Thursday, July 30, 2009

My lucky day

Hey look, I found a potato chip that looks just like Dave Coulier.

I'm gonna go play the lottery!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Musings

Midgets are on television. I muse therefore.

Wow. Gotta talk about that Obama press conference. First of all, this guy has never thought about healthcare. That much is clear. Precisely nobody is worried about pediatricians taking their childrens tonsils without reason.

Frankly, I think the Gates controversy saved him. Everyone kinda expects Obama to be idiotic about race. But he was equally idiotic about healthcare, which is depressing or scary, depending on your cynicism level.


Aliens in the Attic is happening, people. Given the popularity of the Gerbils Poop Now movie, this should be a hit.


This week, the hopes of my mighty Tigers rest in the hands of the Twins. My mighty Tigers are screwed, people. This is a ballet town. The men are incidental to the result.


I was awakened at 7:00 a.m. by the sounds of construction. See, the city of Minneapolis is making my homeowners in my neighborhood replace their sidewalk, and do so using their preferred contractor. Then, the gruffest woman of the crew forced me to do jumping jacks.


Has a chance to hit up Lemongrass Thai in Brooklyn Park. I recommend you do the same.

The sausage appetizer is beyond belief. The staples (Pad Thai, Won Tons) are best of class. My curry (an advertised combination of Thai and Indian curries) was a winner. All the way around, this is what I want from a Thai restaurant.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Post: A Pediatrician

Hey, kid. Want some ice cream? It's okay, I'm a doctor. I won't hurt you.

What do I want? Oh, nothing. Just, you know, your precious tonsils.

Wait. Too soon. Forget I said that. Here, just take your shirt off, we'll check your heartbeat. Hmmm... That's a fast heartbeat. You must be real sick.

Medicine? Why would you need medicine when you can have tasty ice cream? Just hop in my van. It's got whirly lights on it.

Of course it's safe. Your very sick, and I'm a doctor with ice cream. Don't run away. Here, you want a comic? It's Calvin and Hobbes. I keep a single Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in my pocket, just in case I meet a very special little boy like you.

What? You think I'm screwing around? I went to medical school. You think this is fun and games?


You know what? Let's start over. Hi, I'm Phillip, what's your name?

That's a great name. I bet a boy with that name has lovely, succulent tonsils. Here take a sip of this. It's magic juice.

You know, I used to be your mommy's doctor. But she had a real bad earache, so I had to remove her ovaries. That's why you're an only child.

You gettin' sleepy? You wanna' take a nap in the back of my van? The front has Ambulance spelled backward, so people can see it in their rear view mirror when I'm racin' 'em.

Yeah, that's right. Vroom, vroom.

Okay, he's out. Gary, grab me a fish-hook.

These bad boys are gonna fetch me $20 grand in Bangkok.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tap-dancing at the funeral

The worst restaurant in Minneapolis is no more.

Bellanotte, Block E's over-priced purveyor of inedible goods, has finally drowned in a sea of its own pretense.

I'll never forget my one and only dinner there: Lamb (jerky) on Saffron Rice(-r-roni), accompanied by a palatable (but predictable) squash soup. Oh, and a $9 glass of red wine that was warmer than sweat and tasted like bad breath. None of my dining companions much enjoyed their meals.

Of course, it is never a great thing when a restaurant goes out of business, particularly when that restaurant anchors a building so popular they could rename it the killing fields to boost public perception.

James Lileks goes so far as to advocate shutting down the joint, and he's probably simply ceding the nature of reality.

That said, Bellanotte was a mess, and our city's collective dining budget is finite. Hopefully, former patrons will stumble their way into more compelling fare (they might start near Marquette Ave., which has been ravaged by endless construction).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Musings

The sun. We fear it, we loathe it, we need it. Let's muse.

Was watching the View this morning (what, weren't you?) and Whoopie Goldberg expressed her doubt that the moon landing ever happened. So this is what stay at home moms feed themselves day after day. No wonder they have that look in their eye. I thought it was all the breast feeding.


At the beginning of the year, I predicted that the emergent church would cease to resemble Christianity in any meaningful way. Here you go folks:

Tony Jones thinks it's hilarious to call conservative Christians gay. That's trekking in new comedic territory. I can play that, too. Hey Tony, your glasses make you look gaaayyyyyyyyy.

And Brian McLaren can't get through one of his quasi-mystical musings without referencing three of his own books.

A new kind of Christianity indeed.


Words really don't describe how bad the last season of Roseanne was, do they? Wait, yes they do. Strained, indulgent, contrived, melodramatic... Words are great.


But only one word describes Sec. Sebelius' performance on Meet the Press yesterday. Yikes.

My question, did the Obama administration just assume the CBO would reinforce its claim that insuring millions of people would be free? 'Cause they sure don't seem prepared, here.


Used a gift certificate at the Chambers Kitchen on Friday, which you won't be able to do, because it's closed (and soon to be replaced by a D'Amico restaurant). Competent food, but who in Minneapolis is looking for an experience this stifling? Apparently nobody was.


Hopefully, a better future awaits Papa's pizza in North Minneapolis. I wouldn't go all the away across town for it (thought I've gone all the way across town for worse), but the pizza is good, the atmosphere is the anti-Chambers, and Surly's half-price during happy hour.

Speaking of pizza on the north side, Scoreboard pizza wasn't too shabby either. I've never been a fan of the "cracker crust" style that is so popular in Minnesota, as it's usually not crispy, and has way too much sauce. Not so in this case, and it's cheap.

So there you go. If you're stuck here, you have options.


I'll refrain from commenting on my experience at Bangkok Thai Deli, other than to note that they will be in a new location in a couple of months, and that they are probably worth another visit at that time.


No more musing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

InterVarsity Press has a Credibility Problem

InterVarsity Press describes itself thusly:

Located in Westmont, Illinois, InterVarsity Press has been publishing excellent Christian books for more than 50 years.

And, for the 20 years during which I have been familiar with the organization, this has held true. IVP publishes lots of bibles, lots of Christian books, and generally promotes an intelligent understanding of Christianity.

Enter Julie Clawson, who is neither intelligent, nor (near as I can tell) Christian. Here is an excerpt of her wisdom:

Reason number umpteenbazillion and one for why spanking should be illegal - Child Killed for Failing to Say “Please”

This sentence links to a story about an angry father who killed his toddler daughter for failing to say please. Why does this anecdote argue for a ban on spanking? One would expect a published Christian author to explain.

No dice. It speaks for itself, I guess. Neither does she explain her pro-choice stance in light of her belief that legal spanking is tantamount to murder. In her view:

"Even if a ban happened somehow to pass... Such a move would ignore the reasons why people get abortions in the first place, in essence telling those women that their feelings, struggles, and issues mean nothing."

Obviously, this is an intellectual muddle. These are fine positions to hold if you are the average woman in the average community. God expects nothing of such women.

But I have been fortunate to attend church with spectacular women. Women of integrity, intelligence, reason and, God forbid, morals. I married such a woman. Call me spoiled.

But if I am spoiled, shouldn't one of the most prominent Christian publishers in the nation be all the more so? It is curious, then, that they would choose to publish Clawson's nebulously titled Everyday Justice.

What in Clawson's background made the folks at IVP think that she was capable of sustaining a compelling argument throughout a book? Should Christians accomplish something before being allowed to publish, or is faith simply a shortcut to infusing politicized ideas on the populace, and getting paid for it?

I can suspect the reasons why InterVarsity might have chosen to publish this book. Clawson probably has a connection or two. The Emergent movement is notoriously hissy whenever its desires are unmet, on any level. So why not resort to placation?

Here's why not. I will never again take IVP's word that what they publish represents excellence or Christianity. I would urge my readers to adopt a similar attitude. The IVP should be held accountable to its mission statement, or change the mission statement.

Besides, Julie Clawson is precisely the sort of author who LOVES feeling oppressed. You'll be doing her a favor.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Monday Musings - Hopeface Op-ed Edition

On Sunday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed bylined, though certainly not written, or even read by, Barack Obama.

What strikes me, in addition to the anticipated demagoguery and disingenuous argumentation, is just how poorly crafted it is. It has no narrative focus, introduces no new ideas, and is a dreadful bore.

The piece scarcely veils it's true purpose, which is to update the talking points w/r/t the stimulus package. So expect it to be hailed as a masterpiece. Excerpts with responses below:

Nearly six months ago, my administration took office amid the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.

While arguably (though not certifiably) true, it isn't as impressive as it sounds.

The swift and aggressive action we took in those first few months has helped pull our financial system and our economy back from the brink.

The brink of what? Upon which "brink" was our economy, and how could you possibly argue that it no longer resides there?
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was not expected...

When a student (or blogger) uses the passive voice, he does so out of ignorance or indifference. When a communications specialist uses it, he does so to be opaque.

to restore the economy to full health on its own but to provide the boost necessary to stop the free fall.

It has accomplished neither. But if I had to fail at something, I suppose I'd rather frame my failure in terms of stopping free fall than resurrecting health. Nobody can stop a free fall, but one is expected to consult experts when nursing someone back to health. By experts, I don't mean lobbyists.
It was, from the start, a two-year program, and it will steadily save and create jobs as it ramps up over this summer and fall.

How does something that hasn't "ramped up" yet stop a free fall? Also, this sentence, doesn't flow well, and should be broken into two distinct sentences, for the sake of clarity, especially in an opinion editorial - just a thought.

We must let it work the way it's supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.

One time, I asked my (then) 4 year old nephew to go grab a soda from the fridge. I told him I would give him a nickel. He made good, I didn't have the nickel. What ensued did not remotely resemble understanding. Enjoy your Pepsi, Mr. President.

I am confident that the United States of America will weather this economic storm.

I am confident that the writer of this piece has buried the theme in the 4th paragraph.
There are some who say we must wait to meet our greatest challenges.

Strawmen, for example, are fond of saying this.
They favor an incremental approach

You mean, like the approach you just spent multiple paragraphs trying to sell us on?
or believe that doing nothing is somehow an answer.

Nice to see Obama seriously responding to his critics. For posterity, we straw-people wanted to cut the payroll tax. Of course, that would have helped the economy, which would rob us of the moment necessary to meet our greatest challenges.
Now is the time to build a firmer, stronger foundation for growth that not only will withstand future economic storms, but also will help us thrive and compete in a global economy.

Ugh. I'm just gonna fix it myself.

Already, we're making progress on health-care reform that controls costs while ensuring choice and quality, as well as energy legislation that will make clean energy profitable, leading to whole new industries and jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Wait. Why can't they be outsourced? Is Obama's proposed new industry entirely janitorial? He just made that up.
And this week, I'll be talking about how we give our workers the skills they need to compete for these jobs of the future.

If the future jobs can't be outsourced, why should our workers need to compete for them?

In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate's degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience,

I'm willing to guess that whoever authored this does not know a single person who possesses an associate (not "associate's") degree. That said, doesn't anyone in the White House own a !@#$ing AP Stylebook?

And what is it with Democrat and community colleges, anyway? Obama's blueprint for rebuilding our nation devotes two whole paragraphs to the topic.

Almost every Democratic politician waxes rhapsodic about the ability of community college to serve as a sort of cosmic VoTech that turns McDonald's employees into citizens of the future. What is it that liberals think happens at community college?

Providing all Americans with the skills they need to compete is a pillar of a stronger economic foundation, and, like health care or energy, we cannot wait to make the necessary changes.

Are we hyphenating health care or not? I need leadership on this issue. That said, why on Earth can't we wait to make changes to community colleges? If any issue verily screams "wait until 2012 to deal with me!" it's community college reform.

But earlier generations of Americans didn't build this great country by fearing the future and shrinking our dreams. This generation has to show that same courage and determination. I believe we will.

Well, earlier generations didn't shrink our dreams because the science, both in terms of time travel and dream-shrinkage, hadn't been invented yet. As for me, my dreams do not include the government. I, and millions of Americans, envision an America with minimal governmental intervention. Pretty sure that's what the earlier generations had in mind, too.

But if Barack Obama wants to bring us incremental changers into the fold, he might begin by hiring a communications person who can put 800 words to paper without making him look like an imbecile, and a cynical one at that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Top Ten Fridays: Burger Ingredients

The key to a good burger is not the meat. In fact, the cheapest, fattiest meat usually makes the best burger. So put the bison down, scrawny-pants, and find a better way to make your burger special. These ten ingredients and toppings are a start.

-Worcestershire and Soy. Before grilling, I almost always add these two, since they mimic the flavor and juices that you lose from the meat in the grilling process.

-Sri Racha. Otherwise known as liquid gold. It's the new ketchup. Which, by the way, ketchup is for kids. Don't eat it anymore.

-"American" Cheddar. God knows what it actually is, but if you're going to use it, put it on your burger.

-Ciabatta Bread. I'm a bit tired of this bread, since every restaurant uses it for every sandwich when a nice whole wheat or rye will do, but for burgers, it's a hearty bread that doesn't get soggy.

- Bacon. Unless it's overcooked. Overcooked bacon on a burger is like a beautiful baby girl who has just taken a nasty dump and needs to be changed.

- Gorgonzola. Bleu cheese has the same effect, but Gorgonzola is a better pairing with red meat, for my money.

- Garlic. If you slice it thin enough, and add it prior to cooking your burger, it disappears, except for the taste. Also, garlic rocks.

- Spinach. Cause lettuce sucks.

- Jalapenos. Unless you are one of those pussies who can't eat spicy things.

- Olives and mayo. With REAL mayonnaise and green olives. Some places like to pretend that sour cream and black olives are good. I say to them, get out of my country! That's what I say.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Phone Call

Phone: Ringing.

Me: Hello?

Susan: Hi. My name is Susan. Minneapolis is at a crossroads. It's time to continue our strong tradition of leadership, and we need to re-elect R.T. Rybak.

Me: I think R.T. Rybak has done a terrible job. What made you think I'd be interested in supporting him?

Susan: Well, our city has seen increased property values and a reduction in crime thanks to R.T Rybak's restructuring of the police force.

Me: What about the extra police officers that he promised, or buying bikes for police officers?

Susan: Well, R.T. Rybak has a lot of initiatives, and we need a donation of $75 or $100 to keep up the good work.

Me: The only thing Rybak seems interested in is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars selling our smelly water.

Susan: Well, we understand that times are hard. However, even a gift of $15 or $25 would help keep Minneapolis...

Me: Look, he's gonna be re-elected anyway. He doesn't need my money because he has the gay power groups on his side, so why are you calling me?

Susan: Well, I thank you for your time, sir.

Me: Ugh...

Monday, July 06, 2009

In Defense of the Uncommon Man

Talk radio it utterly inane.

I should backtrack.

I hate talk radio. It's all artifice, no content, a ruse designed to maintain the relative interest of listeners whose attention spans would otherwise fail the medium. As such, I find it repetitive and grating. For all the times I am compared to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, I don't listen to them.

Enter the Common Man, aka Dan Cole. Dan is a local sports radio personality on KFAN radio, whose shtick (I gather) is "telling it like it is" about sports. Apparently, his gig extends to "telling it like it is" w/r/t miscellaneous bloggers, one of whom happens not to be so miscellaneous to me.

My friend Adam is a devotee, of sorts, to The Common Man's progrum (they actually call it a "progrum"... How charmingly common). As such, he decided to emulate one of Cole's more popular gags. In his words:

I have become a huge fan of ‘The Common Man’ Dan Cole’s “progrum” on KFAN. He has this bit that collects preposterous statements from sports journalists and others over the year, and then sets them in a March Madness NCAA tournament bracket... From now on, I am going to collect the most preposterous statements I read on blogs and newspapers, and at the end of the year I am going to form a bracket and devise a poll for YOU the readers to vote on.

Adam then proceeds to apply the concept to political and theological quotes that are, empirically for the most part, absurd.

Apparently, Dan Cole caught wind of this from one of his listeners, and decided to contrive an extended bit about how someone had stolen his material. As such, I felt compelled to check out all mind numbing 42 minutes, in podcast form.

The show begins wrist-slittingly, with a funk-themed intro that does for Aaron Copeland what Kubrick did for Ludwig Van. This goes on for more than three minutes, accompanied variously by men mumbling and a singing baby.

(Off topic, but why does every podcast introduced by someone shouting at the top of his lungs? Why, really, is any introduction necessary? I know what your podcast is because I selected it from my menu in iTunes. What if bands did this? We're the Yeah Yeah Yeah's and you're listening to Maps!)

There's an explanation for the baby. It's Cole's kid, it turns out, which prompts the ubiquitous sycophantic sidekick (I'll assume his name is Rocko) to announce "I always laugh when I hear the word loin." Cindy the on-air intern announces that she was aroused and she laughed. Droll.

After the amicable resolution of a dreary discussion about whether gas stations are open 24 hours per day, Dan, Rocko and Intern Cindy pivot to the show's main topic.

Well, not quite. In true talk radio fashion, Cole hems and haws, pausing to consider the etymology of the word "craw", bemoaning the state of the world etc...
After five minutes of this, he announces that some "no-talent hack" has stolen his Preposterous Statements gag.

Rocko the Sycophant giggles and pushes lot's of sound effects buttons. On-air Cindy disappears to unpack KFAN t-shirts to hand out at a nightclub. Cole continues:

"Other people and other shows have guests... They research stories and stuff like that. We just pull stuff out of our heads."

Thanks for clarifying, Dan.

Sycophantic Rocko adds that Adam "doesn't even give us credit", which, apparently, when you are pulling stuff out of your heads, actually researching your topic isn't part of the process. Still, doesn't intern Cindy know how to Google?

This goes on, literally, for ten minutes. Dan Cole stammers and repeats himself. Rocko laughs and hits buttons. Apparently, people DO listen to this crap, because people actually call in to offer their insipid commentary.

Nate from Anoka, or wherever, compares Adam to a guy "who steals a bum's only shoe". Yeah, that's in Common Man's wheelhouse. Nate pulls things from his head, too. Good job, Nate.

It goes on like this. What is depressing to me is that you have a guy in Dan Cole who churns out mediocrity day after day (it's a daily show, yes?), and excuses it with a bit of post-modern jujitsu. He doesn't have to be interesting or entertaining, cause he's common. Just one of the guys.

He preys on the most ignoble stereotypes of Minnesota men in an attempt to garner their listenership. In a pique of, I dunno, self-loathing I guess, the men willingly comply. Ditto's Dan, or whatever.

Under the guise of mutual banality, it's okay to attack the credibility of people like Adam. We're all idiots here. Just listen to the fart noises and singing babies.

It goes without saying, but Adam is a man of strong intellectual integrity. He is thoughtful, articulate, and interesting... Attributes no reasonable person would ever evoke to describe Dan Cole. His one mistake is being a repeat listener of an indefensible show.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Just Do It?

Regular readers know that, while I am squarely moderate on issues related to the environment, I also hold environmentalists in low regard.

The problems with the green movement are myriad, from their unquestioned allegiance to the Democratic party, to their unwillingness to know when their beating a dead owl.

The greatest fault of contemporary environmentalism, however lies in its willingess to support any and all legislation that claims to be "green". Ban DDT? Absolutely! Ethanol subsidies? Sign us up! Stipends for SUV owners? Um, well, if the Sierra Club says so.

Objections to the above mentioned legislative failures have been met by resorting to a false choice between doing something and doing nothing. Above all else, environmentalists like to act, and they REALLY like making everyone else act.

This proclivity has been taken to new heights in the dialogue over the execrable Waxman-Markey bill, which essentially functions as complicated tax on energy. In and of itself, this idea is not untenable. However, studies show that the bill will cost us trillions of dollars, while having no measurable impact on climate change.

As Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times:

A simple, straightforward carbon tax would have made much more sense than this Rube Goldberg contraption.

A sensible rebuke of "a mess" of a bill that Friedman "detests". Alas, so begins Friedman's bizarre defense of the bill.

Enter the gaseous reasoning of the environmental left in this country. Friedman continues:

More important, my gut tells me that if the U.S. government puts a price on carbon, even a weak one, it will usher in a new mind-set among consumers, investors, farmers, innovators and entrepreneurs that in time will make a big difference

Let's hope this guy isn't on a jury anytime soon. Relying on your gut is a rather fuzzy proposition for a movement that claims to be steeped in matters of settled science. Alas, the empirical rationale offered by Friedman will have to stand, as he provides no support for his assertion that this opaque paean to lobbyists will induce an environmental renaissance.

As for those who dare contradict this unassailable wisdom? Why, they are "anti-environment".

Nonsense. I am not anti-environment (whatever that means). I simply think that,
like most guts, that of Thomas Friedman's is full of crap.

Going with your gut is a fine approach to, say, trading a second baseman, but it is a poor way to contend with science. As for me, I don't want trillion dollar decisions to be made "in the cloakrooms of the Capitol, where the coal lobby holds huge sway."

For too long, the environmental movement has confused motion for progress. It is time to for greenies to stop stammering about science in the abstract, stop evoking spiritual and bellicose overtones (we aren't at war with greenhouse gasses; there is no such thing as "mother nature"), and start talking about efficient solutions.

In spite of a veritable Democratic super-majority in the Senate, the outlook for this bill is grim. Indeed, it's passage would constitute a Pyrrhic victory for a movement that is seldom as en vogue with working families as it is in the guts of left-wing columnists.

Asking Americans to trade their hard earned dollars (and, in many cases, their livelihood) in exchange for the nebulous virtue of ostensible action is a lousy bargain. My advice to Congress? Just don't.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Some Post About a Puppy

Puppy's got a secret.

Do you know what it is?

Can you take a guess?

No, that's a good guess. Puppy appreciates good guesses. You'll have to try again, though.

That's right! Puppy can't read. Now you know everything.