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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Sunday, July 31, 2005

It Takes a Read of My Book

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) appeared on This Week With George Stephanopolous this morning, pushing his new book It Takes a Family, which attacks what he claims is an elitist movement that attacks stay-at-home mothers specifically and the American family in general.

While I haven't read his book, his side of the interview was equal parts speaking into an echo chamber, tilting at windmills, and energizing an easily disgruntled base, so I can imagine what I would read after spending US$25.00 (list). He uttered all the conversative Republican buzz words -- e.g. "Hollywood culture," "elistists," "liberal academia," "Hillary Clinton." He believes an elistist movement as epitomized by Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem -- he couldn't recall any other names -- is pressuring both fathers and mothers to equate success in their work lives as success in their family. He says that one could easily round up stay-at-home mothers who feel pressured to work.

On that count he's right, but he's completely misframed a debate that should be conducted in the American public. It is well known that middle class women were empowered to work not out of desire but out of the necessity. In the 1970s, the buying power of a typical single middle class income dropped dramatically. Consider these estimates:

College graduates earned 1.43 times as much as high school grads in 1972 but 1.82 times as much by 1992.

Those with advanced degrees made 1.72 times as much as high school grads in 1972, 2.54 times as much in 1992.

Also, during the 1970s, average mortgages began to outpace middle incomes and companies began to begin cycles of mergers and layoffs while not paying enough to compensate for inflation. All of this adds up to a strong need for two incomes to support the average household.

Perhaps Senator Santorum should look to his own body of fellow legislators and the companies that fill their coffers before he points the finger at some vague group of elitists who want to destroy the nuclear family, which itself is a false notion, but that's for another time.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:18 AM
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Friday, July 29, 2005

How to defeat the Cubs

  1. Call up a hot young starting pitcher from Triple-A.
  2. Allow them to get on base. Cub hitters tend to get dumber or more desperate with men on.
  3. Wear out their starting pitcher as early as possible.
  4. Play them at Wrigley Field.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:15 AM
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Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Final Spam Solution

Someone in Russia has discovered the most effective means of ending spam.

A fresh, crisp Andrew Jackson note says that one of the CSIs, Law & Orders, or Without A Trace will use this story in an episode in the upcoming 2005-2006 season. Hell, someone might have to jot down a novella centered on a Spam Assassin hired by the CIA. If we can send goons to take down unpleasant dictators, why not go after a few isolated spammers?

Posted by GiromiDe @ 2:26 PM
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The Banal Frontier

Why the hell are we still sending people into space? Clearly, NASA is scared shitless of watching another vehicle disintegrate upon re-entry, because they've grounded the fleet and parked the shuttle on the ISS. (So much for all that high-dollar space research.)

Look, back when the Americans and Soviets were measuring their dicks by pitting their respective captured Nazi rocket scientists against each other, this was all well and good. Back when Americans didn't think Gene Roddenberry offered a glib view of the future, this was all well and good. Back when we all thought the Moon was made of some variety of cheese and worth exploring to discredit said cheese claims, this was all well and good. Back when Americans had no idea how much they'd love the Space Pen, Tang, or memory foam pillows, this was all well and good. Back when we thought throwing billions of dollars at sending shit into space was more important than -- oh, I don't know -- solving our own fucking problems first, this was all well and good.

I'm all for the quest for knowledge. Shit, I often avail myself of the latest findings in astronomy or physics. The universe is a pretty interesting place, whether or not your an atheist or agnostic looking for a raison d'etre a religion can't provide you, but why are we spending all this money to risk the lives of teams of people whose mission is to apparently provide future generations of salespersons and marketers a reason not to kill themselves?

Didn't the X Prize prove anything? Doesn't it set the tone for the future of space travel or orbital travel?

with apologies to Jeff Harrell for cramping his latest style

Posted by GiromiDe @ 1:56 PM
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Okay, here's the actual final nail in the coffin to house Alias.

This is from a recent piece in Sci-Fi Wire:

Since Garner will be limited in the kinds of action scenes she can do, the show will be adding a younger character who will become Sydney Bristow's protege.

There you have it -- a classic Cousin Oliver. All that needs doing is adding Ted McGinley to the cast. If I've confused you, go here.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:47 AM
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A plea

Stop with the damned car ribbons.


Posted by GiromiDe @ 2:39 PM
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Indoor fun for everyone

Could someone explain to me why an indoor park of any kind can't be found in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area? I don't care whether someone is a lifelong resident of North Texas, he or she is still as susceptible to heat stroke. I recall many a summer day working at Six Flags Over Texas where at least one "guest" would succumb to heat stroke. On particularly busy days, it was not unusual to learn about six or seven victims.

I remember being "used to" the Texas heat and humidity. I remember eagerly playing the "park under a tree" game every single morning to keep the car from reaching average kiln temperatures by the afternoon. But now I'm a Chicagoan who (A) doesn't like to drive to begin with and (B) can't stand average Texas summer (read March through September) temperatures.

I can recall only one indoor park in all of my 22 years in Texas -- Sesame Place. It was partially indoor as the water portion was left outside along with a go-cart track. Sesame Place in Irving lasted a few years but probably couldn't draw the numbers needed to offset the operating costs. (One park remains in Pennsylvania.)

I realize operating costs for any kind of indoor park are large, but I think someone in Texas needs to step up and offer something a little larger in scope than Discovery Zone (which has collapsed) or some random "jump palace." Perhaps Texans just prefer to have their fun outdoors despite numerous warnings from meteorologists to stay indoors whenever possible in hot weather. Prehaps they're just better prepared to consume as much liquid as possible when outside. I can't understand how an indoor park couldn't be profitable.

Indoor parks are common here in the Midwest, where crippling winters make activity in the least amount of clothing impossible. The Wisconsin Dells are dotted with indoor monstrosities. The Mall of America has an entire theme park at its core. Indoor pools are almost as commonplace as outdoor pools. Clearly, the weather dictated this. Why can't the opposite kind of weather dictate the same approach?

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:28 AM
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This should be the last nail in the coffin to house Alias.

Sydney Bristow will be portrayed as pregnant in the upcoming fourth season of Alias. This along with the move to a slot competing with Survivor and Joey next season should seal the show's fate. Look for all kinds of ominous, repetitive, circular Rambaldi prophecy talk. Cue the heavy strings!

I hereby predict that Lost will go down the tubes in the 2006 season, so enjoy it while you can. J. J. Abrams so far has a proven track record of producing brainchildren that retard after two solid seasons. (Also, all of his female characters possess a similar body type that I find unattractive, but that's for another time.)

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:32 AM
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I've discovered a new game for grownups.

This game requires nothing but imagination.

When you're shopping at a Wal*Mart at 10:30 in the evening, imagine each customer being apprehended in an episode of Cops. Granted, the male customers you'll be using for this game will be wearing shirts of some kind, but I'll stretch the suspension of disbelief just this once.

By the way, everything that's wrong with society can be found within the walls of a Wal*Mart.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 12:29 AM
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Friday, July 15, 2005

Sci-Fi Friday!

Unless you're living in a cave or are like some persons I know who think science fiction is just "silly" or "dumb," you're chomping at the bit to watch the debut of the 2005 season of Sci-Fi Friday tonight. While my craving for good television has been slightly satisfied by the new season of Rescue Me on FX, the new season of Battlestar Galactica (BSG) will keep me full. (Following the analogy, the two Stargate installments would be appetizers such as gyoza or lettuce chicken wraps.)

Beyond the politics and the survival story, the part of BSG that most appeals to me is its strong sense of spirituality. What ultimately keeps Star Trek away from being unquestionably regarded by the public is its lack of spirituality. According to the story, humanity by the 23rd century developed a secular utopia free of any notion of religion beyond an offhand use of a ship's chapel in one episode of the classic series. The most acclaimed Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine, stood out because it attempted to deeply explore religion. Specifically, it explored the religion of one alien culture who worship wormhole-dwelling aliens unbound to time unfortunately called the Prophets.

Whenever Star Trek explored religion, it was usually as parable. The singularly awful "Chosen Realm" on Enterprise has left a permanent bad taste in my mouth for such episodes. Its message of religious extremism and intolerance was overwrought. Like many modern Star Trek episodes, its climax was rushed and shoved to the last two minutes.

My problem with science fiction of sci-fi such as this is that spirituality is something inherent to all of us, regardless of our beliefs. I would hazard a guess that even some atheists are partial to believing in some kind of spirit inherent to each of us. To dismiss spirituality as something "past us" in a futurist narrative is to deny a part of humanity. Some might say that humanity in the Star Trek universe has universally embraced (don't get me started on the vapid monocultures in Star Trek) science above religion. Science has become religion to them, but the writers are denying themselves a whole universe to explore -- the complicated relationship between science and religion, often in conflict, often in harmony.

BSG has embedded spirituality in the story. The Colonials worship a pantheon of twelve Lord of Kobol. Some might also be monotheists, but this could have been a writer's mistake in an early episode. The Cylons, created by the Colonials, have rapidly evolved and discovered "God" in their absence following the Cylon Wars, declaring their god to be superior to the Lords of Kobol. One Cylon even opined that God deemed humanity unworthy of souls, took him away from humanity, and gave them to the Cylons. On the face of it, the Cylons certainly seem more spiritual. They exhibit some form of shared consciousness that seems like a very advanced form of a modern computer grid. Meanwhile, the Colonials are dealing with visions and prophecies that may lead them to Kobol and perhaps to the mythic Earth.

This coming season will put some of these pieces together while throwing a few more on the table. Whatever happens, after a hell of a ride last season, the second season should be even bigger and better. Star What?

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:25 AM
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Hooking up, rolling eyes, smacking faces on the television screen

Though I'm as far removed from the life of a single female Manhattanite, I felt drawn to ABC's newest filler Hooking Up. The premise is simple: cameras (and producers, don't forget them) follow single women in Manhattan as they use online dating services to find the elusive Mr. Right. What annoyed me was a common world view shared by most of the women in this episode -- the post-Oprah, post-romantic-comedy over-self-aware belief that love is this nearly unattainable continuous state of euphoria. What they seem to want is beyond the "happily ever after" of previous generations.

While they still don't realize that "falling in love" can't be a permanent thing, they make more of a drama out of finding love than necessary. As one date aptly told one of the women, "It's not that serious." This was directed at the episode's designated bitch, whose callous heart was unveiled at the end.

Let me set these women straight. Love is not complicated nor is it simple. The feelings you feel when you first fall in love will fade but will be replaced with something I think is better -- a more "mature" kind of love. Those seeking love actively will rarely find it. Love is something that just happens, often to the surprise of both parties.

Here's some more unsolicited advice. To the woman who didn't like a date glancing at her chest: Don't complain when you wear a tattoo in your cleavage and wear outfits highlighting said cleavage. To the woman from South Dakota dating a stereotypical New Yorker: I hope you like running your fingers through gel-filled hair. To the doctor who deliberately obscured her profession and real first name to who appeared to be a genuinely nice guy (and also a doctor): Get over yourself, and it's not that serious for you, too. To all of you: Deep down you know you live in Manhattan because you want to make a "living" as a single New York woman with all the "woe is me" sophistication that comes with it.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:24 AM
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Drought of Ought-Five

Northern Illinois is in the midst of a near-record drought. Lawns are brown and pitiful. Crops are endangered. Inevitably, the question of whether to water the dormant (not dead) lawn rises. Trib columnist Eric Zorn offers his insight and later reflects the following in his response to a poll about watering.

Could it be that, in this drought, green lawns will become like deep suntans, furs and Hummer SUVs? No longer symbols of wealth and beauty, but symbols of irresponsibility, decadence and wretched excess?

Count me as someone refusing the water my lawn. I watered once when I wanted to play with my daughter using the sprinkler. Needless to say, some neighbors with built-in misting systems have almost freakishly out-of-place, lush, green lawns. Most of us sensible folk just roll our eyes at their efforts. As Zorn says, we're truly at nature's whim. Some summers just aren't meant for green lawns.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:43 AM
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hey, remember those "Out of the Blue" Cubs?

Eric Zorn passed along this nugget of insight from local blogger Justin Kaufmann:

Remember 2003 when the Cubs almost went to the World Series? Here's my hair brained theory (don't sue, i make no money). I say they were ALL on performance enhancing juice. Think about it....Wood, Prior were the best pitchers ever, now they can't stay healthy and get clobbered. Sosa and Alou were tops in the league (now, worst), Joe Borowski, Corey Patterson, Kyle Farnsworth, Alex Gonzales, Eric Karros, Mark Grudzelanek, Randall Simon? All those guys either got hurt, suck now or are out of the league. In 2 years!!!! Hey, I'm just sayin...

He's not thinking anything unique or new, but it is an unbelievable coincidence that so many stars from that team have fallen off the map in just two seasons. Regardless, there are a few holes in this crackpot theory. Grud has done well with the Cards this season. Alex Gonzalez was never that great, and the same goes for catchers Damian Miller and Paul "Pass Ball" Bako. Farnsworth was as inconsistent in 2003 as he was in any other season. While CoPat was playing his career best in 2003, he didn't play a game after July 6 due to his ACL tear. Also, Prior was out for a considerable portion of the season. (He has yet to pitch for a complete season.) One certainly couldn't count Kenny Lofton because he was on his way out of the Leagues already.

Perhaps 2003 was simply the last best season many of those players could offer. Some might have been on performance-enhancing drugs, but it was well known that many players were walking Bondo by the end of the regular season. At least Alex Gonzalez reeked of linament. Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry weren't going to sit on the same set of players as they were trying to build a dynasty.

There's also an axiom in competitive team sports that dictates that, in spite of how much money is thrown at a given franchise in a given year, a team can simply surge, can become better than the sum of its parts, even if its parts are already largely working at their best. In short, success is as much a component of happenstance as raw talent. On paper, the 2003 Cubs don't look that phenominal.

The 2003 Cubs had a lot of holes, which were made apparent in the final three games of the 2003 NLCS, but they had enough to win their Division and beat the Braves in the NLDS. Plus, the Cards were nowhere near as good in 2003 as they have been since. The Astros, Cards, and Cubs were all fairly evenly matched, and the Cubs won the Division uncontested only because the Brewers managed to get the best of the Astros while they won a doubleheader against the humble Pirates. Again, happenstance...

I think what's more curious is how lackluster the Cubs franchise itself has been compared to what it accomplished in 2003. They haven't really improved themselves. They one only one more game in 2004. They are on the road to posting a similar season record. Key injuries have played a part, but only on the pitching side. Only a few batters have performed with any consistency. When Cub fans start feeling sorry for Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, there are problems.

No Cub fan wants to think 2003 was the high point of the modern era. Had the Cubs squeaked into the World Series and been pounded by the Yankees or the Red Sox, Cub fans wouldn't have cared. That stupid curse would've been broken, and everyone could reminisce happily on that one magical season. Instead, Cub fans are left with memories of silent bats, bad fielding, inadequate management, lost tempers, wasted opportunities, and an unfortunate scapegoat in the span of three games. The following two seasons of the alleged "Why Not Us? Dynasty" have produced little else.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:50 AM
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Monday, July 11, 2005

What's in yer head, Katie?

Several sources, including Roger "Fox411" Friedman, have noted a recent interview with Katie Holmes in which her demeanor was that of a zombie. As I said earlier, we are all witnesses to the brainwashing of a very public individual. While she might not be crazy, she is certainly a little unwell.

In the same item linked above, Friedman wonders out loud what the true purpose of the Cruise/Holmes insta-romance is, but I wonder if he wrote that with his tongue planted in his cheek. He seemed very eager to exclude the "movie PR theory." His extensive connections might have yielded him an explanation not dissimilar to the particulars of this item, which makes as much sense as their pairing being an effort to promote a summer blockbuster. Of course, Friedman would probably never print something this completely unsubstantiated, and I respect him for it, but deep down, he must believe this to be the truth.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:31 AM
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A Big Break for Chicago

Cubs: Jus keepa continue

I'm as shocked as anyone that the Cubs swept the Marlins -- including a win against Dontrelle Willis -- in Miami after losing eight straight. They enter the Break one game below .500, and one game behind Houston, who've surged the past six weeks. They are six games back in the Wild Card and a ridiculous number of games behind Division leader St. Louis. (Note to MLB.com: Would it kill you to put the Wild Card standings on the same page as the Division standings?)

The Cubs have a few chances left to eat away at the Cards' lead, but they'll have to play several levels higher than even their recent efforts in Miami. They have yet to prove they have the consistency of quality to reach the playoffs. They must also contend with a much stronger Astros club ahead of them in the coming months, including what might be a dramatic series at the end of the season. By "dramatic," I mean, "the Cubs are playing for more than a spoiler."

Sox: Pray for no A's

When the White Sox enter the 2005 playoffs, they had better hope they don't face the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS or ALCS. The A's batters have figured out how to beat every Sox pitcher. The Sox are 2-7 against the A's in 2005 and 11-34 since 2001.

I'm sure they'll recover after the All-Star Break. They'll probably find themselves in a few more 8-game win streaks before the season ends. Regardless, they and their fans had better pray the Angels and Rangers can punish the A's enough to produce a Wild Card from the AL East.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 9:28 AM
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Friday, July 08, 2005

They're probably spending all their disposable income on ONE.

The actors who recently played Danny Ocean and A Character Not Named Danny Ocean in the two Ocean's [Cardinal] films have reportedly signed a deal to design and build a casino. The nice part? George Clooney and Brad Pitt don't have to invest a dime, but they get a cut of the profits.

Clooney and Pitt are wasting their time on acting, casinos, and ONE. Their true calling is running professional sports franchises.

No word yet on whether a special wing of the casino will house African refugees. Also, nothing has surfaced about a Pat Robertson Marriage Chapel in the lobby.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 12:45 PM
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Fire Baker? It won't help.

The good news is my in-laws get to see some Major League leadoff hitting and center fielding.

The Cubs have dropped eight in a row, sent two struggling outfielders to AAA Iowa, and have the privilege of facing the much hotter Marlins before a much-needed break. A franchise commanding the fifth highest payroll in the Leagues will enter the All-Star Break significantly below .500 and behind many other teams in the Wild Card race.

What's wrong? What isn't. I doubt firing Dusty Baker would have much impact. After seeing the expressions on Baker's face and on the face of every player in the roster over the last week, I don't think anyone in the clubhouse really cares any more. Or perhaps they care too much, which would explain their recent bout of freeswinging. Given Baker's alleged excellent ego-stroking abilities, firing him might do more harm than good.

What's interesting is the Chicago sports media for the first time in a long while can't whitewash the Cubs. The superb performance of the White Sox this season has forced even the most unyielding of Cub fans to realize the Northsiders are a complete mess. Unfortunately, the positive White Sox press is outweighed by the negative Cubs press. I'm certain the Trib's ownership of the Cubs has some impact.

As someone not born and raised in Chicago, I enjoy both teams. After all, they play in different Leagues and engage in some friendly "crosstown scrimmaging" every season. I chose to follow the Cubs for reasons I can't exactly qualify. Perhaps it was because Kerry Wood grew up not far from me. I never followed baseball before moving to Chicago, and it's hard to ignore it once you live hear. The Chicago climate prompts residents to absorb and cherish every aspect of summertime, including the alleged national pasttime.

I thought 2003 was the beginning of good things for the team. Dusty Baker brought clout with him. Jim Hendry appeared to be building a new dynasty. The Cubs organization seemed interested in at least entering the World Series before the centennial of their last big win, which is still three years away. Instead, we're getting more of the same -- mostly mediocre players who experience very hot and very cold hitting streaks, pitchers whose full potential is realized with other clubs, pitchers who are ultimately too good for the lousy run support they have, a terrible bullpen, and clubhouse bickering. The Cubs are a cautonary tale for lackluster management in spite of a large budget.

Instead, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen have built a quality team across town that plays the season one game at a time and doesn't give up until after the final out. The Southsiders don't have headliners like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Prior (who all three deserve the praise heaped upon them), Nomar, Wood, or Maddux, but they have a team that plays well together and enjoys playing baseball. The only chip they have on their shoulder is due to the aforementioned lack of attention from the Chicago media. I have a feeling all of that will change in a few months.

What's a Cub fan to do? Steer clear of sports radio and wait 'til next year. Or, as I said before, wait 'til last year.


Phil Rogers of the Trib says it better, but, then again, that's his job.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 8:48 AM
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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Brief Reaction

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the bombings in London. It has been my hope to visit that city again after spending some time there for business and pleasure in the fall of 2001. (Yes, it was fairly tourist-free at the time.) It's a beautiful city full of great history and great people, and I hope it can move past this terrible event.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:55 AM
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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What's keeping Sonic Drive-In out of Chicagoland?

As someone who moved from Dallas/Fort Worth to Chicagoland some time ago, I can understand that certain things don't translate well between the two locales. Commuter culture is vastly different, though far too many commuters drive and drive alone in both places.

What boggles my mind is the lack of Sonic Drive-In Restaurants in Chicagoland. I realize the car-centric nature of the chain makes it a difficult sell to franchisees in an area that can be inundated with snow and freezing temperatures through a considerable portion of the year, though that season appears to be concentrated between January 1 and April 30. I posit franchises would make enough money during the warmer months to afford being closed or open fewer hours during the colder months.

What Sonic offers the Chicagoland area is their specialty drinks and treats. The standard burger joint fare are above par, but the Limeaids, Shakes, Malts, Slushes, Cream Slushes, and flavored sodas set them apart from most other chains. We Chicagoans have our scattered Dairy Queens and a few independently-operated treat stands, but Sonic offers great drinks and treats at reasonable prices. Many Sonic franchises feature Happy Hours that offer drinks and treats at half price during a varying range of hours -- they differ by franchise.

My wife and I realize we might be alone when we're driving around craving something Sonic with nothing to satisfy it. If only Chicagoland knew what they were missing -- which I'd hope is a larger number as Sonics can be found in Indiana and central and southern Illinois. Hopefully, Sonic's recent pentration into the Des Moines area is a sign of things to come. If they come that far north, all they need to do is head east for a large market that could very likely grab hold of the franchise. If Potbelly's relatively cheap offering can spread like a virus in Chicago and elsewhere, why not Sonic?

Posted by GiromiDe @ 2:40 PM
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Food for Thought

The ONE Campaign has created a lot of interest in the flow of money to developing countries -- in particular, Africa. The Shape of Days offers insight into the amount of foreign aid funds America is already sending, though by "America," he doesn't necessarily mean "the federal government."

While the persons and organizations behind ONE have their hearts in the right place, they need a new approach. Instead of urging citizens to urge their governments to spend more money, ONE should urge citizens to open their own wallets.

"But some concerned citizens can't afford to donate while the U.S. Government can," an observer might say. The U.S. Government is in a budget deficit and won't be out of it for some time. The voices behind ONE keep reminding citizens how stingy the eight richest governments are with foreign aid. Perhaps if each celebrity involved in ONE pledged to donate a significant percentage of his or her income to foreign aid, they could both set an example and pick up whatever slack they observe. Putting one's money where one's mouth is still counts for something, especially when one commands a personal budget surplus.

I won't begin to mire this post with remarks about how limousine liberals want Big (and Generous) Government at the same time complaining about conservatives who engage in deficit spending and apparently don't give enough foreign aid. Somehow I can't help but think ONE is just a well-packaged means of pointing more fingers at the Bush Administration. The Culture Wars continue... this time at the expense of developing nations.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 12:00 PM
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The Rest of the Season?

The Chicago Cubs' offense has largely shut down the past five games after showing signs of life against the White Sox and the Brewers. As of today, they are below .500 for the first time since before the days of that happy-go-luck West Coast road trip. Both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood have returned to the starting rotation, but the bullpen has provided little relief and the batsmen score runs largely through the one-run longball.

It's no secret the Cubs suck at home. How a team can't be comfortable in their own ballpark is beyond me. The fans pack it for every single game. What else do they need? Is the team trying to help some perverted cause to relocate the entire club to the suburbs?

It's no secret Corey Patterson is the latest position player with a target on his back. Jerry Hairston Jr. has filled CoPat's spot for the last few starts, reaching base far more often than the designated permanent leadoff man. (Appropriately, a pinch-hitting CoPat was the Cubs' last out against the Braves last night.) If GM Jim Hendry is in the mood to sell, CoPat must be at the top of his list. For whatever reason, CoPat doesn't care enough to earn the leadoff spot. I think he just hates the local Cub fans who've given him a large share of "boo"s over the last two seasons. (I think the "boo"s are earned, but I'm not signing his checks.)

It's no secret that in spite of having a celebrated manager and pitching coach, the Cubs continue practice the lousy baserunning, rare opportunity scoring, and deep pitch counts of the pre-Hendry era. Jeromy Burnitz has committed two baserunning mistakes in the past few games, often forgetting how slow he is. The Cubs have dropped several double plays defensively while hitting into them offensively far too often. They've completely forgotten about sacrifice plays. For all their talent, Prior, Wood, and Carlos Zambrano can walk a lot of batters and put themselves behind in a large percentage of their counts, which doesn't bode well when one looks at the up-and-down bullpen. Greg Maddux doesn't walk as many, but his liberal use of the strike zone has put too many home plate umpires in the game.

(It's no secret Dusty Baker also has a target on his back.)

It's no secret the Houston Astros are close to passing the Cubs for second place in the division. Though they likely won't catch up the St. Louis Cardinals, they have a team that can contend for the Wild Card. The Astros are essentially repeating their performance from 2004 -- struggling until just before the All-Star Break, then playing above-.500 ball through October. The Wild Card is no guarantee for any time, but the Astros have as much a shot at it as anyone from the NL East.

It's no secret the season is not half over yet. Hendry could make a few miracle moves that strengthen the team. The bullpen could come together. The starters could pitching nothing but their best stuff through October. The batsmen could improve their hitting and baserunning. The defense could preserve more play opportunities. Nomar Garciaparra's addition to the lineup could prove very helpful.

It's no secret I said all the same stuff in the above paragraph this time last year. The tired Cub fans' mantra of "Wait 'Til Next Year" should be permanently changed to "Wait 'Til Last Year."

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:30 AM
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MTV sucks? This is news?

Trib guest blogger Mark Caro actually watched MTV's Live 8 coverage and almost threw a shoe at the television.

Could MTV show any more contempt for the music that originally gave the network its reason to exist?

I don't know where Mr. Caro has been the last fifteen years, but MTV has long abandoned being about music. MTV is mostly about marketing to preteens, tweens, teens, and college students who've yet to be angry at the world. The network hit a few quick high points over the years like Beavis & Butthead, Ren & Stimpy, Buzzkill, The State, and its own funky take on Spider-Man, but it's relied too much on its extended cast of Bunim-Murray D-list whores and other "reality-based" projects. Even the network's one "break out hit" The Osbournes fell flat on its face when viewers quickly grew tired of Ozzy's drug-addled clan.

When one charts the rise and fall of MTV's hits, one can't help but notice that their lives are as short as the apparent attention span of its average viewer. The only constant on MTV for a long while has been The Real World, Road Rules, and any combination of the two. Veronica has seen more screen time on MTV in the last five years than any given musician. (It's still a shame to watch The Real World and recall that the preformulated hormone-fest started as an earnest effort to understand racial and sexual politics.)

Posted by GiromiDe @ 9:30 AM
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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Condensing the vast wasteland...

My dear friend Evan flexes his pop culture muscles.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 4:56 PM
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Friday, July 01, 2005

I hear the Nazis were fond of salons.

Salon finishes its four-part series on Scientology with this article and this one.

The more I read about Scientology, the more I think the religion is more about advancing an agenda than the "search for meaning" I mentioned earlier. In the same article, I also advanced my belief that the most distinguishing characteristic of a cult is the mimicking of the founder's paranoid among his or her followers. If you have any doubts that L. Ron Hubbard was paranoid, look no further than these documents offered by The Smoking Gun, featuring his typical clumsy, rambling prose. (The stuff about Nixon might induce hysterical laughter.)

Posted by GiromiDe @ 7:37 AM
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Adjust for inflation!

The opening day of War of the Worlds has been reported as the "most successful first day for a [Tom] Cruise movie." Such reporting is meant to imply that Cruise's public shenanigans will have little impact on the performance of his film. The mainstream press has been fixated on Cruise and on the alleged "box office slump" of 2005, so expect many articles written about this film's box office grosses.

Hopefully, the next news outlet to compare all of Cruise's opening day grosses will adjust for inflation. I doubt War of the Worlds tops Top Gun.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 7:26 AM
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Saved by no zero

Hinterspace comments on this article. This is more about graduating students and keeping athletes eligible than maintaining the best possible honor roll. As an education director mentioned in the article, children will take advantage of the system. Many of us spend much of our childhood trying to take advantage of something, so why not an inflated grade system?

Grade inflation is deflating the value of public education. Grading on a curve is acceptable because it still encourages good performance, but creating a grade floor without adjusting the failure threshold means many will get several free passes for little work or too much poor work.

Such softballing within public education is to be expected. No school district wants to be marked with a low graduation rate, and challenging students is no longer the priority. Instead, public schools are becoming pure "graduate factories" when they aren't preoccupied with being "athlete factories." Add to this the fact that several textbooks used by these schools are subpar and have been known to offer erroneous information, and we're looking at future generations of undereducated adults making critical decisions. I hope the recent explosion of home schooling and its dissociation from the stereotype of "sheltering holy roller parents" will save the collective intellect of society.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 6:25 AM
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