Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Give me dirty laundry

The electronic media is in a real hitting slump lately.

First, after trying, convicting, pillorying, flaying and executing John Mark Karr on TV for the alleged murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the accursed Colorado officials had the temerity to not even charge the guy. Simply because they had no evidence.

TV was in a non-stop feeding frenzy for about a week from the time the poor guy was discovered in Thailand. They even covered him on the airplanes from Thailand to the U.S. and from California to Colorado. 'Flying first class? Shame! Shame!' Some of the all-news channels turned into all Karr channels. It ran over and over and over 24 hours a day for days and days. No other news was allowed to intrude. Can't get enough of a juicy murder and it's equally juicy outcome.

No time for facts, we've got the killer, TV shouted. Finally! We solved the murder of at least one white female.

Sorry, TV. Wrong psycho. Made you folks with the microphones look awfully silly again.

Then, TV ramped up the coverage of deadly Hurricane Ernesto, which was bound to wipe South Florida right off the globe. Hour after hour after tense, serious hour of coverage of this deadly storm. Maps, charts, diagrams. A projected path that estimated it could wipe out about a half of the eastern U.S. It came ashore yesterday with rain and 43-mile-per-hour winds. A good storm, sure. A killer?

The folks on location at the Weather Channel looked positively crushed that the storm was so pitiful. (Still can't figure out why they have to have a reporter stand out in the rain in Miami to prove to viewers that it's raining in Miami. We won't believe it if we don't see a wet weatherman?)

All in all a couple real good weeks for the TV folks.

Keep it up. We need scandal. Scares. Murder. Death & destruction. All the stuff you're so good at ....

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Listen to the doors slamming

Slam ... the sound of doors closing.

Well, maybe.

I see Champaign high schools are finally getting the message.

Kinda buried in a NG article on school resource officers (cops in the hall) is this little gem:
The district plans to look at a closed campus for its high schools, meaning students would not be allowed to leave for lunch.

Burley said the schools could not now handle a closed campus, because the buildings don't have a large enough space for lunch for all students. The change would require renovations and changes to class schedules to stagger lunch times.

He said the district will study the possibility of a closed campus this year.
Finally. Common sense.

Some of us -- and it would seem a lot of others in the community -- have been preaching the value of a closed campus for quite some time. Maybe now the school administrators have seen the light.

I don't even care if they want to make it sould like it's their own original idea.

If it cuts down on community problems, smoking, littering, running all over town during the day, accidents, consorting with non-student thugs, I'm all for it. I really don't see where it's a right for students to be able to leave school for lunch. It works elsewhere. It can work here.


And so it goes.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

For sale?

Those few of you who actually visit this site will notice something different.

No ads.

For the past year I've had Blogger/Google's irritating Adsense ads on my page every day. In the past year I've earned exactly $0.01. That's right, one penny!

And I haven't even seen that.

Finally last night I decided to pull the plug.

I'm not for sale.

At least not for a penny.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The friendly skies

A few observations on a quick flight to south Florida over the weekend:

South Florida in August? Are you nuts? Probably. Still, wasn't much worse than Illinois' recent heat wave. Just never cools off. The beaches are great, though.

Flying's becoming more and more of a hassle and less and less pleasant. To the point that any trip under 500 miles will be more pleasant to drive.

Those rumored security checkpoint backlogs simply do not exist except at really, really peak flying times, and then it's no more than a 15-minute wait. At most. My longest wait in line was about 30 seconds. At most.

The security personnel are quite serious about their jobs and being more vigilant than I've ever seen them. Nevertheless, they also seem more pleasant and understanding than in the past. They know that it's no fun for the passengers.

Despite all the hoopla about not being able to carry liquids or gels on planes, a surprising number of folks just never get the message. Or they believe it doesn't apply to them. Garbage containers at the security stops are filled. Little old ladies just do not want to part with their 40 pounds of makeup.

People also don't understand that they can't carry a bottle of water on a plane, even if they purchased it in the gate area. People are dumb.

Boarding is a lot more pleasant now since about half of all carryon baggage has been eliminated. No businessfolks trying to stuff an 80-pound steamer trunk into an overhead bin while 80 people wait to board. The overhead bins on all of my flights were never totally filled.

Conversely, lots more checked baggage means more crowded baggage return areas. And longer lines at the lost luggage offices.

In general, folks at airports and in the air seem to be making a real honest effort to be pleasant, friendly and helpful. They know that flying's now more of a hassle than an adventure. It is for them, too. It's not their fault.

And so it goes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Uh, no

Sorry, NG, one restaurant claiming a (maybe) loss of 10 percent in receipts since the smoking ban went into effect in Urbana DOES NOT make it a trend.

It makes it a story about one whining person whose revenues are down until the students return. Or until the food and/or service improves. Or perhaps because people just aren't spending right now. Or perhaps you just have a surly bartender who's chasing folks away. Or maybe you raised beer prices. Or maybe your air conditioning hasn't been working all that well. Or...?

Sorry, NG, it ain't a trend. No matter how much you want it to be. Nor how much you're trying to convice us (and you...?) that it is.

Did anyone else notice that the story actually began in paragraph 5?
Four other restaurant and coffee shop owners and managers said they haven't noticed any change in business, other than having more customers going outside to smoke.

Officials have received only one complaint about illegal smoking, and it was determined that it wasn't valid.
To repeat. Four business note no change in revenue, one whines that business is down 10 percent. Which is the trend?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beta means beta

Fair warning:

If your blog's on Blogger and you are invited to move to the new beta version, I'd recommend waiting a couple days. This could be a good upgrade soon. Nevertheless....

Beta means there still are bugs to be worked out. Take my word for it.

And so it goes.

Bidness as usual

Like most (not all, of course) observers, I was amazed at the speed at which the Champaign Council selected Deb Frank Feinen to fill out Kathy Ennan's term.

I really wasn't all that surprised with the outcome. Feinen was one of the two best qualified of the 15 candidates. She nearly had the appointment when the council filled the last opening, but some last-minute strong-armed politics ended up with Marcie Dodds being picked in something of a you-scratch-my-back-I'll-stab-yours surprise.

The thing that rocked me a bit was the speed. One ballot, little discussion, about two minutes between nomination and vote and outcome. I think it is obvious that the outcome was secured long before the meeting was called to order. Votes for were Tom Bruno, Mayor Jerry, LaDue, Vic McIntosh and Dodds.

Not the lineup I would have expected. Bruno is enough of an independent thinker that it's likely he just had decided on who he considered the best-qualified candidate. Ladue, Vic and daMare's votes for Deb were pretty much a foregone conclusion. Leaving Dodds. She's been part of some backroom dealings before, including the dealings that got her the council seat to begin with. I have no doubt that someone said something and someone promised something (or threatened something) to insure what is generally thought to be a Dem vote for a GOP candidate.

That's how politics is played. Doesn't make it right, but that's the game. Gotta play by the rules that are before them. And then don't complain about the final score.

Is Feinen's selection gonna change much on the Council? No. She's pretty much a moderate Republican (if there is such a thing). She's already said that as the appointed member of the body, she wouldn't work to overturn the smoking ban. And as a veteran of other public bodies, she comes in more up to speed on how things work than probably anyone else on the list of candidates.

The body still is leaning just as far (barely) to the liberal side as it was before the selection. That hasn't changed. The five pro-smoking ban votes are still intact and by all accounts still firm.

And, despite my slight trepidation, I suspect Feinen could be a fine council member.

We sure could have done worse.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Set your TiVO

Just a guess, but I'm betting in Champaign, Cable Channel 5 is gonna get better ratings tonight in the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slot than network programs 'Big Brother: All Stars,' 'According to Jim' and 'Miss Teen USA.'

That's because tonight the Champaign City Council's gonna be having its own little beauty pageant. About the first thing on the agenda is the selection of a new council member to replace Kathy Ennan, who resigned.

There's no shortage of candidates: 15. There's no shortage of qualified people. There's no shortage of opinions, rumors, innuendoes, bets and guesses.

And, unless the council's been playing 'Let's Make a Deal' for the past few days, there's gonna be no shortage of drama.

Who's gonna win? I have no idea. I don't think anyone really does. Perhaps the Council really has made up its mind in various back rooms (smoke-free back rooms) over the past week. That's a good possibility.

But I doubt it.

Which may make for a lot of wrangling, talking, debating, more than a little hollering and, it's my guess, at least six votes before the issue's settled.

I'd like to be able to speculate on who's gonna win. I have no clue. Over at the conservative Republican Illini Pundit blog their unscientific poll showed that even among mostly Republican readers, only the barest of majorities ended up endorsing the leading GOP candidate, Deb Frank Feinen.

Of course no one else in the poll garnered double digit percentages. That alone should tell you just how up in the air this thing is. The former leading Democratic candidate, County Board member Patricia Avery was less than spectacular in her interview with the council last week. Which made her the former leading Dem candidate. Problem is, no one knows who the current leading Dem candidate is.

And remember, the Champaign Council is (wink wink nudge nudge youknowwhatimean) nonpartisan. Still, party designations matter. Or at least political philosophies.

It would seem that at present (subject to change at any moment) a slim majority would be leaning ever so slightly toward the liberal side.

Which bodes poorly for Feinen but favorably for ... Avery? Gary? Who?

So, tune in. And prepare yourself for a long night of drama, action and definitely comedy.

And so it goes.
Technorati Profile

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday stuff

This, that and assorted other stuff:

-- A lot of people have a lot of opinions about what the Champaign Council's going to do about filling Council Member Kathy Ennan's vacant seat. Problem is, with 15 candidates, that's a lot of information to sort through. And a lot of politics to play. Talking to someone fairly close to the process, it appears no one, not even council members, know for sure what's gonna happen yet. All that's for sure is that Patricia Avery, who may have had the inside track a week ago, shot herself in the foot (of both feet) this week when she appeared before the council. It would appear at this point that there still are maybe 10 equally viable candidates. And about 75 viable opinions.

-- Even despite the antics this week, I'm not all that convinced Avery's decision to drop out (maybe) of the County Board race was a smart move. Her move hurts her party, it hurts her and could jeopardize the Democratic majority on the County Board. Is she sure that's what she wants to do? Why?

-- Not sure what to make of the rumors floating around that Catherine Hogue may drop out of the County Board race due to heath issues. The health issues are real. Not sure the rumors are, though. I speculate that it's more speculation than fact. But I could be wrong.

-- I don't care where you stand on the political spectrum, this latest terrorist threat is just plain frightening. Especially since I have a couple of flights (not international, thank heavens) coming up next week. No carry-on bags for me. Probably no blissful in-flight naps, either.

-- Haven't heard of a single restaurant closing in Urbana since the smoking ban went into effect Aug. 1. Have heard of a couple restaurants seeing a few new non-smoking faces, however. Guess the business apocalypse is gonna take a little more time, huh?

-- Been seeing more and more stuff about the Illini football team and the Bears both getting ready for their seasons. Far as I'm concerned, it's just too darned early for football. Heck, the Cubs haven't even been mathmatically eliminated yet. (They're close, through).

-- American's youth is still dying in Iraq. And Sunnis are still shooting Shiites who are still shooting Kurds who are shooting Sunnis who are killing Kurds who are killing Shiites who are ..... ain't democracy grand?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Puppy pals

It's easy to criticize the Champaign Police Department. Heck, some days it's pretty much mandatory.

That's why when something goes right, it's only fair that gets reported too.

Perusing through the paper's police report log (yeah, I need to get a life) I discovered that last week during the heighth of the heat wave, Champaign Police ticketed two people for cruelty to animals for leaving their dogs in their cars.

How can people be so cruel? So just plain damned dumb?

So, police, for ticketing the scum, you get an official attaboy. Or two. And a big sloppy wet kiss from a big happy dog.

And so it goes.

Everybody's pickin' on me...

Poor George; seems more and more Americans are finally coming to realize that our Presidolt's little adventurism in Iraq is a really really bad idea.And it may just be time to count our losses and get own with our own business.

A solid 60 percent of Americans now say the W-imbecile's wrong.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq, the highest number since polling on the subject began with the commencement of the war in March 2003, according to poll results and trends released Wednesday.

And a majority of poll respondents said they would support the withdrawal of at least some U.S. troops by the end of the year, according to results from the Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last week on behalf of CNN. The corporation polled 1,047 adult Americans by telephone.
Oh yeah, I know, I know, this is all a conspiracy by the liberal media to discredit poor George.

Problem is that the Presidolt's loss of credibility is self-inflicted. Every time he opens his mouth his credibility drops another couple points. There is no 'liberal media conspiracy' because there's no need for one.

The story continues
Asked about a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, 57 percent of poll respondents said they supported the setting of such a timetable, while 40 percent did not and 4 percent had no opinion. Only half the sample, or about 524 people, was asked the timetable question.

The Bush administration has maintained that setting a timetable or deadline for withdrawal would only help terrorists.

Americans were nearly evenly split on whether the U.S. would win the war in Iraq. Forty-seven percent of poll respondents either said the United States would "definitely win" or "probably win." Another 48 percent either said the United States could not win, or could win -- but will not win.
George, it's looking more and more like your own constituency doesn't believe you.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

War? What war?

Oh, things are going well in Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A series of bombings and shootings killed at least 31 people Tuesday, most in the Baghdad area, as more U.S. troops were seen in the capital as part of a campaign to reduce Sunni-Shiite violence that threatens civil war.

Three bombs exploded simultaneously near the Interior Ministry buildings in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said.

A couple of hours later, two roadside bombs ripped through the main Shurja market, also in central Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and wounding 50, police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun said.

The blasts were the latest sign of the security crisis that prompted U.S. commanders to bolster the American troop presence in the city. More U.S. troops patrolled the streets of the Ghazaliyah neighborhood, a mostly Sunni area and among the most violent parts of the capital.
And yet the conservative nutjobs continue to claim that this is all in the imagination of the left-wing media. Democracy is thriving, they say. Guess those were democratic (or Democratic) bombs, huh?


And so it goes.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Stay in school

The solution to this problem is obvious, even if school officials deny it with every breath they take.

Close the campuses. Students come to school at 8:15. They go home at 3:15 p.m. (or whatever). They don't leave the school grounds. NOT AT ALL. It worked when I went to school. It works elsewhere today.

School officials make all kinds of excuses. I'm not impressed. And I'm not convinced:
Some audience members asked why the school district doesn't move to a closed lunch system. But Wachala said that, with 1,500 students and two lunch periods, the 350-seat cafeteria simply couldn't handle the traffic if all students were forced to stay on campus.
I wish I could believe that. I can't. That's not an explanation, it's an excuse. If the school can house and (purportedly) educate all the students, it can find room for all of them to eat. That is if it wanted to find room for all of them to eat.

I don't believe it does. I believe the administrators and teacher just want an hour or two every day when the students are gone and are someone else's problem. They don't really care if they're off campus causing problems, as long as they're not causing me any problems. Meetings like the one Sunday night are nothing more than lip service. Attempts to placate critics.

I'm not the only one who does not believe the administrators.
"Over 20 years, you would think funds could be found for a bigger cafeteria," said Brad Cronk, who lives on Holiday Drive.

Cronk also said student behavior is worsening.

"The children are becoming more defiant, more headstrong," he said. "They do things we would never dream of doing."
Therefore, the school would prefer that some of those behaviors happen outside of their area of responsibility.

So the final answer is one of two things: either the school is incapable of handling its students, or it's unwilling to try.

Or both

And so it goes

Thursday, August 3, 2006

All is well

Offered without comment:

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East told Congress on Thursday that " Iraq could move toward civil war" if the raging sectarian violence in Baghdad is not stopped.

"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I have seen it," Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said the top priority in the Iraq war is to secure the capital, where factional violence has surged in recent weeks despite efforts by the new Iraqi government to stop the fighting.

A similar remark was offered by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the panel, "We do have the possibility of that devolving into civil war."
And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006


The official field for Kathy Ennan's vacated Champaign City Council seat went from pretty slim to 'holy heck!' in a hurry today, the last day to file.

As reported elsewhere (IP among others), the field now is set at:

Garrett Anderson Jr.
Patricia Avery
Azark David Cobbs
Deb Frank Feinen
Karen Foster
Kathleen Gary
Bill Glithero
Christy Grassman
Brad LaPayne
James Lievano
Bradley Mahaffey
Charles Nerone
Gregory Stock
Harry Washburn
Robert West

Aside from Avery and Feinen, it's pretty much a list of 'who dat?'

It's also encouraging. It's nice to know that people are willing to serve. It's not like anyone's gonna get rich at the job. Or become wildly popular either.

If I ever figure out who they all are (OK, I know who Avery, Feinen, LaPayne, Glithero and Anderson are) I'll probably feel a little more free at analyzing the race. (Early odds favor Avery and Feinen, but ...)

Googling can find many of these folks in Champaign, but until I'm certain I can attach the Googled name to the actual candidate, I'm loathe to include that information here.

Right now I'm just satisfied there is a real race.

And so it goes.