Archive for July, 2008

China doll

July 31, 2008

One more reason to not be sad about missing the 2008 Olympics:

AP) Polishing up Beijing for the Olympics has extended to the city government telling residents what not to wear, advising against too many colors, white socks with black shoes, and parading in pajamas.

The advice, on top of campaigns to cut out public spitting and promote orderly lining up, was handed out in booklets to 4 million households ahead of the Olympics, an official said Thursday.

The etiquette book giving advice on everything from shaking hands to how to stand is part of a slew of admonitions on manners, said Zheng Mojie, deputy director of the Office of Capital Spiritual Civilization Construction Commission.

So, they’re shutting down factories and getting cars off the road so the air will be breathable. They’re urging citizens to spiffy up and get some manners. The Commie thugs will probably even be on their best behavior. Working toward an illusion that’s just perfectly apt for the Olympics, aren’t they?

Bring back variety

July 31, 2008

Yeah, I watched “America’s Got Talent” again this week, and, apparently, I’m not alone. It was the highest-rated show last week. The thing is, if you strip away the competition part and the inane chatter of the judges, what you have is just an old-fashioned variety show of the type introduced by Ed Sullivan and then slicked up a little by Dean Martin and Carol Burnett. I think there’s room for another one of those now.

And somebody in TV-land thinks so, too.

What I’m told is that Ben Silverman and Jeff Zucker like the idea — and it’s a great one that Rosie’s had for a long time. The new show could turn out to be a 2009 version of Carol Burnett or even “The Ed Sullivan Show.’

The latter would even be better with Rosie presenting it all live — as in not on tape — from a Broadway theater, possibly on Sunday night. The show would have skits but more importantly O’Donnell could feature all kinds of acts from comedy to drama to music — exactly what’s missing from prime time.

Rosie’s not my favorite entertainer, but she was an OK comedienne before she got so political. I’d probably check her show out a few times just to see how good the acts were.

Bad dogs

July 31, 2008

Just a little collateral damage in the War on Drugs:

A police SWAT team raided the home of the mayor in the Prince George’s County town of Berwyn Heights on Tuesday, shooting and killing his two dogs, after he brought in a 32-pound package of marijuana that had been delivered to his doorstep, police said.

Mayor Cheye Calvo was not arrested in the raid, which was carried out about 7 p.m. by the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and county police narcotics officers. Prince George’s police spokesman Henry Tippett said yesterday that all the residents of the house — Calvo, his wife and his mother-in-law — are “persons of interest” in the case.

[. . .]

Spokesmen for the Sheriff’s Office and Prince George’s police expressed regret yesterday that the mayor’s dogs were killed. But they defended the way the raid was carried out, saying it was proper for a case involving such a large amount of drugs.

Sgt. Mario Ellis, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the deputies who entered Calvo’s home “apparently felt threatened” by the dogs.

Yeah, I’ve known some black labs — really vicious dogs; they’re liable to lick you to death. And “persons of interest” — isn’t that police speak for “oops — how long do we have to wait before saying we might have screwed up here?”

The fame game

July 31, 2008

He has a point:

John Weaver,  for years one of John McCain’s closest friends and confidants, has been in exile since his resignation from McCain’s presidential campaign last year.    With the exception of an occasional interview, he has, by his own account, bit his tongue as McCain’s campaign has adopted a strategy that Weaver believes “diminishes John McCain.”

With the release today of a McCain television ad blasting Obama for celebrity preening while gas prices rise, and a memo that accuses Obama of putting his own aggrandizement before the country, Weaver said he’s had “enough.”

The ad’s premise, he said, is “childish.”

As Weaver says, a lot of people have been celebrities these days, including John McCain, so one’s fame, in and of itself, is meaningless. What matters is whether there is anything substantive to go along with the celebrity status. Comparing a presidential candidate to the likes of Paris Hilton, who is just famous for being famous, and Britney Spears, more famous for her bad behavior than any talent she might have left, is just silly.

And while there’s nothing wrong with negative ads (those dealing an opponent’s positions are by their nature negative), ones that seem to go out of the way to be mean-spirited will likely be counterproductive. Given the mood of the electorate these days, McCain should be smarter than making Obama sound right when he complains about “politics as usual.”

It’s coming, it’s coming!

July 31, 2008

Who says there’s never anything fun to do in Fort Wayne?

Right now you can buy your tickets to WWE World Wrestling Entertainment BEFORE the public. The free presale password for the WWE World Wrestling Entertainment show in Fort Wayne gives access to tickets for a short time.

Wow, a secret password that can get us in ahead of that nasty old public. You remember the public. They’re the ones who scream at the performers so loudly that it’s hard for the rest of us to concentrate on the brilliant strategies employed by these fine athletes.

True believers

July 31, 2008

Ah, The Nation. In case you don’t know that publication, think of the National Review, the Weekly Standard and the American Spectator all rolled into one but aimed at the left, on steroids, and with no internal governor to tell editors when they make the lunatic fringe sound reasonable. That magazine is offering some earnest advice to Barack Obama:

Only a grassroots base as broad and as energized as the one that is behind you can counteract the forces of money and established power that are a dead weight on those seeking real change in American politics.

We urge you, then, to listen to the voices of the people who can lift you to the presidency and beyond.

Since your historic victory in the primary, there have been troubling signs that you are moving away from the core commitments shared by many who have supported your campaign, toward a more cautious and centrist stance–including, most notably, your vote for the FISA legislation granting telecom companies immunity from prosecution for illegal wiretapping, which angered and dismayed so many of your supporters.

We recognize that compromise is necessary in any democracy. We understand that the pressures brought to bear on those seeking the highest office are intense. But retreating from the stands that have been the signature of your campaign will weaken the movement whose vigorous backing you need in order to win and then deliver the change you have promised.

In other words, be true to the cause and stop all that silly nonsense that might actually get you elected. Nothing is scarier than seeing someone through the eyes of the true believers and listening to what they expect from him.

Txtg — w’s t pnt?

July 31, 2008

For God’s sake, don’t give these people any gum:

But in an alert issued this week, the American College of Emergency Physicians warns of the danger of more serious accidents involving oblivious texters. The ER doctors cite rising reports from doctors around the country of injuries involving text-messaging pedestrians, bicyclists, Rollerbladers, even motorists.

Most involve scrapes, cuts and sprains from texters who walked into lampposts or walls or tripped over curbs.

I may be showing my age or revealing my technophobia, but I just don’t get texting. If I want to merely touch bases with someone, I’ll phone or send an e-mail. If I want to reveal more or ask more, I’ll write a letter — or a longer e-mail. Texting doesn’t really accomplish either of those.

Of course, there’s always personal interaction — actually being in the same physical space as someone else — but that’s really old-fashioned.

Hoosier hubris

July 31, 2008

Guess they’ve solved all their problems in Bloomington:

The Bloomington Peace Action Coalition has announced that the Bloomington City Council will debate and vote on a resolution opposing an attack on Iran and calling on Congress to support a diplomatic resolution to allegations that the country is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

No word yet on what the council recommends on gasoline prices, the housing crisis and world hunger, but I’lll be sure to keep you posted.

Hey, Rocky, watch . . . out!

July 31, 2008

Squirrel, 1; men mysteriously driving around at 3:30 a.m., 0:

Two Lafayette men avoided serious injuries overnight when their car rolled over after swerving to avoid a squirrel.

[. . .]

The car hit the right side curb, struck a tree, rolled over and landed upside down in the 18th Street intersection, Rosen said.

My first reaction was that I’d swerve for a dog or a cat or even a duck waddling across the road, but the squirrels should not test me. But I’m guessing this was just an instinctive reaction. Most of us do not think, when confronted with a wandering obstacle, “Why, I think I will make a sudden move to avoid that creature because, when all is said and done, all life is precious.” We just see something and hit the brakes.

Odds-on favorite

July 31, 2008

The oddsmakers at theSpread.com seem to be making Evan Bayh the favorite as Barack Obama’s vice presidential pick. He’s at 2-1 odds on the online sports book Bodog, with Tim Kaine at 6-1 and Hillary Clinton at 5-1. Say the Spread handicappers:

Outside of Indiana being a very important state to the Democratic party, Evan could help with those working middle class voters that Obama has failed to bring into his camp as hoped. Don’t forget he is not only from a Red State but was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and can help with getting some of her people to embrace Obama.

After reviewing the field, we feel the smart money should be either on Evan Bayh or Tim Kaine for the VP nomination. Toss Hillary out of the mix, as she would be more of a detriment to the Democratic camp, as a Clinton VP would energize the Republican base in swing states.

Not sure what to make of this, but they’re probably at least as reliable as the pundits and the pollsters.

The table just got bigger

July 30, 2008

So, John McCain has gone from “I will not agree to any tax increase” to “nothing’s off the table”:

Economics has never been Mr. McCain’s strong suit, but with Iraq receding as a crisis the economy is the ground where the Senator will have to fight and win. And the tax issue provides him with a potent opening, given Mr. Obama’s pledge to raise taxes on incomes, dividends and capital gains. In proposing to raise the payroll tax cap, the Democrat is to the left even of Hillary Clinton. Mr. McCain’s Sunday blunder will make that issue that much harder to exploit.

Such mistakes also help explain the continued lack of enthusiasm for Mr. McCain among many conservatives.

No kidding. Given Obama’s fondness for tax increases and McCain’s usually deserved reputation for fiscal restraint, I thought there was a clear choice between the candidates in this area, and I’d much rather this be one of those issues McCain doesn’t flip-flop over. Still, “nothing’s off the table” is probably a more honest answer, and I’d rather hear it now than have to read his lips later.

Past as prologue

July 30, 2008

Nobody who has ever run for the White House has been a shrinking violet. All politicians think mighty highly of themselves, and presidential candidates can be expected to have the biggest egos of all. But Obama sure does abuse the privilege:

Obama was waxing lyrical about last week’s trip to Europe, when he concluded, according to the meeting attendee, “this is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world is waiting for.”

The 200,000 souls who thronged to his speech in Berlin came not just for him, he told the enthralled audience of congressional representatives. “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions,” he said, according to the source.

Or, aw shucks, was he really being self-effacing?

But one leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context. According to that aide, Obama said, “It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign — that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol.”

I guess I’d like to know what those wonderful traditions we’ve lost are. These, maybe?

“There’s no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for,” Obama told hundreds of attendees of UNITY ’08, a convention of four minority journalism associations.

Small change

July 30, 2008

Oil prices have fallen to $122 a barrel, and gas, I noticed on the way to work today, is $3.80-something a gallon. Demand is down in the U.S., and the dollar has strengthened. Isn’t it funny how that works? Today’s conditions aren’t any more likely to be permanent than $147-a-barrel oil or $4.25-a-gallon gas were, but might we sound a small warning to those who are still stuck in panic mode, like the editors of the Indianapolis Star?

A new Federal Highway Administration report has found that in May drivers in Indiana reduced their mileage by 5.3 percent, or 336 million miles, from a year ago. Only three states recorded bigger declines.

Clearly the public mind-set has shifted. Driving an automobile, even in the month of May, is no longer seen as a hardcore Hoosier birthright. A gallon of regular at $4 a pop has a way of clarifying what’s truly important.

[. . .]

The bulk of the money raised from the federal gas tax goes to road building. The state is even more committed to highways. But, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters noted on Tuesday, there needs to be a gradual shift of dollars from highways to transit.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has been a visionary leader in many issues involving the state, but he’s trailed on this subject.

[. . .]

Hoosiers are changing their habits. Rushing from Point A to Point Z is giving way to better planning of trips, downsizing vehicles and even jumping on the bus when possible.

State and local leaders need to catch up.

Good lord. Gas is more expensive, so Hoosiers are driving a little less. That does not mean they are clamoring for public transit or ready to give up that evil “hardcore Hoosier birthright” of being able to go exactly where they want to exactly when they want to. They are just driving less. All that money was poured into highways because Americans in great numbers fell in love with the automobile, and they needed somewhere to drive them. That was government accommodating the collective will of the people.

Public transportation is an easier sell in densely packed urban areas, which Indiana really has very few of. Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, for example, are just too spread out for public transit to be anything but an expensive proposition; the more people who want to use it, the more money it can lose. But the urban planner types who have had mass transit on their agenda for a long time see recent conditions as a way to get their pet projects jump-started. This is using people’s momentary change in habits to push something on them that some other people think is better for them. That’s not what we should want government to be doing.

Holy cat!

July 30, 2008

That Jesus guy sure gets around:

A small kitten is being called a holy cat, or a feline with Jesus on her side — literally.

Ten weeks ago, the Johnson family rescued two kittens after their mother abandoned them outside of their house in Goshen.

Recently Lori Johnson’s husband was petting the female kitten, Sissy, when he noticed markings on her fur that look like Jesus.

There’s a blurry pciture with the story, and if you squint real hard it kind of looks like a guy with a beard and long hair. I don’t think it’s really Jesus, though. Last I heard, he was at a Taco Bell somewhere in Michigan.

The naked and the dead

July 30, 2008

I wasn’t really going to say much about this, merely point out that it’s an opening sentence not many of us ever expected to see:

An Illinois man apparently drowned while swimming at a nudist colony just west of Valparaiso, Indiana.

But then I got to thinking about it. The nudist experience has been so foreign to Indiana that Roselawn became infamous just because it had a colony. Now there’s one in Valparaiso? Actually, there are five “clubs” in the state operated by the American Association of Nude Recreation (which has the motto “Shed your worries when you shed your clothers”). I’m guessing volleyball is still the preferred recreation.

Peyton plays

July 30, 2008

Never mind the gubernatorial race, the condition of Indiana’s economy, the worry over gas prices and the housing crisis and all that other silly stuff. This is what Hoosiers really care about:

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Peyton Manning has taken his next step on his road to recovery. The Indianapolis Colts quarterback has arrived in town.

Exactly where is still in question.

[. . .]

Manning had been at his Indianapolis home recovering from July 14 surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee. The team said then that his recovery time would take between four and six weeks.

Dungy made it clear the team will not put Manning on the practice field until he’s ready.

So when will he be ready, huh? When, when, when? Unless we’re talking dynasty, which would seem to be overstating it for the Colts, Super Bowl teams fall apart awfully fast. This year is pretty much do or die for a repeat, so we need a healthy Manning. Of course, that super duper expensive new stadium will probably get us at least one touchdown a game, what with the players’ self-esteem being so high and all. Still, we need Peyton our there playing his heart out.

Same old rule

July 30, 2008

“Scrabulous was great PR for you and you had to ruin it for EVERYONE,” wrote one whiny Facebook user after losing access to the site’s most popular diversion:

It’s game over for Scrabulous; the popular Scrabble knockoff game on Facebook is no longer available as of this morning.

Facebook users who logged on to play the word puzzle game this morning instead got a message that it has been “disabled for U.S. and Canadian users until further notice.”

The game was one of the most popular applications on the social networking site, but Hasbro filed a lawsuit last week accusing Scrabulous makers of having infringed on copyrights with the Facebook game.

The first sentence says it all — the game was a knockoff. Scrabble is trademarked — it is owned by somebody, and you can’t just take somebody’s legal property for your own benefit. This is one of those old rules people online think don’t apply to them. Sometimes, they’re right, and some of the rules are being changed by our collective digital experience. But this isn’t one of them, so far.

A burning question

July 29, 2008

We had a fire drill at work today, and it made me feel like I was back in high school. I considered skipping out and heading downtown instead of going back to work when it was over. But I probably would have gotten caught, like the time when I was a sophomore and I was in study hall when the fire-drill bell sounded. “Let’s go to Murphys,” a bunch of us decided. “They never take attendance in study hall.” Well, they did that day, and we ended up in detention. How come the people who routinely break the rules so often get away with it, but the ones who decide to do it once for a lark so often get caught?

Corrupt and cheap

July 29, 2008

Remember the phony impersonating wrestler Steve Austin in Greensburg? The story’s gotten even better:

 former police officer faces theft and official misconduct charges for allegedly pocketing money while investigating a scam that sold fake autographs of action film actor “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

David L. Scudder, who was charged last week, resigned from the Greensburg police force on June 30 after the Indiana State Police began investigating his actions.

Prosecutors said Scudder, 37, seized money from a man who was acting as the “promoter” of a man who resembles Austin, a wrestler who’s made the transition to films.

[. . .]

The “promoter” told the officers he had collected about $166 that day, but said that his cohort had already left with that money.

Despite that, Scudder asked the man to give him $166 of his own money and then gave the man a receipt — a transaction captured on Wal-Mart surveillance video — before announcing to those present, including Cruze, that he had seized the cash, the affidavit states.

Scudder’s investigation report filed two days later made no mention of the money or the receipt being logged as evidence, according to the affidavit.

If you’re gonna go bad as a cop, since that’s going to change your life forever, shouldn’t you hold out for a little more than $166?

Dancing with Dan

July 29, 2008

Hoosier Dan Quayle hasn’t been in the news much lately, but that might change, unfortunately:

There have been murmurings recently that a major American political figure is being aggressively courted by ABC to compete on the next edition of “Dancing With the Stars.”

But then Monday, gossip news site gossipsauce.com reported that the person in question is merely former vice president Dan Quayle, who served under George H. W. Bush.

As this brief report (from the Philadelphia Inquirer) makes plain, the press hasn’t forgotten how to pile on Quayle. Appearing on such a silly show won’t do much for his image.

War of the words

July 29, 2008

It’s been widely discussed that how a poll question is worded can affect the outcome of the poll. Apparently, that’s true for ballot initiatives as well:

Supporters of Proposition 8, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, said they would file suit today to block a change made by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to the language of the measure’s ballot title and summary.

Petitions circulated to qualify the initiative for the ballot said the measure would amend the state Constitution “to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

In a move made public last week and applauded by same-sex marriage proponents, the attorney general’s office changed the language to say that Proposition 8 seeks to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

[. . .]

Political analysts on both sides suggest that the language change will make passage of the initiative more difficult, noting that voters might be more reluctant to pass a measure that makes clear it is taking away existing rights.

Supporters of the measure have a point. One way of wording it just says what will be done — the other says who it will be done to. One version will get more votes for one side, and the other would cost that side votes. There’s no way to make the language neutral.

Maybe everybody should insist on such help with the language. Proposals to designate public areas nonsmoking could be worded, “The right of some taxpayers to engage in a lawful activity in places of their choice will be taken away.” And let’s make all tax proposals include the wording, “The citizens in this jurisdiction will longer have the right to keep and spend the same amount of their own money as in the past.”

The next wave

July 29, 2008

Good God almighty, isn’t there anybody left among the morons in Wahington who can do the simple freakin’ math and connect the !@*!*^&*# dots? On the same day we have this story:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s budget deficit will surge past a half-trillion dollars next year, according to gloomy new estimates, a record flood of red ink that promises to force the winner of the presidential race to dramatically alter his economic agenda.

We also had this one:

The bill extends a government lifeline to Fannie and Freddie, shoring up public confidence in the two biggest providers of funding for U.S. mortgages and their $5.2 trillion of debt. It creates an independent agency to regulate the companies, launches a Federal Housing Administration program to insure as much as $300 billion in mortgages and provides tax credits to first-time buyers in a bid to reduce a backlog of unsold homes.

A government that is all things to all people, cushions every blow, protects us against every bad decision,  spend, spend, spend, and we’re shocked that the deficit might surge? And we’re about to elect a Democratic president and a filibuster-proof Congress. The next conservative backlash is building even as the current conservative crackup is being celebrated.

Lost on $pace

July 29, 2008

Commercial space flight is almost here, but being one of the first to try it would be like being an early user of all the new electronic toys: You pay three or four times as much as the people who wait for Version 2 or 3, and you have to put up with all the bugs that haven’t been worked out yet. My sister says she’d really like to take the trip if she had the money, but it I think it’s way too much money just to experience a moment or two of weightlessnes:

Despite the buzz surrounding White Knight Two’s debut, significant hurdles remain before customers can experience zero gravity for $200,000 a ticket.

A week in a colony on the moon — now, that’s something I’d be willing to pay for. But it’s something that won’t be available in my lifetime, one of the many things I’m sorry I will miss.

What’s old is new again

July 29, 2008

Good lord:

The duds say it all – and it’s depressing.

Taking a cue from the grim economy, this fall’s fashions at Banana Republic, Gap and H&M are featuring a distinctly Depression-era trend of cloche hats, pencil skirts, conductor caps and baggy, vintage-style dresses.

One of the most popular styles appears to hark back to the impish, newsboy getup of the 1930s: baggy trousers, caps, pinstriped vests, oxford lace-up shoes and utilitarian handbags.”

Let’s go for Depression-era food, while we’re at it, and Depression-era housing, and Depression-era employment. Some Fashion Institute professor says in the story that given the unstable economy we’re in, maybe the retro style “has come back as a way to connect with our heritage.” How deep. Silly me — I thought it was just fashion-industry trendsetters trying to make a buck off people even shallower than they are.

Planning ahead

July 29, 2008

You can have enough medicine to feel good, but, you know, not enough to feel good:

A medical marijuana cardholder who deputies said had too many plants was arrested Friday morning.

 Detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit served a search warrant at the home of Marc Kauffman, 56, just before 10 a.m. and found that he had 35 mature marijuana plants and eight immature marijuana plants in his house, deputies said.

 People with a medical marijuana card can only have six mature plants and 18 immature plants, deputies said.

My medical plan now lets me fill prescriptions three months at a time. I’m sure that’s probably all this guy was doing.