Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I Hate Getting Serious

But I thought I'd give my interpretation of the last week in Washington since "the deal."

  • There are enough weak-kneed Republicans that it will be tough to ever play hard ball on important issues.
  • Blogger would-be analysts really like hyperbole.
  • Since Frist wasn't going to get the votes to go nuclear, getting 3 judges may be better than what would have happened without "the deal."
  • Pushing the Bolton nomination immediately afterward was a good idea, contrary to at least one blogger opinion, because it showcases the hypocrisy of the moderate Democrats as well as the megalomania of John McCain.
  • Center-right wimps who fought to preserve the power of moderates like Alan Specter should feel pretty silly.

Since this is supposed to be a humor blog, here's an oldie but a goodie:

Two peanuts were walking down the street and one of them was a salted!

Monday, May 30, 2005

A Touch of Class Part VI – Hometown Treasures

In my previous installments of “A Touch of Class” I’ve taken you all over the world in search of the very best in art. But let’s not overlook treasures that are closer to home (for those of us in the Twin Cities area). The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a fine regional art museum well worth multiple visits.

The wealthy Gustave Caillebotte was an early important patron of the nascent impressionist movement. He was also a great painter in his own right, though since his wealth made it unnecessary for him to sell his paintings to make a living, his genius was slow to be recognized. The MIA features Caillebotte’s “Nude on a Couch”.

Henri Lehmann was one of the great French academic painters. He was much honored by the salon and was head of the Academie des Beaux-Arts from 1861 to 1875. It was largely Lehmann and his neoclassical style that the impressionists rebelled against. The MIA has an excellent example of his work, “Calypso” based on Homer’s Odyssey.

The institute has a small but worthy collection of surrealists including “Woman with a Mirror” by the Belgian great Paul Delvaux. “Woman with a Mirror” is very typical of Delvaux’s style.

So consider adding a little culture to your memorial weekend, or if you’re an out-of-towner, consider breaking away for a few hours the next time you visit the Mall of America.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Top 11 Reasons the French Rejected the EU Constitution

The Nihilist’s list of our top 11 objects of ridicule highlighted one of our major shortcomings: we‘ve been derelict in ridiculing the French. To help rectify the situation, we present the Top 11 Reasons the French Rejected the EU Constitution.

11. Capitalism is merely hobbled, not outlawed.
10. The proposed Constitution contains no explicit right to keep and bear cheese.
9. Because of the confusing ballot, many of those voting against the Constitution thought they were actually voting for Pat Buchanan.
8. The document fails to make French the official language of Europe.
7. Voters were insulted that the phrase “cheese eating surrender monkeys” appears in the Constitution 427 times.
6. The requirement that all EU citizens bathe at least once a year was considered unreasonable.
5. Document is not sufficiently anti-American and anti-Israeli, so it must be a neo-con plot.
4. French politicians are not guaranteed freedom from prosecution.
3. The right to be rude is not explicitly guaranteed
2. The clause changing the color of the surrender flag from white to yellow outraged French traditionalists.
1. Jerry Lewis is not named King of European Union Comedy.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Pons and Fleischmann Journalism

The scientific method is not directly applicable to journalism, but there are some lessons that journalists could learn from scientists. One of these lessons regards the use of anonymous sources and secretive methods of obtaining information.

To illustrate what I mean, consider the case of two scientists who behaved more like journalists than scientists, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann. As I posted a few weeks ago, Pons and Fleischmann created a stir in 1989 when they claimed to have successfully produced nuclear fusion at low temperatures (and more importantly they claimed they were getting out more energy than they were putting in). When making their announcement, they insisted on keeping secret all but the most rudimentary details of their experiment, making it difficult for other scientists to review their work. Pons and Fleischmann justified their obfuscation by claiming that they were protecting the intellectual property of a potentially lucrative discovery.

Compare this to the Newsweek Koran flushing story by Michael Isikoff. He put forth the story but did not disclose his sources or explain how he came to accept that the story was true. Reporters generally justify such actions on the grounds that it is necessary for competitive reasons, or that sources would never come forward without confidentiality guarantees. He expected his readers to trust the story based on his (and Newsweek’s) reputation. But even a perfect reputation does not guarantee that mistakes will not be made.

As we now know, both the Pons and Fleischmann cold fusion experiment and the Isikoff Koran story were seriously flawed. The difference is that Pons and Fleischmann were sharply and nearly unanimously criticized by their colleagues to the point where they will never recover their scientific reputations even in the unlikely event that it turns out they were correct all along about cold fusion. “Fake but accurate” has no place in science. If you can’t show how you got to the correct answer, your lucky guess is of little use to a scientist.

It should be noted that Pons and Fleischmann were never accused of deliberately misleading anyone. In all likelihood, they, like Isikoff, were so excited by their potential discovery that they didn’t examine their work with proper skepticism. The best way to weed out these mistakes is to make the evidence and methods available for independent examination.

Recently more information has come to light in the Newsweek story. It seems that the accusations of Koran flushing came only from prisoners – certainly an indispensable piece of information for evaluating the credibility of the accusation. A few weeks back, I posted a link to a commencement address by the physicist Richard Feynman that explained a scientist’s responsibility to the truth:

“Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can--if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.”

I believe that not only could journalists follow this advice, but they and the public they serve would greatly benefit if they did.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Top 11 Things That Made George Voinovich Cry Yesterday

11. When he broke a nail.

10. When Ethan proposed to Kendall on "All My Children."

9. When he accidentally dropped his frankfurter on the ground.

8. When he looked in the mirror and noticed that he was retaining water.

7. When someone defaced the "Mean People Suck" bumper sticker on his limo.

6. When he couldn't open the jar of pickles and had to ask his wife for help.

5. When he watched the movie "Beaches."

4. When he asked his wife "Do these slacks make my butt look big?" and she didn't answer.

3. When he noticed that his shoe lace was untied before his speech on the Senate floor.

2. When he delivered his speech that John Bolton was too mean to be the ambassador to the U.N.

1. When he read the "Just Between Friends" Hallmark card that Robert Byrd sent him that night.

Top 11 Objects of Ridicule at NIGP

With apologies to all who didn't make the cut:

11. Wimpy Republicans
10. Patty Wetterling
9. Paris Hilton
8. Failed attempts to grow facial hair
7. The FOX Network's prime time line-up
6. Britney Spears
5. Laura Billings
4. Minnesota Vikings clutch performances/trade activity
3. Bruce Springsteen
2. Nick Coleman
1. Jimmy Carter

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Our Readers Dis Us

Our readers have overwhelming sided with T-Paw in snubgate, with only 10 of 62 voting that the Governor was not justified in snubbing us. What stings even more is that I cast more than half of the no votes myself. The good news is that most of the yes votes seemed to have been cast on fiscal conservatism grounds (53% worried that the cost of the booze consumed, had we been invited, would have lowered Minnesota’s bond rating).

The 23% who voted that I should just get over the snub will be happy to know that I have. This process was helped along by the revelation that only $200 was spent on booze at the reception. Clearly, we’re not talking top shelf here (especially given that Atomizer isn’t exactly shy about drinking up).

T-Paw has discovered that you get what you pay for. Many of the attendees have now turned on him regarding his proposed cigarette tax increase. For future reference Governor, when we here at NIGP are bought, we stay bought. But upgrade the bar anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A New Wrinkle?

Many have wondered why Nick Coleman is such a bitter old crank. I have begun to look for clues to solve the mystery. I started my mission today in the column of his second and current wife, Laura Billings.

Laura reveals a bit of herself in her column today, perhaps too much of herself. She devotes her column to the role suntan lotion plays in her life. Apparently it is too little too late:

The 20-something woman at the cosmetics counter who, upon examining my crow's feet, announced, "Of course, people in your generation tanned with baby oil. That is, like, sooo bad for you."

Yet, in spite of all this advice, I'm about as good about wearing sunblock as I am about flossing. Which is to say, not good at all.

Timeout for a note from the American Dental Association's official web site:

If you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor.

Yikes! The Fraters always said Nick had traded the old wife in for a young trophy bride. By her own admission, his trophy is wrinkly and likely has halitosis.

Developing. . .

A Pillow Injury?

Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Terry Mulholland was injured by his pillow:

“Mulholland was hurt by the end of a feather sticking out of his pillow when he rolled over in bed at the team hotel. The feather scratched the white of his eye and caused excessive watering and irritation all day. He was to have it examined by a doctor.”

Don’t laugh; it could have just as easily have happened to you (or Joe Nathan). We clearly need more government regulation of dangerous hotel pillows.

He Opens It and Removes All Doubt

In case you still weren't quite sure if the filibuster compromise reached yesterday was a good deal or not, here is how Nick Coleman described it on his show this morning:

A victory for moderation.

A wonderful development.

Thank God.

'Nuff said.

UPDATE: MoveOn is also declaring "victory on the 'Nuclear Option.'"

Monday, May 23, 2005

Top 11 Things the Republicans Get in Exchange for Surrendering on Judges

11. Democrats agree not to compare Bush to Hitler except in extraordinary circumstances.
10. John McCain gets a better parking spot.
9. Democrats agree not to filibuster Lawrence Tribe should Bush appoint him Chief Justice.
8. Hillary will be allowed to choose only one in ten judges.
7. Harry Reid agrees to refer to Bill Frist as "my bitch" only in private.
6. Senator Byrd agrees not to burn a cross in Clarence Thomas’ yard.
5. Republicans get Herschel Walker for their Senate football team.
4. Bill Clinton agrees to set Lindsay Graham up with one of his interns.
3. Democrats will make a good faith effort to stop being assholes.
2. Democrats agree to finance the Senate Republican Caucus production of “No, No, Nanette”.
1. Democratic caucus promises to refer to Mike DeWine as “Senator Sexy”.

Saddam's Hobby

I was shocked this past week to see photos published of Saddam Hussein in his underpants. Not because I thought this was a dehumanizing and humiliating photo. Not because I thought it would inflame the "Arab Street" to violence against American imperialism. No, I was shocked because it gave me a window into Saddam's personality. I can only conclude that Saddam Hussein must be a blogger.

It is established fact that bloggers do their work in either underpants or pajamas. Laura Billings has printed the details of underwear blogging in the mainstream St. Paul Pioneer Press, so it must be true.

A quick check of Google yields Saddam's personal blog. You will note he gave up blogging on January 13, 2004, but of course that was under duress.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Not Wrong, Just Late

In this post, I predicted Afleet Alex would win the Kentucky Derby. As everyone knows, he faltered down the home stretch and came in third. Never mind Sisyphus' after-the-fact pretending that he picked the correct horse.

However, in a dramatic Preakness Stakes, Afleet Alex made me proud, overcoming a serious stumble to win going away. Congratulations to Afleet Alex, jockey Jeremy Rose and all at Cash Is King Stables.

Up next in three weeks is the Belmont. My early prediction is that there will be a different winner there. Not many horses have enough left to run the long Belmont after two grueling races like the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

More later. . .

Friday, May 20, 2005

Top 11 Words that are not in Microsoft Word’s Spell Check Dictionary

11. Blogger
10. Moonbat
9. Wanker
8. Wingnut
7. Kool
6. Resistivity
5. Jong
4. Fisking
3. Skank
2. Zamboni
1. Snubgate

Kudos to Noodles

I’m usually too bitter to congratulate the Keegan’s trivia winner when it’s not me, especially when I’m in the midst of a Luis Rivas-like slump (three consecutive weeks finishing out of the drinks). However, Noodles not only deserves recognition for assembling last night’s winning team, but even more significantly for another revelation: Noodles was invited to the Governor’s Mansion blogger bribe bash, but didn’t show up. He didn’t specify whether he was protesting snubgate or didn’t want to become one of the Governor’s monkeys, or a combination of the two, but whatever the reason, we applaud the decision.

Less honorable bloggers are blatantly sucking up to T-Paw and suggesting that we smaller blogs ought to receive talking points from, but not drink with, the Governor. Needless to say all of the bloggers present are ignoring Fish Ghraib.

We refuse to be anyone’s monkey, but it would have been nice to be asked.

Britney & Kevin: Idiotic

While other bloggers were busy kissing the governor’s butt on Tuesday night, I had the distinct displeasure of viewing the premiere episode of Britney and Kevin: Chaotic on UPN 29.
Why? Because the bloggers on this blog are more interested in with speaking truth to power than in getting our tummy rubbed by T-Paw. And lucky for you, the reader. Because this show should come with a warning. IT IS AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS.

The show is mostly home made movies from the camcorder of Britney Spears, shot at the beginning of her relationship with dancer-turned-layabout husband Kevin Federline. These shots are supplemented by video of the concurrent concert tour, and studio interviews after the fact with Britney and Kevin.

The camcorder shots are unwatchable. Britney is holding the camera almost all the time and her video style is so herky-jerky that the viewer is bound to get motion sickness. Often she would turn the camera on herself, at the end of her arms, then spin it around to capture another subject, with lots of moving floor, ceiling and walls flying around in the process.

The content is what you would expect from a production of a 22 year old girl with no formal education: moronic. She spends a large segment of the show asking her employees to name their favorite sexual position on camera. Of course everyone is embarrassed and no one answers. I'm sure the subjects are all thrilled to see this on national television. One can hope a shyster lawyer might look these people up to cash in on a sex harassment suit. Hilarity ensues when one spunky underling grabs the camera, turns it on Britney and asks her to name her favorite sexual position. She giggles like an idiot before the show moves on to the next scene.

Then there's Kevin. Britney tapes her conversations with him, which mostly consist of him hitting on her while laying on his back the entire time. Then they cut to studio shots of Britney explaining that as this happened she was falling in love with him. It's hard to see why. He never stands up. His pathetic attempt at growing a beard makes J.B. Doubtless, aka J.B. Pubestache, look like Dan Haggerty.

I believe that Britney's handlers may have made a grave mistake in airing this show. Kevin comes off as a total slacker goof. Britney comes off as a moron. Plus, the one thing that she had going for her is that just about everyone thinks she is attractive. The home video helps dispel that myth by showing her makeup artist put a ton of makeup on her face to help with a complexion that is iffy at best. In fact, I drywalled my bathroom last month and probably used less joint compound than her makeup artist did in the filming of this first show. Finally, her singing shows off her voice as unquestionably mediocre.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Top 11 Names Nick Coleman Used To Describe Conservative Bloggers (or blaaahgers as Nick would say) On His Radio Show Today

11. Liars
10. Extremists
9. Stooges
8. Blowhards
7. Morons
6. Lap dogs
5. Nattering nabobs of know-nothingness
4. Ignoramuses
3. Bullies
2. Neo-Fascistas

And the number one Name that Nick Coleman Used To Describe Conservative Bloggers On His Radio Show Today Is…

1. Beer-hall short-pants guys

(Thanks to Atomizer at Fraters Libertas for help in compiling this list. He really is the key link in the right wing daisy chain, isn't he?)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Abu Ghraib Minnesota

Fishing for walleye is an important part of Minnesota’s tourism industry. It has long been a tradition for the Governor to take a party out fishing on opening weekend. It is also common for the Governor and his party to throw back any walleyes they happen to catch. Until this year, it has not been traditional to torture and sexually humiliate the walleyes before releasing them.

Not only did First Lady Mary “Lynndie England” Pawlenty do just that, but she also joked about it and posted a photo on the Governor’s website (don’t click unless you’re a sick bastard).

Much like at Abu Ghraib prison, Mistress Mary forced two walleyes, against there will, to “kiss” each other. We don’t know the sex of the fish (if you are a biologist and can determine the sex of the fish from the photo, please leave a message in the comments) and we don’t know their sexual orientations, but we do know that the kiss was not voluntary. Indeed, it is probable that fish don’t like to kiss at all. This sordid affair could destroy the walleye population of the entire lake. These fish may be so traumatized that they enter into a series of dysfunctional relationships, eventually spreading dysfunction throughout the entire lake (kind of like what’s described in the Meatloaf song “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”). The next thing you know the walleye are no longer reproducing naturally.

And look at the Governor just standing there smiling as a lake is destroyed, not even realizing that his hopes for the Presidency/Vice Presidency are perishing right along with it. Governor, this is your killer rabbit moment.

I bet he wishes he invited us to that reception now.

Governor Snubs Nihilist in Golf Pants, Sisyphus

Well, well, well, it seems that certain members of the Right Wing Noise Machine Daisy Chain have been rewarded with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion. Shockingly enough, the Nihilist and I were not on the guest list. Yes, it is true that I was banned from the mansion after one of Tyrel Ventura’s parties, but that has to have blown over by now (besides, they were never able to prove that it was my vomit – you can’t dust for vomit).

The real reason for the snubbing is that Pawlenty knows he can’t buy us off with a few free drinks. And unlike certain bloggers who (surprise) were invited to the mansion, we’re not going shamelessly cheerlead for the Governor. We relish our outsider image.

Even though we didn’t really want to go anyway, the Governor may live to regret this snub. That is because had we been at the reception, we wouldn’t have had the time to research a certain huge scandal involving the Governor that is about to break.

Developing …

Monday, May 16, 2005

Top 11 Upcoming Newsweek Periscope Items

11. Detroit Pistons win NBA title.
10. Sources close to the OC tell us that Seth has been hitting on Marissa. Are you going to do anything about that, Ryan?
9. Fox TV tells Newsweek that Paris Hilton is to replace Paula Abdul on American Idol.
8. Japanese sources say that Kim Jong Il is too much of a pussy to actually use his nuke against them.
7. Yankees to trade A-Rod to Red Sox.
6. Marquette sources reveal: Learned Foot is responsible for the mascot name change to The Marquette Li’l’ Injun Scalpers.
5. Christians announce that they intend to vote in the next election.
4. Sources close to Senator Frist reveal: not only will the senate filibuster rule be changed, but the rule allowing free tequila for the Massachusetts delegation will be eliminated.
3. That cigar Bill Clinton gave you? Our sources say it was definitely Monica-ized.
2. FDA to ban donuts from the buffet tables at documentary film shoots.
1. Hey, John Bolton, your secretary says that you can get your own damn coffee.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

More College Musings

Yesterday, the University of Notre Dame held it's annual graduation ceremony. Among those receiving degrees were papabile (the word for contender for pope) Cardinal Francis Arinze and a founder of The Pope Blog. Cardinal Arinze received an honorary PHD, while Andy Hagans aka Boney got his degree (the story doesn't say, so I assume it is a bachelors) the old fashioned way. Boney founded the blog along with Jimbo, a 2004 Notre Dame grad. In this post, Jimbo tells the story of Boney's failed attempt to receive communion from Cardinal Arinze (emphasis mine).

Boney has informed me that during Saturday's Baccalaureate Mass, he tried his best to receive a communion blessing from Cardinal Arinze by ditching his own communion line and making a sprint for Arinze's line on the other side of the aisle. He was however thwarted by two ushers who tackled him to the ground and forced him to get back in his own line to receive communion from a "normal" priest. Better luck next time, Boney.

At least someone at Notre Dame knows how to tackle.

Women in Science

The lack of women in science was an extremely important issue to me back when I was a physics student. Then I graduated and didn’t really care anymore. I don’t understand why anyone else would care unless they were a male science major who wanted to occasionally catch a glimpse of a woman without doing something as drastic as taking a psychology class.

Here’s a true story I was asked to repeat so many times that it attained an almost mythic status. Early one evening I was finishing up some work in the basement labs of the physics building – a location where we rarely saw anyone who wasn’t a physics major. I went out in the hallway for a break, and noticed a very attractive brunet at the far end of the hallway walking in my direction. I think, “wow, I’ve never seen her before, but she must be a physics major or she wouldn’t be down here.” She walked right up to me and asked “Can you tell me how to get out of this building.”

I suppose the politically correct thing to do would have been to lecture her on the lack of women in science and strongly suggest she step into the lab and learn about field effect transistors. But no, I gave her directions out of the building – and most certainly not because I didn’t want a good looking women sitting next to me in class.

There are two prerequisites for being a successful science student:
1. You have to have a talent for it.
2. You have to like doing it.
There are a very small handful of people who are so talented that they don’t really have to work hard at it. For the vast majority, a lot of hard, tedious, frustrating work is required – work that is not going to get completed unless you truly love discovering how the physical world works.

The question is whether the lack of women in science is more attributable to number one or number two. Based on the success of women in High School math and science classes, I doubt the reason is number 1. For a brief time, I was something of a physics evangelist. I would encourage non-technical friends to take at least an introductory course as part of a well rounded education. All most all of the women reacted as if I’d suggested they attend a Star Trek convention.

Why are women, on average, less interested in the sciences than men? I have no idea. One of my professors suggested that it was difficult for women in science because there were so few other women and the men were by and large geeks.

No, there must be some more logical reason.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mint Julep Musings – Forget John Bolton

Sitting here sipping my julep my thoughts turned to John Bolton. Apparently, the liberals think he is too mean to be UN ambassador. Too mean? What is wrong with those idiots? What do they want, a nice UN ambassador like St. Kate? That’s when the light bulb went on over my head. St. Kate would actually be perfect for the job. The liberal senators certainly couldn’t complain that she was too mean without being laughed out of DC. Conservatives probably would complain that she’s too nice, but I would counter that while St. Kate is nice – she’s not TOO nice.

Not convinced? Read through her archives with the following substitutions:
Replace VP with Great Britain
Replace Senator with Canada
Replace Governor with France

To help you visualize Ambassador St. Kate, I’ve made these changes to one of her posts:
One Step Away From Bread And Water
Okay! The France is finally asleep, and so I have an hour to blog. The France technically stopped taking naps when he turned two, but since our on-going potty-training troubles, I’ve made the Corporate Outpost rule that Big Boys (those who use the toilet) do not have to take naps. Little Boys do.
Well, The France has dug in his heels and decided that he is still a Little Boy, even after proficiently demonstrating he is capable of meeting Big Boy requirements. And now he is sleeping rather than playing with his Super Soaker…his first choice.
Earlier today I [the United States] dragged him inside at intervals and insisted he at least wet in the toilet. He can do it; it’s just so much easier to let ‘er rip in the Pull-Ups, or Artificial Underwear, and let Mom [the United States] clean up later at a more convenient time.
Each trip to the toilet was a struggle. Hold still. Don’t touch that! Leave the toilet paper alone. Watch what you’re doing! Stand closer. Closer! Awww @!#$^%!
My next trip to Target I’m stocking up on the super absorbent diapers and life is going to get easier for the both of us. I told him when he’s ready to get back two hours of his life each afternoon, let me know. Meanwhile, I’m going to be expanding on this Big Boy/Little Boy concept. I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier.
Sorry, France. Only Big Boys get to ride on the 4-wheeler with Great Britain.
Oops! I’m going to have to play the Big Boy card on this one, sweetie. No Justice League DVDs for Little Boys.
Oooh. Too bad, France. Didn’t you know hot fudge sundaes are for Big Boys? How about a Popsicle?
Sooner or later I’m going to hit on his Achilles’ heel and find something that will inspire him to join the Big Boy fraternity. Until then, his life is going to make solitary confinement at Leavenworth look appealing.

Bribery, coercion, shaming, and a touch of patience: St. Kate has clearly mastered the essential diplomatic skills. I know that because of our reputation for satire most will dismiss this, but I am serious. Forget John Bolton, the UN needs St. Kate.

UPDATE: How does St. Kate pay me back for recommending her for high government office? She threatens me with medieval torture devices. What ingratitude! I’m now more convinced than ever that St. Kate is a natural born diplomat.

Another Friday Off (but no live blog)

Yes, I have another rare Friday off, but I will not be live blogging it as I did last week. So far it’s been pretty much identical to last week only substituting crappy weather for great weather, my Kentucky Derby Day discovery of Mint Juleps (hat tip: Lesley) for Margaritas, and of course, last night’s episode of the OC for last week’s. I’m not live blogging the new episode because I felt that last week's live blogging caused me to miss too much of the OC nuance.

If you absolutely must have a live blog, check out Cathy in the Wright’s shopping trip.

Great Moments in Radio

On today's Nick Coleman show, the host was interviewing Minneapolis Mayor and noted stage diver, RT Rybeck. Near the end of an interview, Nick actually received a call, which is a noteworthy event in itself on the Coleman show. The caller pointed out that a majority of the money in the school budgets in both Minneapolis and St. Paul went to teachers salaries and benefits and asked the Mayor when he would challenge the teachers unions to seek to reduce this part of the budget to free up more money for school supplies, books (a special area of interest for Nick), etc.

You could immediately tell that Nick was not happy about getting such a call, although the Mayor was more than willing to discuss the subject despite his lack of knowledge in the area. Nick launched into condescending attack mode.

NICK: (accusatorially) Caller where do you live anyway?

CALLER: Minneapolis

NICK: (indignantly) Well you don't sound like someone from Minneapolis!

He then went on to disparage the caller as a "wingnut" and suggest that his viewpoints were not worth hearing.

Hmmm…let's see here:

Stereotyping? Check

Painting with a broad brush? Check

Attempting to silence someone who disagrees with you? Check

This from a guy who never stops talking about repression, discrimination, and the crushing of dissent. From a guy who claims that he wants to discuss and debate the issues of the day, but refuses to allow those he attacks to come on his show to present their arguments as well as turning down invitations to appear on other talk shows whose hosts he has personally insulted.

If Nick Coleman didn't exist, you couldn't make him up.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Elvis: A Review

I'll start by stating that I hate made for TV movies. There have literally been dozens of made for TV movies, miniseries, and even series about the king of Rock 'n Roll. So I was immediately biased against the CBS production of "Elvis." However, it was a blockbuster TV extravaganza about The King, so I had to watch.

Johnathan Rhys Meyers looks a lot like Elvis. He captures his essence quite well. However, his lip synching is horrid. The movie overcomes this by focusing a lot on his dancing, with wider angle shots. Cameron Manheim is absolutely perfect as his mama Gladys. Granted, all we know about Elvis' mama we know from pictures, but she is a dead ringer and her interaction with Meyers captures something that other Elvis movies miss. Likewise, Randy Quaid is perfect as Colonel Tom Parker. Their relationship seems plausible, and in many ways tragic. Robert Patrick is also good as Vernon Presley.

The story follows Elvis from just before becoming discovered until his 1968 comeback special. While the story is familiar to Elvis historian, the dialogue is uncharacteristic of a mini-series. That is, it seems real. That is, until the romantic scenes. Rose McGowan does a poor job playing Ann-Margaret and Antonia Bernath is unremarkable in the difficult role as Priscilla. An aside, for a hottie like Ann-Margaret you're going to need to do a whole lot better than Rose McGowan.

The real star of this movie is the music. Not just the music of Elvis. Particularly at the beginning, the film showcases high school aged Elvis listening to his influences: the black blues musicians and white hillbilly singers. Then it shows how E took the same songs and made them his own. "That's Alright Mama" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" are perfect examples, with the original artists heard in their entirety, followed shortly by Elvis. It's the kind of thing the judges on American Idol claim is happening each week, but really isn't.

What makes this film great (at least the first half) is that it shows how a poor kid walked into Sun Studios with some songs in his head and created Rock 'n Roll. It may not be "Elvis and the Beauty Queen," but it's probably the best made for TV Elvis movie ever. I'd give it a solid B grade.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Perils of being a (mostly) Satirical Blog

I woke up to quite a shock this morning: a Power Line post on voter fraud in Wisconsin. Although they didn’t credit the Kool-Aid Report for blogging on the story months before they discovered it, they did come about as close to acknowledging the up-and-comers as they’re likely to get – they mentioned Kool-Aid in the title to their next post.

Of course, over the last six months I’ve read many Kool-Aid Report posts on this story, but I assumed that it was just a running gag by Learned Foot. This is an occupational hazard of relying heavily on satire. We’ve had the same problem here. For example, no one took my brilliant idea on selling advertising on the Minnesota state quarter seriously.

Now, KAR’s story line about Marquette University changing its nickname to “Gold” can’t possibly be a real story, can it?

John Bolton's True Problem

John Bolton's Senate conformation as Ambassador to the United Nations has struggled since the day President Bush nominated him. Currently it sits in committee, where a party line vote would bring his name to the Senate floor to an overwhelming Republican majority.

Yet even a good number of Republicans don't know if they can vote for him. Critics claim he has a record of belittling the importance of the UN. Others point out that he has been harsh and rude to subordinates. Some just don't like his moustache. Yet it is the unspoken reason that has done his nomination the most harm. His name is similar to that of sappy balladeer Michael Bolton.

There are few issues on in America that are truly non-partisan. Yet Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Libertarians concur in near unanimity around the following proposition: Michael Bolton sucks; his music, his hair, everything about him sucks. If Michael Bolton elicits such a stomach turning reaction from good decent Americans, who can blame the most loyal disciple of George W. Bush for wanting to disassociate himself from another Bolton.

Over the next month we should find out whether John Bolton can overcome the handicap of his name. Yet George W. Bush and those who follow him in the White House will undoubtedly learn a valuable lesson from this confirmation process.

In our lifetime, we will never see a Justice Manilow, a Secretary Tesch, a Joint Chief Newton, a Judge Goulet, or (heaven forbid) an Ambassador Springsteen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Darkness of the Russian Soul

Maybe the Nihilist's attempt to become Pope failed because he wasn't appealing to the proper audience. From a review by Joey Tartakovsky in the Spring 2005 Claremont Review of Books:

In a 1996 poll of political attitudes commissioned by Boris Yeltsin, three categories ended in a tie: democrats, Communist revanchists, and apoliticals. But one category beat them all: nihilists. Historically, Russia is the only country in which nihilism became an actual popular movement, and now, 150 years later, it has returned: Russian ballots feature the option "Against all." In a March presidential poll, it placed second.

Against all? Sounds like a campaign slogan the Nihilist could easily embrace. Tsar Nihilist I? Hmmm...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Finally: More Multi-Millionaires in the Blogosphere

Reinforcements have arrived! All too often since joining the blogosphere I’ve felt like a lone voice in the wilderness for the mega-wealthy. Today, wealthy divorcee Arianna Huffington started her own group blog, The Huffington Post (catchy name). Most of the contributors are wealthy. For example Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the daughter of billionaire French industrialist Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, Laurie David made millions the hard way -- she married Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, and John Corzine made enough on Wall Street to purchase a very expensive Senate seat. A promising lineup indeed.

I know, being a member of the economic/political/media elite doesn’t guarantee a capacity for cogent thought (see Nick Coleman and Mark Dayton). However, despite what some may say, the rich have just as much right to post inanity on the internet as Ivy League lawyers, or talk radio shock jocks.

So welcome, THP, welcome to the arena.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Top 11 Ethical/Unethical Actions For Journalists

The world can be an ethically challenging place to mainstream journalists and bloggers alike. We at NIGP are here to help our readers react appropriately to the ethical challenges that they may face. Here are some examples of ethical and unethical behaviors that many bloggers as well as members of the main stream media face. When in doubt, I always remember that Nick Coleman is the ultimate ethics expert and that anything he or those around him might do is perfectly acceptable, while anything he sneers at must not be. It looks like some folks at the Pioneer Press may be able to learn something from us.

11. It is not ethical to write side projects for another newspaper.
It is ethical to host a radio show on the side.

10. It is not ethical for a non-custodial father to author a column about the rights of non-custodial fathers.
It is ethical for a mother to author three columns a year about her children getting sick.

9. It is not ethical to come from outside of Minnesota and criticize the way we do things here.
It is ethical to criticize a mayor that your brother will be running against in the next election.

8. It is not ethical for the editor of the letters page to choose the letters that refer to his own opinion piece.
It is ethical to re-run an old column you wrote for a different newspaper years ago, without proper attribution. (Hat tip to Kate Parry for help on this one.)

7. It is not ethical to publish an opinion that is consistent with Republican party rhetoric.
It is ethical to accuse arrogant bloggers of taking money from Republican operatives, even if you have no evidence and they have overtly stated that they have never taken money from anyone.
6. It is not ethical to have beers with an interview subject.
It is ethical to let an interview subject bring you a pie, as long as you offer to share with your co-workers.

5. It is not ethical to fail to disclose that you had beers with an interview subject.
It is ethical to sleep with a co-worker.

4. It is not ethical to have dinner at an interviewees house.
It is ethical to leave your wife and three children for a younger woman.

3. It is not ethical to invite an interviewee to dinner at your house.
It is ethical to leave your wife and six children for a younger woman.

2. It is not ethical to criticize union workers.
It is ethical to have your step-mother arrange for you to get a job.

1. It is not ethical to write a hobby column for a fee that is well below writers guild guidelines.
It is ethical to have your step-mother arrange for you to get a job a second time.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kentucky Derby Prediction

After careful study of the Daily Racing Form, I am picking Afleet Alex to win the run for the roses. My favorite professional handicapper, known only as Earl backs up this projection.

If you're looking for the second half of an exacta, consider Sort It Out, High Fly and Greeley's Galaxy.

We'll know if I'm right a little after 5 pm tonight. Enjoy the greatest two minutes in sports! (Is that one of Saint Paul's come-on lines?)

I don’t have a Kentucky Derby prediction, but I will be rooting for Bellamy Road. I have two reasons:
1. Bellamy Road is the favorite so I’ll be less likely to be disappointed.
2. Bellamy Road is owned by George Steinbrenner, so all of the Yankee haters will be upset if he wins. I hate the Yankees too, but seeing my fellow Yankee haters miserable is worth it to me.
My rooting interest may change if I find that Atomizer has invested in this horse – I’m always rooting for another sports related meltdown from Atomizer.

But if I were a betting man, I would probably have to go with Giacomo a great speed horse going off at 50-1. Yep, I would have to disagree with the Nihilist and recommend Giacomo.

In an upset for the ages, jockey Mike Smith brings 50-1 longshot Giacomo past a tight field to capture the run for the roses. If anyone tells you they predicted this, they are lying. My pick, Afleet Alex was in prime position to win down the stretch but just couldn't find a higher gear at the end and finished third. Favorite Bellamy Road ran out of steam at the top of the stretch and finished seventh.Congratulations to Mike, trainer John Shirreffs and owners Mr. & Mrs. J.S. Moss (no relation to Randy).

Friday, May 06, 2005

Lileks.com Is Down

At times like these, internet-terrorism cannot be ruled out. Here is a list of the prime suspects:

JB Doubtless
Motive: He's posted time and again about how Lileks schtick is too precious.
Alibi: JB can't even find the time to post to his own website, much less knock off someone else's.

Nick Coleman
Motive: Jealous of his colleague's success and angered by his acceptance of blogging, Nick will do just about anything for revenge.
Alibi: Nick appears to be a Luddite and could never pull this off on his own. Since he fired Kuhbi, he is without a henchman to do the deed. Also, his ethics are too high to make an unprovoked attack on an innocent.

Saint Paul
Motive: With Lileks out of the way, he would be the premier conservative humorist of the Twin Cities, if not the world.
Alibi: He has several nubile young women ready to testify that he was with them when it happened.

Motive: If you ever had every waking minute of your life chronicled in the way she has, you would want to stop the madness immediately. She also has unfettered access.
Alibi: She's only four years old.

We at Nihilist will keep you posted on this breaking crisis!

UPDATE: Day 2 of the crisis. An obsessive-compulsive nebbish like Lileks would never allow this to go on unless he has been overpowered by the culprit, who may be holding him hostage. Unfortunately, this doesn't eliminate any of the suspects because even little Gnat possesses the strength to man-handle Lileks.

UPDATE II: He's back as of Sunday morning. Look for the story on what happened from him Monday.

Live Blog: My Day Off

9:52 AM: It’s a rare day off for me, and being the egalitarian sort, I thought I’d give you chumps stuck in the office an opportunity to enjoy my exotic day off vicariously.

10:02 AM: First order of business is to catch up on the last two episodes of the O.C on TIVO. It looks like last week's episode was pre-empted by Bush’s press conference, but they made up for it by running two episodes last night.

10:10 AM: O.C.: Nana (Seth’s grandma) is getting married! The O.C. crew is off to Miami Beach for the wedding. How considerate of Nana to get married in South Beach during spring break. I hope Ryan and Seth don’t jeopardize their rekindled relationships with Marissa and Summer by getting involved with spring break floosies.

10:16 AM: I went out on my deck, it looks like a nice day out, but I’m not really an outdoor person.

10:34 AM: OC: Uh, oh, Nana’s fiancé looks like a slick gold digger. Seth is fitting right in with the retirees. What do we have here, a hot grand daughter who can kick Seth’s ass in shuffle board. Remember Seth, you may be on a timeout with Summer, but she is your true love.

10:42 AM: OC: Summer is having dinner with old beau, Zach. The hot grand daughter beats Seth again at shuffleboard and wins their bet: Seth must now eat whipped cream off her at an MTV like spring break party. Gosh, I hope Summer isn’t watching during her dinner with Zack.

10:45 AM: OC: Wouldn’t you know, Seth’s whipped cream girl is a repressed Bible College student from Bob Jones University at spring break to give sin a try. Her boyfriend has chased down after her with his bible study posse. He just happens to tell the story to Ryan. There’s going to be trouble!

10:48 AM: OC: Trouble ahead, Seth and Whipped Cream Fallen Bible Girl (WCFBG) are on stage at the MTV spring break thing. Summer is watching, of course, while having dinner with Zach. WCFBG’s boyfriend has spotted them, and says to his bible study posse:
“It’s time to bring fire and brimstone down on her and that skinny little sinner.”
Dialog like that is what sets the OC apart from most of the crap on TV nowadays.

10:51 AM: OC: Seth and WCFBG win! But it looks like a pyrrhic victory as Summer is now kissing Zach and the WCFBG’s boyfriend and his posse are making their way to the stage.

10:53 AM: OC: Lame flirtation between Seth’s mom and Sandy’s wife Kirsten and the magazine editor continues. Kill off this story line, we all know nothing is going to happen. They kiss, but it is clearly a one last kiss before resisting temptation kiss. After magazine editor leaves, Kirsten puts the wine aside and breaks out the vodka.

11:00 AM: OC: They didn’t show the fight with the Bob Jones guys, just Seth and Ryan walking covered in whipped cream .. booooooo! Trey takes liberties with Marissa, but Marissa fights him off. Hey Trey, leave your brother’s girlfriend alone and stick with the hot, slutty cocaine sniffer who came on to you earlier in the show.

11:05 AM: OC: Episode two. Kirsten is still hitting the vodka and lying about it. I smell an alcoholism story line coming up. Seth is going to fess up to Summer about WCFBG, but she already knows. Sandy discovers Kirsten’s drinking.

11:14 AM: OC: Reviving the Summer-Seth-Zack triangle. Zack openly declares that he is going to try to win back Summer. Seth: “I thought you were a nice guy.” Zack:
“Wake up, I’m a water polo player. We’re never nice guys.” I think Machiavelli also warned about water polo players. Game on Seth vs Zach. The prize: Summer.

11:18 AM: OC: Marissa is just avoiding her attempted rapist Trey when she should have him arrested. Stop pining for the magazine guy, Kirsten, go on the romantic getaway with Sandy, and lay off the sauce. Oh, and lose magazine guy’s necklace.

11:42 AM: OC: Summer rips into hot comic book editor for driving wedge between her Seth and Zach. Hot comic book editor deftly co-opts Summer. Marissa tries to get hot and heavy with Ryan, but is having flash backs to Trey’s attempted rape.

11:55 AM: OC: Ex-porn star trophy wife Julie Cooper (Marissa’s Mom, married to Kirsten’s dad, who had an affair with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend … is the OC in the Appalachians?) finally gets served with divorce papers by Caleb. It’s revealed that Caleb had Julie followed even before their marriage and knew all about her affairs and such – well if that’s the case Caleb, why did you marry the slut in the first place?

11:57 AM: OC: The big fight between Zach and Seth at the comic book opening party. The OC is rightly esteemed for their party fights. Summer is told she has to choose between Zack and Seth. Wisely, she chooses neither.

11:59 AM: OC: Kirsten dramatically toys with taking off her wedding ring but then takes off the necklace. What a shock, I didn’t see that coming. Tear filled drunken cell phone reconciliation with Sandy; then her SUV is nailed by a truck. Just when you decide to get your life back together, you get nailed by a truck. Doesn’t it always happen that way on TV. Don’t worry about Kirsten though, she looks okay in the previews for next week.
Well, I hope you suckers enjoyed working while a caught up on two excellent hours of trash TV at its finest.

Now what to do? Maybe I’ll stop by the office and see what everyone is doing for lunch. No, that would be lame. I think I’ll try some of this outdoor stuff. Don’t worry I won’t be gone long. I can only take so much fresh air.

1:01 PM: That was a refreshing walk. It is a truly beautiful day out. I strongly recommend you ditch the office and take the rest of the day off. My walk put me in a Jimmy Buffet kind of mood. Fortunately, it just happened to take me by a liquor store, so I popped in for some margarita mix. But before I waste away in Margaritaville, I think I’ll take a quick nap.

2:45 PM: Refreshing nap on my deck. Seriously, if you are still at work leave now, no one will notice because you spend all day reading blogs anyway. It is nice enough for even me to turn off the TV, turn on Buffet, and sip margaritas on the deck.

2:56 PM: I check the mail; there is a letter from my bank:
“Congratulations! Because of your outstanding credit history, we are pleased to increase your VISA Credit Card limit from (large amount) to (obscenely large amount).”
Clearly my bank has been reading this blog and saw "good credit risk" written all over me.

3:33 PM: Margarita Musings I:
In his song “Folsom Prison Blues”, Johnny Cash sings that he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”. If he committed murder in Reno Nevada, why is he serving time in a California state prison? And no, there is no Reno California. And if the Reno murder isn’t why he’s serving time in Folsom, why bring it up? Things like this bother me.

4:25 PM: Margarita Musings II:
Why do decks have seams between the planks and not solid floors? I knocked over my margarita and spilled it on the stuff stored under my deck.

4:48 PM: Margarita Musings III:
I’ve been looking around my domicile, and couldn’t help but notice that there are places where the dust is thick enough for Margaret to grow petunias. I have a strong urge to do some dusting, but on further consideration, why should I? I’m the victim here. I haven’t been able to find an illegal alien to do my housework for months. They all want something like minimum wage anyway. I remember when illegal aliens were willing to do light housework for pennies an hour. I blame those so-called “Minutemen” for reducing the supply. When they’re done depriving me of my domestic help, they can come up here and dust my house.

6:33 PM: The most disappointing moment of any day off is the moment you realize that you’d now be off had you been working. You are no longer missing work, but merely enjoying the normal after work time. Alas, I’ve reached that moment, but all in all, it was a good day off.

That Didn't Take Long...

8:16am Nick Coleman has already brought a political angle into the shooting death of St. Paul police officer Gerald Vick, by chiding the audience to remember the connection between the public and public servants and how important it is to maintain that connection especially in times like this. You don't have to read between the lines to see where he's going with this.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Top 11 Most Bitter Moments In Atomizer's Sports Life

[Editor's note: The following is a collaboration between the Warrior Monk from SPITBULL, the Nihilist in Golf Pants, and myself. In order to do this subject the justice that it so richly deserves, it required the work and recollections of all three of us. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to get input from the Missus, who's not doubt witnessed more than her fair share of sports related meltdowns by her hubby over the years. Heck, she could probably come up with her own Top 11 list in this area.]

The drama of sport. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. For some, they're silly games. For others, they're deadly serious. People allow their emotional well being to ride on the success or failure of their local professional sports franchises. People like our good friend Atomizer a.k.a. Ben from Fraters Libertas.

Atomizer has a storied career as a sports fan. He experiences the ups and downs of "his" teams like few others. Often it seems more than the players themselves. While the victories are cause for celebration, it's really the defeats that marks Atomizer as a breed apart. Most of the time he's an affable, mild-mannered, gentle soul. But when the fickle hand of fate deals his team a bad hand, it appears as if the demons of hell are using his body (and mouth) as a portal into our world. I swear I've seen his head spin completely around after a particularly painful defeat.

Sometimes even the victories can be tainted. And so, without further adieu, we give you Atomizer's (Ben's) 11 Most Bitter Moments In Sports:

11. 2005 Twins home opener. Ben buys his tickets for the home opener three months in advance and is brimming with anticipation for the big day. He's certain the Cy Young Johan Santana will be on the mound when the Twins host their first game of the season. The day finally comes and his anticipation soon turns to anger as starter Kyle Lohse surrenders two long balls in the sixth inning en route to a 5-1 loss to the hated White Sox.

10. 2002 Game 5 of the ALCS. The Twins are down three games to one against the Angels in the series, but if they can win game five in Anaheim, they would come back to the Metrodome for games six and seven, so there still is hope. We're watching the game at our house with a number of friends over. The Twins lead 5-3 in the seventh and Ben is laughing, drinking, and having a good time. Then some putz named Adam Kennedy hits his third home run of the game to give the Angels a 6-5 lead. The Angels end up scoring TEN runs in the inning, crush the Twins 13-5, and go on to win the World Series. Ben becomes surly, bitter, and withdrawn in a matter of minutes if not seconds. I follow him around the house and when he goes outside to have a smoke, because I fear that he's going to start breaking things. After the outcome of the game is no longer in doubt he screams, "Corey Koskie can suck my c***!" after the Twins third baseman strikes out. I also believe he did punch something with his hand, because it was bleeding later. This "fist of frustration" has made many an appearance over the years after a loss.

9. 1975. The Vikings have started the season 10-0 and are playing their 11th game in Washington on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Our family is driving back from Dubuque in a huge blizzard, listening to the game on the radio. Fred Cox misses a field goal in the closing seconds and the Vikes lose, 31-30. Now, on top of the driving snow and wind, our Dad has to deal with two weeping sons in the back seat.

8. 1971. Neighborhood mom takes four-year-old Ben and a bunch of other kids to Browndale Park. Ben has just reached the top of the slide when for some reason he becomes convinced that everyone is leaving without him. In his haste to rejoin them he . . . goes down the slide? Nope. Too easy. He jumps off, landing on his face and scraping half of it off. (Not sports-related in the strictest sense, but I think very influential in his psychological development. Embarrassing to boot.)

7. 1984 The details on this one are a little fuzzy, but we are in Ben's room drinking beer, playing cards, and listening to the Twins on the radio. Some Twins stopper--Jeff Reardon? Ron Davis?--blows a save, and Ben in a righteous fury heaves one of his poker chips at the wall. Splits it right in half (the chip, that is, not the wall). Not an easy thing to do, but Ben in a spittle-flecked Twins rage is capable of superhuman feats.

(An alternative version of this story: My memory is of us playing in-between at Ben's parents house when it was being rebuilt from the fire, so as teenagers we had beer & tobacco. I don't remember the Twins, although that could have been the time when Ron Davis was kicking away saves. Is 1984 right? Anyway, we started playing in-between. We had little money and the pot was something like $10, which would have been enormous to us. Ben gets an Ace/King, meaning he has an 88% chance of winning. He bets the full pot and draws either an ace or king, forcing him to work 3 hours at Burger King to pay up. In a fit of rage he tosses the chip so hard it breaks.)

6. 1987. The Twins win the World Series, but Ben is spending the semester in London, so he misses all of it. He is able to listen to the games late at night on Armed Forces radio . . . but he does so with a girl who dumps him for her old boyfriend as soon as they return to the States. Ouch.

5. January 2001 Bunny's bar watching the Vikings play the Giants in the NFC Championship. Five minutes into the game, the Vikings fall behind 14-0 (on their way to a humiliating 41-0 loss). Ben gives up on the squad at this point and launches into an anti-Vikings tirade. Another friend watching the game advise him to chill out and the two of them starting screaming at each other across the table. This went on for some time and I was prepared to step in and separate the two if they came to physical blows. Thankfully it did not come to that.

4. January 1999. The 15-1 Vikings are about to ice the NFC Championship Game with a field goal by Gary Anderson, who hadn't missed a single one all season. As they line up for the kick Ben says "That fucker's going to miss. I know he is." The fucker misses. Ben takes no solace in his spot-on predictive skills.

3. 1983. Late-season North Stars game at Met Center. A group of us have SRO tickets, the keys to the family Suburban, and, somehow, a bottle of Jack Daniel's. I'm the only one who has turned 16, so I'm the designated driver; Ben does his part by drinking my share in addition to his in the parking lot before the game. Needless to say, by the time we go inside he's shit-faced. The standing-room areas are at the very top of the arena, of course, but we find a good spot up against a waist-high ledge that fronts a stairwell down to some sort of maintenance room. Ben attempts to hoist himself up to sit on the ledge but forgets to stop until the floor of the stairwell does it for him a good eight feet below. He's flat on his back and mumbling incoherently--think Sgt. Hulka in "Stripes" when the tower collapses. I still don't know how we talked our way past the security guard who rushed up to find out what the hell was going on and who became determined to take Ben away for first-aid and what undoubtedly would have been his first drinking-related legal matter.

2. 1980. Vikings-Browns on a grey December afternoon at Met Stadium. We (Ben, me, my dad, and one of his friends) are sitting in our lousy season-ticket seats in the north end-zone bleachers (along the third-base line), which were true planks-of-wood-on-scaffolding bleachers and BITCHIN' cold when a winter wind whipped through them. By the end of the third quarter the Vikes are down by three scores and an underdressed Ben is about to succumb to hypothermia, so it seems wise to leave. We hear the stadium roar as we enter the parking lot--touchdown number one. We listen to touchdown number two on the car radio. And we reach home just in time to turn on the TV and see touchdown number three, a Hail Mary pass from Tommy Kramer to Ahmad Rashad to win the game as time expires in what I believe still ranks as the biggest comeback in Vikings history. Naturally, all three touchdowns were scored in our end zone.

1. 1990 watching Vikings-49ers playoff game at Timothy O'Tooles Gipper's bar. As the Vikes are getting blown out, Ben starts openly cheering the 49ers. At this point, a girl gets in his face, telling him he's cheering the wrong team. Ben responds, "No, you're cheering the wrong team, my team is up by twenty points." He then requests fellatio. She responds by aggressively placing a hand on his throat and attempting to strangle him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Are Pulitzer’s Bad for Circulation?

In the previous post, I gave two potential reasons for the Star Tribune’s increase in circulation: crappy columnists and a lack of Pulitzer Prizes. A look at the evidence suggests that there may be something to the lack of Pulitzer hypothesis. If we examine the four newspapers (of the twenty largest) that have shown circulation increases, three have won no Pulitzers over the last decade. If we look at the four that have lost the most circulation, all have won at least one Pulitzer over the last decade.

This becomes even more impressive if I follow the rhetorical convention of ignoring all data points that disagree with my thesis. For example, the New York Times has won the most Pulitzers over the last decade and was the second fastest growing, and the Houston Chronicle was the fifth biggest decliner without having won any Pulitzers. These are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Here I list the top 20 largest newspapers in order of change in circulation. To the right is the number of Pulitzer Prizes they have won over the last decade.

1. Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul – 0 Pulitzers
2. The New York Times – 22 Pulitzers
3. USA Today – 0 Pulitzers
4. New York Post – 0 Pulitzers

The following have seen circulation declines, with the Chicago Tribune posting the largest decline.
5. The Wall Street Journal – 14 Pulitzers
6. New York Daily News – 3 Pulitzers
7. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J – 2 Pulitzers
8. The Oregonian, Portland – 3 Pulitzers
9. Detroit Free Press – 0 Pulitzers
10. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – 0 Pulitzers
11. The Washington Post – 11 Pulitzers
12. The Philadelphia Inquirer – 1 Pulitzer
13. The Arizona Republic – 0 Pulitzers
14. St. Petersburg Times (Florida) – 1 Pulitzer
15. Houston Chronicle – 0 Pulitzers
16. The Boston Globe – 5 Pulitzers
17. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland – 1 Pulitzer
18. San Francisco Chronicle – 1 Pulitzer
19. Los Angeles Times – 18 Pulitzers
20. Chicago Tribune – 5 Pulitzers

Circulation figures via Drudge.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Nation’s Fastest Growing Major Newspaper

Good news for our local newspaper, the Star Tribune. Of the twenty largest newspapers in the country, they are the fastest growing. Congratulations are in order even though they were helped by an easy curve; only four of the top 20 saw an increase, all less than 1%.

We in the MOB have been quick to criticize the newspaper of the Twin Cities, but they must be doing something right (or at least less wrong than their peers). Maybe the others should consider hiring controversial hack columnists and not doing anything that would taint them with a Pulitzer Prize.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Top 11 Skanks of All Time

On last Saturday’s Northern Alliance Radio show, Mitch, King, Chad, St. Paul and Mike Nelson discussed skanks. They were interesting and informative, but they weren’t willing to go out on a limb and tell us who they thought were the greats who pushed the envelope of skankdom. Well I’m not afraid of the controversy, so here is my list of the top 11 skanks of all time:

11. Britney Spears
10. Clara Bow
9. Jennifer Lopez
8. Carmen Electra
7. Marilyn Monroe
6. Cleopatra
5. Courtney Love
4. Madonna
3. Pamela Anderson Lee
2. Lola Montez
1. Paris Hilton



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Sunday, May 01, 2005

How to Tell Whether Your Cold Fusion Experiment is Working

Physicists at UCLA have demonstrated cold nuclear fusion on a desktop scale. But before you go to amazon.com to order your own Mr. Fusion, be advised that the UCLA fusion device requires more energy to create the conditions for fusion than is created by the fusion itself. It doesn’t appear that their technique will ever be capable of efficiently producing energy, but it may one day be useful as a neutron source (neutrons can be very useful). The UCLA group published their results in the peer reviewed journal Nature, shared their methods with colleagues, and were up front about the limitations of their method. In short, they’re acting like responsible scientists.

Unfortunately, it has not always been thus when it comes to claims of cold fusion. In the spring of 1989, two University of Utah researchers named Pons and Fleischmann announced that they had successfully produced nuclear fusion at low temperatures (and were getting out more energy than they were putting in). Initially, the announcement generated a great deal of enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm rapidly dissipated when it became apparent that if Pons and Fleischmann were correct, then the well established laws of nuclear physics were wrong. Furthermore, Pons and Fleischmann were being very secretive with their results and procedures. Scientists attempting to reproduce their results were forced to rely on news reports and photos.

At the time Pons and Fleischmann made their claim, I was a senior physics major. One of my classmates had recently been accepted to one of the top physics graduate programs in the country, and was invited to visit. He arrived just as a group of nuclear physicists were attemptimg to duplicate Pons and Fleischmann’s experiment, although everyone was quite convinced it wouldn’t work. At the climactic moment, my classmate and the experimenters, including some of the world’s most distinguished physicists, gathered around the device that was supposedly creating cold fusion. One of them finally announced, “Well I guess it doesn’t work.”

“How can you tell?” asked my classmate.

“Well for one thing,” answered the professor, “if it were working we’d all be dead from radiation poisoning.”