30 April 2004

Meet me in Saint Louis

Tonight marks the first Cub-Cardinal game of the 2004 season.  The teams play four times in St. Louis through Monday, and I believe follow that up with three in Chicago in mid-May.

I haven't had any encounters with cardinals since the window banger at my sister's home just outside St. Louis, so I have no witty metaphors that would lead me to predict how this series will play out.  The cardinals have struggled at home, while the Cubs have been OK on the road.  However, I noticed today that over the last few seasons the Cubs are only 5-25 in St. Louis. 

I believe I attended the most painful of those 25 losses, two seasons ago.  It was late July, a Sunday night game televised nationally on ESPN.  We (two cardinal fans and three Cubs fans) sat in the first row of the upper deck of the left field bleachers, great seats, and watched a great game (for 3/5 of us) through the first 8 1/2 innings.  St. Louis came to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-4.  The Cubs were not having a good year, and with this win would take two of three from the series.  By this point, that was as good as a thing that could happen to them.

St. Louis proceeded to score six runs and win the game 10-9.

The only solace three of us could take was the fact that 90% of the people in the stadium had left by the time the game went to the ninth.  The celebration in the crowds as we made our way to our car was loud, and I can only imagine how worse it would have been if nine times the people were there.  Even for someone who can remember the God-awful Cub teams of the 1970's, it was a low point.

I'd be happy with a 2-2 split this weekend.  There's a long way to go this season and neither team needs to win all four. 

"I'm George W. Bush, and I approved this costume"

It's hard to believe that today marks a full year since the President played dress up.

GW arriving on the aircraft carrier in full flight suit attire kicked off what has been a memorable year of embarrassment.  Has a commnader in chief ever looked as ridiculous as he did in that get up?  I've seen action figures in toy stores that looked more realistic than he did.  However, there is no truth to the rumor that GW petitioned the National Guard to allow his appearance last year to count towards a day of service that he missed in 1973.

Bush topped off that day by declaring that all major hostilities in Iraq were over, and to make his point a strategic banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" was placed on the ship so that it would be visible over his shoulder as he spoke.  Mission accomplished, major hostilities are over!  So that means the 600 or so service people killed in Iraq since then were the victim of "minor" hostilities.  A few people in the administration have since said that the banner was a mistake, but not GW.  No sir, he does not make mistakes.  Just ask God.

Not that blame falls for on GW for this, it's not like he pulled the trigger or planted the mines or blew himself up.  Well, not literally, at least, but let's nor forget that shortly after the "mission accomplished" dress up day, Bush told the guerilla forces in Iraq to "bring it on" when it was apparent that American soldiers were still in danger in Iraq. 

One would assume that this President has the smallest feet in history, which would explain his remarkable ability to put them in his mouth, and that they still must be in there, otherwise he would have somehow managed to apologize for misleading the people of this country into believing that things were OK in Iraq, and for essentially daring insurgents in Iraq to elevate their attacks on our soldiers.

(I assume I will be hearing from John Ashcroft shortly)



worse things than this

Yet another weekend assignment:

I'm really not someone who gives or seeks advice all that often, and almost all of what I have given has been OK and received has been excellent.

Worst advice I ever gave: this is easy.  A few years ago a friend asked me who he should draft as his fantasy league quarterback-Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf (both were rookies).  I told him to take Leaf, because he was going to be a star, while Manning was going to be average at best.

Worst advice ever received:  As a former King of unrequited love (I will pause here so that you may dry your tears............) more than a few people suggested I not express my feelings to the object(s) of my affection.  Well intended, I'm sure, but I wasted a hell of a lot of time waiting for someone in the dark to see the light, while all the bulbs were burned out.

Wow, that was a really horrible metaphor.  My supreme apologies.


Everybody play the game

I never thought I'd ever write about anything that involved Viagra.

When I was a kid, the first album I ever bought was Queen's "A Night at the Opera."  I could sing the whole album in order right now if I had to ('I feel like dancing/in the rain/can I get a volunteer'-Seaside Rendezvous...OK, OK, I'll stop now).  In time I had all of their music.  Queen was the first rock group that I proclaimed as my favorite, and they stayed there until the day Freddie Mercury died.  News of  his death saddened me as much as any person that I did not personally know.  I still listen to them a lot.

Proof once again that the memories of things that make you happy when you were a child don't always last through your lifetime arrived this afternoon when I was watching the Phillies-Cardinals game on ESPN.  There was a commercial for Viagra featuring several different men running jubilantly from their homes to the tune of "We Are the Champions," which in all honesty is not one of my favorite Queen tunes.

I was able to ignore the fact that the song has been used as an anthem in every sports arena since the early 80's, but I was significantly bothered by hearing Queen in a Viagra commercial, once I stopped laughing.  I have to admit that it was a somewhat amusing advertisement.  I posted some thoughts and a new rule last month when a David Bowie song showed up in a car ad, and I feel the same way today after seeing this commercial.  Queen's not together anymore, obviously, so I don't know who exactly is selling out, but a rule's a rule, so the lyrics have to change:

We are the erectile dysfunctional, my friends

And we'll keep on poppin' blue pills til we can achieve "the end"

We've got Viagra!  We've got Viagra!

No use for Levitra!

'Cause we got Viagra

In case we ever get a girlfriend


28 April 2004

A visit from Saint Rudolph

Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a great piece on Rudy Giuliani today.

Rudy's another guy who has been prematurely canonized because he was mayor of New York on 9/11.  I was impressed with his leadership that day, much as I was by President Bush, but I also think just about anyone in his position (or GW's, for that matter) would have reacted in the same way.

It's disappointing to see him on the side of the drug companies when he instead could have an effect on getting a handle on drug pricing.  He forces me to label him as yet another GOP shill who cares nothing about people, only business.

We have a serious accountability problem in this country when people who know that they are admired choose personal wealth over the good of others.  I am all for free enterprise and capitalism when it comes to wants instead of needs, but for too many people in the land, meeting the costs of their drug needs is prohibitive.  If the people who run our nation (and this is a bipartisan slam) cared more for it's inhabitants rather that the wealth, we'd have reasonable prescription prices.  It's pathetic to gouge people on medicine.

Of course, guys like Giuliani will be able to afford any drugs they need no matter how long they live. 

26 April 2004

The true measure of a man

So much has been said and written about the death of Pat Tillman last week that I want to avoid repeating any of it.  I can't say that I followed his NFL career or even knew who he was before he decided to give it all up and enter the Army.  Walking away from a multi-million dollar contract to face potential combat is noble indeed, more so because he refused to call attention to himself for doing it.

I think that the word "hero" is overused in our society, certainly since 9/11.  I equate a hero to be someone who faces certain danger without regard to himself for the immediate safety of others.  I'm not sure if I consider a soldier on patrol in Afganistan a hero by its definition.  Brave, absolutely.  Certainly, there are times when soldiers are called on to be heroic, but I waver in considering all military personnel heroes.

He certainly was a man though, something that I think is a lot tougher to do than be a hero.  Potentially, any schmuck can be a hero if he/she is in the right place at the right time.  It's harder to be a true man (or person-leave me alone) day in and day out.  When a guy like Pat Tillman does what he did, and then dies because of it, I know that he was a better man that I could ever hope to be, because I don't see myself making those decisions under any circumstance.  It's not even humbling to write that.  I know the person that I am, and I am not as courageous as any soldier, never mind one that walks away from being paid millions of dollars to play a game.

The true meaning of a man is someone who can have a positive affect on people that don't know him whether he is alive or dead.  Pat Tillman fits that definition.

One of the legacies of Pat Tillman that I hope to see is that from now on, no one, be it fans, writers, announcers, coaches or athletes themselves refer to any sporting event or situation as "war."  I don't want to hear about "battles in the trenches" or any other metaphors that compare sport to war.  To do so has always been ridiculous, and it makes no sense now, more than ever.


Huevos all over my face

It just happened again.

I was on my way to Target to pick up some painting supplies.  It's a nice day here in Chicago, not a cloud in the sky and the temperature in the low 60's, so I had the window rolled down as I drove along North Avenue.  Unable to find anything good playing on the radio, I let it scan until I heard something catchy.

I stopped it when I heard the familiar guitar riff, followed by a low male voice singing "hey, hey, hey" and knew I had heard it before, but could not remember what it was.  Determined to know what it was, I decided then and there to listen to the end and if the radio station did not identify who it was, I would call them if I had to in order to find out.

Then the rest of the verse played out:

"Hey, hey, hey, lady, burrito lady, burrito lady,..."

Ah, yes, it's a commercial for Chipotle.  I knew that the last time I waited a few seconds to figure out what it was.  And I'll do it again when I hear it on the radio and forget that I've heard the commercial before. 

I am to the point where I find the music played during the commercials on the radio better than the songs played in between ad breaks.  Color me old, and do it quickly, lest I am able to forget what exactly it is that you are doing.   

24 April 2004

A few of my (second) favorite things

Fulfilling another journal assignment...

2nd favorite movie:  I find it much tougher to choose my second favourite (that's my second favorite way to spell "favorite" by the way) movie than my all time favorite (Pulp Fiction), but I have to go with "A Fish Called Wanda."  No movie has ever made me laugh harder and I have quoted the line from Jaime Lee Curtis, "calling you stupid is an insult to stupid people!", many, many times.

2nd favorite book:  "A Widow for One Year" by John Irving.  I must have tried to read this book ten times before I made it through fifty pages, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.  This is also the only book that I ever finished reading in a cemetery.  (My all time favorite book is Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises.")

2nd favorite CD:  REM's "Automatic for the People"  Hard to walk in dignity with throwup on your shoes (when's John Kerry going to break out "Ignoreland"?)

2nd favorite teacher:  Mr. Wolf, both sixth and seventh grade math.  Not only a great math teacher, but one of the funniest people I ever met.

2nd favorite ice cream flavor:  Edy's Girl Scout Samoan.  It would be #1 by far if it were available year round.  Some day I going to buy a freezer and store the hundreds of cartons of this stuff that I'll by the first day it's available each February.

2nd favorite sports team:  There's the Cubs and everyone else...obviously, but if forced to choose a specific second team for now I'd say Iowa Hawkeye football.  If the Chicago Blackhawks cared about winning I'd say them instead. 

2nd favorite comfort food:  I don't really eat any type of food for comfort, so I'll change the rules and say that my second favorite food is chicken.

2nd favorite celebrity crush:  Another toughie.  Debra Winger is #1, and no one else compares.  Jeez,this is tougher than I thought.  I don't know, Angie Dickinson?  "Police Woman" rocked!  Seriously, I guess I'll go with Julianne Moore.

2nd favorite cartoon character:  Yosemite Sam.  Never fails to crack me up.  "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH ya varmit!"

2nd favorite way to relax:  Read.  Doesn't matter what-the paper, book, magazine, textbook, instructions on how to assemblethat gas grill that's been in the garage for ten years... 


22 April 2004


Obviously, I am having trouble finding things to write about, so I give you this.

I don't even want to speculate on the size of that dent, or what it is shaped like.

19 April 2004

Everything's coming up guns n' roses

Dick Cheney addressed the NRA convention this past weekend.

Oh, the possibilities.  Which direction do I go with this one?  Do I laugh about Cheney labeling John Kerry as a threat to gun owners?  What if we took that literally, can you see Kerry holding a bunch of gun people at bay with some other type of federally protected weapon?  The irony...

The Democrats have made guns a non-issue in this campaign.  Kerry has stated that he enjoys hunting.  And Howard Dean was about as pro-gun as any politician I have ever heard.  But the Bush-Cheney machine is in trouble and they know it, so they sent Dick back to the proverbial rhetorical well that for the GOP is the NRA, and laced the water with a healthy dose of misinformation.  I'd be much more grateful if Dick spent his time telling us how he and GW are not threats to job ownership.

The American soldier death toll in Iraq reached 700 this weekend.  Instead of the VP addressing the public with a plan on how we will achieve our goals in Iraq and limit the number of dead soldiers, he panders to a group of extremists.  Instead of a photo of someone in this administration actually attending a funeral, we got a shot of Dick clutching a musket.

My views on guns have changed a lot in the last few years.  I used to think that every gun needed to be eliminated, but I am wise enough now to realize the chances of that ever happening.  I personally will never own a gun, but that does not mean that I think no one should.  It's an individual decision, one that is fairly easy for me.

The NRA is full of nuts though.  If you read the CNN article you see that the father of one of the Columbine victims attempted to get into the convention and was treated poorly.  This group has absolutely no compassion, and the fact that it hides behind the second amendment whenever any type of gun ownership debate occurs disgusts me.  You cannot convince me that when Jefferson et al wrote the amendment that they would advocate the measure of slaughter that occurs in this country from firearms.  No way.  The weapon of choice back then was a musket.  The amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to protect us from militias attempting to overtake the government. 

Anyone has the right to hunt as long as they do so safely, and if a responsible person wants a gun in their house for safety, then so be it.  But there are huge problems with firearms in this country that exist in no other civilized countries, and the only difference between these places is that the US lets anyone own a gun.  I don't have a solution to the problem, but then I am not in a position where anyone would listen to me anyway.  No one seems to care about finding a solution, which would seem to be the problem.

3000 residents of this country died on 9/11.  Ten times that number have died since then from firearms, yet we do nothing to address it.  I think it is because a majority of the victims of firearms fall into societal groups that do not hold a lot of political power.  The GOP doesn't care about them because they don't get many votes from these groups, and the Democrats are too scared to confront them on it.

I am a lot more concerned that I or someone I love will be affected by gun violence than I am about my safety boarding an airplane or going up in a skyscraper.

But I'm sure that Dick and George don't care about what I think.

17 April 2004

25 Random things about me

For those outside the realm of AOL, I am fulfilling a journal "assignment"

1. I can make fairly loud noises with my knees and ankles that have been mistaken for sonic booms

2. I was on Icelandic television in 1998 because a pastry chef fell into a pond

3. My favorite CD of all time is Pete Townshend's "White City"

4. I would have given ten years of my life to be a major league baseball player

5. 18 months after quitting the job I had for almost twelve years, I still have nightly dreams of chaos where I am a retail drug store manager

6.  If I ever get a chance to be on Jeopardy, they will have to declare bankruptcy

7. I have a completely irrational fear that I will die from ALS (Lou Gherig's disease) some day

8. When I was a freshman in college, my randomly assigned room was on a floor designated for students with disabilities.  I was only one of three people not disabled who lived there.  It was like being Jack Nicholson's character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" but it also turned out to be one of the more memorable years of my life

9. I was really, really, mean to my sophomore year roommate in college.  I have regretted that for a long time

10. It's been almost two years and I think I've handled it well, but I still have days where I find it incomprehensible that my father died in 2002

11. It bothers me that I will leave this life knowing that there are places in this world that I will not have seen

12. I have never seen "It's A Wonderful Life" and have no plans to

13. I am 99.9% certain that I have already had my mid-life crisis

14. I was head over heels in love with my kindergarten teacher.  A part of me still is

15. I want to name my first born son "Desmond" and no one who knows this likes the name, including my fiance.  And it is an Irish name

16. My ears are pretty big, and they have been the size that they are currently since I was five

17. I am still enraged that "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture in 1994 instead of "Pulp Fiction"

18. The only reason I eat asparagus is because of the way it makes urine smell later

19. I don't think the human race will last more than another five hundred years or so

20. I am going to cry like a baby on the day I get married, when my children are born, and when the Cubs win the World Series

21. I think it's ironic that a majority of those who favor the death penalty are against abortion

22. The only movie I ever walked out on is "The Poseidon Adventure."  I was seven

23. I have the ugliest big toes in the history of mankind

24. I have a birthmark in an extraordinarily inaccessible location

25. I spent a long time working in neighborhoods where I was the minority.  I learned more about life in those years then all other combined



15 April 2004

More baseball symbolism (and I need to get a life)

You may recall my encounter last week with the St. Louis Cardinal.  Right now, I am about forty five miles northwest of St. Louis, prime redbird country.  My nephew, a transplanted Chicagoan, has fallen under the influence of his father and become a "die hard" fan.  Brian was not a Cub fan when he lived up north anyway, but for him to swear allegiance to the Cardinals at the age of twelve was painful.  Poor, misguided boy...

As I was nearing the end of my entry about spending a few days with my niece I heard a loud pounding noise coming from the kitchen.  I went in there to see what it was, and saw that a cardinal was continually flying into the window located above the sink that faces south.  He did it (plea for help from an ornithologist: how does one tell a male cardinal from a female???) at least ten times, and he seemed to do it harder once he saw me looking at him.

I take this as another gauntlet thrown down from the powers that be who are trying to diminish the buzz I feel about the Cubs this year.  And I can't help but compare the methods of the mascots: a cardinal thinks he can fly through reinforced glass to get what he wants, yet I picture a Cub just ringing the damn doorbell and asking for whatever he wants.

And a quick check of the standings reveals:  Cubs are 4-4, Cards are 4-6; neither team is covering themselves in glory yet.

Of course, the only stat that matters in all this is 0-0, which is the record of these two teams in head-to-head contests.  They don't play for another month or so, I believe, which is plenty of time for me to board my next plane and see a Cardinal sitting in the seat beside me.

Practicing for the future

I'm spending a few days at my sister's place in lovely, metropolitan Staunton, Illinois (population 234 + me...actually I think there's about 5000 people who live here) keeping an eye on my four year old niece while her parents work for a few days up in Chicago.  My niece's name is Erin, and her energy level is just a little bit less than the equivalent of three thousand atomic bombs.  Last night she went to sleep around 10:30, and was waking me up for breakfast at 6 this morning.  She has spent the last three hours showing me every single thing in this house that she can play with, and I'm certain that if she was just a wee bit stronger, she'd be rearranging the furniture in every room as well.

And I'm loving every second of it, because while she has been as active as the sun since I've been here (late yesterday afternoon), she has also been well behaved.  She loves bacon, and as I am standing over the stove this morning with my eyes three-quarters shut cooking on sound alone, she comes up to me and says "So, anything I can do to help?"  Um, sure, could you look over the tax returns and make sure they are correct?

It's pushing 80 here today, and she just got a new bike, so we shall be venturing outside here soon.  I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to the point in time this afternoon where she passes out for a little while (I am one of the best uncles in history when it comes to getting kids to nap) but up until then, we get to do anything we want. 

I cannot pretend that I live a life chock full of stress, at least not for the last year and a half, but there is still a lesson or two in priorities when you get the chance to spend some time one on one with a toddler.  I know that doing this 24/7 is A LOT different than doing it for a few days, but just the idea of having someone so young around you every day is intriguing, to help that person get started, form their personality, and guide them. 

I can't wait.


13 April 2004

Now that I've picked myself off the floor...

...I'll pass this along (though I should say there is a bad word or two-God, am I part of the FCC now?)

Of course, this may be actual reality in a few months.

Lord, I love the political season!

Make love not war

This little tidbit has me thinking that things are getting a little ridiculous, maybe not for what happened or that these guys lost their jobs, but just for the fact that this whole FCC thing is getting old.

I read a feature yesterday that I now can no longer locate for linking that explained how the television networks are under a lot of pressure to tone down the raunch on their shows for next season.  One of the "casualties" is the Victoria's Secret fashion show (perhaps Bob Dylan can fill in...), certainly no great loss in my opinion.  Though I have never watched that show, it has never bothered me that it has been aired.  I made the decision not to watch.  I don't need the decision made for me.

Through all of this, I want to know why there is no outrage over the violence that is on television instead.  Perhaps you think I am contradicting myself by saying that Big Brother is too involved in censoring sexual situations from us as I appear to be showing my distaste for violence, but think this: sex is an issue for all of us in one way or another at some point in our lives.  Sure, we don't talk about it, but it's out there and everyone confronts it at some time.  The same cannot be said for violence.  I have never seen anything sexual on television that caused me to behave differently,but I can't say the same thing about violence.  As an example for a time when I was a young kid I used to be terrified walking down the street by myself because I pictured a passing car stopping and someone getting out and snatching me away, or shooting me.  Completely irrational?  Of course, but where do you think that irrational fear came from?  I saw it on television a few hundred times probably.

My parents did a great job at keeping us from watching adult themed television shows when we were young, but it was impossible THEN to keep us 100% isolated from violent portrayals, so I can only imagine how tough it is now for the best parents.  Why do we go nuts at an exposed breats but not at the perception of how it was done, exposed against the woman's will?  We would never think of allowing a video game of nothing but having sex, but any kid can play games that do nothing but shoot things to their heart's content.

When I am a parent, I am going to be a lot more dilligent about making sure that my kids are not exposed to unnecessary violence.  That's not to say that family movie nights will feature pornography, but as a family sexuality is going to have to be addressed at some time.  My kids will need to know it, and I won't be doing the best job I can at raising them if I ignore it.  However I feel no need to introduce them to the violence that is much more prevelant in the media (and much, much more unnecessary, I would also say), and I would much rather see the conglomerates address the amount of violence that is aired on their television shows and played on their radio stations than fire people who talk about sex, even if they do sound like morons.

The so-called moral groups who blow a gasket about the sexuality of our society while ignoring the violent aspects practice selective ignorance, which is a heck of a lot worse than uttering any f word on an awards show or showing a remnat of cleavage during an overhyped halftime spectacle.  What's more important to prevent, your child one day dealing with his or her sexual feelings, or the possibility that they will resolve a dispute with a gun?

It's a gas

I'm a little behind in my news commentaries, I realize.  I'm not going to comment on the 9/11 hearings anymore because it's the same as everything else.  No one dares admit to any fault or remorse, because it's not good for one's political bearings.  All I will say is that any rational person knows where the heap of blame lies for 9/11, squarely on the shoulders and psyches of the terrorists.  It wouldn't kill any of these people who go before this commission to express remorse that such an incident occurred.  I'd be stunned and more appreciative of any person that did, regardless of party affiliation.

So much for not talking about it.  I did see the President's latest salvo across the proverbial bow of John Kerry with his latest negative campaign ad, and I think it is brilliant in the scope of addressing an issue that GW promised to handle during his 2000 campaign, the price of gasoline.  Personally, I don't see how any president can be held directly responsible for gasoline prices, but then I also am at the point where I don't think ads such as these are directed at thinkers like me. 

The ad uses images from a Keystone Kops-like movie showing several people having difficulty with their cars, while the voice over tells us that if John Kerry were president, gasoline prices would be higher because he would push through higher taxes.  Note the required use of the words "higher" and "taxes" in the ad, as all GOP attack ads must (I believe it is in the RNC's charter).  So I see this ad and I think that GW is telling us that sure, gas prices are high, but if you think things are bad now, just wait for what you'll get if y'all elect Kerry.  Essentially, he's telling us that he's not done what he said he would, control gas prices, but that we shouldn't be so upset about it because his opponent will only make it worse.

And this is why I think it's brilliant, Bush puts it out there that he has screwed up.  He's spending money essentially to promote his failures on national television, but he also knows that the public has an attention span of 1/100th of a second, and he hopes that all people get from this is John Kerry grouped with higher taxes.

I equate this strategy with two people talking about their individual plans to rob a liquor store.  The first one actually does it, and in the process shoots the store owner in the foot.  When the police come, he tells them to go arrest the second guy instead, because if he had done it, he'd have shot the owner in the head.   

And I implore Senators McCain and Feingold to reconvene committee and amend their campaign finance reform laws to close the loophole that is ruining the negative campaign season for me.  Bush has circumvented the rule that states all candidates must claim in the ad that they have approved its message by doing so at the beginning.  I want the rule changed to specify that this claim must come at the end.  Better yet, let's make it this: any candidate who runs an attack ad must stand before the camera at the end of the ad holding a bucket of mud.  Then they must state their name, toss the mud on the camera, and say that they approved the ad as the wipe the lens clean.

When Kerry starts running ads like these I will be just as critical.  In fact, I can't believe he hasn't started doing so yet.  He must be waiting for scotch guarded boots or something.

09 April 2004


I just got caught up on the last two episodes of "The Shield", which I think is brutally brilliant, but I digress...anyway, during more than one commercial break of each episode I am fairly certain that I saw a Victoria's Secret advertisement with Bob Dylan in it.

Bob Dylan.  And a few models dressed in lingerie and wearing angelic wings.  Tell me how those two subjects do not scream "mutually exclusive"?

I ain't gonna get dressed on Maggie's farm no more.

A piece of the rock

Another asteroid story.  Apparently there is a project going on that intends to locate all space objects that could pose a danger to Earth.

So by 2008 science will know (allegedly) every piece of space rock that poses a threat to Earth.

I feel sooooo much safer now.

I have some questions though.  If they find an asteroid bearing down on us, we'll need 30 years to take the proper action.  How do they know that, dinosaur textbooks?  And it would possibly make things worse if we nuked one on its way?  How can turning a big freaking piece of rock into pieces of gravel make things worse?  What, like it's going to mistakenly unleash the three villians from "Superman 2" from their trapezoid prison?

I suppose I am obsessing about this a little.  You can spend your enitre life worrying about things that will never happen.  But I do have to admit that I can't quite understand why more people aren't nuts about this.


06 April 2004

10 years of guilt

It's terribly sad, even ten years later, to think that no one did anything to stop the Rwandan genocide.  This is a situation that I find almost impossible to fathom, that the world could know what was going on there and just ignore it, just let so many innocent people die.

I'm a big fan of the Clinton years, but I think one of its biggest mistakes was not sending in troops to try to stop this.  I believe that it is the responsibility of this country to get involved when we know that such a great number of people are being systemically eliminated, as we did when the Serbs killed so many ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.  I believe, as many do, that if the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" crisis had not occurred in Somalia that the US would have gotten involved in Rwanda.  Clinton took a lot of heat when marines died in Mogadishu and did not want to send them to an area of risk again.

And as I said, that was one of his biggest mistakes.  Many other countries are responsible for doing nothing as well, but it's a shame that the US did not initiate an action to save so many innocent lives.

People may think I contradict myself, or worse, play partisanship, when I say that taking action in Rwanda would have been justified, as Kosovo was, but that I believe we made a huge mistake in Iraq.  To that I say this, look at how quickly the killing stopped in Kosovo, and imagine how effective our forces would have been in Rwanda.  Then ask if the situation in Iraq is better now than it was when we invaded.  I say absolutely not, there is more death in Iraq than there was before, despite what is reported about the killing practices of the regime in Iraq.  Hundreds of thousands of people were in immediate danger in both Kosovo and Rwanda.  There was no such situation in Iraq.  The US has a duty to involve itself when it will prevent the senseless slaughter of masses.  I have never felt that Iraq presented that scenario.

The process of which we select where to get involved is indeed intriguing.  I wish it were based solely on humanity.

Let the games begin

I was very happy to watch yesterday's Cubs-Reds opener, and not just because the Cubs won 7-4.  Obviously I am going to be happier when the Cubs win (and let me just interject here that no serious, true Cubs fan ever, EVER, refers to them as the "Cubbies"-when I am Leader of the Free World I shall levy fines for people that do) but the mere fact that baseball is back reminds me that the weather will indeed be warm soon and that summer is coming. 

There's been hype about the Cubs at some time in my life, but nothing quite like what is going on this year.  This is the first time I can recall that everyone expects them to win.  I am optimistic every year to a fault, but I also can recognize when a team has no chance in hell of contending.  I expect them to win this year as well, but it's silly to predict a World Series title.  Far too many things can go wrong in a short time to guarantee that, and I would have said that long before last year's playoffs anyway.

So the game ends yesterday in the middle of the afternoon, and I decide to go out and run some errands.  There's a big mulberry tree that hangs over the driveway at the house and when it bears fruit in the middle of summer it's a real mess.  Birds sit in the tree all day, eat the berries, and leave reminders of it all over the cars.

As I am walking to the car yesterday I hear the unmistakable song of a cardinal, and I can see him sitting in the mulberry tree, chirping away.  Whenever I see a cardinal I think of St. Louis, the Cubs most heated rival.  I can't help it.  I like St. Louis, it's one of my favorite cities in America, and I can't say that I hate the Cardinals, but I want the Cubs to beat them every game, and beat them badly.  The sight of this bird coupled with an opening day victory gets my adrenaline going, and I am stoked.  Baseball is here, and it's going to be a great summer in Chicago.

Then the bird starts dropping bombs on my car, right in front of me, three large thuds of junk hitting metal, followed by what only can be described as echoing splats.  There's no fruit in the tree yet, so this bird, this cardinal, saved his business for when he was perched above my car.  And judging from his volume, he must have felt quite relieved. 

A shot across my proverbial baseball bow, I dare say.  To which I reply, bring it on.  I picture a cub wandering into someone's backyard in suburban St. Louie as Joe Cardinal Fan goes out to his car yesterday, and I like my chances in which one of us walks away from these encounters with his skivvies still clean.  And a messier car.


The folks at AOL have made it possible for me to now ramble on for 25,000 characters per entry rather than 2500.  That means no more editing.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to go back and selective purge words from an entry to make it fit the limit.  Self-editing is a nice tool to have, but there are times when you have to just go on for a little while longer.  And I always hated to have to split entries into parts. 

These are thoughts that one could do without, I suppose.  I look forward to going on and on and on...


03 April 2004

Finished (finally)

I can declare that I am done with my move.  Technically, I was done moving Wednesday, but since then I have been organizing my new living space (see my true definition of moving from last week).

At the age of (almost) 37, I have done what I vowed never to do: I have moved back home.  Sort of.  When I left the house I grew up in "for good" in August of 1994 (yeah, I know, I was 27 and a little slow, OK?) I assumed that I would never live here again.  When I left my retail career in 2002 and more than one person suggested that I might come back here, I laughed and said that I'd just as soon live in a box under Wacker Drive than move back home.  That was single-loser-Jim, not Jim-on-a-wedding-deadline-he-absolutely-has-to-leave-sometime talking.

My furniture isn't here; it's getting a thirteen month head start living at my fiance's house, as is my cat.  Kristen is very happy with both.  So I will reside at my mother's home until the end of April 2005.  Mock me as you will, I can take it, but know that this was my idea.  Mom was nice enough to think that it was a good idea, though she did remind me of my "Wacker Drive" claim several times. 

Things are different than they were in 1994, for sure.  There were five other people living her when I left, there is just one now.  My father has passed away and my siblings have married.  Just about every room has been redecorated, the wood siding has been replaced by aluminum, and there is finally central air.  This is not the same place that I grew up in.

But it does still feel like home, at least for thirteen months.

Thanks, Mom.

um, yeah, about what I said before...

I used to like Colin Powell, but now I feel he's just another lackey in the worst presidential administration during my lifetime.

If Powell wants to impress me, he can do two things: he can produce and eat the script he used when he addressed the UN shortly before the war telling the world that Iraq had weapons undoubtedly, and he can resign.

We are approaching 600 Americans killed in a war that we were told was for the sole purpose of keeping this country safe from weapons of mass destruction.  The next weapon found will be the first.  Why isn't anyone being held accountable for this?  To quote Bob Dole: "Where's the outrage?"  It is not good enough for the occasional cabinet member to look back and say "this apparently was not the case"; there has to be consequences.  People need to lose their jobs, and maybe a person or two needs to go to jail.

Perjury, remember?  It was a big deal on Capitol Hill not that long ago.

02 April 2004

Let's make it tough as possible...

..for the Cubs to win the World Series.

Seriously, I get my mail Wednesday, and I notice that this week Sports Illustrated is doing what it does about once a month, conceal the cover with some lame attempt to get me to buy some golf clubs or a book series.  I remove it to look at the cover, and what do I see?

"Hell freezes over.  The Cubs will win the World Series."

Wunderbar!  I know I have spent some time relating my thoughts on curses when it comes to the Cubs and how I don't believe them, but then there is really no scientific proof that a goat can cause sixty years of futility.  The cover of SI is a different matter.  There are countless examples of people and teams whose high hopes have imploded once they appeared on the cover.  Anyone remember who SI picked to win the college football championship and was thus plastered on the cover of the season preview issue this year?  Try Oregon.  A few years ago it was Arizona.  Both were out of contention before I had a chance to finish reading the issue.

Last year there was a cover story devoted to the cover curse.  No one would agree to be pictured on it, so there was just a black cat.  This is more than a curse, it's a command, an amendment to the constitution of Murphy's Law.

I'm hyperventilating.  Couldn't they have put the Yankees on the cover instead?  Put it to good use.  Or even better use-put George W Bush on the cover.

Cubs' pitcher Kerry Wood is pictured on this cover.  I am expecting to put the news on some day soon and hear that he was mauled by a giant scorpion in Arizona.

Hey, SI, put ME on the cover.  Please.  In the back of an armored truck with the headline "Man bets entire contents of US Mint on any team to win World Series other than the Cubs."

Believe me, that would be money well spent.