January 30, 2006
Now that is an interesting plan
I'll cut right to the chase, someone tell me how this isn't a good plan:
Published estimates are that Pohlad has a net worth of $2.8 billion. Assume conservatively that only half that amount would be subject to the estate tax. If he remained a Minnesota resident, the state would collect 16 percent, or about $224 million. But there would be no such windfall if he moved.
The state, the Twins, and its owner should consider an arrangement whereby the owner would agree to remain a Minnesota resident and expose his estate to a tax of at least the amount of the state contribution to the cost of a new Twins ballpark. The state would then lend that amount to the Hennepin County project. Along with the $125 million the Twins have already pledged, and the expected infrastructure contribution of local government, the state loan would get the job done. The state loan would be fully secured by the expected Pohlad estate tax, from which the loan would be repaid.
Did you understand that? Pohlad will be paying an estate tax anyway when he dies. This gentleman, William Brody, estimates that it will be $224 million. Assuming that Pohlad dies while a Minnesota resident, why don't we take that money and use it to build a new Twins stadium? How does this plan not work? Someone please inform me because I think it is a fantastic plan (if not a little morbid). Combine that $224 million with Pohlad's already agreed contribution of $125 million, and you've got $349 million: the cost of the ballpark itself. That way, much like the Mall of America, the county would only have to pay for infrastructure around the faciltiy.
Any lawyers in the house? Any reason why this wouldn't work? Under this plan you've suddenly got Pohlad paying for well over half of the total cost, which is something a lot of representatives and senators want.
OK. Now for reality. As much as I'd love this plan to work, I would be very surprised if it went anywhere. Why? We are governed by morons, plain and simple. So, I'll let you know if anything comes of this. I will certainly be monitoring the situation.
Lastly, if you have multiple children like me, you know how sibling rivalries can develop. Well, my family's most outrageous sibling rivalry is between my middle son and my youngest child, my daughter. I say outrageous because it seems that no matter what my daughter says, my son has got to disagree with her. My daughter will say anything, and my son will point out where she is wrong. For example, my daughter will say, "This peanut butter is crunchy," and my son will say, "No, this peanut butter has peanuts in it which makes it less smooth." Or my daughter will say, "The sky is blue," and my son will say, "No, the sky is blue." Do you see what I mean? It drives me nuts.
So, yesterday while going to church, my kids started to talk about the topic of frogs. My daughter, who is only 5, chimes in and says, "Frogs eat bugs with their tongues." And my son says, "No, that is actually a myth that frogs eat bugs with their tongues. Actually, frogs tackle bugs and then eat them." Can you believe this guy? Of course, my wife and I had to correct him, but where does he come up with this stuff? And all so he can disagree with his sister. It is amazing to me.
January 28, 2006
High Five Machine!
From SouthofBoston.com, the words of Celtics coach Doc Rivers. And I quote:
"I like guys who love to play. He gave us a lot of energy. He was really up, pumping guys up. I thought tonight we gave more high-fives to each other than we've combined all year, and I thought Wally started it. That's a good thing. We need that.''
I think Doc will soon find out that when it comes to high-fives, Wally starts it, continues it unabated throughout the middle, and doesn't stop even when the final buzzer sounds. The man is a high-five machine! According to Rivers, Wally caused more high-fives last night than high-fives in all the other Celtics game combined! Someone call Guinness!
I predict by the end of the season Paul Pierce clocks Wally screaming, "Don't touch me anymore!" Doc may be happy with Wally's energy now, but when Wally gives his 500th high-five out for a simple bounce pass he may fray some peoples' nerves. You heard it here first!
(Thanks to SBG for passing on the quote.)
January 27, 2006
Chuck Foreman: the greatest Viking ever!
As many of you know, it was my birthday last Tuesday. Usually, I get a present from my parents, my wife and kids ... and my college roommate. Yes, as strange as that sounds, my best friend and college roommate still not only remembers my birthday, but he also gives me a present. And usually it just isn't any present, it is obvious he puts some thought into it. This year this is what he got for me:
The Star Tribune Chuck Foreman medallion! Can you believe it? Chuck Foreman is by far my favorite Viking of all time. The number 44 is an almost mythical number to me. When the Vikes gave Leroy Hoard that number I cried for days. Fortunately, no one one the Vikings has that number now. I'm not sure anyone will ever be worthy of it.
So, thanks Curt in Grand Forks! I was thrilled to receive this gift!!!!
And as an aside, this gift made me think of other Vikings memorabilia I have, and I came up with this box of Moss' Magic Crunch. Anyone else have this box? Anyone know what it is worth? Seeing this box kind of ticks me off now thinking that the Vikings used to have the greatest WR in the NFL. The cereal was good though.
January 26, 2006
So long, Wally
Unless you haven't been paying attention, you know that the T-Wolves have made a blockbuster trade with Boston. Boston gets Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones and a future first-round draft pick while Minnesota gets Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed and two conditional second-round draft picks.
I like this move. Wally has been a favorite of mine since his rookie year, but he was not the answer. He could not help KG reach the next level. It was time to realize this and move on. I also like that we finally dumped that stiff Olawakandi. Thank goodness the "Kandi Era" is now over. I even like that we gave them a first round draft pick. Looking over McHale's decisions on first round draft picks over the years tells me he doesn't have a clue what he is doing with these picks. We mine as well give it up and save ourselves from his bonehead decisions (except for KG and Wally, of course).
KG has been the ultimate professional with Wally, but there is no doubt in my mind that Wally bugged the heck out of KG. Every pass, every shot made, every little thing Wally did on the court ... he would need a high five. It even bugged me. I could see KG just cringe every time Wally forced a high five or a finger point on him. Sometimes you gotta just play the game Wally and leave KG alone!
Getting Davis and Blount should improve the Wolves defensively and offensively. I think we will see the Wolves reach respectability with this move. Time will tell, but I am excited.
Nothing coherent, just more "dashed off tripe"
I was watching the T-Wolves a little bit last night and I was just blown away by how bad they are. I mean YIKES! It is definitely "panic time" at the Target Center. KG must be beside himself with anger. McHale has seriously built a sub-.500 team.
And speaking of KG, I don't know how many of you saw this, but a couple of weeks ago KG was asked about his time with Stephon Marbury when he started to talk about his own childhood. He had this to say:
"I was a gym rat, man," he said. "I loved hoops, and when I'm done with this game, I'm gonna hoop. You're going to catch me at the Minnetonka YMCA busting some of those old guys' butts. You think I'm [kidding], but I can't wait to get back on the blacktop."
That is why I love KG: honesty, loyalty, and the Minnetonka YMCA is the one I frequent! Man, I would love to get dunked on by KG! And if I ever scored on him ... wow, I would launch some serious trash talking. I hope KG sticks around.
In case you missed this, Sen. Don Betzold, Senate author of the Vikings stadium bill in the illustrious Minnesota legislature, wrote an interesting piece discussing the problems with a referendum. His argument is that only allowing Anoka County residents, or Hennepin County residents, to vote on the fate of our favorite sports teams would be "too narrow to be fair." Betzold writes:
The referendum issue raises a basic question: Who should get to vote on it? It would seem that if it is a local sales tax, then the local citizens should vote. But that means that nearby citizens, also affected by the sales tax, cannot vote. Some of my constituents live in suburban Anoka County, and some live next door in suburban Ramsey County. In fact, the city of Spring Lake Park is in both counties, so the Anoka County Spring Lake Park voters could vote on a referendum but the Ramsey County Spring Lake Park voters could not.
It is true that a state law requires a referendum approving a local sales tax to fund a local project, such as a city convention center. However, referendums have not been required for projects that have broad regional or statewide significance, such as the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Metrodome.
It is an argument I happen to agree with. The Metrodome and the Convention Center were built without referendum and I don't think anyone would ever say that they were a mistake. They have proven to be cost effective and important pieces of our metropolitan infrastructure. Betzold also writes:
That raises other questions: Should the voters of one county decide the future of a statewide asset? Do the Twins fans who live in Anoka County want the Hennepin County voters to decide if their team stays in Minnesota? Will the legislators who represent the other 87 counties want only Anoka County voters to decide the future of the Vikings? If Anoka County were to drop its plan and a new Vikings stadium proposal were to be proposed in, say, Dakota County, would Vikings fans in Anoka County want the voters in the southern suburbs to decide this issue? Should the students at the university vote on the possible tuition increases to pay for a new Gophers stadium?
The Legislature can't send tough questions like these to the voters. We have to figure them out ourselves.
This raises two important points: 1) since these are statewide assets, it is a shame that only one county will pay for these stadiums in the first place, and 2) the legislature should definitely figure these issues out themselves. The more salient point is point number two. Do your jobs senators and representatives! We elected you to make informed decisions on controversial topics, not put your head in the sand and pass these decisions back to us. What are you good for then? If you don't want to do your jobs then I want to vote on everything. Referendums are a cop-out and an example of weak-minded legislators doing whatever it takes to keep their jobs.
Grow a backbone and make a decision, up or down. But don't pass it back to me.
You'll note over on the right side a new section listing out all the books I've read so far in 2006. It is only three right now, but I hope to grow this list as the year progresses. That way, at the end of the year I won't have to wrack my brain trying to remember what books I've read in the last 12 months.
And just to let you know, Empire Falls was excellent. The Planets was a quick read, but not as good as I thought it would be. Camouflage was very good. It had not one, but two aliens in it and I am a sucker for alien books. The book is about two almost immortal aliens who live on Earth and interact with life here for thousands of years. One alien spends most of its time with humans and becomes quite a nasty fellow, while the other alien spends most of its time in the ocean, and only begins spending time with humans during the 20th Century. Meanwhile, in the not so distant future, a strange metallic artifact is found in a Pacific trench and scientists from all over try to figure out what it is. Could it have something to do with one of our aliens? Read Camouflage to find out. I enjoyed it.
That's it for now. I'm back to liking clapping again. Yesterday it seemed kind of stupid, though. Sort of stupid like hitting a small white ball with a stick and racing around a diamond shaped playing field. Who came up with that?
January 25, 2006
One more thing
I went to a series of presentations over lunch today concerning wikis, podcasting, videos, and statistics and the work that is being done on campus here at the U of M concerning these technologies. Anyway, after the presentations the audience would clap, as you might expect. But as I sat there beating my hands together I was just overwhelmed by the feeling of how stupid clapping really is. Here we are, about 200 U of M tech people beating our hands together like a bunch of monkeys. Do you know what I mean? Slapping my two palms together to suggest to someone, or a group of people, that I approve of what they had just done. Yesterday I might have said something else, but today I say clapping is absolutely bonehead stupid.
Proof we are descended from monkeys
I guess it is just one of those things that make me wonder.
I still love you
Don't worry, I still love you. And although you've probably heard it all before, I just have to say that it is unbelievably busy for me right now. I get to work and I just start cracking from 8 - 5. It can't be helped. You might ask, "Why don't you post at night?" Good question, but I have been busy every night this week, including tonight and Thursday with Cub Scout activities, a class I teach, a meeting tonight to begin looking at Winter Carnival Medallion clues, and a Cub Scout Pack meeting tomorrow night (at which my Tiger Den will sing a rousing rendition of "God Bless My Underwear"). So, life is full for me, but this blog has definitely suffered.
Like I said, though, don't worry. I still love you all. Until you hear from me again, try your hand at this great Lemonade Stand game (sent to me by Mr. Cheer or Die).
January 24, 2006
I guess there was no meeting
UPDATE: I just heard that the meeting did not take place yesterday as planned, and that a make-up meeting has not been scheduled. Bummer. I bet it was that anti-stadium Matt Entenza screwing everything up. Blast him and his hatred of the Twins!
Well, I guess there wasn't a Twins stadium related meeting with the governor yesterday. This kind of ticks me off since stadium news to me is like heroin to an addict. I need my fix. Maybe they are meeting today? Why hasn't anyone reported this yet? This is very upsetting. Although, I should learn to accept that I will never get my way when it comes to stadiums in Minnesota. This is just yet another example of that fact.
Jim in St. Paul wrote in a comment last night about a recent editorial that appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press entitled: Why we still support a Twins stadium in St. Paul. I wonder if their new managing editor wrote this. It is very good. First it lays out some of the economic realities of Major League Baseball and why a stadium is important for the Twins' long term future. Then it zeros in on St. Paul. Among the editorial's more salient points:
A St. Paul ballpark would be a significant driver of economic development in the capital city. As we've said before, spending the same $300 million in public money to move the stadium a few blocks up the street in Minneapolis would be less transformative than if it were spent to build a new ballpark in downtown St. Paul.
That may be true. I think the Twins leaving Minneapolis for St. Paul would also have an economic impact on Minneapolis, though, only in a negative sense. Anyway, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't care if they build a stadium in Bemidji, just build the stupid thing so we can assure the Twins will stay around. As John Lennon said:
You say you've got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
Show me the money!
And speaking of money, Shooter recently reported (and sorry, I can't find the link) that if St. Paul were to get into the stadium game again, there is no way they could put a plan together without state money. I would think this requirement would immediately put them at a disadvantage. Besides, how gung ho is Coleman about trying to bring the Twins to St. Paul? My impression is that his attitude towards this possibility is tepid at best.
If anyone has any news about the meeting that was supposed to happen, please let me know! Has it been rescheduled? Shelved indefinitely? What is the deal?
January 23, 2006
Like you I am waiting for news concerning the meeting today between T-Paw, legislative leaders, HC, and the Twins. Hopefully we'll hear something soon ...
Until then, take this Mensa Intelligence Test. I got 17 last night at about 11:30 PM, and then I decided to go to bed. Can you top it? Probably ...
January 20, 2006
Random musings, odds, and ends
I don't have anything coherent to say today, so I'm just going to write and write until I have nothing to write about anymore.
A few days ago, Tim M. asked me what kinds of story lines I would like to see in a Serenity sequel. I think the story of Book is a given. He was a mysterious character, and we definitely didn't get the truth about him. I would also love to see more about the bounty hunter "Jubal" that showed up in the last Firefly episode. He was a very interesting dude. But more than anything, I would like to know more about the Independence movement and the Browncoats. What were they really fighting for? I know "independence" but what else? I'm sure there were other grievances. I would also like to know what happens now that Mal and his crew unleashed the truth about the Reevers. Does this create another revolution attempt? I would think some people would be kind of upset with the Alliance.
So, there you have it. I think there is a lot of story left to tell. I hope Joss Whedon gets the green light.
If I was to have another child, and that child turned out to be a boy, I would name him "Augustus Octavius." You know, to boost his confidence. And I would force everyone to call him by his complete name, "Is Augustus Octavius present?" That would be awesome. Of course, I would call him by his nickname: Skippy.
I was listening to KFAN a couple of days ago when Dan Barreiro said something that made me chuckle, and think. He said one of the biggest mysteries in the whole sporting world is how Matt Millen still has any kind of position of authority within the Lions organization. I used to think Mike Tice had some sort of blackmail working against Zygi to keep his job (ticket scalping, whizzinator, sex boat, 2-5 start, etc.), but Millen must have some naked pictures or something that are working to keep him employed. Yikes.
So, if you are a stadium fanatic like me, you would have to have been blind to miss this snippet from Sid Hartman yesterday:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, reports Gov. Tim Pawlenty has called a meeting Monday at the governor's estate to talk about how to solve the stadium proposals for the Twins and Gophers football.
Attending the meeting will be House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon; House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul; and Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna.
Also attending will be Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, author of the house ballpark bill, and Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins.
"I hope that Hennepin County will continue to stay with the bill they proposed to build the Twins baseball stadium," Johnson said.
What is most interesting about this is that T-Paw is inviting Matt Entenza, an anti-stadium legislator and House Minority Leader. I honestly think that coming out of this meeting Entenza will be the barometer of possible stadium action. If Entenza comes out of the meeting even remotely optimistic towards the possibilty of a new Twins stadium I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief. If he comes out of the meeting with his typical anti-stadium rhetoric, though, that means the opposition is still there and isn't budging much. That probably means we should all keep our hopes in check.
I know Sid thinks Dick Day is also somewhat anti-stadium, but I disagree. He just wanted to vote for stadiums in the regular session. If push comes to shove he will vote for the Hennepin County plan.
Sid also alludes to the fact that inviting Entenza and Day takes T-Paw off the hook if a stadium bill isn't supported. That may be true. I think Sid is pessimistic that Entenza will come out of the meeting in favor of the plan. I would have to agree with him. We'll see on Monday though.
Yesterday I linked to the Prejudice Map that uses Google to unveil the prejudices we have towards the people of various countries. I found this map, and the technique to build it, to be highly entertaining. So, I decided to try it on myself. In Google I type "Shane is known for" and this is what I get out:
"Shane is known for taking that extra time to assure that everything is done to the level of his high standards."
So true, so true...
"Shane is known for his boisterous personality and fun-loving attitude."
Again, how do they know me so well?
"Shane is known for pulling rabbits out of hats in competition."
I am a pretty crafty guy. And now that I've mentioned "rabbits" again on this site I'll get even more hits from search engines for this word.
"Shane is known for an aggressive drumming style and in the interest of crowd safety; we have recently been forced to put him in a Plexiglas cage."
Needless to say, I ROCK! The crowd must be protected from ME because I go crazy on those skins! And do they really think Plexiglas can hold me? I'm gonna go Incredible Hulk on that Plexiglas!
"If there's one thing Shane is known for, it's perserverance."
If you fail, try, try again I always say.
Is there anything you are known for? Put it in the comments below...
Lastly, a few weeks ago something I dearly love was taken away from me. At first I was very upset about this. And then I became very saddened. "Why are they doing this to me?" I thought. "What have I done to deserve this?" I was promised something even better, but I didn't believe it. How could something new be as good as what I had come to love so much. Well, I am happy to say I was wrong.
Black Cherry Vanilla Coke ... oh how I love thee. I must say Coke is forgiven for dropping Vanilla Coke in favor of this taste sensation. I am satisfied.
January 19, 2006
Links of the day
- Chuck Norris responds to his ever growing list of "random facts." Seems he has a good attitude about it.
- If you haven't sen this, check out the "Prejudice Map" which lists the top Google results for a search like, "Germans are known for" but for a whole bunch of countries.
- Massive list of free online storage sites. COD, use one of these to upload a video that isn't working for you and then I'll grab it and try it myself.
- Preliminary list of 2005 Nebula Award candidates. Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell has got to be the favorite.
- Algae, like a breath mint for smokestacks. Check this out ... this guy at MIT is decreasing CO2 and nitrous oxide emissions from smokestacks with algae, and the biproduct is bio-diesel fuel!!! Holy guacamole that is cool.
- I thought this was kind of nifty, this company makes a Japanese-style dining-table with chairs that can all be packed in a box.
- This is thoughtful. The World's Best Quotes in 1-10 Words. Succinct and concise. And Vince Lombardi is number 3?!?!?
- Yet another reason to use Google. Put a URL into this page to view sites through a mobile phone. Google does the work of reworking the page to fit on your little screen.
- How to win friends and influence people. Nice, compact list of suggestions.
- For all you Guinness Stout drinkers out there, a recipe for Guinness Ice Cream.
- I find this absolutely fascinating ... this article details how Blockbuster is doomed due in large part to all the mortgages on it's brick and mortar stores. It is just amazing to me how a once dominate company like this can fall apart so quickly.
- And finally ... here is my secret to overlaying images on the current page. If you want to give this a try, I found that you must download everything to get it to work. Now you know...
See you soon.
January 18, 2006
It's that time of year again
First of all, thanks to everyone for your birthday greetings yesterday. I would like to especially thank the anonymous commenter for taking the time (see, that wasn't so hard!), and spycake for actually writing "Happy B-day, Shane. Hopefully T-Paw and Old Carl have a present for ya..." That really choked me up, given that spycake is not what I would consider "pro-stadium," at least not in the same way that I am pro-stadium.
And speaking of spycake, did any of you happen to see his letter to the editor in yesterday's Strib? First let me say shame on you spycake! We're trying to get a stadium built around here, not point out the obvious! However, I must also say that if I was against the Hennepin County plan I would have written the exact same letter. Spycake does a nice job of pointing out the "sleight of hand" in Brehm's piece that I alluded to yesterday. But that doesn't mean I am happy!
Spycake also writes in his letter:
Also, the Metrodome didn't pay for itself through indirect tax revenue from local businesses -- its operating agreement allowed for some stadium revenue to be directed back into the publicly owned stadium, something the new ballpark agreement fails to do.
Yes, but unlike the plan that built the Metrodome, the Hennepin County plan also commits the Twins to operation, maintenance and routine repair expenses, plus the Twins will be required to make additional annual contributions for capital improvements to the stadium over the course of the 30 year use agreement. In other words, the Twins themselves will be required to direct money back into the stadium. I'm sure some of that money will come from stadium revenue.
So, T-Paw unveiled his bond plan yesterday to much fanfare and joyous celebration. Tucked in with his comments about his $897 million plan were comments about stadium construction:
While they are not part of the bonding proposal for the coming year, Pawlenty said he also wants proposals for a Gophers football stadium and a Twins baseball stadium to pass the Legislature this year.
Huzzah! T-Paw wants a Twins baseball stadium bill to pass this year! Oh happy day! Because we all know if T-Paw says he wants something, it is done! I think we can all rest easy now knowing that T-Paw has said the magic words and made his desires known.
Of wonderful. Nick Coleman has again graced us with his opinion about stadiums in Minnesota. This time, it is an attack on the Vikings and their plan to turn Anoka County into a place Minnesotans may actually want to visit. I've written about Coleman's hypocisy and stunning ignorance before, so I won't go into tirade mode again today. Let me just say I'm starting to think that if Nick Coleman doesn't like the idea, it is probably a pretty good one. So, Zygi, well done. Spend your money on your new consultants. If Nick (aka Gollum) is unhappy, then you are on the right path.
And speaking of the new Vikings stadium, I've been thinking about what Zygi can do to help his efforts when it suddenly dawned on me that I don't like the new design of the stadium. I don't like it at all. Especially not compared to the old design:
New design (click for larger)
Old design (click for larger)
Do you see what I mean? The new design looks like crap! And what is with the two garish yellow towers jutting out of the front? I don't get it. Whoever drew this thing up could have done a better job. I mean, look at the old design. Sleek lines. And those cool stainless steel rounded beams coming out of the top evoking thoughts of the Viking longboats of old ... man, that was a cool design. I gotta give Red credit for that one. This new stadium needs some more pizazz if it is going to get the attention and excitement of the people of Anoka County. That is what I think anyway.
That's all for now. Have a good one!
January 17, 2006
Happy Birthday to Me (and SBG)
Greetings and salutations, loyal reader! I'm not sure that anyone out there cares, but today is my birthday. Now, last year was an interesting birthday because I found out that January 17 is also Stick and Ball Guy's birthday. So, after you stop by here go over to his site and wish him a happy birthday from me! And just for your edification, here is a list of other people who were also born on January 17th:
Benjamin Franklin, 1706
Al Capone, 1899
Rock Hudson, 1925
James Earl Jones, 1931
Muhammad Ali, 1942
Jim Carrey, 1962
Good company for me and SBG, heh? Drop me a comment for my birthday! You can even do it anonymously! In fact, I command you to leave me a comment! It is my birthday wish!
If you are looking for stadium news today, there isn't much to report. In case you missed it, you should check out Andy Brehm's commentary, Replace the Dome or Lose the Twins. A little sleight of hand with the numbers, but overall a good and well written effort.
UPDATE: Of course, just when I think there isn't any stadium news, the Vikings go ahead and create some. My initial impression of this turn of events is that the Vikings are wasting a whole lot of money by trying to ram their plans through this year. Unless this firm is going to start promoting a Twins stadium too, I don't see the legislature giving the Vikings the time of day. And that is a shame because in many ways the Vikings stadium bill is better than the Twins stadium bill. Well, I guess in one big way: it includes a bigger chunk of change from the owner. We'll watch this situation closely, I can guarantee you that, but I don't think much will come from it. I wish Zygi the best though. If we can get one of these stupid stadium bills out of the way that would be a good thing.
I must admit that I hate the song "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is" by Chicago with a burning passion that rivals the Sun. It may even rival my hatred for Tom Petty songs. I heard it yesterday while I was enjoying a delicious Snuffy's malt and it just about ruined everything. I'm still humming that stupid song.
I just gotta ask, does this man deserve the money the T-Wolves gave him? I know he is a great guy and all, but what does he play, maybe 10 minutes a game? What does he average, a little over 1 point a game? I can't help but think that Mad Dog is the poster child for the ineptness of Kevin McHale as VP.
Well, I watched all the Firefly episodes. Loved 'em. Couldn't get enough of them. And that Wash character! Such a funny guy. Then I watched the movie Serenity and I was loving it. It had action, suspense, comic relief ... it answered questions and had an awsome plot. And then the unthinkable happened! Why did Joss Whedon do what he did? Why? Both my wife and I sat there stunned. Very upsetting. If you've watched it, you know what I'm talking about.
Luckily, it looks like there will be a Serenity sequel of some sort (probably on TV) so Whedon can redeem himself.
That's all I got time for now. See you later!
January 16, 2006
Schulz, MLK, and insensitivity
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I must admit that MLK is one of my favorite historical figures, and the Civil Rights Movement was my focus as an undergraduate history major. I wrote many a paper on King's efforts and I just couldn't believe that something so awful as state-sanctioned segregation, voter intimidation, lynchings, and "colored" drinking fountains happened so close to my own date of birth. King quickly became, and still is, a hero of mine.
So, today I read over King's I Have a Dream speech, and I thought about my favorite of all of King's writings, the Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Powerful, powerful stuff that (and this always amazes me) that my parents actually lived through.
Anyway, after reading over some links concercing MLK day, for some reason I picked up an old Peanuts book. It was a collection of old Peanuts comics, and it contained this particular comic that struck me as ... I don't know "appropriate" for the significance of today, and also shockingly insensitive on the part of Charles Schulz:
What do you think of this comic? What kind of message does it send? I think we can all agree that we would never see it in a newspaper today because it is insensitive at best and full of prejudice and stereotypes at the worst. I'm very surprised I saw it today. I wonder if this is an example of a comic that Charles Schulz wished he could have back.
January 14, 2006
What T-Paw really thinks about losing the Twins
Click image for larger version.
January 12, 2006
This just in ...
Wow. I'm hearing news from everywhere now. I was just informed of a few items from yesterday's lunch with the governor, Twins, and Hennepin County. One is that Opat may be feeling more optimistic than the news reports. That is certainly good news. However, I was also informed that Bell is really, really disappointed. I mean dangerously disappointed. That is not so good.
I was also informed that Sid Hartman had a serious breakdown on WCCO radio this morning and he literally freaked out about all of this stadium business. This was in part because of the Twins' disappointment over the lunch yesterday, but also because he has heard from other sources that the governor has admitted it would be "political suicide" to attempt a stadium run in 2006. This is not that surprising, but what had Sid really upset is that the governor is telling the media one thing, and his minions another.
I guess Sid also freaked out on Eric Eskola, calling him a "brown-noser" and saying he (Sid) isn't afraid to tell it like it is, that the governor is in jeopardy of losing the Twins and that his political games are getting a little tiresome. I think we all wish T-Paw would just say what he truly thinks and let the chips fall where they may.
I'm trying to get a hold of a recording of this exchange. I'll post it if I can get it.
Don't give up
Hello everyone! I know yesterday's news was a little depressing, but a little birdy tells me not to give up hope yet. So, I won't.
I don't have much time today, so I'm going to leave you with a few thoughts and a document for you to peruse. The document highlights the differences between T-Paw's '04 stadium bill and Hennepin County's '05 stadium bill. Seriously, looking over this document it is obvious T-Paw should have been jumping up and down for joy that Hennepin County was willing to step up to the plate in this way. Hennepin County's plan didn't include any shaky TIF schemes, no arbitrage, no state money, a predictable source of revenue, a clear, up-front contribution from the team, and a very good chance that the debt would have been retired well in advance of 30 years. To put it bluntly, the governor really screwed the pooch on this one. Especially considering the votes were there.
January 11, 2006
Enough slacking off!
OK people. Enough slacking off. Enough with the excuses. I've got some things to say, and gosh darn it I'm going to say them.
As many of you probably know, T-Paw, Hennepin County, and the Twins are going to meet this morning to discuss the possibility of a new stadium bill for the 2006 session that extends the Hennepin County plan. I am confident that T-Paw will say all the right things, but I wonder if Bell is going to put up with the same old rhetoric. There are three things that could happen in this meeting: 1) T-Paw could convince the Twins that he is going to really back a plan and everyone leaves happy, 2) T-Paw could do an adequate job of convincing the Twins he will go to bat for them, the meeting will break up cordially, but Bell will feel pessimistic at best, or 3) T-Paw talks his talk, Bell says he's heard it all before, and the meeting breaks up with nothing accomplished. Obviously I'm hoping for scenario number 1.
And now to toot my own horn a little bit. I've heard from two different sources deeply involved in the stadium battle that my Voter's Guide is actually having an impact at the state capitol right now. According to my sources, lobbyists are impressed with my work and may even help me finish it off, or suggest places where I am wrong or votes have changed. One of my sources even informed me that lobbyists are "usually paid thousands of dollars" to do what I have done. My next question should have been, "Where is my money then?" but I usually think of the right thing to say well after the conversation has ended. Shoot!
So, my plea for all of you is to make sure that I have the right stance down for your representative. I have been informed that more and more representatives will now be seeing the Voter's Guide and that maybe even the governor himself may be shown my work to prove that the votes are actually there to get a stadium bill passed in this god-forsaken state.
I gotta admit that I have always wanted this site to have an impact. I started the Greet Machine because I was upset with the level of commentary and news concerning the stadium issue, and I wanted to maybe change a few minds, or educate the public with my unique form of propaganda. To hear now that the Voter's Guide is actually making the rounds in the hallowed halls of the capitol is extremely gratifying. If a stadium is ever built, I'd like to think that I have done my part, no matter how small that part may be.
From another one of my sources I have heard some interesting reasons why the Hennepin County plan does not include user fees. Check this out:
Hennepin County has always advocated for using tax-exempt bonds to finance the public's share of the ballpark's cost. Tax-exempt bonds carry a lower interest than taxable bonds and that keeps the public's cost down. (Similar to a homeowner wanting to find the lowest possible mortgage rate).
To make the public's bonds tax-exempt, the IRS requires that the taxes used are unrelated to revenue streams connected to the team, the facility, or events at the facility. That means the ever popular 'user-fees' (ticket taxes, parking surcharges, etc.) don't work if the public entity wants to use tax-exempt debt. That's also why the revenue streams are directed to the team. If the County directly benefitted from the team's activities the public bond issue could not be tax-exempt.
Interesting, no? So there you have it. While some of you still may feel that user fees are more important that a tax exempt status on the bonds, the County's stance is that they will save money in the long run by striving for this tax exempt status.
Of course, there are other reasons why user fees are not a very good source of revenue, and I've written about those reasons before.
Finally, I must admit that my new contacts in the stadium games are pessimistic that a bill will be voted on by the legislature this session. One source puts the chances at 70-30 against. Of course, it has also been pointed out to me that 30% is an all-star MLB batter so we shouldn't give up hope yet. We'll see how the meeting goes today.
January 10, 2006
I'm working on it...
OK, I'm working on it! Sheesh! Actually, in all seriousness, this is a busy, busy time of year for me. I know, enough with the excuses, but I just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about this site. I've got some things planned...
January 6, 2006
Links of the day
- Top 10 most beautiful experiments in science of all time. Very interesting.
- 101 ideas for improving children's behavior. A lot of sage advice (and some not so sage advice).
- ParentHacks blog. Some more random advice for parents.
- 50 best Firefox extensions for power surfing. I love Firefox...
- And speaking of Firefox extensions, "AllPeers" looks like it might make Firefox a "must have" application. Looks extremely cool...
- Once and for all, the GIF image format is pronounced "jiff." This site has convinced me.
- Awesome! FindMyCover.com allows you to search for album cover images. Very nice.
- Wow. This is a handy little tool. Compare up to three type fonts through your web browser. This should come in handy.
- Gregg Easterbrook, of Tuesday Morning Quarterback fame, weighs in on the Intelligent Design debate with an attack on Richard Dawkins. Worth the read.
- A great article in Slate on the Chronicles of Narnia rap from SNL. Who knew so much could be said about a 2 minute video?
- What was hot in the blogosphere in 2005? Now you'll know.
That's all I got for now. Peace out...
January 5, 2006
The Timberwolves game and Tom Selleck
You may be asking yourself what does going to a Timberwolves game and my fond memories and Magnum P.I. have in common? Well let me tell you. In the opening credits of the television show Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck beats the tar out of someone with a fighting move that my friends and I have cleverly named "The Selleck." The Selleck consists firstly of a vicious elbow to the stomach. Then, when the person is bowled over in excrutiating pain you finish off The Selleck with an immediate fist to the face, all with the same hand! Obviously the person on the receiving end of this awsome move is down for the count. No one can stand up to The Selleck. Ah ... the memories. Tom Selleck was the master and documented inventor of "The Selleck." For that we owe him our tribute.
Again, you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the T-Wolves game last night? I will now tell you. Last night, before leaving home for work, my brother-in-law called me and asked me if I wanted to go to the T-Wolves game. Not only that, but my brother-in-law informed me that our seats would be in a Target Center suite! Of course, I said yes. But when I got to the game things only got better!
You will note from my ticket that not only was I in a suite, but I was in suite number 1! Boom! And then you will notice that not only was I in suite number 1, I was in seat number 1! Bam! Believe it or not, you have just been on the receiving end of a virtual Selleck! First I nail you with the fact that I was sitting in suite 1. As you stagger under the blow of my virtual elbow to the stomach, I then smack you in the face with the fact that I also had a ticket for seat number 1! Can you feel it? I'm sorry to deal such a horrible amount of pain on you today, but it had to be done. Believe it or not, you are a better person for it.
Yes, last night was a blast. That was the first time I have ever in a suite in any sport, so I was just plain giddy. The suite could handle 12 people, but there were only 6 of us. There was also all kinds of delicious food including fried chicken, buffalo wings, cold cut sandwiches, chips and dip, various munchies, cookies, beer, and all the Pepsi I could drink. We also had our own personal bathroom, and a TV with the college football national championship on. Then, to top it all off, the T-Wolves won the game in convincing fashion! Marko Jaric had a great game, as did Wally and KG. Needless to say, I had an absolutely phenomenal time.
So, have you recovered yet from my virtual Selleck? Sorry again for that. However, now that you know about The Selleck you too can inflict a world of hurt on anyone that wrongs you. Hopefully in time you will come to thank me for my instruction in this important fighting move.
See you soon!
Bow before the greatness that is Tom Selleck!
January 4, 2006
Expect a plan, but no ballpark
In case you missed it, Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press had a good article concerning a possible plan for a Twins stadium in this upcoming legislative session. As has already been pointed out, Kahn highlights that we should expect a plan to surface, but unless something drastic happens with the collective thinking in the legislature we shouldn't expect that the plan will actually result in a new stadium:
Indeed, Twins point man Jerry Bell, who could challenge the golden horses for most time spent at the Capitol in the past decade, abandoned his diplomatic style last week to say loud and clear that the Twins' problem in the Capitol dome is politics, not the merits of the deal.
The team won't spend time lobbying this year, he said, until Pawlenty and lawmakers take the lead and shepherd a stadium bill to a vote on the floor of the House and Senate.
I'm sure you'll all agree that this is not likely. In addition, the article has this to say:
Bell also doesn't know where the future lies. Neither does Pawlenty, Pohlad or baseball commissioner Bud Selig. The ballpark issue is a creature of mood, timing and politics, and no one can foresee the exact time of a harmonic convergence, should it come.
But sports-business professionals believe the Twins' status quo at the Metrodome will not exist five years from now.
The first option: The team could indeed get a new stadium deal, but each year it likely would cost more. With the $478 million project missing construction deadlines, the Twins say, a ballpark will cost another $30 million if approved this year, but they insist they will not increase their $125 million portion to cover the difference.
Also, the team could be sold and perhaps moved by a new owner who isn't interested in years of debating the stadium question. There are eight groups currently bidding to buy the Washington Nationals. Will one of the seven losers go after the Twins?
Nothing good in this article, I'm afraid. 5 years from now I think we'll finally know what is the fate of the Twins, Vikings, and Metrodome. Scary to think about.
Of course, I'm interested in the meeting that will take place between the team, T-Paw, and Hennepin County this week, but unless T-Paw really decides to ram a plan through, we should not get our hopes up.
January 3, 2006
Coaches and other random thoughts
First of all let me say that I was happy that Zygi gave Tice the pink slip. It is time to put the Red McCombs years behind us and the best way to do that was to fire the Tice. McCombs only hired Tice, who had questionable head coaching credentials to begin with, because he could save some money. With the Wilfs now in charge, I think we are finally going to see some changes at Winter Park that make sense if the organization is really interested in winning a championship. And this may sound callous, but I hope all the assistant coaches under Tice get the pink slip too. Here is my list of who will probably be considered:
- Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the Redskins. It sounds like he is the top pick amongst the players.
- Ron Rivera, defensive coordinator for the Bears. I've heard a lot of talk about this guy being given a chance somewhere in the NFL to be a head coach. We'll see if it is the Vikings.
- Ted Cotrell, defensive coordinator for the Vikes. Say it ain't so. I want to fully clean house.
- Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator for the Dolphins. Again, his credentials aren't quite there yet, but Daunte sure would be happy. I expect the Vikings will give Linehan a shot.
- For the rest of the possible choices, check out this post from Mr. Cheer or Die, plus the comments.
And concerning Tice, let me just say that I think he is a top notch guy. One of his best qualities is how gracious he is in defeat, and he showed this quality off again by praising the Wilf family after he was fired. I will remember Tice, the person, fondly.
I was also happy that the Gophers retained the services of Glen Mason. Letting Mason go would have meant rebuilding, again, for the Gophers. The Gophers cannot afford a "big name" coach to replace Mason, which would have meant hiring some kind of "no name." Retaining Mason means recruiting will continue (and Mason has done pretty well with this considering he has to recruit with the Metrodome), and it means continued respectability for Gopher football. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the Gophers will not win a Rose Bowl until they are playing on campus again. Mason is the right coach to bring them to this point.
In case you missed it, Sid reports that this week will include a big meeting between T-Paw, the Twins, and Hennepin County concerning the shape of the latest (and greatest!) new stadium plan:
A meeting next week to include Twins officials, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and maybe other commissioners will no doubt decide if the Hennepin County plan to build a new baseball park will be extended into next year or dropped.
At this point, it is apparent that nobody involved in the negotiations for the baseball stadium are convinced Pawlenty will stick his neck out in favor of building the stadium that not only will assure the Twins remain in the state, but result in million of dollars in labor contracts and building materials.
There is no assurance that the site in back of Target Center will be continue to be available if something constructive isn't done soon.
Count me in the group that doesn't believe Pawlenty will push to get this baseball stadium built.
Amen to that. There is no way that T-Paw sticks his neck out for this, not in a year when the Republicans will undoubtedly be fighting for their political lives. I'd like to think that Pawlenty will want to solve this problem, but right now he is in extreme politician mode as he tries to make everyone as happy as possible while really getting nothing accomplished. Meanwhile, stadiums get more and more expensive ...
Just finished my first book of the year, Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This was a fantastic and very well written book, but I couldn't help but think that I've read it before. It was very similar in feel to Minnesota author Jon Hassler's Staggerford and Grand Opening. In fact, another Russo book I've read, Straight Man, was eerily similar to Rookery Blues by Jon Hassler. So, I dug around a bit to find out if anyone else has these same feelings, and I find that Russo is a big fan of Hassler. What does this mean for you? Probably nothing. But if you've read any Russo and you enjoyed it, I encourage you to pick up Hassler's books, especially Grand Opening.
Now I'm reading Planets by Dava Sobel. Pretty good so far, but nothing can top her writing in Longitude, the story of a clockmaker's attempts to solve the biggest maritime problem in the age of discovery.
That's about it. See you soon!
January 1, 2006
My television debut
You know, I didn't think I would get excited about this ... maybe excited is the wrong word ... how about interested? Anyway, I will be on TV tonight on a local PBS station discussing blogs (a topic people seem to think I know something about). The TV show is Tech Talk, and it is a show filmed at the U of M discussing technology related matters. Tonight's show will be about Blogs and Wikis, and along with me Kurtis Scaletta will be discussing wikis. At first glance you may not recognize the name of Kurtis Scaletta, but let me tell you it was an honor to be on the same billing as him! Kurtis is responsible for many of the flash games found on Bat Girl, as well as being a prodigious commenter on that site too.
So, tonight at 9:00 feel free to tune into Twin Cities PBS channel 17 (channel 13 for me on digital cable) and watch me (probably) butcher the topic of blogs. Luckily I'm ony on for 6-7 minutes. I swear I'll barely be able to watch, but the entertainment value for my wife should be high.
If you watch let me know what you think!