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September 29, 2010

American Relations with Indians 1621-1876 (Three Book Review)

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I just finished a trio of books about American History and the building of the nation that, although somewhat unrelated, have many common threads running through them.

The books were Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, which of course is about the Pilgrims who settled Plymouth Colony in the 1620s. It also about the Indian wars that occurred fifty years after the landing at Plymouth Rock. The next was Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose and is the story of Lewis and Clark and their mission along the Missouri to find to find a navigable waterway to the Pacific Ocean. The third was The Last Stand, again by Nathaniel Philbrick and is about George Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Big Horn where Custer and over 200 of his men were completely annihilated by a large army of plains Indians.

All three are very well written, engaging history books -- although the last third of Mayflower, about the Prince Philip's war, got to be a little tedious and can't compare to the story of the Pilgrims and their trials settling at Plymouth. Undaunted Courage is the book about the Lewis and Clark trek and if you want to read one book about Lewis and Clark, this is the one. The Last Stand doesn't bring any new research to a subject covered heavily by many authors, but it is quite engaging, especially once Custer and his men begin to look for Sitting Bull's village.

Mayflower and The Last Stand are interesting bookends to America's dealings with Native Indians. The Plymouth Colony pilgrims were completely reliant on the natives the first few years after they arrived and the Indians could have easily wiped them out but they didn't. Eventually the natives begun to feel threatened by the hordes of Europeans settling in the area from Manhattan to Boston and begun to fight back, often with disastrous results to both whites and Indians. Fast forward 200 years later to 1876 and even though the Battle of the Big Horn was a great victory for Sitting Bull and a huge embarrassment to the U.S. Army, within a few years after the battle all native Americans had been brought unto reservations and the Indian wars were essentially over. Undaunted Courage describes the point between these two books, when the United States first ventured into the area west of the Mississippi and unknowingly set off a chain of events that eventually led to the Little Big Horn.

As kids we are taught a few details about the Mayflower Pilgrims, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and Custer's Last Stand. However if you want to read more about these events and how they impacted the creation of the United States, I would strongly recommend either or all three of these books.

September 24, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

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Twins clinch and we only needed 151 games this year. What a novel concept. Here's random top 10 to celebrate:

1. Purple Rain -- Prince
2. I'm Just Happy to Dance with You -- The Beatles
3. 3rd Stone from the Sun -- Jimi Hendrix
4. Hate it Here (live) -- Wilco
5. I Want Candy -- The Strangeloves
6. At the Edge of the Sea -- The Wedding Present
7. Nevermore -- Soundtrack of our Lives
8. Just as I Am -- Johnny Cash
9. The Wait -- The Pretenders
10. Ideology -- Billy Bragg

Bonus: Leaving on a Jet Plan -- Peter Paul and Mary

Wow four songs from the 60's on that list. What's your top 10?

September 22, 2010

Catholic Anti-Homosexuality DVDs

You may have heard that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is sending out an anti-gay marriage DVD to all parishioners in the Archdiocese. It is ostensibly related to impacting this Fall's general election. Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to the Archdiocese and our Priest.

As a faithful and active Catholic, I am disappointed in the Archdiocese sending of an Anti-gay marriage DVD to parishioners. I am saddened to say that the Church is out of step with most of its flock on this issue, especially those under 50 years of age.


I will be reducing the amount of our family giving to Annunciation Church by a one time amount of $5.00 which I feel is what it cost to produce and mail out this DVD to our family.

Given its past history related to the role of women in the Church and current stance against homosexuality, being Catholic can be hard sometimes. It is especially tough when one acknowledges that the Catholic Church has the most articulate and passionate thinking on social justice of any mainstream religion. The Church is becoming more and more isolated in its stance against homosexuality and hopefully as a younger generation becomes more entrenched in the Church, its thinking will change. Until then I guess we have to stomach anti-gay marriage DVDs from our church leaders.

September 20, 2010

It wasn't all bad

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Photo by The Daily Gopher

So you say the Gophers, Vikings, and Twins all lost this weekend (Twins 2 of 3)?. Doesn't matter. The USC Cheerleaders Song Girls were in town. That will always brighten a sports weekend abyss.

btw, make sure you click on the pic to enlarge, the Song Girl in the middle is particularly beguiling.

September 17, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Flaming Lips in town on Sunday. I think they should sing the National Anthem at a Twins, Gophers or Vikings game this weekend. Here's a Random Top Ten.

1. David Watts -- The Jam
2. Faraway Eyes -- The Handsome Family
3. Wheels -- The Flying Burrito Brothers
4. Bad Seeds (live) -- Beat Happening
5. Neon Bible -- Arcade Fire
6. Whatcha Drinkin' -- Husker Du
7. The Other Way -- Weezer
8. Rubber Ring -- The Smiths
9. Ideology -- Billy Bragg
10. 3 Year Old Man -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: Bad Boys Get Spanked -- The Pretenders.

That list looks like it was programmed at a College radio station. When I was a Freshman in college me and a friend trashed a dorm room with Bad Boys Get Spanked as the soundtrack. I've always liked that song.

September 16, 2010

Coffin. Hammer. Nail.

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Given their recent track record against the White Sox in August and September, it comes as no surprise that , with the season on the line for Ozzies Boyz, the Twins come into Chicago and lay a death blow to the White Sox season.

Wednesday it was Jesse Crain and striking out Ron Paul Konerko and Manny with the bases loaded. Yesterday it was Joe Mauer showing off his man muscles and hitting a key three run homerun. In each instance you could see the Sox deflate and basically check their watch for the rest of the game. It's over. The Twins can smell it, the White Sox have accepted it, and all of a sudden the national press has noticed the Twins and wonder if they can compete in October.

You gotta love the killer instinct of this Twins club. Coming into Chicago with a 6 game lead, they really didn't need to win a game and still would have been in the driver's seat. But that's not the approach they took. Denard Span said after Tuesday's game that they wanted to kill the White Sox' chances and by winning the first two games, effectively did that.

So it would be nice to win tonight's game too, just to rub their nose in it. But it doesn't matter if the Twins win or not tonight. Sometime in the next week or so they will have clinched the AL Central Division and then set their sights on the playoffs: Rest some players, get their pitching match-ups in place, scout the Yankees and the Rays. It's all looking good and we'll be playing baseball in a chilly but rocking Target Field this October.

September 13, 2010

Sickening

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You have to admit you saw it coming. Last year's close call at home against South Dakota State. The loss of key personnel from a mediocre defense. The lack of a shred of evidence that Tim Brewster can actually coach a big time football team. But when it happened, when it finally was undeniable that the Minnesota Gophers lost at home to a team called the South Dakota Coyotes, well it still was a blow to the solar plexus. You had to admit to yourself that it's going to be a long time until you see a good Golden Gopher Football team.

What was so frustrating about Saturday's game (and there was a lot to be frustrated about) was that at times it seemed like South Dakota had better athletes than Minnesota, especially when it was the Coyote offense v. the Gopher defense. That is inexcusable from a team that is bigger, faster, and more highly touted than their South Dakota counterparts. It really comes down to coaching.

There's that old saying about Coach Bear Bryant: He could take his team and beat your team. Then turn around and take your team his beat his team. It appears that Tim Brewster is the antithesis to Bear Bryant: He can take his team and lose to your team and then take your team and lose to his team. It's just not Brewster either. Obviously Defensive Coordinator Cosgrove has no clue how to evaluate talent, put a defense game plan together, or make adjustments mid-game. Some of that is on Brewster, but it also lands on Cosgrove. It's no secret why he was run out of Lincoln NE. There were other questionable coaching calls all throughout the Saturday's game. Decisions that really make you wonder if Brewster understands the game at all.

So what do we do now? If this was Japan Brewster would have resigned out of embarrassment. Well this isn't Japan and Brewster's not going anywhere unless shown the door. It's probably too early to fire Brewster but the knives should be sharpened. No one is anticipating a win against USC, but Northern Illinois at home is coming up, then Northwestern for homecoming. Away at Wisconsin and Purdue after that . If the Gophers have not won a game through Purdue, it's time to cut the cord. The season will officially be a lost cause and it will be time to move on.

The Gophers have a beautiful stadium, modern facilities, a grand tradition, and play in a big time conference. Its fans are hungry for a team that can compete. It really is incumbent on the University to find a coach that matches all that Minnesota has to offer. Obviously Tim Brewster is not that coach.

September 10, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Ok that Viking's game was real "fun." Can we get back to baseball now or do we have to get excited about the Timberwolves? How about a random top ten:

1. South Australia -- The Pogues
2. All You Fascists -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
3. Silver -- Pixies
4. Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy -- Guided By Voices
5. There's No There -- Dinosaur Jr.
6. Dr. Wu -- Minutemen
7. Folk Star -- Paul Westerberg
8. The New Kid (live) -- The Old 97's
9. Love and Happiness -- Al Green
10. London Girl -- The Jam

Bonus: Starman -- Golden Smog

Nice list. One of my favorites in a long while. What's your top 10?

September 7, 2010

It was a Labor Day Weekend!!

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I spent the Labor Day weekend (Thursday afternoon through Monday evening) demolishing my back cement stairs and rebuilding new wood stairs. It was hard but ultimately rewarding work that of course took a bit longer than I thought.

The first two and 1/2 days entailed demolishing the cement steps. Nine hours of jackhammering and I finally got the steps into a pile of rubble. Then after finishing the jack hammering Saturday morning I had to push the rubble out of the way from our project site. I wore my wedding ring during the jack hammering, which tore into my hand and finger. That'll leave a mark!. See the pile of rubble below.

The rest of Saturday meant digging holes for cement footings and then pouring the footings So I was sitting at the end of the day Saturday exhausted from moving cement and dirt and still had a steps and patio to build.

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Sunday I had a couple extra helpers and the work went fast while Monday was suppose to only take a few hours to get some of the last railing and balustrades in. Again it took longer as this work was on the step part which mean cutting lots of angles. By 6:00 Monday we were done and we had a new wooden patio and steps. It was lots of work but looks great!

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September 3, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

My weekend project: Smashing my old cement steps in the back and building new wooden stairs. Fun! Here's a random top 10 to get me started...

1. Let the Train Blow the Whistle -- Johnny Cash
2. Palisades -- Wedding Present
3. Storm in My House -- Minutemen
4. Anna Begins -- Counting Crows
5. Artists Only (live) -- Talking Heads
6. The Underdog -- Spoon
7. Fifth House -- John Coltrane
8. Lone Star Trail -- Ken Manyard
9. Five Years -- David Bowie
10. Slate -- Uncle Tupelo

Bonus: On a Night Like this -- Los Lobos

O.k. Not the greatest list but what the heck it's Labor Day Weekend, what do you want? What's your top 10?

September 2, 2010

Gopher Football Preview

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Tonight is the start of the football season for the 2010 Golden Gophers of Minnesota and most pundits and fans don't give the Gopher's a whole lot of respect or think they will win a whole lot of games. Coach Brewster has yet to demonstrate that his coaching ability can match his enthusiasm and the Gophers, to be frank, have a hellish schedule. I am in agreement that five wins will be hard to come by this year.

The Gophers should win tonight at Middle Tennessee State, especially since their stud QB is suspended. Wins at home against South Dakota and Northern Illinois should be givens (if Gophers lose tonight or against Northern Illinois, it's going to be a long season). USC at home should be a fun game and USC has a depleted team and idiot coach, but they are also playing with a chip on their shoulder and will be looking to kick some Big Ten butt.

The home Big Ten schedule is especially tough with a potential win slated against Northwestern but home toughies with OSU, PSU, and Iowa. Purdue and Illinois are winnable (especially Illinois), but on the road has been tough for Brewster's boys. At Wisconsin will be tough too.

So I predict five wins (MTSU, SoDak, No Ill, Northwestern, Illinois). That means no trophy wins for the 4th straight season, no bowl game, and a lot of pressure for Tim Brewster to be shown the door. Alas, we still have a beautiful stadium to watch games in (although that November 27 Iowa game could be coooold!). Will Brewster survive the season? Will the Gophers surprise? How can this team be turned around? Tonight the discussion starts.

What do you think of the Gopher's chances this year?