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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The high cost of living

Are we now paying record high prices for unleaded gasoline? The highest average price was $3.04 in 2005 dollars back in 1981. High oil demand from China couple with the recent widespread damage caused by Hurricane Katrina will likely send the average price well above $3.00, meaning we will be paying the highest average prices in recent memory.

The effects of rising gas prices are both immediate and long-term. The long-term effects will determine the course of the American economy, which continues to skew more to the consumer side of the equation. Some are already declaring a return to stagflation, especially in the face of a Federal Reserve more apt to raise interest rates, but let's keep the doom and gloom in check.

America has proved itself a great reactionary society, but how can we react positively to the high cost of living? Will we all start selling our heavy trucks and cars in favor of more fuel-efficient models? Will we starting using public transportation and bikes to move ourselves? Will Congress or the President call for our nation to begin conserving our fuel rather than promising to find that magical alternative crude oil reserve in our hemisphere? Will higher fuel efficiencies to be available within five years be mandated of domestic auto makers? Will the internal combustion engine finally be abandoned? Who will save the larger airlines whose past inefficiencies are faced with rising fuel costs?

Sometimes, society needs a shakedown. Higher gas prices coupled with this recent devastation might be just that.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 1:27 PM
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What are we mourning here?

Hurricane Katrina. Devastation. Lives lost and displaced. On-the-spot reporters again inexplicably spared from the storm.

CNBC is talking about 75 Wal-Mart stores and casinos being close. Yeah, yeah, it's CNBC. Yeah, yeah, the web of life. But, come on. I'm sure CNBC is elated they can tie a natural disaster into their coverage since the Boxing Day Tsunami affected "nothing of interest" except some model and an Oprah regular. This time we have an entire NFL franchise displaced. The horror. And is Anne Rice safe?

Posted by GiromiDe @ 3:26 PM
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The last baseball post I care to post for a while

The White Sox are struggling to get to 80 wins after commanding the best MLB record through earlier in August. The same East Coast sports media that ignored the White Sox earlier in the season are now saying "We told you so, largely by not saying anything." (Oddly enough, some White Sox fans are saying this, too.) We hope they can at least reach the playoffs, but their lackluster Cubs-style hitting won't get them anywhere against an American League that is largely playing much hotter.

The Cubs? I hope they finish the season under .500, but I know even that won't hurt the organization. The Cubs are run by a corporation, and all that matters to a corporation is the bottom line. "Did the Cubs brand make money this season?" "How strong were the television ratings?" "Were all the home games sold out this season?" "Do we think we can guarantee high numbers next season?" The Cubs want to grow their team by adding marquee players and managers at the expense of the club itself. Their farm system is mismanaged, and they can't seem to start the minor league players early enough in the season to make a difference. Perhaps we should look no further than the club's president's name of Andy McPhail. The name theory continues...

Posted by GiromiDe @ 2:45 PM
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I'm the lake they call the City of New Orleans.

I'm with Jeff on this one. I suppose there's no harm in draining and rebuilding the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Mississip' after the levees are rebuilt, but it would seem like throwing money at the problem, and by "the problem," I mean geography.

I'm happy to say the one person I know who lives in New Orleans has been safely away from the storm since Saturday. I'm also happy to say I fueled my car before unleaded petroleum prices likely climb well above the $3 mark.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 2:40 PM
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Thursday, August 18, 2005


An Aussie Askew asks for many things to stop. I think we have a meme...

  • Drivers. For the love of God, stop putting magnetic car ribbons on your car! Don't you understand that you've just been suckered into this decade's version of the Baby On Board craze?

  • American Industrial Beer Manufacturers. For the love of God, stop trying to convince those of us who actually want to enjoy beer as we drink it that the tasteless swill you create is good for anything other than a cheap buzz. A recent commerical for Bud Light or Miller Lite poked fun at people who enjoy imports, and that's just a cheap shot. What about domestic microbrews? Is that scum, too? Or, do you not care as you're trying to buy as many as you can?

  • Hoover. For the love of God, stop painting we Dyson owners as vapid snobs. Your Wind Tunnel crap doesn't work after a while. My household tried it for a few years. After more than a year, our Dyson is still sucking hard... in a good way.

  • The Chicago White Sox. For the love of God, stop sliding. We Cub fans with some semblance of reason want to see some team from Chicago do well this decade. Don't make both halves of this Chicago baseball season worthless.

  • The American Car Buyer. For the love of God, stop buying cars with low mileage ratings. Don't you get it? If the price of gas settles after the summer, regular unleaded will likely settle around $2.50.

  • The European Petroleum Consumer. For the love of God, stop reminding us that you've payed through the nose for "petrol" for decades. We get it. We were spoiled for far too long.

  • Hollywood. For the love of God, stop.

  • Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. For the love of God, stop hoping the Federal corruption investigation will stop just shy of your office. We're not naive. You seem like a nice guy, but we also know your family history.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 8:52 AM
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Nugget of Wisdom

From blogger Prefect Ford:

When you buy a coffee whose cup states, "CAUTION: CONTENTS MAY BE HOT," it should also state, "WET," and, "TASTES LIKE COFFEE."

Posted by GiromiDe @ 6:23 PM
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Nugget of Wisdom

Read on a thread in The Superificial Forums about the hoax purporting that Christopher Walken will run for President in 2008:

He could keep social security up his ass until the war is over.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 6:20 PM
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Nugget of Wisdom

From blogger So-Called "Austin Mayor's" comment on Eric Zorn's imagined future episode of The West Wing involving President Jed Bartlet deciding to speak with a character based on Cindy Sheehan:

I don't know what Jed would do, but President David Palmer from "24" would authorize a covert operation to extract Sheehan from his vacation -- and then order her torture.

But he'd feel pretty bad about it.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:23 AM
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Ouch x2

Justin's guest blogger Tom offers some harsh words about the recent Rafael Palmeiro controversy.

So MLB needed to target a superstar and Palmeiro was Selig’s patsy. No name recognition or records like Sosa or Bonds, not as white as Piazza, even obvious scapegoats like Sheffield were spared because they’re American. With Raffi you got a Cuban with hall of fame stats, but no team loyalty, no records.

Ouch! I can't say I disagree with ol' Tom. Steroids in baseball is the elephant in the room, or whatever the hell the metaphor is. All I can say is when the Texas Rangers were close to their greatest in the 1990s, every single player, including Palmeiro, looked gargantuan.

Tom also has nothing great to say about Nightline guest host Chris Cuomo.

Instead of putting drug companies or politicians on the pressure cooker, Cuomo lines up to tell us whose boobs were done and which line and lure the President uses to catch a crappie.

Ouch! I'll probably save much of this for another blog entry, but Peter Jennings' death followed by Ted Koppel's departure marks the death of old school journalism. Cuomo is the future of popular television journalism, which will be far uglier than Cuomo. Forget that windmill Liberal Media Conspiracy Limbaugh and Hannity tilt at each and every weekday. The real problem is the Stupid Media Conspiracy. Despite the current geopolitical realties, American culture is consumed with navel-gazing or celebrity-gazing, and the mainstream media is either feeding it or feeding off it -- probably both.

My beef with Cuomo was his attempt at an expose of Donald Trump more than a year ago when The Apprentice was keeping NBC above pre-Lost, pre-Desperate Housewives ABC. Cuomo's report attempted to discredit Trump, but it fell flat on its face. Only toward the end did Cuomo bother to mention that his family has an uncomfortable history with Trump, essentially discrediting his investigation and editorialization. Cuomo and ABC News produced a non-story. I'm sure it earned ratings, but it was a colossal waste of time, much like ABC's recent attempt to dethrone American Idol.

Again, where this diatribe is headed is another blog entry. Stay tuned.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 9:39 AM
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Monday, August 15, 2005

Ebert whips out his Pulitzer

Roger Ebert doesn't like Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. When Patrick Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times said essentially the same thing when speaking about the lack of studio funding in quality entertainment, he was bitchslapped by Rob Scheider. Ebert more or less has the final word on the matter in his review of the film.

Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.

Of course, I must always ask, "What would Siskel do?"

Posted by GiromiDe @ 1:33 PM
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Retail sucks...

...but you already knew that.

Where Jeff Harrell's descent into Retail Hell involves CompUSA, mine involves The Home Depot. And by "mine," I mean largely "my wife's," who, despite having ten thousand times more patience and understanding than I, cracked a bit last week after a series of soul-crushing, head-against-the-wall difficulties with celebrated fence climber Tony Stewart's biggest sponsor. Everything's fine now, but the old adage of You Get What You Payed For holds true yet again.

And, no, that adage is not cynical or flippant.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 12:30 PM
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Father/Daughter Bonding

I took my daughter to Retro on Roscoe Saturday afternoon to see Ralph's World. In person, Ralph's World is the first children's music band that looks like any other garage band. All four members were wearing faded jeans and T-shirts. Ralph has let his hair grow long, and from some angles he looks like one of my college roommates. To our surprise, they released a new CD -- their fifth -- just a few days before, so we secured a copy.

My daughter had a permanent awe-inspired grin on her face. I think she knew what was going on. The band played several older songs. When I wasn't holding her on my shoulders to see Ralph, who was never more than fifty feet away, I was letting her dance in front of me. It was a real treat for both of us.

Afterward, we had dinner with family that live a block away. Convenient, no?

I consider this my first official father/daughter date, and I really enjoyed it. If only I had left the house a half hour earlier, we could have caught more Ralph, or "Rolf" as my daughter calls him. In all honesty, she didn't care when Ralph stopped playing music or when we left during his second set. She's laid back that way.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 9:32 AM
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chicago is a big small town (Advertising edition)

A recent Sears commercial features the Ralph's World song "Just Like The Monkeys." Both Sears and Ralph Covert are based in Chicago.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:24 AM
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Banal Frontier Continued

Idle Words offers a great essay on the crippled NASA Space Shuttle program. It's full of great stuff that, if you're a somewhat rational person who can put aside the emotion of science fiction for just ten secods, will make you angry. My favorite portion is the rebuttal to the argument that critics of manned space flight are as close-minded as some Old World Europeans.

[NASA likens] critics of manned space flight to those Europeans in the 1500's who would have cancelled the great voyages of discovery rather than face the loss of one more ship.

Of course, the great explorers of the 1500's did not sail endlessly back and forth a hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, nor did they construct a massive artificial island they could repair to if their boat sprang a leak. And we must remember that space is called space for a reason - there is nothing in it

That's right, NASA. You throw glib analogies at we plebes, and we'll throw it right back at you.

And shame on you, NASA, for the continuing elementary school propaganda, though it won't matter. Children are far more cynical today than even during my pre-Challenger years. The ambitions of space exploration are no longer guided by pulp sci-fi or multiple derivatives of Gene Roddenberry's bland secular vision, nor are they guided by the Cold War mantra of "Beat Those Pinko Commies."

Posted by GiromiDe @ 1:43 PM
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Nugget of Wisdom

From Defamer's report on The Island Blame Game:

Truly, the production was doomed the moment DreamWorks decided to change the title from Futuristic Cloning Movie, But Don't Worry, Plenty of Shit Blows Up and recast the youth-connecting Olsen Twins with [Scarlett] Johansson. It's easy to second-guess those decisions now that the movie's lost about $100 million.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:46 AM
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Monday, August 08, 2005

What if...

...Dusty Baker isn't the problem. Perhaps the Chicago Cubs are individually not talented enough to be anything but "the team with the best record with the least talent."

It's really easy for me or others to put the weight of the team's problems on Baker's shoulders. After all, we've read reports about his hands-off management style that allows players' egos to simmer and boil. We all watched him allow the club to collapse in the last two games of the 2003 NLCS. While we can't blame him for leadoff problems during the last two seasons, we all watched in amazement last year as Sammy Sosa retained the cleanup spot when he was in a terrible hitting slump. That he was starting at all was confusing. We are all watching in amazement as a completely healthy club is not playing as advertised, all but proving that injuries couldn't shoulder much blame.

But, in the end, you play the game with the team you have, not the team you want. Baker's style simply demands self-disciplined players that work well together on the field, and he doesn't have that many. In spite of his recent hitting slump, Derrek Lee seems to be the most self-disciplined, cool player on the team both offensively and defensively. Aramis Ramirez is in second place. Otherwise, so many players are making so many mistakes that Baker can't be pigeonholed as The Cause.

During any other season, Baker should dodge all skepticism, but this season, the other Chicago MLB franchise is illuminating everything that is wrong with Baker's clubhouse. Ozzie Guillen has taken a group of players with rather mediocre statistics and made them a formidable team. The White Sox are poised to march right into the playoffs though they have a tough schedule ahead of them. Whether they survive the playoffs is a different issue, but they have the mental toughness and solid fundamentals to clinch their division.

Over the weekend, rumors were running around asserting that Baker has expressed interest in the Dodgers, and vice versa. He and Cubs' GM Jim Hendry were quick to dismiss the rumors, but I wouldn't be surprised if Baker has given a departure one year short of his contract's expiration some serious thought. While I think his presence in Chicago adds value, I won't be upset if he leaves. He's been given four years to build a new dynasty, and the Cubs are little more than they were before he arrived -- a glorified exhibition team often forgetful of fundamentals with a marquis hitter, a few underachieving aces, and a murky bullpen. A third year with a winning record is notable, but it still falls very short of a dynasty.

The Cubs organization will likely fight to keep Baker if only the keeps asses in seats during every home game. They still have to pay for Sosa, after all.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 9:30 AM
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Who wants to be Michael Barrett today?

Long story told elsewhere.

Maybe Barrett wanted to spare the bullpen an draining extra-innings affair. Uh huh. That's it.

I don't want to assume I know how to play the game better than people who are payed at least six figures a year to do it, but that final play was absolutely embarrassing. This proves that throwing money and trades at a team does nothing if the team's culture and level of play fails to show positive, consistent qualities.

On some teams, it can be said each games produces a different hero. Such has been said of the White Sox this season. But for the Cubs, one can easily find a different loser. This game belonged to Barrett.

On the play in question, he thought the ump would call an out for the foul-tip, but he should have at least made a better effort at catching the ball rather than letting it pass. He can't wait for the ump's reaction in such a tight circumstance. Also, he can't excuse his inability to make the right play, which was to chase down the man on third. He also blew an earlier opportunity for the Cubs to score when he struck out with bases loaded.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 8:43 AM
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