Saturday, May 30, 2009


Ta Da! Electronic Cigarettes! Available at your local Best Buy soon. No nicotine, no tar, only small danger of electrocution.

American Ingenuity.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I have been in way too many funeral processions lately.

Notwithstanding that I am constantly bitching about the driving habits of our fellow Basin-Dwellers, there is no place like Quincy for motorists showing respect for a funeral procession.

Wonder if that's a German Cultural Thang. Anyhow, it's comforting and reassuring. Thanks, neighbors!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


How come whenever someone wants to cover up their own night moves and pose as a crime victim, they always make the phony criminals black guys?

Never any Russian Mafia, Mexican Drug Cartels or sex-crazed white guys? The Susan Smith Syndrome rides again.

Have a little imagination, people!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Not only the usual "Always talk as if you know your phone is tapped."

Now we go to "Always talk as if your phone is tapped and the folks monitoring it are not very bright..."

Sunday, May 24, 2009


As I've said many times, I don't commit journalism here and I'm not a trained professional in that field.

I do, however, recognize dithering when I see it. The Whig editorial Sunday was an exercise in dithering, temporizing and list-making. Guys, if you want something to happen, tell us what it is!

The only thing one can conclude from reading the editorial on "pay policies" is that the Whig editorial board's favorite color is plaid.

(I should add here that there was also a comment piece by Ed Husar discussing the budget amendments up for third reading. In that piece he somehow omits to mention that 8 of the people who will vote on modest pay raises for a few city employees, ALREADY HAVE THE PAY FOR THEIR JOBS INCREASED AND LOCKED IN. How could a newsman fail to point that out?)

Here are some of the nuggets our editorial friends provided us:

"Public Officials...must broaden their vision.....recognize the concept of 'automatic' pay raises is no longer viable" [note to board: all public bodies VOTE on pay raises in budgetary legislation or in approving CBA's--they are never 'automatic']

My personal favorite is "new rules must apply" [Actually, the rules are exactly the same. Legislative bodies legislate, including the adoption of budgets.]

Another real beauty is ""budgets are about more than money......" [Who knew?]

And here is the socko, boffo insight: "Fresh perspectives must replace old assumptions" [Okay. How about this one: are you against employee raises across the board or not? Could we take a stand instead of just running linguistic laps?]

Finally, there have been a lot of proposed budgets made available to the public and a great many opportunities for public commentary afforded by all the local taxing bodies. I find it interesting that this dithering editorial is popping up now after all those other opportunities for commentary were ignored or declined. Guys, if you're gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.

The basin has no investment in the brush fire war between QNO and QNI and I certainly have picked on QNO when I thought they had it coming. This dithering, wandering comment piece (against the backdrop of the Husar commentary) just couldn't be ignored. Late to the party and weak.

TL squared.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Over the last several weeks, I have innocently used a term to describe members of the tea party movement. I have been advised that term has sexual practice overtones. It was never my intent to fire up some kind of double entendre.

Someone was kind enough to point out the double meaning. Since then I have abandoned the term and will use it no more. No offense intended.

Henceforth, I will use TP, QTP or TPers to describe the movement in a shorthand way.

We try to play fairly

Friday, May 22, 2009


I get a kick out of books that sell you the "secret" to strength, health, getting more business, shooting lower scores or scoring at the singles bar.

First, there's the obvious: If you put it into a book, it's not a secret anymore.

Second, most of the people who sell secrets have few preexisting credentials that they are good at something (or that they're gonna tell you the real secret).

If you're buying the "secret" to something, keep your eye on the real secret: You're getting hosed.

Have a nice weekend: be careful on Amazon or at the book store.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


As nearly as I can determine, this is the first week of the new and improved design and content of Newsweek.

IN its explanation the magazine says, in effect, we know you get your news other ways so what we're going to do is "make you think" in different ways about the news you've already gotten.

We'll they've already made me think! I think I'm glad I don't pay for my subscription more than one year at a time! I signed up, 41 years ago, for a magazine that gave me a roundup of happenings around the country and around the world and then maybe a few columns on what those happenings actually meant. Now, somebody has started sending me a magazine called "analysisweek" ...or maybe it's .....weak.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


20 years ago, if somebody said they'd been "keyed," we wouldn't have had the vaguest idea what they were talking about. Today, we hear "keyed" we picture car key scraping clearcoated finish in the dark.

It's a shame we can now share that common understanding. He have bred ( a large mea culpa here. I originally wrote "bread" and a thoughtful commenter gently corrected me--either I was hungry or my own culture is coarsening) so many sneaky, vengeful dorks that the "key" is now commonplace.

God Help Us.

Monday, May 18, 2009


If you don't know what Wolfram Alpha is, use a search engine other than Google and you will quickly find out. If you don't want to do that, stop reading this thread now.

Google finds stuff. What you do with the stuff is up to you. Wolfram Alpha considers stuff, thinks stuff, concludes stuff.

We have a whole generation of folks who can't even master "Right on Red, AFTER STOP." I don't think for one minute any of them are going to critically look behind Wolfram Alpha's conclusions.

Heck we really don't know whose brain Wolfram Alpha is using on any given query (Yes, I know the structure comes from Wolfram hisownself but that's different from the logic model). Do we really need another set of digested conclusions to make us even less intellectual curious and even lazier than we are now?

I know almost anything can be abused and there is no cure for stupid but the concept of Wolfram Alpha scares me a bit. I think my response to WA is gonna be "Watchu Talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

Stay tuned.


One of my grade school classmates went on to Michigan State University where he majored in something technical. I forget what. He was a perfect example of the "C's get degrees" school of thought. Upon graduation, he went to work selling work for an electrical contractor in Northern Illinois. Barely 22 years old, he was soon pulling down about 10k a month at a time when gas was about 30 cents a gallon. By the time he was 28 years old he BOUGHT THE COMPANY!

At about 35, he sold the company for a handsome profit and went about his new career...selling pet insurance. Pet insurance, for God's Sake. Soon he was making six figures from commissions selling pet insurance, not to mention the investment income from selling the Electrical Contracting Company. Eventually, he started his own company insuring Thoroughbreds. Sold that one too.

He moved to Sweden for a while. Pretty soon he was traveling around the world selling furniture specific to airports. I don't know what he made doing that but I do know that, while doing it, he bought a house in Florida and a house in Scotland. Anyhow, I hope you get the point this guy could sell ANYTHING.

There came a time about ten years ago when I was going to be in Chicago at the same time he was. We made a lunch plan and I was supposed to meet him at a seminar he was giving for sales managers. I got there early and sat in on part of his lecture. I will paraphrase what he said.

No matter how you screen them, if you hire 100 salespeople, 20 will be good enough to retain and, of those 20, three will be stars. Of the stars, you will not keep all three for any more than three years. The same things that make them stars cause them to move on. So don't hire 100 salesmen new. Hire 200 because then you'll get 40 good ones instead of twenty. Also, always be looking to hire someone else's stars because they are talking to yours right now. I know you're thinking "we can't afford to hire twice the number of people we budgeted" but I'm telling you the only way your product will move is if you have a large force of good salespeople. Nothing happens till a sale is made.

I asked him about that last sentence at lunch. Aren't sales people generally selling from inventory? Yes, he said but inventory is just a "hose" If nobody's selling the product that comes out of the hose, eventually there will be no money to put it in front end of the hose. There will be no manufacturing piece or tech service piece and, ultimately, there will be nothing to sell.

He oughta know.

So I take two things from this simple lesson. First, the more good salespeople you have schlacking your product, the better chance you stand to move your product and keep your doors open. Second, they are precious and difficult to retain.

If that's true, why does it make economic sense for Chrysler and GM to close dealerships? They don't pay the dealers to do anything. Dealers buy their product and then try to sell it for a profit. They are, in effect, salespeople. Why would you want fewer salespeople and, in some cases, fewer good salespeople. Why does a lower number of outlets selling your financing, parts, warranties and autos equal a plus. Who's kiddin' who here?

Nothing happens until a sale is made.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Some people are just part of our landscape. We don't think about doing without them, because they just ARE. John was that way. He was so solid and engaged that those blessed to be acquainted with him probably didn't consider his mortality.

Short of saying I've been with John in the best of times and some tough times and he always made the best of whatever was on the table, I am not the right guy to eulogize him. But I can tell two stories that partly illustrate who he was.

The first was 1991. John was hosting a radio show and the hot topic in the United States was, thanks to Anita Hill (or, depending on your bias, Clarence Thomas) sexual harassment in the workplace. The show was to be on air for about 45 minutes and the purpose was a serious discussion about the legal process and implications of S.H. About a minute before we were to go on the air, something hilarious with lascivious sexual overtones happened. Laughter was not optional, tears and spasms filled the studio and, indeed, the whole downstairs of the radio station. We did the whole interview with a straightfaced voice but, invisible to the listening public, cracking up, red-faced and teary-eyed. Every commercial break, John would make some remark or gesture to revive the funny happening and we'd all go to pieces again. He knew he was making things worse but he just couldn't leave it alone. It was, at once, the most fun I've had in a media interview and the most difficult. For all in the tri-states who know the serious interviewer-moderator, John Tripp, this was his evil twin! A lot of people didn't get to see the silly almost over-the-top side of John Tripp. Believe me, it was there!

The second was during the great flood of 1993. John did extended duty in FLOODWATCH on WGEM and he was great. He was moved by the generosity of so many area businesses and talked about it with great respect and reverence but there was one local business that just got his goat. This vendor would call frequently and piecemeal to donate relatively small numbers of its product and then try to turn the phone call into extended commercial play for its product and company. John turned into an art form graciously accepting the gift while trying to cut off the infomercial philibuster. He took it as a challenge. I was doing the Public Information Officer role for the city so I was at the station a lot. The vendor called. I already knew how John felt about the infomercial attempts. He said, "Watch this...I'm going to cut this short and confuse him into not calling back!" Sure enough, John picked up and they guy donated another 5000 units of his product and began his informercial, which John had already heard about 20 times. John interrupted him and started off giving the vendor's very own infomercial rap, praising him effusively> This went on for about 25 seconds. While John was till talking about the wonders of this guy's product and the wonderful generosity of the gift, he deftly HUNG UP ON HIMSELF, ending his own well-presented, complimentary ad for the guy's product.

Later, I asked him why he felt so strongly about this guy's self-promotion and John said, nobody else asked to get anything out of their generosity and it just offended his sense of charity that this one business sought a commercial advantage from a natural disaster. So John used his best weapon to right or at least mitigate what he thought was an injustice, his deft speaking skill and bottomless wit.

John was a fantastic resource for baseball, the recovery movement, marketing, health care models and a poster boy for (pardon the horriblly trite term) "family values". The Basin is better for his having shared the journey with us all.

Barb, Sara and Meredith should know that their grief is shared by many. Unbelievable loss to a great family and a whole, extended community.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Long ago and far away, I supplemented my modest, student income by caddying for professionals in urban calcutta events (which of course were against USGA rules) and what are now called mini-tours (then unorganized and often referred to as "consolation events").

I knew Gene slightly from this slice of my life. There are some people whom you really can't believe are "that nice," but he was....funny, humble and nice.

What made it even more unbelievable was how gifted he was, Gene Borek had the best hand-eye coordination of any human being I ever saw. He was freaky-good without being conceited, an unheard of combination in tournament players of that day.

About 20 years ago I heard Gene became a millionaire. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Predictably, the bloom is off the "oppress me, I'm a tea-bagger" rose but there's plenty of other stuff going on.

Miss California-USA-topless-model-traditional-marriage-defender will be (their word, not mine) a co-host on Fox and Friends. They're thinking outdoor show, windy venue. I will have control of the remote.

The administration is now going to bash/investigate/audit/regulate/enema, or some combination of the foregoing, hedge fund operators.

I don't completely understand what hedge funds actually DO, but I think they buy stuff and sell stuff. Sometimes they buy stuff in a way that they're actually selling it and sometimes they sell stuff in a way they're actually buying it, but they basically just buy stuff and sell stuff. They're sort of like pawn shops for securities and other risk paper (although they buy land, minerals and currency, too). Nearly as I know, they are not leading little, old ladies with blue hair to think they should invest in a hedge fund or that their life savings will be insured in a hedge fund.

My view of governmental functions is probably broader than some of my more conservative friends (although the performance of the Postal Service makes me wonder if our government is not in at least one too many functions.) but I think it's probably a good idea for the gov't to identify a NEED before it does stuff. What is the need to prod hedge funds?

They buy stuff. They sell stuff. They might make obscene amounts of money buying and selling their stuff. That's good. That makes them taxpayers. Most hedge fund guys are not even tea baggers. They just earn more and pay what they owe in taxes because obscene wealth is pretty much a neat thing to have. They buy houses, boats cars. In fact almost all of the main hedgies have a condo in NY and a house in either New Jersey or Connecticut They make jobs. Nearly as I know, they don't do anything illegal, save the odd market manipulation/insider trading that gets prosecuted about once a decade. Unlike salvage yards they don't create a safety hazard. Unlike pawn shops (and I happen to really, really like pawn shops) there has never been any allegation of a hedge fund cheating a person living below the poverty line.

Hedge Funds are as American as baseball, apple pie and Chrysler dealers --Oh, well, scratch that last one.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Booze, Cigarettes, Chips, Fast Food--There's this knee-jerk reaction to put a special tax on all of them (on top of the special taxes already on them).

I think you must first decide what your governmental purpose is: Regualtion of Behavior or Raising Revenue.

If you want to raise revenue, sin taxes are a crappy way to do it. You tax the behavior highly enough and people will stop the behavior, move away or buy their sin elsewhere (see cigarette bootlegging). Then you lose the revenue stream and the purpose of the sin tax is defeated.

If you want people not to do the behavior, educate them, reward them for not doing it or (where you can) make it unlawful (please, I get the whole prohibition failure thing--That's what we have with cocaine now). Taxing the behavior is, at best, the fourth best way to deter it (and it's actually further down the hit parade than that.)

Yeah, I've heard the cigarette sin tax should be tied to an emergency room fee or a cancer research fee. Dedicated funds are a fairy tale--How's that working out with the lottery money going to education or the road fund going exclusively to roads?

My vote, sin taxes are stupid and counterproductive, no matter which goal they are designed to attain. Maybe I'll get some of the tea baggers together and have a "Quincy Camel Party"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Try this little experiment--it'll cost you 44 cents. Address a letter to yourself in 62301 or 5 zip code, whichever is yours. Any time on any Sunday (other than three day weekends) drop it into any mailbox in Quincy. Almost every time you will get it Tuesday.

Mail it Saturday, you'll get it Monday about half the time and Tuesday about half the time. Mail it Friday, you'll get it Saturday. Mail it Thursday, you get it Friday. But, on Sunday, our spending-reduced Postal Service no longer picks up.

That's real Handy for last night's Spending Protester. He says "we" (I presume he had a mouse in his pocket) sent a letter [to the Aldermen] on April 26 (a Sunday) asking them to delay a vote bound to happen on April 27. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that, based on our little experiment, this urgent call for inaction to take place on April 27, arrived at our surface mail-reliant Aldermen's homes April 28.

This raises the musical question: "Is this a dishonest ploy (to say, "Gee, I mailed them a letter") or is it mere procrastination and incompetence." I don't have a preference. Roll your own, smoke 'em if you got 'em.

The meetings are on Monday Nights: Who knew?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


In 35 years of attending City Council meetings, I have never seen what I saw tonight. No, not tax protesters (Oh, excuse me, "Spending Protesters"), not peaceful demonstrators, not a Con Law Lecture from Professor Emeritus Hrudicka. Been all those places. Done That. Got the T shirt.

No, this was big. A guy attended the entire city council meeting with an extra long golf tee behind his ear. That was a new one!

I figure there are four possibilities:

1. It was symbolic of Quincy Tea Party and he just had trouble spelling "Tea"

2. It was inspired by the Secret Squirrel photography session at Westview;

3. It was a statement that he belongs to the leisure class and attends city council meetings as a hobby.

4. He has a nerve deficit and didn't know it was there.

On a related topic, we reduced our "leave-hat-on-in-public-building-rude-guy" count by four down to two. Guys, I'm happy you're veterans. Wear a lapel pin and take your hat off indoors.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Ask anyone who has ever served in wartime. Feherety's biggest mistake was not invoking violence or being politically incorrect. It was assuming that there is one common view among soldiers or veterans. It has never been so. We may share a love of country and desire to keep one another alive but the wrongheaded notion there is one "military view" led to the unfortunate quote.

Part of his appeal is being strange and edgy. He'll go over the top once awhile reaching for those edgy comments. I'm a golf fan but he doesn't do much for me. Still, I'd hate to see him lose his job over a whan attempt at humor.

Also, he does a lot for disabled vets and the platform for his doing so is Television. I hope he keeps his platform.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Here in the Basin, we have an abundance of really good skilled people in certain professions and trades. Just for an example, we have so many really good Physical Therapists you almost can't go wrong. That's why I've always thought attracting disabled Vets to QU would be a winner. The last two presidents haven't warmed up to that idea. Maybe I'll try it out on the new one.

The other thing that pops to mind is Autobody people. I can think of five shops right off the top of my head where I'd be comfortable and another one popped into my mind while I'm typing this.

Insurance agents? Both dedicated to one company and Independent--we've got good ones.

Banks--If there's one thing lawyers have lots of it's bank accounts and River City still has bankers you can actually talk to!

Dentists--I'll bet there's no town this size with as many dentists pursuing as much continuing education and self-improvement as we have here. Again, it's really hard to go wrong.

Financial Advisors--Franchised, Fee-for-Service, you name it. If you want help with your money, you can get decent and responsible advice and, again, a human being on the phone or in person.

Parks--A lot of people do a lot of work so Quincy retains beauty and utility in a lot of different properties.

Maybe you can add some good ones to these. Really didn't do this to open the complaint window.

Happy Mo-Day, all you Mothers out there!

Saturday, May 09, 2009


There is a new trend going around in the letters-to-the-editor crowd and the in blogoshere.

It can generally be described as "I am a veteran and, therefore, I know stuff....."

Folks write in, mention their honorable service, and launch into a speech about the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, Hydropower, Purina Gerbilchow, or Credit Default swaps and urge us to follow their lead, whatever it may be, simply on the credential of their honorable service.

As one myself, I venerate the service of all those who served honorably. But, please, folks, don't ask us to believe that because you shot expert on the range or were really good at reading sonar returns, you know how to run a school system, state department, public golf course or city council.

Reasoning rises or falls on its own merits, not on the historical accident that the declarant once did a great thing.

Colin Powell served heroically, then became Cheney/Perle/Wolfy's poodle.

Veterans are wrong about stuff too, me included.

Friday, May 08, 2009


of a nation quarantined!

Of course, the country is Afghanistan and there is only one pig.

One Pig: kind of sets up the golden goose scenario.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


1973, New York Mets: Willie Mays BA .211 HR 6 RBI 25

Just enough to keep him from getting 5% of the First Ballot Votes for the Hall of Fame.

Lesson: Don't tarnish the legend.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Prez Obama said yesterday he wants to close the overseas outsourcing jobs credit in the tax code.

On the very same day the city of London announces it wants to host a Super Bowl. The Effort Started off Swimmingly.

Timing is everything.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I guess we're going to have to add to the cell phone warning on the City Council Agenda, something like: "Men, take your hats off--Didn't your mother teach you anything?"

Men appropriately leave their hats on indoors in two situations: When carrying a sidearm; and, when shooting pool. (If you want to push the point, I'll give you baseball in a domed stadium.)

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I have always been more impressed by "Stickers" than by "Flippers"

Would have preferred Sestak against Toomey. Shame on Ed Rendell for participating in this exercise.

This is sure a "new" Washington scene, huh?

Saturday, May 02, 2009


First, it reminded me of the Gerald Ford Administration.

Second, it took all the fun out of Saying Whoooo, Soooooey, Pig!

Friday, May 01, 2009


Interesting exercise in press relations by new Prez Bemis. Tell one news organ that you in fact made a deal with Bud Niekamp to make him VP if he would vote for you for Prez. No problem so far, perfectly appropriate. It's what legislative bodies do. It's really the way it should happen. Good on ya, mate!

And then, he started stepping on body parts. He told another news organ there was no deal.

Two questions. Which is it? Why would he change his story?

First one's easy: good deal, nice deal, well done. There was a deal.

Second one's not so easy. Did he just choke? Did the dreaded "advisors" get to him? (I have one particular advisor in mind here.) Does he just have a really bad memory?

If I were his advisor, I'd tell him to clean it up. Admit he told two different stories, give a reason why he gagged, own up to the deal (about which he should have been proud anyway) and move on. Otherwise he's calling one journalist or another a liar and journalists always get the last word.

Oh, one other thought. One guaranteed way not to get to the truth: ask Bud.