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May 28, 2004

Songs for a Desert Island III

Well, it is 4:00 on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and I am finding it exceedingly difficult to stay on task here at work. It is a beautiful day outside and this mini-vacation of a three day weekend is calling out to me. So, what is better than just sitting back at this point and blogging about one of my favorite subjects, my "Songs for a Desert Island." My wife would think today's selection is very appropriate for a very specific reason. She thinks I'm in love with aliens. You know, extra terrestrials, UFOs, little green men, etc. According to her, if a book doesn't have an alien in it, I don't want to read it. That isn't necessarily true, but I do enjoy a good science fiction book and if it has an alien in it I am a happy camper. Truth be told, I would love to write my own science fiction novel and if I did write one it would have an alien in it. But I'm getting a little off topic, and that is a whole different story that I may touch upon later. Anyway, today's Songs for a Desert Island features a song about aliens, and it is most definitely one of my favorite songs both for its lyrics and its music. It is:

"Subterranean Homesick Alien" by Radiohead.

Obviously the title pays homage to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" but really that is where the similarities end. This is probably the first song I've chosen that I'm more impressed with the music than I am the lyrics. Don't get me wrong, I think the lyrics are good too, but the music is absolutely perfect for a song about aliens. It is a little spooky and mysterious, and it has a sound and atmosphere that reminds me of comets, and nebula, and floating in outer space. I feel it is truly a great piece of musicianship and I wish Radiohead would write more songs like it. The direction the band is currently heading is one that I am not very fond of. That is not important right now, though. Let's take a look at the lyrics.

The breath of the morning
I keep forgetting.
The smell of the warm summer air.

I live in a town
where you can't smell a thing,
you watch your feet
for cracks in the pavement.

Here we have a person that seems to live in a city of some sort. This person is busy and doesn't stop to smell the proverbial rose. Or perhaps this person is worried, full of anxiety about his job, or marriage, or family. The whole town is on edge and everyone seems to be walking on egg shells about something or the other. Intriguing, isn't it?

Up above
aliens hover
making home movies
for the folks back home,

of all these weird creatures
who lock up their spirits,
drill holes in themselves
and live for their secrets.

They're all uptight, uptight,
uptight, uptight,
uptight, uptight.

Ah, here we get to the main issue of the song. If aliens could see us from above, what would they think? Radiohead tells this story of aliens filming us for "the folks back home" and that the films would show a rather unhappy and most importantly an "uptight" bunch of strange beings. Are we this uptight? Would aliens be unimpressed with our priorities or how we live our lives? It probably depends on what town or city they are monitoring. I can't imagine people are as uptight in Grand Forks as they are in Minneapolis. But we've all certainly got secrets, and those can certainly dictate how we live our lives. For example, my biggest secret is ... not for you to know! Actually, what kinds of secrets do I have? I can't even think of one you'd be impressed with. Anyway, on with the song.

I wish that they'd sweep down in a country lane,
late at night when I'm driving.
Take me on board their beautiful ship,
show me the world as I'd love to see it.

Seeing our lives from another, in this case alien, perspective would be a pretty cool. One of the best alien scifi books I've ever read is The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The best part of this book is the "first contact" between the aliens in the story and the humans. What makes it really good though is that the first contact is told through the aliens' viewpoint. That was a very fascinating read.

I'd tell all my friends but they'd never believe me,
They'd think that I'd finally lost it completely.
I'd show them the stars and the meaning of life.
They'd shut me away.
But I'd be alright, alright,
I'd be alright,
I'm alright.

I'm just uptight, uptight,
uptight, uptight,
uptight, uptight,
uptight, uptight,

I'm sure that having an alien encounter would be a life altering experience, and the aliens might be able to tell you the "meaning of life," but I highly doubt it. I think one of the biggest stretches in science fiction literature is that an alien will have all the answers just because it is an alien. More than likely, aliens will have problems of there own. Books like The Mote in God's Eye, or Illegal Alien or Calculating God by Robert Sawyer, show aliens that most certainly don't have all the answers. Just because an alien society figures out inter-stellar space travel doesn't mean they know the meaning of life. It does, however, demonstrate a certain level of higher intelligence, that is for sure.

In fact, this is probably the kind of science fiction book I would write. Science fiction is a genre that isn't afraid of asking the tough questions concerning religion and faith. In fact, I dare you to find any science fiction book that doesn't touch upon these issues in some way. So, here is my idea: imagine an alien civilization coming to earth with a completely different philosophy on the purpose of life, one that doesn't mesh at all with Christianity, or Islam, or Hinduism. Personally I think this would throw the world into a complete tizzy. What would this do to people's faith? Would people fight for their faith or would they willingly or easily drop their beliefs? Would there be war? More peace? Or would we try to convert the aliens? Another book along these lines I really like is Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. One of the story lines in this book talks of trying to convert the native inhabitants of another planet to Christianity. How does our concept of God and faith translate to an alien society? Are they even compatible? Does God reveal himself in another way to aliens? Luckily, we still don't know if aliens even exist and this, I think, is a good thing because we aren't ready for it. I really think it would be a mess. Anyway, that is what my book would be about. Let me know if you think it sounds interesting.

So, as you can see, I find "Subterranean Homesick Alien" to be a very atmospheric and thought provoking song. I'm sure it would give me a lot to consider as I sat listening to it stranded on my desert island. That is all for now. I'm going home.

Posted by snackeru at 4:01 PM | Comments (3)

Looks pretty bad

OK, before I go off let me just say that the Lakers are a very good team. Seriously, they have four first ballot hall of famers in their starting lineup. That is tough to overcome. However, one in particular is getting some very special treatment from the refs and quite frankly I am just sick of it. Shaq is both getting the calls and the Wolves aren't getting any calls on Shaq. If Olowakandi just blows on Shaq the refs call a foul on him. But it definitely is not a two way street. I can think of three instances where Shaq practically mauled one of the T-Wolves and nothing was called: KG's drive in the lane in the first quarter (Shaq pummeled him), Hoiberg's drive in the lane in the second quarter (Shaq leveled him), and the over-the-back on Ervin Johnson in the third quarter (quite obvious to all of America, I'm sure, but not the refs). What do the Wolves have to do to get a foul called on Shaq? It is obvious the refs look out for Shaq (probably because of all of his complaining), and I'm not saying they shouldn't, I'm just saying the calls have to go both ways.

I watched the game with Cheesehead Craig last night and we both thought Flip was going to get ejected in the fourth. We thought there would be a point where a foul was just too obvious to overlook and he would lay into one of the refs and get a double technical or something. Maybe the game was too close for him to do that, but I think it could have sent a wake up call to both the refs and the Wolves as a team. I know I was frustrated, I don't know how Flip kept his cool.

Having said all of this, I'm sure the refs do the best they can, and they are not the reason the Wolves are losing. Not having Sam Cassel definitely hurts, but what hurts more is just plain missing shots. Sprewell, God bless his streaky shooting, could not buy a basket last night. KG had a great game, but he missed some easy shots too. Really, the key to beating the Lakers is hitting shots because you know the Lakers will not miss.

So, to sum up: the refs need to stop trying to appease Shaq, the T-Wolves need to start hitting some shots, and they need to win without Sam Cassell. All of this is completely within the realm of reason and I fully expect the Wolves to win game five at the Target Center. Can they win game six, though, at the Staples Center ... that has yet to be determined. We'll see how they do in game five.

Posted by snackeru at 8:35 AM | Comments (4)

May 27, 2004

Stadium news

Today's stadium news will be kind of weak, but there really isn't a whole lot out there to comment on. Obviously, it is very important that the governor call a special session. Right now, Dean Johnson, Steve Sviggum, and Pawlenty are all working furiously to hammer out the agenda of the proposed special session. Although Dean Johnson says that there is no more than a "50-50" chance of a special session being called, he did have this to say about the chances for a Twins stadium:

If the Legislature does return, Johnson said, there's a good chance members would vote on building a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins.

"The Twins have ginned up a pretty good public relations operation" to build support for a stadium bill, he said.

It seems that all of our stadium hopes now ride on Pawlenty's ability to negotiate with the DFL side of the Senate. I think Dean Johnson may be getting a letter from me tonight. He is playing hardball with the governor now, but I hope all of this negotiation pays off in the long run. It also sounds like only the Twins will get any attention. This may not be a bad thing as Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press consistently reports that Red will sell if the Vikings don't get anwhere with their stadium plans this year.

That's all for now.

Posted by snackeru at 8:40 AM

Happy Day

Introducing a new family
Last Thursday something wonderful happened on my wife's side of the family. Her brother Dan and his wife Kris came back from China with their new daughter, Maya Lan. Words cannot describe how excited we all are for Dan and Kris. I'm not one to get overly mushy, but let's just say there was some dust in the air that made my eyes water when they got off the plane. After trying to get pregnant for at least two years they decided to open their home to a baby from China. That process took well over a year from start to finish, not to mention a three week stay in China. And now Maya Lan is home. I'm serious when I say it pained me that Dan didn't have any kids. My own kids just love him and practically worship the ground he walks on. To see him so happy and relieved is a gift unto itself and I can't express enough how happy I am for him. Anyway, I'm just thrilled for them and I wanted to share it.

watch.jpg Plus they gave me this cool watch with a waving Mao. Rock on!

Posted by snackeru at 7:35 AM

May 26, 2004

Links of the day

I don't have much to say today. The Wolves game last night was just plain blah. No intensity on either side really, except for Wally. I gotta admit he impressed me last night. Anyway, enjoy these links of the day:

Posted by snackeru at 8:41 AM

May 25, 2004

Songs for a Desert Island II

I am a sucker for pop music with religious imagery or a religious message of some kind. In fact, I am a sucker for any kind of pop culture material that uses religion to get a message across or tells a religious story in a new way. The Matrix immediately comes to mind, but that is a whole different story. Today is about the music, and today's Song for a Desert Island comes from the band U2, probably the best band in the world for the past 20 years. U2 is well known for its unique sound, no doubt, but what I appreciate is the sheer beauty of their lyrics. From "I Will Follow" to "Grace" I have always been surprised with how thought provoking and how out of the ordinary thier lyrics are. Being a Christian I have also appreciated how their lyrics make me think of my faith in new ways, and, yes, sometimes ways that aren't comfortable. "Until the End of the World," "The First Time," "Wake Up Dead Man" all bristle the average Christian as being ... well ... un-Christian. Besides their most overtly Christian album October, a common theme of U2's music is "crisis in faith." U2 dares to look at the questions and doubts that we all have concerning our faith whether we believe or not. We all doubt and U2 dares to look at that doubt right in the face and confront it.

That is why my second Song for a Desert Island is "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

Quite possibly the most misunderstood of all of U2's song "I Still Haven't Found" convinced many believers that U2 had finally renounced their faith completely. Bah! It actually angers me, this "holier than thou" attitude. Listen to the song closely and you'll find probably the most beautiful gospel song written in the past 20 years.

I have climbed the highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Most people have a difficult time separating the song from the singer. Is this an autobiographical song? Is Bono singing this from the heart? Perhaps. But I actually think Bono is singing for all of us. Faith is hard work, and believe me, I know. Why does it seem God is so far away? Why do I need to "scale these city walls" only to find that this doubt still lingers?

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

In this stanza Bono tells the other side of the story. Where else do we go to find the answers to our questions and doubts? The video for "I Still Haven't Found" was filmed in Las Vegas, perhaps the most concentrated population of people searching and never finding what they are looking for on the planet. Bono tells this story of maybe a meeting with a prostitute, of a person holding both the "hand of the devil" while also speaking with the "tongue of angels." This person is choosing something other than God, but he is finding that he still hasn't found what he is looking for.

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well, yes, I'm still running

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
And my shame
All my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

The most powerful and overtly Christian segment in the entire song. Bono sings of belief in a passionate way using imagery that should be familiar to any Christian: "kingdom come," "colors will bleed into one," "carried the cross." The person in this song believes, wants desperately to believe, but can't shake his doubts. Or is it that simple? The easiest interpretation of this song is the "crisis in faith" angle, of the believer on the brink of losing it and tumbling into despair. However, you could also make an interpretation that this song is a sermon of sorts. Are you really satisfied with your relationship with God? Have you really found what you are looking for? Does the Bible not tell us to keep striving for the perfect relationship with God, to never let up, to always try to get closer? It is easy to point a finger at U2 and accuse them of singing a song of despair and doubt, but it is much harder to look at our own lives and see complacency and laziness. And I am no exception.

What this song says to me that I am not alone. We all have doubts and imperfect relationships with God. It is human nature. The first step is realizing it and crying out I still haven't found what I am looking for! I know there is something better out there, and I know I can work harder to find it.

I think what upsets most people about this song is that U2 doesn't offer an easy way out. There is no satisfactory conclusion. There is no reconciliation. Just a person singing, "But I still haven't found what I'm looking for." Is this and end or a beginning? Obviously U2 leaves that up to us.

So there you have it, the second Song for a Desert Island. I hope the next time you hear this song you will think of it in a new way. Stay tuned for the next Song for a Desert Island. You might be surprised at what it is.

Posted by snackeru at 7:59 AM | Comments (5)

May 24, 2004

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 6:47 PM

Random weekend thoughts

I think we all know what was on my mind this weekend: The T-Wolves/Lakers series. What a great game last night. When Sam left the game I think the world thought the Wolves would just fold, but fortunately that was not to be. The Wolves not only beat the Lakers, but they crushed the Lakers, making it look easy in the process. What was the secret? First of all they played physical. Sprewell led the charge in that category by consistently picking up his man for full court defense after the ball was inbounded on made shots. The Wolves as a team got in the Lakers "grill" and didn't let up. That is why there were so many technicals at the end of the game (and an ejection of Karl Malone). The Lakers were just sick of it. What a bunch of pansies. Secondly, the Wolves got to the foul line. The magic number for the Wolves seems to be 20 free throw attempts. If they get to that number (or close to it: they got to 19 last night) they seem to have their best shot of winning the game. Next we have the play of KG. KG scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds. A solid effort from him throughout the game and a very good effort from him to close out the game in the fourth. And of course the Wolves bench contributed big time. Darrick Martin with 16 points? Are you kidding me? Wally is playing some good ball too, although I wish he would shoot more and dribble less. Finally, the quartet of Johnson, Madsen, Miller, and Olowakandi shut the Diesel down. I think we found out last night that Kobe can torch the Wolves (27 last night), but if Shaq is taken out of the game the Lakers don't stand a chance. Shaq is without a doubt the MVP of that team and we should see a bigger contribution from him on Tuesday. At least I think the Lakers will try to get him more involved.

Next we have the semi-weekly update from the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. Yesterday as I was driving home from church Sid received phone calls from both Dean Johnson, Senate Majority leader, and Steve Sviggum, Speaker of the House, concerning stadium issues. First of all, it sounded like there will most definitely be a special session called. Right now the two chambers are mapping out the agenda of the session. Secondly, both leaders said they think a stadium bill will be part of the mix. Although they both hedged a little bit, I think the fact that they both called Sid on Sunday speaks volumes regarding the chances of the stadium bill being considered in the special session. Of course, Sid gave both of the them a hard time which I really appreciated. Anyway, I'm feeling good about the chances for a new Twins stadium today.

Lastly, and this is totally off topic, I was thinking about my family this weekend and where we have come since the first Nackerud "got off the boat" in 1903. Needless to say, my family has come a long way. I'm sure yours has too. When you think about it, the people we have to thank for this are the people that decided to take a chance so long ago. In my case, Andrew Pedersen Nackerud decided in 1903 to leave everything behind in Norway for the chance of a better life in the unknown of America. That was huge! Can you imagine packing everything up, leaving your family and home, and moving to a foreign country knowing that you would never return? You may be wondering what my point is. It is this: somewhere in all of our pasts is someone who decided to take a chance, a huge risk actually, and try for something better. We all have the blood of adventure running through our veins. Somewhere deep down inside of all of us Americans is this drive, this willingness to sacrifice and work hard and take a chance. Is there any wonder why America is so great or why we are so successful? So take a moment today to think about your own family history and that person, or group of people, that made the decision to come to America. For me it is a little humbling and awesome to think that this spirit of adventure still lives somewhere in me.

Posted by snackeru at 8:53 AM

May 21, 2004

Links of the day

Today's links will be highlighted by a link to the commencement address for William and Mary College given by Jon Stewart this year. Jon Stewart is an alum of W&M ('84). I've said it before, but Stewart is a national treasure. So naturally funny. I was laughing out loud reading this. Enjoy!

Actually, that's all I got. I have too much work to do!

Posted by snackeru at 2:30 PM

Wolves game tonight

Short post today as I've got tons of work to do, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I am aware that the T-Wolves are on tonight and I will be watching the game. I know, that must be a big relief to all of you. Anyway, I was reading the LA Times today and I came across this article which has some choice quotes for all of us to ponder over. First of all the author begins by stating that Minnesota is the curling capital of the country. He then states:

"I just know those folks who live out there in the hinterland are familiar with brooms, and next week when they turn on the TV and see a bunch of Laker fans waving brooms above their heads, I don't want them to think we're challenging them."

Oh, ha! ha! ... stop ... my sides hurt. That sure is a rib tickler! He then goes on to state:

"We all know the Lakers can name the final score tonight. Of course, they can do that almost any night, which makes you wonder why they let the other team win so often, but I just don't see any Mall of America incentive for Jeanie, Phil and our regular-season slackers to return to Minneapolis next week.

It's pretty well understood now in the basketball world, although it might be a few days before the rider arrives in Mankato with the news, that the Lakers are going to win another title. The only thing remaining in question is the date of the parade."

Wow. Strong words. I'm starting to get a little angry.

"One of the newspapers back there, and I can never tell the difference between those small-town twins — Minneapolis and St. Paul — has a columnist, I believe, by the name of 'Sid Homer.' That tells you a little about these yahoos."

He has dared to mock Sid? That is strike two!

"Sure, I noticed their cheerleaders on TV, and I guess it was a long winter, so the good news is they'll have four more games to work themselves into swimsuit shape."

Ahhh! He has stepped over the line! The beauty of our women-folk has been questioned! If that doesn't work T-Wolves fans into a frenzy nothing will! For the honor of our women (who by the way are absolutely gorgeous) we must show no mercy. I don't know about you, but this series has now stepped up a notch on the hatred meter. I hate the Lakers! And I know I'm not alone. You may have 9 million people cheering for you to win, LA, but the rest of the country is decidedly in favor of the T-Wolves.

And by the way, we want our team nickname back too!

Posted by snackeru at 9:11 AM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2004

In your face

I don't think I've ever been so nervous watching an NBA game. When Christie (man he bugs me) hit that three pointer with 16.8 seconds left I just about threw up. But the T-Wolves won. I am relieved, ecstatic, drained, pumped-up, and tired all at the same time. So, let's take care of the obvious points. Boy did Madsen stink it up tonight. Flip gave him his chance in the first half, but he simply could not hold on to anything thrown his way. Hoiberg had zero points so my comment about Hoiberg and Madsen on the floor at the same time being "magical" ... let's just pretend I didn't say that. Hopefully Madsen can play a little better against his former team. And if I could have reached through the TV to choke Sprewell I would have. How many turnovers did he have because of careless passing? 3? 4? He's got to be a little more careful with the ball. Finally, Sam's performance was way more than I expected. garnett7.jpg His two free throws at the end to put the Wolves up by three were probably the two most clutch free throws in Wolves history. For that I thank him.

Now for the obvious. KG is the MVP for a reason, and tonight he proved it: 32 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks; 14 points in the fourth quarter alone. And another thing, why does he still need to prove he is the MVP? I am so sick of hearing that KG is somehow unworthy because he won't take the big shot or that he disappears in the fourth quarter. Can we finally put those tired comments to rest? I don't know how many of you read ESPN.com, but they were really dumping on KG today. Look at what Dan Shanoff wrote in his "Daily Quickie" piece today:

For future reference: That's the ongoing historical theme of the NBA playoffs; teams have to be KO'ed -- usually brutally -- before they learn what it takes to win.

Pay attention, Kevin Garnett: For future reference.

Hey Shanoff, for future reference you are an idiot.

Eric Neel also picked Webber and the Kings to win only because he didn't want Webber to lose, and the Boston Sports Guy, aka Bill Simmons, pretty much slobbered all over himself trying to say negative things about KG and the Wolves.

"I can't shake the feeling that I was right about KG, that he's the 'Greatest Second Banana of All Time.' He's terrific, absolutely. He just can't singlehandedly rip out a team's heart like MJ or Kobe. And that's what you need in a Game 7. If it's close near the end, they'll be feeding Cassell or Spree."

First of all, Simmons, you are rarely right about anything. I can understand that being from Boston you think you know everything, but obviously you'd be wrong. In this case you are horribly wrong: 32 points, 21 rebounds and 14 points in the fourth. If Simmons is writing about anything besides sports I usually think he is very funny and spot on. His running commentary of the movie Hoosiers is a classic. But if he is writing anything about any sport, college or professional, his Boston bias and his inexplicable derision of Minnesota sports franchises is usually too much for me. I'll never forgive him for suggesting the Twins should be contracted, or that the Twins and the Expos should be moved to Las Vegas to create some kind of "uber team." Hey! I think I figured out where my hatred of the Red Sox comes from!

To top it off, Simmons, in the same article above, suggested that KG should not have backed down after AP hit him in the jaw. In his infinite wisdom he writes:

Still, I'm going with the Kings. I just think the Wolves have too much pressure on them. Hope I'm wrong -- I like KG. Even if he let down his boys in Chicago for life by taking two steps back from AP.

First of all KG is from South Carolina, you moron, and more importantly what exactly would you have had KG do? Most people praise KG for holding back and actually making sure he plays in game seven, but would you have him risk all of that to protect his "street cred?" Of course you would:

"All he needed to do was either A) give him the old two-handed shove, or B) grab him by the neck like MJ did to Reggie Miller that time. Neither of those things would have gotten him kicked out of Game 7. But by taking two steps back and standing there he basically backed down. And your best player can't back down."

This comment is too stupid to even be worthy of print. KG obviously did the right thing: he stuck it to the Kings in game seven and is now on his way to the conference finals. Simmons would have preferred KG risk it all to stand up to a role player trying to goad him into a fight! Sheesh! I know some of you really like Bill Simmons, but how can any of these comments be justified? At the very least he gives me material to get angry about, so I guess I could thank him for that. I would rather he just shut up and start showing KG and the Wolves some respect for once.

Anyway, I'm thrilled the Wolves won. What a fantastic game. Of course, no one is giving them any chance versus the Lakers, but it should be a good series. Can't wait for Friday!

Posted by snackeru at 11:28 PM

Viking seats upgrade!

One of the ways I spoil myself is by purchasing season tickets to the Vikings. I've had these for three years now and I gotta say I just love them. Football season is so much more fun when you go to every other game, and I get really pumped up to go to Vikings' games. Anyway, I started out in row 28, last year I moved down to row 24, and now I am moving to row 21! Slowly but surely I'm paying my dues and working my way down. And believe me, even these little baby steps make a big difference in how well a person sees the game. So, for those of you that care, my seats are now:

Section 217, Row 21, Seats 15 and 16

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I sell my tickets to about 3 games every year. So, if any of you out there are interested in any of the games (except the Packer game of course) just let me know.

Skol Vikings!

Posted by snackeru at 11:12 AM | Comments (1)

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 8:22 AM

May 18, 2004

Couple of good articles

ESPN has a couple of good articles today focusing on two of my favorite sports franchises, the Twins and the Vikings. First we have an article about the Twins from Peter Gammons. Usually I find Gammons's articles to be highly unreadable, full of inappropriate quotes and song lyrics that just make his articles confusing and painful to read. I don't really mind him as a TV commentator, but as a writer he stinks (look who's talking). Anyway, his article today was more about the genius that is Terry Ryan and it hinted that he may be willing to trade away some of our young minor league talent to make a run for the World Series this year. That is great news, although who could he be talking about? Surely not Justin Morneau, but what about Restovich or even Michael Ryan? And I know Adam Johnson is finally considered expendable. I'd like to think that going to the World Series would do wonders for the Twins' stadium chances, but going to the ALCS two years ago didn't help any.

The second article comes from another baseball writer, Rob Neyer, who amazingly enough seems to be quite the fan of the Vikings. His article focuses on the most painful moments in Vikings history, and certainly brought back some not-so-good memories for me. You see, my birthday is on January 17, so almost every year around that time I get to watch the Vikings crumble. Last year was no expception. Hey Denard! The Cardinals are going to throw it in the end zone! Play some freaking defense! Anyway, Rob's list of painful moments included these fun b-days:

Neyer's article begins with a great put-down of Red Sox fans which I totally agree with. Boston fans, especially Red Sox fans, are the biggest bunch of whining prima-donnas on the planet. It's like they feel entitled to everything from a World Series to a Stanley Cup to a Super Bowl because they are "the greatest fans on Earth." Please. They give new meaning to the term "fair weather" and their accent makes my ears bleed. Learn how to speak coherently you bunch of Cro-Magnons! Next to Packer fans, I despise Red Sox fans the most. They whine and complain about Steinbrenner and the Evil Empire yet they spend almost as much and have nothing to show for it. I can't wait until baseball's divisional series this October when yet again the Red Sox are at home playing Mario Golf or whatever lame game they must play and the Twins are battling for a berth to the World Series!

And on that note, I will leave you. If I want any team to win the AL East it is the Orioles.

Posted by snackeru at 1:19 PM | Comments (2)

Need a book to read

If you are a regular reader of the Greet Machine, you'll notice that my "What I'm Reading" section to the right hasn't changed in quite a while. I actually finished The Tale of Despereaux about three weeks ago. If you want to know, it was a very good book. I actually love reading children's books. The Tale of Despereaux actually won the Newberry award for best children's book and is written by a Minneapolis author, Kate DiCamillo. I don't know if you've read a children's book for a while but they are usually well written and very easy to understand. In the case of The Tale of Despereaux the reader can immediately tell that every sentence has been expertly crafted, every word selected for the utmost clarity. It really is a joy to read something you know someone has worked so hard on. I am of the opinion that children's books must be one of the hardest kind of book to write, because really you've got to impress both the child and the parent or guardian that will ultimately purchase the book. That can be a tall order. Anyway, The Tale of Despereaux is a wonderful book. I recommend it whole heartedly. It is very thought provoking and should generate some good discussion between you and your child.

You'll also notice that the title of this post is "Need a book to read." I know it is probably odd for a librarian to ask for advice on what to read next, but I am doing just that. If you have read any good books lately please let me know, especially some of you readers that maybe have never commented before. We all read, and we've all read a good book at some point in our lives. Please let me know what you think are some really good books. To get the ball rolling, I'll list some books I've read recently that I've enjoyed:

So there you have it. I enjoy all types of books, but if it's fiction I really enjoy a good scifi novel. If you've got any suggestions, please let me know!

Posted by snackeru at 8:58 AM | Comments (6)

May 16, 2004

MT license

UPDATE: Six Apart has unveiled an introduction to its educational licensing for MT.

Over the weekend Six Apart sent out a form letter email and further modified their new licensing structure for Movable Type 3.0. Their new explanation does answer a lot of questions, but it also demonstrates that at least for the purposes of UThink both the personal and commercial licenses are still unacceptable. That, of course, leaves the mythical "educational license." I don't quite know why, but I am still feeling a little pessimistic about it. Why would they allow us to create unlimited blogs and authors when their most expensive commercial license (regularly $700!) only allows for 15 blogs and 20 authors? Of course, we will do everything we can to negotiate a fair price for our needs, but at least from my point of view I can't get it out of my head that they will see UThink as a threat to Typepad. We'll see.

Jason Kottke has a good post on what he thinks is a fair solution to this license mess, but it focuses on personal users. Allow me to chime in concerning what I think would be fair for non-profit and educational use. Since MT is now a commercial product, let's look at two of MT's competitors, PMachine and Manila, to see how much they charge. PMachine's Expression Engine has a non-profit license for $149 which will allow you unlimited blogs and authors and it appears you only have to pay for it once. Manilia offers an academic discount and charges only $299, but you have to renew it every year. However, Manila also allows for the creation of unlimited blogs and authors. In fact, I can't find any commercial product that limits blogs and authors like Movable Type does.

So, what would be fair for a non-profit or educational license? I think I've made it clear that we need unlimited blogs and authors, and I am more than willing to pay for it. And that is what I see as the biggest problem with MT's license structure. There isn't any option to get the limits taken off. So what I'm saying is if Six Apart wants to tier their licenses so people that want to create more blogs have to pay more, fine, that is great. But give us an option for unlimited blogs and I will be a happy camper. What would be fair? $149? $299? Movable Type is a great product and I would be willing to pay significantly more than what pMachine or Manila charges, at least above $500. I think Movable Type is that good. I don't want to give an exact figure since Six Apart may stumble across this entry:) but like I said, we'd be willing to pay.

I hope they realize that UThink has the potential to create a whole bunch of Movable Type users that will graduate and look to keep on using Movable Type whether it be Typepad or a personal MT license. I will certainly keep you posted as we find out more.

Posted by snackeru at 10:04 PM

Tough day to be a fan

Ouch. The T-Wolves game was not very fun to watch today. Let's see, the Kings outshot them, that is for sure, but unfortunately it appeared the Wolves also got out-hustled. In their defense, the T-Wolves had a game to lose and the Kings were fighting for their playoff lives, but I really didn't see much passion out there. Except from Sprewell. He is definitely playing at another level. My biggest criticism, however, I leave for Flip Saunders. What in the world was he thinking by not playing Mark Madsen in the fourth? OK, I know what he was thinking: Madsen only shoots 48% from the line. However, did Flip watch the same first quarter I watched? When Madsen and the Mayor are out on the floor together, something magical happens. With Sam Cassel hurting and Wally still not 100%, Madsen and Hoiberg should have been on the floor in the fourth. They give the team energy, especially Madsen, and Hoiberg has huge scoring potential when left open. And with KG and Sprewell on the floor at the same time, Hoiberg gets left open a lot. And back to Madsen, he is an offensive rebounding machine! I don't know about you, but I hope we see a lot of these two on Wednesday night, especially if Cassel is still hurting.

And the Twins ... wow did they get smoked. Silva's first loss of the year. All of this meant it was not a very good day to be a fan of Minnesota sports. Or was it? Last night the legislative session adjourned without a decision on the budget which means the governor will most likely call a special session. Most Minnesotans are upset about this, but not me. A special session is the only hope for the stadium bill, and the Twins believe they will be included in a special session if one is called. If you didn't catch the Pioneer Press on Friday, the governor had some good things to say about my favorite topic:

Pawlenty said he would still like to enact a stadium bill this year because interest rates are likely to go up and Major League Baseball may try again to get rid of the Twins.

"Does it absolutely, absolutely have to be done this year? Not necessarily," he said. "But it gets more expensive, more complicated and more risky if we wait till next year or after that. I don't think that's wise."

Please, please, please get something done this year! If you haven't yet, write your legislator and tell him or her that you want something to be done now! Finally, if you didn't read the Star Tribune editorial on Friday, it was a good one.

Posted by snackeru at 9:18 PM

May 14, 2004

A possible bright spot

The blogging world is literally freaking out over Movable Type and it's new licensing structure. What is really coming out though in all the posts I've read about this is confusion. Pure confusion. No one really knows what is going on. What does it mean that Six Apart has released a "developers" edition of MT 3.0? Does this mean that there will be another version coming out for all the "regular joes" that aren't developers? And my big question is still are we going to be able to continue to offer unlimited blogs and authors through the UThink system? The main programmer of UThink, Bill T., says he would be shocked if Six Apart didn't allow us to function as normal with MT 3.0. That's good! I need to hear more comments like that. Then I found this blog post that does a pretty good job of explaining just what Six Apart is trying to do with this developers release. It doesn't assuage my fears completely, but it is a start.

The question you may be asking is will UThink continue to offer free weblogs to the U of M community? Oh yes, there is little doubt of that. We would like to offer our users the latest and greatest, though, so we'll have to see what our options are after Six Apart publishes some more details about this developers release. Stay tuned.

Posted by snackeru at 12:46 PM

Trouble in UThink Land

UPDATE: Six Apart has unveiled an introduction to its educational licensing for MT.

The makers of the software that runs UThink, Six Apart, yesterday came out with the much anticipated version 3.0 of Movable Type. Usually this would be a good thing as this would mean an upgrade for everyone using the UThink system. However, for some strange reason they have also attached to this release some very, very restrictive use licenses that may prohibit UThink from ever being able to upgrade. It looks like MT now comes with at least 4 different licenses to choose from. The first is the personal license where for $70 you can get the software with the options of creating up to 5 blogs and 3 authors. Next is the commercial license through which you can spend upwards of $700 to get a maximum of 20 authors and 15 weblogs. Yikes! There is still a free version, the version that runs UThink, but that is limited to 1 author and 3 blogs. Obviously, that is not going to work. UThink already has more than 230 blogs and 250 authors. So, what to do? Six Apart hints at an educational license:

"Accredited educational institutions that make use of Movable Type are eligible for our educational licensing program."

If it is anything like their commercial license, I don't know how we are going to make it work. This is very upsetting to me. I don't begrudge Six Apart's need to make money, but there was absolutely no hint of this kind of pricing structure coming out of the company in the 9 months I've been working on UThink. Not a hint! Essentially they've offered a free, unhindered piece of software for years and now after they get a huge user base they pull the rug out and start charging for it. The old bait and switch if you ask me. It reminds me a little of Netscape in the late 90s. For years they gave their browsers away for free, and then when 4.0 came out they created a commercial license and started charging for the browser. I think we all know what happened next. I have little doubt that MSIE still would have dominated the market had Netscape kept to their free license model, but their 4.0 commercial license didn't help at all.

What I'm trying to say is that had a I known that this was coming down the pike I probably would have gone with another software package. I realize that Six Apart has never claimed that MT is true "open source," but it was free and they encouraged developers to modify the code. Now that they have hooked me, so to speak, I am a little miffed and confused at what happens next. I'm really looking forward to hearing from them what kind of "significant" discount is offered in their educational license but again, if it is anything like their commercial license I'm in trouble. Big trouble. I am more than willing to pay for Movable Type, but it has to be priced right and it has to have the features and functionality we need. Namely it can't have any "number of blogs" or "number of users" type restrictions.

To top it off, there are two versions of their FAQ available:

FAQ 1 states:
Q: What is your policy on use by schools, colleges and universities?
A: Educational pricing for accredited institutions is available at a significant discount from the prices listed for commercial use. Contact us to find out about a license that’s approrpriate for use by your institution.

FAQ 2 states:
Accredited K-12 schools, colleges and universities can offer Movable Type to currently-enrolled students or staff as part of school-provided web hosting as long as there is no charge to students or staff for use of the service. Educational institutions are not required to pay for Movable Type but are asked to donate what they feel the software is worth and to maintain the "Powered by Movable Type" link on the site.

Confusing. Very confusing. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by snackeru at 9:12 AM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2004

Doesn't look good for stadiums

Sid Hartman is all but writing off any chance for the stadium bill to be passed this year. Also, Jerry Bell has already said this will be his last year fighting for stadiums. This is not looking good, Twins fans, this is not looking good. I've always said that by waiting and waiting to get this deal done the legislature is basically pricing themselves out of ever being able to build a stadium or maintain a MLB team in our state:

"With rising interest rates, the increased cost of steel and general inflation, Twins internal estimates suggest a one-or two-year wait could add between $50 million and $80 million to the already expensive ballpark cost."

So, the next time our legislature wants to deal with this issue, a ballpark will cost upwards of $600 million? No legislature is going to touch that with a ten foot pole. It will probably cost even more than that:

"If the ballpark campaign falters, Bell said he believes the matter won't return to the Legislature until 2006 because of looming budget problems next year."

2006? By then it will cost so much that not even the Twins will think it is feasible. Boy am I depressed. Sid writes:

One of these days, ... the Twins will be sold to a buyer who won't be happy to lose $15 million a year. And with Pohlad's No. 1 man on the Twins and close friend Jerry Bell stepping out of the picture in the near future, this could happen for sure.

Then, when the Twins move to Las Vegas, Portland or some other place, the geniuses over in St. Paul will be more than glad to build the best stadium in the game to try to get another team.

It's a shame it will have to come to that.

Yes indeed, a huge shame. It appears that the only way a stadium will be built in Minnesota is if either the Twins or the Vikings leave. Contraction is a possibility again after 2007 and we've already seen that Pohlad is at his breaking point. You know, I just want to be able to take my kids to a ball game. I don't care about millionaire players and billionaire owners, I just want to see the Twins play some ball. Of course, there is still a little hope, but not much. Maybe our state's fine legislators will finally realize that the intangibles of having a professional football team and baseball team far outweigh whatever negatives they see and actually vote for the bill (unlikely). Maybe the owners will realize they can still make all the money they need to make by privately funding the stadiums themselves (highly unlikely). Until then we will look at Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Arlington, Foxboro, Green Bay, Phoenix, Milwaukee, San Diego, Cincinatti, Nashville, and all the others that have figured out how to make something work ... we will look at all of them and wonder how they did it. Are we not smart enough to figure something out? Or are we too smart? Whatever the case, we are rapidly approaching 3rd Dakota status.

Posted by snackeru at 8:29 AM

May 12, 2004

Action in St. Paul

Interesting news coming from St. Paul today, apparently either today or tomorrow there will be an effort to revive the Twins-Vikings stadium bill. I've also heard that there may be plans to split the bill up to only cover the Twins this year, and the Vikings next year. I also expect that in order to revive it, the controversial use of an extension of the soon to expire liquor and car rental taxes will have to be removed. Most likely it will be replaced with the watered down TIF financing authored by the Taxes committee, but we'll have to see.

The Twins Geek wrote an interesting piece Sunday concerning Victory Sports and our beloved Twins. Mainly it covered how the stadium bill crushed any hope of Victory Sports actually succeeding. Here are the choicest paragraphs:

"It's not clear precisely what the wording was in that bill, or the exact effect it had. But is sounds like it single-handedly gutted any chance of Victory Sports existing. Even if they would have agreed to the terms of cable providers, the cable companies weren't going to give them a slot on basic cable, so they might never have achieved that kind of penetration.

The only way the Twins could meet that demand was to make a deal with Fox Sports Net, and FSN could demand just about any terms it wanted. 30 year contract? Why not? Free broadcasts? Heck, why not get the Twins to pay for their broadcasts? The clause that was "for the fans", meant that the fans favorite team could be absolutely abused by the regional sport network channel.

It gets more ludicrous. The Twins found themselves in a situation too strange to be believed. The moment their stadium bill passed, the Twins would need to accept just about any condition that FSN cared to dictate. Suddenly, the Twins leverage in negotiating with Fox Sports Net was based on their own stadium bill not passing. "

Has any state government done more to hamper a business than what ours has done to hamper the Twins? Regardless of whether it is baseball or just another business, our legislature has unquestionably tampered with the Twins' chances of making money through Victory Sports. But that isn't an isolated incident. First our government blocked any chance of Pohlad contracting the Twins (God bless you Harry Crump!). This in itself is strange. Does the government block any other businesses from folding? Our Twins also have the "worst lease in baseball" and again this comes from our government. Then our government basically kills Victory Sports, an endeavour that would have helped the Twins succeed in the long run. Can't say I've ever seen anything as blantantly anti-business as this before. At the same time our government is basically demanding the Twins build their own ballpark because "our government doesn't help any other businesses" in the same way the Twins are asking. Huh? The state of Minnesota seems to want it both ways: we tamper with their ability to be profitable claiming that baseball is more than a business, it is a piece of the fabric of our quality of life and a piece of Americana. But at the same time we claim that since they are a "just another business" we won't help them build a stadium. Baseball is unique, that is for sure, but this duplicity is ridiculous.

Finally, I've been thinking about the failed plan down in Miami to build a new stadium for the Marlins. All the Marlins were asking for was $60 million. That's it. It got me to thinking that if this stadium bill somehow passes and there is a guranteed $100 million from the state through Pawlenty's TIF method, would the Twins still start the building process even if a referendum failed in the host community? I would like to think that they could make something work given that it is $40 million more than the Marlins were asking for. Something to think about.

Posted by snackeru at 9:02 AM

A Tribute

Denny Hocking
In a rare swing of the bat,
Denny strikes out to retire
the side

If you were watching the Twins game yesterday you probably saw Corey Koskie leave the game due to a strained sternum. Gardenhire looked down his bench and put Michael Cuddyer in at 3rd base. Now, in past seasons we didn't have the luxury of someone as strong as Cuddyer coming in for an injured player. That's right, we had Denny Hocking. Honestly, I don't know how this guy is still in the majors. My nickname for him has always been Denny "The Tree" Hocking. If you needed anything bad to happen from a game ending double play to a pop up to second base, Denny was your man. But what he was most skilled with was not swinging the bat. If you needed someone to just stand there in the batter's box, not swinging at anything unless it was behind him or bounced first before getting to the plate, Denny was (and still is for the Rockies) the guy you would turn to. Let's take a look at his statistics for Colorado this year:

2004 23 44 4 9 1 0 0 2 3 8 0 0 .205 .255 .227 .483

Nice to see Denny hasn't lost his touch. Maybe Denny had his faults, but one thing is for sure, he gave me reason to believe that I could have played major league baseball if all it takes is just standing there at the plate waiting for "your pitch." For that I thank him.

Posted by snackeru at 8:17 AM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2004

Yes! Finally, THE Link of the Day

Today's "Links of the day" will be very short. A while back I started this category because I saw a really cool site about rock and roll artists and their relationships with each other, but I forgot the link and I couldn't find it anywhere. So, I started "Links of the day" so I would never forget or misplace a cool site again. Anyway, to make a long story short, I have finally located the cool site whose link I misplaced so long ago. Here it is:

Posted by snackeru at 7:37 PM

What a game!

garnettking.jpg Holy moley. That was a nail biter. I don't know about you, but I was pretty nervous last night. To give up a 14 point lead and then have the game go into overtime was too much. I almost gave up on them. But I've made that mistake before, so I stuck around to the bitter end. And what a reward! Let's start with the obvious questions: first of all, was Peja fouled at the end? I don't think there is any doubt that through quarters 1-3 that would have been called a foul. Hassel claims that Peja jumped into him, but I still think that was a foul. So, should the Kings have won the game? Of course I'm a little biased, but at the end of regulation Garnett looked to be fouled on his desperation attempt, the one Reusse calls putrid, and also his now famous check-the-shot-clock-at-the-other-end-fade-away should have been a three point play. Brad Miller just hammered his arm, and yet KG was still able to muscle it through. It was a spectacular shot by a player that deserves it more than anyone. Man I love KG. He kept his composure even after he slipped and fell with 4.1 seconds left to give the Kings one more shot. That would have been enough to send me crying in a corner, but KG just grimaced and sucked it up. 30 points and 15 rebounds in a truly MVP performance, highlighted by that fade away that put them up by three. That was an amazing shot. And what did I tell you? Sprewell had a pretty good game. Larry Bird-esque in that suddenly you look up and he's got 25 points. Man what a game! I was so wired I even watched the postgame show. Well, I seem to be rambling a bit now so I'll go for now. Can't wait for Wednesday evening!

Posted by snackeru at 8:51 AM | Comments (2)

May 10, 2004

Weekend observations

  • This weekend was a blast. Alex and I had a great time on our camp out. We did some BB gun shooting, some archery, we shot beanie babies out of a sling shot, and we played a little tennis ball golf. And, most importantly, we slept in a tent! For those of you interested, I do have pictures. I tell you, the more and more we get involved with scouting, the more and more I am impressed. Cub Scouts have been wonderful for Alex, from making friends to learning some valuable lessons about helping others and doing his best. And I've gotten to know some really nice people too. If you are ever considering having your own son join scouting I would have to say go for it. After over a 100 years of working at it, they sure know what a growing boy needs and will be interested in. Alex can't get enough of it.
  • So the Twins are back on TV ... that is wonderful, of course, but I sure wish Victory Sports would have worked out. Personally, I think Twins fans are the biggest bunch of whiners in the state of Minnesota. Victory Sports would have given the Twins more money for players and possibly would have helped them to build a stadium. Now, when other teams successfully launch their own networks the Twins will move, again, further and further back in the revenue rankings. And if you think the approx. $12 million they are getting from FSN is a big deal think again. It only puts them in the middle of the pack in terms of television revenue. It just really upsets me how short sighted some Twins fans are. If not for all the whining from the fans, the pressure would have been on the cable companies. Instead, fans wrote to complain to their legislators who then put a freaking amendment in the stadium bill that basically killed Victory Sports. Most fans will say, "I just want to watch the Twins on TV. I don't care about all the greed." It is that kind of thinking that may eventually kill the Twins, too. We've got to think about the long term health of the team, and Victory would have helped that big time. The only positives I can see out of the Victory sports debacle is it demonstrated to our legislators how important the Twins are to Minnesota, and now that it is over my best buddy Curt can finally watch the Twins again. Grand Forks can be pretty boring without the Twins, right Curt?
  • Finally, I am pumped for the T-Wolves game tonight. I watched the game on Saturday and was definitely impressed with the comeback. And the Mayor, wow, did he ever have a good game. Wally who? Tonight I expect Sprewell and Cassel to just light it up. They usually play very well at ARCO arena and I expect more of the same. The start time of 9:30 may prevent me from watching the whole game, but I'm going to give it my best shot.
  • That's about it. There will be more later.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:49 AM | Comments (3)

    May 7, 2004

    Gone camping

    Well, by the time you read this I'll be on my way to camping out, or I'll already be camping. Today I purchased a bunch of new camping equipment, like a poncho (apparently it will rain this weekend), and I've packed it all in the car. I am amazed at how much you have to bring on a one night camp out, especially if the forecast calls for rain. We must have enough stuff to fill up the trunk of a small Toyota: tent, sleeping bags, pads, duffel bags, pillows, etc.
    You get the picture. Speaking of which, I've also got my camera so I should be able to get some good pictures of our excursion.

    Now for the bad news, as Jim in St. Paul points out in the comment for one of my posts below, the stadium bill failed to pass the Ways and Means committee today. This doesn't mean it is dead, but it will be hard to resuscitate. Apparently there was some disagreement over using the soon to expire liquor and car rental taxes to pay either the communities' or the state's share of the stadiums. Here is what I think will happen next. I think the bill will pass in some form in the Senate. Then, either on the last day of the session, or in a special session, the bill will be rivived in the House. It will be close, but I think some kind of bill will pass. Will it be enough to dig that first fabled shovel full of dirt? We'll see, we shall see. Let me know what you think.

    Posted by snackeru at 3:55 PM

    May 6, 2004

    Finally done

    A quick note of profound joy: I'm finally done grading. For the past 5 days straight I have been either grading final exams or final projects and I am finally done. It is like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Of course, you might think that I can more regularly update this here blog, but you'd be wrong. In the middle of all this grading I've also had to plan for a Cub Scout camping trip that my oldest son, Alex, and I are going on this weekend. Tomorrow, I will have to take a day off of work to buy the rest of what we need and to pack everything up. You might also think that I am not looking forward to this weekend, but again you'd be wrong! What are you? Some kind of idiot? Anyway, I think it will be a lot of fun. Alex is bouncing off the walls he is so excited. I mean, it might even rain, he tells me. Oh goody! Actually it will be neat to spend a night in a tent with someone so excited. I hope some of that rubs off on me! Then on Saturday we'll probably do some hiking, and archery, and who knows what else. We'll eat disgusting food, and sleep on the hard ground, and, most importantly, we'll be men. I'll be taking pictures, so expect a little slide show of all our fun!

    Posted by snackeru at 11:21 PM

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 8:47 AM

    May 5, 2004

    Taxes Committee

    Why is it that I always get the busiest when something important happens with stadium legislation? Sorry for the lack of posts everyone. I've been absolutely swamped with a combination of work, second job, and Cub Scouts. Anyway, the bill yesterday ... I've had some time to think about it and I don't think all hope is lost. Here is what I took away from what I've read (StarTrib and Pioneer Press)

    That's all for now. My conclusion is I'm glad this bill passed the Taxes committee, but it still needs some work to have a chance at actually resulting in a Twins stadium being built. We'll see what happens next.

    UPDATE: The stadium bill has already passed the first hurdle in the Senate, the State and Local Government Operations Committee, according to the Twins website.

    Posted by snackeru at 4:33 PM | Comments (1)

    May 4, 2004

    Stadium Newsflash

    This just in: the stadium bill before the House Taxes committee has been approved by the committee by a vote of 15-13 with a recommendation to pass! On to the Ways and Means Committee! More updates as I get them...

    abrams.jpg My Hero?
    UPDATE: http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/4758569.html:
    "[A]mendments also require any local taxes to be approved by a referendum and make the Twins deal contingent on the team settling a dispute now keeping games off most television sets."
    As expected, there is now a referendum. Does this make St. Paul the front runner for a Twins stadium?

    Posted by snackeru at 2:16 PM

    Stadium vote today

    So, it comes down to this. The House Taxes committee will vote on the Stang-Pawlenty-Sviggum stadium bill today, and it looks like it will be a close call, especially if you are a stadium supporter. There is also claims from committee members that the bill is so confusing that they don't even really know what they are voting for. I'd like to think that the bill came in as clear as possible, and then the Abrams just mucked it up, but I really don't know. I predict the bill will pass, but only because it will go to the House Ways and Means Committee next who will either clean up the bill or muck it up even further. Some would claim that the Taxes committee just wasted an inordinate amount of time focusing on this bill (I might have to agree with them), but what is even more frustrating to me is that they can't even get the job done right. As I've said before, if ever the first shovel full of dirt is dug into the ground on any new stadium in Minnesota I will be shocked.

    Some bright spots in the "new and improved bill" the House Taxes commitee has crafted include the teams paying 1/3 of the stadium costs with 25% up front immediately (I think both teams can handle that), and enabling the host communities to levy taxes. One thing I haven't seen is any mention of a referendum, but even if the bill gets out of all the committees without this addendum it still has to get past the floor of the House. So a referendum is, to me, a foregone conclusion. But stranger things have happened.

    Abrams was also a little ticked off with Pawlenty's assertion that the general fund wouldn't be touched to pay for the state's portion:

    Indeed, representatives of the state Revenue Department testified that the general fund would lose money in several ways. It would lose roughly $30 million through a sales tax exemption for stadium construction materials. It would lose property tax revenues because the stadiums would be owned by the public, and it would lose yet-to-be-totaled millions through a tax-increment financing plan that would return some sales- and income-tax proceeds to the stadium projects.

    I've got news for you: if the stadiums aren't built and the Twins are contracted and the Vikings move to LA, the state won't get anything at all. And here is the crux of the matter. Would this actually happen? Would the teams fold or move, or is it all just a bluff? Neither the Vikings nor the Twins will stay in the Metrodome forever. I don't think anyone would argue with that. So it's really just a game of chicken between the teams and the state and no one is flinching yet. If you think that stadiums will be built in Minnesota if we just keep telling the teams no, that the teams will finally come to their senses and decide to just pay for them themselves ... I just don't think it is going to happen. However, it looks like this is what we are going to expect and in fact demand. Well, I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm just being my typical pessimistic Norwegian self. We'll see what the Taxes committee does today.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:13 AM

    May 3, 2004

    Links of the day

    That's it! I'm officially going nuts. I teach a class at the College of St. Catherine's and I've been either grading student websites or final exams for the past 4 days straight. Every spare moment I have is spent grading someone else's work, and I just plain can't take it anymore. So, invariably I will let my mind wander and my fingers will somehow start web surfing. So, here are some interesting links I've found as I try to focus on these stupid final exams! Actually, they are very good. I'd like to think it is because I am such a great teacher, but I know it is probably because they are all great students.

    Posted by snackeru at 10:45 PM | Comments (1)

    May 2, 2004

    Life is good

    Sometimes life is just plain good. Sometimes the planets are aligned, the stars and cards are all in your favor. Sometimes, life is so good the apex of the cone of time screams stay back! Slow down, there is still life to live! What could make me so happy? That's right, it was Twins fishing lure night at the Metrodome on Saturday, and I have the complete set! Behold, the Jacque Jones fishing lure!

    Click for larger version

    Unfortunately the Twins lost, but that didn't stop me from celebrating the fact that I have every Twins fishing lure (that I know of) that has ever been created. And all of them have never been opened and are still in their original packaging. Some people collect bobbleheads ... bah! Who doesn't? Fishing lures are where it is at. Behold, the rest of the set:

    dougfishsmall.jpg Here is Dougie's lure. Now Doug is a pretty avid fisherman so I wouldn't be surprised if he had to OK this model. However, it looks a lot like the Jones fishing lure with just some different markings. Hmmmm...
    bradfishsmall.jpg This is Brad Radke's lure. Note the ... exact same design. Again just some different markings.
    eddiefishsmall.jpg And here is Eddie Guardado's lure. Again we have the exact same design. Aren't bobble heads at least a little different? How can this collection be redeemed?
    ericfishsmall.jpg Ah! The jewel of the collection, the Eric Milton Fishing Weasel. This is the lure that started it all. You remember those commercials, the Get to Know 'Em commercials where Eric Milton was featured with the then "fictitious" fishing weasel. Well, now you know, there really is a Fishing Weasel!

    So there you have it, the complete set. Please let me know if you know of anyone that also has every one of these. I am pretty sure I am one of the few people that do. Cha-ching!

    Posted by snackeru at 11:06 PM | Comments (3)

    May 1, 2004

    The Watch

    The Watch The Watch by Dennis Danvers
    Science Fiction
    New York : Eos, c2002.
    356 p

    Lest anyone think that all I care about is stadiums, I thought it might be a good idea to start writing more about other topics. I read a fair amount of books so I hope to give some reviews of the books I read periodically on this blog. Most of the reviews will be for books I liked since I usually can't get through a book if I don't like it, and I only review books that I finish. Enough about that, though, and on to the book.

    The Watch is one of the best and most imaginative books I've read in a while. It is the type of book I wish I could write. The book centers around the adventures of Peter Kropotkin, an actual figure in history known as the "Anarchist Prince" and a person who believed, well, that anarchy should be our preferred method of government (or lack of government as the case may be). Anarchy is usually thought of as utter chaos and as something that is somewhat evil, but Kropotkin actually believed that through anarchy private property and unequal incomes would be replaced by the free distribution of goods and services on an "as needed" basis. Kropotkin's masterpiece, Mutual Aid, actually demonstrates through a wide variety of proof that the animal world is dominated by a sense of cooperation rather than "survival of the fittest" and that humans are no exception. He argues that throughout history man has sought to help his fellow man in his own community more often than not whether it be primitive tribe, peasant village, or medieval commune and that this "mutual aid" has extended into the common era through trade unions, learned societies, the Red Cross and other like organizations. He argues that "(t)he trend of modern history ... was pointing back toward decentralized, nonpolitical, cooperative societies in which people could develop their creative faculties without interference from rulers, clerics, or soldiers." Essentially people can rule themselves in small groups more effectively than any large government. ( "Kropotkin, Peter Alekseyevich" Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. )

    Cool. That is what I love about books like this. I had never heard of Kropotkin, but through this book I now have a better understanding of anarchist principles and thought. Anyway, this book starts with the death of Kropotkin. On his death bed he is visited by a man from the future, Anchee, who offers him a chance to live as a young man in 1999 Richmond, Virginia. Kropotkin takes his offer and begins to live his 1999 life. The character of Kropotikin, as realized by the author, is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever read about. I absolutely loved him. His convictions, attitudes about life, interactions with other people, they were all priceless and provided ample food for thought. Kropotkin believes he is free to make his own choices in his new life but he soon finds out that his benefactor, Anchee, is subtly pulling the strings and moving Kropotkin along to some unknown fate. Kropotkin is very upset about this, but knowing there is little he can do about it he decides grudgingly to play along, giving Anchee an earful every time he sees him. Eventually Kropotkin finds out what Anchee has in store for him and must decide whether or not to live the life (really the dream) Anchee has provided for him or live a life where he is in complete control, even though that life may not be as pleasant or fulfilling.

    This is merely my own weak understanding of the book. There was so much more to the story, with Kropotkin's own philosophies of social justice and prison reform taking center stage. What I got from it were these philosophies, plus some wonderful musings on the concepts of predestination and free will. Why do we tolerate the suffering of our neighbors? Why do we fret and point and wish the government could do more when the answer sometimes lies with the fact that we need to do more in our own communities? Why are we so lazy and selfish? Sadly I am no exception. Anyway, it was a great book. Pick it up if you want a little jolt of shame and a desire to do more.

    Posted by snackeru at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

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