landing and the Pilgrims' arrival occurred a thousand miles and 128 years apart. ...

"By the time the first English settled, other Europeans had already reached half of the forty-eight states that today make up the continental United States. One of the earliest arrivals was Giovanni da Verrazzano, who toured the Eastern Seaboard in 1524, almost a full century before the Pilgrims arrived. ... Even less remembered are the Portuguese pilots who steered Spanish ships along both coasts of the continent in the sixteenth century, probing upriver to Bangor, Maine, and all the way to Oregon. ... In 1542, Spanish conquistadors completed a reconnaissance of the continent's interior: scaling the Appalachians, rafting the Mississippi, peering down the Grand Canyon, and galloping as far inland as central Kansas. ...

"The Spanish didn't just explore: they settled, from the Rio Grande to the Atlantic. Upon founding St. Augustine, the first European city on U.S. soil, the Spanish gave thanks and dined with Indians-fifty-six years before the Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth. ... Plymouth, it turned out, wasn't even the first English colony in New England. That distinction belonged to Fort St. George, in Popham, Maine. Nor were the Pilgrims the first to settle Massachusetts. In 1602, a band of English built a fort on the island of Cuttyhunk. They came, not for religious freedom, but to get rich from digging sassafras, a commodity prized in Europe as a cure for the clap. ...

"The Pilgrims, and later, the Americans who pushed west from the Atlantic, didn't pioneer a virgin wilderness. They occupied a land long since transformed by European contact. ... Samoset, the first Indian the Pilgrims met at Plymouth, greeted the settlers in English. The first thing he asked for was beer.

Tony Horwitz, A Voyage Long and Strange, Henry Holt, Copyright 2008 by Tony Horwitz, pp. 3-6.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The State of Illinois is working up a "Capital Budget". Governmental Entities do this all the time. They say "this much is for our infrastructure and rolling stock". But they really mean "We will spend this much on rolling stock and infrastructure......if we get the money." That kind of Capital Budget is horsefeathers. It's a fairy tale.

Verne Hagstrom used to say "A Capital Budget without a revenue source is like ham and cheese omelet without the ham, or the cheese." He knew the importance of both a spending plan and a revenue source to responsible maintenance of capital property.

Blago and the legislative leadership of both parties should pay Verne a call and find out how a real capital budget works....They should "Give Verne a Turn" at fixing this unbalanced mess.

I don't know what's worse, the dishonest way the leaders are going about this or the breathless way the media are reporting on it, as if it were some real problem-solving.

The wheel has been invented here, boys. Pay attention.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Torrey Pines is very long golf course and it plays at Sea Level. For reasons I don't understand, the USGA has decided to make the fairways wider. The wind will almost certainly be up at least one of the four days. The greens will be substandard for US Open greens. To me this gives an advantage to big hitters and iron players who can shape their shots, high, low, left to right, right to left. Really good putters, Like Steve Stricker, for example, lose their advantage because the greens will be a bit bumpy.

Here are some guys who fit those specs:

Mickelson--Works it both ways, big hitter and knows the course well

Boo Weekley--Works it both ways. Pretty much chokeproof swing.

Anthony Kim -- Really good wind player. Knows the course almost as well as Mickelson. Wide fairways will help him.

K.J. Choi -- accurate iron player. Good at landing the ball softly on hard greens.

Stewart Cink -- Good Shot Shaper. Has had some success in US Open tough conditions.

Sergio Garcia -- Can hit any shot shape. Hugely long. Might not matter this week that he couldn't putt his way out of a wet paper bag.

Trevor Immelmann -- Back to playing well. Grand Slam-eligible.

Steven Ames -- Now that he's actually legally in the U.S. his long game--any shot, as needed--is as good as it's ever been.

J.B. Holmes -- This may be the only Open site on which he could win. He'll be hitting less club than anybody else into hard greens and he's strong enough to tear it out of the lettuce

Monday, June 09, 2008


For the second time in recent history, the U.S. Open is being played on a great muni track--Torrey Pines, a wonderful place to play.

It seems like a wonderful thing to do, take a meritorious public course and venerate it by having it host our national championship. Necessarily, the course is then refurbished and bunkers, grasses and tee options are improved, leaving a good course even better than it was before, right? Plus, the course becomes more famous and more people will pay out of area fees to play it and more people, over time will shop in the pro shop.

Everybody wins, right?

Well, maybe not. It's starting to look like the locals who use the public course will have less access, prices will go considerably higher and the course will be run by outside management. The only other truly public course that has gone through this (Bethpage Black) is seeing this happen. The plans are already in place for outside management to run Torrey pines. How long can this go on before muni operations no longer want to be considered?

They say that the next true muni to be invited to come and play in the USGA's version of Pygmallion is probably Harding Park in San Francisco, a historic treasure. SF Park District, be careful what you ask for. You might get it.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Follow the bouncing ball here. BHO needs a running mate with executive experience. Hillary's got none. Webb's was a greasefire and the Governor of Kansas Looks like a Parole Officer.

Nah, what the democratic nominee needs is a REAL executive, big boy division.

Well, it turns out one is not going to be busy buying the Cubs. This is so because he's being blackballed by inches by the Budster and Reinsdorf. Out of a bad thing can come a good thing...........


Friday, June 06, 2008


In today's excerpt-the U.S. backs the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia:

"Between 1975 and 1979, between 1 and 1.5 million Cambodians out of a population of 8 million were shot, bludgeoned, starved , or worked to death, or died of disease, in the most intense and awful attempt at social transformation history has ever recorded. It was also the mass murder that will prove hardest to explain to future generations, [and was based on the communist Khmer Rouge] thesis that cities and towns were inhabited by 'parasites' and should, therefore, be emptied out by 'mass transfer' in order to stimulate agricultural growth, since the 'parasites' could be used for farm labor. ...

"April 17, 1975, Day One of the Year Zero by Khmer Rouge reckoning, was the day that the Khmer Rouge occupied [the capital] Phnom Penh, [and] in a matter of hours, prodded by heavily armed Khmer Rouge soldiers, many of them hardly more than children, the inhabitants of Cambodia's capital were marched out of the city in a broad river of humanity. Not Stalingrad, not Hiroshima, never before had a city been so completely emptied of its inhabitants. Within two weeks, Phnom Penh and several other major cities were empty: several million Cambodians had been forcibly evicted to the countryside. ...

"In Cambodia, 'base people' killed 'April 17 people': base people being those Cambodians who were rural, and April 17 people being those Cambodians who moved from the cities to the countryside only on April 17, 1975, when the mass transfers began. The base people showed no mercy, for in the minds of the Khmer Rouge leadership, the April 17 people--women, children, and babies, too--were simply the slag of history. ...

"Because the Khmer Rouge forest children thought that all people who wore glasses were intellectuals, glasses were as deadly as the yellow star in Nazi Germany. Ninety percent of the country's medical doctors were murdered between 1975 and 1979. Babies were bashed to death against trees. ... Many thousands, perhaps more, of the 1 to 1.5 million casualties of the Khmer Rouge regime were executed by having their heads smashed in with hoes and shovels, since ammunition had to be hoarded for fighting fellow communists across the border, whose crime was that they were Vietnamese. ...

"However, because the Vietnamese communists were allied with the Soviet Union, throughout the 1980s the United States and its ally Thailand backed--of all groups--the Khmer Rouge, who were armed by China and were now fighting the Vietnamese occupation authorities."

Robert D. Kaplan, The Ends of the Earth, Vintage, Copyright 1996 by Robert D. Kaplan, pp. 401-406.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Alexander Dedert, Shortstop, Quincy Blue Devils

Born June 4, 2008.

(Oh, yeah, he's the first grandson of some jocksniffer turned green eyeshade newspaper guy)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Who is the "us" in "Our"?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Sunday night, Ozzie Guillen went off. If you listen carefully to what Ozzie said, he was taking and admonishing personal responsibility for the next phase of the baseball season. He was saying, "Nobody's job is safe, not even mine."

For reasons, I don't completely understand, Ozzie's boss, the cool Kenny Williams took it as a rip.

Man, you gotta cut through the Venezuelan thing. Ozzie's got a team in first place and he's trying to challenge his guys to start fresh.

Gotta admire Ozzie's demand for the best in his guys. Kenny oughta get out of his way.


Reading about Teddy. Apparently there are great advantages to having the patient awake during this kind of brain surgery.

That's great but there's one big disadvantage. The patient is awake and hearing it if the surgeon says 'Oops, Damn!"

Monday, June 02, 2008


Why wouldn't you believe that a woman could run a successful presidential primary. In other words, why the hell have Mandy Grunwald and her beautiful mind been bottled up until "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Mandy is the creator of the "Order of Battle" map, the exact outline for the Obama campaign.

In describing O.J. Simpson getting 30 carries a game, John McKay said "If you have a big gun you have to go ahead and shoot it!" Mandy G. has always been a big gun. Too bad she's had the safety on for the duration.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I have some young friends who dated for a while, maybe four, five years ago. They did what healthy young people sometimes do and made a baby. They have never been married. In fact, they have not even continued as a couple.

That child has two loving, fully engaged parents, devoted aunts and uncles and two sets of devoted grandparents. So far as I know, there has never been a dispute about the young father financially supporting the child and the behavior of the two parents in front of the child, tensions nothwithstanding, has been exemplary.

I'm not saying the traditional nuclear family isn't the best option for child-rearing but, if we had more responsible young parents, like my two friends, a lot of little kids would have a better shake. I guess the more unusual of the two is the young man, who never hesitated to man up to fatherly responsibilities but the mother could easily have played the victim or horsed around with visitation games. None of that happened and the child is better for it.

Maybe there's nothing we can do to encourage mutual parenting for young folks who simply, for whatever reason, can't marry. Maybe it's just that these kids had good parenting themselves and knew to put the child first. I don't know but it beats Hell out of blame, denial and endless disputes over money and visitation.