October 31, 2005
Happy Reformation Day!
Greetings everyone! In my never ending quest to bring you unexpected news and musings, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Reformation Day! On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany and changed history. I know there is another spookier holiday that usually takes precedence today, but today is definitely important for other reasons.
No more posts today. Sorry. My wife is in charge of a big wing-ding called "Halloween at the Creek" in Plymouth and I am her slave for the day. I know I've got three days to describe for my "interesting vs. boring" debate, and I know there was a Vikings "game" yesterday, but today it is all about helping my wife. So, I'll talk to you all later!
October 28, 2005
I got this form letter from Steve Sviggum a couple of days ago. If you didn't receive a similar letter, then shame on you for not writing!
Thank you very much for your input and your direction on stadium and special session issues facing Minnesota.
To this point, I have received over 2100 emails and letters from citizens about evenly split on the stadium issue. While legislators and the Governor struggle with the issues these struggles are certainly reflections of Minnesota citizens.
At this time, Governor Pawlenty has said "no" to calling a special session for many reasons, but being able to bring order and focus to the agenda of a short one-day session was a major concern.
Having listened to citizens and been informed by many folks, I did encourage the Governor to call a one-day special session (with no per diem payments for legislators) for the Gopher's on-campus and Minnesota Twins proposals. The Vikings stadium proposal was too rich in public subsidy in my analysis and certainly after the recent off-field antics by Vikings players, it does not warrant approval at this time.
Thanks again for your input. As always, I will try to make decisions based on your information and input and in the best interest of the State of Minnesota.
Hope all is well. Take care.
What is most interesting about this email is the number 2,100, or the fact that he has received 2,100 letters and emails about the stadium issue. That's it? It just goes to show you that 1) there are really only a handful of people that are truly passionate about this issue and 2) this means only about 1,000 Twins fans (actually, probably more Gophers fans) wrote in to express their approval for new stadiums in this God-forsaken state. It is a shame that we can't get more Twins fans to take an active role in this. If even half of all Twins fans wrote just a short letter our governmental leaders would be overwhelmed. Alas, it is not to be, I guess.
Boring vs. Interesting Day 3
If you didn't get a chance to read Jeff's comment yesterday regarding his "interesting" life, here is a snippet that I found to be just wonderful:
None of these things I do will make me great or famous. Fifty years from now, I'll be gone, and very few will remember I ever existed. I'll have lived all my life in little towns, and never have "accomplished" anything. How boring. But I'll have had an awful lot of fun, and I'll have contributed to my little town and to the lives of the people in it.
Interesting enough for me.
Amen brother. That says it all right there. My tally of interesting days may actually look pretty boring to some people, but as long as those days are interesting to me, as long as I feel I am making a difference somewhere that is "interesting enough for me." Thanks for the comment, Jeff. You hit the nail on the head.
Last night I went to a Pack meeting for my kids' Cub Scout Pack:
I am the Assistant Webelos Den Leader for my older son's Webelos den, and I am the new Tiger Cub Den Leader for my younger son's Tiger den. So, needless to say, I spend a lot of my time doing Cub Scout related activities. For example, just last weekend for a Pack service project we went to a local nature preserve to pick Buckthorn. If you've never heard of it, Buckthorn is a nasty import from Europe that grows like a weed and practically takes over whatever area it has invaded. I had never heard of it before, but now after pulling it for a couple of hours I see it everywhere!
I love the Cub Scouts. It is a wonderful organization that has really helped my older son make friends and become more responsible. Plus we've gone on some really neat camp outs.
Last night my Tiger den received their first badges, and the boys in the Den were really excited. So, it was fun.
As a result, I will give yesterday another rank of "interesting" bringing my tally up to:
Interesting days: 3
Boring days: 0
We'll see if I can keep the streak going. More later...
October 27, 2005
First of all congratulations to the Chicago White Sox. 88 years is a long time to wait. Although I wouldn't have minded if the Astros had won, I am happy that A.J. got a ring. He deserves it.
Now, it wouldn't be right if I didn't somehow turn this into a stadium rant, I mean, that is probably what you expect. So, I'll try not to disappoint.
Minute Maid Park cost $250 million back in 1998-1999 when it was built. $180 million was publicly financed through a 2 percent hotel tax and a 5 percent rental-car tax. The rest came from a $52 million contribution from the owners (20% of the cost) and $33 million from a no-interest state loan (about 12% of the cost). This is a beautiful, retractable-roof stadium built for $250 million. I'm sure most Houston residents are thrilled with it (even though their team lost) and wouldn't ever decide to go back in time and not build it.
U.S. Cellular Field cost $167 million when it was built in the 1989-1990 and was 100% publicly financed through a 2% hotel tax in Chicago. We can argue forever on whether or not it is a "nice" ballpark, but I think we can all agree that it is better than the Metrodome.
My question for all the anti-stadium baseball fans out there is how can you stand to even watch this game anymore? How do you stomach the fact that 90% of the teams out there play in stadiums that are so heavily publicly financed? I mean, just look at the White Sox. They are riding the public gravy train for all it is worth. Doesn't that just make you turn off the TV in disgust? And if not, why not? Why do you choose to perpetuate this situation by continuing to support such a "flawed" system?
I truly would like to know how anti-stadium folk that are also baseball fans can justify their continued support of MLB. Is this public fleecing OK for other cities, but just not OK for the Twin Cities? Do you feel better about the situation just because you aren't the one being fleeced? I gotta admit, if I was anti-stadium I would have turned off the TV, I would have watched my last professional game, a long, long time ago. Why do you continue to watch MLB? I have to know.
Finally, yesterday was Day 2 in my quest to figure out if my life is interesting or boring. Yesterday was a pretty ho-hum day at work, only one meeting, and I got some nice stuff accomplished. However, last night I went to church with my family. My church puts on a production every Wednesday night called Mission 6~7 that is geared towards kids. There is singing, there is a little play staring the Mission 6~7 clubhouse kids (a bunch of hilarious adults), and there is a message to take home. This last month the theme has been "determination" which has been defined in kids language as "deciding it is worth it to finish what you've started" and the play and other little skits are geared toward getting that message across, that working hard for a goal is well worth it. Of course, being a church, there is a heavy focus on the Bible and what it has to say about determination. As you might imagine, there are a ton of examples in the Bible that demonstrate determination.
Anyway, my kids love Wednesday nights. How often do kids actually like to go to church? Well, my kids do, and that is great. There is also a good message coming out of the production that my kids can use in their daily lives. Hey, it sure beats watching Cartoon Network all night. Plus, we hang out together as a family. I practically dance around with my daughter the whole time.
So, I'm going to give yesterday the rank of Interesting. Not as interesting as backpacking in Thailand, but better than sitting on my butt watching TV. That brings my tally to:
Interesting days: 2
Boring days: 0
October 26, 2005
My boring life?
I'm reading a book right now called The Beach by Alex Gardner. Among other things, this book describes the backpacking culture of Thailand, and how a lot of foreigners come into the country to hang out and explore. It features mystery, danger, exploration, french women, drugs, and exotic locales. It is a very interesting book (so far).
As I was reading it yesterday, I suddenly came to the conclusion that 1) fact is NOT stranger than fiction and 2) my life is just plain freaking boring. First of all, you hear this all the time, that non-fiction is much more interesting than fiction. I beg to differ. In the grand scheme of things, 9 out of 10 times our lives are as boring as watching snot freeze. Man, we really know how to be boring. Wake up, go to work, get home, eat dinner, watch tv, go to bed, repeat. Yikes! Somebody stop us! Secondly, I came to the conclusion yesterday that my life is not very interesting. I may do some fun things every once in a while, but for the most part I am a sedentary individual content to watch the world pass me by. Or am I?
Bear with me here. What I plan on doing for the next month (?) is document my life and decide once and for all whether it is interesting or boring. Hopefully I can keep up with this, but at the end of a month I hope to tally up all my interesting and boring days and make a decision on whether or not my life has enough pizazz. We'll see how it goes.
Anyway, let's start by writing about last night. Last night I actually did something that I will deem as "interesting." I went to a Jewish Synagogue and celebrated Simchat Torah. My son's Webelos Den Leader is Jewish, and as a Den we are visiting a bunch of different churches (and synagogues). Next week we'll probably visit my church (which should provide me with another interesting event in my life).
Anyway, last night was Simchat Torah or the holiday of "rejoicing with the law." It was the first time I had ever been to a synagogue. Simchat Torah, and its sister holiday of Shemini Atzeret, mark the end and beginning of a year of reading the Torah. As you may know, the Torah is the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and it is the most sacred text in the Jewish faith. In the synagogue the Torah is kept in the "ark" at the front of the sanctuary (?) and it is in scroll form.
The service started out with some singing and chanting in Hebrew. Needless to say, I was completely lost, but it was very interesting. Oh, and I had to wear a yamika. After that, it was time for the "rejoicing" aspect of the service, and this was really interesting. The rabbi called for certain members of the synagogue to come up and take the Torahs out of the ark (this synagogue had about 5 Torahs). He announced that their would be 7 hakafots (pronounced "ha-ka-fa") and that other members would hold the Torahs for each one. Ha! I was so lost. But again, very interesting.
After this announcement, the band started in, and the people holding the Torahs started to dance around the sanctuary. Baloons and streamers dropped from ceileing and everyone literally began celebrating. Everyone reached out to touch the Torah, or kiss it by way of kissing a book and then touching the Torah. My kids loved it. We all danced around for probably a half an hour, and then the rabbi said, "For the second hakafot we will use people over 40."
I thought to myself, "That was only the first hakafot? And we've got six more to go? Wow! These people really like to rejoice in the Torah! We're going to be here until midnight!"
In actuality, each hakafot after was steadily shorter and shorter until we finished with the 7th hakafot. Then, the rabbi took out one of the scrolls and asked the synagogue members to roll it out and hold it up. It was about as long as half the sanctuary. Then, he went through it and described where each book begins and ends, and important parts throughout the text. It was fascinating. Those holding it up also could not touch it with their fingers. They had to use napkins. I missed if this was because finger oil could damage it, or if it was because the Torah is sacred. They even let my older son hold up a part of it. I thought that was pretty neat (given the scroll was probably over 200 years old) and so did he.
After that, the service ended and we went to the reception area for some refreshments. All in all, it was a very interesting evening.
So, here begins my tally:
Interesting day: 1
Boring day: 0
Most of my days will probably not be as interesting as yesterday. But we shall see.
Hello everyone. Today I'm "phoning it in" as the Twins Geek used to say. Today I'm going to list out some of the "greatest hits" of the Greet Machine, or in other words the most popular posts I have made on this humble blog. And not necessarily because I think they are great or because I think they are popular, but because I can see they are popular based on hit statistics.
People hit this blog through Google probably 70% of the time, meaning Google is my top referer. I've mentioned before that the term "rabbits" is by far the most popular search, but here are some of the other posts that get hit from Google.
- Life of Pi
If you haven't noticed, my review for the book Life of Pi gets a lot of traffic for some reason. One person even attached his own essay in the comments!
- New U2
A simple post about my favorite U2 albums that turned into an argument between Cheesehead Craig and I over which is the better band, U2 or Metallica. In the argument I list statistics on who has sold more albums, and now people come from far and wide to get that data (through Google).
- Revenge of the Sith
In this post I listed my favorite quotes from Star Wars and most people get to it looking for quotes from Revenge of the Sith. Of course, I don't have any quotes from that movie so people probably leave disappointed. Incidentally, you'll note that I have a picture of Emperor Palpatine on this post and I refer to him as Phil Krinkie. If you do an image search for "Krinkie" on Google, that picture of Palpatine is the 9th result. That thrills me to no end.
- Founding Brothers
Another book review post that gets a lot of traffic. In fact, one commenter said that based on my review he is going to use the book in his class. That is pretty slick.
- Texas and Stadiums
I get a lot of hits for this post where I break down the deal for the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas. This and my breakdown of the deal to build a new Marlins stadium are two of my biggest stadium related posts.
- Parkinson's Law of Triviality
If you do a search in Google for this famous/humorous law, my post on it is the top result. This is amazing to me. My post on Parkinson's Law itself is on the third page of Google results.
- Songs for a Desert Island II
Of all my songs in this series, my interpretation of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" gets the most hits. Although I really think I nailed it with my interpretation of "Strawberry Fields Forever."
- Kids and Poop
This post in which I detail a little BM mishap with one of my kids gets a ton of traffic. I must admit, it is a humorous story.
- Restaurants to Avoid
Any time someone searches for a restaurant in St. Paul that is on this list, this post comes up. It lists restaurants that signed a petition against a tax for a Twins stadium. Note that I have take off the comments for this post. I was sick of all the comments from anti-stadium people who said they would use the list to pick restaurants from now on! Ha!
- Top 5 Rock and Roll Guitarists
This post gets a lot of traffic mainly because if you do a search for "top 5 rock and roll guitarists" it is number one on the list! Again, that is amazing.
- Brew-haha in the Backyard
This summer Milwaukee had an event called the "Big Brew Ha." This post which details a trip made by CC and me to Milwaukee, and a bet lost by me, gets hit a lot because of this event.
That's all I got time for. I'll add more later because I'm sure there are some I forgot.
October 24, 2005
Little known Einstein equation
BERLIN -- A little understood Einstein equation has finally been explained as proof that besides being a genius Einstein could also predict the future.
"We've been scratching our heads over this for over 70 years," says Helmut Konigkaiser, curator of the Einstein Museum of Chalkboard Equations. "Now we understand it as a very prescient prediction of the ineptitude of the Minnesota state government in the year 2005."
Originally written by Einstein while sleep walking, the equation has been shown to be proof positive that the current government of Minnesota is filled with morons to the 36th power. How Einstein came up with the number 36 will never be known, but it is obvious that he intended to show that the moronic level of the Minnesota state government is very, very high.
"While the 'moronic level' of anything is difficult to measure," added Mr. Konigkaiser, "I think it is safe to assume anything above being 'squared' or 'cubed' is truly a hopeless situtation."
Indeed, the people of Minnesota are, in fact, being governed by a group of people that have difficulty mustering the mental fortitude to tie their own shoes or even cross the street. Unfortunately for them, while Einstein figured out a way to measure the 'moronic level' he did not suggest a way for Minnesotans to get themselves out of this mess.
"I've got a solution," says Cheesehead Craig, long time hater of all things Minnesota and fan of all things Wisconsin. "There is always room for you all on the Wisconsin bandwagon. Come to the dark side and finally be happy."
It would appear that Minnesota sports fans are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Winning is fun, isn't it? And it is amazing how much relief and excitement I can get out of a win from a now 2-4 team. But that is exactly what I feel: relief and excitement.
For a couple of weeks my standard joke has been, "The Vikings of the past were known for getting on their boats and raping and pillaging. It is a shame they are still known for that."
But now, redemption. The Vikings played with heart. They never gave up. They actually provided me with a teaching moment for my kids! "See kids?" I said, "The Vikings never gave up. Keep working hard, keep believing in yourself, and good things will happen." It sure beats the lesson, "Don't have sex in public." Although that is a good lesson too, I suppose.
Cheesehead Craig came over for the game as is customary when the Pack visit the Twin Cities. For most of the game it was "The Battle of the Pessimists" as both CC and I tried to convince each other that ours was the worse team. I had an early edge given that the Pack roared out to a 17-0 lead, but the tide quickly turned to CC's favor when the Vikings took the lead 20-17. "The Pack suck at defense," CC said, "The Vikings have this game won."
I responded, "Are you kidding? Does Brett Favre still play for the Packers? They'll come back to win this, no doubt about it."
Just then the announcers gave the statistic that Favre has 38 fourth quarter comebacks to his credit. My pessimism was justified. I added, "Daunte has never won a game like this. You just wait, he'll screw it up."
Then the miraculous happened. The Vikings won. Daunte got the Vikes down to the 38 yard line and Edinger kicked a 56 yard field goal. Are you kidding me?
I jumped up and down. I hooted and hollered. My kids came running into the room and we all hugged and high fived each other. CC sat dejectedly on the couch and watched the celebration.
I turned to him and said, "At least you've got the Axe." CC responded, "The Pack and the Badgers cannot win on the same weekend this season." This is an interesting point that CC discusses on the Oracle ...
Anyway, I'm happy today. I feel good about being a Vikings fan today. The season has hope. Not much, mind you, but I'll worry about that next week. For now, for this week, I'm going to be happy, and that is not a typical feeling for a Vikings fan. This week, though, all is right in Viking land.
October 21, 2005
Links of the day
- Cool recreation of Back to the Future Delorean out of Legos. Why didn't I think of that?
- Which SciFi/Fantasy character are you? I am Yoda, Jedi Master. Mess with me do not.
- Time magazine has picked the 100 best English language books from 1923 to the present. Good list here. I've read a bunch, but there are so many more to read.
- I love Wikipedia for stupid entries like this: an alphabetical list of words made up in The Simpsons. Like "Scotchtoberfest." Good stuff.
- You've probably seen this already, but if not: Zod 2008. Vote for someone worthy of our tribute. Kneel before Zod! And check out the Kids Page.
- FoodieView, the reciped search engine. Has over 175,000 recipes. Not too shabby.
- OK people, check out this page and follow the directions. This illusion is too cool. The human brain is an amazing thing.
- Amazing list of the top 100 toys of yesteryear. Some I remember, some I don't. I gotta agree with number 1 though. Good pick.
- This is kind of neat. At one point Blockbuster had a chance to buy Netflix. Now, guess which company is worth more?
- ASME's top 40 magazine covers of the past 40 years. Check out the last one. I don't agree with that pick at all. Who cares?
- Televisionwithoutpity.com. Seems to be a sarcastic review of TV shows. Watch out! Contains spoilers. Some of the reviews are quite humorous.
October 20, 2005
I was reading The Onion today when I chanced upon this article in the AV Club section discussing "underrated" movies, DVDs, TV shows, and more. Their pick for underrated cartoon is "King of the Hill," and while that isn't remarkable in itself, their "evidence" for their pick is hilarious. They use the example of Hank Hill's dad as the reason the show shines and they include this quote from the character, "a domineering, sexist, racist World War II veteran without shins." He is describing his time as a POW in WWII:
"Tojo had me cooped up in a bamboo rat cage. There was nothing to eat except rats. So that's what I ate. After two weeks, I was down to my last rat. I let him live so I could eat his droppings. Called it ‘Jungle Rice.' Tasted fine. About September, I was finally thin enough to slip between the bamboo bars. I strangled the guard with a rope made of grated rat-tails and ran to safety."
"Jungle Rice" ... I don't know why, but that gave me a chuckle. Carry on with your business.
I crush your head!
Krinkie for Congress
Let me just say that I am in full support of Phil Krinkie becoming a U.S. Congressman. It is my opinion that he can do less damage to our state in Washington than if he is working in St. Paul.
Go Krinkie, go!
Really, please go ...
Oh boy, here we go ...
Well, I can't hold back. Not with all this stadium news and debate going on. "No Sports Week" at the Greet Machine has now been put on hold. This should make Cheesehead Craig happy since (and I kid you not) two days ago he was outside my backyard window chanting, "We want sports! We want sports! We want stadium news!" That gave me a chuckle.
Where to begin? How about with Sid's column today. Unless you live under a rock you have probably already read:
With the governor refusing to call a special session and the Twins going to court to make sure they are free to move if they so desire, it's beginning to look more and more like that the 2007 Twins will be playing in Las Vegas.
Holy cow, I don't like to read stuff like that. It gives me the willies. True, Sid has made some crappy predicitions before, but as my father-in-law says, "Even a pig finds a cherry every now and again." Translation: you make enough predictions, sooner or later one of them will turn out to be true. So, what say you Sid?
You want my prediction? Baseball will buy the Twins from the Pohlad family one of these days, just as it did with the Montreal Expos. Then the Pohlads will be off the hook. And a stadium will be built, or this team will be on its way out of town.
Well, there certainly is precedence for this. Plus, Shooter is reporting the same thing today:
If the Twins are unable to get approval for a new ballpark, one option for Major League Baseball might be to buy the franchise, as it did the Montreal Expos for $120 million, then operate it until it can be relocated. The Expos, under the ownership of Major League Baseball, played part of their schedule in Puerto Rico.
I know what you are thinking, between Sid and Shooter you have maybe 1/4 of the actual truth. Well, what we do know for sure is that MLB is fed up with this situation. How do we know this? Why else would T-Paw be calling Bud Selig on a Sunday to discuss stadiums?
I've been critical of Pawlenty, and for good reason, but it does appear that he is "fervently" working in the background to make something happen.
Pawlenty, who resolved to not lose professional teams on his watch, hosted the private meeting on Sunday at his Summit Avenue home.
According to people familiar with the meeting, the governor received Doug Baker, chief executive of Ecolab; Jim Campbell, former chief executive of Wells Fargo of Minnesota; Dick Ames, chief executive of Ames Construction; Dave Mona, a public relations executive and sports booster; Jim Pohlad, son of Twins owner Carl Pohlad; Dave St. Peter, president of the team; Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc., the Pohlad company that owns the club; and various support staff.
Man, what I would have given to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting. What was discussed? Were there any new proposals floated? Did Bell and Jim Pohlad exit the meeting feeling better or feeling the same? Well, I think we know the answer to that one. Shortly after the meeting the Twins sued the MSFC.
So, I gotta cut T-Paw a little bit of slack. It would appear he is doing something. However, the proof is in the pudding. We'll see if T-Paw has anything to show for this activity come December 31.
Again, we know T-Paw wants to call a special session. We know that he is in favor of this plan. He would sign off on it if it came to his desk. But we also know that this issue of a new Twins stadium would not make for a short and sweet special session. First of all, T-Paw, Sviggum, and Johnson will never be able to get the 2/3 majority in both chambers to circumvent legislative rules of procedure. That means that a bill has to pass at least one committee and be heard on the floor 3 times. If you put the Twins stadium bill through that, we are really talking about a long, painful, drawn out process as every anti-stadium legislator beats away at the bill with amendments and their two-cents.
So, I gotta cut T-Paw a little slack. True, he is showing a real lack of leadership in not being able to convince his some of his party members to get in line, but getting this Twins stadium bill to a House floor vote is flat out a hard thing to do.
Finally, check out what St. Peter had to say when Bob Sansavere asked him how much more a Twins stadium will cost next year:
Losing another year will cost $31 million. Those are real, not mythical, numbers.
$31 million. Gee, thanks a lot Krinkie, Marty, Paulsen, and all you other anti-stadium legislators that are fighting so hard so that I'll have a few extra pennies in my pocket. Fighting so hard is only costing me and the state of Minnesota more than any savings you think you are giving to me!
That's all I got time for. More later...
October 18, 2005
The first step has been taken
Thanks governor. Thanks for nothing.
Is this too much?
First of all, thanks to freealonzo for giving me some great ideas for what I can write about during "No Sports Week" at the Greet Machine. One of his suggestions that gave me pause was this:
"Why was picture of Representative Paulsen removed from this website?"
I have decided to tackle this question today.
A few days ago, last Thursday I believe, I posted a picture of Erik Paulsen, Minnesota House Majority Leader, that made it look like he was saying some disparaging things about himself.
If you'd like to take a look, here is a link to the picture.
Shortly after posting the picture, maybe two hours, I decided to take it down. What surprises me is that freealonzo caught it before I took it down. So, to answer his question, my reasons were as follows in order of importance:
- First of all, Thursday night the Vikings "sex boat" scandal was in full swing. People were angry, I was angry, and after seeing the picture above on my blog I got a little angry with myself for possibly looking like I supported overpaid, juvenile athletes at the expense of a public servant.
- Secondly, I suddenly realized that over the past week I had personally attacked a bunch of people: Nick Coleman, Tim Pawlenty, and a large number of the members of the Minnesota Legislature. So, I thought to myself, is this how problems are solved? Is this an example of "civil discourse?" I was not happy with how bitter I had become, and how I had resorted to singling people out for abuse. Keep in mind that I was also thinking about the Vikings boat scandal.
- Finally, I also started thinking about the fact that this blog is not anonymous. It is very easy to figure out who I am. In addition, these types of posts could one day come back to haunt me. What if I was trying to get a new job, and the person I am interviewing with is Erik Paulsen's father-in-law? Or a strong supporter of the Republican party? With this lack of anonymity it would behoove me to be more thoughtful with what I post. You never know when it could come back to haunt me.
So, I practiced self-censorship, which is really the only form of censorship that is appropriate. And truthfully, bloggers in general should all practice self-censorship more often. Some of the big knocks against bloggers are that we are rude, unthoughtful, biased, full of ourselves, and wrong more often than not. Have we actually improved the quality of discourse in the public forum? Are we as bloggers living up to the promise of this new medium to improve democracy in America? Or do we muddy the waters too often with vindictive posts of little or no value?
I know, I am probably reading too much into it. But that is what I was thinking about when I took down the picture.
My question for you is, am I over reacting? On the flip side, public officials should be used to this kind of thing and they should even probably expect it. For years political cartoonists have done worse things than I could ever dream up and they are praised for their creativity and wit. And honestly, I am ticked with Erik Paulsen. His letter to Pawlenty was yet another display from our legislature of poor leadership, poor decision making, and an unwillingness to take a chance and do something they know is right for Minnesota. Our legislators should care less about getting reelected and more about improving our state!
But I digress. If you would be so kind as to let me know if you think I am over reacting by taking the picture down I would greatly appreciate it. Keep in mind that I am also trying to protect myself. With blogging, especially blogging as yourself, it is important to put your best foot forward. Sometimes I think I go too far.
October 17, 2005
Television and Democracy
Welcome to day one of "No Sports Week" of the Greet Machine. Honestly, I can't take it anymore. My emotions need to take a break. And I know Sid has come out with another article detailing an imminent Twins departure from the Twin Cities, but really ... we've heard Sid's predictions on the subject before.
So, today I'd like to discuss an article that was passed to me from a colleague called "Our Democracy Has Been Hollowed Out." It is the text of a speech given by Al Gore on October 5th, 2005 and it details his opinion that television is destroying our democracy as we know it. According to Gore, television is a one way medium, controlled by a wealthy few, that is making intelligent discourse almost impossible in the United States. Among some of the more interesting parts:
On the eve of the nation's decision to invade Iraq, our longest serving senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor asked: "Why is this chamber empty? Why are these halls silent?"
Senator Byrd's question is like the others that I have just posed here: he was saying, in effect, this is strange, isn't it? Aren't we supposed to have full and vigorous debates about questions as important as the choice between war and peace?
Those of us who have served in the Senate and watched it change over time, could volunteer an answer to Senator Byrd's two questions: the Senate was silent on the eve of war because Senators don't feel that what they say on the floor of the Senate really matters that much any more. And the chamber was empty because the Senators were somewhere else: they were in fundraisers collecting money from special interests in order to buy 30-second TV commercials for their next re-election campaign.
Isn't that the truth. The article goes further to describe how our knowledge of candidates is limited to 30 second sound bites, and that sadly it is these sound bites that all too often dictate our choices on the ballot. Gore decries modern day television journalism as doing too much to attract viewers, but not enough to report meaningful news.
In addition Gore laments the passing of the Age of Print where an average citizen had a chance of having his or her opinion heard:
Consider the rules by which our present "public forum" now operates, and how different they are from the forum our Founders knew. Instead of the easy and free access individuals had to participate in the national conversation by means of the printed word, the world of television makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation today.
Inexpensive metal printing presses were almost everywhere in America. They were easily accessible and operated by printers eager to typeset essays, pamphlets, books or flyers.
Television stations and networks, by contrast, are almost completely inaccessible to individual citizens and almost always uninterested in ideas contributed by individual citizens.
Gore goes on to say that the irony of this is that television reaches more people than any medium in history.
While the article takes some out-of-place jabs at the Bush administration, the point is solid: television and television journalism is doing more harm than good, and at best is creating an apathetic American populace that only cares about the sensational. Gore concludes by saying that there is certainly hope in the internet, but we are a couple of decades away from the point at which the internet will have the same kind of dominance over American thought that television now enjoys. Very thought provoking.
It reminds me of one of my favorite essays of all time, "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam. In this essay Putnam details the fact that Americans are spending less and less time with each other. We no longer join as many groups outside of the home (League of Womens Voters, Lions Club, Elks, Masons, etc.), a particular trait that Alexis de Tocqueville highlighted in Democracy in America that made us unique. Putnam also highlights the fact that we spend less time with our neighbors, and that our "social connectedness" is rapidly declining. Obviously this is to the possible detriment of a well functioning society and democracy.
One of the reasons Putnam gives for this phenomenon is the "technological trasformation of leisure." In essence, the emergence of television. How often do we stay at home rather than become civically engaged because our favorite TV show is on? All too often, I would wager. And I am no exception.
But to counter Gore's claim, one could make the argument that the internet is actually adding to this strain of decreasing social capital. Instead of just worrying about television competing for our attention, now we must also factor in time spent surfing the web. True, at least this activity is asynchronous, but it still takes up a lot of time.
In conclusion, it is obvious, at least to me, that we can do better. We can have meaningful debate in this country and we can create a stronger democracy. It would appear that a part of the means to this goal would be to turn off the TV, start thinking for ourselves, and share our opinions in a civil way with each other.
I know, that is pretty simplistic. Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed day one of "No Sports Week" at the Greet Machine. I have no idea what I will write about tomorrow.
October 15, 2005
Thank you Wisconsin
Thank you Wisconsin. For a second there, I forgot what it felt like to be a fan of Minnesota sports teams. Now I remember.
(Orginal picture from emarketingprop.com)
October 14, 2005
Of logos and such ...
Logos are a big deal. They take years to make, years to market, and years to brand a particular product. Some logos are very good, and some leave me scratching my head. Some logos convey strength and quality, while others say, "Go ahead and walk all over me. I'm weak!" Let's take a look at a couple that I don't mind too much:
The U of M logo is strong and timeless. This is a logo that will probably never be changed. It isn't trying to be cute, and it isn't trying to be overbearing. It just "is."
And just so you know I'm not trying to pick on all things Wisconsin, I also like the Green Bay Packers logo. It is another example of a timeless logo. However, what I would like to know is what came first, the Packers "G" or the Georgia Bulldogs "G"?? Hmmmm ... it is a mystery...
And here we have the point of this whole post. The crappy "Motion W" of the University of Wisconsin. Not timeless. In fact, the only word that comes to mind for it is "effeminate." It says, "Hey look at me! I'm moving! Do you want to come to my tea party?" Really, how does the University of Wisconsin justify such a pansy looking thing? The only thing I can think of that would top off the "Motion W" is this:
My Little Pony says, "Hello Motion W! You are so pretty and curvy! Can you stop for a while and braid my hair?"
That's what I think anyway. The University of Wisconsin needs a stronger logo. Until then I can't help but think they are all just a bunch of pansies.
Why is it so hard to be a fan of Minnesota sports teams? It is such hard work! Fans of the Twins and the Vikings cannot just watch a game. We are constantly thinking about things happening off the field. In my case, it is stadium matters and the long term viability of these two Minnesota institutions. For the Twins, that is all I have to think about. For the Vikings, though, that is a whole 'nother story.
Holy cow am I ticked off with the Vikings right now. These "sex boat" allegations are horrible. That even 17 players saw fit to put the crew of these boats through something so inappropriate ... I couldn't even think straight yesterday. I hope the players involved are dealt with severly, and I don't care who they are. They have tarnished the image of the whole state and that should be taken very seriously. Every new detail that comes out makes me cringe. I can't imagine what Zygi is going through right now.
Having said that, I am also upset with the media reaction to all of this, especially Jim Souhan and Nick Coleman (man, this guy is on a role!). Top Jimmy's column today offering a glimmer of redemption was better, but his reactionary, exaggerated articles from the past two days have been way over the top.
They remind me of a student sports journalist trying to find his voice and deciding to just fly off the handle to get new readers. Specifically they remind me of Josh Linehan, former sports editor of the Minnesota Daily who in 2000 called for the "death penalty" for the U of M men's basketball team due to the cheating scandal that rocked the program. This article was beyond "over the top," it was just plain stupid. It was an obvious attempt to rile people up, and Dan Monson got so riled up he threatened to revoke the press credentials of the Daily for future basketball games. Sadly, a "seasoned" reporter like Jim Souhan is still writing articles like this.
My point is let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Just like terminating the Gopher's basketball program was a stupid idea, suggestions that the future of the Vikings is in jeopardy are equally stupid. And it makes me angry.
What happened out of Lake Minnetonka is inexcusable and as I said above the players involved should be dealt with severely.
However, I am still, and will always be a Vikings fan. I will not group these 17 players into the same group of Vikings players that I have cheered for and appreciated throughout my life. Players like Scott Studwell, Joey Browner, Chuck Foreman, Matt Blair and (hopefully still) Daunte Culpepper. Players that have given of themselves on and off the field and made our community a better place to live. Sid mentioned that at the same time this boat incident was taking place, Adam Goldberg and Mike Rosenthal were at a local Jewish organization talking to kids and thanking them for their help with a food drive.
This is what makes the Vikings a great organization.
Hopefully it is this kind of activity that players will choose to pursue to define themselves and the Minnesota Vikings in years to come. As Ragnar says I still have faith. This incident will pass away, just like the Gopher's cheating scandal, and the team will be stronger for it. Deal with the players involved, yes, but leave my team, it's rich history, and it's future as a continued positive presence in Minnesota out of it.
October 12, 2005
My visit with the Little Brown Jug
Yesterday I was determined to see the Little Brown Jug. Nothing would stand in my way. I intentionally did not go to see it on Monday because I knew it would be crowded and I wanted to take my time with it. So, at around 11:00 AM Tuesday I set out from my office for the Gopher Football Hall of Fame at the Gibson/Nagurski Football Practice Facility on the East Bank of the U of M. I thought it would still be on display.
I was wrong. When I got there people were setting up for Mason's weekly press conference and the HOF was filled with tables. Some people from Famous Dave's were also there setting up a table of food. I turned to the first person I saw and asked as calmly as I could, "Where is the Jug? Do you know where the Jug is?"
He answered, "Dude, I work for Famous Dave's. You'll have to ask someone else."
Man! I was ticked. I thought, "I should have come on Monday! Idiot!" So I stood there stewing a little bit.
Then I looked across the HOF and saw Pam Borton, the women's basketball coach, standing at the top of the stairs. I don't know why, but this prompted me to walk up the stairs. "Maybe Pam knows where the Jug is," I thought.
When I got to the top of the stairs she began talking with someone else, but I noticed I was at the doors to the football program's main offices. I could see some of the football team milling about through the glass doors and a student secretary sitting at the front desk. My determination knew no bounds! I walked into the offices and strode right to the front desk like I owned the place.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw in a side room the box that houses the greatest trophy in college football. My heart jumped! "It is in here somewhere," I thought. So, I turned to the student secretary and said, "Do you know where the Jug is?"
She answered, "Do you want to see it?"
"Oh yes," I said, "Very much."
So, she got up and went into the side room where I saw the box. Ah, but instead of reaching into the box, she reached under the table the box was sitting on and pulled out the Jug. I thought to myself, "Now there is Minnesota ingenuity! If a thief came to steal the Jug he would think it is in the box. He wouldn't even think to look under the table! Good thinking Mase! Under the table! Genius!"
She brought the Jug out and set it on the reception desk. Oh man ... words cannot describe the feeling of seeing this piece of history just sitting there right in front of me. So many games, so many players, so many memories. It has its own aura around it that you just can't escape. So, I started to take some pictures:
I asked, "Can I touch it?" and she said, "Sure!"
I couldn't believe it. So, I spun it around and found the most recent score:
From an office down the hall I heard a voice, "We just painted the score on! Don't mess up the paint!"
Does anyone else think this is as weird as I think it is? I mean, this Jug is literally priceless! It is irreplaceable! If it was ever put up for sale at an auction what would a Michigan or Minnesota booster be willing to pay for it? Millions I would wager. And here they are letting me, a total stranger, touch it and spin it around seemingly without a care for its safety. I was in heaven!
So, I asked, "Can I pick it up?" The student secretary looked at me kind of strange and said, "Well sure. Go ahead. Do you want me to take a picture of you with it?"
"Yes!" I answered. I gave her my camera and I picked up the Jug. The words of Lloyd Carr, the Michigan head coach, repeated in my head:
"I don't hold it up in front of the team ... I don't trust myself," Carr said. "I certainly don't want to be remembered as the guy who destroyed the Little Brown Jug. Anybody that handles it needs to be careful with it. Sometimes I worry after the game about the players."
I can't believe they let me pick it up. I can't believe they let anyone touch it! It is amazing to me. And yet, pick it up I did, and here is the picture to prove it:
I may not look "giddy" but I was really, really "giddy." Holding the Jug is something not a whole lot of people get to do, especially if you are from Minnesota.
Anyway, I put down the jug, thanked the student secretary and I walked through the door. A football player near the door saw me and my goofy grin and he gave me a goofy grin of his own. I laughed and walked out the door.
It is truly strange how happy this Little Brown Jug can make people. 19 years of frustration wiped away will do that I guess. Now the Golden Gophers will play for the Axe, but for me the season is already a success. It would certainly be nice to beat Wisconsin, don't get me wrong. I will trudge back to the HOF and ask to see the Axe, too. I may even pose with it like I am smashing the Jug! (Or maybe not). But having the Jug ... that is enough for me. It has been a while since I have been so happy to be a fan of a Minnesota sports team. I thank the Golden Gophers football team for that.
October 11, 2005
If you want something you've got to ask for it
First of all, I just wanted to tell all of you that the bottom of an apple is called a "calyx." I learned this little tidbit while watching the news this morning, and I thought I would pass that information along. Now, the next time you are eating an apple, you can impress your friends and family with your new-found knowledge. No need to thank me.
Secondly, and more importantly, if you'll recall I said in my first post today that I was going to try to take some pictures of the Little Brown Jug. Well, let's just say that it is "mission accomplished" on that front. Not only did I get to take some pictures of the jug, I also got to hold the jug. I kid you not. I actually held the oldest, most important, most priceless travelling trophy in all of college football history.
Stay tuned for my story and my pictures of said event tomorrow. Needless to say, it was quite exciting for me.
Tide you over
If you didn't get a chance to see U2 on Late Night with Conan O'Brien last week, it was a very enjoyable show. The Edge and Bono did "In the year 2000" with Conan, and they played "All Because of You," "Original of the Species," "Stuck in a Moment," and "Vertigo." I know, some strange choices there. Anyway, during the interview segment, Conan was asking Bono about how they are treated in their home town of Dublin, and Bono said (something like) this:
"In America, when you are younger and you see the really nice house on top of the hill you say to yourself, 'One day I'm going to live in a house like that.'
If you are Irish in Ireland, you look up the hill at that nice house and you say to yourself, 'One day I'm going to get that son of a bitch.'"
I thought that was hilarious.
Today I'm going to try to take a picture of the Jug. I will let you know if I am successful.
October 10, 2005
First and foremost congratulations to the University of Minnesota football team for reclaiming the Little Brown Jug this Saturday. What a great game. If you missed it, you missed out on something special. Bring on the Badgers!
I need to clarify that I am not anti-Gopher stadium. I'm not against any stadium. I think a new Gopher stadium will be great, and I am going to have a blast watching it being built. However, it perplexes me to no end that we are bending over backwards to build a stadium for the only team that cannot leave our state. You will never see a University of Minnesota home game live from Los Angeles.
So, again, I love the idea of a new Gopher stadium. I love the idea of bringing the tradition of Gopher football back to campus, and the stadium designs I have seen are absolutely beautiful. But I have always given the Twins priority.
Finally, I need to clarify that I am not against a stadium being built in St. Paul. I would love a stadium in St. Paul. But T-Paw's recent comments concerning building a new Twins ballpark in the capital city are so transparent to me I am almost speechless. Almost.
From my standpoint, T-Paw is only bringing St. Paul back into the picture because Minneapolis will soon be out of the picture. Mike Opat has made it clear that if the Hennepin County plan is not approved they will be taking it off the table. T-Paw knows this. So, in order to keep the Twins placated he is now suggesting St. Paul again as a possible new home. Then, when he screws over that plan I suppose he will then suggest Minneapolis again.
As Sid said today, T-Paw doesn't care if the Twins move. He only wants to do enough so that it looks like the state is interested in keeping the Twins. When the Twins are gone, I am going to hold him personally responsible.
October 7, 2005
Well, I've had my fun. I'm tired. I'm angry. I'm spent. If you live under a rock, outside of the state of Minnesota, or if you don't keep up with stadium politics at all, today I received some very bad news. At least for me. If you are anti-stadium you should be thrilled. Good for you.
It looks like the special session (if there is one) will only deal with the Gophers stadium. In addition, if another issue is to be taken up it will probably be the hospital in Maple Grove. This is a big let down for me. I don't know how else to put it. I want a Twins stadium. It doesn't look like it is going to happen anymore.
Why? Well, as I said a few days ago, the votes are there, but anti-stadium legislators promised to turn the special session into a circus if the Twins stadium was a part of it. Remember that 2/3 majority vote to suspend legislative rules for a possible one day session? Yep, John Marty pretty much promised he would use that against any efforts to pass a Twins stadium bill.
So, I must face facts. I must come to grips with the inevitable. It ain't gonna happen. I think my hope is at an all time low. Is there still a little bit of hope? Yes. But less than ever.
Really, why should I get upset about this anymore? 10 years of let downs should have made me immune to this kind of feeling.
Not next year. Not ever. Not in Minneapolis. Not in St. Paul (Pawlenty is such a moron!). Do what you will, Mr. Pohlad.
See you all later. I don't know when...
The Failure Bunch
Welcome to the future
October 6, 2005
Long lost brothers?
|Tortured by||Orcs||Rich people making money|
|Will only be happy when||He gets the Ring thereby assuring that Middle Earth will one day be ruled by Sauron.||He waves goodbye to the Twins thereby assuring that one day we will spend 10 times more to get another team and build a stadium.|
|Talks to himself?||Yes||Probably|
|Dwells in||The wretched bowels of the Misty Mountains||The wretched bowels of the Star Tribune|
|In order to achieve his goals||Bit off a finger to get his precious ring||Would chop off his nose to spite his face if it meant a couple more screeds against billionaire owners|
|Deserves to be shunned by society and cast into the wilderness only to survive by eating raw fish?||Yes||Yes|
So, there you have it. If you can help me think of any other similarities by all means add your own.
Holy cow am I feeling good today. It is surprising what just a little snippet from Charley Walters can do for my outlook on life in general:
Latest word is the Twins and Gophers now have the legislative votes to approve new stadiums if agreements can be reached, so Gov. Tim Pawlenty can call a special session. Pawlenty wants to hear a firm commitment first, though.
So, there you have it. The votes are there. T-Paw is willing to call the session. It sounds like the legislative leaders just need to cross the t's and dot the i's.
Ha! Phew, I almost got ahead of myself there! As Kevin in AZ says, it is all just talk right now. We've got a long way to go. However, I feel good about what I am hearing.
You know what I can't stand? Hypocrisy. I know, you probably can't stand hypocrisy either. That is why I'm sure you'll agree with me that Nick Coleman is an idiot, but worse he is being very hypocritical.
I am really quite stunned by the level of anger demonstrated by this usually coherent author. First of all, Nick, why don't you calm down, clean the spit up off your chin and the drool off of your bib, and take a moment to consider just what you are all upset about. As a Star Trib has already pointed out 30 other cities and states have figured out how to make this work, but somehow we are different. I'll tell you how we are different: we are filled with morons like Nick Coleman that would rather we end up with nothing, no worse than nothing, a freaking $10 million gap in our state budget so he can stick it to an 80 year old man.
Oh no, the Gollum-like Nick Coleman says, you can't have my precious pennies, I would rather 10 years pass by after the Twins are long gone so we can spend 3-4-5 times as much on a new stadium then. By that time Minnesota will realize its huge error and we'll be begging for baseball to return. Thanks a bunch for that, Nick. You seem to have a real knack for seeing the forest through the trees. Save now and spend way more later. Where do I sign up for that?
Nicky also thinks he is somewhat of a ballpark design expert. I had no idea he was so knowledgeable concerning the placement and design of new baseball stadiums. Nick has called the design a "boxy thing" that won't get hardly any sun and where the spectators will be treated to the smells of "roasting garbage." Hyperbole? Meet your new king. I tell you what Nick, besides the fact that it has already been proven that the smells from the burner are minimal at best, I think I'll trust the Twins and the architects to design the new ballpark. God knows whatever they design will be better than the Metrodome, which by the way doesn't get any sun-light at all.
But here is what has me really angry towards Nicky today: he has written an article full of praise for the Minnesota Wild and the Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild. A team that is a part of the NHL. Yes, the same exact NHL that cancelled an entire season.
But more importantly, the Minnesota Wild is a team, much like the Twins would be, that is accepting millions of dollars in public subsidies to pay for their arena. Why isn't Nicky upset about this? Why isn't he railing against the half-cent sales tax that St. Paul residents currently pay for the X? Why isn't he spewing his vitrol towards the interest-free state general fund loan that the Wild received to build the X? Where is the same level of anger towards the ownership of the Wild that Nicky launches towards Zygi Wilf and Carl Pohlad?
Is it because the X cost less than a Vikings or Twins stadium? Is it all about price then rather than the principle of giving billionaire owners public money?
Or is it because the X is built in St. Paul? Coleman is quite a homer for St. Paul, so maybe if public money is going to be given to billionaire, as long as it is in St. Paul it is OK.
Or maybe it is because Nicky likes hockey. If I remember correctly, Nick has written before that he laces up the skates every once in a while. Maybe Nick feels public money for billionaires is OK as long as he likes the sport the money is going to.
Whatever the case, if he was ever against the X (and he should have been given his diatribes against the Twins stadium) he isn't anymore. It seems his principles are lost as soon as the new venue opens and he can see for himself how beautiful and meaningful these new buildings can be. But before they are built he goes out of his way to prove his stunning and hypocritical ignorance.
I am sick of it.
Finally, there was a decent letter to the editor in the Strib today that had this to say:
There are at least four issues that the governor and legislative leaders need to get together on: new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and the University of Minnesota football team, a proposed hospital in Maple Grove and the Minneapolis teachers pension fund. Each of them is very important.
All parties need to take a stand, call a special session and resolve these issues.
Amen, Mr. Crosland. Here is what is remarkable about this letter. Mr. Crosland combines stadiums, health care, and education issues all in the same grouping of "we should get all of these done." Yes! I don't have time to expound on this point, but I think all of you get the picture.
October 5, 2005
Same old, same old
So, the headlines today and yesterday read "Pawlenty's special-session offer drew no takers", "Agreement on agenda unlikely", and "Special session menu fails." One troubling thing I have read in these articles is this set of quotes from Geoff Michel:
Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, author of the Gophers stadium bill, said he’s “encouraged that the governor is going to meet with legislative leaders.”
“These are difficult issues, and they should be decided face to face, not through the mail,” he said.
Asked what should be done about the Gophers stadium proposal, Michel said he would encourage people to consider holding a one-day University session with no legislator pay.
“One day. No pay. Gophers only,” Michel said.
I think it is a given that the only reason a special session is still being considered is because of the financial realities of the Gophers stadium plan. Two of their big donations expire before the beginning of the next regular session, so there is an urgency to get this plan approved.
The troubling thing about Michel's statements is that I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is the kind of discussions T-Paw and the other legislative leaders are having. What is the only bill they can count on passing in a timely fashion? The Gophers bill, of course. What is the only bill that is keeping the hopes for a special session alive? The Gophers bill. What is the only bill they can all agree on? The Gophers bill.
As I said before, T-Paw wants to call a special session. I am especially convinced of this given that yesterday he still wanted to talk about the possibilities with legislative leaders even after they made him and his "menu" look stupid. However, the agenda is narrowing.
I pray that the session will deal with the Gophers and the Twins, but realistically the only bill that meets Pawlenty's criteria for a quick and painless session is the Gophers bill.
Here is hoping that Sviggum and Johnson can convince T-Paw to take up the Twins bill. We shall see...
In addition, I have a few words concerning my claims that "the votes are there" to pass a Twins stadium bill. Check out this snippet from a MN Legislature document describing special sessions:
During special sessions, the House and the Senate often pass bills shortly after they are introduced. This is accomplished by declaring an “urgency” and suspending both the constitutional requirement that each bill be considered on three different days in each house and the requirement of legislative rules that each bill be referred to a committee when it is introduced. The two-thirds vote required in each house to expedite passage in this way usually is forthcoming, because legislators generally wish to curb the length of the session.
People, 2/3 majority in the House is 88 or 89 votes. While it is possible, it is highly unlikely that there are 88 yes votes for the Twins stadium bill. Again, I count 66 yes and 21 unknown. Even if all 21 unknowns came out in favor of the bill, that would only be 87.
Am I missing something here? Will 2/3 majority be necessary, or is there some other legislative procedure I don't know about? Any anti-stadium people out there know for sure? David Wintheiser?
If 2/3 majority is necessary ... well, that would suck. I don't know how else to put it.
Finally, I just wanted to say that I love the Johnny Cash song "The Man Comes Around." It is approaching "Songs for a Desert Island" status. That voice, the understated guitar, the lyrics! Just wonderful...
October 3, 2005
Well, the moment I have been waiting for has come. Pawlenty has spoken favorably about the chances for a special session. Or has he? Let's take a look at his actual words, from the pages of Sid's illustrious column in the Strib today:
"I'll bring them in, but you know, the point is, they all want to shoot their traps off -- not all of them, but a couple of them on the other side of the aisle -- and it's put-up-or-shut-up time. If you're for the stadium, then say it, but limit the session to that -- the Gophers or Twins, or whichever other of those issues -- and that they've got the votes to back up their words. So, you quit talking the talk and start walking the walk.
Hmmm ... it sounds like he is talking about Dean Johnson. Deano has come out with some pretty harsh words towards T-Paw, and for good reason. However, Johnson has also come out strongly in favor of both the Twins and the Gophers stadiums, and he has repeatedly stated that the votes are there in the Senate.
Who else could he be talking about? Matt Entenza? Entenza is a strong supporter of the Gopher's stadium, but I'm not so sure about a Twins stadium. Here is hoping he puts aside his differences with the Twins stadium bill to get the Gophers stadium bill passed. However, he is also heavily criticizing the governor for his lack of leadership.
Dick Day? Day is the Republican minority leader in the Senate, but he has certainly been "shooting off his trap" recently. He has said that he and his Republican cronies don't want to come back to the capitol to do their jobs in a special session, and that he would rather sit at home with his thumb up his butt (OK, I made that last part up). In fact, according to Entenza it is the Republicans themselves that are holding up the special session.
Truthfully, we have a huge mess on our hands, and a special session hasn't even been called yet. Everyone is pointing fingers. T-Paw is showing a huge lack of leadership by reamining wishy-washy on the issue itself which has let his Republican underlings off the hook of taking a stance. And the DFL leadership is simply trying to make T-Paw look bad, plain and simple.
It is partisan politics at its finest. Let's see what else Pawlenty had to say:
"I'm ready, if they're ready, but right now all they want to do is yap a little bit. I'm ready to put my reputation on the line, take a risk and call it; they just have to agree on the issue and demonstrate they've got the support to pass it and reasonably control the situation so we don't have a runaway session, which would be a huge, ugly situation for the state."
That last part is the key: "reasonably control the situation." Truly the real reason a special session has not been called isn't because the votes aren't there. The real reason is that Hennepin County legislators would turn the special session into a zoo. Looking at the Voter's Guide we have 66 pro-stadium legislators in the house, 47 against, and 21 unknowns. I believe the votes are absolutely there.
However, in the House we also have a lot of vindictive HC legislators that are right now planning how they will muck up the proceedings. I'm sure Ann Lenczewski has already written 50 amendments that she will use to try to derail the plan. HC legislators are more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing what is right for Minnesota. Make no mistake, it is the potential circus atmosphere of never ending amendments and floor debates that Pawlenty is trying to avoid.
Here is the way I see it. Right now Sviggum is trying to convince anti-stadium legislators in the House to let their vote be their voice. He is trying to determine how many anti-stadium legislators are willing to allow the House to simply vote on the matter without making a huge fuss about it. Right now, I am not confident he is getting the answer he wants. If he can pull some strings, if he can demonstrate some leadership and convince the anti-stadium crowd to be satisfied with voting "No" rather than doing their best to grandstand ... well, how likely is that?
Finally, for some good news. You probably saw this, but Shooter reported on Sunday:
People who should know now believe Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will call a special legislative session in early November that will approve new stadiums for the Gophers and Twins.
Sigh... the soap opera continues. In conclusion, I believe Pawlenty wants to call a special session, but he doesn't want it to be a circus. If Johnson and Sviggum can assure him that they will tame the anti-stadium crowd, or that the anti-stadium crowd will put up a minimal amount of resistance, then we will finally get this monkey off our backs.
What do you think?
Run Molly, Run!
I know there has been a lot of stadium news recently. I'll tackle that later on today. But for right now I've got to tell you about my day yesterday, and how proud I am of my wife. My wife ran in the Twin Cities Marathon 10 Mile race yesterday, and my family and I spent the morning cheering her on.
3 miles in and still smiling. Run Molly, run!!!
My wife has been training for this moment for a few months now, and to see her actually accomplish her goals and have fun doing it ... well, it was very emotional and I don't mind saying my eyes got a little misty.
My kids and I cheered her on at the three mile point, and then we got in the car and drove to the finish line. The finish line was at the bottom of the hill from the Cathedral to the Capitol.
You did it Molly! You ran 10 miles! Whooo!!!
Seeing all those people running and knowing that all of them had a story of perseverance, or of overcoming some kind of hardship ... that was awesome to think about. My wife said that half way through the race they told the people around them that my wife's running mate, Rachel (the wife of the infamous Cheesehead Craig), had lost quite a bit of weight in her efforts to run the race. Suddenly a bunch of women around them started yelling out how much weight they lost, "I lost 60 pounds!" And, "I lost 115 pounds!" Everyone was cheering each other on.
That is something special. To be a part of that kind of community and support each other while doing something as mundane as running ... that is awesome to think about. Again, there were so many stories! Elderly people running, people limping and grimacing the whole way, people weaving in and out of traffic, patting everyone around them on the back as they passed by. Wow. I was really proud of the Twin Cities yesterday.
But most of all I was proud of my wife. She has been running around our neighborhood for months, training for this moment. She has also been dragging me out to ride my bike along side her (sometimes less than happily). Well, she did great. She gave it everything she had and I couldn't be happier for her. To accomplish what she accomplished yesterday is just fantastic. I mean, three kids and a lazy husband and she can still run 10 freaking miles! Get on with your bad self!
Rachel and Molly engorging themselves on ice cream
So, after the race Craig and I took our wives to Cold Stone Creamery. I joked with my wife that I was going to order an ice cream IV for her. It was a fitting reward for months of hard work and sacrifice and they deserved every last spoonful.
Now the pressure is on Craig and I. Can we accomplish the same feat? My wife has provided me with the inspiration. It would be nice if we could run it together next year.
You are awesome Molly! I love you!