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April 29, 2004

Partisan politics

Got a letter regarding the stadium issue today from my representative Ron Latz (DFL). In the past Mr. Latz has been pretty pro-stadium, and that was one of the reasons I voted for him. However, today he wrote:


Dear Shane:

I have set as my standard a stadium bill that does not affect the ability of the state to fund more important priorities, that is made in the context of adequate funding for those more important priorities, that protects the fiscal integrity of the state, that has enough private participation, and that takes care of our public institutional need for a stadium for the University of Minnesota's Gopher football team, too. I am not philosophically opposed to public investment in public
infrastructure, and I consider a stadium, done correctly, to be public infrastructure, just like the Metrodome, Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis Convention Center, etc. However, there are many higher priorities for state investment than athletic stadiums which the Governor and House Majority have so far failed to adequately fund.

So far, I am not convinced that the stadium proposals in the House meet my standards.

Thanks for your input!

Ron Latz
State Representative


I replied:

Mr. Latz--

Thanks for the update, although I am very disappointed in what you have to say. Essentially how I read this is that you won't support the stadium bill before the House Taxes committee because it is authored and being pushed for by the Republican leadership. Partisan politics at its finest. Because of this blatant partisanship not only will we have "higher priorities" that are inadequately funded, but yet again the legislature will fail to pass a workable stadium bill. Do two wrongs make a right? Already we have seen stadium costs double due to the inability of our elected officials to figure out how to "fairly" solve this problem. 31 other markets have built stadiums while Minnesota has bickered, pouted, and whined to the point of nauseum. Your inactivity on this issue is going to cost Minnesota millions whether it be a year from now when a stadium bill actually passes, or 10 years from now when we try to lure the NFL and MLB back to our state. If you don't think that will happen, all I need to do is point out the Minnesota Wild. Let's figure this problem out this year, save our state some money, and move on. Please push politics aside and reconsider your stance on this issue. Thanks for listening.


On letters like these I've really got to hold myself back from lashing out. I can't believe anyone in our legislature would want to push this to another year.

UPDATE 4/30/04 4:12 PM: Ron Latz responds:


Dear Shane:

I appreciate your response to my explanation of how I am approaching this issue. You misinterpret my priority setting as partisan in motivation. I come to the issue with an open mind and not a philosophical rejection of public financial involvement in stadium funding. This is more than can be said of many of my colleagues. Also, the Senate author is our own DFL Senator Steve Kelley. That said, my district survey revealed a 5 to 2 rejection of stadium funding of any sort, while supporting raising taxes to support other priorities of government service. I think I have a principled approach on the merits and is consistent with the overall sentiment of my constituents. I would love to say we saved the Twins and Vikings, and gave the Gophers a great new place to play. It just has to be done the right way and in the right context. We'll see what emerges from the tax committee and on to the House floor.


To which I responded:

Ron--

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate your thoughtfulness on the issue and your willingness to correspond with me. However, this issue of stadiums in Minnesota isn't going away, and quite frankly I'm sick of it. It needs to be solved. I know it is important to take seriously the views of your constituency, but I also hope there are times that as an elected official you do what you think is best for the state. Most people cannot get past the teams' owners and their billions of dollars. They don't understand that our professional sports teams are much too important to this region to only consider the wealth of the owner when deciding whether or not to fund stadiums. What I'm trying to say is that people do not understand the issue as well as you do. Please take a close look at whatever comes out of the House Taxes committee. If you feel it could work, please vote for it. It will get this monkey off our backs, allow us to focus on other things, and save the state millions of dollars in the long run. Thanks again for your time.

Shane

He then responded "Got it!" So, we'll see...

Posted by snackeru at 9:55 PM | Comments (6)

What did I tell you?

Interesting news coming out of the newspapers regarding stadiums in Minnesota. If you'll recall, yesterday I wrote about how the Taxes committee is against the TIF financing idea (especially Abrams) that would fund the state's portion of stadium costs. I expected the committee to discuss where the state's contribution would come from and it appears that is what they did yesterday. Actually, it appears they listened to the possible host communities whine a little bit about how the TIF method wasn't their idea, but that they still need to have some form of state support. Before we get to a possible alternative to TIF, the article above did mention that the Twins are willing to pay for 1/3 of the stadium costs. In fact, it quotes Twins officials as saying:


Twins officials testified Wednesday that they're willing to pay for one-third of the ballpark's costs, but not one-third of the project costs -- such as infrastructure -- as the bill demands.

It's not quite time for me to fall over into a catatonic shock, but I'm close. I wonder what this means in terms of a dollar amount? Probably $120 million, just what they said they'd pay in 2002. Does anyone know for sure?

Finally, we get to a possible alternative to the TIF financing method. I've been pretty hard on Abrams in the past, but I may have to change my tune. It appears his scare tactics to get the teams to cough up some money is working, and now Sid Hartman is reporting this little bit of news in his column today:


Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, spent two hours talking about a football stadium with Red McCombs, Mike Kelly and other Vikings officials Saturday at Winter Park. Abrams, chairman of the House Taxes Committee, made it clear he is for a stadium, but his idea is that taxes on car rentals, hotels and such across the metropolitan area should pay for the stadium, according to Kelly. I haven't agreed much with Abrams' stadium policies, but I agree 100 percent that this would be one way to finance a stadium.

Wow! I gotta say I agree with that, too. If he can pull that off, if he can both alter the bill to suggest this as a method for financing the state's portion and get it passed in his committee ... yikes, I shouldn't get my hopes up that much. Today and Monday should be very interesting in the Taxes commitee, that is for sure.

Posted by snackeru at 8:45 AM

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 7:45 AM

April 28, 2004

Songs for a Desert Island I

I'm going to try something new today. I'm sure we've all been asked this question before, but now I'm going to document my selections. If I was stranded alone on a desert island, what music would I want to keep me company? More specifically, what songs would I want, could I conceivably stand, to hear over and over and over again? My first selection:

Synchronicity II by the Police

This is one of my all time favorite songs. First of all the music is great. It is one of the few songs in the Police's catalog that Sting actually allows Andy Summers to show off his guitar playing abilities. I went to see Sting on his Ten Summoner's Tales tour and he played this song during the concert. However, Sting's current guitar player, Dominic Miller, did not play the guitar parts half as well as Andy Summer. In fact, I was very disappointed. But I digress.

Aside from the music, the lyrics are some of Sting's best. In fact, they are inspired. In order to make it into the CD player on my desert island (how will I plug it in?) I need something more than "Oh baby" and a few strategically placed grunts and moans. I need something to think about. Synchronicty II tells the story of an unhappy family on the brink of exploding. Let's take a look at the lyrics:

Another suburban family morning
Grandmother screaming at the wall
We have to shout above the din of our Rice Crispies
We can't hear anything at all
Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration
But we know all her suicides are fake,
Daddy only stares into the distance
There's only so much more that he can take
Many miles away something crawls from the slime at the
Bottom of a dark Scottish lake

A typical family in the suburbs wakes up to the same old monotony. There is something amiss with Grandma, and Mother is sick of her life at home. I can't help but think of my own wife in this circumstance, a stay at home mother who regulary chants a "litany of boredom and frustration." Thankfully suicide is not an issue. Enter Daddy. The head of the household is also sick of his existence, sick of work, sick of the same old everyday. He is reaching his breaking point. Then out of the blue, Sting introduces a monster "crawling from the slime" many miles away. What does this represent? I've got my own ideas which I will share later.

Another industrial ugly morning
The factory belches filth into the sky
He walks unhindered through the picket lines today,
He doesn't think to wonder why
The secretaries pout and preen like cheap tarts in a red light street,
But all he ever thinks to do is watch,
And every single meeting with his so-called superior
Is a humiliating kick in the crotch
Many miles away something crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish loche

Daddy gets to work, and from the sounds of it the job is not very satisfactory. Going through the motions he crosses the picket lines, and is confronted by possibly promiscuous secretaries (?). This part of the song has always confused me. What would Sting have Daddy do at this point? Flirt? Have an affair? Does Daddy need to do something with the secretaries to feel alive again, or to break out of his funk? Personally, I wouldn't consider adultery to be the answer. The end of the stanza is highlighted by possibly the best word play Sting has ever come up with, the weak rhyme between "crotch" and "loche." Genius! But more importantly, the monster has reached the surface.

Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race
Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now looming in the headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there's a shadow on the door of a cottage on the
Shore of a dark Scottish lake
Many miles away...
Many miles away...

Every time I get into a car after work I can't help but think of myself as a lemming in a "shiny metal box." Is our driving as pointless as lemmings marching to their deaths? And we've come full circle, Daddy stared into the distance in the morning, and now he is staring again "alone into the distance." He is about to explode. The monster has also reached it's destination. What will happen with Daddy? What will happen with the monster? Could the monster and Daddy be one in the same?

At first I thought this was a song about the mudane vs. the spectacular. Here is a family living a very boring existence, while "many miles away" something very extraordinary is happening. However, now I understand the song to be much more sinister. Undoubtedly the monster is Daddy's psyche reaching the breaking point, and the song ends with the monster reaching the door. Has Daddy also reached the door of the family home? One can only imagine what happens next, but it probably won't be pretty.

Anyway, you might be thinking to yourself why exactly I like this song. Quite frankly the music rocks and the lyrics are very thought provoking. It is a reminder of what not to become. Family life is hard work and it would be easy to slip into a monotonous, unsatisfying existence. Truthfully I thank God my family isn't like this.

So that is my thoughts on Synchronicity II, a song almost always played during rush hour. How appropriate. If you hear it today, listen to it a little more carefully and see if it speaks to you. Stay tuned for more Songs for a Desert Island!

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 PM | Comments (6)

Is Abrams Ruining Everything?

Interesting news coming out of the capitol these days concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota. First off, the links:


The big news from both of these articles is that Ron Abrams has promised to vote against the bill if it includes the TIF financing method for the state's contribution. Conservative estimates suggest that this method will contribute around $100 million dollars to both the Vikings stadium and the Twins stadium. If the TIF funding strategy is taken out of the bill, where does Abrams expect the state's contribution to come from? Probably nowhere would be my guess. In the past he has tried to float an addendum that would tax statewide newspapers. So far I haven't heard this brought up. To tell you the truth, I don't know what to think of this development. Neither Hennepin County's or St. Paul's initial proposals had any mention of a TIF-like funding strategy at all. But they did count on some kind of state-wide support. I think today's House Taxes meeting will be very interesting as I expect them to try to come up with some alternate funding source.

After reading these articles I am convinced more than ever that Ron Abrams is trying to scare the teams to death. Actually, he is trying to scare them into committing to paying for 1/3 of their stadiums. In fact, he even said as much in yesterday's hearing. I wonder if the Twins made a concrete 1/3 committment if Abrams would back away from some of his more anti-stadium rhetoric? Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever find out. If Pohlad ever agreed to paying 1/3 upfront I think I would fall over into catatonic shock. We'll see, though. We'll see.

Other than that I can also take away two positives from yesterday's proceedings. First of all, I totally agree with Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington:


Placing the taxing burden on one jurisdiction -- such as Hennepin County -- might not be an equitable arrangement for a "statewide asset," said Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, who said she is concerned that her constituents will pay for a Minneapolis ballpark but gain no economic benefits.

If the entire 5 county area was taxed no one would feel a thing. How likely is this to happen, though? Not likely at all. I'd like to hear what she thinks would be a fair solution to this concern of hers. Secondly, thanks to Abrams focus on TIF, it seems there is no mention of adding a referendum to the bill. If neither Hennepin County or St. Paul had to have a referendum that would be wonderful (although Randy Kelley has already stated he favors one). Maybe a referendum is just a given, who knows?

The floor of the House will see this bill. I have no doubt of that. I just don't think it will look the same. I'm still holding out hope that even though the Taxes committee is sure to change the bill that it is still workable. If anyone has heard any other news about this, please let me know!

Posted by snackeru at 8:53 AM

April 27, 2004

Reflections on UThink

Why the library? Why should the library host blogs on campus? I've heard this often enough where I feel it is an important question to answer. The easiest answer to this is, why not? But that probably won't satisfy the masses. I think most people are hung up by their own perceptions of what both libraries are and what blogs are. To many in a university environment, the library is a stuffy building with old books and even older librarians whispering "shhhh!" all the time. There is also a (better) perception of the library as a temple to knowledge, the epitome of academia and the holder of the record of the breadth of human history and discovery. The library provides resources people can trust, hand selected by subject specialists, meticulosly cataloged, and ready for use in scholarly discourse. The keyword there is "scholarly." Why in the world would the library be interested in blogs?

This brings up people's perception of blogs. To many, blogs are little more than electronic gossip devices, or personal diaries filled with drivel of little or no academic value. This is what I call the "blueberry muffin" effect. Why in the world should I care that you had a blueberry muffin for breakfast? And possibly more importantly, why in the world did you feel the need to write about it for the world to read? Are all blogs filled with this personal drivel? Can we stereotype them all and box them all into this corner of having very little scholarly value?

Obviously I would say no. I personally feel that blogs and libraries can help break these stereotypes that both must overcome. The University of Minnesota and the University Libraries are not unique in offering blogs to the campus community. Many other univeristies are taking this leap, and it probably all started with Blogs at Harvard Law. There is also a lot of research and thought going into blogs on college campuses which you can find here, and here, and here, and here, etc. Blogs are approaching the tipping point on many campuses around the world as a tool that can enhance the traditional academic enterprise. How do libraries fit into the picture?

Libraries can certainly offer blogs an air of legitimacy given people's already stuffy impression of the role of the academic library on campus. However, when you think about it, blogs are just another example of the breadth of human knowledge and thought in electronic form. There are blogs for every topic under the sun and more are being created every day. Why isn't it the job of the libraries to also collect this material? We already collect material in all subjects and all formats; blogs are merely an extension of a responsibility. Right now there are hundreds of faculty, staff, and students on the U of M campus that maintain blogs, blogs that discuss their lives, research interests, classes, political persuasions, work life, and more. Why wouldn't the libraries want to archive this (sometimes) very important content? In addition, this content is quite literally a gold mine of unfettered and unedited essays that represents a snap shot in time of the history of the institution. Regardless of whether a person feels these posts and entries are "scholarly" or not, they reflect what people are thinking about at the U of M right now. Libraries already collect material like this through the University Archives. Blogs, however, will offer a much richer picture for researchers of the future interested in the cultural memory of the institution.

Let's talk a little more about the whole "scholarly" thing. While I would agree that most of the libraries' tradtional holdings (books, microfilm, databases) contain materials that could be considered "scholarly" I can also promise you that right now the library's collections also contain literally thousands of books that you would consider to be absolute crap. If you don't believe me you haven't looked hard enough. That is why this perception of blogs as frivolous irks me so much. It is so subjective. This idea that blogs must be "scholarly" (as the reader defines it) to be worthy of being published is academic elitism and censorship at its finest. That is why it is so important for blogs to be housed in the libraries. As guardians of intellectual freedom libraries can encourage people to write what they want, when they want, without fear of institutional restraint. Blogs give people on campus the freedom to express their opinion in any way they see fit, and libraries can ensure that their first amendment rights aren't tampered with.

I fully believe in the process of writing. I think of blogs as a public practice arena for putting your thoughts on paper (or screen as the case may be). Sometimes your thoughts will be complete schlock, but as you practice more you are bound to get better at expressing yourself. Sooner or later you will become more adept at expressing an opinion, making an argument, debating what you feel is an important issue, etc. More importantly you will learn to trust your own opinion more, and you will find that you actually have opinions on a lot of topics. I guess what I am trying to say is that through all the crap people write on blogs there is usually the germ of an idea trying to get out. The University Libraries don't want to squelch that idea, we want to give you the chance to express it.

Posted by snackeru at 10:28 AM

April 26, 2004

Where is Snackeru?

Sorry for the lack of posts, everyone. Yesterday and today were a little busy. I'm especially sorry considering that today was a big day in terms of stadiums in Minnesota. Today, Pawlenty's stadium bill had its first hearing in front of Ron Abrams' House Taxes Committee. Can't you just hear the ominous music and screaming in the background as you read that? The HOUSE TAXES COMMITTEE! Bwaahhahhaha! Starring Ron Abrams as the evil Crypt Keeper! The crypt in this case contains any state money going towards a stadium. Will the money escape, or will it be locked away in the dungenons of the capitol forever? Stay tuned to find out!

I actually watched part of the proceedings on the House webcast this morning, but gosh darnit if my worklife didn't get in the way! Blast these stupid library web pages! There is important time to waste watching the smug Ron Abrams kiss the Twins and Vikings goodbye. Unfortunately I had to turn the webcast off. I did get the impression that Abrams will do his best, however, to screw the fans of Minnesota any way that he can. Don't believe me? Check out this article yesterday in the Star Trib. Ron Abrams has a very choice quote in it:


"The social promotion of the stadium bill is over," said Rep. Ron Abrams, chairman of the House Taxes Committee, which will hear the matter beginning Monday. "I'm for a responsible solution, but this bill is not responsible in a number of ways."

Well, isn't that dandy? Our governor thinks it is responsible, and the Speaker of the House thinks it is responsible. I'm beginning to think the leaders of our government don't really have any power at all compared to the might of Ron Abrams. Is all hope lost? I'm not so sure. Consider this: Neither the Twins or the Vikings are very thrilled with this bill. They've both already said the 1/3 required by each team is too steep. Could Pawlenty and Abrams be playing a little good cop-bad cop routine? Could the Republican leadership actually be working together to push the Twins and Vikings to make a 1/3 committment? Unlikely, I realize, but I've decided to look on the bright side of things for a change.

Also consider these points. Our good friend Jim in St. Paul has already told us that Abrams and Pawlenty have met to discuss this issue. Then yesterday on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave (sorry Jim, I love Sid) Pawlenty actually called in and discussed the issue a little bit. It was kind of funny actually because Pawlenty called in as a regular caller and fooled both Sid and Mike Max (Dave was out). Maxie said, "Tim from Eagan, you are on the air" and then Pawlenty ripped in to Sid and said Sid hasn't been promoting stadiums in Minnesota nearly enough this year. This, of course, is a complete fallacy since Sid Hartman is the world's biggest stadium supporter. Sid was almost speechless at this statement before Maxie realized it was Tim Pawlenty on the phone. Anyway, Sid started to lay into Pawlenty after that by saying Abrams is going to throw a wrench into everything. Pawlenty was actually very cool about it and said he and Abrams had had "several" meetings over the last "few weeks" discussing this issue. Pawlenty also said he has faith that Abrams will do the right thing. It seemed to imply Pawlenty knows something we don't know, which is certainly true. Sid also told Pawlenty it was all up to him, that if he didn't push for this solution it would never work. Sid brought out the Arne Carlson/Excel Energy Center card, which is a good card to play, and Pawlenty seemed to agree with him. So, what did I learn at the end of all of this? Nothing really, except that Pawlenty remains one heckuva a politician. He'll tell us just enough of what we want to hear, but in the end I'm not sure he is as committed to this as we need him to be. Only time will tell.

Posted by snackeru at 4:43 PM | Comments (2)

April 24, 2004

Luther the Reformer

Luther Luther the Reformer
by James M. Kittelson
334 pages

Being a Lutheran myself, I felt it was high time that I learned more about the man whose name appears on the majority of churches in Minnesota. Martin Luther is a fascinating man whose ideas truly reformed the entire Christian church. Beliefs that we take for granted today, such as justification by faith and the amazing grace of God, Luther struggled to come to grips with given the stifling doctrine of the Catholic church of the time. Throughout his life as a monk, a professor, and later as the leader of the church in Germany, Luther shaped his philosophy as a reaction to the problems he saw with the faith of his day. Remarkably, Luther's central beliefs of the justification of faith and the grace of God are for the most part the same beliefs most Lutherans, and most Protestants in general, hold dear today. However, Luther also proved to be somewhat arrogrant, intractable, and inflexible when it came to many matters of faith, which was ironic given his stance towards the belief of his day in the infallability of the pope. If anyone disagreed with Luther concerning matters of faith, even if it was a close friend, Luther rarely hesitated to label that person a "tool of Satan." Read more of the review by clicking on the link below if you are interested!

Luther was born in 1483 in Eisleben. Throughout his life Luther's father valued his son's education and ultimately wanted Luther to become a lawyer. Story has it, though, that Luther was traveling when he was caught in a violent storm. Fearing for his life Luther vowed to devote his life to God if he survived. Shortly thereafter, Luther told his father the news and entered an Augustinian monastery. While there Luther learned and practiced the faith of the day which held that people retained a small amount of faith after the fall, but that it had to be augmented by the sacraments and "good works" to ensure salvation. One of the sacraments in particular, confession of one's sins to a priest, began to trouble Luther a great deal. The act of confession caused Luther an inordinate amount of grief since as a monk his lack of sins forced him to look deep into every aspect of his life for wrongdoing. Through this process he became utterly depsondent and began to question whether he was doing enough of the Mass, enough of the sacraments, enough penance to guarantee his place in heaven. Luther also discovered a paradox of sorts in that the more that he focused on himself and his attempts to make himself right in the eyes of God, the more truly selfish he became and the further he moved away from the kingdom of heaven. As Kittelson writes, "Just when they thought they were being most spiritual, human beings sought themselves and their own advantage." Luther was beginning to realize there was nothing humans could do to please God enough to warrant salvation.

This would probably be enough to drive anyone over the edge, but especially a Catholic monk. However, it is at this point that Luther began to fully understand the wonder of God's grace. Through the letters of Paul, especially the letter to the Romans, Luther began to understand that man lives in a constant state of sin, and that there is nothing we can do about it. No amount of good deeds, no amount of sacraments would change this fact. The wonder of it is that God through his wisdom, righteousness, and grace forgives us our sins through our faith and our faith alone. This is an important concept: God's grace requires nothing but our faith and belief in Jesus. As Kittelson writes:


"Good deeds (in particualr, acts of love for one's neighbor) were part of this life, but neither they nor special spiritual exercises added anything to faith, which was created and constantly refreshed by the Word. Consequently, those who were truly faithful were not in a state of loving God, but rather of being loved by God. All they required was the Word."

Therefore Christians live in the faith of salvation, the hope of eternal life, and the love of God. It is a journey that is always beginning and never reaching its goal ("I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2 comes to mind) since, according to Luther, faith takes daily dilligence. However, it makes much more sense than performing an infinite number of good works with no guarantee of the grace of God. Luther said, "The law says 'Do this!' and it is never done. Grace says, 'Believe in this man!' and immediately everything is done." All we have to do is believe in Jesus and we are guaranteed salvation.

Needless to say, this idea of "justification through faith" as it became to be called was revolutionary. It would also get Luther into a fair amount of trouble. At this time the church in Rome was building St. Peter and needed extra funds to make this happen. The pope sent out salesmen of sorts to sell indulgences among the populace to raise the needed money. Indulgences could be purchased by the laity to shorten the amount of time a deceased relative had to stay in purgatory (only souls free from sin could enter heaven which made purgatory necessary to cleanse those souls). Johann Tetzel, the most famous of the indulgence salesmen, is often quoted as saying, "Once a coin into the coffer clings, a sould from purgatory heavenward springs!" Eventually, Tetzel made his way to Germany, and the rest as they say, is history. Given his new understanding of justification by faith, Luther dilligently wrote his arguments concerning the sale of indulgences and tacked them on the door of the Wittenberg church as the "95 Theses." Again, according to Luther there was no amount of money, no amount of good works, that could guarantee our place in heaven, let alone that of a relative. Faith and faith alone is all that matters.

This quickly snowballed and Luther was forced to defend himself to the church leadership of the time. Not only was Luther questioning the sale of indulgences, but ultimately he was questioning the infallability of the pope himself, who had declared the sale and purchase of indulgences to be both godly and necessary. As you might imagine, this could get a guy burned at the stake! However, Luther skillfully defended himself at public debates and through many, many published works until eventually he was declared an outlaw by the church and the Holy Roman Empire. Thankfully, the German princes where he lived at the time protected him until his death.

That is the first half of the book. And it is fascinating. The second half, however, painted a somewhat different picture of Luther and has me convinced that he would be seriously ticked off at most of the churches that bear his name today. For one thing, Luther believed passionately in transubstantiation, or the miracle of the bread and wine turning into the body and blood of Christ. If you did not agree with him you were a "tool of Satan." Luther also did not believe in the free will of man, at least in the way it was taught during the time (for more info on this see this web page). If you disagreed with him you were a "tool of Satan." According to Kittelson Luther was a master name caller and would have a coarse nickname ready for anyone who disputed his teachings or, in his mind, did anything to detract from the gospel. In fact, Luther had little mercy for anyone who rejected the gospel as he saw it. Unfortunately this included the Jews of the area who were told to leave, sometimes based on Luther's own teachings and publications. On top of all of this, however, Luther kept his utmost vindictiveness for the pope. Luther had a very special dislike for the pope.

This did not happen suddenly, but over the course of the second half of his life Luther began to despise the papacy and all it stood for. Of course, the papacy reciprocated this dislike back at Luther. Later in his life Luther was said to have remarked at the table, "It is enough. I have worked myself to death. For one person, I have done enough. I'll go lie down in the sand and sleep now. It is over for me, except for just an occasional little whack at the pope." And whack he did. In 1545 he wrote Against the Papacy at Rome, Founded by the Devil in which Luther referred to the pope as:


"... the head of the damned church of the very worst knaves on earth; vicar of the devil; an enemy of God; an opponent of Christ; and a destroyer of the church of Christ; a teacher of all lies, blasphemy, and idolatries; an archthief of the church and robber of the keys ... a murderer of kings and inciter of all sorts of bloodshed; a brothel-keeper above all brothel-keepers and all lewdness, including what cannot be named; an antichrist; a man of sin and a child of perdition; a genuine werewolf."

Luther died in 1546. During his life he did more to shake up the church and ultimately reform it than any man since St. Paul. I've often joked with my in-laws, who are Catholic, that Luther should be canonized by the church due to the good he did for it, although the church certainly didn't think it was very good at the time. He certainly had his faults, especially his belief in the infallability of his own teachings and his lack of mercy towards the Jews. But more than any other man of his time, his teachings form the basis for our beliefs today concerning the grace of God and justification by faith alone. His own sins, however, certainly demonstrate his belief in the sinfulness of man and the necessity of God's grace on a daily basis.

So, that is Luther: the Reformer as I saw it. It was a great book and one I would recommend whole heartedly. It is concise, well written, and easy to understand. Check it out from your local public library today

Posted by snackeru at 10:22 PM

Are you kidding me?

kenechi.jpg Wow! It looks like the Vikings just picked up the highest rated DE in the draft: Kenechi Udeze. This guy is quick, strong, fast, agile, and as you can see in the picture, he gets to the quarterback. He fell to pick #20 due to a shoulder injury, but from what I've heard it will either heal on its own or it can easily be repaired with surgery. This guy will be a disruptive stud and will be a steal at #20. Like Moss, he will also have a chip on his shoulder that he fell this far in the first round. Yikes! We got a player! And to top it all off, the Vikings convinced Miami they were going to pick Vernon Carey, so they traded the Vikes the 20th pick and another 4th round pick to move up one spot ahead. Studwell and Tice are forgiven for last year's draft debacle as far as I'm concerned. Udeze will have an immediate impact and should improve our defense by putting pressure on the QB. For more information on Udeze see:


Posted by snackeru at 3:11 PM | Comments (3)

April 23, 2004

Victory yet again

The Twin Cities are abuzz with debate concerning Victory Sports. I think I've already made myself abundantly clear on where I stand on this issue, but I can't help but comment on news that came out today about the ongoing negotiations (or lack thereof). The cable companies will try to tell you they won't pick up Victory because their price per subscriber is too high, or because Victory doesn't have good enough programming to warrant any price. Hogwash. The cable companies won't pick up Victory because they don't want to set a precedent. If the Twins and Victory win this battle you will probably see every MLB team give this a try, and the cable companies just don't want the headache. Can you imagine trying to negotiate with 30 separate teams? Anyway, read the article above, but pay special attention to this quote concerning the cable companies' assertion that the Twins should be negotiating with FSN:


Victory President Kevin Cattoor was frustrated with the stance that the Twins should seek mediation with FSN. "My response to the Fox suggestion is it's not appropriate because the issue is not with Fox Sports Net," he said.

Cattoor was especially critical of Comcast, which has merged forces with the Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox to form a sports network in Chicago. He points out that those teams bolted from Fox Sports Net in Chicago.

"If Comcast thinks that's the way it should occur in this market, why don't they give all the Chicago teams back to Fox Sports Net in Chicago?" Cattoor said.

Touché. We need to start putting pressure on the cable companies to make this happen. Stop focusing on the Twins! The cable companies need to start feeling the heat, hopefully more than they do already.

Posted by snackeru at 12:39 PM | Comments (3)

UThink in the news

Well, we're into week three of the UThink project and things are going pretty smoothly. Again, thanks to the quiet release of the project, we were able to learn about a bug with the Trackback feature of our installation of Movable Type and fix it before things get too crazy. The quiet nature of our release hasn't stopped some news being generated about UThink, though. I've already told you about the broadcast journalism student that interviewed me, and I'm expecting an article in the Minnesota Daily any day now. Also, University Relations contacted me a couple of days ago and said they would be featuring UThink on the U of M home page next week in a "spotlight." That's pretty cool. And now today, the Library Journal Academic Wire published a little piece about the project. I realize that Library Journal may not be exciting to most of you, but for me, a librarian, it is very flattering. Anyway, here is the piece:


AS PART OF ITS MISSION, U. OF MINNESOTA LIBRARY OFFERS FREE BLOGS
When University of Minnesota (UM) librarian Shane Nackenrud first showed the libraries' new blog system to a faculty member in the philosophy department, he got his first indication that the program might be popular. "He was so impressed," Nackenrud recalled. "He said, 'You're going to have 100,000 users!'" With the April launch of UThink, a program under the library's auspices to offer free blogs to the university community, UM has made the library the center for blogging. Blogging on campuses is not unusual. At Harvard, for example, blogs are sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, part of the law school. UM, however, is among the first to assert that blogging is key to the library's mission, from collecting "campus history" to facilitating academic discourse. "We are not unique in using blogs in an academic environment but we are unique in that we saw that the university libraries could lead the effort," said Nackenrud.

Already, Nackenrud said, professors have said they'll use the blogs for specific classes to encourage discussion and debate. "We also are excited about the potential blogs hold to create communities of interest on campus," he added. "We can tie blogs together based on department, college, major, research interest, or specific classes and bring people together that maybe would have never met if not for the system." For users, copyright and all other related rights to blog content will be owned by the author. Blog authors can even license their content through a Creative Commons license. Other details are still developing, such as how much library support the program will require. Currently, the system is supported by Nackenrud and a programmer, but others might help if demand increases. As for free speech issues, Nackenrud said the library was careful not to create any new policies, even for those blogs with views that may offend. "There is no policy on campus that trumps the First Amendment as far as I know," he said. For Nackenrud and UM officials, the blogs are a vibrant new commons emerging within the UM academic community. "The beauty of all of this," he observed, "is that the library will be the center for all of this activity."


First of all, it is nice to know that variations on the spelling of my last name have not been exhausted yet. This is the first time I have ever been called "Nackenrud." Not the worst butchering of my last name I've ever seen, that is for sure. That honor still goes to "MacFrud." But it is still perplexing to me that he would misspell my last name since I answered this reporter's questions in an email message. Secondly, and more importantly, the author of this piece really nailed the essence of the project. I'm excited for the opportunities this will bring to the U of M to create new types of user communities on campus, and I am really excited about the whole "freedom of expression" aspect of it. So often academic libraries back away from this issue and rely on public libraries and the ALA to bear the torch of intellectual freedom. I'm also excited that the libraries are at the center of this initiative. I feel strongly that in this age of the Internet libraries in general need to reinvent themselves and strive to remain relevant to our users. This is especially true in an academic setting where undergrads prefer the ease of Google and Amazon to the complexity of our catalogs and databases. How do we remain relevant? Certainly not by abandoning what makes us libraries in the first place, but by recognizing when our mission can be supported by new ideas and technology. Blogs are my idea to accomplish this. I can't guarantee the project will be successful, but it has certainly created a buzz about the libraries and that has been gratifying.

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 AM | Comments (2)

April 22, 2004

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 10:41 PM

Restaurants to avoid

UPDATE: You know, many people actually use this list to support restaurants that stood up to the Twins. If that is you, great! That is what free enterprise/democracy/freedom of speech etc. is all about: having the freedom to make your own choices based on what you think is right.

Also, this list is very old now. I can't even say it is accurate any more. In other words, use it or don't. Makes no difference to me.


Back in January David Thune, St. Paul City Councilman, conducted a survey of restaurants and bars in St. Paul asking them about their willingness to have an additional 3% tax levied in their establishments in order to fund a Twins stadium in St. Paul. These are the restaurants and bars that said no to the tax. Before you go out to eat in St. Paul again, please look over this list to make sure you don't eat at one of these establishments. We should make sure we patronize restaurants and bars that support the Twins and keeping baseball in Minnesota. Special thanks to Jim in St. Paul for tracking down and providing this list! Let me know when you get a list of the supporters put together!

Bar/Restaurant

Address

Serlin's Café

1124 Payne Avenue

Magnolias Restaurant

1081 Payne Avenue

Sui Yep Café

1010 Payne Avenue

Best Steak House

949 Payne Avenue

Louie Bar

883 Payne Avenue

Reaney's Bar

870 Payne Avenue

Michael's Pizza

441 South Robert

Brown Derby

567 Stryker Avenue

AM Lounge

488 N Robert Street

Magic Carpet Café

509 Sibley Street

Princess Garden

1665 Rice Street

Coffee Cup

1446 Rice Street

Tin Cups

1220 Rice Street

Papa Mikes Pizza

1048 Rice Street

Mama's Pizza

961 Rice Street

Born's Bar

899 Rice Street

Ron's Bar

879 Rice Street

Sa-gar Restaurant

601 University

Best Steak House

860 University

Herges Bar

981 University

Half Time Rec

1013 Front Avenue

Schroeder Bar & Grill

605 Front Street

Easy Street West

616 Como

Liquor City

560 West Como

Minnehaha Lanes

955 Seminary Avenue

Over The Rainbow

719 N Dale Street

K & L Liquor, Inc.

501 Blair Avenue

LaGrolla

452 Selby Avenue

BonVie/A Piece of Cake

485 & 518 Selby Avenue

The Vintage

579 Selby Avenue

Chicago Submarine

614-612 Selby Avenue

Tavern on Grand

656 Grand Avenue

Italian Pie Shoppe

777 Grand Avenue

Wild Onion

788 Grand Avenue

Grand Thai

758 Grand Avenue

St. Clair Broiler

1580 St. Clair Avenue

Hot City Pizza

1017 W 7th

Glockenspiel

605 West 7th

Dairy Queen

63 W George N

Boca Chica

11 Concord

Michael's Bar

1179 E 7th Street

Great World Buf.

1626 White Bear Avenue

Obb's

1347 Burns Avenue

Sun Ray Bowl

2245 Hudson Road

Black Dog Café

308 Prince Street

The Original Sub Shop

825 E 7th Street

Arcade Bar

932 Arcade Street

Vogel's Lounge

1112 Arcade Street

Romolo's

1409 Arcade

Dairy Queen

1233 Payne Avenue

Hot Rods Bar

1553 University Avenue

Snelling Café

638 Snelling Avenue N

Mirror of Korea

761 Snelling Avenue

Andy's Garage

1825 University Avenue W

Copper Dome Restaurant

1333 Randolph Avenue

J & S Bean Factory

1518 Randolph Avenue

Goby's Grille & Pub

472 S Snelling Avenue

Village Bistro

2012 Ford Parkway

Ermias Queen of Sheba

2447 W 7th Street

La Hacienda

2467 W 7th Street

Scooters Bar

755 Jackson Street

Sports Break

1194 Rice Street

Perfect Pizza

1098 Arcade Street

Eastside Checkerboard

992 Arcade

Angelos Pizza

1668 White Bear Avenue

Pizza Man

1567 White Bear Avenue

Hoagie's Bar

1900 Stillwater Avenue

New Louisiana Café

613 Selby Avenue

The Grandview Grill

1818 Grand Avenue

Old Man River Café

327 W 7th Street

Buffet King

2435 W 7th Street

Mickey's Diner

1950 W 7th Street

Margaritas Res.

1155 Montreal

Brewery Café

945 W 7th Street

Skinners Pub

919 Randolph Avenue

Dubliner

2162 University

Bonnies Café

2160 University Avenue

R. Stones

2388 University Avenue

Artists Grind

2399 University Avenue W

Muffuletta

2260 Como Avenue

Posted by snackeru at 3:55 PM

Cable companies show their true colors

Unless you are living under a rock it would have been hard to miss the articles this morning concerning Pawlenty's offer of state mediation between Victory Sports and the cable companies. While I think it is obvious that the Twins started negotiations off poorly by asking way too much for each subscriber, I have always believed that the cable companies have been the problematic entity in this negotiation process. Now I think we have some proof. According to the Star Trib article on this matter:


Comcast and Time Warner -- which combine to serve much of the metro area -- put a different spin on the situation. Each company issued a statement that urged the Twins to go back to Fox Sports Net, which had been the team's previous cable home.

Time Warner's statement said any mediation should involve the Twins and FSN, stating, "This is where the dispute exists."

Comcast's statement read: "It is incredible the Twins have refused to consider the one solution that could put their games back on the air fastest: the reported [$12 million] offer from Fox Sports Net to carry Twins games. . . . If there is any play for government-sponsored mediation in this situation, it would be to facilitate an immediate deal between the Twins and Fox Sports Net."


The Pioneer Press writes:

A statement from Time Warner Cable, which serves Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs, was similar.

"The true parties to this dispute are Fox Sports Net North and the Twins, and any mediation effort should involve them,'' said a Time Warner statement. "… Any agreement between the Twins and Fox Sports Net North would mean these games would immediately be available to our customers at no retail price increase.''


It is obvious that the cable companies are in bed with Fox Sports Net. It appears they have never intended to actually negotiate in good faith. The only viable solution they see is for the Twins to go crawling back to FSN. I could understand this if the Twins hadn't actually already launched their own network. I could maybe see them going back to FSN if 30+ Minnesota cable companies hadn't already signed on to Victory. I could understand the position of the cable companies if Victory Sports wasn't already available in 90,000+ homes. FSN is no longer an option! For them to claim that the dispute is between the Twins and FSN is so upsetting to me and it clearly shows their true colors in this whole debacle. The Twins have desperately been trying to negotiate while the cable companies have just sat back and watched as Twins fans get angrier and angrier. And not angrier with the cable companies, oh no, Twins fans are angry with the Twins! The cable companies are playing us like a fiddle! Do you liked getting duped? Like it or not, we are getting duped big time.


Posted by snackeru at 12:58 PM | Comments (3)

April 21, 2004

Broken Windows

One of the best books I've read in a long time has been The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book Gladwell argues that social epidemics, like the sudden popularity of a local restaurant or a dramatic decrease in crime for a city, are usually caused by little things or occurences that build up until they reach the "tipping point." Gladwell uses all sorts of examples from the midnight ride of Paul Revere to Sesame Street to the anti-smoking campaign for teenagers to demonstrate how little things can indeed make a big difference.

His best example, however, centered around crime in New York City. In the 80s, NYC was riddled with crime. Gladwell tells the story of Bernard Goetz, the Subway Vigilante, and how he ruthlessly gunned down 4 men who he says tried to rob him on the subway in 1984. People in New York were sick of the crime and living in fear, and Gladwell uses the story of Goetz to illustrate that things were particularly bad on the subway. Gladwell writes:


"Every one of the 6,000 cars on the Transit Authority fleet, with the exception of the Midtown shuttle, was covered with graffiti. In winter, the cars were cold; in summer, there was no air conditioning. Fare-beating was so commonplace that the Transit Authority lost $150 million annually. From 15,000 to 20,000 felonies were committed on the trains every year."

And yet suddenly towards the late 80s and early 90s, crime in NYC dropped dramatically on the subways. You may think this was due to a massive police crackdown on violent crime, or the arrests of some big name criminals. Of course, it was much simpler than this: NYC decided to start keeping the subways free of graffiti and the police started focusing on stopping fare jumping. The local transit authority began reclaiming subway cars by fixing them up and painting over all the graffiti. Gladwell tells the humorous story of how graffiti artists would spend days painting a subway car only to painfully watch the car immediately be whitewashed. And once a car was reclaimed the transit authority never let it get any graffiti on it again. The chief of the transit police got in on the act by arresting fare jumpers instead of focusing on felonies. These seemingly little acts had a remarkable effect because they signaled a sense of caring rather than apathy. Since would be criminals could see that someone cared about the environment around them, they were less likely to commit a crime. This is what is known as the "Broken Windows" theory. Gladwell writes:

Broken Windows was the brainchild of the criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes.

Amazing in its simplicity, isn't it? And it is equally amazing how one can use the "Broken Windows" theory in every day life. Take my house and family, for example. As is typical, my kids' rooms are a complete mess most of the time. Clothes on the floor, beds unmade, homework scattered everywhere. When I look at this of course I cringe, but it forces me to look at my own habits. How does my own room look? Do we keep the entire house as clean as it should be? What kind of message am I unknowingly sending to my own kids about the standards of home cleanliness? Needless to say, I could do better.

I also see examples of the "broken windows" theory on college campuses. I have spent time at 4 colleges throughout my undergraduate, graduate, and work life. Before I read The Tipping Point I have always thought that you could tell how much pride students have in their respective college by the amount of graffiti you find in bathroom stalls on campus. I know, it sounds silly, but the "broken windows" theory has convinced me I am on to something. Take for instance my first college, Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Not a speck of graffiti anywhere, from what I remember. Alumni from Concordia College also are very proud of their college. It is almost sickening, to tell you the truth. CC alumni are some of the only people you will see wear their college rings! I then transferred to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD (love will make you do crazy things) and found that the bathrooms there were covered with graffiti. Not surprisingly, to me at least, I also found more of a sense of apathy on campus there.

How about the mighty U of M then? This place is so big that it is difficult to take a completely accurate measurement, but so far I've been impressed. I spend most of my time in Wilson Library and the bathrooms here are clean. You may see some graffiti every now and again, but it is quickly washed away. I also think students here have a lot of pride in their school. Now, I realize you can't totally rank school pride on bathroom cleanliness, but it is certainly one of those little things that can help a person make a measurement.

How about you and your alma mater? What do you remember about the cleanliness of the public facilities? Do you think it had a impact on your school pride and/or apathy?

Posted by snackeru at 4:47 PM | Comments (2)

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 12:48 PM

Victory and stadiums

OK, let's get the important Victory Sports news of the day out of the way way right from the start. Charley Walters is reporting in the Pioneer Press:


"Word is the impasse between Twins' TV rights-holder Victory Sports One and some of the six primary cable and satellite operators could be resolved next week as negotiations continue behind the scenes."

This is really good news, and hopefully it has a little bit of truth to it. My day is immediately brightened when Shooter has a new article in the Pioneer Press, but even more than Sid you've got to take his columns with a grain of salt. Speaking of Victory, my son's Cub Scout den went bowling last night at the Park Tavern in SLP. Park Tavern is one of the few bars in the area that shows Victory Sports so I got to watch most of the game. The place was packed and the atmosphere was good. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

The Pioneer Press is also reporting that the impasse in negotiations between Victory and the cable companies is hurting the Twins' chances for a workable stadium bill this year. After yesterday's tirade you might think I'd be really upset about this, but I'm not. First of all, I love how the Twins are always on the minds of our legislators this year. Apparently our representatives and senators are getting "peppered" with messages from constituents demanding that this issue is resolved. This fact, coupled with all the messages they get in favor of building stadiums, has got to demonstrate to them how important the Twins are to the residents of this state. True many of the messages they are getting are negative towards the Twins, but I would think if the Twins were contracted or moved to another city the legislature has got to realize they would get some really negative messages. Secondly, the minute Victory Sports is put on cable in the TC area (and surrounding areas) people will forget all about this impasse and hopefully start focusing on how the network will start helping the Twins bottom line. In other words, Twins fans are not going to care, they are just going to be happy that the Twins are back on TV. Finally, we have this quote:


"The connection with the stadium legislation involves more than just votes. The stadium bill, should it pass, permits the taxation of cable revenue to help pay for the ballpark."

This should be the focus of every fan of the Twins: Victory Sports could make a new Twins stadium in Minnesota more of a reality. Again, let's give the Twins the benefit of the doubt on this one and put things into perspective for now. We have missed 8 games on TV so far. Patience, people, patience.

Finally, my best buddy in Grand Forks, ND points out this little piece of news that TC the Bear was almost injured last night:


"Mascot T.C. Bear, driving a four-wheeler before the game, unexpectedly veered into the wall, tearing down a banner in the process. The bear was unhurt."

I know kids love the bear, but I can't stand him so I got a little chuckle out of this news. Although my respect for him shot through the roof when I saw him cranking homeruns in his softball challenge before games last year. Yikes has he got some power! So, perhaps I'll have to start showing TC a little love.

Posted by snackeru at 9:19 AM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2004

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 8:23 AM | Comments (1)

Victory news

A little bit of news today concerning Victory from the StarTrib:


"One of the key issues has been Victory's asking price per subscriber, which has dipped to $1.85 from around $2.20 according to one cable operator. Still, it doesn't appear that will be enough of a cut."

Well, that is good to hear, although it is still about 20-30 cents more than cable companies pay for Fox Sports Net. At some point I hope the Twins decide something is better than nothing.

However, I am a little surprised by the negative reaction to Victory Sports from the general public. God forbid the Twins make a little money to make the team more viable in the long run. It may be painful for us in the short term to not be able to see the Twins, but Victory Sports will make the Twins more competitive in the future. I'm also a firm believer that Victory will bring us one step closer to seeing a stadium built in Minnesota, and creating this TV network shows a committment from the Twins that they won't seek contraction when the current CBA expires. Why would they go through all this work only to then contract the team in 3 years? Victory Sports gives me a little more piece of mind that baseball will remain in Minnesota for years to come.

Truthfully, I am really sick of all the whining. Give me a break. If Victory doesn't come on by the All-Star break then we can start whining, but for now I'm pulling for the Twins in this dispute. Already I can see at least one benefit of Victory even though I can't watch it: I haven't had to sit through any commercials for "The Best Damn Sports Show Period." We should be thanking Pohlad for saving us from that fate, not berating him for doing exactly what we've been asking him to do for years: to stop whining about being small market, suck it up, and start looking at new ways to make the Twins profitable.

Time Warner keeps telling me that it doesn't want to charge me extra for Victory Sports. I tell you what I don't want them to charge me for, Spike TV. Who came up with that lame channel? Joe Schmo? Blind Date? Crappy movies? Who watches this channel? It sure isn't the "men" they are aiming for. And who watches the Lifetime Movie Channel? I would even give up ESPN Classic to get access to Victory Sports. I guess my point is cable companies could definitely shave away some of the excess to keep cable bills where they are at. They used to show CNNSI, why can't they show Victory Sports?

Well, enough for now. Hopefully this will all be resolved soon.

Posted by snackeru at 7:55 AM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2004

Victory Sports tidbits

After church I usually flip the radio on to the "Sports Huddle" with Sid and Dave on WCCO and I heard an interesting tidbit from Sid regarding Victory Sports. According to Sid, he spoke with Jerry Bell late last week and Jerry told Sid that he expects Victory and the cable companies to settle their dispute within the next 10 days. In fact, I think Sid said Jerry said that we should expect a flurry of activity within the next 10 days. That would be wonderful. Of course, I watched the game last Friday but it irked me to no end knowing that I wouldn't be able to see the games on Saturday or Sunday. If you know of any Victory Sports news, please let me know in the comments below.

UPDATE: Sid wrote a little about Victory today:


Behind the scenes, there is a lot of work going on to try to get Victory Sports and the Twins on television for most fans in the Twin Cities.

The Twins seem optimistic that they will work something out in the next couple of weeks with the major cable companies that will get their games on those cable systems.

Posted by snackeru at 8:21 PM | Comments (4)

Next week important for stadium bill

From April 26-28 Pawlenty's stadium bill will be heard before the House Taxes committee. This is a make or break kind of deal for the bill and Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press writes that Ron Abrams, chair of the committee, promises "a great deal of changes and scrutiny." That is not good news. You know that a referendum is one of Abrams's promised changes, but what else does he have in mind? I'm sure he has some problems with the tax increment financing method of paying off the bonds for the stadiums, but I think he has his sites set on the taxes for the host community. Specualtion will get us nowhere, but I am nervous.

Today there were a couple of good articles in the TC dailies concerning my favorite topic. The first, another fine offering from Aron Kahn, points out that this is an election year for the entire House and that maybe our representatives won't have the guts to vote for a stadium knowing that their jobs are on the line. The one good thing we have going for us is that finally our Republican leaders are in favor of the bill: Pawlenty wrote it, Doug Stang is sponsoring it, and Steve Sviggum, speaker of the House, is in favor of it. However, Kahn writes:


To be sure, there are pressures on members of the Republican-led House to vote for the stadium bill, because Pawlenty, a Republican, proposed the two-stadium plan, and because House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, is a co-author of the bill.

Yet, [Sen.] Marty and others think it won't be easy sledding in the House, because members will place higher priority on their own re-election campaigns than on loyalty to their leaders.

"Their number one goal is getting re-elected,'' Marty said. "If they don't pass a bill, what happens? The election comes and goes and they're fine.''

This is what confuses me. The House passed a stadium bill in 2002. While it isn't as "workable" as the bill now making it through our legislature, it was still a controversial stadium bill. As far as I know, no one lost their job as a result of voting in favor of this bill. It leads me to believe that while we have some vocal proponents and critics of stadium financing, most people just don't care enough to pay close attention. True, you'll hear Joe Blow on the street say, "No state money for billionaires," but if a stadium bill passes, most of these critics probably won't even know the difference or know that it passed in the first place. So, I hope House Republicans show some guts. I honestly don't think they have anything to worry about.

Our second article is from the Star Tribune and it was written by Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis from the House, who is selling her bill for community ownership of the Twins. I am all in favor of this bill. I would love to own part of the Twins and "take the wheels" off the team, that is for sure. But I don't think either Pohlad or MLB would go for it anymore. The teams wheels are about the only leverage they have right now. However, I do agree if the state owns or controls the team as this bill proposes, building a stadium with public financing might be easier for our legislature to swallow. The bill has these characteristics:


• A range of investment possibilities from a 25 percent private managing partner, responsible for all team operations, expenses and interaction with Major League Baseball.

• A class of major investors who would own stakes in 1 percent to 5 percent increments (akin to the board of directors of a corporation).

• Class B souvenir stock at $100 a certificate. This final class would only get to vote on the relocation of the team.

Kahn also writes:


In addition, this proposal answers the question of whether the community wants the Twins much more efficiently than a ballot referendum. It would be a true market test of community support for the Twins. People would be asked to put their money where their mouth is.

If the financial test doesn't work, it's proof to many of us that the community doesn't care. Incidentally, if it does work, it may pave the public opinion way for either private or public support for a stadium.


"It would be a true market test of community support for the Twins." I tend to agree with this, but I also don't think it is this simple. However, I also don't think it would be that hard for the Twins to get a lot of people to line up to buy a part of the team. In a recent poll from Harris Interactive the Twins rank number 5 on the list of American's favorite baseball teams. Number 5! This, of course, has a lot to do with the publicity over contraction, and also due the Twins recent winning ways. So, if the Twins "went public" ala the Green Bay Packers, I think we would see a lot of people across the country buying stock in the team. I know I would. We'll be keeping track of Phyllis Kahn's bill for community ownership, you can be rest assured of that.

Posted by snackeru at 8:13 PM | Comments (2)

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 3:40 PM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2004

Decimate or obliterate?

I don't know where I read this, so if someone can tell me please do, but it has been bugging me ever since I've read it. A couple of weeks back I read about the correct definition of the word "decimate." While it's true definition is somewhat like how it is used today, ever since I've read its true definition I get overly bugged by how people are using it now. It is a curse! So, now I will pass the curse along to you. Decimate is defined as:


"Decimate originally referred to the killing of every tenth person, a punishment used in the Roman army for mutinous legions. Today this meaning is commonly extended to include the killing of any large proportion of a group."

That makes sense, doesn't it? Deci is latin for "10." So, now that you've read this, you will hear the word "decimate" everywhere. I sure have. I heard it last night when Donald Trump explained how the women on the show "The Apprentice" decimated the men in the early weeks. I heard it the last time I watched a T-Wolves game when Tom Hanneman described how the Wolves decimated the league to take the top spot in the West. I hear the word all the time, and now it bugs me to know the word is being improperly used. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Posted by snackeru at 2:07 PM

April 15, 2004

A Short History of Nearly Everything

What I'm reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
New York : Broadway Books, 2003.
544 pg.

I've already commented on this book before, but now that I've finished with it, I've got to give a proper review for it. What a great book. Right now all 55 copies of this book are on hold at the Hennepin County Public Library which is a testament to what a popular book this is. The title A Short History of Nearly Everything is actually a rather poor title for the book since it is really a short history of scientific discovery. Bryson has this to say in the introduction concerning why he wrote the book:


"I didn't know what a proton was, or a protein, didn't know a quark from a quasar, didn't understand how geologists could look at a layer of rock on a canyon wall and tell you how old it was, didn't know anything really. I became gripped by a quite, unwonted urge to know a little about these matters and to understand how people figured them out."

And that is what he has done, he has taken everything from the beginning of the universe to the advent of man and tried to explain it all in a way that you and I can understand. And he's done a find job of it. I can't really do the book justice in this little piece since it really touches upon everything. Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is actually one huge volcano? Or that Manson, Iowa is actually the site of a huge asteroid impact that would dwarf the Grand Canyon if millions of years of passing ice sheets hadn't smoothed it over? Or how about this:


"[Y]our mattress is home to perhaps two million microscopic mites, which come out in the wee hours to sup on your sebaceous oils and feast on all those lovely, crunchy flakes of skin that you shed as you doze and toss. Your pillow alone may be home to forty thousand of them...Indeed, if your pillow is six years old - which is apparently about the average age for a pillow - it has been estimated that one-tenth of its weight will be make up of 'sloughed skin, living mites, dead mites, and mite dung.'"

Isn't that awesome? This book is full of stuff like this. It was fascinating, disgusting, awe inspiring, and just plain fun. This book covers the solar system, cells, taxonomy, Einstein, dinosaurs, asteroids, Java Man, DNA, and much, much more. Do yourself a favor and check it out from your local public library.

Posted by snackeru at 10:20 PM

Random observations

One thing that I should be blogging about and haven't done much of is the spectacular season by the Timberwolves. I have been thouroughly impressed. You know, it is funny (to me at least) that I played basketball in high school and college (intramurals) but I don't follow b-ball nearly as closely as baseball and football. Anyway, Kevin Garnett is my hero. His statistics are impressive, that is for sure, but that is not why I love him as much as I do. The traits I admire the most in him are his honesty (he always tells it like it is), his respect for people (whether you are 8 or 80 he will give you his time and focus), his work ethic (have you ever seen him give up?), and his loyalty (he considers himself a Minnesotan and lives here in the off season!). I am constantly sitting my oldest son down during Timberwolves games and telling him to watch Kevin Garnett. There is nothing of his personality that I wouldn't want my kids to emulate. Well, except for all the f-bombs he drops during games. Anyway, I don't think there is any question that KG and the T-Wolves will advance past the 1st round this year. Denver may be tough, but the T-Wolves will finally prevail.

What is up with the Vikings schedule next year? Yikes! Viking Update wrote a great article about it already, but what it comes down to is the league doesn't give the Vikes much time to prepare for some big divisional games coming off of nationally televised games. Check out this quote:


"[N]owhere have the Vikings been screwed more than their matchups with the Packers. In November, the Vikings have to travel to Indianapolis for another Monday night game. As with the Eagles, the game plan for the Packers won’t be unveiled to the players until the Wednesday before the game. The problem? The Packers will be coming off their bye week – rested and refreshed – while the Vikings will coming into the game with three days of preparation. By league rule, the visiting team must be in the other city the day before the game, so the Packers will have two weeks of rest and practice, while the Vikings will have three days to prepare and then go on the road."

You know, it is going to be even sweeter when the Vikings still go out and crush the Pack even though they have so little time to prepare. And what is the deal with the game on Christmas Eve? I love the Vikings as much as the next rabid fan, but a typical Norwegian celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve. They will really be cramping my style with this scheduling move. Again, though, what a present it will be to have Favre humbled at the Dome and the Pack defeated by the mighty Vikings on national TV! I am pumped for football! Skol Vikings!

Finally, the Twins took the series 2-1 against Cleveland this week, and Radke pitched a heckuva game tonight. 4 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, and 8 innings of shut out ball. That is fantastic and not what I'd expect out of Radke so early in the season. However, the injury bug struck again and I wouldn't be surprised to see Mientkiewicz on the DL tomorrow. Does Ryan bring up Morneau then to cover first? Consider that last Monday Morneau had 2 homers and 7 RBI in a victory against Pawtucket. Morneau has torn it up at every level he has been in and I think it is safe to say Dougie is merely warming first up for Morneau in the long run.

Posted by snackeru at 9:12 PM | Comments (3)

April 14, 2004

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 9:53 PM

April 13, 2004

The Elegant Universe: an excerpt

I'm reading a pretty cool book right now called The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, and I must say it is a mind bender. In this book Mr. Greene tries to explain a relatively new theory called "string theory" which may, or may not, be the famed Theory of Everything that Einstein spent the last 35 years of his life trying to figure out. I'm not very far into the book, but in the beginning Greene spends a fair amount of time trying to explain the theories that string theory is trying to add upon. One of those is Einstein's special theory of relativity (not to be confused with the general theory of relativity). This is the theory that science fiction writers love. It is where we get the idea that someone travelling at the speed of light will come back younger than the people he left behind. It is so mind boggling, as Green says "Special relativity is not in our bones -- we do not feel it."

It is very difficult to understand how speed of motion can affect time since we never really move that fast. However, that doesn't mean that time isn't affected. Take this example from the book:


"To get a sense of the scales involved, imagine the year is 1970 and big, fast cars are in. Slim ... goes with his brother Jim to the local drag strip to give [a new Trans Am] the kind of test drive forbidden by the dealer. After revving up the car, Slim streaks down the the mile-long strip at 120 miles per hour while Jim stands on the sideline and times him. Wanting an independent confirmation, Slim also uses a stopwatch to determine how long it takes his new car to traverse the track. Prior to Einstein's work, no one would have questioned that if both Slim and Jim have properly functioning stopwatches, each will measure the identical elapsed time. But according to special relativity, while Jim will measure an elapsed time of 30 seconds, Slim's stopwatch will record an elapsed time of 29.99999999999952 seconds -- a tiny bit less."

Holy guacamole! That boggles the mind! But it doesn't stop there, special relativity contends that speed will also affect measurements of length. If Slim was to travel at 580 million miles an hour (about 87% the speed of light) "the mathematics of special relativity predicts that Jim would measure the length of the car to be about eight feet, which is substantially different from Slim's measurement [of 16 feet, since his measurement will be relative to the fact that he is also traveling 580 million miles an hour].

So, how is that for a good morning for ya? Like I said, I am only a couple of chapters in, and I don't feel very confident that string theory will make any more sense to me than special relativity. You can never stop learning though. I will continue to claw my way out of the abyss of ignorance.

Posted by snackeru at 10:14 PM

Sports news

I don't know if any of you caught this, but Mark Dayton brought a meeting together between Victory Sports and Charter, Comcast and Mediacom for a 1 1/2 meeting this morning. And from what I can gather from the article, I actually think something got accomplished at this meeting. For one thing they found out that about all that stands between them and a deal is money:


"The good news is the differences seem to be entirely about money," said Dayton, referring to the fact operators have balked at Victory's per-subscriber asking price. "It is not a matter of principle or technological impediments. The bad news is they don't seem to be close to an agreement.

"One of the participants said, 'The difference is not a crack in the sidewalk, but rather the Grand Canyon.'"


The fact of the matter is, Victory needs to lower it's asking price. $2.20 is too much and based on what I've read rivals ESPN in terms of per user fees. The sad thing is, I would give up ESPN for Victory. That is how bad I want this station. According to Victory the cable companies haven't even made them an offer. In various interviews I've read with Kevin Catoor, president of Victory, the cable companies say "Your price is too high," but then they don't make a counter offer. If I was a cable company I would say we'll pay Victory as much as we pay FSN. That is substantially lower than the $2.20 per subscriber Victory wants (I think around $1.70, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong), but at least it is a start. In conclusion, let me say how happy I am Mark Dayton is taking the time to make something happen. Isn't it amazing that our U.S. Senator is doing this?

Secondly we have an article saying stadium hearings were delayed today due to the death of Jim Vickerman's son. That is very sad and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say we wish the Vickerman family the best during this difficult time. The end of the article also states:


"Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, chairman of the Houses Taxes Committee, said Tuesday that his committee will probably begin hearings on all three stadiums the week of April 26."

That is when the real fun will begin. If this bill can get through the Taxes committee reasonably intact it will probably pass the House and actually work. Jim in St. Paul, have you heard anything regarding the scuttlebutt coming out of Pawlenty's office? Have Pawlenty and Abrams met yet?

Posted by snackeru at 9:11 PM

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 8:52 AM

April 12, 2004

Couple you may have missed

I know, I know. I've missed a couple of stadium related articles recently. Actually, I haven't missed them, I've just kind of sat on them. I gotta tell you, I am more interested in articles with real news about stadiums, especially coming out of the legislature. Everything else is just gravy.

So, the first article is one from the Pioneer Press called Ballfield backers want cover. I think this is the 733rd time an article on this topic has been written. It is worth repeating though. The Twins want a roof. It is important from a money point of view and a fan point of view. More fans, especially out-state fans (sorry Curt), will buy tickets if they know the game won't be rained out:


"When the Twins played at the open-air Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, the most people they drew in a regular season was 1.5 million in 1965 — when the team played in the World Series — and 1967.

In the Metrodome in 1988, the year after the Twins won the World Series, the team drew 3 million, making it the first American League team to attract that many spectators."

I think it is a given that if the Twins build a new ballpark, and have a winning team, they will draw tons of fans regardless of having a roof or not. The question is, can they draw enough fans in the so-so years without a roof? That is a tough question to answer. Personally, I want a roof, but the main reason for building a ballpark with a roof, weather, is a little shaky considering this data:


"Other cities with roofless ballparks actually have comparable weather. Baseball season rainfall is 20.7 inches in the Twin Cities, 22.1 inches in Chicago and 20 inches in Boston. As for cold, the Twin Cities' daily mean temperature in April, for example, is 46.6 degrees, compared with 48.3 in Boston — not much difference."

Those are some interesting stats, but the fact of the matter is Minnesota does not have the same type of fan base that Boston has. We are pansies when it comes to inclement weather. We take pride in gutting out a Minnesota winter, but there is no way we sit in a freezing, rainy ballpark when we could watch the game on TV. We built the Metrodome, for goodness sake, and brought football indoors and our toughness has been going downhill ever since. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the day they opened the Metrodome every male in Minnesota turned in his penis. Until the Vikings start playing outside again every man in Minnesota is a card carrying member of the National Organization for Women.

I really don't know where I am going with this, but I'll take a retractable roof for baseball. I mean, you can't play baseball in the rain. As far as football goes, it has got to be played outdoors. I would grudgingly take a retractable roof on a football stadium, but I'd prefer one completely exposed to the elements.

On to the second article, Study: Pro teams can pay more for their own stadiums. Apparently a couple of professors at the University of Dayton have published a study that "claims that Major League Baseball teams can increase revenues enough in new stadiums to pay off the cost of their buildings within 12 years without public aid." You know what? This may shock some of you, but they are probably right. Not 100% right, but I have no doubt owners can pony up more money than they claim to be able to. That is what I hope both the legislature and the teams take from this study. I hope the legislature sticks to its guns and demands 1/3 from each team, and I also hope that the teams realize that the more studies that come out like this the harder it will be to get any public subsidies at all. It is time for a deal. Red and Carl had better not monkey with the chance they have this year. I can't believe that Pawlenty is showing them so much love, or that he will have the stomach to do it again if his deal falls through this year. Anyway, your comments are welcome.

Posted by snackeru at 11:13 PM | Comments (3)

I'm on TV! Well, sort of...

For those of you that are interested, as promised here is the link to the video piece done by the broadcast journalism student last week featuring yours truly:

UThink, a news piece by Carly Danek

I have judged this piece on how accurate it is, and how goofy I look in it, and as far as accuracy goes, it is pretty good. In fact, in my initial viewings (I will be looking at it much closer later) I didn't catch any errors at all. That is a relief. Now for the goofiness factor: yep, I think I'm goofy. I need to brighten myself up or something! I talk like I'm at a funeral or my cat has died. Sheesh! Or maybe that is how I talk all the time. How depressing.

I also didn't like how she focused on the privacy or anonymity of the system, but truthfully people will be interested in that. Quite frankly I'm surprised that people would be so concerned with privacy since blogs are very public by nature. In essense, if you don't want people to know your opinion on something, don't blog about it. I think it is a cop out to hide behind an alias just because some people might not like what you have to say. Take a stand! I do it almost everyday writing about stadiums. Debate and difference of opinion makes the world go around.

Posted by snackeru at 12:52 PM | Comments (4)

Who isn't happy about this?

mick.jpg Doesn't this photograph just make you happy? It does me. My wife and I went over to her parents' house for Easter and of course my father in law was watching the Masters. I didn't think Phil had a very good front nine, so when I got to their house I was shocked that he was only back one. Phil was tied with Els going onto the 18th teebox, and I can honestly say I was nervous. Never have I wanted someone to win a golf match more. And then when Phil hit the match winning putt for birdie my in-law's living room exploded with happiness. That is what makes sports fun to watch, when someone like Phil Mickelson wins the ultimate event after years of heartache, hard work, and endurance. I hope to be showing a picture of Kevin Garnett like this in the months ahead.

Posted by snackeru at 8:39 AM | Comments (2)

April 10, 2004

Love your neighbor

WARNING! Religious rant follows! If you are interested, keep on reading. If not, come back later. There is always something rattling around my head wanting to get out.

What follows is based on 26 years of hearing that homosexuality is a sin. I grew up in a Christian family. I went to a Christian school from the 4th grade to the 8th grade. I attend Church weekly. I was taught, and still believe, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Having said that, however, I also believe that many in the Christian faith are losing their focus on what truly matters. For some reason, many in the church have made homosexuality their number one priority. And quite frankly I am sick of it.

Why in the world do we, as Christians, care so much about homosexuality? It is mentioned only about six times in the entire Bible. What makes it even more bewildering is that homosexuality is only one of about 20 topics and rules the Bible speaks about concerning sexual mores and human sexuality (e.g., no sex during menstruation, polygamy, prostitution, levirate marriage, concubines, etc). Yet we choose to disregard almost all of the rules, except a handful dealing with issues like rape, homosexuality, and adultery. What is our criteria of selection? Some would say many of the rules we choose to ignore come out of the Old Testament and are no longer applicable under the new covenant under Jesus. So, let's take a look at what Jesus said. Please open your Bibles to Matthew 5:31-32. Jesus says:

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchasitity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

I think it is safe to say that 99% of Christians today ignore this commandment. And Jesus actually said it! This is not something written by Moses or the apostle Paul, this is a commandment said by the Son of God himself! Why are we as Christians not outraged by divorce? Why do we not fight it as much as we fight homosexuality? And not only do we not fight it, sometimes, in the cases of an abusive relationship, we encourage it! We even perform the marriage ceremonies between divorced people in our own churches. According to Jesus, these people are committing adultery every time they sleep together, and yet we are blessing their sin! We welcome them into our churches. Do we think Jesus was kidding?

I can't get around this hypocrisy any more. I'm sick of turning a blind eye to some commandments and not others. I have come to the conclusion based on this and other Bible passages that it is impossible to take a literal interpretation of the Bible. It is impossible to follow the Bible to the letter of the law. No one can do it and, in fact, no one does. The best any of us can do is follow the spirit of the law as it is written in the Bible and whether we can admit it or not, this is what all of us do. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at another passage, again from the New Testament, from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians chapter 14 verses 33b-35:

"As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."

I don't know about your church, but my church encourages women to speak. In fact, just last Sunday we had a woman seminary student give the sermon. Yet the apostle Paul himself condemned this activity. We usually write this off as a necessity in the time of Paul, or that is just how things were back then. Obviously, today we don't have to follow this rule since it is archaic and offensive. Again, by what criteria do we make this judgement? And more importantly, are we still following the word of God exactly as it is written if we don't follow this rule? I would say no.

This brings us to another of Paul's writings, Romans 1:26-27:

"For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error."

There is no getting around it, Paul is against homosexuality and even suggests that men who practice it will receive some kind of "penalty." But is Paul any less clear with his wishes in 1 Corinthians 14, concerning women speaking in church, than he is in Romans 1? No, in fact I would argue that Paul is more clear in 1 Corinthians 14. Yet again, today we choose to ignore completely Paul's writing in the 1 Corinthians passage. Why? Why can we ignore something as clear as this passage, yet vehemently defend Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1?

Paul goes on in Romans 1 to list all sorts of sins that the people of Rome had fallen prey to: wickedness, evil, convetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, gossip, slander, God-hating, etc. However, in chapter 2 Paul turns the tables and states to all Christians:

"Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things ... Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God?"

What is Paul saying here? To me it is plainly obvious: people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. We all sin and we do it often. And in the case of Jesus' speech about divorce and Paul's writings about women's role in the church, we sin without any intention of changing our ways. Some would argue through some slick debate tactics that divorce and women speaking in church aren't sins at all, that they are more rules for a specific time period than for the Christian church today. I wonder if the sin of homosexuality could be judged using the same criteria then.

Am I trying to say homosexuality isn't a sin? Am I trying to say it is a sin? Neither. What I am saying is that I am no longer going to focus on it. At all. What I am going to focus on are the teachings of Jesus, most of which focus on helping the poor, healing the sick, having a closer relationship with God, feeding the hungry, and making disciples of all. Let's take a look at Mark 12:28-31:

"One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, 'Which commandment is the first of all?' Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Imagine if the agenda of all Christians was focused on these commandments! What an impact we would have on this world! Jesus and the apostles admonish Christians to "love your neighbor" eight times in the New Testament, and more if you count the Old Testament. Yet how often do we ignore this commandment? Everyday. Would God rather we protest homosexuals and gay marriage? That we get angry and scream in people's faces that they are all sinners and going to hell? That we literally spew hate and malice towards other people based on a Bible that we ourselves do not even follow to the letter of the law? No. For me, it all comes down to "love your neighbor as yourself."

Think about what we could accomplish if we decided to focus on this and the other teachings of Jesus rather than homosexuality! Why is this issue taking up so much of our time and energy? Homosexuals are at best 4-5% of the population. Why are we letting this relatively small issue set the agenda of the entire Church? Are we not strong enough to set our own agenda? Let's be proactive instead of so reactive! Let's change our focus. Take this little test. I'm going to make two statements. Try and decide which one angers you more: 1) Gay marriage could be legalized in Minnesota, 2) There are people starving in your own community. Well? Through which issue could Christians make more of a difference? Let us set an example of love through our actions and actually have a positive impact in our community. Let God take care of the rest.

In closing, let me emphasize that this is my own viewpoint and I am neither claiming it to be the truth, or am I saying that everyone must follow it. In fact, I must admit that I am confused and struggling to come to grips with this issue. However, I don't think there is any confusion when it comes to Mark 12:28-31 and that will be my focus from now on. I welcome your feedback.

Posted by snackeru at 10:17 PM | Comments (3)

Who is linking to UThink

UThink: Blogs at the University Libraries is making a subtle splash on the blogging world. Just so I can keep track, here are some of the sites that are linking to and commenting on the service:


There are more, but most of them just link to the service without really saying anything. It's fun to watch the news spread.

Posted by snackeru at 10:04 AM

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 9:49 AM

April 9, 2004

A refreshing drink

I'm about to demonstrate to you how pointless some blog entries can be. And yet you will keep on reading. It's fascinating, I think. Why do you keep on reading? We'll never know, I guess. Anyway, tonight Alex's Cub Scout pack had a Pack Meeting. During the meeting I decided to walk around the church and do some investigating. Shortly into my walk I came across a Pepsi vending machine and I thought to myself, "Boy, am I thirsty," but I noticed the machine wasn't plugged in. So, I plugged it in and the machine lit up and started to hum. I thought to myself, "You know, you probably shouldn't have any pop tonight. You'll have to go to the restroom right during the badge ceremony (actual thought!)." So, I decided to get some refreshing lemonade. My mouth started to salivate as I put my dollar in and made my selection. However, when I reached down to pick up my lemonade I noticed the bottle was completely covered in frost. "Nice and chilly," I thought to myself. Oh cruel fate! Not only was the bottle covered in frost, the lemonade inside was completely frozen! That is why the vending machine was unplugged, to thaw out the contents! For the rest of the evening, my bottle of lemonade mocked and tortured me as I was left to drink water from the drinking fountain. Believe me, it was very frustrating.

See what you get when there is no stadium news? If you made it to the end of this pointless piece, I am impressed.

Posted by snackeru at 10:18 PM

Interviews

It's been a week now, and more and more people are finding out about UThink, the blog system I'm running here at the U. It has been very interesting watching how word of mouth spreads a message, but now things are about to get a little more interesting. For example, just yesterday a student in broadcast journalism interviewed me, on camera, for a class she is taking. She said only her class would see it, but if it is good enough the piece may be picked up by "university report." I'm still a little confused as to what that means. But really, how could it not be good enough? It is about me and blogs! A powerful combination, to be sure. Actually, I'm a little concerned that I come off looking like a big dufus. Looking back at the interview all I can remember is me saying stuff like "You can, umm.... write blog entries with blogs and ummm... do stuff ... you know?" I knew this would happen, but all night long I was thinking about what I should have said. You are always more articulate after the fact. Fortunately for all of you, she will be posting the finished product on her website by Monday. I, of course, will link to the piece on this fine blog when it is available.

That brings me to today. A freelancer for the Minnesota Daily, the student newspaper at the U, will be interviewing me at 10:00 about the project. It seems the Daily is excited about UThink. That is great. The Daily is also read by way more than 20 people, so I am a little nervous about what the impact will be. I think the system is ready to go, though. We've had almost 50 testers, I've gotten some good feedback, and we haven't had any outrageous bugs crop up. Things are about to get a little bit more interesting for me, to say the least, so stay tuned!

Posted by snackeru at 8:40 AM | Comments (2)

April 8, 2004

Ilium by Dan Simmons

Ilium
by Dan Simmons
Science Fiction
576 pages

I know it is probably sacrilege to say this, but I did not like Simmons' Hyperion. Almost everyone who reads science fiction has read Hyperion at some point, and almost everyone loves it. I did not like it. For this reason I have hesitated to pick up Simmons' other books. But no longer. I thouroughly enjoyed Ilium. In fact, I found it difficult to put down.

Ilium tells three stories. One is of a future earth where the inhabitants live like the eloi of The Time Machine, oblivious to the dangers that await them. They dream of becoming a "post-human" which is a future race of man that left Earth for the stars many years ago. That story was OK. Another story is about a group of robot/organic like creatures that have been sent from the moons of Jupiter to investigate (and possibly destroy) whatever is producing dangerous levels of quantum flux coming from the planet Mars. That story is OK. The rest of the book is filled with the story of Homer's Iliad, only it is told in from a science fiction point of view, and it is very cool.

Thomas Hockenberry is a "scholic," or a scholar specializing in Homer's famous book that has been raised from the dead by the gods residing on Olympos Mons on Mars. I know what you are thinking, just stay with me. The gods are the same gods we all learned about in school: Apollo, Athena, Ares, Aphrodite, and of course Zeus, plus a myriad of others. The gods teleport back and forth from Troy (or Ilium) to Olympos Mons to influence the Trojan War and report to Zeus on how it is progressing. Hockenberry also reports on the battle, and how closely it stays true to Homer's telling, but he reports to a Muse. One day the Muse tells him that Aphrodite wants to see him. This is highly unusual. Aphrodite tells him that she wants him to kill Athena, and she gives him a bunch of fancy tools to allow him to spy on her and actual perform the dirty deed. One is a QT device which allows him to teleport himself anywhere in space and time, and another is Hades Helmet, which will make him invisible to both humans and gods (except Aprhodite). As you might imagine, Hockenberry decides early on to start using these tools for his own purposes, and the story of the Iliad drastically changes as a result. And it is so very cool how it changes.

The three stories come together at the end. But again, the story of the gods and heroes takes center stage. Just who are these "gods?" Are the same gods we read about in college? Or are they the post humans who left Earth to settle somewhere else? And are the heroes the same heroes we all know and love? Achilles is there, as is Hector, and Diomedes, and Odysseus. But are they the same as Homer wrote about so many years ago? Or is this a parallel universe of some sort? The reader never really finds out for sure, but there will be a sequel (Olympos) and let me tell you after reading this you will want to read it. I wish I could tell you what Achilles says to Zeus at the end! My jaw dropped to the floor. But I don't want to ruin it for you!

Read Ilium if you want to read an alternative version of the Iliad. I will warn you, though, that the book almost crosses the line into goofy science fiction that is difficult to follow, but whenever the reader returns to the story of the plains of Ilium, the book is very difficult to put down. Can't wait for Olympos!

Posted by snackeru at 10:19 PM

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 6:21 PM | Comments (1)

Pawlenty article

Man, its a good thing you've got me. This article might have slipped under your radar, but Tim Pawlenty has written a wonderful article in the Pioneer Press which defends his stadium plan. I love this time of year! Almost everyday there is stadium news to mull over. And since I am a sick person, I need my daily stadium fix. Anyway, on to the article.

The article begins with a colorful anecdote that I'm sure we've all heard before, the story of Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig. Pawlenty uses it to illustrate how he doesn't want Minnesota to be another Wally Pipp and take ourselves out of the game. He argues professional sports, as troubled as they are, are part of the fabric of our quality of life. But his big argument is that we can build stadiums "without having an impact on our ability to fund other state priorities." This is where I think people in this state have the most difficulty. Many in Minnesota find it impossible to separate building stadiums from funding healthcare or education. My argument has always been that healthcare and education won't see a dime more if we don't build stadiums. If we don't build stadiums the money that would have gone to them will not be automatically diverted to any other area. These are separate problems and should be treated and solved separately.

Of all the plans that have come forward in the many years of what Phil Krinke calls the "Stadium Bataan Death March" Pawlenty's should make any stadium opponent the happiest. It doesn't create or use any state taxes. Here is how Pawlenty describes his plan:


"The plan is really pretty simple. The teams are required to pay one-third of the cost. Host communities interested in a stadium are allowed to choose new financing tools, such as the ability to go to their citizens for a referendum on local revenues. The state uses a new kind of tax increment financing to capture the tax revenue generated in and around the new stadium to pay for it. This revenue wouldn't exist if it weren't for the new stadium. The teams are required to guarantee the new revenue."

It's beginning to look more and more like the 1/3 contribution from the teams is non-negotiable. And that is fine with me. There is no reason they can't pay at least a third. The TIF plan is the same plan that was used to build 3 new stadiums in Pennsylvania. It works and it is painless. The state still gets the tax money it gets now as if the teams were in the Metrodome and anything extra goes to the stadium fund. If the teams left the state we wouldn't get jack squat. So, what do we want? The same tax money that we have now, or nothing? Pawlenty goes on to add:

"Conservative critics may argue that it's not right for government to help build facilities for private businesses. They're right too — in an ideal world. Unfortunately, few stadiums are built without some kind of government facilitation. The economics of professional sports, and the willingness of other communities to pay for new facilities, makes it a competitive necessity."

This is what kills me. For the past decade Pawlenty has been one of these "conservative critics." Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled the governor is leading on this issue (finally!), but we could have had all of this figured out a long time ago and for a lot cheaper if Pawlenty and his Republican cronies in the House could have come to this conclusion sooner. If we want to remain "major league" we have got to come up with a workable plan. Other cities and states can figure it out, why can't we? Pawlenty goes on to say:

"That's why the Legislature should act this year to address our state's stadium needs. The Twins and Vikings won't play in the Metrodome much longer. The issue is not going away. The teams might. It's time for leaders to make decisions and move ahead."

I like that, a strong statement that is to the point. It is time for leaders to make a decision on all of this. Our inactivity has cost us hundreds of millions and the longer we wait the harder it will be to do. Some of you may say, "Good! Let the teams leave." This is naive and ignorant of the future. If the teams leave how long do you think it will take until we start begging for another team to return? It happened with NHL hockey in Minnesota, and it will happen with baseball and football too. And it will cost us dearly. I've got an idea. Let's keep the teams we have. It will be cheaper, and it will help us maintain our quality of life now. Kudos to Tim Pawlenty for showing some leadership on this issue. Now if we could only get him to show the U of M a little love...

Posted by snackeru at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)

April 7, 2004

The game last night

It seems the Twins are refusing to lose this year. What a fantastic game last night. It's not often that you can say "the game finished early this morning" but that is exactly what happened. 15 innings and two "7th" inning stretches later, the game finally ended when Jose Offerman ripped a bases loaded game winning single up the middle. The crowd that was still there gave off quite a loud cheer and was happy. What happened before that, however, was a little troubling.

The new field looks great. As Torii Hunter said, it actually looks like a baseball field. Having said that, did the new field cause at least two injuries last night? Santana will be fine, but I am really worried about Mauer and Hunter. Apparently Mauer suffered a mild knee sprain just chasing down a pop up behind the plate. And Hunter injured his hamstring just running to first base. I'm sure I'm not unique when I think these kinds of thoughts, but doesn't it seem like injuries you and I would just deal with in the "real" world become a much bigger deal in professional sports? I wouldn't be surprised if Mauer is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. What is up with that? If that is how it is supposed to work, I should have had surgery a lot in high school playing basketball. I remember once I made a pretty good shot and a very strong teammate of mine came up and gave me the hardest slap on the butt I have ever experienced. It shouldn't even be called a slap because it felt like he actually grabbed my butt cheek and tore it off of whatever it was attached to. I swear I was limping for two weeks. If I was playing for the Twins, I would have had butt surgery and I would have been out for at least a month. But I digress.

Aside from Carlos Pulido the Twins bullpen looks solid. I honestly don't think we'll have much to worry about there. Brad Thomas looked decent, but Aaron Fultz and Joe Roa looked really, really good. Especially Fultz. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of him. Well, maybe not seeing, just hearing. Speaking of Victory, Aaron Gleeman has a nice interview with Kevin Catoor posted at the Hardball Times. It is a pretty good read.

And could I just say that it is shocking how stupid some of the "fans" are that go to Twins games. Unfortunately for me I was sitting in front a whole family of stupid fans last night. No children, thank goodness, because their conversation usually consisted of sex, cussing, and disgusting anecdotes about using each other's toothbrushes and who they've all slept with. I'm not kidding. At one point the conversation veered to Victory and the patriarch of the family smugly stated that "Pohlad isn't getting a dime from me." Hey Nimrod, buying a ticket to a Twins game is giving just a few of your dimes to Pohlad. Sorry to be so negative, but people's ignorance of what Victory Sports could do for the Twins bottom line really gets me going.

That's about it. I'm sure I'll be going to a lot of games this year, but I'll definitely be going to the May 1 game to get a Jacque Jones fishing lure. I've got the whole collection.

Posted by snackeru at 9:17 AM | Comments (7)

April 5, 2004

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 11:51 PM

What a game!

Wow! What a great first game to the season! Shannon Stewart ... can you say enough good things about him? It doesn't get much better than a three-run walk off home run. And Joe Mauer looked solid: two walks and two singles for his first game in the big leagues. Tomorrow night I will be at the game and I expect more of the same. And it is a good thing I'll be at the game, too. It seems rumors of a deal between Victory and the cable companies is not even close to being in the works. According to Kevin Catoor, "There doesn't seem to be any urgency from the operators' standpoint to get this thing done." For more information on Victory Sports check out this great interview with Kevin Catoor on SethSpeaks.net.

And to top it all off, check out this quote from Sen. Dean Johnson (along with Larry Spooner, a big hero of mine) in the StarTribune:


As the Twins opened their season at home in the Metrodome on Monday, state Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson predicted that "it's better than 60-40 percent we're going to build a ballpark this legislative session."

Wow. When the Senate majority leader says something like that, you really have to pay attention. Next stop for the bill is the House Taxes committee and it sounds like Pawlenty is really putting his muscle behind it. You know, I was ticked off when Pawlenty was elected governor. I thought the Twins wouldn't have a chance with him at the helm. But now it appears as though he is doing the best job anybody could do reining in the Republican controlled house. According to Jim in St. Paul in a comment on my old site:

It wasn't reported in either paper, but there was an arrangement made that the stadium bill would not have to pass through the legislature's Capital Investment Committee. This committee is headed by Rep. Phil Krinke, any stadium booster's arch enemy. From my understanding Speaker Sviggum was able to convince Krinke that the stadium bill was not in the "purview" of his committee.

To take Krinke out of the picture is significant. It looks like the stadium battle could be coming to an end ... well, we better not hold our breath. For at least a day, though, it is good to be a Twins fan.

Posted by snackeru at 11:29 PM | Comments (8)

April 4, 2004

We're gonna win Twins!

Unless you are living under a rock (or your just not a sports fan) baseball season officially begins tomorrow. The Twins are my pick to again win the Central, but that is because I'm the biggest "homer" in the blogging world. I have no trouble admitting that. Tomorrow Brad Radke will face C.C. Sabathia and the Cleveland Indians at the Metrodome on the new field. I found it humorous that all last year the Twins complained about how bad their turf was, and now Doug Mientkiewicz is complaining that the new turf takes away some of their dome-field advantage. Is it just me, or has he been overly negative over the past few months? Can anything go right for him? By the way, does anyone know what they are doing with the old turf? I want some so I can cover my porch with it (I hope my wife doesn't read this).

How about some bold predictions? Actually, I don't think they'll be too bold. Anyway, I predict that Michael Cuddyer will play more 3rd base than Koskie this season. Boy, maybe that is bold! I think Koskie will injure his back early, and Cuddyer will play so well it will be tough to take him out. I also predict LeCroy will hit 30 or more home runs. If he has enough at bats, he will be dangerous. And how about the first call up from the minors of the season ... I predict it will be J.D. Durbin. He's got the attitude and the determination, and either Silva or Thomas will tank in the rotation. I also wouldn't be surprised to see either Nakamura or Crain called up. But I'm pretty sure it will be a pitcher.

And what about Victory Sports? Charley Walters reported on Thursday that:


Contrary to rumors, there is virtually no chance Fox Sports Network will be able to acquire Twins cable and TV rights. The only option is Victory Sports One, which remains at an impasse with several broadcasting outlets.

Walters then reported on Friday that:

The Twins don't expect an agreement with Twin Cities cable outlets Comcast and Time Warner in time for Monday's season opener against Cleveland. Insiders say it could be a month before the stalemate is settled.

Latest word is Fox Sports Net is willing to pay $12 million a year to reacquire Twins broadcast rights. That would be nearly triple what Fox paid last season.

Fox Sports has gotta know that the Twins could make $18 million more by running their own network. I still feel pretty strongly that we should all back the Twins in this fight. I think it is a forgone conclusion that some of this money could be used to pay for a stadium, and that should be the number one goal for all of us as Twins fans.

Finally, the StarTrib had a good article on Victory today that discussed some of the interesting broadcast strategies they have cooked up, like less mindless replays. Too bad we won't get to see these strategies. Here is another bold prediction, we won't see any Twins games on TV until after the All-Star break, and that is bad news for any pro-stadium Twins fan. Does anyone have any news that I haven't heard about Victory?

And if you are wondering, I won't be at the game tomorrow. I have to teach Monday nights. But I will be at Tuesday's game. So, if you see a tall, gangly blond headed Twins fan walking through the Metrodome concourse with a 2002 royal blue DQ Twins cap, it is probably me. I can't wait!

Posted by snackeru at 10:45 PM

April 3, 2004

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 8:35 AM

April 2, 2004

Find It Integration

Find It link about the Minnesota Twins!

Above is a link from the U of M Libraries Find It Linking Service that I put in my blog through the Movable Type bookmarklet function. First I created the bookmarklet bookmark (main menu of MT screen) so that I could use it later. Then I did a search in a Find It enabled database. Once the Find It menu appeared for an article I was interested in I used my bookmarklet bookmark to post the Find It menu URL to my blog. It was easy, and if I keep the bookmarklet page open, I can add more (although you do have to deal with multiple pop ups). This could be a handy way for faculty, staff, and students to keep a list of citations before they move it up to RefWorks, or whatever bibliographic management software they use.

Posted by snackeru at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)

Links of the day

Over on my other site I had a running post category I called "Links of the day." I started it so that I wouldn't forget the links to interesting web sites I find throughout my day of surfing.

Anyway, today's "Links of the day" will focus on April Fools Day. You see, I was the butt of an April Fools joke yesterday. My neighbor Craig decided it would be great fun to fool me into thinking that the new U of M blog site, a site I've been working on for months, was intermittently showing up with green text. That alone was enough to send me into a frantic fury of checking over my HTML and CSS to make sure their wasn't any green hexadecimal codes that got in there by accident. But Craig wasn't finished. He also emailed all my co-workers to get them in on the act, including my boss! Fortunately, one of my co-workers decided to let me off the hook or else I would have been a weeping mess by the end of the day. Craig, I don't know how, but you are going down. You have crossed the line, and you are going down.

Posted by snackeru at 8:54 AM | Comments (2)

April 1, 2004

What is in a name?

Tell me, what is wrong with the name Shane? Why don't any of you like it? Hmmm? I can just hear all of you saying, "What? I like the name Shane. How can he say that I don't like it?" I'll tell you why. If you met me today, later on in the day you would say to yourself, "What was his name again? Oh yeah... Shawn." Why do people prefer the name "Shawn" to "Shane"? I get called Shawn all the time. In fact, I think it might be every day. Just yesterday, a woman I've known for 3 years called me Shawn. It is baffling to me.

Even when I was a little, impressionable kid I learned quickly how much people don't like my name. When I was about 8 I got a call from a nurse who asked me my name. I told her and she said, "Shane Adam? That is a terrible name." As an eight year old I was a little dumbstruck, but I think today I would probably give her a piece of my mind.

And you would think that it might go the other way. That people would mistakenly call someone named "Shawn" the name "Shane." But it is not the case. Every Shawn I meet I ask if anyone has ever called him Shane. I have yet to have a Shawn admit to having ever been called Shane. What is up with that? It really is humorous, but also after 31 years of life it is getting a little old. So, please everyone, try to find a little love in your heart for the name Shane. The Shawns of the world are getting a little too full of themselves.

UPDATE: Just 10 minutes ago a woman I've known for two years called me Shawn. Maybe it's just me? Am I just a forgettable person?

Posted by snackeru at 10:23 PM | Comments (4)

Mike Opat responds

I am a sick person. I think about stadiums constantly. I am so in favor of building stadiums in Minnesota, it is no use trying to talk me out of it. Since last November I've been running a blog on a server in my basement, and I've had a lot of fun doing it. I've made some good connections, and kept my family and friends abreast of what is going on in my life. I started the blog to document the stadium battle in Minnesota and try to persuade anyone I can that it is time to build them. I expect to do the same on this blog. A while back I wrote to Mike Opat and asked him a series of questions concerning Hennepin County's efforts to build a stadium. Some of my questions and his answers may appear out of date, but I still think his answers are interesting:

Mike Opat is a Hennepin County commissioner and he currently leads the county's efforts to build a new Twins stadium.


  1. First of all, what is in it for Hennepin County as a whole by building a stadium in Minneapolis? According to reports, Hennepin County will have to raise between $25 and $30 million a year for debt service on bonds to build a new stadium. That seems like a lot of money. What kind of economic and/or quality of life impact do you feel a new stadium will have on the county that justifies that kind of yearly expense?

    Mike Opat's response:
    "The quality of life in Hennepin County is high. I think we all know that. That quality is owing to a great many things the sum of which makes us want to live here--even in February. [T]he quality of life attracts businesses here. Baseball is one of those intangible assets that adds to the quality of life. The Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center, etc. are also such assets. Keeping the vital asset that is baseball is "what's in it" for us. The fact that a ballpark would be in Minneapolis is really not important. We want to put a ballpark where it has the best chance of succeeding. Clearly, that would be in the Warehouse District where the action is."

    This answer I did not expect at all. I expected Mr. Opat to say, "We've run all the numbers and we feel that a stadium in the Warehouse District will generate X amount of dollars for the county, etc. etc..." I have no doubt that Hennepin County will make money on this deal, but what Mr. Opat is doing here arguing that the quality of life aspect of a stadium is the main reason he wants Hennepin County to host it. The quality of life impact is definitely high, as is the impact on community pride, not to mention the benefits of having family friendly entertainment in our community. The entertainment value, history, nostalgia, and memories MLB has provided Minnesota for decades should not be something we are willing to give up.

  2. Does the fact that Pawlenty has said the state will not help with any financing hurt Hennepin County's efforts?

    Mike Opat's response:
    "Yes. But what any Governor says at the start of a legislative session may not be what ends up in a bill. Decisions like these are compromises and all is not lost yet. But the state will have to help if we are to get this done."

    Not an unexpected answer. Pawlenty's recent comments concerning his lack of support for state funding of stadiums hurt all the communities counting on these funds. Mr. Opat is optimistic, that is for sure, and if it is going to take state help "if we are to get this done" I must say that dampens my spirits a little bit.

  3. According to Hennepin County's proposal you hope to impose county wide taxes to pay your share of the costs. Do you think this is the only way to fund the stadium, and if so, do you favor a referendum or not?

    Mike Opat's response:
    "I think the best way to finance the public portion of a project this large is with a very broad, low, tax county wide. It is not the only way, there are many other ways. But county wide is the best way."

    Time probably prohibited Mr. Opat from answering this question in full. If there is a "Plan B" I want to know about it because I think they are going to need it. But he is right, a "broad, low, tax county wide" would generate a lot of money and people wouldn't feel it at all.

  4. Finally, you know more about the current stadium climate at the legislature than I do. What is your gut feeling concerning the chances of a workable Twins stadium bill actually passing this session?

    Mike Opat's response:
    "I am unclear at this point. I think it will ultimately get down to how much the Governor wants to push for it. The heavy lifting will be in the Republican-controlled House of Reps. Not many forces can move them--especially their most conservative members, but the Governor may have
    some effect. IF he does not want to try, I don't think this will go anywhere."

    This is definitely something we've heard before. If any plan is to have a chance in the legislature, Pawlenty has got to push it through. If you haven't written Pawlenty yet, please do so now. We've got to let him know that we want this problem solved.


A special thanks to Mike Opat for answering my questions! Keep this blog in your "blogroll" for more stadium talk!

Posted by snackeru at 10:01 PM

Got an interesting email message

Someone just wrote me, and based on his message I will keep him anonymous, but he had an interesting comment about how UThink is set up:


"Part of the pleasure and excitement of personal publishing is that you have some control over revealing your identity to your readers. The way Uthink is set up, it seems impossible to change the name of the directory from my university internet id."

He's right. Much like OIT's Web Hotel space, your initial directory in UThink is always your Internet ID. What do people think about that? Is the lack of privacy troublesome? If you look at some of the most famous bloggers out there -- Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), Jason Kottke (kottke.org), Mark Pilgrim (Dive into Mark), James Lileks (The Bleat) -- we always know who they are. Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone had an opinion. Personally, I don't mind people knowing who is doing the writing on the Greet Machine, but could it possibly stop me from sharing my true opinion about some issues? Possibly.

Posted by snackeru at 12:15 PM

Overall, a good first day

Overall, it was a pretty good first day for the libraries blog server. We had some people give it a try, give me some feedback, and I'm impressed with the variety of blog styles that are appearing. Take Typically Late for example. That is a unique way to post blog entries. I will definitely have to check it out in the days ahead. Hangin' in There also has an interesting first post, and I couldn't agree more. Blogs are changing the way we communicate and they are creating a new kind of online persona. Exciting stuff if you ask me, but I'm a little biased I suppose.

Bugs found on the first day... let's see. The biggest is I found out that the blog home page does not look quite right in IE on an 800x600 monitor. I know, I know, I should have learned that in webmastering 101. Believe me it really ticks me off to have missed that. I checked everything in Mozilla (Firefox, Netscape 7, etc.), IE (higher screen resolution obviously), Safari, IE for Mac, Mozilla for Mac, and more. I thought I had it all. Do'h! So, I'll be fixing that this morning. The design is totally CSS based (no tables!) so I guess I should have expected some bugs of that sort from browser to browser. Let me say though that Mozilla is much easier to design for with CSS than IE.

I only alerted about 30 people that the blog system was ready to go so that is why there are only 20 blogs so far. That didn't stop other blogs from picking up on the story though. Rawbrick.net had a nice entry about the system and also a link to a great article about library groupware. It suggests a tool that combines blogging, citation management, and link resolving all at once. I dare say we are well on our way. Also, PZ Myers at the U of M Morris wrote about the service and was a little ticked off that we seemed to be blocking his access. Enter bug number 2: he still was able to get in. But you know what? I'm kind of rethinking my strategy here. Maybe we should let the coordinate campuses in. We will be mulling that over in the days to come.

On with day number two!

UPDATE: IE on an 800x600 monitor has been fixed. I am a CSS god! (Hey, if you can't get excited about the little stuff, life just isn't as fun.)

Posted by snackeru at 8:30 AM | Comments (4)

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