Thursday, July 31, 2008


Not a lot a of people live in the Salt River Watershed but they are going through as much tragedy or threat as brave folks in the Fabby and the wonderfully organized effort in Canton. It's a mess and gettin' worse. The Corps is your friend.

From Macon To Louisiana, it's Ugly. Prayers to ya, neighbors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I guess this makes inuitive sense. It happens that, on business, I have been in five "Whole Food" stores in four states over the last couple of weeks. They were all like an ug-free zone. From 16 to 66, the whole organic/healthy/probiotic scene attracts some seriously nice looking folks of the female persuasion.

Who knew?

Monday, July 28, 2008


I remember clearly the first time I stumbled onto, and, of course, purchased a USA Today.

Hadn't read any advance publicity on it. Was snowbound in Reno and went to the hotel newsstand for something to read. "Hey," I thought, "That's kind of a cool idea but they'll have to make it too general and it'll be too slow. No legs." (This, of course, from the guy who thought "The National" could not fail.).

Look at little "McPaper" in today's technology! Is there any doubt that it the source of 95% of topics (Pick a section, Red, Blue, Green, Purple....just depends on the purpose of the morning talk show.)? Who'd 'a thunk it? From an ambitious concept to driving the conversation of a nation and altering the way every sports section presents information and stats. Either a good idea or a good guess. Either way, the little bugger worked out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Recently, I have been astonished and proud to discover that so many local folks, not involved in police work, are so very well versed in anti-gang police strategy and tactics. These clever folks have suggested several innovative tactics such as gratuitous beatings, abandoning all other forms of police work and racial/xeno profiling. How very innovative.

Interestingly, most everybody seems to agree that QPD has done a really good job over the last 20 or so years of discouraging outside organizers and agitators, interdicting the drug activity that makes gangbanging profitable and gathering intelligence to use in gang suppression. Of course, these same deep thinkers have concluded our local police have forgotten how to do that. Curious. I guess they conclude it's not like riding a bike.

Even more intriguing, when the five kids were killed in the fire, nobody said QPD was not doing enough to discourage arson. When the young woman was stabbed by a guy from another town, nobody said QPD was not doing enough to prevent passion/anger crimes.

Finally, how do these experts know what gang interdiction actions are being undertaken by QPD now? If they don't know everything QPD is doing now, how do they know it's not enough. ESP, I guess. These recent commentators are really, really smart anti-gang specialists. They even know that what they don't know is still just "not enough." Are you following in that? Maybe nothing our guys do is gonna be enough for the spectating braniacs. Just a possibility.

Perhaps it's just easier to assume others are lazy or stupid or both.

I'm reminded of Wilt Chamberlain on public expectations "Whatever I do, it's never enough."

Friday, July 25, 2008


Not to quibble with a good, inspirational branding message but:

1. Who is the "us" in "our"?

2. What is it time for?

I know I asked these questions here before but now I'm confuseder than I was before. When it was just being said in Houston and Cleveland and Pocatello, I guess I could conclude the "us" was all Americans and the "time" was for the USA to reassert its excellence. Nothing against Germans but now I'm wondering if it's just everybody's time. I remember when it was just "Howdy Doody Time".

Doctor,....I get these terrible headaches.....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Pardon the trite topic but it does seem fair to say this the first presidential election where public participation on the internet is a significant part of the way folks are forming their opinions.

While I'm a blogger and active in politics, I'm the worst barometer of this because the choices on both sides of this election are so singularly unappealing to me.

So tell me, is the internet leading to a more enlightened approach to the election? If so, how? If not, how is it failing?

My sort of unpolished view is that the internet news organs and the blogosphere add a lot of heat but not much light on the subject.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Don't know how many you have noticed it but there's a store near 8th and State called "Caskets Direct". Wonder if they get a lot of window shoppers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Some people just leave the world better than they found it. We buried Don today. He was one of those. I wouldn't sing the "Navy Hymn" for just anybody.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


A deaf lady in Lincoln NE has sued a McDonald's for not allowing her to bypass the two way speaker and make her order at the hand-out window. Her disability makes her unable (even with hearing aids) to communicate on the first position squawk box but she can hear (read) a human being. To make things more interesting, she has autistic children and can't come into the property with her kids to order. She says McDonalds should have a drive-thru accommodation for deaf folks.

I'm pretty much pro-disabled and I think in Illinois this probably violates Illinois State Law but I'm not sure how I feel about this one. What's more unreasonable: asking this lady to make arrangements to have someone watch her kids for a brief moment in the car while she walks in or asking a private enterprise to install some kind of button or something to signify she needs to order at the pickup window?

Kind of close one in my view.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


This has provoked a lot of discussion among my friends.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


August 30: 'Necks play the 'Backs

Thursday, July 10, 2008


According to the exacting research of the Basin's resident demographer, there are approximately 750,000 young women from age 17 through 20 in the collar counties. 12 of them do not have world class fake id's.

The pimple ranchers who make these works of art have some very creative fee structures. There are, frankly, some things I wish I didn't know.

Al Queada would do about anything to have this product line in their control.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I have a friend from another town. He looks well. He's great to be around. He's maybe ten years younger than I. He's also dying.

He knows. He knows that I know. Yet, when we're together, we talk of trivial stuff. I want him to know his friends will do the death watch with him. We'll look after his family in every possible way. We'll mourn him. We'll help with a memorial at his alma mater. And I guess I want to tell him how much I have treasured him and how much I'll miss him. But he won't initiate it and I won't go there without his permission. So we talk about his trip to the Fijords, his son's college soccer games and the recipe book he's half-heartedly writing. How much deference do the patient's wishes deserve before the needs of his family and friends to deal with his impending death kick in?

Maybe my good manners is just cowardice. Maybe I should just go on a death-rant but that seems selfish, meeting my needs in his time of greatest need. I've done death watches before but this one is making me chew nails. The etiquette of death is very frustrating.

Monday, July 07, 2008


It's always kind of interesting that someone gets his/her hair on fire about the baseball All Star voting (So and so really got screwed--that other guy just got in because of last year.). By Labor Day, it's over and nobody ever does anything about it.

Oh, sorry. Bud gave a us a wildcard vote on the internet. Like I said. Nobody ever does anything about it.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Am I the only person on the planet who is having trouble buying the official version of this heroic Colombian hostage rescue?

"Hey Fed, this is FARC. This hostage gig is getting expensive and tiresome. We'd like to get rid of these people without pissing you off further. How about we hand them over, give you a few worthless, low level grunts to send to prison and a Delta Force story to sell. Here's what we do....."

Saturday, July 05, 2008


From our friends at Delancey place. Looks like George Mason could do more than just play basketball.

Today's encore excerpt gives us a glimpse into the editing process for the Declaration of Independence, and shows that perhaps Thomas Jefferson has received a bit more credit than due:

"What is less well known is that the words (of the Declaration) aren't entirely Jefferson's. George Mason's recently published draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights provided what might charitably be called liberal inspiration. ...

" 'All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights, of which ... they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.'

" 'Pursuit of happiness' may be argued to be a succinct improvement on 'pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety,' but even that ... had been coined by John Locke almost a century before and had appeared frequently in political writings ever since. Jefferson's original version (of the sentence with 'happiness') shows considerably less grace and rather more verbosity:

" 'We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'

"Congress did not hesitate to alter Jefferson's painstakingly crafted words. Altogether it ordered forty changes to the original text. It deleted 630 words, about a quarter of the total, and added 146."

Bill Bryson, Made in America, Perennial, 1995, pp. 41-2.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Bozo will be missed.


One of the joys of being in the information age is that fee-shoppers have discovered email as a way to circumvent valid telephone practice (As in "I'm sorry, sir, our office policy prohibits quoting fees over the phone and non-lawyer staff from quoting fees at any time. Mr. UMRBlog will be happy to schedule an appointment for you and you can discuss any possible fee with him then. May I make you an appointment?" For the record, fee shoppers really don't want to make an appointment. They pretty much want the lawyer to take responsibility for their as yet undisclosed case for the lowest hourly or aggegate fee, which they don't intend to pay anyhow, while they provide a minimum of information about whatever the damn case may be. Now, however, they can get right into my email inbox. That's the back story. Here's what I actually got in my inbox a few years back. Note the capitalization and punctuation, as well.

how much do you charge? are you pro-bono? i have a case and need a lawyer so let me know what your rates are and maybe we can set something up.

In the sender block was just the name "Jeb Jones" (Changed to protect the fee shopper) of whom I had never heard.

My Composed Reply:


How much do you weigh? Since I charge by the pound, I cannot tell you how much I charge without you telling me how much you weigh. I suggest you get on the scale first thing in the morning, before breakfast, as that will lower your fee.

Thank you for asking. No I'm kind of neutral on Bono. Lyrics are too depressing and he spends too much time in Africa and not enough making happier music. I think his music would be happier if he spent less time in Africa. So, no, I guess you really couldn't say I'm pro-Bono.

I'm glad you have a case. That makes it much easier to haul your papers around. I hope it's one of those with the double shoulder strap. That is easier on you back.

I don't know about setting something up. Every time one sets something up--like with Legos or Tinker Toys, some clod always kicks it over.

Thank you for your thoughtful email.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


In today's excerpt--the phrase 'entangling alliances' and the policy of isolationism, both often falsely attributed to George Washington:

"The central interpretive strain of [George Washington's] Farewell Address has been to read it as the seminal statement of American isolationism. Ironically, the phrase most associated with this interpretive tradition, 'entangling alliances with none,' is not present in the Farewell Address. (Double irony, it appears in Jefferson's first inaugural, of all places). Here are the salient words, which isolationists hurled against Woodrow Wilson in 1917 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1941: 'Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are foreign to our concerns. ... 'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world.'

"In truth, Washington's isolationist prescription rests atop a deeper message about American foreign policy, which deserves more recognition than it has received as the seminal statement in the realistic tradition. Here are the key words: 'There can be no greater error to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.' Washington was saying that the relationship between nations was not like the relationship between individuals, which could periodically be conducted on the basis of mutual trust. Nations always had and always would behave solely on the basis of interest.

"It followed that all treaties were merely temporary arrangements destined to be discarded once those interests shifted. In the context of his own time, this was a defense of the Jay Treaty, which repudiated the Franco-American alliance and aligned America's commercial interests with British markets as well as protection of the all-powerful British fleet."

Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency, Knopf, Copyright 2004 by Joseph J. Ellis, p. 235.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Down in "Amazon Lost Tribe" a discussion of Kennedy v. Louisiana broke out.

I read the case and answered the anon who was asking for an opinion of the opinion.


No celebration in the Basin that there are 600 US Starbucks closing. I do remember commenting that, as the price of gas was beginning to rise and the balance of trade was wheezing, late '06 seemed like a strange time to start up 1500 new Starbucks. Certainly, it was an aggressive strategy that, even if we assume the other 900 Starbucks worldwide are profitable, may not have been worth the resulting black eye.

No word on whether our very nice Starbucks is on the hit list. Some of the people who work there left decent employment or self-employment to come on board Starbucks so I sincerely hope that this shop is profitable or at least too new to give up on. The nice folks there deserve a shot to make it work.

Still, I'd like to get a peek at the market research for some of the Starbucks that are closing. Wonder how much belt-tightening by families these researchers anticipated.

Here's one piece of good news for all the hopefully still employed barristas out there. The biggest black market in the failing days of Nazi Germany was not booze, cigarettes or medical supplies. It was coffee. UMRB is heavily stocked with coffee-drinking Germans. Starbucks, if you can just hold the fort, this place may crack out.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Your Friendly Basin is not opposed to tennis. Certainly it is not as unamerican as soccer or Jai 'Lai.

Still, I was stuck in the Doctor's office and it was Wimbledon (I guess that's some kind of big deal because of the grass and strawberries. Back when I was in college, most of the people who liked grass preferred oreos and chocolate pudding packs....but I digress). So I watched some.

No matter what the sport, the presentation pretty much breaks down the same. You've got a guy who can tell you what you're seeing on the screen (in case you're blind or thought you were watching LaCrosse.). That's the play-by-play guy, or, as they like to label themselves, "the broadcaster". You've got another person who tells you what the players were thinking, should have been thinking or should have been taught beforehand. That's the "color" commentator. Since more African-americans have been in that role and they didn't want the word misconstrued, they now refer to that postion as the "analyst". Color is, like, banished. But, anyhow, those are the two jobs.

That division left this whole category of guys out there who really didn't have any talent for either of those things but they had either written books, were friends with athletes or claim to have advanced degrees. It also helpful if they live in New York, because that makes them cooler than mere, analysts or play-by-play, "broadcasters". But what to do with these privileged characters. If they're going to be on the broadcast, what will they actually DO?

Well, they came up with these little story sessions, grandly called "essays". Usually, they tell you what you just watched (as in "Tiger shot 35 on the front 9, 33 on the back, for 68. The other guy shot 36 on the front and 35 on the back for 71. Since the other guy started out the day three strokes ahead, that means they are now tied so there will be a playoff. You will watch the playoff but you will not understand it until I do my next essay about what happened in the playoff"). They also do essays about the cultural impact of sporting events (as in: Dick Button's triple toe loop with his right wrist pronated and his left gonad in the classic Chinese Hung Lo position will mean the elimination of polio in our time. We have not seen anything like this since Chairman Mao swam the Yang-Tze without a rubber ducky"). Finally, these guys sometime talk about the setting for the great event (As in: "There is a large pin-white-live Oak tree near the 18th green at the masters. It is the source of gread cameraderie. Fun things happen there. Clifford Roberts shot himself there. Fuzzy Zoeller peed away 14 million dollars in endorsement money there. Dan Jenkins had his forty-third heart attack there and choked on his pimiento sandwich")

These "Essays" have two things in common, no matter what the sport. First, they presume you, the viewer have the IQ of a sprig of parsley. Second they add nothing to your enjoyment of the broadcast. In fact, because they insult your intelligence, they may actually detract from your enjoyment of the event.

Now, there used to be a few guys around who could occasionally actually inform or entertain you with their essays, however innocuous. Jack Whitaker, Jim McKay, Peter Dobreiner to name a few. None of these guys was great but they would hit one essay out of ten that actually added to the quality of the broadcast.

Now we have somebody named Jimmy Roberts.

First of all, C'mon with the name, already. Jimmy Roberts is the little redheaded kid down the street, born three months premature who never quite learned to ride a bike, even though he's now 27.

Second, where did this guy come from? He did some interviews on ESPN when Roy Firestone was having bad hair. Other than that, beats me.

Third, just once, could he tell us something we haven't seen with our own eyes. "(Fill in the Russian/Eastern Euro name) started to cramp up in the third set." Jimmy, Ya Think? Maybe that's why she couldn't put her left foot down flat on the court. "The rain has caused the surface of these grass courts to be unreliable." Jimmy, Ya Think? Maybe that explains the 9 foot divot left by the Spanish guy. Or go back a couple of weeks 'Tiger appeared to be dealing with a painful knee on the back 9" Gee, Jimmy: Ya Think? Maybe that's why the whole world was watching him use his driver as a cane.

My vote is just to get rid of Essayists on sports broadcasts but, if that's not possible, I have some suggestions:

1. No Essays that involve telling us what we just saw;

2. Essays about cultural surroundings must never be longer than 2.5 minutes and should never talk over the sports action;

3. Essayists should always be allowed to tell the producer "I got nothing this hour.....I just got nothing interesting."

4. Tennis Essays should never be about cramps, coaches or parents.

5. Essayists should be like 5th outfielders in the Majors. A couple of bad outings and they're optioned to AAA, even if they still live in New York.