September 30, 2005
What else is new?
The Strib wrote an interesting editorial yesterday regarding the lack of leadership from our friend T-Paw. It ended with this sentiment:
What's needed is a mature and sincere commitment on all sides to clear the decks on stadium issues -- first the Twins and Gophers in a special session, then the Vikings next year. If the intent is to wave goodbye to the Twins now and the Vikings later, then the governor and key legislators should have the courage to say so. If not, they should scrape together a few hours this fall to invest in Minnesota's quality of life and competitive future.
This is an interesting thought. If it just ain't gonna happen our legislature should have the guts to just come out and say so. Then we would finally know what really is going to happen. No more threats from the Twins. Pohlad would know with definitive certainty that the state will never approve of public funds going towards stadium construction. Finally, we could move on and just say to Pohlad, "Do what you will." I would welcome that.
But enough about "the issue that will never die." I'm sick of it. In fact, I'm sick of everything. Nothing is good, everything is bad, and I'm not happy about it. You stink, I stink, the whole world stinks. So there.
I will end this post with interesting facts. If you don't like them you can just go jump in a lake.
- In 1963, baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry remarked, "They'll put a man on the moon before I hit a home run." On July 20, 1969, a few hours after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit his first (and only) home run.
- Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches
- Slugs have 4 noses.
- The ant, when intoxicated, will always fall over to its right side.
- A Wisconsin forklift operator for a Miller beer distributor was fired when a picture was published in a newspaper showing him drinking a Bud Light.
Finally ponder this quote from Charles Schulz the rest of the weekend:
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia ."
Have a good one everybody!
September 29, 2005
Links of the day
- Holy Squid! Nifty pictures of giant squid. First time a giant squid has ever been caught on film. That in itself is amazing.
- Troubling article from the Journal of Religion and Society that suggests a correlation between religious belief and societal dysfunction. Read the conclusion.
- The 100 most challenged books between 1900-2000. Everytime I see this list I am surprised. A Wrinkle in Time?
- Funny list of new office slang.
- BitComet.com. Extremely easy to use BitTorrent client that makes it way too easy to "borrow" music. I just borrowed two albums last night...
- This is just a fantastic idea. This site, SorryGottaGo.com, includes a ton of WAV files to help you get off the phone during a never-ending conversation. Like a door knock, a baby crying, a horn honking, etc. I'm going to have to use this ...
- Nifty little form that takes an iTunes album URL and gives you some very nice hi-res pictures of the album art. Could be handy.
- 70% of British taxi drivers, pub landlords and hairdressers -- often seen as barometers of popular trends -- have no idea what "blogging" is. Idiots! [Thanks COD!]
- Wow. This is kind of neat. Type an author in the form and get a "literature map" of other authors in the same vein.
- $10 billion worth of treasure found on an island off the coast of Chile. Cool.
- Hilarious! Rock-Paper-Scissors with 15 possible attacks and 105 possible outcomes.
That's all I got for now...
September 28, 2005
No direction home
First things first, once again our hopes of a special session are being dashed. And what really surprises me about this is the fact that it isn't just the Twins the legislature is screwing over, it is the Gophers. The Gophers recently released new figures that indicated that due to the delay of stadium construction, it already costs $13 million more. I can't imagine what this delay does to the Twins stadium costs.
Yesterday Pawlenty passed around a special session questionnaire of sorts which asked legislators in the House and Senate which issues they would be willing to vote on, including all three stadium requests (Twins, Vikings, Gophers). In addition, he gave legislators three different scenarios for a Twins stadium specifically:
The three Twins stadium proposals are the Hennepin County proposal for a downtown Minneapolis ballpark paid for in large part by a new county sales tax; the same plan with a guarantee that Hennepin County voters could decide whether to impose the tax; and an alternative that would allow any other community to schedule a referendum and try to raise taxes for a ballpark if legislators rejected the Hennepin plan.
Hmmm ... I wonder which scenario will be the one everyone can agree on.
Based on T-Paw's recent move, both Matt Entenza and Dean Johnson (it seems) are not very optimistic that a special session will be called. I will have to say I agree with them. This is especially true considering that Pawlenty wants the session to end in 2 days. That is a tall order and everyone knows it.
Hopefully Pawlenty will reveal the results of the questionnaire, but as I said a couple of weeks ago, I think you can stick a fork in the chances for a special session, and, of course, any resolution or leadership concerning stadiums in this fine state.
But what else is new?
But that isn't actually what I wanted to talk about today. Over the past two nights I have been watching the PBS documentary "No Direction Home" about Bob Dylan, and I must say it has been wonderful. I've never really been the biggest Bob Dylan fan, but his impact on rock and folk music is undeniable. The documentary covered his childhood, his move to New York, his song-writing and creative explosion, his switch to electric, and his motorcycle accident in 1966. It was absolutely riveting.
Througout the show I was struck with what a genius this man was/is, and how subtle his message was. Dylan abhorred labels, or people trying to categorize him, and as a result his songs are truly timeless. His lyrics are beautiful, and haunting, and they are as true and appropriate today as they were in the 60s. Seriously, if you want to be absolutely blown away, if you are in the mood for overwhelming poignancy or stunning simplicity, take a listen to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, his second album. "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" ... absolutely beautiful.
I was struck by one of the comments of an interviewer in the show who said that God didn't speak through Dylan as much as he kicked Dylan in the ass. Dylan had no choice but to heave up his amazing output of material. It flowed out of him almost effortlessly, as if he had no say in the matter. The interviewer went on to say that just looking at him you could see the Holy Spirit surrounding him. Amazing to think about.
I was also struck with Dylan's relationship with his audience. Dylan seemed to care about his audience in the beginning, but as he became more and more popular it was almost like he purposefully tried to alienate himself from the people who cared about him the most. Again, his audience tried to box him into the label of a "protest" singer, and Dylan rebelled. They tried to make him into only a "folk" singer with only the permission to play an accoustic guitar. Obviously, Dylan would have none of that. In a way, it seems Dylan went out of his way to confuse and tick off his audience. Or did he? Again, he wrote the music he wanted to write. If you like it great, but if not then don't listen.
Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this, so I'll just stop for now. If anyone else watched this documentary please by all means let me know what you thought of it. I was blown away.
See you all later...
September 27, 2005
This is yet another example of a pointless post. Just trying to get some thoughts down. You have been warned...
I am always amazed at the things I remember from college. Not necessarily the activities I was a part of, or the friends I made, but of the things I learned. For those of you who went to college, if you are anything like me every once in a while these memories of classes, professors' comments, course material and readings come creeping up in your consciousness when you least expect it. In fact, it surprises me to no end how often I will remember some little nugget of wisdom that struck me ... well ... over 10 years ago now.
Why does this happen? Why do these memories suddenly come to the surface? And lest you think I am troubled by these memories, this couldn't be further from the truth. I wouldn't trade my college years for anything and I am thrilled that memories like these catch me off guard every once in a while.
Today I was thinking about a class I took as a freshman called "Principia." Even now I still don't quite get what the point of the class was, but there are two very distinct memories I have of the class. One is a class period when the professor broke the class into male and female groups and then asked us to discuss whether or not we would ever want to be a member of the opposite sex, even if it was just for a day. Of the males in the class, not one said that they would ever want to see what it was like to be a woman. Not even for a day. Well over half the women wanted to see what it would be like to be a man.
The second memory I have of this class comes from a course reading. During this class we read excerpts from the works of the philosopher Epictetus. If you have never heard of Epictetus, that's OK. I had never heard of him either. But to this day, one of the passages from his works still strikes me as something so profoundly interesting that I can't shake it from my memory:
Whenever you grow attached to something, do not act as though it were one of those things that cannot be taken away, but as though it were something like a jar or a crystal goblet, so that when it breaks you will remember what it was like, and not be troubled. So also here; if you kiss your child, your brother, your friend, do not trust your impression in every particular, nor permit your exuberance to proceed as much as it wants, but hold it back, stop it, just like those who stand behind generals parading in triumph and remind them that they are human. So too remind yourself that you love a mortal, something not your own; it has been given to you for the present, not inseparably nor forever, but like a fig, or a bunch of grapes, at a fixed season of the year, and that if you yearn for it in the winter, you are a fool. If in this way you long for your son, or your friend, at a time when he has not been given to you, rest assured that you are yearning for a fig in winter. For as winter is to a fig, so is every state of affairs in relation to the things which are destroyed in accordance with that same state of affairs. (Disc. 3. 24. 84-7; cf. Ench. 3)
Essentially, if you like a jar say you like a jar for when it is broken it won't trouble you. And treat your relationships with the people you love in the same way. Focus on the fragility of all the things you love. Discipline yourself to anticipate the inevitabilty of mortality, the fact that nothing lasts forever. Epictetus called this discipline askesis.
The goal of the stoic, like Epictetus, is to control one's feelings and emotions so that they never subject the stoic to painful, or hurtful thoughts which usually rob a person of inner harmony, tranquility, and the abilty to think rationally.1
Anyway, that is what I was thinking about today. Why? I have no idea. But I remember being a freshman in college and thinking that this philosophy is about the stupidest thing I had ever read. In fact, it became a running joke between me and my friends. "Say you love that Coke, for when it is gone you will not be angry."
This is the kind of stuff I wonder about. I have a sneaky suspicion that other people have thoughts like this too, but just choose not to bore their blog readers with the details. Carry on with your business...
September 26, 2005
The best weekend ever part two: The rest of the weekend
So, the first part of my weekend was the phenomenal U2 concert. Amazing stuff. Now, and I know you were waiting for this, here is a full description of why this was the best weekend of my whole life. Unfortunately it will have to be in abbreviated (bulleted!) form, but hopefully you'll get the picture.
- Curt in Grand Forks, my college roommate and best buddy came down to go to the U2 concert and spend the weekend with me and my family.
- We watched The Longest Yard which happens to be an adequately entertaining movie.
- We went to the Mall of America and had Georgia pulled-pork sandwiches at Famous Dave's. Yummy!
- We went to the U2 concert.
- We rode the light rail to and from the concert. Since the train was so crowded we both remarked at what an absolute "boondoggle" it was to build the light rail and how much we all appreciate Phil Krinkie's leadership on a wide variety of issues.
- We slept in Saturday morning and woke up in time for the Gopher's game. Curt said it was the first time he had slept in for at least 7 years.
- We watched quite possibly the most exciting (with a good outcome) Gopher football game I have ever seen.
- We invited Cheesehead Craig to come over to watch the Badger/Michigan game. As much as I dislike Wisconsin football, I dislike Michigan football even more. It is absolutely wonderful that they are out of the top 25. On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin, Grand old Badger state!
- Curt, Cheesehead Craig, and I went to see The 40 Year Old Virgin. This was much more of a ribald movie than I thought it would be, but because I watched the movie with Curt it is now one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Curt has such an infectious laugh and is such a joy to watch movies with that he can make even the most mediocre comedy the funniest movie I have ever seen. Housesitter with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin is still one of the best movies ever only because I watched it with Curt.
- Sunday morning we went to church, but we got out early to go to the Vikings game!
- We went to the Vikings game where the Vikings actually won! I attribute this to the fact that this was the first Sunday I wore my Cris Carter jersey this year. You can thank me later.
- After the game we went to Chipotle and had two of the best burritos ever created. They were delicious.
- Because Curt's train back to Grand Forks didn't leave until 11:15 at night, I got out of our Sunday night Bible study! Yipppeee!!! Er, I mean, that is a shame. I'll have to pray a little harder this week to make up for it.
- Instead of the Bible study, Curt and I watched The Last Starfighter with my kids. Curt had never seen the movie and admitted at the end that he is a "better person for having watched it."
- I took Curt back to the train station, we hugged, we agreed to get together again, and thus ended the best weekend ever.
That's it. I hope you can see, for a married man like me with three kids, this was an unbelievably fun weekend.
Needless to say, my wife now has free reign to do whatever she wants, spend however much money she wants to spend, and pretty much tell me to shut up if I put up any kind of resistance. That is the price I have to pay, and yes, it was worth it!
The best weekend ever part one: U2
This weekend was quite possibly the best weekend I have ever had, and it all began with the U2 concert Friday night.
It is hard to put into words the emotions one goes through when watching U2. For one thing, there are the songs, all those famous songs I grew up listening to. "Where the Streets Have no Name," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "Pride" ... to finally hear them sung live was awesome, in the truest sense of the word. But hearing them sung live isn't the half of it. There were over 20,000 people in the Target Center on Friday night all in tune with each other. I can't aptly describe the feeling of singing along with so many people, seeing so many smiles, tears, jubiliation, and focus. It was almost a spiritual celebration, and I wish church could be this fun every Sunday.
Here is what they played:
City of Blinding Lights
The concert opened with what probably is the best song on the album: "City of Blinding Lights." What an awesome beginning. Four huge curtains of lights lit up the stage and the surrounding area and ticker tape flew from the rafters. The band then went immediately into "Vertigo" and the swirl shaped stage lit up in waves of lights flying around the perimeter. During the chorus flashing lights pulsed throughout the arena and I must admit it almost put me into an epilectic seizure. Curt and I were in heaven.
Then, the band started into "Elevation." Bono noticed a woman in the audience holding a sign that said, "Bono, I lost 75 lbs. to dance with you." So, he brought her onto stage and did a little swaying with her. Together they sang the first verses of "Elevation" with only the Edge accompanying, and when the time came for the word "elevation" to be sung Bono turned to the audience who all screamed "Elevation!" I can't tell you how awesome that was.
The first three songs were spectacular. The audience was quite literally in a frenzy of aniticipation.
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Beautiful Day // Many Rivers to Cross (snippet)
Then U2 went old school with the little known Boy gem "Electric Co." This is probably my favorite song off of this album so I sang along as loud as I could. Then came a short version of "The Ocean" which was a little strange since I couldn't make out a lot of what Bono was saying. But I'll cut him some slack for that since they immediately went into my favorite U2 song of all time "I Still Haven't Found." Wow. This was one of the more emotional parts of the entire evening. Such a beautiful song. At the end, Bono again turned towards the audience as we all sang over and over again "But I still haven't found what I'm looking for." It was beautiful. Bono himself seemed to be touched.
This was followed by "Beautiful Day" ... and I know what you are thinking right now, "What a freaking good concert so far!" I know it! Can you believe I was there to witness all of this? Anyway, after the song Bono sang a little snippet of "Many Rivers to Cross" and he made a big deal of the fact that the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota and flows down to New Orleans. The crowd revelled in this connection as Bono said, "When America is hit, you see the best come out in Americans." This got a huge cheer.
Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own // Black Hills of Dakota (snippet)
Bono began "Miracle Drug" with a story of how the Edge comes from the future. He explained that the Edge's brain is so advanced that they made a stop at the Mayo Clinic before coming to Minneapolis so that the doctors could study it. While there, the doctors asked the Edge, "How is the future?" and the Edge replied, "It is better!" Again, the crowd roared. Then Bono dedicated the song to all the doctors, nurses, and people in the health profession that work so hard to save people's lives.
This was followed by an extremely emotional version of "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own" with Bono repeatedly looking towards the heavens presumably towards his father, whom he dedicated the song to. After this song again Bono sang a short snippet of another song which I guess he sings regularly at concerts. Only he probably knows its significance.
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet the Blue Sky
This was followed by the "anti war quartet" and one of the more politically charged segments of the concert. All of these songs are highly anti war, and Bono used his platform to try to convince the audience of the futility of this kind of struggle. Bono also put on a bandana that spelled "COEXIST" with the Muslim crescent moon for the "C," a star of David for the "X," and the Chrstian cross for the "T." He sang "we are all sons of Abraham." While the message was clear, it was depressing to think how hard this sentiment actually is to implement.
"Miss Sarajevo" was another highlight of the show. Bono explained the background of the song (a beauty contest in war ravaged Sarajevo where the contestants dared the snipers to kill them) and said that it was written for Pavarotti to sing. The crowd cheered and Bono said jokingly "He's not here, but I've been putting on a little bit of weight." Bono sang the first verses and then sang the operatic verses himself, almost as well as Pavarotti (almost). The song ended with the screens displaying the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It was very emotional and powerful.
Pride (in the name of love)
Where the Streets Have No Name
This flowed into the next triumvirate of classics and the crowd really reacted favorably. "Pride" ... what a phenomenal song in concert. The crowd was literally screaming the chorus. And then the first strains of "Streets" started humming through the Edge's guitar. Wow. What a phenomenal concert song. The crowd on the floor was bouncing during the whole song and Bono was in rare form as he danced around the stage. Seriously, how would you like to be Bono? To have thousands of people focusing all their attention on you, loving you, practically worshipping you? What he has done with his star power in terms of debt relief and the awareness of AIDS in Africa is truly awe-inspiring. And then, how would you like to have created something, like "Streets," that will go down in history as one of the greatest rock songs, the greatest pieces of musical art, of all time? Anyway, that is the kind of stuff that runs through my head in moments like these...
The concert ended with "One" and again the crowd sang along. It was a good ending, that, of course, we knew really wasn't the end.
The First Time
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
With or Without You
I love "The First Time." It was nice to hear them play it. And while "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" isn't really one of my favorites, it is definitely a crowd favorite. These two songs were also done almost all accoustically with the Edge and Bono making their way out into the heart of the audience.
"With or Without You" provided Adam Clayton an opportunity to shine as his bass kicked in the familiar refrain. Again, this has never been one of my favorites, but to hear and see it in concert was definitely something special.
All Because of You
Crumbs From Your Table
Three more songs from "Atomic Bomb" one of which I really could have done without. Really, the only misstep of the entire show was "Crumbs From Your Table." This was the concert debut of this song, and I couldn't stop thinking to myself, "Why are you singing this song! Please don't sing this song!" Really, I would have much preferred, "Until the End of the World" but I guess I'll cut U2 some slack considering how awesome the rest of the show was. This was followed by "Yahweh" in another accoustic performance from the Edge. "Yahweh" is another one of my favorites off of the new album so I was thrilled to hear them play it. During the song the screens and curtains of lights shimmered with religious imagery including, of course, a dove. It was obvious the message of the show was "peace."
At this point I was begging for "40." What more perfect way is there to end a show besides "40?" Especially considering the subject matter of the song? Well, I didn't get "40" but I got another awesome rendition of "Vertigo." I don't know why Bono wanted to play this song again, but after "Yahweh" he darted around to each band member and you could tell he was trying to convince them to play another song. "Vertigo" was the choice and it was nice to see the awesome light show for this song again.
Did Bono want to play us another song because we were such an awesome audience? Or did he play us another song because they were only in Minneapolis for one night? Who knows, but I thank him for it from the bottom of my heart.
So, that was the U2 concert. By far the best concert I have ever attended. It was a long drought between concerts (3 kids kind of sap the time and money for these kinds of things). It was emotional, powerful, nostalgic, spiritual, meaningful ... it was fantastic. I will never forget it.
Don't you feel bad for missing it?
And that wasn't even the end of my fantastic weekend! More on that later...
September 22, 2005
U2: See you at the show...
Greetings and salutations loyal readers! If you need your stadium fix you should check out the Strib's excellent editorial on the subject today. I'm pretty sure I can't say it any better. Also, did you see Shooter's column in which he suggests the Twins front office are less than thrilled with Zygi's recent proposal for a new Vikings stadium? I wonder why that is. Is it because Zygi and the NFL are putting up close to half? Or is it just because the Twins must now compete for the attention of our esteemed legislators? Whatever the case, I am still convinced that Zygi's announcement has only put more pressure on the legislature and the governor to start solving some of these problems. We'll see...
But today's main discussion is not about stadiums. Tomorrow night I will be attending the U2 concert at the Target Center with Curt in Grand Forks and I am quite excited about it. This will be my first U2 concert, and my first rock concert since seeing Pink Floyd at the Metrodome in (I think) 1995. I've tried to see U2 before, but I have never been able to get tickets through the jammed phone lines. This time, however, Curt purchased the tickets in Grand Forks. Needless to say, the line at the local Ticketmaster outlet (at his neighborhood grocery store) was not very long. So, finally, I will get a chance to see the greatest post 70s rock band in existence.
I've been keeping a close look at their set lists to see if I can guess what they will play in Minneapolis. Here is there set list from last night in Chicago:
City of Blinding Lights
Sometimes You Canít Make It On Your Own
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Pride in the Name of Love
Where the Streets have no Name
Original of the Species
With or Without You
All Because of You
All of this is, of course, good stuff, but I would take out a few of these songs. "Wild Horses"? Let the Stones sing that one and replace it with "Until the End of the World." "The Ocean"? If you are going to sing something off of Boy stick with "Electric Co.", "I Will Follow" and "An Cat Dubh." Or better yet, replace "The Ocean" with "Gloria" off of October. That would be cool.
And I gotta say, you can sing "Love and Peace or Else" or "Bullet the Blue Sky" but I would prefer it if both weren't sung in the same show. They may have a nice way of working them all together though.
I would love it if "Still Haven't Found" was somehow a part of the set, but they may be sick of singing it by now (it was a part of the European tour). I'm just thrilled to see "Streets" is still a part of the show. That will be wonderful to hear in concert.
Anyway, it looks like, from viewing other recent sets, that they are trying to mix things up, so I bet we'll hear at least one song that hasn't been sung in concert yet this tour. Again, I am hoping it is "Until the End of the World." That would make my night!
Anyway, that's it for now. Don't expect anything tomorrow. Curt and I will be painting the town red starting at 7:00 tomorrow morning when I pick him up from the train station. A complete report will follow.
September 21, 2005
In case you were wondering...
I'm home sick today. I'm too sick to even write about the stupidity that is John Knight, Nick Coleman and all the other moron anti-stadium people out there. You know, the people that fight and fight and fight against any kind of plan until it costs too much, the teams leave, and we end up begging for another team that costs three times as much. Oh, and then we build a new stadium. Genius.
Don't think it could happen? Do you remember the North Stars? We could have renovated the Met Center for a pittance, but instead the team moves, we beg for a new team, and we build the X. More expensive? Yes. Flat out stupid? Oh yes. How long did it take before we had a new hockey team in this state? 7 years.
New stadiums are inevitable. We have some good deals on the table right now and we should take advantage of them before we fight ourselves out of a great deal of money. That's right, stadium opponents are actually costing Minnesota taxpayers a lot of money. Take Camden Yards for example. It cost about $100 million to build. The Twins wanted to build a new stadium right around that time, but of course, stadium opponents said no. Now a new Twins stadium will cost upwards of $500 million. Gee, thanks a lot for all your efforts Mr. Knight.
Houston Oilers ... no new stadium ... they move to Tennesee ... now the Houston Texans play in the highly expensive Reliant Field. Cleveland Browns ... no new stadium ... they move to Baltimore ... now the new Cleveland Browns play in a new highly expensive stadium.
Over 30 other communities have figured out how to get this done. It is time for Minnesota to finally figure this out and move on!
I'm going back to bed.
September 20, 2005
A good first try from Zygi
I've said it before, but when I heard so long ago that Zygi and the Vikings were putting together a plan for a new stadium in Anoka county that relied on state money ... well, I though that it would not sit well with the state legislature. It appears this prediction is turning out to be true. However, more importantly, how does this new Viking stadium proposal help or hurt the Twins stadium proposal? That is the question. Let's go over the plan:
Vikings contribution: at least $280 million
Anoka county contribution: at least $280 million
State contribution: at least $115 million
A few things stand out for me about this breakdown.
- The Vikings contribution is being aided by a loan from the NFL. Although the term "G3" hasn't been used, it would appear that is the fund this is coming from. I've been wondering if there is still money in that pot and I think we have our answer.
- $280 million is about $130 million more than Red ever agreed to. That is very significant and a step in the right direction
- The Anoka county contribution is a general sales tax that breaks down to .75 cents on every $100. So on a $20,000 car purchase the extra tax would be $150. I just find that interesting
- And finally, the state's contribution. $115 million isn't a whole heck of a lot to ask from the state, but it is $115 million more than the Twins are asking for. Sorry Zygi, I just don't think it is going to fly.
The state's $115 million is said to be coming from a new TIF (tax increment financing) district set up around the stadium. The district would siphon off new tax monies to go towards paying off the stadium. The thinking behind a scheme like this is that without the stadium there wouldn't be any new tax monies to begin with, so the state wouldn't be losing any money any way you slice it. With or without the stadium the state would see the same amount of tax money.
TIF financing is also a financing strategy already suggested and approved by T-Paw from a couple of years ago. In fact, TIF was a major part of T-Paw's plan to build a new Twins stadium. Of course, this TIF strategy met with resistance and it was scrapped, and now the Twins aren't relying on it at all. Does that mean that the Vikings could have more success now that the Twins aren't a part of the TIF picture? No, I don't think so.
There is a great deal of animosity towards any kind of state contribution towards stadium funding (sans the Gopher stadium plan). Dean Johnson has already reacted quite cooly to this plan given the fact that it requires some form of state money.
So, my question is this: if the legislature approved the Anoka county tax, but not the TIF financing scheme would the deal still go through? I think the answer is yes.
Zygi would pick up the rest of the tab. I don't think this plan will work out for Zygi, but I definitely think it is a step in the right direction. Once they take the state out of the equation I think you will see the plan go through. $115 million more for a guy like Zygi is still a lot of money, but there is no way he would turn down all that "free money" from Anoka county if that is all the legislature approved.
According to the Anoka County propaganda site this stadium proposal will create 8,700 permanent jobs, and increase the property tax base in both the city and the county by $10.8 million. They also promise that with this stadium school districts will actually see more money, to the tune of $5.4 million. Not to mention all the construction jobs that this proposal would create. You will see a stadium in Anoka county some day. I have no doubt in my mind about that. But the plan needs a little more tweaking. We'll also see how it goes in the coming months.
Now for the Twins. Does this plan hurt or help the Twins cause? I'm still of the opinion that it helps them since it highlights once again what a brilliant strategy it was to take the state out of the equation. Everything will be paid for by Hennepin County and the team, including infrastructure around the stadium. Sviggum and Johnson love this and support the plan because of this. So, anything that can make the Twins plan look better is a good thing.
Secondly, the Vikings coming out with this plan, a plan that is so close to working, only puts more pressure on the legislature to start solving some of these problems. They know the Vikings are close to coming up with a workable plan. They also know that steel, oil, and construction costs are only increasing and that the time is now to hammer some of these proposals through. And hopefully they know that these problems aren't going to go away. Not even if the teams leave.
I see this as a good development. It is a good first try from Zygi, and it only highlights more the fact that the Twins also have a pretty decent plan. Plus, it puts more pressure on T-Paw. I think we've all read this statement from the Strib:
"The governor will be communicating with legislative leaders regarding stadiums and other issues shortly," McClung said. "We will evaluate the Vikings proposal in that context."
So, T-Paw is going to get the ball rolling soon. That is what I've been waiting for. My prediction is that support is given to the Twins and the Gophers, and a pat on the back is given to the Vikings. Would I love to see all three proposals given a fair shake? Of course, but I don't think that will happen.
More later as I have more time to think this through...
September 19, 2005
Superman's leaping ability
So, I was reading Wired magazine at lunch today, when I chanced upon an article about the physics of super-heroes. It seems a professor here at the U of M, James Kakalios, has written a book (The Physics of Superheroes) that discusses whether or not they obey the laws of nature. Nifty. Anyway, in the article they ask Kaklios about Superman's ability to "leap tall buildings in a single bound." Here is what he says:
Let's say a tall building is about on-eighth of a mile high -- his legs must exert about 6,000 pounds of force against the ground. Superman's muscles and skeleton are adapted to Krypton's gravity, which is much stronger than Earth's. If 6,000 pounds is about twice his weight on Krypton, and he weighs about 220 pounds on Earth, then the gravity on his home planet must be roughly 15 times greater than it is on ours.
How cool is that? Krypton has a gravity 15 times that of Earth's!!! See, that is why you read this blog, for important information like this. No need to thank me. Just go about your daily business. See you tomorrow!
My Very Bad Day
Yesterday started out with me going to church. I go to church with my family every Sunday, and it is usually a good way to start out the final day of the weekend. Yesterday, however, I knew I would be in trouble. My wife recently started working at our church as the Volunteer Coordinator, which means that I have to stay at church all morning, from 8:00 to whenever the second service ends.
In other words, this was the first Sunday where I knew that I would miss the kickoff at 12:00 for the Vikings game.
This is very upsetting to me. So, during the second service I continually looked at my watch and prayed, yes prayed, that the pastor would have mercy on me and end his sermon in a timely fashion. When 12 noon rolled around I turned to my wife and angrily pointed at my watch. She angrily whispered back, "What do you want me to do, stand up and tell the pastor that my husband has a noon kickoff to attend to so could you hurry it up?"
So, I sat there and fumed a little bit. Meanwhile the pastor was still rambling on about how "no one should leave this church until they have been touched by Jesus." Blah blah blah...
I'm pretty sure I'm going to spend another couple of years in purgatory for my attitude. Anyway, the service finally ended, I herded the kids into the car, and turned on the radio only to find...
So, the Vikings were already down 14-0. This was cause for an undue amount of jubiliation from my wife who was pretty ticked off with me already. She is pretty sure that God decided to punish me, and I'm starting to think she is right.
The Vikings ... I can't believe it, but I think they are a really bad team. Offensively, defensively, it doesn't matter. They suck. And I don't usually repeat anything the usually stupid announcers say during the game, but I'm beginning to think they were right with at least one of their comments:
For six years Daunte Culpepper has been seeing the same defense, a defense designed to shut down Randy Moss. This type of defense has allowed Culpepper to flourish. Now, with Randy gone, Culpepper must adapt and he is having an extremely hard time doing that.
I know, that is the understatement of the year. And besides Culpepper, I don't care how good the Vikings could have played on offense they would have a very hard time overcoming a 37 point Bengal outburst even if Randy Moss was on the team. The high priced defense purchased in the off season flat out sucks. They are old and over paid.
But the bulk of my anger is uncharacteristically pointed at the coaches today. And I'm not even talking about Tice, I am talking about the idiot that is Steve Loney. Remember playing football in the backyard with your friends? Do you remember huddling up and pointing at your hand like it was the field, "OK, now Jim you go to the left a ways and then cut back. Jason, you go across the middle, and Ralph you go long. OK? Break!" I am convinced that this strategy, this backyard football diagram-a-play-on-your-hand strategy is better than anything that Steve Loney could come up with. I have no confidence in him. I think Daunte should just start playing backyard football.
But that is just me.
So, I stayed up to watch Tice on the Sports Wrap on channel 5. Truthfully I can't believe he even shows up for this show when the Vikings play so poorly. I would be livid and I would not want to answer questions from some sports anchor and "former NFL MVP" Rich Gannon. And speaking of which, right at the beginning of the show they turn to Rich to get his opinion and he says something to the effect, "Coach you've got to pull your team together and make sure they are all on the same page and just work your way through this."
I can't believe how stupid this comment is. It is so obvious it is painful. I half expect Tice to rip into Gannon, "Thanks for the insight Einstein. Do you mind repeating that so I can jot it down for future reference? You mean we've got to work through this? Genius!" But Tice just says, "You are absolutely right Rich..." I am amazed at how gracious Tice is in defeat.
Besides that, I also stayed up to watch the Sports Show with Sid, Dark Star, Reusse, and Stu Voight. Sid really criticized the Vikings for trading Randy Moss. Hindsight is 20-20. But Dark Star had a very interesting comment. He said that he has heard that Mike Ditka has already been contacted as Tice's replacement. Ditka ... I'm not so sure about that, but I am pretty sure that anything is better than Tice and Co.
By the way, Tice himself predicted that Jim Fassel would be his replacement on the Sports Wrap. Does he see the hand writing on the wall?
So, I'm watching the Sports Show and it is getting close to 11:30 when I hear a tinkling up on the landing of the nearby staircase. I think to myself, "That sounds like water." And then I think "Oh great, my stupid cat is taking a leak outside the litter box again!"
I run to the stairs and look up only to see my middle son with his dilly-dangle hanging out peeing all over the stairs. Words cannot express my confusion and anger over this predicament.
I yell up, "Anders! What are you doing?!?!?!?" And then I answer my own question by saying, "You are peeing on the stairs!!!!"
By that time he has finished and he is kind of standing there in a daze so I run up and lead him back to his bed yelling the whole time, "What did you do that for?!?!?! What is wrong with you?!?!?"
Well, obviously he was sleep walking. He has done this at least two times before now (not peeing on the stairs, sleep walking). So, I got out the wet vac and cleaned up his mess. Believe me, cleaning up piss all over the stairs after a brutal Viking defeat is not what I (or anyone) want to be doing at 11:30 on a Sunday night.
And thus ended my very bad day.
(And no, Anders did not remember anything of this when he woke up this morning.)
Finally, if you are here to read about stadiums, have no fear I will be writing more about that in the days to come. Until then check out a Podcast of me with Mr. Cheer Or Die that was recorded last Friday. We talk exclusively about stadium issues for almost 30 minutes. Long time readers of this blog probably won't learn anything new. And also, I'm a little surprised at how my voice sounds. I didn't think I sounded that whiny. Oh well, give it a listen if you are interested...
September 16, 2005
Links of the day
Beacuse of my two day silence I feel like I owe you, my loyal reader, something more today. It is because I love you! On with the Links of the Day!
- In 2004 The Onion mocked razor companies like Gillette for the number of blades on their razors and the competition surrounding that number. In this article, Gillette angrily announces their intentions to come out with 5 blades!
- Almost 2 years later, The Onion's prediciton turns out to be true. Gillette announces a 5 blade razor with two (2!) lubricating strips! When will the madness end?
- How to rip DVDs on your computer with further advice on how to shrink your DVD and burn it back on to a 4.7 GB DVD. Copyright concerns, anyone?
- A silly little song about llamas. Perfect for a Friday afternoon. Crank it!
- Check out this speed test for your internet connection.
- Here is a handy Firefox extension for screen captures called ScreenGrab. This will help me immensly.
- OK, this is too cool. The new controller for the Nintendo Revolution is actually quite revolutionary. Who would have thunk? Nintendo's last gasp, or will this take the world by storm?
- Dr. Grammar's frequently asked questions. Helpful. Alot or A lot? Which or that? Good or well? Now you'll know.
- How to vanish in America without a trace. Just for future reference, if I ever need to disappear I'm going to New Zealand where I will take the surname "Jorgenson." In case you need to find me ...
- Free public record search engine called PRetrieve. Put your name in and see what it can find. Try the advanced search to put in a zip code.
- OK, I'm impressed. Someone has invented a kind of "super water" that kills single cell organisms, speeds healing of burns, wounds and diabetic ulcers, but is harmless to humans. Very interesting.
- Google maps combined with census data. Very handy, I suppose, if I had any use for this data (which I don't).
- Animal Reviews! Check out this site to see how your favorite animals stack up. Not many reviews yet, but a cat gets a 7.6 and a rabbit gets a 2.1 (out of 10). Humorous.
- Considering joining the Church of Scientology? Take a look at the mythology around this "Xenu" character. Very enlightening, to say the least ...
That's it. Have a great weekend everyone...
No, I'm not dead...
I just haven't had much to say over the past couple of days. So, in honor of my lack of things to say I will now write a stream of consciousness type post of whatever pops into my head:
The Green Day song "Jesus of Suburbia" off of American Idiot is approaching "Bohemian Rhapsody" status for me. What a phenomenal song. 9.5 minutes of pure musical genius.
I just read the book Magic Street from Orson Scott Card. This is a very good book that reinterprets Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream by using the characters of Puck, Oberon, and Titania in a contemporary setting. Card is a master at re-examining old myths and beliefs and trying to glean the truth of them. Why did people believe in fairies so long ago? Is there an inkling of truth to these old beliefs? What would happen if fairies were still around today? I'm not sure this book answers all these questions, but they are the questions I have after reading it.
Of course, if you want a really good book about fairies, do yourself a favor and read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Yikes, what a good book. And I know what you are thinking, "Fairies? I don't want to read a story about Tinker-bell." Ah, but there is a lot more to fairies than that. They were actually mischievous (nasty) creatures that most people tried to avoid.
Vince and freealonzo bring up a couple of good points in the comments below concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota. For one thing, McLaughlin's showing in the recent Minneapolis mayoral primary was not very good, and that in itself is a very good thing. McLaughlin is a Hennepin County commissioner and one of the 4 votes needed to hammer the Twins stadium through once the legislature approves it (ha!). If McLaughlin becomes mayor of Minneapolis there is no telling who will take his place and if he/she will still support the stadium initiative.
And you may not know this, but after the legislature approves the Twins stadium plan (ha!) the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners will vote again on whether or not to proceed with the plan. So, McLaughlin's vote is very important.
Secondly, the recent announcement that Best Buy will contribute $2.5 million to the Gopher's stadium drive is a very good piece of news. Of course, this adds even more pressure for Pawlenty to call a special session. The only bad thing about this announcement is that the legislature has to approve the Gopher's stadium bill before February for the Best Buy contribution to kick in. I wish they would have made it December like TCF's contribution.
And this little tidbit came out today, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly at the U has come out against the Gopher's stadium plan since it calls for a $52 million contribution from students at the University. Luckily, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly has about as much power as I do here at the University. In other words, their stance means nothing.
I see the chances for a special session still at 50%. Why? Why am I still so pessimistic? We are still dealing with the same old idiots in St. Paul, that's why. You know, the idiots that let the state shut down? So, le't try to keep it in perspective.
Finally, I'm going to be on TV! I was asked to appear on the PBS/U of M show Tech Talk. The taping for the show was yesterday, and the show will be aired January 1 at 9:00 PM on channel 17 (in the TC area). Of course, the show is about blogs, a topic which people seem to think I am somewhat of an expert on.
Anyway, I am on the show for about 7 minutes and I talk about how to create a blog, how to get people to read your blog, how to search for blogs, and a little about blogging anonymity. Of course, now that I think back on the things I said I can't help but think I sound like a moron, "Me likey blogs! Blogs fun! Blogs funny word! Me say it over and over, blogs, blogs, blogs!" Gah! Oh well, if you'd like to take a peak at your's truly just tune into PBS on January 1. I guarantee a riveting performance that will rival the Gopher's appearance in the Rose Bowl (ha!).
Nothing else pops into my head. More later...
September 13, 2005
Dean adds to the pressure
What is Dean Johnson trying to do to me? I have just sworn off any hopes of a new Twins or Gophers stadium ever being built in this God-forsaken state and then Dean Johnson comes out and says that not only does he favor a special session to deal with stadium issues, he also favors voting on all three stadium proposals during the same special session!
Johnson said the unfinished business from the regular session and optimal conditions for stadium-building provide the right opportunity. "The costs of construction will continue to increase, the economic benefits to the state are more positive than not, and this is the best overall package we're going to see from the Vikings, the Twins and the [University of Minnesota] Gophers," he said. "There are not state taxes, no property taxes, just local sales taxes and maximum contributions from the teams."
I ... will ... not ... get ... my ... hopes ... up. No, no, no, no! I can't take it anymore. I am still getting over the last time my hopes were dashed! So, I will play devil's advocate.
Like I said this morning, all of this is just talk until T-Paw calls a special session, or even comes out and says anything favorable about the chances for a special session. So far, he remains "skeptical." So, there is reason number one I will not get my hopes up.
And here is reason number two: Deano wants the special session to be called two days before Thanksgiving. What? On the positive side this will give our state ample opportunity to do whatever it intends to do concerning Hurricane Katrina victims from the Gulf region. In fact, I am positive this is why Deano wants to wait so long. That is fine. However, by waiting so long stadium opponents will have well over two months to bash us over the head again and again concerning why it is such a bad idea to build stadiums for billionaire owners.
Coincidentally, the third reason I will not get my hopes up also deals with the number 3: as in how the heck do we expect our fine legislators to agree to build three new stadiums when they've never been able to agree on one? Three! I'm laughing as I am typing this. Three! Oh my goodness! That is a funny one!
Talk, talk, talk, talk ... that is all our legislators are good for. They tell us what we want to hear and then do absolutely nothing but collect their paychecks. Bah! I'm sick of it.
(Sublminal message: If T-Paw ever comes out and even says something favorable about the chances of a special session being called ... well let's just say hope will spring eternal!)
Today's bit of wisdom
First things first, by now you've all heard that Minnesota state basketball star Isaiah Dahlman has given a verbal commitment to attend Michigan State. My question is, how long before he decides to attend the University of Minnesota? Check out this list of former state high school basketball stars:
- Rick Rickert committed to Arizona, but later decided to become a Gopher
- Kris Humphris committed to Duke, but later decided to become a Gopher
- Ben Johnson played for Northwestern, but later decided to transfer to Minnesota
- Aaron Boone played for North Carolina, but later decided to transfer to Minnesota
- Dan Coleman attended summer classes at Boston College before deciding to transfer to Minnesota
- Moe Hargrow leaves the program and transfers to Arkansas only to transfer back to Minnesota a year later.
What is going on here? What kind of voodoo magic does Monson have over these players? And again, when should we expect Dahlman to wear the maroon and gold? My bet is after his sophomore year. The writing is on the wall: Dahlman goes to Michigan State, plays decently, but realizes he'd rather be closer to home and his family. He will be a Gopher some day. I think that is a given.
And now for the issue that just won't die, stadiums in Minnesota. I refuse to get my hopes up. I just flat out refuse. But the news coming out of St. Paul is very intriguing. Here is what Dean Johnson has recently said regarding not just one, but three stadiums in our fine state:
"I just got done talking to constituent groups, and they were fairly positive for a one- or two-day special session and a vote on all three stadiums. ... There's now an attitude of getting the job done," he said.
Holy crap. That would be so amazing. But again, I refuse to get my hopes up. Dean Johnson is smoking some pretty powerful wacky-tabacci if he thinks this state can pass a bill to fund even one stadium. Or is he? Of course, T-Paw still refuses to commit to a special session in the wake of Hurricane Katrina so this is all moot until he starts speaking more favorably concerning the possibility.
If no special session is called, though, Mike Opat had some depressing things to say:
"The economics are time-sensitive -- steel prices, oil prices, construction, inflation. That's going to change," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who led the county's negotiations with the Twins for a ballpark deal that includes $125 million from the team and a proposed countywide sales tax. "If the Legislature is unwilling to take us up on this offer, I can't see going through the considerable time and effort to renegotiate with the team."
Does T-Paw think this issue will go away? Because it won't. The Twins and Vikings could leave our state after 2011, we could be without these teams for years, but sooner or later new stadiums for NFL football and MLB baseball will be built in Minnesota. That is a given. It would be a whole heckuva lot cheaper to just do it now.
But I refuse to get my hopes up. There will always be higher priorities. I will be amazed if all this talk actually results in even one stadium being built.
September 12, 2005
Well, that was unexpected ...
Wow. That was a painful game to watch. It was the exact opposite of what I expected. The defense was stellar (at least compared to the last few years) and I must say I enjoyed watching them way more than the offense. And as COD has already said, Chris Kluwe may be our only Pro Bowl representative. Nice punting throughout the game. Let's get to the negatives:
- The offensive line sucked. It all comes down to that. They couldn't protect Daunte, and they couldn't open up holes for the wonder that is Michael Bennett. This must be corrected or it will be a long season.
- Our running game is laughable. If you were wondering why MeMo wasn't playing, apparently he sprained his ankle on a kick return. He is weak. Maybe it is time to stick Moe in full-time, or give Fason a try. Regardless, it won't matter until the O-line is fixed.
- The wide receivers sucked. They were so non-existent in this game that Kleinsasser and Wiggins became Daunte's go-to guys. However, having said that, I don't think having Randy around would have mattered much. I am of the opinion that if Randy was still here he would have seen how much trouble Daunte was having and he would have started pouting. Daunte had no time to get the ball to anyone.
And finally, let's talk about Daunte. Let me start by saying everyone has a bad game once in a while. I also must stress that I wouldn't trade Daunte away for anything or bench him in favor of Brad "Mr. Wobble" Johnson. However, I am of the opinion that Daunte, for some reason, does not have that "special something" (yet) that allows him to win a game like that. You know what I'm talking about. Elway had it. Montana had it. Favre definitely has it. These are the types of QBs that by sheer determination can will their team to a victory. Have we ever, in all the years that Daunte has been playing QB, seen him "will" the Vikings to victory? Have we ever seen him take the ball at the end of the 4th quarter, drive down the field against all odds, and cram it into the end zone to win the game? I honestly can't remember him ever doing this. Am I wrong? Do I just have a poor memory?
We could have won this game. Daunte had a chance and quite frankly he blew it. He needs to find that "special something." He needs to learn how to win when his team is behind.
September 9, 2005
Statistics and cats
Statistics are evil. For one thing they are addictive, and secondly they show you things that sometimes you just don't want to see. Let's take this blog, for example. From the statistics I can see that about 75-100 people come and read this blog everyday, and about another 100-150 people find other, older pages of this blog through search engines, mainly Google. And what people are searching for to find this blog is what I find troubling. Check this table out. It shows the most common words people use to find my blog through a search engine:
Did you catch that? The most common search term after "the" for this site is "rabbits." Rabbits! This is due to the fact that last April Fool's day I wrote one entry about rabbits, and how I was only going to only blog about rabbits from that point on. Obviously, this was a joke. But now, it seems, my blog is the rabbit blog of the entire Internet. Argh! You would think the most popular search term would be "stadiums" but nope ... it is "rabbits." I try and I try, but it seems my efforts are all for naught...
So, given the fact that people seem to like reading about rabbits more than stadiums, today I am going to show pictures of my cats. See the connection? No? Too bad, because cats are what you are going to get.
This is "Azul" and "Trinity." Azul is named such because of his blue eyes, and Trinity is named for Trinity of The Matrix fame. At first we named Azul "Neo" to complete the Trinity/Neo pairing, but people thought we were calling him "Neal." So we changed it. And now we don't even call him Azul anymore, but usually a variation like "Ozzie" or "Oswald." He doesn't seem to mind.
Here is a close up of Azul. He is a big cat, at least twice as big as Trinity now. Both of the cats are Ragdolls.
And here is a close up of Trinity. By far the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. I may be biased, but she is so sleek and soft, so feminine and feline ... she is the perfect "cat."
There you have it. Have a good weekend!
September 8, 2005
Things are not looking good
Reading this blog is like watching a tennis match. Back and forth, back and forth I go from optimism back to pessimism back to optimism. Well, I'm back to pessimism. People, it was fun while it lasted, but let's call it like we see it: a special session will not be called. A new Twins stadium will not be built.
Let's look at the news. First of all we have Charley Walters reporting today:
A senior member of the state Legislature said Wednesday he feels there is "zero" chance of a special session to be called by Gov. Tom Pawlenty, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
This can only be expected. Hurricanes and other natural disasters have a tendency of showing us what is really important, especially after the devestation of Katrina. Plus, it does not surprise me at all that a "senior" member of the legislature would say this since, as I've said before, they don't want to come back to the state capitol to deal with these issues. Our legislators want to stay home. So, if you think you are punishing our fine legislators by refusing to make them do their jobs, well, that is exactly what they want.
So, we have Katrina and the fact that our legislators don't want to come back anyway. But those two aren't really the reasons I am so pessimistic. No, we have another reason that pretty much squashes any chance we have to finally put this issue to rest.
At the State Fair, fairgoers filled out the annual Senate (PDF) and House questionnaires. And as you might expect the results were pretty much against the current Twins stadium proposal. The House survey shows almost 70% of the almost 9,000 people surveyed are against a special session being called for stadium issues. Is this a representative sample, or scientific in anyway? No. Could this even be considered a good sample of the over 1.6 million people that attended the fair? No. But will it impact Pawlenty's decision on whether or not to call a special session? You better believe it.
Other interesting statistics come from the Senate survey. According to this survey, a little over 50% of the people polled are actually in favor of a new Twins stadium, but only 23.2% of the people are in favor of the current proposal without a referendum.
The Senate survey also gives away just who these people are that took the survey. Almost 80% of the people surveyed are either from Minneapolis/St. Paul or a Twin Cities suburb. Typically, Twin Cities residents are usually the most anti-stadium, so I suppose these statistics should come as no surprise.
In summary, we have Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath (which is definitely a worthy distraction). We have our legislative body's own laziness. And we have these stupid surveys. 1 + 1 + 1 = no Twins stadium. 3 strikes you're out. Pick your cliche.
If anyone can think of anything to be positive about concerning this I am all ears, but I am not optimistic. Another year, another disappointment. Stadium costs continue to rise and the CBA expires next year which means contraction becomes an option again. Your guess is as good as mine concerning what happens next, but I can feel myself becoming more and more of a Gophers fan.
September 7, 2005
Links of the day
- Snippy! A nifty little tool to cut out part of your screen and paste it into another application. Very handy.
- Great list of Blog/RSS search engines. I've been looking for an alternative to the always slow Technorati.
- Maybe the best alternative is Ice Rocket. Fast!
- Reader2. This looks promising. This site helps you find new books to read by allowing you to keep your reading list online and see other people's reading lists.
- Holy cow, this is kind of slick. A web based RSS reader that compiles all the news from various news sites in one place. Me likey...
- Troubling list of what it means to be poor. Thought provoking...
- Wow. Some dinosaurs may have been covered with feathers. I don't know, this kind of ruins it for me. I prefer them to be scaley and scary rather than big and fluffy.
- This is too freakin' weird!!! Follow the instructions on this page and let me know what happens. It certainly got me.
- Build your own online Lego design and then buy your custom set from Lego. Slick!
- Feedster's ranking of the top 500 blogs based on feed subscriptions and links. Endgadget? Who would have thought...
- I have not had a chance to read this yet, but Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, The Tipping Point) has written an article about what is wrong with our health care system. Should be interesting.
- Has the war in Iraq been successful? Christopher Hitchens thinks so...
- The perfect album? Plastic.com picks OK Computer by Radiohead. Good album, but I wouldn't call it "perfect." "Fitter Happier" is a horrible song...
That's all I got time for. See you soon.
September 6, 2005
Don't have much to say
The students have returned to the University of Minnesota. I am always surprised at how much more crowded the campus becomes today compared with last week. I prefer having the students around though. Makes things a little more exciting.
And because the students are back, The Minnesota Daily is back in print every weekday. Today, they had a good article discussing the chances for a special session to deal with the Gophers stadium issue. According to the article, Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, chief author of the bill sets the chances of a special session being called at 50-50. Also according the article: "But Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said she doesnít think the governor will call a special session in light of the government shutdown earlier this summer." So, we are still up in the air on this one, it seems. I personally still think a special session will be called.
This is especially true since the governor is going to start getting more and more pressure to call a special session now that the State Fair is done. Bob Sansavere of the Pioneer Press wrote a very short article voicing his support for a Twins stadium and a special session in today's paper. I think we are going to start seeing more of this.
Lastly, and I don't know why I am thinking of this right now, but something from my childhood needs to be rectified. When I was a child in elementary school my teacher (and I can't remember what grade I was in) asked the class to think of interesting questions about nature or space or weather, etc. to ask that would encourage the class to research the question and find the answer. Stuff like, "Why is the sky blue?" or "Why does toilet water drain in a clockwise direction?" Questions that you have always wondered but never quite knew how to answer.
So, I started thinking really hard. And I came up with what I thought was a pretty decent question. When it came to my turn I asked, "Where does dust come from?" Well, you would have thought I asked the dumbest question in the history of time. My teacher, in fact, told me that was a dumb question because everyone knows that dust comes from dirt swirled up from the wind. With that she moved on to the next question which, of course, was "Why is the sky blue?"
Anyway, I'm here to tell you that was not a dumb question and that my teacher answered the question wrong. Dust is way more interesting than that. Sure, the bulk of dust outside comes from dirt, but "house dust" actually is a bit more disgusting. According to Wikipedia.org, "house dust" comes mostly from sloughed skin cells. Skin cells! That is interesting!
So there, Mrs. Eilers. Your arrogance prohibited you from answering my question in a respectful and accurate manner. And although I wish I could go back in time and express this all to you in person, writing this out today has actually made me feel better. I suppose this also proves that there are no stupid questions and that one shouldn't think one knows everything. That is the lesson for the day. Let's all humble ourselves and practice a little more humility.
September 2, 2005
I'm having trouble thinking about anything besides what is happening in New Orleans. The scope of the tragedy that was only thought to be relatively minor at the beginning of the week is now so overwhelming to me that I haven't been this riveted to the TV since 9/11. It is almost like we are watching something from Mogadishu or Sarajevo. This is America? This can happen in the USA?
As the Star Tribune has already done a fantastic job of pointing out the planning for this level of tragedy was woefully inadequate. New Orleans may be a unique situation as compared to 9/11, but what have we been doing for the past 4 years besides planning for disasters? True, the size of this disaster, the scope of the devastation in terms of square miles, would be difficult to adequately prepare for, but what is happening in New Orleans right now is shameful.
This is especially true when you consider people have known for quite a while what a category 4 or 5 hurricane could do to this area.
But from a humanitarian point of view, blame is just plain unimportant right now. There may have been a slow start (there was a slow start) but I expect that millions of pounds of supplies are making their way to Louisiana and Mississippi right now. In fact, we'll probably start seeing convoy traffic jams today or tomorrow. At least that is what I'm hoping for.
What can we do now? What is the best response we can make? Plain and simple the best response for average citizens right now is donations of money. There is nothing better. Relief agencies can make much better use of money than donations of supplies given that places like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross can purchase supplies for much cheaper than you or I can. In other words, a donation of $50 to a charitable organization can go a lot further than if you or I purchased $50 worth of water. And I'm not saying donations of water aren't important. I'm just telling you what I think these organizations would prefer.
There are so many, many organizations you can donate to. It is quite stunning really. Of course, you can't go wrong with the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. On the local scene, Best Buy is matching donations up to $1 million to the Red Cross through the previous link. Thrivent Financial (Lutheran Brotherhood) is also matching donations. Truly, the difficulty in giving a donation shouldn't be whether or not to do it, but where to donate. There are many opportunities and needs. I choose the Salvation Army due to their overall mission and ties to FEMA.
And please, let me know if there are any other local businesses that are matching donations or that are making a point of helping with the relief efforts. They deserve our business.
Finally, I'm reading a book right now that discusses, among other things, the proper Christian response to the poor and poverty. Did you know that 1 out of every 10 verses in the Gospels (1 out of every 7 in Luke) discusses matters of money and helping out the less fortunate? According to the author, though, when he asks audiences what Jesus said about the poor, invariably people will trot out Matthew 14:7, "The poor you will always have with you." This is the the number one verse that people in America remember from Jesus' views on the poor.
The author, of course, argues convincingly that this verse is taken out of context and that it should no longer be used to justify cynicism or apathy towards those less fortunate. The verse in question is a part of a longer story where a woman washes Jesus's hair with expensive oils in a form of worship and respect, and his disciples suggest that the money for these expensive oils could have been donated to the poor. Jesus, who was nearing the end of his ministry on earth, tells his disciples that the poor will always be among us but that he would not. He wasn't suggesting that we should disregard the poor. In essence, he was saying that helping the poor and worshipping the Son of God are both worthy pursuits.
The author also suggests something else concerning this verse that strikes me as very interesting:
They are at the dinner table with a leper, and Jesus is making the assumption about his disciples' continuing proximity to the poor. He is saying, in effect, "Look, you will always have the poor with you" because you are my disciples. You know who we spend our time with, who we share our meals with, who listens to our message, who we focus our attention on. You've been watching me, and you know what my priorities are.
Further on, the author continues:
The critical difference between Jesus's disciples and a middle-class church is precisely this: our lack of proximity to the poor. The continuing relationship to the poor that Jesus assumes will be natural for his disciples is unnatural to an affluent church.
Now, it is not my intention to get into a theological debate concerning this verse, or the role of the middle class churches in urban America, but what strikes me about these passages is how close the poor of New Orleans are to us today. This isn't somewhere in Indonesia or Ehtiopia. This is right in our backyard, right down the Mississippi. In fact, these people are really even closer. They are in our living rooms, on our TVs, begging for help. And it is so easy right now to give them that help. Let's see what we can do America. If you haven't done so already, please consider a donation to one of the charities above. It does make a difference.
September 1, 2005
Stuff on my mind
First things first, it appears that a special session will indeed be called. I've heard this from two sources now. The more reliable report comes from Cheesehead Craig who has said that Randy Shaver says T-Paw told him one would be called after the Fair. This is, of course, good news. The other report comes from my brother-in-law who is a teacher in Hennepin County and who could benefit from some additional health care legislation if a special session is called. He tells me that his union/teacher compatriots are being told that there bill will be heard in a special session. So, I'm feeling more and more confident our legislators will make a glorious return to the capitol in a couple of weeks.
The big question is will the Twins stadium be heard? Will it pass? Again, the Twins stadium chances have definitely benefited from the Gophers stadium efforts. However, Gopher fans and the Gopher stadium drive has recently been grabbing all the good press and the favor of the legislators. At the fair:
Oh, they were talking about some matters of state at the fair on Saturday. A few with their dander up about the Legislature's dawdling ways got some digs in when they met up with some of the legislators making their fair appearances. And the No. 1 serious statewide topic appeared to be sports stadiums, followed by the prospects for a fall special session.
"I'm hearing a lot of support for a Twins stadium," said Rep. Mike Charron, R-Woodbury. "But the e-mails I'm getting are more for a Gophers stadium."
Did you catch that subtle dig? The Twins stadium is important, but not as important as the Gophers stadium. And it appears that emails are more important to our legislators than actually talking. How peachy. Anyway, I think it is obvious a special session will be called and that a Gophers stadium is a slam dunk. We'll see if the same can be said for a Twins stadium in a couple of weeks.
And speaking of stadiums, the evacuation of the Superdome seems to be put on hold right now due to shots being fired and arson fires being lit. I can't imagine what people are going through right now down there. I read an interesting piece about the looting happening in Louisiana, a piece that actually speaks in favor of the looting. Very interesting and thought provoking. Can't say I disagree.
Needless to say, my wife and I will be making a donation to the Salvation Army to help with their relief efforts.
Cheesehead Craig and I resumed our Border Battle last night with round two of Stratego. I lost. It was all my fault. I was right next to his flag but I moved back instead of right. Kaboom. Game over. I was very upset to be so close and to lose thanks to my own stupidty. Quite frankly I don't even want to talk about it. Craig leads the battle 3-2. Mini-golf is next.
That's all for now. See you soon.