August 30, 2005
The Best Rock Operas
I've been listening to a new album recently: American Idiot by Green Day. The album is scathing critique on American culture, and while I don't necessarily agree with all the sentiments, the music is stunning. It is pop/punk genius. Plus it is one of my favorite forms of rock and roll albums. It is a rock opera.
A rock opera or rock musical is a musical production in the form of an opera or a musical in a modern rock and roll style rather than more traditional forms. It differs from conventional rock and roll music, which is often a song that is unlinked in plot or story with other songs, but overlaps considerably with concept album, song cycle, or rock musical. More recent developments include metal opera and rap opera.
Essentially a rock opera is an album that attempts to tell a story through the songs on the album. Sometimes the songs are tightly bound together (Jesus Christ Superstar), while other times they are loosely intertwined (Sgt. Peppers).
Having said all this, I love rock operas. I feel they are usually the height of an artistic breakthrough for a band. So, when I found out that American Idiot is a rock opera I had to have a listen. Wow. Stunning. Beautiful. And also vulgar (being pop/punk). Anyway, in honor of this awesome album I now present my all time favorite rock operas:
- Yoshimi Battles. the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips -- Man I love this album if only for the song "Do You Realize?" One of the most beautiful songs of the past 20 years. As a rock opera it is a little confusing, but the music is so good, so different, so ... weird that I put it on the list. May be more of a concept album really. It is debatable.
- Quadrophenia by The Who -- Their second best rock opera and it would probably be third if they would have come through on the Lifehouse project. "Love Reign O'er Me" is a classic.
- American Idiot by Green Day -- Yep. I'm sold. It hasn't won all these awards for nothing (Best Rock Album Grammy). It is a fantastic album. Musical and pop genius.
- The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis -- This is pre-Phil Collins Genesis, the Genesis of Peter Gabriel and it is beautiful. While it is a very tight rock opera in terms of songs and story line, the story is merely a vehicle for the wonderful music that drives the entire album. Rumors continually persist that Gabriel will rejoin Genesis to perform this masterpiece again someday. Maybe, maybe not. I would be surprised though.
- The Wall by Pink Floyd -- There are two rock operas that will be remembered for a long, long time. This rock opera by Pink Floyd is the post 1980 rock opera. It represents so many things to so many people from the fight against oppression (Berlin Wall) to a personal fight against depression. Musically and lyrically it is hard to top.
- Tommy by The Who -- This cannot be argued. It was the first and it continues to be the best. A commentary on fame, religion, psychosis, and familial relationship, Tommy ranks up there as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
So, there you have it. Feel free to suggest others.
The Border Battle Continues ...
And if I may digress for a second, what the heck does it mean that it is a "two-handed" strategy game? Does this mean that if a person only has one hand they are out of luck? I have been perplexed by this for quite a while. If anyone can shed any light on this I would greatly appreciate it.
Anywhoo, here are some pictures of our separate strategies. Here is Craig's set up:
And here is my board setup:
Note the differing strategies especially the fact that Craig did not surround his flag with bombs. That is surprising. Then again, it seemed to work out for him. Allow me to explain.
Craig went first since he choose "red" as his color. Things were going well for me until Craig attacked my left flank with a renegade "2" and ran roughshod through the back of my army. This seriously decmiated my remaining troops. Meanwhile I also begain attacking his left flank. Well, this side included both his Marshall and his spy. In other words for about 3/4 of the game my Marshall was incapacitated as Craig and I both jockeyed for position with our spys.
My mistake came by focusing my attack on the his left flank in the beginning. I should have attacked the right and trailed a miner sooner. By the time I figured this out I didn't have enough "big dogs" to clear out the rest of his pieces.
Long story short, the game came down to both of our abililities to retain enough miners to defuse bombs. Since I seemed to have focused my attack on his left flank, I ended up with only a "5" and an "8" towards the end of the game. I knew he only had one miner left, but I didn't know where it was. So, Craig took care of my last "5" and in a last ditch effort I attacked the only piece I could with my "8." It turned out to be his last miner and the game ended in a tie. Craig was distraught and I was relieved. Without any miners, CC would obviously be unable to difuse my bombs. Sure, the rest of his army could dance around my flag while performing their Wisconsin/pagan rituals, but they would never be able to get to it. Meanwhile, I would call in reinforcements and wipe out the rest of his army. Isn't that a part of Stratego?
Anyway, the game ended in a tie. It was an amazing game and it seems we will have to duplicate our efforts another night.
The Border Battle rages on with the score still 2-2. Obviously you can cut the tension with a knife!
New Libraries web site
Sorry for my silence everyone, but I have been busy over the past couple of days working on a new web site for my "real" job (no, blogging isn't my real job, although it is a part of it!). As many of you know, I am the webmaster (I prefer the term "web sovereign") at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Just yesterday we unveiled the new version of our web site, much to my happiness and relief. If you'll recall, I was angry last week. This web site, or the lack of a release on Thursday, was the reason. Anyway, if you'd like to take a look, point your browser to:
If you are unfamiliar with what the old site looked like, take a look at it also. Anyway, I'm proud of both designs, but my design philosophy has changed since we came out with the old design almost 5 years ago. For one, I'm a big believer in using text, colors, CSS, and layout rather than images and/or copious use of tables to design a site. Text and colors through CSS is much more flexible and elegant than images and they download faster.
You'll also note that there are way more links on the new home page than the old. In 2000 when we unveiled the old libraries' web site we were concerned that too many links would confuse users and overwhelm them. I don't think this is true anymore. Users today are actually quite used to a lot of links as is evidenced by sites like CNN, ESPN, Amazon, etc. More links will also give users a better chance of finding the information they are looking for, what Jared Spool calls the "scent of information." Too few links means less options and a descreased chance of finding those distinct keywords many users look for on a new site.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah. More later.
August 26, 2005
Links of the day
- The 29 healthiest foods on the planet and ideas on how you can work them into your diet.
- Top 10 PC games you can download for free.
- Great list of essential freeware for your PC. Broken up into categories like security, internet, and multimedia. I seem to be into lists today.
- Hilarious list of Klingon fairy tales: 'The Hare Foolishly Lowers His Guard and Is Devastated by the Tortoise, Whose Prowess in Battle Attracts Many Desirable Mates'."
- This week's New Yorker has only one advertiser: Target. Interesting ads here. Check out the first comment, too.
- Cool, free online Star Wars based RPG game. I may have to check this out. For my kids, you know...
- This year's Beloit College Mindset List. I must admit, these lists are getting a little tiresome for me.
- Hugo 2005 Award Winners. I'll save you the suspense: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell won the big prize. I can't argue with that choice at all. What a great book.
- 39 Questions for Charlie Daniels Upon Hearing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" For the First Time in 25 Years. Holy cow. Good questions here...
- The Sun runs down the worst album covers ever. Some you've seen before and some new ones. Wow.
- Is the Google backlash finally starting? I've been waiting for this for a long time. Microsoft may finally have some competition in the "most hated" department.
Have a good one everybody!
August 25, 2005
I'm angry today. Something that I've been working on for a long time has been pushed back and this has all happened at the last possible minute. So, I'm mad. And it isn't necessarily because my project has been pushed back, but ... well, I can't get into specifics. Darn my lack of anonymity.
But I wanted to say that being angry can sometimes feel good. I have a "screw the world" type attitude today and I don't care what anyone thinks. I have also probably said some stupid things to the people I work with, but that happens when you are angry.
There is two types of anger: justified and unjustified. Unjustified anger is when you are angry for no reason. You are just in a foul mood. It is during these times that the people around you have every right to be angry back at you for being such a jerk. For example, when someone is trying to merge in front of you from an on-ramp and you get angry at that person. Bzzz! That is unjustified anger. Merging is a fact of life. Get over it.
But justified anger, that is another story. People who have justified anger should be given a one day pass to let it all out. For example, today I feel I have been wronged. I have been accused of untrue things. Have these people not seen my new sideburns? Do these sideburns not demand respect? What is especially upsetting about this is that I have worked really hard. Man, I am angry! And you know what? I am going to keep on being angry! I deserve to be angry! It is my right in this instance to be angry. How am I supposed to feel, happy? I have said stupid things, and hopefully I won't say any more stupid things but I probably will. I can't help it, though. My anger is justified and that is just the way it is.
The trouble with living in Minnesota is that people don't like it when you are angry. They immediately think you are unjustified in your anger. They'll say, "Calm down, Shane. Here, have a Vanilla Coke." Ah, nice try but no dice. Not even the savory goodness of Vanilla Coke will satiate the beast in me. People need to start recognizing the difference between justified and unjustified anger in this state and let the chips fall where they may. If a person is justified, then give them 24 hours to cool down. If not, only then can you call them on it and tell them to chill out.
Tomorrow will be different. My one day pass will be over and I will come to work refreshed and happy. But today I am going to be angry. It is my right and there isn't anything you can do about it.
August 24, 2005
How about those Twins?
I'm speechless. It really doesn't happen too often that you watch a game that will be remembered, not just for a couple of years but I would wager for a long, long time. So much drama! The pitching, the fielding (!), the fact that Jacque Jones seems to always come through when most of us would have been hobbled by grief ... Man! What a game.
Too bad Mays is pitching tonight.
Charley Walters is reporting today that:
Although talks have picked up in recent days, no decision on whether to have a special Legislative session that would include stadium issues is expected until after Labor Day, and insiders say odds are no better than 50-50 that it will occur.
50-50 is better than nothing. Our best bet still remains in the fact that the Gopher's stadium bill needs to be heard before December:
In the past seven days, almost 2,000 e-mails have landed in the offices of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state legislators, asking for a special session to pass a bill providing the public's share of the football stadium's projected $235 million cost.
Apparently, a large group of Gopher stadium backers have been successful in catching the ear of the governor. In addition, the article included this quote:
"Their Web e-mail thing works,'' Brian McClung, the governor's chief spokesman, said Monday. "It's a noticeable volume of e-mail.''
Too bad the thousands of letters they've received in favor of a new Twins stadium seem to have gone unnoticed. I guess its only when they all look the same and have the same content do they start counting them.
But whoever would have thought that the best chance for a Twins stadium bill would be to piggy back on another stadium bill's chances? I still say a special session will be called.
August 23, 2005
by Joseph Ellis
It's been a while since I've done a proper book review. My last book review was over a year ago for The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester. Great book. Truthfully, a book review takes a lot of time and thought, two things I haven't had much of ... well I guess for a year. Anyway, here is my review for Ellis's book Founding Brothers.
Founding Brothers is about American Revolution political figures, namely Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Adams, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. The book concisely describes the early days of the American republic and how a series of remarkable events, or moments, defined what kind of nation America would turn into and how America would survive its turbulent beginning. The men (and one woman: Abigal Adams) the book focuses on were very close. They may not have been the best of friends, but they recognized each other as important political figures, yes, and also actors in what they somehow knew would be a drama that would be remembered for years to come. They somehow recognized their own importance, with some of them hamming it up for posterity and others truly epitomizing the grace with which we remember them.
The book is broken up into six chapters, all of which deal with a specific issue or moment that in hindsight can now be demonstrated to have been very important for the success of the Union. The chapers are:
"The Duel" -- I've described this chapter a little bit already, but it, of course, deals with the most famous pistol duel in the history of America between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The focus of this chapter is on how remarkable it is that this is the singular instance of politically based violence during the beginning of American statehood. What makes this unique is that other examples of revolutions in world history almost always result in the revolutionaries turning on themselves in an inevitable bloodbath. Obviously, the French Revolution comes immediately to mind.
"The Dinner" -- An interesting chapter discussing a crucial dinner party hosted by Thomas Jefferson where Alexander Hamilton and James Madison agreed to cut a deal that quite frankly may have saved the Union. To summarize, Hamilton wanted the federal government to assume all state debts from the Revolutionary War. It was his idea that this would strengthen the national government by making the states fiscally tied to it (the states would pay taxes back to the national government). His Federalist Party colleagues, those who wanted a strong national government, agreed with him. On the other side of the issue was James Madison, a Republican, who felt that a strong national government was against the very principles of the Revolution. Obviously, he was against the plan. As a compromise, Hamilton agreed to allow the nation's capital to be built on the Potomac River, as opposed to farther north, if Madison went along with his "assumption" plan. Madison conceded and the rest is history.
"The Silence" -- This chapter was one of the more troubling. Essentially, our founding fathers knew slavery was a big problem. But they also knew that doing the right thing, abolishing slavery, would tear this infant nation apart. This chapter details a debate within Congress where it was bascially decided that as a federal government we would remain silent on this issue until at least 1808. Of course, the battle lines of the Civil War were readily apparent in this debate as the South and its unecessary reliance on slave labor was stressed, while the North expressed their disgust with the institution. However, it was the North's seeming indifference to the plight of the slaves themselves that convinced them that silence on this issue for the time being was more prudent. Whoops. An interesting question could be raised: if our founding fathers had dealt with this issue back in 1787 would America be the country it is today, or would it be separate countries with their own distinct histories, one in the North and one in the South? I lean towards the latter scenario. There is no way the battered Continental Army could have kept this country together after the South started to secede, especially considering many of the soldiers came from Virginia.
"The Farewell" -- One of the most important documents in the history of the republic is Washington's Farewell address. First of all it set the precedent of a two term presidency and it clearly separated American government from a monarchy. This may seem obvious today, but Washington was so huge in his time that he very well could have let his power get to his head. Consider this statement from the author:
Throughout most of his life, Washington's physical vigor had been one of his most priceless assets. A notch below six feet four and slightly above two hundred pounds, he was a full head taller than his male contemporaries. (John Adams claimed that the reason Washington was invariably selected to lead every national effort was that he was always the tallest man in the room.) A detached description of his physical features would have made him sound like an ugly, misshaped oaf: pockmarked face, decayed teeth, oversized eye sockets, massive nose, heavy in the hips, gargantuan hands and feet. But somehow, when put together and set in motion, the full package conveyed sheer majesty. As one of his biographers put it, his body did not just occupy space; it seemed to organize the space around it. He dominated a room not just with his size, but with an almost electric presence. "He has so much martial dignity in his deportment, " observed [a contemporary], "that there is not a king in Europe but would look like a valet de chambre by his side."
The chapter goes on to list his military prowess, his almost uncanny ability to stay out of harm's way, the fact that he was hardly ever sick, etc. He was, and still is, our greatest American hero. If he had wanted, he could have been king.
The chapter also discusses other aspects of his Farewell Address, including his calls for national unity and neutrality in foreign wars. One should wonder what Washington would think of America today. Would he think this is exactly what he warned against? Or would he see the same kind of squabbles and political realities he saw in his own day? Of course, Washington's advice on neutrality has been used to oppose America entering armed conflicts for most of our history. Funny thing is it has hardly ever been heeded. Then again, Washington probably had no idea America would be the world power it is today.
The final two chapters, "The Collaborators" and the "The Friendship" really could stand on their own as an interesting treatise into the nature of political vs. normal friendships. The two chapters detail the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The two were extremely close during the American Revolution and their dealings together in the Continental Congress. Adams was the fiery orator from the North who vociferously demanded independence from Britain. Jefferson was the quiet intellect from Virginia who, at least according to Adams, hardly ever said a word. However, in his leadership position Adams recommended that Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence, a decision that he would humorously come to regret.
Adams became the second president after narrowly defeating Jefferson. During that time, the person who came in second immediately became the vice president (a constitutional decision that thankfully has been ammended). Adams, a Federalist, offered Jefferson, a Republican, a big part in his new government. Adams felt strongly that his old friend Jefferson should be a part of his cabinet and all his decisions on the future of the country. Jefferson considered, but in the end declined and became, as vice president, the leader of the opposition to Adams's administration.
In fact, Jefferson became quite a thorn in Adams's side. At one point, Jefferson even hired a yellow journalist to dig up dirt on Adams and publish it, much to the dismay of his old friend. Adams was so angry that his close friend would do this to him that after some half-hearted attempts to patch things up, Jefferson and Adams would not talk with each other for years (1800 - 1812).
Ah, but when they did start talking again, boy did they ever talk. The Jefferson-Adams correspondence that began on Jan. 1 1812 is one of the most important set of documents we have concerning the early days of American government and political thought. And as I said above, Jefferson and Adams knew the importance of this correspondence as they poured almost everything they had into it. Unfortunately I can't find the exact number of letters each participant wrote, but I do know that Adams wrote almost 3 letters to every one letter of Jefferson.
The reasoning Ellis gives for this disparity is interesting. Adams was desperate to solidify his place in history. It literally pained him that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence because he knew that history would, as a result, remember Jefferson more than Adams. His views on this were remarkably prescient. Adams once wrote, "Was there ever a Coup de Theatre that had so great an effect as Jefferson's Penmanship of the Declaration of Independence."
The correspondence ends in an almost spooky way, with Adams and Jefferson's deaths. What is truly spooky, and quite possibly even more appropriate about their deaths, though, is that they died on the same day: July 4, 1826 and within hours of each other. Adams last words are purported to be "Thomas Jefferson still lives." Ellis points out, much to the likely dismay of Adams and other revolutionaries that may have played a bigger part in our independence, that sentiment is still true today.
So, that is Founding Brothers in a nutshell. A fascinating, and very conscise book, that discusses the early days of our great Republic. Check it out from your local public library if you are interested.
August 22, 2005
Me and Joe
In honor of Joe Mauer's excellent play, I am growing out my sideburns. I encourage everyone else to follow suit and post a picture, or send me a picture and I will post it for you.
And yes, I realize this is a little goofy, but as I've said before it is the little stuff that makes life worth living.
Hey everyone. The weekend is over and all is good. Before we get into the main crux of this entry there are a few things I'd like to weigh in on. First of all, I love it that Terry Ryan is making a play for Soriano. Most likely it is so no other team can claim him, but the possibility is still there. The main question for me is, what would it take? And I'm just throwing this out there, but SBG got me to thinking. What if we gave up Hunter for Soriano? Think about it: Lew Ford can play center field. Heck, Jacque Jones can play center field. Soriano and Hunter have very similar salaries: $7.5 million for Soriano and $8 million for Hunter. And just to show that I'm a good guy, I would even throw in Joe Mays. How could the Rangers turn that down? Mays and Hunter for Soriano? Of course, I have no idea what Soriano will make next year, and I'm pretty sure the Rangers already have a decent center fielder, but Hunter is expendable as is demonstrated by the recent play of the Twins in his absence. Plus, he lives in Texas in the off-season. Ameriquest Field is practically in his backyard. Well, if it happens you heard it here first. And this ends yet another example of why I'll never be Twins general manager...
I just invented a new word today: "swampled." It is a combination of "swamped" and "trampled" and suggests that a person is being both swamped and trampled at work at the same time. Feel free to use this new word at your own discretion. No need to thank me.
The Vikings game on Friday was mighty boring. I must admit I watched the Twins more that night. However, it did demonstrate a couple of things to me: 1) the defense is getting better. I know they gave up some yards to the wonder that is Pennington's arm, but I saw some things I liked and 2) Bennett sucks. He is not the answer at running back. Let's get MeMo some reps and let's start trying to convince him he isn't as brittle as he thinks he is. Bummer about Ciatrix, too. He has shown some brilliant running ability if you ask me. Anyway, that is my two cents about the Vikes. Oh, and by the way, they are still Super Bowl bound. Just thought I would clear that up.
Ah, but the main focus of this entry is not about sports. No, if you are only interested about sports stop reading now. I am about to delve into a topic that usually causes me to lose readers, but truth be told I can't hold it in any longer. I am about to write about religion, specifically Christianity. I am a Christian. I go to church every Sunday (especially since my wife got a job at our church which means no more church holidays for me ... sigh) and honestly I could probably write an entry every Sunday based on the pastor's sermon or something that strikes me as I sit in the church pew. And just for the record, I am what you would call a liberal Christian. I did not vote for Bush. I believe strongly in the separation of church and state, and I strongly favor a national health care system. Not exactly what most people think of as Christian agenda items, and that, for me, is a big problem.
Recently I read a very thought provoking essay called the Christian Paradox by Bill McKibben. Quite frankly it blew me away. It was the most eloquent discussion of my own faith pattern I have ever read. The article focuses on one of the most powerful passages in the Bible, when Jesus was asked by a religious leader of his time what the most important commandment is. Jesus answered:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
McKibben writes in excrutiating detail how our country, a country that overwhelmingly considers itself "Christian" consistently ranks in the bottom concerning measureable ways we help the lesser among us. McKibben writes:
In 2004, as a share of our economy, we ranked second to last, after Italy, among developed countries in government foreign aid. Per capita we each provide fifteen cents a day in official development assistance to poor countries. And it's not because we were giving to private charities for relief work instead. Such funding increases our average daily donation by just six pennies, to twenty-one cents. It's also not because Americans were too busy taking care of their own; nearly 18 percent of American children lived in poverty (compared with, say, 8 percent in Sweden). In fact, by pretty much any measure of caring for the least among us you want to propose - childhood nutrition, infant mortality, access to preschool - we come in nearly last among the rich nations, and often by a wide margin. The point is not just that (as everyone already knows) the American nation trails badly in all these categories; it's that the overwhelmingly Christian American nation trails badly in all these categories, categories to which Jesus paid particular attention.
This is stunning to me. Its not like I didn't have any idea this was going on, but to see it written in such a coherent and unmistakably clear way is a little humbling to say the least.
I've written about this commandment of Jesus before in regards to gay marriage arguing that the distraction of fighting against such a small segment of our society is keeping us away from our core mission of love your neighbor as yourself. McKibben focuses on other distractions that have kept us from this commandment including getting ready for the "rapture" (Jesus's triumphant return), and our society's troubling focus on ourselves rather than others. I would also add distractions like Intelligent Design and the 10 Commandments in front of courthouses as other distractions that really just aren't worth the fight. What has a better chance of demonstrating the love of Christ, displaying the 10 commandments in front of a courthouse where no one will read it, or focusing our energy on issues that Jesus actually cared about, namely feeding the hungry or clothing the naked? To me the answer is clear.
Of course, McKibben has some choice words for the so called Christian Right, an organization supposedly founded on Christian principles. McKibben writes:
A rich man came to Jesus one day and asked what he should do to get into heaven. Jesus did not say he should invest, spend, and let the benefits trickle down; he said sell what you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me. Few plainer words have been spoken. And yet, for some reason, the Christian Coalition of America - founded in 1989 in order to "preserve, protect and defend the Judeo-Christian values that made this the greatest country in history" - proclaimed last year that its top legislative priority would be "making permanent President Bush's 2001 federal tax cuts."
This is sickening. That was the Christian Coalition's main focus last year, making sure Bush's tax cuts remain permanent. I could understand if their main focus was Bush's tax cuts and making sure that Bush's "faith based" initiatives programs were successful, but apparently there is just a focus on tax cuts. This year's focus has changed to "Stopping filibusters on President Bush's judicial nominations including U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judicial nominees." This is the Christian Coalition. Where is the focus on the actual words of Jesus, the actual commandments? Or is that too simplistic?
And before anyone becomes too offended at my words let me make one thing clear. I understand if you think tax cuts and trickle down economics are better for society as a whole. We can't just keep on spending and spending. Gotcha. But don't tie your issues to Jesus. Don't tie these issues to Christianity. They are counter-intuitive to Christianity. Smaller government, lower taxes, health care for only those that can afford it may all be great ideas, but they are not Christian ideas as much as their opposites are not Christian ideas.
That's right. As much as I may want a national health care system, I would be hard pressed to find a Biblical passage that mandates this as the method Jesus would like us to employ to take care of the sick. Personally I think it is a great idea and more in line with Christian principles of taking care of those less fortunate, but can I say for sure that this is what Jesus had in mind? No. So why the "Christian" Coalition can make the bold claims they do, that they are somehow carrying out a mission that Jesus would approve of, is beyond me. McKibben writes:
The power of the Christian right rests largely in the fact that they boldly claim religious authority, and by their very boldness convince the rest of us that they must know what they're talking about. They're like the guy who gives you directions with such loud confidence that you drive on even though the road appears to be turning into a faint, rutted track. But their theology is appealing for another reason too: it coincides with what we want to believe. How nice it would be if Jesus had declared that our income was ours to keep, instead of insisting that we had to share. How satisfying it would be if we were supposed to hate our enemies. Religious conservatives will always have a comparatively easy sell.
I would argue that this selling job is actually hurting the Christian faith in the long run. I work at the University of Minnesota, a bastion of liberal views, so the shaping of my own philosophies concerning these matters shouldn't surprise anyone. However, the angry and condescending sentiments I hear at the U towards Christians because of the agenda of the Christian Coalition is disheartening to say the least. The viewpoint that all Christians follow to the drum beat of the Coalition is overwhelming and simply untrue. How can we take back the centrality of Jesus's message? For me it all focuses on the words of Jesus, the actual words taken at their bare bones: love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, love the Lord God with all your heart. McKibben writes:
Even the first time around, judging by the reaction, the Gospels were pretty unwelcome news to an awful lot of people. There is not going to be a modern-day return to the church of the early believers, holding all things in common - that's not what I'm talking about. Taking seriously the actual message of Jesus, though, should serve at least to moderate the greed and violence that mark this culture. It's hard to imagine a con much more audacious than making Christ the front man for a program of tax cuts for the rich or war in Iraq. If some modest part of the 85 percent of us who are Christians woke up to that fact, then the world might change.
How can we, as Christians, have the biggest impact on this world? "Love your neighbor" baby. That is where it is at for me.
August 19, 2005
Movies I really liked but I didn't think I would (as much)
Hello everyone! I trust you are having a good Friday. Me? Well yes, I am thanks for asking. But that is not the point of this pointless post. Last night I watched Napoleon Dynamite again, this time with my kids. My 10 year old loved it, like I knew he would, but my 4 year old and my 6 year old also enjoyed it. In fact, they were mezmerized by it. My 4 year old usually doesn't sit still for movies at all (unless it is a Barbie cartoon), but she watched the entirety of this movie. Go figure. Anyway, watching this quirky movie got me to thinking about movies I have seen recently that I didn't think I would like as much as I did (do?). Here is my list:
- The Sum of All Fears -- This was a really enjoyable movie. I was stunned since I really can't stand Tom Clancy books (usually). Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman do a stellar job in this one.
- The Matchstick Men -- This one really surprised me. I'm not a big Nicolas Cage fan, but this movie was very good and his performance was quite humorous. A little twist at the end, too. Very nice.
- The Runaway Jury -- I was shocked I liked this one. I didn't care for the book a whole lot so I didn't think I'd like this movie too much. Well, I was wrong. It might be because they changed the main focus of the movie away from smoking to gun control, but I found the story riveting.
- The Count of Monte Cristo -- Holy cow I love this movie. I could watch it over and over again and still love it. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor.
- The Spanish Prisoner -- My mom suggested this one and I thought, "OK, I'll give it a try." Well, I was blown away. It was awesome.
- Batman Begins -- I went into this one thinking, "Batman? Yeah, he's pretty cool..." I came out saying, "Batman is freakin' awesome dude!" See the difference?
So, there you have it. Let me know if I should put any others on my Netflix queue.
Links of the day
- Pick up lines used by Mario, of Super Mario Bros. fame.
- Is Shaq the greatest NBA player ever, bar none? Interesting set of reasons.
- Could Google build a huge nation-wide broadband network and give free WiFi to everyone?
- State of the blogosphere. 80,000 new blogs created everyday.
- Voo2do.com: web based task and project management tool. Nifty.
- ReligionFacts.com: just the facts on the world's religions.
- This guy is giving away an iPod to the person who can point him to the most interesting site he has never seen. Of course, there is a great list of interesting sites.
- Great list of useful Firefox extensions. Very handy and easy to navigate.
- Instructables.com: interesting site that shows you step by step how to make stuff. Only 57 entries so far but I can see this getting bigger.
- Flash Earth: amazing. I'm speechless. Also check out the Planetarium. Really spiffy.
- 10 precepts from the Art of War that never made it past Sun Tzu's editor. Where do people come up with this stuff?
- Grace over Karma: Bono's interview with Michka Assayas (reprinted in Christianity Today). Beautiful summary of his beliefs.
See you soon.
August 18, 2005
Special session news
There has been a flurry of news on the special session recently that somehow I have missed. Why didn't anyone tell me? Oh well, better late than never. First of all, Brian McClung recently had some interesting things to say about the possibilities for a special session:
"It's only been a month and two days since the second-longest special session in state history ended," said Brian McClung, Pawlenty's press secretary. "The governor has said he'd be willing to call a special session that is controlled, productive and limited, but for now we think legislators should enjoy the few remaining days of a beautiful Minnesota summer. We can revisit these issues after Labor Day."
So, Pawlenty's press secretary has said that these issues can be revisited after Labor Day. I'm going to hold you to that McClung!
Secondly, Sviggum recently spoke to T-Paw concerning the parameters of a special session including what would be discussed and how long the special session would be. Sviggum favors these topics or issues:
- A Hennepin County proposal for a new baseball stadium for the Minnesota Twins.
- A Gophers football stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
- Authorization for a new hospital in Maple Grove.
- A rescue of the Minneapolis teachers retirement fund.
Sounds good. But what sounds really good is this little snippet from Sviggum:
"I agree with the governor about not calling a session unless we have prior agreement for a one-day session," he said.
One day ... one day and all these problems could go away. One day and we would never hear about the Twins or Gophers stadium issues again. What a glorious day that would be!
What else is there. Again, I'm sorry that I am so late in getting this out to you (and again, why didn't anyone tell me!) but Mike Opat (my hero) wrote a great OpEd piece on August 14 detailing why it is "now or never" for a Hennepin County ballpark:
Simply put, without approval in a special session this year, the Hennepin-Twins proposal will not survive. Oil and steel prices continue to climb--as do interest rates. There is a new developer making plans for the ballpark site. Without authorization to move ahead soon, the budget estimates and the development schedule for a 2009 opening will no longer be valid.
This is not a chest-thumping threat. Rather, it is a very sober (and somewhat somber) realization that Hennepin County cannot help solve important state problems without support from other elected officials.
Well said. To reiterate, if a ballpark bill does not pass this session then Hennepin County's plan is nullified. Stadium opponents would obviously say this is a good thing, but with Hennepin County pulling out of the game, and the fact that St. Paul already seems to have thrown in the towel, it would seem the Twins would have no other suitors (besides Las Vegas). Opat also adds:
We answered the governor's call for ballpark proposals and presented a viable plan that includes no state money. And we negotiated an agreement with the Twins that guarantees the team's contribution before the first pitch is thrown and an unprecedented sharing of any gain should the franchise be sold within 10 years of the ballpark being built.
This is so true! Hennepin County put together a plan using the governor's own guidelines. It takes the state out of the equation and it enables a representative from Willmar to tell his or her constituents that if they don't want to pay a dime they won't have to. There is a guaranteed contribution from the team (not enough some would claim) and community safeguards concerning a possible sale of the team. What is not to like about this plan?
Oh yeah, Carl Pohlad will make money ... that is a bummer (heavy sarcasm). Man! These rich people just won't stop making money! What about us? What do we get? Opat writes:
The city of Minneapolis will benefit directly from the new ballpark. Fans attending Twins games will generate millions of dollars of new tax money each year. The Warehouse District and all of downtown will benefit from the vitality created by the ballpark and the fans. It is time for more elected officials in Minneapolis to step up and support the Hennepin County ballpark proposal.
Amen. It is time to get this monkey off of our backs. There is an electricity in the air right now that points to this problem finally being fixed. Do you feel it? I sure do.
August 17, 2005
Yoo hooo ....
Sorry for my silence yesterday everyone. I am working on a new, redesigned University of Minnesota Libraries web site and it is sapping all of my time. But enough about that ...
What a joy it is to watch Justin Morneau play baseball. I see nothing but good things in his future (as long as Scotty Ulger stays away from him). His blast in the White Sox game last night seriously had me launch myself out of my chair to sing the introduction to the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" which, as you probably know, is pretty hard to do considering it doesn't have any words. In fact, the introduction to the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" should be Morneau's walk up music. That would be awesome. Man can he smack the ball!
And speaking of last night's game, as you probably also already know, the Twins play the White Sox 11 more times. If the Twins win all 11 games they will probably win the American League Central. The chances are slim, to be sure, but there is a chance! This "jinx" was officially brought to you by McDonalds: you deserve a break today at McDonalds! Seriously though, sweeping the White Sox for this series would be quite spectacular for this team. Tonight's game should be a doozy (unless you've been living under a rock it is Santana vs. Buehrle). If the Twins can manage to get even one run, Santana better hold on tight...
So I walked out of church last Sunday and turned on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave (which I normally do) only to hear Sid say, "Well, that was Dean Johnson on the phone. Sorry about the length of the conversation everyone, but there was some important things that he said concerning a special session." Argh! I was beside myself with grief for missing the contents of that call. Anyway, knowing Sid I knew that he would discuss the call in his Monday column. Well, while he did discuss it, his recap was a little disappointing because of its brevity:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said Sunday he was going to talk to House Speaker Steve Swiggum, R-Kenyon, about sending a letter to Tim Pawlenty suggesting that the governor call a special session this fall to discuss a limited agenda including stadium bills for Gophers football and the Twins. Johnson said everything would have to be agreed to before calling the special session, but that he was for it.
So, let's do our own recap. A couple of weeks ago Steve Sviggum, the Speaker of the House, spoke in favor of calling a special session for stadium issues, and now we have Dean Johnson, the Senate Majority Leader, also publicly giving his approval to the possibility of a special session. This is good people. So, so good. It makes me happy, jubilant, thrilled, and wholly too optimistic. I need to calm down.
Of course, Pawlenty has been silent for a while on the chances for a special session, but we should here from him pretty soon concerning the possiblity. My guess is after the state fair.
And even though I missed the call itself, I listened to Steve Thompson's show afterwards where he asked callers to call in and let him know whether or not they (the people!) approved the idea of a special session to discuss the stadium issue. Of course the vast majority of the callers expressed their strong approval for this idea, but there were definitely a few misguided individuals who were against a special session. But not for the reasons you think. Sure, some of them were just flat out against a Twins stadium being built with taxpayer money, but a lot of them were against calling a special session because our legislators "don't deserve another chance." According to some callers, our legislators had their chance to pass meaningful bills and they shouldn't get another. What?
This reasoning is pure stupidity. These callers think we should punish our fine legislators by NOT letting them come back to the state capitol to take care of their unfinished business. This is exactly what those morons want! They don't want to come back to the state capitol. They would rather play tic-tac-to, or stare blankly into the distance, or change their drool bibs (or whatever it is morons do when they aren't working) than come back to the state capitol and finish what they started! Gah! I say we demand that they come back and finish their business! If you haven't already, please write Pawlenty and demand that a special session be called to deal with the stadium issue.
I'm still of the opinion that a special session will be called. Our saving grace is the Gophers stadium and the fact that it must be dealt with before December. Keep the faith people. Just like the Twins are proving on the field, it isn't over until it is over.
August 14, 2005
The Vikings game
Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Cheer or Die my son and I attended the Vikings game last Friday night and we sat in the first row. I don't think I've ever sat in the first row for anything, ever! Not for the Twins. Not for the T-Wolves. Certainly not for the Vikings. I suppose the only time I sat in the first row was when I was on the bench on my high school basketball team. Ah, the memories... but I digress. On Friday my son and I sat in style and it was a fantastic, eye-opening experience. Check it out:
When we first got to the Dome the Chiefs were warming up. Obviously Mr. Cheer or Die's seats are in the first row of the end zone where the visiting team warms up. This gives Mr. COD ample opportunity to heckle the opposition, which he has described before. Seeing the players up close was amazing. I told my son to yell down, "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!" but he thought that was a pretty stupid idea.
This is a picture of the play before Daunte hooked up with Burleson for the evening's first score. It really doesn't do justice to how close we were to the action. Remember when Sharper broke up that potential TD pass to Samie Parker? That was right in front of us. I think my son thought they were going to land in his lap! He was freaking out.
And speaking of Darren Sharper, before the game a video of him came on the scoreboard screen with Green Bay's logo and colors in the background. Sharper said something to the effect, "Welcome Vikings fans! I used to be the enemy, but now I am on the good side. Thanks for your support!" Or something like that. Then the colors and logo shifted to the Vikings. It was hilarious. The crowd cheered.
Unfortunately for my son, the Metrodome is also not that great of a football stadium either. Since he is a little short, this was his view if he sat normally. He could barely see over the wall separating us from the field. So, for a lot of the game he stood and leaned over the wall. Thankfully this didn't bother the people behind us and my son got more into the game as a result. That was nice. I told him if the Vikings caught a TD pass on this end he might end up catching one of the players in the celebration. He was a little nervous after that! The people behind us got into the action of joking with him that he "better get ready" whenever the Vikings got close to our side. Unfortunately Burleson didn't jump into my son's arms after the opening drive. That would have been pretty wild.
This is my attempt to get a picture of the new Vikings cup for the 2005 season. As you can see, my stupid camera kept on focusing on something else. Well, I know how much all of you wanted to see that cup, so I hope this will do. We'll have to ask Mr. COD to get more pictures of the cup when he attends games this year.
My impression of the game is thus: the defense needs work. The Chiefs' offense moved pretty smoothly in the first quarter even though they didn't manage to score many points. Daunte looked spectacular. I have no doubt that he will play up to the high standards we expect, but Bennett was a disappointment. I've been hearing rumblings already that MeMo will be the starting running back by October. We'll see. And of the rookies, I was highly impressed with Ciatrix Fason. I had no idea he is as tall as he is, and he ran very, very well. And Erasmus was very quick off the block. I think we'll see him in the starting line-up very shortly.
So, that was our trip to the Vikings game. It was very special for me and my son to get a chance to sit that close to the action, even if it was only a preseason game. Thanks a ton Mr. COD! We had a blast!!!
August 12, 2005
I'm reading a great book right now called Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis which discusses America's Founding Fathers and the impact they had on our fledgling republic. It is only 288 pages and it features short, illustrative chapters, vignettes really, concerning Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, etc. etc. Right now I'm reading an early chapter on "The Duel" between Burr and Hamilton and how, remarkably it represents the only example of political violence during the early days of our experiment in democracy. Anyway, an interesting portion of this chapter describes the rules for a duel (the code duello):
"Burr and Hamilton then met in the middle to receive their final instructions. Hamilton, again because he was the challenged party, had the choice of position. He selected upstream, or north, side, a poor choice because the morning sun and its reflection off the river would be in his face. The required ten paces between contestants put them at the extreme ends of the ledge. It was agreed that when both principals were ready, Pendleton would say, "Present"; then each man would be free to raise and fire his weapon. If one man fired before the other, the nonfirer's second would say, "One, two, three, fire." If he had not fired by the end of the count, he lost his turn. At that point, or if both parties had fired and missed, there would be a conference to decide if another round was required or if both sides agreed that the obligations of honor had been met."
Fascinating, huh? As you probably know, the rest of the story can be summarized with Burr mortally wounding Hamilton and Burr being ostracized from American life in general. Obviously, there is much more to this story than that. If you are interested I would recommend checking out Founding Brothers. Let me just close this little snippet by saying I am glad this method of resolving a dispute is now a thing of the past. Cheesehead Craig, sadly, would have alreay been killed by my deadly aim.
Little known fact about me: I never use an alarm clock. Every morning I wake up whenever I decide I need to wake up. This is how it has always been for me. If I need to wake up at 6:00, I'll wake up at 6:00. If I need to wake up at 5:00, I'll wake up at 5:00. I don't know why, or how I developed this skill, but there you have it.
I am absolutely fascinated by the ongoing saga of the Eagles vs. Terrell Owens. What a nightmare. On the one hand I love to see a possible stumbling block for the Vikings Super Bowl aspirations having these kinds of difficulties, but on the other hand a classy individual like Donovan McNabb does not deserve this. I agree with most other Eagles fans: T.O. must G.O. And did you catch what T.O. said about McNabb?
When Owens was asked if he could have success with McNabb, he was even more blunt, saying, "I don't think so and I'm just being honest."
Wow. Not only is T.O. a bad teammate, but he is just an idiot. Highly entertaining though.
After reading stuff like this article about a Christian museum displaying dinosaurs and an intelligent design (ID) viewpoint and this hilarious open letter to the Kansas School Board I am this close to writing my own piece on this blog concerning ID and the theory of evolution. Of course it will deal with issues of religion, science, and history, but so far I have held back. I don't know why. Anyway, stay tuned for that (if you care).
Well, I'll be going to the Vikings game tonight and I'll be sitting in the seats of Mr. Cheer or Die. Here is what the view from my old seats looked like. COD's seats, being on the first row, should provide me with a very interesting new perspective. I am looking forward to it. Thanks COD!
August 11, 2005
Favorite One-Hit Wonders
I don't know what it is, but I'm having a really hard time writing about sports these days. I mean, I'm still watching the Twins (great game last night), I'm going to the Vikings game this Friday (thanks for the tickets, COD!), and I am really pumped for the Gophers upcoming football season. More about that later, I'm sure. But right now I have nothing to say about any of this. So, let's talk about something else.
Yesterday my brother and I were in the car riding home from work and the song "Amadeus" came on the radio. What a fantastic song. So many memories. Anyway, it got me to thinking about "one-hit wonders" and which ones are my favorites. Which ones get me to stop and listen no matter what? Here is my list:
- "Amadeus" by Falco -- I can't decide if the English or the German version is better. Which one has the Motzart biography in it? I love that part.
- "Let's Go All the Way" by Sly Fox -- I think this song is actually about nuclear war. Good memories with this song too. In college, my roommate (Curt in Grand Forks) had this song on tape. One day we propped his stereo in the window and blasted this song into the courtyard of our dorm. Needless to say, we were the BMOC that day.
- "Funky Town" by Lipps, Inc. -- I don't know why I like this song, but I really, really do. I will always stop to listen to it. I have even been known to bust into a "robot" when I hear it. A very bad "robot" mind you, but as I've said before, I've got nothing to prove to anyone.
- "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell -- This usually tops most people's lists. And it is also up there for me. Good Levi's commercial based on this one.
- "The Promise" by When in Rome -- If you don't recognize this one you would if you heard it. Just a fantastic song. Re-introduced to me by Napoleon Dynamite.
- "Pump Up the Volume" by M/A/R/R/S -- Good movie, good song. I wish they would play this one more on the radio.
- "Whip It" by Devo -- This song is so lame it is good. Wasn't it written some MIT graduates? What is the story behind this song?
That's it for now. Obviously there are more "one-hit wonders" but these are my favorites. Feel free to add your own.
August 10, 2005
Links of the day
Sorry for my silence over the last couple of days everyone! Busy, busy, busy! Chew on these for a while...
- Bottled water is not that much better for you, and may not be better for you at all. Plus, it doesn't have any flouride. I've heard lots of kids are getting cavities because parents aren't giving them city water anymore...
- Cool, cool, COOL! A web site that makes it easier to make paper CD case liner notes and such. Very handy.
- Uncrate.com. Cool stuff for men to buy.
- Oh my goodness, this should come in really handy. A little known hack to force elevators to only go to the floor you specify, even if other people are waiting on other floors. Let me know if this works for anyone.
- The Carlton Draught Big Ad. This is the best, most creative ad I have seen in a long, long time. Use IE to view the ad.
- Hilarious and striking pictures of cats flying around. I'm going to try to take some pictures like this of my own cats.
- More flying cat pictures. Why do I like these so much. I just find them quite entertaining to look at.
- Great set of web pages on fuel cells and their promise (and problems). Good synopsis on an important issue.
More tomorrow. Sorry again for my lack of posts!
August 8, 2005
I'll be user testing all day today so don't expect anything earth shattering. I would like to say that the crowds this weekend for the Red Sox series were quite impressive and for once the Twins rewarded the people for coming out (winning 2-3). It looks like if the Twins average around 21,000 for their remaining 23 games they will top 2 million fans for the season. I think they'll be able to do it...
August 5, 2005
What? Smells fresh to me ...
Well, I'm glad I can make at least one reader happy with my day to day ramblings on the stadium issue. Well, maybe not happy ... maybe I just entertain him. ("I'm funny how? I mean, I'm funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh?") Anyway, since David was kind enough to call me a "heck of a good guy" I must reciprocate and say that David is probably an equally "good fella" with a sad hatred for rich people making money. He also seems to take a lot of pleasure in crushing my already dwindling stadium hopes while at the same time alienating himself from the majority of other Twins fans. To his credit, David doesn't have anything to prove to anybody and he isn't afraid to write passionately about what he believes in. Nothing wrong with that. It is what blogging is all about.
But if David is waiting for Reusse to write an article about stadiums, don't hold your breath buddy. I say this for two reasons: 1) While I was at the press conference for the Twins announcement of this proposal, I overheard Reusse say, "I haven't written a stadium article for 5 years now and I'm not about to start." So far he has kept his word. And 2) as far as I can tell, Reusse supports this plan. I've heard him speak favorably about the Hennepin County proposal on his Sunday night show with Sid, Mike, and Dark so it is my impression that if he ever did write about stadiums it would probably be a more eloquent version of what I write on these pages. That is just my guess, though. I could be wrong.
But what really perplexed me about David's post was this snippet concerning our favorite baseball team:
Given how badly you guys are disappointing the fans and citizens of Minnesota, why should the people of this state feel excited about building a new ballpark for you? Why should the people of Minnesota feel at all worried at the thought that the club will pull up tent stakes and depart for Las Vegas, or Puerto Rico, or Hoboken?
Wow. One mediocre year and we should jeopardize the long term viability of the team? Why don't we just stop going to games, stop watching them on TV, and stop cheering for them all together? Those jerks! How dare they win 3 division championships in a row and then barely reach .500 this year! Honestly, this kind of thinking perlexes me to no end. I would be stunned if Reusse wrote an article that suggested this kind of response. It is "fair weather" at best, but more than anything it is extremely short-sighted.
Whatever, though. David is free to have this opinion. I'll just chalk it up as yet another example of one of his misguided opinions I don't understand.
And I say this mostly in jest, David. I don't want to you to get snarky with me again. We will never see eye to eye on this issue. I want to save money in the long run by getting a deal done, while you want to fight and fight and fight until the Twins are gone, we beg for a new baseball team, and we finally build a stadium that costs 10 times as much. Again, though, that is just the way I see it.
Finally, I told you not to read this. In fact, I made it quite clear that you shouldn't read it. Maybe next time you'll heed my advice, hmmmm?
Anyway, that's all I got for now. Next week's postings will be pretty sporadic since I will be in usability testing all day Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday. So, don't expect much (not that you ever should).
August 4, 2005
Sviggum says 50/50
Boy, it doesn't take much to make me happy. For a while I've been living under the dark cloud of T-Paws 60/40 odds against a special session being called. No fun. And then Charley Walters, the great Shooter, comes out with this fantastic tidbit today that seriously made me so happy I could burst:
Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum said Wednesday that chances for a special legislative session appear to be about 50-50 if Gov. Tim Pawlenty can be convinced there will be a focused, structured agenda.
A special session could be called by mid-September.
Sviggum, who supports the Twins' Hennepin County ballpark plan, believes lawmakers, who are elected to vote, should have to make a decision one way or another.
"And if it gets to the House and Senate floor, it will pass," Sviggum predicted.
I'm pathetic. According to Sviggum chances for a special session have only increased 10%, and I treat the news like the first shovel full of dirt will be dug tomorrow. Sheesh! However, I just can't help it. News like this keeps me going.
After I read this news I wrote Brad Finstad, the rep. who authored the bill, to ask him what's up from his end. I will certainly let you know if I hear from him.
Further down the Shooter article, Sviggum also had some interesting words about Carl Pohlad:
Sviggum, who has been Speaker of the House for seven years, said he's convinced that as long as Twins owner Carl Pohlad is alive, the team will remain in Minnesota. He's not certain beyond that, however, because the Twins are not bound by lease to the Metrodome, as are the Vikings through 2011.
That is very interesting. He might be right. I'm not sure Pohlad wants his lasting legacy to be "the man who moved the Twins to Las Vegas." He'll leave that for his kids I guess. While I agree that Pohlad probably won't be the one to move the Twins at this point, I would still like to solve this stadium mess once and for all. Duh. Maybe it would be wise to start putting some pressure on Pawlenty to call a special session.
As I've said before, our big hope is the fact that The Gopher's stadium would be heard in the same special session. The Pioneer Press had another good article called U stadium hopes wane which was a little too pessimistic for my taste. It did have this interesting comment though that is so obvious it is painful:
Herbstreit, an ESPN college football color analyst, said bringing a recruit to the Metrodome as opposed to, say, Wisconsin's renovated and rowdy Camp Randall Stadium is "not even close" as an experience. The Gophers averaged 47,581 fans (about 19,000 below capacity) in six games last season; the Badgers averaged 82,368 in six sellouts. This season already is sold out at Wisconsin.
Once again, Wisconsin shows us the way. Wisconsin has three fantastic stadiums that just put us to shame. Quite frankly I am stunned with how well Glen Mason has done recruiting with the Metrodome. We should be at the bottom of the Big Ten every year. I'd like to see what Mason can do with a new stadium.
Finally, what about the Vikings. Shooter also mentions:
Pssst: New Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had limited partners Alan Landis and David Mandelbaum, New Jersey real estate developers, meet with Blaine and Anoka County officials Wednesday in Blaine about land for a new Vikings stadium.
People, I don't worry about the Vikings. They are here to stay. Wilf is right now gobbling up land and it isn't so he can just have it sit empty. There will be a Vikings stadium up in Anoka County. Let's just hope PSLs aren't a part of the plan (right COD?).
August 3, 2005
Twins vs. Vikings
Who has the loyalty of the majority of Minnesotans? The Twins or the Vikings? As you've probably already read, Mr. COD has written a great post on a surprising trend we have recently seen concerning Twins fans' antipathy for all things purple. Mr. COD himself has been on the receiving end of some Twins fans' rebukes towards both the Vikings and their fans. It all makes me wonder, why? Why do we see this kind of dislike from Twins fans towards the Vikings and why does it seem to be a one way street? I commented to Mr. COD:
"For some reason hardcore Vikings fans have no problem cheering for the Twins when appropriate, but I've noticed hardcore Twins fans do not reciprocate when it comes to the Vikings. I have never understood it."
I was a Viking season ticket holder for the past few years and I was at a game where it was announced that the Twins had captured the Central Division crown. As you might expect, the whole crowd cheered heartily for the Twins. It was great. However, I am of the opinion that if it was ever announced at a Twins game that the Vikings had won something (keep your jokes to yourselves!) I doubt this news would get the same reception. Why is that? Don't get me wrong, I think there would be some cheering, but not a whole lot, I would wager.
Mr. COD addresses some of the possible reasons in his post above. He includes the "Big Brother complex," "The Dome," and "Emotions," namely current emotions that have Twins fans feeling disgusted toward our baseball team and perhaps uncharacteristically vindictive. To expound on the Dome reason a little bit I do think a lot of Twins fans' dislike of the Vikings comes from the fact that the Twins share a facility with the Vikings, and the fact that the facility is a football field. No doubt about it. It is a tragedy and one which I have discussed ad naseum on these pages. There may be another reason, though, that COD doesn't discuss.
I honestly think a lot of Twins fans have a feeling of superiority. Baseball is not a contact sport. It may even be considered a gentleman's game. It is a game of overwhelming statistics, complex strategy, and thrilling luck. Baseball is also "America's pastime." Or at least it used to be. Football is blue collar. It is hard hitting, painful, and may even speak to our baser instincts. Kill. Blood. Hit.
Football is also much more popular. To be a baseball fan is truly something unique, and sadly it is becoming more and more unique nowadays. So, I can somewhat understand the hardcore baseball fan's dilemma. Football is encroaching on their turf, and they don't like it.
Speaking of which, as I'm sure you know, ESPN is doing a 50 states in 50 days promotion which highlights sports trends in all 50 states. And of course, Minnesota is a part of this analysis.
Concerning Minnesota's favorite sport, and based on over 25,000 votes, the breakdown is currently thus:
46.8% - Hockey
32.3% - Football
10.9% - Baseball
5.3% - Basketball
1.4% - Fishing
1.2% - Golf
1.0% - Auto racing
1.0% - Soccer
Nothing too surprising there. Hockey is pretty big here. Concerning Minnesota's favorite pro-team, though:
64.7% - Minnesota Vikings
16.2% - Minnesota Twins
6.5% - Green Bay Paclers
5.1% - Minnesota Wild
4.6% - Minnesota Timberwolves
1.8% - Chicago Cubs
0.6% - Chicago White Sox
0.5% - Dallas Stars
That is a huge margin. That is an "out-behind-the-woodshed" margin. The Vikings reign supreme in Minnesota to the point of almost making the Twins percentage look statistically insignificant (well, not quite). This is especially shocking when you look at the statistics for Wisconsin where you would expect the Packers to have a similar lead:
33.4% - Green Bay Packers
32.7% - Milwaukee Brewers
22.9% - Chicago Cubs
11.0% - Milwaukee Bucks
It appears that according to these statistics Minnesota has bigger football fans than the people in Wisconsin, and that Wisconsin has bigger baseball fans than Minnesota. I would have expected this to be the exact opposite.
So, in conclusion, given the Vikings dominance on the sports scene in Minnesota it may be more understandable why Twins fans feel a bit overwhelmed. Having said all of this, let me say that I am huge fans of both the Vikings and the Twins. I will always cheer for both (unless the Twins move to Vegas). And while I still don't quite fully understand why Twins fans are so anti-Vikings sometimes, I do believe the dominance of the Vikings over the local sports scene does help answer that question. Until next time ...
August 2, 2005
Refrigerators? Why yes, they do make me happy!
I cannot stand having something broken. It just makes me crazy. For a couple of weeks now I have walked by my broken fridge and it has just made me madder and madder. Every time I see the stupid thing my eyes start twitching, my feet start sweating, and I start mumbling about "knives" and "cooling coils." Bah! Well no longer! Tonight I have rectified the situation! I have purchased a new (and better) compact refrigerator! Behold!
It holds more of my favorite beverages, it is more energy efficient (with the money I save it will pay for itself in 100 years!), and it looks cooler. Note the space age stainless steel design. Get on with your bad self! Yes!
No longer will my old fridge mock me! I am reborn! Plus it already holds some of my favorite beverages!
Ahem... the Sprite Zero (aka "the drink of pansies") is not mine. It is for my wife. Otherwise feast your eyes on that Vanilla Coke! Ahhhh! I think I shall enjoy a frosty one right now...
People! It is the little stuff that makes you happy. Rejoice with me for my new fridge!
You know how kids are. Everything has to be done fast, especially chores. If you ask a child to sweep the floor, it is usually done quickly and not very well. In other words, it is done quick and dirty and just well enough to get by. This fact of life drives me nuts in my own kids. "Why does everything have to be done fast?" I ask my own kids, "Why don't you do a good job the first time so you don't have to do it again?"
This is especially true of my older son. He is getting better as he gets older, but he still tries to get by with the bare minimum (and as fast as possible). So, I have come up with a little saying that he has heard me repeat over and over again in his short life:
"There is a fast way to do something, and the right way to do something. Do it the right way."
I know, you are overwhelmed with the subtle wisdom of this little nugget. The last time I said this to him was during our Webelos camp where he somehow discombobulated his tent's zipper so that it wouldn't close or open the tent. It was just stuck in the middle with both sides open. I could see that the tent fabric was totally jammed inside of the zipper. He must have had to go to the bathroom something fierce and in a rush he must have just ranked on the zipper until it absolutely couldn't move anymore. I asked him, "You forced it, didn't you?" He said, "Yeah, sorry." So, I said, "There is a fast way to do something, and the right way to do something. Do it the right way." See where that saying can come in handy?
Anyway, that brings you to me. Unfortunately I didn't heed my own advice. A little while ago my compact refrigerator in my basement, where I would usually store all my tasty beverages, suddenly got full of so much ice that I couldn't even close the door. As a result, the problem just got worse as it got filled with more and more ice. So, obviously, I had two options: 1) I could unplug the fridge and let the ice melt naturally, or 2) I could chip it out with a knife. Yep, you guessed it, I picked the knife. What a moron.
At first the chipping was going well. Big chunks of ice were flying everywhere. I was making progress! And then the inevitable happened. I chipped right into one of the coils and was blasted by the hiss and freeze of all my precious freon escaping from the fridge. And with that, my compact fridge, where I keep all my Vanilla Coke, is now broken beyond repair.
"There is a fast way to do something, and the right way to do something. Do it the right way."
That is my advice for today. And if anyone knows where I can get a cheap compact refridgerator (upright kind, around 34" tall) please let me know. And I vow to never take a knife within 5 feet of a refrigerator again.
August 1, 2005
Questions for Lester
Mr. Cheer or Die has asked me to supply him with some possible questions for his podcast interview with Lester Bagley in the coming week(s). Here are the questions I would love Mr. Bagley to answer:
1. How much state support does Zygi expect for a new Vikings stadium? (hopefully nothing)
2. Given what he has seen from other NFL teams (Eagles, Patriots, Giants, Cowboys), and considering that the Gophers are privately financing over half of their own stadium, would Zygi also consider privately financing the majority of a new Vikings stadium?
3. Being a developer at heart, is Zygi somewhat excited that he can design a stadium (and some of the surrounding entertainment options) himself, or would he have preferred to come into an environment where a new stadium had already been constructed?
4. Outdoor vs. indoor. Most Vikings fans were thrilled with Zygi's announcement that he prefers an outdoor stadium. Is he still leaning that way? Does he understand that if he decides to go that route he will probably have to fund the majority of the stadium himself?
5. Zygi has already made the statement that even if the Vikings don't get a new stadium by 2011 the Vikings are staying in Minnesota. Come on! Red McCombs and the old ownership told us over and over again that the Vikings cannot stay competitive in the Metrodome. Was Red just flat out lying? Can the Vikings stay in the Metrodome past 2011 and hope to compete?
6. Would Zygi consider the possibility of renovating the Metrodome?
7. Zygi has probably read about the difficulties the Twins have had getting a new stadium. Heck he has probably even spoken to Carl Pohlad about their difficulties. Are there any lessons that Zygi has learned from the Twins' difficulties? Do their difficulties hopefully convince Zygi that he will need to come up with a plan that uses more private money than public, and one that offers tangible benefits to the host community?
What does everyone think? Decent questions? Any questions that I have missed?
My most recent purchase
That's right. I bought a library card catalog. I have now achieved complete "geek-ness" and I feel good about it. As a librarian, I have always wanted one of these archaic pieces of library furniture, and now I have one for my very own. What will I store in my 25 card-sized drawers? The sky is the limit!
Are you jealous? I wouldn't be surprised. By the way, card catalogs like this are going for about $100 on EBay. In about 10 years I'll be able to sell this one and send my kids to college!