March 31, 2006
And now for something different: Intelligent Design
One of the more humorous blog posts I've ever read talked about what bloggers should write about on blogs. Rule #3 (or something like that) went something like this: If you are afraid to write about something, that is exactly what you should be writing about. And once you've written about it, do it again. So, I have been afraid of writing about Intelligent Design. I will admit it. But now, I guess, it is time to get my thoughts on the screen. Why now? To that I would say, why not? Don't even try to figure out my thought patterns. Usually I am focused on stadiums, but I do, on occasion, branch out to other controversial topics. I mean, I need to get hate mail about other stuff too every now and again. As always, if you can make it to the bottom of this drivel, let me know what you think.
First of all let me say that if you believe in God, if you believe in a higher power, then by default you also believe in some form of "intelligent design" (lower case i, lower case d). It would be odd to believe in God, but not believe that He created the heavens and the earth. In fact, I would wager that is impossible. Correct me if I'm wrong.
So, since I have made it abundantly clear throughout the course of writing on this blog that I believe in God, I must also say that I believe that He created the heavens and the earth. So far so good. Having said that, though, I honestly believe that the promoters of Intelligent Design are making a huge mistake. Pitting faith against evolution is doing more harm than good. But before I get into that I will write about Galileo.
Galileo? Yes, his life provides a pretty neat illustration of my point. As many of you probably know, Galileo spent a fair amount of his life in prison and under house arrest for promoting the idea of "heliocentrism" or the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Today we laugh at the idea that the Sun could revolve around the Earth. This idea is so unquestionably wrong it isn't even worth discussion. However, back in the 1600s, this discussion was all the rage. Why? Because the Bible actually states, or alludes, in numerous passages that the Earth is the center of the celestial world.
Take for example Psalm 104:
You fixed the earth on its foundation, never to be moved.
Being a Psalm, or a poem, this passage is wide open for a variety of interpretation, but in the 1600s the implications of this Psalm were plainly clear: The Earth does not move.
Another example comes from Joshua 10: 12-13:
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. ... So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Again, the interpretation of this passage in the 1600s was that before God told the Sun to stop moving, it actually moved around the Earth. Today we know this line of reason to be unequivocally false. Does this make the Bible wrong? Does this mean the Bible is not the "infallible Word of God"? I would say no. I would say the problem, of course, lies in the perplexing need to literally interpret the Bible at all times and in all instances. Galileo paid a heavy price for his promotion of heliocentrism and his challenging of a literal interpretation of God's word in the matter of the rotation of the heavenly spheres.
St. Augustine actually had some interesting things to say about this. Augustine himself argued against a too literal interpretation of the Bible especially when it deals with matters of science. In an important passage within his "The Literal Interpretation of Genesis" (early 5th century, AD), St. Augustine wrote:
"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?"
I think Augustine nailed it here. Promoters of Intelligent Design are doing way more harm than good in using the Bible as a science text book when it should be used more as a path to salvation. Promotion of this deluded teaching of Intelligent Design actually encourages people to abandon the entirety of the Bible. Seriously, what does it matter how God created the heavens and the Earth? What matters is that he did it, and more importantly that he opened the gates of heaven through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Augustine also writes in The Literal Interpretation of Genesis:
With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about these matters [about the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation.
As you can see, this argument concerning how literally to take the book of Genesis has been on the mind of Christians for quite a while. And hopefully you can see some parallels between the arguments against heliocentrism and now the arguments concerning Intelligent Design. Personally, I do not believe that promotion of evolution is anti-Biblical or anti-Christian, just like I don't think the promotion of heliocentrism is anti-Biblical or anti-Christian. There is too much evidence suggesting that the Earth is billions of years old (not thousands), and that the species and life of Earth have been changing and adapating throughout all that time. And as science continues to uncover more about the origins of life, Christians are going to have to come to grips with more and more of these ideas. It is inevitable.
In conclusion, I refuse to put God in a box. I refuse to even entertain the notion that the creation of the universe and all the wonder that it holds can be contained in approximately 30 verses in the book of Genesis. It is almost comical to think about. This does not mean I am abandoning the word of God. Again the true importance of the Bible can be found in its teachings about religion, neighborly love, salvation, and the words of Jesus. It should not be used as a science text book. Seriously, isn't it more miraculous to think that God put together this amazing system of adaptation and evolutionary change than to think he just said, "Poof! There is a platypus." This does not mean I accept the entirety of evolution either, but I do think it has more scientific accuracy than the story of God literally creating the universe in 6 days. That is my opinion anyway. Feel free to disagree. And now I leave you with something I read in the Washington Post which more eloquently and concisely sums up my feelings:
The relentless attempt to confuse [science and religion] by teaching warmed-over creationism as science can only bring ridicule to religion, gratuitously discrediting a great human endeavor and our deepest source of wisdom precisely about those questions -- arguably, the most important questions in life -- that lie beyond the material.
How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.
March 30, 2006
Quick News Flash!
I don't have time for a proper entry right now, but a little birdy has told me that the Twins stadium bill may be heard for the first time in the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee on Monday, April 3. Yes, this Monday. There are a couple of things to note about this development. First of all, there still isn't an agreement yet between the Twins and Hennepin County for 2006, so this committee will be debating the merits of the 2005 bill. Secondly, isn't it interesting that a Senate committee is the first to put a ballpark bill on the agenda? Again, it makes me wish the Senate was the only legislative body in this state, and also it is obvious they have time to consider this measure because the Senate has already passed its version of the bonding bill.
Of course, come Monday this could all fall through, but I am pretty confident "baby steps" are currently being taken to get the Hennepin County plan a hearing in the hallowed halls of the capitol. Good news indeed.
Posted by snackeru at 7:46 AM
March 29, 2006
Lots of news to report, so let's get to it!
A while back I wrote about some erroneous comments made by Ron Abrams in the Sun Sailor concerning general obligation bonds vs. revenue bonds (and how the HC plan will only use revenue bonds). Anyway, Mike Opat has written a reply which also appeared in the Sun Sailor:
[Abrams'] assertion is absolutely not true. The Hennepin County Board has not and will not propose issuing General Obligation bonds backed by property taxes to build the ballpark. Hennepin County will also not pledge its property tax base as a credit enhancement for the ballpark revenue bonds.
As has been widely reported since April of 2005, the Hennepin County ballpark plan would be financed through tax-exempt revenue bonds that would be supported by a .15 percent county-wide general sales tax. We are proposing tax-exempt debt to keep interest costs as low as possible. In addition, we believe that sales tax receipts will grow over time and allow us to pay off the debt early and end the tax early. In the Denver area, a .1 percent general sales tax was used to finance Coors Field and the 20-year bonds were retired in less than 10 years.
Read the whole letter if you are interested.
Also a while back spycake and an anonymous contributor got into a "discussion" concerning whether or not the money raised from the revenue bonds could actually pay off the debt in less than 30 years. According to my anonymous contributor:
Hennepin County finance guys seem to be from the 'measure twice, cut once school'--meaning ultra conservative. Hennepin County has held a triple-A bond rating for 30 straight years. A 30% coverage ratio gets HC to that 'lowest cost' debt i mentioned in my earlier message.
In fact, HC's own website highlights their goal of 130% total debt coverage. According to this site:
Estimated Annual County Debt Service Payment - $21.5 (at a 4.75% interest rate)
Estimated Annual Tax Revenue Required at 130% Coverage - $28 million
Estimated Annual Sales Tax Proceeds at .15% - $28 million
So, the plan was clearly to pay off the debt early. I'm pretty confident they would have done it, too. But it seems we'll never know.
Finally (for now), New Ballpark, Inc. (NBI) is reforming to try to put pressure on the legislature to pass the Hennepin County plan. The original NBI was made up of high profile civic leaders, this iteration will be people with some more enlightened self interest (Real Estate, bars etc). Look for this group to get more attention as the weeks progress and the legislature continues to do nothing concerning this problem.
The group has also released a Call to Action (PDF) that you may want to peruse. It is interesting.
That's it for now.
March 28, 2006
Nothing to worry about apparently ...
March 27, 2006
Songs that have to be played back-to-back
So, I was traveling in my car to someplace last week (can't remember where) when the radio started to play "Need You Tonight" by INXS. Whenever I hear this song on the radio I can only think of two things: 1) wow, I love this song! and 2) they better play "Mediate" next. Do you know what I mean? On the INXS album Kick, "Need You Tonight" and "Mediate" appear back-to-back, and radio stations have always played them like they were a part of the same song (which they kind of are). Anyway, it got me to thinking about what other song combos are always played back-to-back on the radio? What song combos should always be played back-to-back?
- "Need You Tonight"/"Mediate" by INXS -- I'll put this first because I have already talked about it.
- "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives"/"Another Brick In The Wall Part 2" by Pink Floyd -- Do people even realize these are separate songs?
- "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions" by Queen -- Should always be played together, never apart.
- "Heartbreaker"/"Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman)" by Led Zeppelin -- I don't think I have ever heard these two songs separated on the radio
- "Eruption"/"You Really Got Me" by Van Halen -- You might hear "You Really Got Me" alone, but never "Eruption" alone.
- "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"/"With a Little Help from My Friends" by The Beatles -- Again, they just go together like peanut butter and jelly
- "Brain Damage"/"Eclipse" by Pink Floyd -- There are probably more like this from Floyd, but you can't have "Brain Damage" without the climax of "Eclipse." They shouldn't even be separate songs.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Any that I have missed?
Not feeling it today
I'm not feeling it today. So, here are some quick thoughts before I move on:
I'm in the Star Tribune today in an article about the wonder that is UThink. They did a pretty nice job with it.
The Gopher's men's hockey team disappointed me. I know that is an understatement, but what a phenomenal collapse these last two weeks. Like the saying goes, "That is why they play the games."
Garnett's recent locker room chat sessions are scaring me a little bit. If he ever left ... wow. I'm not sure what the NBA would mean to me anymore. And SBG probably has more to say about this than me, but is it even possible to reuinte Steph with KG on either the Knicks or the T-Wolves? Doesn't the salary cap situation of both teams make it nearly impossible?
I watched Good Night and Good Luck last night and I thought it was pretty good. Not as exciting as I thought it would be, but a good treatment of what it means to dissent without being disloyal. It surely is no coincidence that Clooney would choose to make this movie now with talk concerning what it means to be "patriotic." However, it also got me thinking about the power of the media today vs. the 1950s. In the 50s there were three major networks, and then, of course, all the major newspapers. I would wager that back then the media was much more powerful in swaying public opinion than it is now because 1) there is less to choose from and 2) so much news happens live today that we can (we should) form our own opinions before we are swayed by editorializing journalists. Concerning point number 1, though, we have so much news coming at us today from 24 hour news channels (of varying political persuasions), internet sites (like blogs and the like), and the tried and true network news and newspapers, that news today is less about finding the truth, and more about finding the angle you want to see the "truth" through.
I guess what I'm saying is that Murrow would have less impact today because people have more choice concerning the news they want to hear, and they are more entrenched in their viewpoints because of it.
I saw a lacrosse game at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend. No one was protesting outside of the arena and people seemed pretty happy inside the arena too. I guess giving "free money" to millionaires is OK in this instance.
Finally, this weekend it was announced that our esteemed legislators have come up with a new plan to build a new Gophers stadium that will cost less in yearly student fees, but retain corporate naming rights for TCF.
I am so jaded at this point that I can only think of one thing to say: I'll believe it when I see it. We haven't seen the last of the problems for this bill.
Over and out.
March 24, 2006
Tonight I will be making my first trip to the boondoggle that is the Xcel Energy Center. Back in 1997-1998 people in St. Paul and around the state, and legislators in the hallowed halls of the capitol building, were ticked off with the idea of giving a private business (the Wild) any kind of assistance to build a new hockey arena in St. Paul. Man people were angry! But regardless, after literally years of negotiations they came up with this deal:
The Xcel Energy Center cost $130 million to build. The state gave the City of Saint Paul an interest-free $65 million loan. The remaining $65 million needed to pay for the arena came from bonds sold by the City of Saint Paul to be repaid over 25 years. Repayment of the state loan comes solely from the Wild's annual rent payment and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), which are guaranteed by the team. The Wild are also required to pay for 100% of the costs of operating the facilty. So, for essentially $65 million, the city of St. Paul has a beautiful new world-class arena. In other words, the people of St. Paul will pay off this $65 million.
I'll be attending a Minnesota Swarm lacrosse game tonight and I am excited to see what a boondoggle the Xcel Energy Center is. Because I've been told that when you give tax money to private corporations it is a boondoggle. I am excited to see just how much the people of St. Paul hate the Xcel Energy Center. I'm excited to see the continued anger and malice towards the idea of giving taxpayer money to millionaires and billionaires.
I mean, don't people in St. Paul still feel this way? Aren't they still angry about their tax dollars going to this facility? Aren't you still angry that your tax dollars went to an interest free loan for the Wild? We could have invested that $65 million and made tons more money than by giving the Wild an interest free loan. I expect I'll see some protests outside of the arena ... you know people chanting "No corporate welfare!" and stuff like that.
I will see that kind of thing, won't I?
So, the Senate passed a $990 million bonding bill yesterday. This makes me think of two things: 1) Man I wish the Senate was the only legislative body in this state and 2) people don't care. Well, let me reiterate that last thought a little bit: people don't care about that as much as they care about something else in this state: sports.
One of the best things about the new Star Tribune web site is the two sections on home page titled: Top Read Stories, and Top Emailed Stories. When the news came out that the Senate did the impossible and passed a bipartisan bonding bill in March I expected to see this story race to the top of both of these lists. I kept checking over and over again to see when this news would make even an appearance. You wanna know when that happened? Never.
The top stories through most of the afternoon were stories having to do with the Vikings and the Twins. The Vikings signed a washed up backup QB and the Strib ran a story about Francisco Liriano. Both of these stories stayed on these lists throughout the day, but the state Senate passing a huge bonding bill saw little to no interest. What does this say?
To me it says two things (again): 1) people don't care about politics nearly enough in this state and 2) there is a slumbering giant out there called the "sports fan." Remember when the Twins were trying to get Victory Sports off the ground and how much people from all over the state freaked out that they couldn't see the Twins on TV? Wow people were angry! They wrote letters to the editor. They even wrote their legislators begging them to do something. All so they could just watch the Twins on TV. Do you remember?
Can you imagine what will happen if the Twins moved or were contracted?
A wise person once wrote a comment on these pages saying that we won't really see the true colors of the people of Minnesota until either a stadium is approved or the Twins cease to exist. Here is what I think: if a stadium is approved you will certainly see some anger from anti-stadium zealots, but much like what has happened to those negative feelings and the Xcel Energy Center, people will quickly move on and embrace the new facility.
However, if something ever happened to the Twins where they moved or were contracted ... that will be fun to watch won't it? I often complain about the apathy of Twins fans regarding the stadium issue. If the Twins ever ceased to exist in Minnesota, though ... wow. That is when we will see some true "freaking out." How long would it take before we got a new MLB team? Seven years like it took us to get a new hockey team? And how much will it cost us then to build a stadium? Let's just say way more than it would cost us right now.
March 23, 2006
I've got mad skills (or is that bad skills?)
The Greet Machine is a labor of love. I write all this crap day after day without any thoughts of making tons of money or getting any recognition whatsoever for my efforts. That is the way it is and I am comfortable with that. You may think I am being paid by the Twins or people related to the Twins stadium efforts, but alas, no. I am truly stupid enough to do all this work on my own time and dime. It is really humbling to think about. However, I will say that recent events have been a nice change in my favor.
You see, all my inane ramblings about stadiums, and all my work on the Voter's Guide, has actually, for the first time, resulted in a tangible benefit for me. Yes, I have finally made "connections." I bet you didn't know this, but you are reading a blog by someone who "knows people." And one of those "people" actually came through for me in a way I didn't expect. Yesterday, I was invited to play basketball on the Final Four court set up at the Metrodome.
Let me give you some background. I was a pretty decent basketball player in high school. I was the captain of my high school team. At the time my high school (in Virginia Beach, VA) was well known as being the high school of both JR Reid (where has he gone to?) and DJ Dozier (the old Vikings RB flop). During a Lefty Dreisell camp one summer I was selected for a 15 person All-Star team. If you'll note, sometimes the top tagline of this blog states, "Internet home of the 1991 Kempsville High School slam dunk championship runner-up." I don't say all of this to brag, but only to set up how far I have fallen.
Wow, I am really a bad basketball player right now. I think the skills are still there, but I am just way too out of shape to make it work. It was embarrassing. I make Jabba the Hut look healthy. In the games I played in yesterday I literally had to stay on the defensive side of the court because I knew I wouldn't make it back if I ran all the way down. So, in other words, the humbling of Shane Nackerud continues. As Cheesehead Craig has pointed out, I have lost my pride, I have lost almost all of my hope, and now I am being humbled seemingly on a daily basis. I have really got to get back in shape!
You would think that because of my inability to run more than 10 feet I would have had a bad time. Ha! That is where you are wrong! I had a great time! How often do you get to play basketball at the Metrodome? Not often. I mean, I played on the same court Villanova will play on Friday night! It really gave me a unique perspective of what the players will see and how the court is set up from a player's point of view. And plus, I got some great pictures.
I tried to get a picture of the whole set up here. How the spectator seats are laid out, etc.
Here is another picture of the people I played b-ball with. Good people all, and in much better shape than me. I was impressed.
After the games I went down into the bowels of the Dome where I found this sign to the Vikings locker room. I asked a security guard if the locker rooms were open, and he said, "Are you a player?" I said, "No." Then he said, "I don't have a key. Sorry." So, I said, "What if I would have said I was a player?" And he said, "I guess we'll never know, heh?" That was a bummer.
Here is a picture of me trying to dunk. Pathetic. I used to be quite the dunking artist, but now I couldn't jump over a phone book.
This is where I went into the Dome, the "Loading Dock." Ever wonder what is behind this door?
Stairs and then...
A revolving door that leads to a guard desk. Now you know!
Anyway, even though I barely made it off the court alive and breathing, I had a great time. I had a blast! Special thanks to the Big D for inviting me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am very thankful to get the chance to do this. So, thanks Bid D. Plus, you've got a pretty nice jump shot! Let me know if I can ever take part in something like this again or if I can ever do something for you!
There is a billboard outside of the Metrodome...
What the heck is this billboard trying to say? It features a straight, yellow line; a small peg way on the left; a ball; a hole of some sort, and then someone walking. I must be way too dense, because this billboard in no way makes me want to drink whiskey. It makes me say, "Huh?"
March 22, 2006
Earbud covers are the worst invention ever!
What follows are some instructions for configuring and using your brand new iPod:
- First open the package and locate the instructions.
- Following the instructions, install the iPod software and iTunes onto your computer.
- Using iTunes, rip a CD onto your computer, or purchase some new music.
- Connect your iPod to your computer and put some of your new music onto it.
- Locate your headphones and plug them in.
And now for the most important part of the instructions ...
- Locate the earbud covers (also known as earbud foamies or earpads) and immediately throw them in the trash since you will most likely lose them within two weeks anyway!
Someone please tell me: is there a more pathetic product from Apple than the earbud cover? I would like to submit that there is NOT! Egads, these things tick me off. No matter how careful I am, no matter how religiously I check to make sure they are still on my earbuds, they always fall off. And then I am earbud-coverless! Yes, earbud-coverless!
I have no doubt that this is a conspiracy instigated by Apple to make oodles of money. New earbud covers cost upwards of $10 . $10!!! Some fatcat Apple executive is cackling in his office right now over the millions of lemmings giving him more money just so we can lose the new earbud covers in two weeks!
I refuse to play their little game! This post says that replacement earbud covers can be purchased at Radio Shack so that is what I am going to do. Who needs this kind of hassle, though? Now I have to go to Radio Shack? A pox on your house Apple! A pox on your house!
March 21, 2006
Of band names and new music
I've been listening to a lot of new music. New music that has brightened my meager existence and given me reason to smile (or somesuch nonsense). Anywho, this is what I've been listening to:
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- This is an awesome album people. At first I couldn't get past his whiny voice, but now I kinda dig it. Give it about 10 listens and you'll be hooked. Its kind of like getting addicted to coffee, I suppose.
- Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady -- Yes, Jim in St. Paul, I am finally listening to this album! My good buddy Jim in St. Paul recommended this to me about 6 months ago, but did I heed his advice? No! I am a stubborn jerk sometimes. For example, I've had about 2.76 million people tell me that they don't want a new stadium, but do I listen? NO! So there. Separation Sunday rocks and is very unique. I definitely dig it. Thanks for the recommendation Jim! And finally, I have been listening to...
- Twin Cinema and Electric Version by The New Pornographers -- I'm going to have to take some extra space and time to explain this one.
Usually a band's name is very important to me. For example, I simply refuse to listen to anything by The Barenaked Ladies. That has got to be one of the dumbest band names ever. I just have a feeling that listening to their music will decrease my IQ by at least 30 points every time I hear them. All because of their band name. It may be shallow, but what can I say? I am who I am.
Another example is the Butthole Surfers. I don't care how good their music is, I will never listen to them. Never ever. That band name takes the cake as the dumbest, worst name in the history of recorded music. Ghastly. The Butthole Surfers could make the all-encompassing album, an album that creates world peace and makes my Cheerios less soggy, but I won't listen. George Carlin could travel back in time and help them with their high school history class final project, but I will still refuse to listen. No, no, no!
This brings me to this new band I am listening to: The New Pornographers. Usually a band name like this would cause me to think twice about picking up their album. For one, it is a stupid name. This cannot be argued. And secondly, it makes for uncomfortable conversations and even potential rumors. Take for example this possible conversation:
Mike: Hey Shane, what are you listening to?
Me: Oh, a great new band called The New Pornographers. I really like their music.
Mike: I bet if they are singing about pornography.
Me: What? No, that's not it, let me explain...
Meanwhile, Paul has overheard parts of our conversation from a few cubicles down...
Paul [thinking]: Shane likes pornography? And not only that, it has to be "new"? ... what a pervert! I'm going to have to spread this rumor...
Paul: Hey John, did you hear Shane is using company time to look at pornography?
John [my boss]: No, I guess I'll have to fire him.
Do you see how quickly a band name can make my life unravel? It is quite frightening actually. So, when I come across a band name like "The New Pornographers" I have to seriously think if it is worth potentially losing my job in order to enjoy their music. Well, as you can probably tell, I have decided the risk is worth it.
Twin Cinema was widely regarded by many to be one of the finest albums of 2005, and I can't argue with that. Electric Version is also a fine effort which I am enjoying right now. And for the record, they do not sing about pornography!
So, to wrap this up, here is a list of what I consider to be some of the dumber band names (in order of how dumb I think they are):
- Butthole Surfers -- I think I have already established how dumb this name is
- Barenaked Ladies -- Again, just plain stupid.
- Hoobastank -- Yes, there is definitely something that "stanks" around here.
- Goo Goo Dolls -- Lame, lame, lame. And they are making sugary pop to back it up. Disgusting.
- Deathcab for Cutie -- Good music, but really, I don't get this band name. It is kind of creepy, truth be told.
- The New Pornographers -- if I can't talk about your band in public, you have a stupid name. Do you want to make money?
That about covers it. If you can think of any others, put 'em in the comments.
Pogemiller and the Senate Taxes Committee
First I must ask you all to forgive me for freaking out concerning the Gophers stadium bill and what I wrote about it last week. While I still think the legislature needs a good tongue lashing, I feel I may have come across as someone who is losing hope. Let me assure you that my hope is already painfully low to begin with. There really isn't much hope to lose. I just wanted to clear that up.
Anyway, this post is about Phil Krinkie's DFL twin, Larry Pogemiller and his Senate Taxes Committee. If you'll recall, Pogemiller threw a wrench in the U's plan to fund a new stadium with student fees and naming rights for TCF Bank. There are a few rumors as to why he would do this:
- The CEO of TCF Bank is Bill Cooper, who is also one of the state's leading conservatives and is also the former chair of the state Republican party. If there is one thing Pogemiller likes to do it is stick it to Republicans.
- There is also a rumor that a lot of legislators are concerned that the $7 million the bill requires from the state is only that high so the Gophers can make $3 million more per year than they do in the Metrodome. The Gophers only average 50,000 fans to begin with (which is the seating capacity of the new stadium) so it is thought that they are trying to make extra money out of general fund dollars. This I don't agree with at all.
- Shooter also reported that:
A notion floating around the state Legislature is that owners Zygi Wilf of the Vikings and Carl Pohlad of the Twins might be inclined to assist funding for a Gophers football stadium if their respective stadium proposals could get approval.
This is an interesting notion. Could Pogemiller be trying to get more money out of Zygi and Pohlad by forcing them to pay for a Gopher's stadium if they want legislative support? That is interesting. It probably wouldn't work, but it is interesting.
- Finally, there is a rumor that Pogemiller just feels that more public money, and less private, should be used to fund a Gopher's stadium given the Gophers are a state entity. I can't say I agree, but it is a rumor.
So, having said all of this, Pogemiller's recent stance on the Gopher's stadium got me to thinking: just where does he stand on a Twins stadium? Unfortunately, Pogemiller hasn't said much about my favorite topic. He did vote in favor of the 2002 Twins stadium bill, and he has gone on record as saying he would like more private funding of the stadium (wouldn't we all), but I am just getting the feeling that he will not vote for the Hennepin County plan. And unfortunately I think this time his reasoning will be politically motivated. Essentially, in an election year I think Larry will do anything to make T-Paw look bad.
What about the rest of the Senate Taxes committee? Well, after a little research this is what I can come up with:
Pogemiller - No
Tomassoni - Yes
Belanger - Yes
Bakk - Yes
Betzold - Yes
Johnson - No
Limmer - No
Marty - No (duh)
McGinn - ?
Moua - Yes (actually she is a pretty strong supporter)
Ortman - Yes (this is an educated guess)
Skoe - Yes
So, on the Senate side, the Taxes committee looks to be 7 - 4 in favor with 1 unknown. This is good news if you are a stadium supporter, but certainly disappointing if you are against mom, baseball, and apple pie. That's all I got for now. Catch ya later!
March 20, 2006
The rumors of my pride have been greatly exaggerated
This weekend I attended a silent auction fundraiser for my kids' school, Park Spanish Immersion. The auction was at the Calhoun Beach Club which is a pretty fancy place and everyone was dressed to the nines. Now, I'm not what you would call a "heavy hitter." My pockets definitely don't "run deep." In fact, I didn't win one of the things I bid on because the bids just got way too high. But one thing I can do is give my time. So, I worked as a staff volunteer at the auction.
One of my jobs, as you can see, was to walk around this with this sign 15 minutes before the tables closed on the "Library" level of the auction. This was a job my wife had originally signed up for, but once she started she found that the task was too mortifyingly embarrassing, so she handed it off to me.
The sign was on a tall poll with bells on the bottom that rang incessantly as I walked. But did I care? No! I walked around with that sign with a huge grin. I yelled, "Fifteen minutes to get your bids in!" I gave people the "wink and the gun" as I went by. I actually had a good time doing this. I am happy to report that after getting married and having three kids, my pride is nowhere to be found. You think I look goofy? I honestly don't care. The next thing on my list is mowing the lawn in a white t-shirt and black socks. No one can stop me!
I have discovered that I am now at the age where I can really start embarrassing my kids without worrying about myself! Life is definitely good.
More when I got time.
March 17, 2006
Phoning it in: Erin Go Bragh!
I wrote this last year for St. Patrick's Day. It is one of my favorite posts of all time and I didn't think I could top it. So, I am just reprinting it. Enjoy!
Long time Greet Machine reader and contributor Curt in Grand Forks and I went to college together at Concordia in Moorhead, MN. Now, one thing everyone who meets Curt quickly learns is that he is very proud of his Irish heritage. Curt even looks and acts Irish with his red hair and jolly demeanor. Curt will never let you forget about the contributions Ireland and its citizens have made to civilization as a whole such as U2, Guinness beer, and Lucky Charms. I, on the other hand, am a proud Norwegian. I also look and act the part with my 6' 5" frame, blond hair, and razor sharp wit (just kidding). Of course, I always remind Curt of great Norwegians of the past such as Leif Ericsson, Henrik Ibsen, and the great rock band A-Ha. As you can probably guess, as roomates Curt and I got into a fair number of arguments concerning which culture was superior.
One thing I was always quick to point out was the fact that the Vikings dominated the Emerald Isle for centuries. Ireland was a cog in the mighty Viking trading and pillaging empire. The famous saying, "From the fury of the Northmen, O Lord, save us!" comes from a monastary in Ireland. Curt, however, always had the perfect comeback: The Battle of Clontarf. Curses on the Battle of Clontarf!
The Battle of Clontarf took place on Good Friday in 1014. Supposedly this battle signaled the end of Viking dominance in Ireland as the Irish vanquished the Vikings in an all-day fight. Please. Nobody vanquishes the Vikings today or yesterday! I am of the opinion that the Irish embellished certain details of this battle in their own history books which has skewed our knowledge of what really happened. So, I offer you an alternate and more likely scenario.
The Vikings were sick of being in Ireland. I mean, how many potatoes could the Vikings eat? So, after bringing civilization to the savages on the island, teaching them a thing or two about being real men, bedding all their women, and performing other important services in a typical Viking "goodwill" tour of a foreign land, the Vikings decided to leave. They packed up their long boats and started to sail away. Meanwhile, along the coast, two Irishmen were having a drink at the local pub:
Seamus: Patrick, would you mind passing the cabbage? I need something to help my beer go down.
Patrick: Here you go lad. Say, look out the window. It seems the Vikings are sailing away from our island! Could they finally be leaving?
Seamus: Glory be, Patrick, I think you are correct! They seem to be pretty far off shore. Let's go throw some rocks at them. That will teach them to never come back!
Patrick: That is a grand idea! Let me finish my pint first, though.
Two hours later...
Seamus and Patrick [singing]: 'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow, Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you sooooo.
Seamus: Patrick, those Viking ships are but wee specks on the horizon! Let's get out there and show those Vikings a thing or two about Irish might!
So, Patrick and Seamus stumbled out of the pub, walked to the shore, and started throwing rocks at the Viking ships as they sailed away. Some monks passing by saw what they were doing and became so overwhelmed by their patriotism that they went back to the monastary to record the event for posterity. Well, the monks must have had a few pints themselves because the story obviously became the "Battle of Clontarf" that we all know about today, and the bravery of Seamus and Patrick has been lost to history. Until today.
Curt does not care for my version of this "epic" battle. However, we have agreed to go together to Ireland in the year 2014 to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf with a re-enactment (using my version of events, of course). I will venture off-shore a little ways in a small boat, a dinghy perhaps, and Curt will throw rocks at me. It will be a grand spectacle that I'm sure the natives will enjoy. And of course, anyone is welcome to join us, especially if you have Irish or Scandinavian heritage. I don't want to be alone on the boat, and I'm sure Curt would appreciate having some help throwing rocks.
Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I must also admit that my great-grandmother was 100% Irish. So, even though my Norwegian heritage usually takes precedence, today I proudly wear green. Erin Go Bragh, my friends!
March 16, 2006
I'm packing it in (for now)
Well, just as I was feeling all "optimistic" over a Twins stadium bill this year, we get rumors of a potential debacle with the Gophers stadium chances at the capitol. I am so disheartened I don't even know what to say. This was supposed to be the "no brainer" of the bunch. Over the course of the fall we were told over and over again, "If any stadium gets approved, it will be the Gophers stadium." And now it looks like it is completely falling apart.
Are you serious? Here the University has bent over backwards, spent literally years putting this plan together that relies on over 60% of the money being raised by the University itself, and now Pogemiller and his cronies are flipping out over naming rights and student fees? I can't believe I agree with Abrams on this one, but where do they think the Carlson School of Management got its name? And furthermore, TCF is already all over this campus with branches and signage. Plus, the TCF logo is on all of our fricken IDs! What is wrong with these people?
We ... are ... governed ... by ... morons!!! All of the University's plans, all of the future private funding they would have received is now in jeopardy. Over a name? Our esteemed legislators would jeopardize all the good that a stadium would bring to this university ... over its potential name!!! We are lucky to have corporations in Minnesota willing to put this kind of money forward for the University, and our legislature is telling them to stick it!
What is the point? What is the point of all of this? If the University can't get any love from the legislature then I am packing it in. I'm taking a page from Hennepin County and I'm saying what is the point of worrying about any of this crap until the legislature gives me even the tiniest inkling of proof they walk and chew gum at the same time.
The legislature is taking a rock solid plan from the University that took YEARS to put together and they are completely mucking it up. Don't think it will happen to the Twins? I think it is a guarantee. Guess what? Does the Twins plan have public funding? Check. Does the plan have corporate naming rights? Check. Do you think some "genius" legislator is going to bring this up? You better believe it, not to mention all the other reasons not to do anything concerning a Twins stadium for the 11th year in a row.
This was the "easy" one, people. Our legislature is incapable of passing stadium legislation. They just can't do it. Better luck next year ... if there is one.
March 15, 2006
The path a bill would take
A recent correspondence with Twins Geek and yesterday's discussion of a possible delay by Krinkie's Taxes Committee got me to thinking: what actually needs to happen if a Twins stadium is ever to be built in this God-forsaken state? I have always had a rough idea in my head of the path a bill would take, so I decided to spell it all out for you. And once you read this, you will hopefully understand what a daunting task this really is:
- The first thing that needs to happen is the Governor or "legislative leaders" need to ask Hennepin County to being negotiating a new agreement with the Twins. Last year's agreement expired in December. A possible sticking point in these negotiations will be the extra $30 million needed to pay for the facility.
- Hennepin County and the Twins come up with an agreement that results in a bill in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Again, we are not at this point. There isn't a bill right now, and negotiations between the Twins and the County haven't even started yet.
- The bill would then need to be passed by a number of committees. In the House, the path for stadium legislation has typically been the Government Operations Committee, the Local Government Committee, the Taxes Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. However, in a shortened session, how many committees will the legislation need to go through to finally get to the floor of the House? And furthermore, if Krinkie carries through with his threats and he doesn't hear the bill until mid-May, I can see this backfiring on him and expediting the bill to the House floor. How many committees this bill will need to go through in the House is a mystery, but I wouldn't think it would escape committee work without passing through the Taxes Committee at the very least. Luckily, it looks like the votes are there to pass this frustrating committee.
- If the bill passes all the committees, it will get to the floor of the House where it will continue to be hammered by anti-stadium legislators. There is a chance that a referendum will be attached as an amendment to the bill in committee work, but I wouldn't panic if that happens. Once the bill gets to the floor, there are enough votes to strip any uneeded amendments off the bill. For the sake of this exercise, let's pretend the bill passes the House as a workable bill that will actually result in a stadium.
- In the Senate, the corresponding Senate version of the bill would also need to pass a number of committees before it gets to the floor of that legislative body. Right now, we know the bill would start in the State and Local Government Operations Committee, but after that it is a little bit of an unknown. Typically the Senate has waited for the House to pass a stadium bill before it will even begin working on their version. After the State and Local Government Operations Committee I'm pretty sure a bill would have to pass Pogemiller's Senate Taxes Committee, but truthfully the committees in between and after are unknown.
- Once the bill passes through committees in the Senate it would go to the floor of the Senate where it has always been asssumed that it would have a much easier time passing than a corresponding bill in the House. Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out if this is true.
- Let's say that a workable stadium bill passes both the House and the Senate. While that would be amazing in itself, most likely the two bills passed would have some differences. Potentially even major differences. So, a conference committee would need to be called to work out those differences and come up with a bill that everyone can hopefully agree on.
- The resulting conference committee bill would need to be voted on by the full House and the full Senate again. I know, can this process get any more painful?
- Yes, it can. After the bill passes the House and the Senate it must be signed into law by the governor. T-Paw, in an election year, would have to sign a bill into law that raises a tax in Hennepin County to build a Twins stadium. You better believe T-Paw will be feeling the pressure from anti-stadium zealots and the Taxpayer's League to not sign this bill.
- Let's say T-Paw does sign the bill into law. All done right? Wrong. Now, the Hennepin County commissioners will meet again to vote on whether or not to proceed with the plan based on the resulting bill passed by our legislature. Conceivably, there could be some parts of the bill that don't make the commissioners happy, and they could vote to not proceed. This is extremely unlikely since the pro-stadium commissioners will be a part of the legislative process in an advisory capacity, but it could happen. Most likely the vote in the Hennepin County Commissioners meeting will be 4-3 in favor of the bill, with Linda Koblick, Gail Dorfman, and Penny Steele vociferously and angrily protesting its passage.
- At this point, if a bill got this far, if it actually got to the point where the first shovel-full of dirt could be dug, monkeys would fly out of my butt. And thus ends the path a bill would take.
So, do you have a better understanding of what needs to happen for a Twins stadium to actually be built? I don't know, but writing all this out makes it seem almost impossible. The 2006 legislative session will end on May 22nd. Can all this work be done before that date? Don't worry, I'll never give up! It also demonstrates the importance of contacting our legislative leaders and making your voice heard.
As always, please let me know if I've missed anything. Until next time, have a good one!
March 14, 2006
Last week the illustrious spycake challenged my notion that the Hennepin County plan would be able to pay off the debt early like in Denver:
Shane, I'm no bond expert, but I wouldn't be so confident that these bonds will be retired early. The Coors Field sales tax in Denver covered a six county region, in a rapidly growing metro area during a generally improving economy throughout the 1990s. I don't quite see the same conditions here, especially if big new suburban developments in Blaine (*ahem* Vikings *ahem*) or Maplewood (Target) divert some retail spending from Hennepin County.
Well, believe it or not more than just anti-stadium people read this blog. I got an interesting anonymous rebuttle to spycake's comment:
In order to secure the lowest interest rate on the bonds (the cheapest debt), the rating agencies require a 'coverage ratio.' This means the proposed tax must generate more than the scheduled debt service. For a tax-exempt revenue bonds supported by a general sales tax, the coverage ratio is 30%. So even if there was zero growth in Hennepin's economy (doubtful), HC would still be collecting 30% more than was needed for annual debt service--and the opportunity for early debt retirement would still be there. This state-wide sale tax chart does show a dip in sale tax revenues the late 1990's, but ... overall the trend line shows steady growth and you can bet a good deal of the state's growth was generated in Hennepin County.
Lastly, Target's proposed $1.7 billion development is in Brooklyn Park--Mike Opat's district.
So, there you have it. I think it is safe to say the debt will be paid off early. And while there may be more money flowing to Anoka County thanks to a new Vikings stadium, there will be a lot of new money coming to Hennepin County thanks to the Target development spycake speaks of.
A little birdy tells me that Phil Krinkie has been making threats that he won't hear any Twins stadium proposal in his House Taxes Committee until May 15. In my opinion, this threat is very real given that Krinkie did the exact same thing last year. Last year's Twins stadium bill passed the Government Operations Committee, and the Local Government Committee before finally coming to the Taxes Committee where it was never heard. Granted, Krinkie and the other legislators had a possible government shutdown to deal with, but delaying a bill's hearing at the committee level is a tried a true method of killing it, especially in a shortened session.
Remember, even if the Twins stadium bill passes the Taxes Committee it has to go to the Ways and Means Committee next where it will continue to get hammered and delayed.
I am hopeful that Sviggum, as Speaker of the House, can speed things along in the case of an inevitable delay, but who knows. I am also told that May 7th is the 6th Congressional District's caucus to endorse candidates for the federal House of Reps. Krikie wants desperately to win this endorsement. Could Krinkie be delaying because he wants the endorsement? Could there be a conflict of interest here? While I would love to see Krinkie recuse himself over a possible conflict of interest with the Twins stadium bill (what is the color of the sky in my world?) it is very unlikely to happen.
I'll keep you posted as I hear more.
The Gopher's stadium bill will receive its first hearing today in the Capital Investment Committee. Here is hoping it can be quickly passed so they can move to the Twins bill.
Finally, if you didn't see the Viking Underground yesterday, you should check it out. Mr. Cheer or Die interviews the great Larry Spooner in a new podcast discussing the new Vikings stadium in Anoka County. Larry Spooner is the fan representative on the Minnesota Momentum campaign and he's got some interesting things to say about the positive effects of that development.
That's all I got for now. Pretty good, heh?
March 13, 2006
Thoughts on the Puckett Memorial
I went to the Puckett Memorial last night. Like many of you, because of the snow coming I thought I would just watch it on TV, but I'm really glad I went. It was a beautiful ceremony complete with lauging and tears. I choked up when Andy MacPhail started to choke up, and I shed a few tears when John Gordon introduced Kirby's kids. Man that must be hard.
All of the speeches were wonderful, but I especially enjoyed Cal Ripken's, Harmon Killebrew's, and Kent Hrbek's. Ripken described his first meeting with Kirby and how Kirby talked his, and Eddie Murray's, ear off for 15 minutes during a one-sided conversation before finally letting Cal and Eddie go on their way. Cal then jokingly revealed that Kirby talked them right out of their chance to take BP before their game. Who knows if that was Kirby's true intent, but I wouldn't be surprised.
As the papers have already described, Hrbek talked about how God must have needed a 3 hitter and that He took Kirby too soon. Hrbek also said that during their time as Twins, most of the animals, dogs and cats, in Minnesota were named Kirby. But if anyone ever had a horse or a cow in Minnesota they named it Herbie. That got a big laugh.
I would have to say that the Killer got the biggest ovation last night. That was special to see and I think he was touched by it. But his lamenting on how Kirby will no longer be able to sing at his funeral was heart-breaking.
I brought my older son with me to the ceremony. He saw Kirby play when he was younger, but of course has no recollection of him, or any of the other old-time Twins that were sitting on the field. He still said he was glad he went. I think he could see how choked up I was.
So, after the ceremony walking back to the car I tried to explan what Kirby meant to me and the state of Minnesota. I told him about how Kirby never left Minnesota, and how rare it is for a baseball player to play their entire career for one team. I described to him my freshman year in college during the 1991 World Series, and I how I don't think I have ever hugged that many people at once after Kirby hit that game 6 home run. I told him about dancing in the streets into the wee hours of the morning in Moorhead after game 7, and how Twins baseball has given me lifelong friends and memories I'll never forget.
I told him that I hope he will have his own Kirby Puckett, and his own memories of Minnesota on top, because I have never seen this state so happy and so in tune with each other since that magical 1991 season.
My son just smiled at me, and laughed at my stories, and let me ramble on until we got home. It was good to get it all off my chest. And while it would have been nice to see the Metrodome packed last night, 20,000 people gave Kirby a really nice send-off and it hopefully gave the organization and the current Twins players a nice bit of closure. Gardy promised us all Kirby-style baseball this year full of hustle and hard work. Because of last night, I honestly feel better now, and I am very excited for another season of Twins baseball.
March 10, 2006
Confirmation: Greg Davids is a Yes
Thanks to an anonymous reader, we have this tidbit from the Fillmore County Journal in Preston, MN:
You might want to refine your stadium scorecard for Davids(31B)
Journal: There is a lot of talk about stadiums - are any of them viable? All of them [U of M, Twins, Vikings]?
Davids: Two of the three are viable. I think the Gopher stadium could go ahead because they have done so much private fundraising. I think the Gopher stadium gets done this year, and I will support that.
If the Twins proposal is as it was in '05, where Pohlad puts in $125 million and then there's a designated sales tax increase in Hennepin County only, I would support that.
On the Twins or the Vikings, I will not use general fund money, because then we are taking money out of education, nursing homes and health care.
The Vikings have a ways to go. They have another proposal out there, it is hard to keep up with the different proposals they come forward with.
My prediction is, one for sure (Gophers); two pretty good chance (Twins); three (Vikings) is not going to happen.
This means that the House Taxes Committee now sits at 13 no, and 16 yes for the Hennepin County Twins stadium bill. This is very, very good news (for some of us). Thanks for sending and keep those updates coming!
And as an aside, for the life I me I don't understand why the Vikings aren't getting more support for their initiative in Anoka County. Check this out from the PiPress from a couple of weeks ago:
Trying to pull even in the stadium race, Vikings lead owner Zygi Wilf says he might back off his request for a politically sensitive state subsidy if lawmakers grant his wish for an Anoka County sales tax.
If they get permission to impose the tax, Wilf said, they might withdraw the state subsidy request, which would take the form of an unprecedented $115 million tax-increment financing district.
"If a TIF district is not possible, we have to find another way to fund it,'' he said, adding that he already has had meetings with financial consultants on the matter.
Did you catch that? Not only would Zygi sink $1 billion dollars of private investment in the deal, but he would also pay for some of the infrastructure (which is what the bulk of the state contribution would have covered). Aside from Zygi paying for the stadium himself, I don't know how this deal can get any better.
Could someone explain to me why legislators are so reluctant to embrace it? In many ways it is superior to the Twins plan, yet most legislators say they won't go near it. I know they want to handle the Gophers and Twins first. Maybe it is just an issue of priorities and lack of time.
March 9, 2006
The Kirby Puckett Memorial in front of the Metrodome
I went to the Kirby Puckett Memorial in front of the Metrodome today. It was a touching and moving display. These pictures really don't do it justice. And while I expected to be one of the only mourners at the memorial, there was actually a steady stream of people while I was there.
Those of you with slower internet connections, there are 12 more pictures in the extended entry.
The usual stuff
Hello all. While it has been difficult around here with the passing of Kirby, life goes on and the battle for justice and the American way continues at the Greet Machine.
While I would love it if Kirby's final gift to Twins fans in the upper Midwest was renewed focus from our legislature to finally solve this stadium mess, I would still be surprised if that is how it shakes out. Some of our legislative leaders' hearts may have softened a bit but give it a couple of weeks and we'll be back to the status quo of cold, hard rocks intent on only one thing: getting reelected. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but I'm not Norwegian-Lutheran for nothing. If I'm wrong please convince me otherwise.
As always, I believe the votes are there if a stadium bill ever got to the floor of the House. Getting to the floor though ... that is another story. The Taxes Committee and the Ways and Means Committee are too close to really call right now. The trouble with these committees is that Ron Abrams is on both of them! Curse our luck...
Before I leave this train of thought, Jeff A from the beautiful state of South Dakota has this to say:
I'm obviously not very close to the situation, but I wonder whether the death of Kirby Puckett, sad as it is, will result in people remembering why and how much they love the Twins and result in a new ballpark being built. I don't know how likely that is, but it seems like it might be possible.
Kirby has already been credited with saving the franchise once. Wouldn't it be something if, with his death, he wound up saving it again?
Yes, Jeff, that would be wonderful. Is Kirby saying "Jump on my back" one more time? Time will tell.
Speaking of Ron Abrams, he was recently quoted in the Minnetonka Sun Sailor where he had a few things to say about my favorite topic. When asked about the chances for a stadium bill passing the legislature this session Abrams replied:
It is difficult to predict the outcome of any stadium initiative. The Twins are insisting that any stadium bill not include a referendum requirement. If the Legislature complies, it will call into question a number of other provisions in Minnesota law calling for voter approval. Additionally, some drafts of the Twins proposal call for the bonds issued by Hennepin County be general obligation bonds, meaning that if revenues from a sales tax fall short, Hennepin County property tax owners will be required to pay higer taxes to make up the shortfall.
While his first two points are valid, the last point about general obligation bonds is flat out false. The only option for these bonds are revenue bonds funded by the sales tax. The sales tax alone will be more than enough and will probably retire the debt early as it did in Denver for Coors Field. While this will be a small consolation for people opposed to any tax whatsoever, it does mean that the Hennepin County plan won't touch property taxes at all. I shouldn't be surprised with this piece of disinformation from Abrams given his anti-stadium stance, but I am. Again, though, it probably doesn't really matter to those people who are against apple pie anyway.
That's all I got for now.
March 8, 2006
So, needless to say this has been a tough week for Twins related bloggers such as myself. Like I said below, Kirby's death has impacted me in a way I didn't expect. I don't mind admitting I have gotten a little misty eyed reading some of the great stuff that is being written about Minnesota's greatest sports hero. (For a great listing of all the stuff that has been written about Puckett see this fantastic post from Seth Speaks. Nice work on that one, Seth!). The outward display of affection towards Puck has been inspirational and I only wish Puckett could have been alive to see it. There is no doubt he had a rough go of it the last few years of his life. While he might have deserved some of it, everyone deserves a second chance. This is especially true considering all the positives Puckett brought to Minnesota as a state, and the upper Midwest in general. Puckett became a forgotten man, it seems, these past few years. Maybe even the butt of some ill-conceived jokes. That is a shame because truly, of all the athletes I have watched throughout my life, he did not deserve it. What he deserved are the accolades he is receiving now.
Speaking of which, I have some comments about some of the articles I have been reading:
- I agree with Seth that Reusse's article on the topic was one of the best. His description of Puck ribbing Harper over the fall of Jimmy Swaggart is hilarious. I also liked Jim Souhan's piece about how Puckett was so welcoming of new teammates, young and old.
- And as you might expect, I just about lost it reading Nick "Stupid Head" Coleman's tribute to Puckett in today's paper. It really, really has me steamed considering all the hate he pours towards the Twins franchise. It is like Stalin writing a tribute to Trotsky. It is like Nero writing a tribute to the Christians. It is so shallow and hollow and deceiving ... it just really ticks me off that he would even dare to try to buddy up to Twins fans. Where does this guy get the balls?
- I was also ticked off with this ESPN article by Gene Wojciechowski. First of all let me just say I agree with all he has to say about the mockery of a baseball player that is Barry Bonds. He is a drugged monster who has no place on the field. He has tarnished the game and shouldn't even be able to buy a ticket to see the displays at Cooperstown. But what has me ticked off with Wojciechowski is that he even mentioned Puckett in the same breath as this turkey. Leave Puckett out of it. (Isn't it ironic that I have just made the same mistake in this post?)
- I loved this piece by Boof's Bergblog. How he pulled off a comparision between Optimus Prime and Puckett I will never know, but I am impressed. And regarding the Transformers movie in which Optimus Prime was killed ... that has to be the dumbest idea ever in the history of animation. Who was the marketing genius who approved that idea? Kill off everyone's favorite character? Sheesh ... it almost makes Nick Coleman look like a Rhodes Scholar. OK maybe not a Rhodes Scholar, maybe just a graduate of National American University (hey Tim!).
There were more articles I enjoyed, but I would have to say that these were the ones that prompted a reaction. Also, now I am reading that citizens of Minnesota are clamoring for a new stadium to be named Kirby Puckett Park or something like that. All I have to say is don't hold your breath. Personally I would love it, but there is too much money to be made to allow that to happen. We'll see how it shakes out.
Finally, I hope this event has taught all Minnesotans what a powerful impact sports can have on all our lives, fans and non-fans alike. Puckett brought us together like no politician or celebrity ever could. Like the Star Tribune said concerning the '87 and '91 seasons, "No one who lived here in those magical days can doubt the spirit that sports can bring to a community." That is what we can thank Kirby for: reaching the pinnacle of his sport and brining us all along for the ride. Thanks Kirby!
March 6, 2006
We'll miss you, Kirby
It has been hard to think about anything else. This has hit me harder than I thought it would. I'll miss you Kirby. Thanks for everything.
March 3, 2006
Links of the day
It's been a long time. Here are some interesting links I've been collecting:
- Get a free USB drive from Microsoft! Click the link and then click "Valuable Information" on the right. It comes preloaded, but I'm sure you can erase the data.
- Great article on using toothpaste to repair scratched CDs. I shall give this a try.
- Spielberg himself says that he is working on Indiana Jones 4. Harrison Ford may be getting a little old, but I am thrilled about this development.
- Serenity DVD sales finally put it into the black. Hopefully this means there will be a sequel or TV special or something!
- Lego re-enactments of famous video games. I love the Metal Gear shots. Good memories.
- If you didn't read this article by Flemming Rose, editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, about why he published the infamous Muhammed cartoons you should definitely do so. Very good explanation.
- If you want more on this topic, the Boston Globe wrote a great editorial: "We are all Danes now."
- Holy cow ... 900+ Web 2.0 applications all categorized for our convenience. I shall spend some time perusing this, most definitely.
- Great list of how some famous companies got their names. For example, ever wonder how eBay.com got its name? Now you'll know.
- Everyone has linked to this, so why shouldn't I? Zillow.com gives you an estimate on not only how much your home is worth, but also your neighbors' homes.
- Funny! Hoth2014.com, the planet Hoth's bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Watch out for the Wampas!
- And here is a link listing out the amazing stuff people get in their Oscar "goodie bag." A years supply of olive oil?!?!? Yes!
- This has some potential: http://lib.rario.us/. Catalog your books and media files on this site, and I suppose find out about what other potential media you may like based on lists similar to your own. But I can't find a search function (?).
- Cool! "The Black Hole Flight Simulator" is a 23 minute video, narrated by Liam Neeson, that took "90 hours of supercomputer calculation for each on-screen second." I hope this comes to the Science Museum of Minnesota.
That's all for now.
March 2, 2006
I just received a rather hateful comment from a person that seems to be kind of upset with my entry from almost 2 years ago called Restaurants to Avoid. The post lists out restaurants that voted "no" on a survey concerning whether or not they would be in favor of a 3% tax in St. Paul to build a new Twins stadium. Here is the text of the comment:
Typical old school liberal Minnesotan… always trying to spend my money.
If you want the Twins to stay so bad why don't you and your friend’s volunteer a 3% increase in your own income taxes for the next thirty years and while you're at it, leave your entire estate to billionaire Carl Pollad. Excuse me I meant the Twins organization.
Next time you want to put someone on your McCarthy style list why don't you think first? The St. Paul restaurant list-to-avoid you posted sometime ago has several ma & pa restaurants on it that do many great things, but you don't care about that because your form of baseball communism runs over everything just like Mao did.
I won't isolate any one of them on the list. Just know this, many of these restaurants support fire fighters, police and the disadvantaged. To make a claim to boycott them because of one issue is ignorant and says volumes about you.
My question for all of you is did I really overstep my bounds here? What if the reasons for the list were different ... What if I had eaten at all of these restaurants and I found the food to be really bad, or the service to be poor? Is it OK then to list them out as "restaurants to avoid"? Or should I always keep a negative opinion to myself, regardless of the reason? I mean, even if I didn't like the food at the restaurants on this list there would still be "several ma & pa restaurants on it that do many great things."
For me, my reasons for listing them out were the same as if the food was poor. I am essentially giving them a negative review because they are doing something I don't care for (they are against a Twins stadium being built in St. Paul). Is that so bad? Don't restaurants get negative (and positive) reviews all the time? In fact, I've received many comments from people that tell me they are going to support these restaurants because of their stance. I think this is great! Why not? That is what makes democracy and freedom of speech work: having the freedom to make your own decisions for your own reasons.
These restaurants took a stand on an issue they felt strongly about. Good for them. Can I not take a stand myself? I'm really wondering ... please let me know.
Until then, let's just review what this commenter compares me to: A "typical liberal Minnesotan," McCarthy, a communist, Chairman Mao, and seemingly just a flat out ignorant person. Cool! (Not that I think I am like any of this, I am just impressed with the amount of vitriol this person could pack into one comment. Well done sir!)
Ain't freedom of speech wonderful?
My thoughts on various topics
Let's start with the most obvious. I have been doing a lot of updating to the Voter's Guide, the votes in the House Taxes Committee, and the votes in the House Ways and Means Committee. Right now I am pretty confident that I have them correct, and right now they all show that a Twins stadium bill will pass (sometimes barely). I had to switch a bunch of people back to no since I seem to have misunderstood some of the information I have been receiving. If anyone has any insight to these predictions, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (if you'd like to remain anonymous) or leave a comment below. Things are looking good!
Speaking of which, thanks to a late night phone call from Cheesehead Craig last night I was able to catch the last half of TPT Almanac on channel 2 (PBS). They were interviewing both Dean Johnson and Steve Sviggum and asking them about various issues that might come up in this legislative session. A lot of time was spent on an amendment to the Minnesota constitution to ban gay marriage (which I find to be a ridiculous waste of time), and then they got into stadiums. Both Sviggum and Johnson said they want to vote on both a Gophers and Twins stadium, and both said they think the Hennepin County plan is a pretty good one. Sviggum said he didn't think they could get to a Vikings stadium this session, but Johnson actually said he hoped they would take care of that one too.
This isn't exactly earth shattering news, but it still puts a little bounce in my step today. Of course, nothing will happen until T-Paw and/or "legislative leadership" asks Hennepin County to begin negotiating with the Twins again, but I will let you know if that is happening as soon as I hear something.
Last week I also heard that Tony Cornish could be switching his vote from a No for a Twins stadium to a Yes. This was shocking news to me since last year in the Local Government committee Cornish made it quite clear that he would only vote for a Twins stadium if the Twins put up half. So, I wrote him an email asking him if he was now in favor of the Twins stadium, and if he was also in favor of the Vikings stadium in Anoka County since Zygi Wilf is putting up at least half. Here is the response I got:
You were given bad information. I plan to vote no on Twins Stadium.
Well, at least he isn't wishy washy about it. He also avoided my question on the Vikings stadium which I take to mean he would also vote no on that. Bummer.
Why am I telling you all of this? Please, I am begging you ... write your legislators and let me know what they say. They will write you back (most of the time) and sometimes their responses are very insightful. Plus, by writing your legislators we can put extra pressure on them to finally get this job done.
Finally, as most of you know I recently purchased an iPod Video as a gift to myself for everything I do for me. I know, how thoughtful of myself. Anyway, for the past three nights I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get a full length DVD onto it. Specifically, I've been trying to put The Matrix onto it. Well, don't you worry your pretty little head about it. Behold, my triumph:
Yes, I finally got it to work. My main problems were 1) I was using free software and sometimes that can be unreliable and 2) I couldn't get the audio and video to sync up. After trying a whole bunch of different settings on the software it finally went through. If you are interested in my process and/or settings, please let me know.
So, do you understand what this means? It means that I can now watch The Matrix on the 2.5 inch screen of my iPod! Aren't you jealous? I mean, you still have to watch The Matrix on your big screen TV with your surround sound system! I'm sorry, but that is truly pathetic! Get with the times, man.