Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Nations

All right, we are two nations.

Immaculate floors, ceilings broken
only by skylights. The insulated
walls, the soundless heat; and hidden
everywhere, a fan for every odor.

Of our two nations
that is one.
And you who will not
read this
presume you know the other.

("United States," by Philip Booth, published in Selves, 1990)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Giving It Another Chance

When the Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings album was released, I didn't immediately love it. I love the Counting Crows, but their recent release didn't seem to be nearly as impressive as their earlier stuff (and least not up to par with Recovering the Satellites and August and Everything After or even This Desert Life). However, I haven't given up on the release entirely. I've listened to it here and there, fueling my love for the single "You Can't Count On Me" and attempting to appreciate the entire release. "Sundays" is growing on me and I really didn't think I could love "You Can't Count On Me" more than I already do. Until now:



I haven't had much downtime recently and I just caught the video for this single. For Counting Crows fans, I think this is what we've been waiting to see--this is Adam Duritz. How he lives, who he is. The constant recycling of women anyway.

If you haven't given Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings a chance or not a fair enough chance (as I hadn't) take another listen. It's worth it. I promise. We can't hold it against these guys that it doesn't stand up to their other albums. When their first release was August and Everything After, how do you compete?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Comment Catch-up

Over the past two months I have had various comments appear in my inbox from older posts as well as from readers who weren't able to, for whatever reason, get their comment to post. I thought I'd take a day to catch-up on those comments, some of which are very sincere and have gone without a response from me.

A comment on my post "Treating Addiction" from March:

Very good article. Yes, the real handling for drug addiction is detox and rehab. As the director of Novus Medical Detox, I daily see the ravages caused by prescription drug addiction created by doctors prescribing it to their patients and then the patients either continuing to obtain it or purchasing these drugs on the internet or the street. Probably the worst of these drugs is OxyContin--legal heroin.

Pain is real. I have had it much of my life first from polio and then from two surgeries. However, there are alternatives to painkillers and they must be tried first. Let's not treat the symptoms but the cause.

Prescription drug addiction is an epidemic and we must do everything we can to stop it before it overwhelms us. Education is a must.

We have to break the cycle of people going to prison for drug offenses, never handling their addiction and committing the same crimes over and over until they or someone else dies.

Steve Hayes
I greatly appreciated Steve's comments when they first came through and I continue to appreciate them today. His statement about pain being real, but alternatives to pain pills being out there is especially telling. I remain hopeful that the Idaho legislature in future sessions will address the issue of drug treatment (over the current mandatory minimum approach).

A comment following my post "One Last Roster Spot" also from March:
As I die-hard Mets fan and a Piazza fan I can tell you it's not Piazza's knees that went. He has had a notorious problem throwing runners out and it only got worse. He's also too old at this point for catching--he'll be 40 in September. He had a shortened year last year with the A's due to a shoulder separation, but prior was on track to have a good year as a DH.
Something I failed to mention in this post and that the comment addresses is the notorious shoulder problems catchers suffer. Aside from pitchers, catchers throw the ball more than any fielder. In addition to the constant throwing motion, throwing a runner out at second base is horribly hard on the shoulder. The quick, strong throw wears on the shoulder and over time catchers' shoulders separate and leave them with no throwing arm. Thanks to Karen, the reader who pointed this out.

Two comments following my observations at the Pocatello Community Charter School--both of these comments were rather delayed in relation to when I posted these observations:

Thank you for your support for PCCS. I am currently an 8th grade student attending the school and I am glad that we have some people out there who appreciate what our teachers do for us. In all of the other schools I have attended the sincerity at PCCS is by far the most genuine. Thanks again.
Alex Green
_________

Thank you for sharing your experiences with passages at PCCS. My children have attended PCCS since the school opened in 1999. It felt like a gamble sending my son to 1st grade at PCCS back then, but it has worked out better than I ever expected.

When I have served on passage panels, I am continually amazed at what the hardworking staff, parents, and most of all the kids are able to accomplish. I never could have stood up in front of adult strangers and gave a coherent presentation about my work. My education just didn't prepare me for that. In May PCCS is always looking for volunteers to server on passage panels, I'd encourage everyone to experience it.

It is sometimes difficult for me to find the words share the great things about PCCS with other interested parents and community members. Your keen observations and descriptions captured the essence or PCCS better than I could have.

Thanks for sharing.

Ben

On FISA 68-29:

What is the FISA bill? You did not tell us why we shoud be outraged.
Diane

Diane must have just come out from under a rock. No idea what FISA is? Maybe she doesn't watch the news. FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is the law governing how foreign intelligence information is obtained by the United States. Here's a place to find all sorts of information on FISA and why we should be "outraged."


OK, I will play devils advocate here. First thing is that baseball is a business. The Blue Jays watched Thomas have a horrible spring, and thus far in the season his numbers showed no signs of improving. Thomas also had it built into his contract a vesting option that would kick in if he achieved 376 at bats. That would have cost Toronto another $10 million, for a 40 year old player. His still has some power, but his overall hitting just isn't worth that anymore. The second thing is Frank Thomas has been a thorn in the side of team officials in the past. As he signed with Oakland a few years ago, he called out the GM of Chicago numerous times because he didn't like his treatment while a member of that team. With his statements of dissatisfaction and his actions, he appeared to be going down the same path. This action would have been much more of a distraction to Toronto than his bat could have possibly helped them. Now, I do think Frank Thomas has a better chance of finding a job than Barry Bonds. The only problem is there are not too many teams that could use him. Texas, Minnesota, and possibly Kansas City. Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, and Tampa Bay all appear to be using the position to give various players a day off from the field, allowing their players to stay fresh. Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland, and Boston all have players who fill the DH role quite nicely. Of course this is baseball and you really never know what will happen, because how many of us really ever expected Rick Ankiel to come back after watching him melt down in the playoffs several years back.

Yes, I understand that baseball is a business. I understand that baseball is a big-money business. I agree that he threw a fit and that was uncalled for. There just doesn't seem to be much respect for the veteran players. The fact that I oppose the DH system entirely is a whole different issue...


I received an email Saturday in response to my recent child abuse post. Carolyn writes:

I tried to post on your blog, but it seems to be locked. I have Blogger, too, and usually even if it's anonymous it will show it's going to be screened.

Anyway, I questioned what solutions you offered. You told me the problem, but didn't offer a solution. Also, I was curious about your feeling about the connection between religion and child abuse. Certainly there, I'm not questioning that, just probably more than I understand.

First of all, I don't accept anonymous comments. I know that a few have asked why and a few question this policy, but I figure if people want to post a comment they will at least take the time to create a Blogger account. The are other options as well, like Open ID. I don't have a policy of moderating comments. Whatever comment you leave will be accepted unless it is spam or contains nudity (better not to ask why this is a rule).

Now the bigger issue, Carolyn is asking for my solutions to the child abuse problem in the United States. I don't have any solutions, the only remotely obvious solution I see is a better funding mechanism for the agencies that investigate accusations of child abuse and are required to make the move that will protect the child. And I don't like to comment on religion and child abuse and won't here.

My point wasn't to say I believe a, b, and c, should be addressed to decrease the number of child abuse cases in the United States. My point was that during the month set aside for child abuse awareness there sure seemed to be more high-profile child abuse cases than usual.

That's it. These are certainly not the only comments received in the past months, I don't feel the need to respond to all comments, but these caught my eye and deserved a response.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Smothered

In chess, when your king goes down at the hand of your opponent's knight because your own men have you trapped, it's what they call "smothered mate." The tragedy of smothered mate isn't simply that you have lost the game, the tragedy is that you've lost the game at your own hand. You've trapped yourself in a corner with all that's going for you blocking you in.

Emerson once said, "As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way." I've known Emerson's wisdom, just as I have known the tragedy of smothered mate, but I've never felt it the way I feel it right now.

Nearly two and a half years ago I signed on to process, catalog, and prepare for researchers the papers of former congressman Richard Stallings. Actually, two and a half years ago I didn't know what I had signed on for. Two and a half years ago I asked for the library's permission to conduct research within the papers of Mr. Stallings, at his suggestion, as the papers had remained closed since he donated them in December of 1992. I wanted an independent study project that allowed me to analyze primary source materials. I was curious about the papers and I was looking for a challenge. A challenge, the thought makes me chuckle at this moment.

All of the spring semester of 2006, I spent day in and day out looking through all two hundred and sixty-six original boxes of the Stallings Collection. I spent an entire semester digging for something that wasn't there. No polling data in the Stallings Collection, in case anybody is wondering. I learned that the hard way. By that April it was becoming obvious to me that somebody needed to process these papers. Completely. I'm not an archivist and I'm an amateur historian. I didn't have the skills necessary, but that didn't stop me. I applied for some funding via a presidential internship and by August I was starting the long process of cataloging a collection of materials spanning Stallings' entire congressional career and his service as U.S. Nuclear Waste Negotiator.

According to the deed of gift (a procedural document that comes with all donations to the university library), the Stallings Collection had to open in January of 2008. I won't go into the particulars here, the ones that would clearly outline why this was a false assumption and that the papers were not required to remain closed from the public until 2008, but I will say beginning a project in 2006 and expecting to finish it in 2008 is a reasonable assumption. Unless you work in an archive.

This past February, the papers opened to the public and they are, as of now, still not completely processed. I'm shooting for this August, though that may be an unreachable goal.

The reason I give you all of this history once again is because while all of this was happening, I was supposedly working toward my Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. Somewhere along the way I dropped the double major, mostly because ISU offers a BS in Political Science that would require an extra math class (one I wouldn't have been able to pass if my life depended on it) and because I just didn't have the time. My degree goal became the BA in History with a minor in Political Science.

My goals were all well and good until I realized that I would be done with my BA long before I would be finished with the Stallings Collection. My attachment to the Stallings Collection can't be emphasized enough here. No part of me wanted to leave ISU until the collection was done. So, the next hoop to jump through was finding a graduate program here that I could be get admitted to while I finished up the collection. ISU doesn't have a traditional History graduate program and though I appreciation Political Science, I wanted nothing to do with their MA program. After meeting with the president of the university, the chairmen of both History and Political Science, and the dean of my college, I applied to a very sketchy interdisciplinary graduate program here. Sketchy as in the graduate school that oversees in doesn't even know how it works and there are maybe six students that have attempted the program and none of them had History listed as their primary field of study. Let's just say this path was going to be a learning experience for me, my advisors, and all parties involved.

If you had asked me two weeks ago what my plan was, I would have said first, finish the Stallings Collection, two, write my masters thesis, and three, apply to a PhD program somewhere for when I graduate with my MA in May of '09.

Today my number one priority remains to complete the Stallings Collection. However, the things that used to fall into place behind that goal have taken a crazy turn.

For every day I've spent on the Stallings Collection, I've taken a step backward with my academic progress. This project that has saved me in so many ways and has been a wonderful gift in terms of the extra-curricular experience I am gaining here, has become like my oponent's knight to my king on the chess board, something that is blocking me in.

I like to say that Biology and my inability to pass it is what is keeping me at ISU, but that isn't really the case. A few poor academic decisions, one of which was hanging on to an academic advisor who didn't exactly advise, and the amount of time it has taken to process the Stallings Collection have left me at a dead end.

Maybe recognizing this now is a blessing. Maybe in feeling smothered I am finally forced to recognize the opportunities that are out there for me, the opportunities ISU simply couldn't offer. The past week made me realize how unhappy I have been for over a year with my academic situation. The past week made me realize how unhappy I would continue to be in an interdisciplinary program that I never was sold on. I just wish I didn't have to leave Idaho to get the degree I want.

All in all the moral of this story--even in chess when the king is smothered, he gets knocked down, the board is cleared, and not long after, he gets back up to play another game.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sing. Floss. Stretch.

Early this morning as I was finally falling asleep I remembered a wonderful piece of advice I'd received somewhere: "Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum." Where had I heard that before? Oh yes, the brilliant Baz Luhrmann. How could I possibly forget.

For a beautiful and worry-free day, here's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" from the brilliant Baz Luhrmann:



Oh yes, "Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't." Pretty sound advice if you ask me.

(Full lyrics here)

Smorgasbord Saturday

Is there anything better than the feeling of a Saturday morning? Nowhere important to be and I have an entire day before I have to get completely serious about my homework. Pre-dead week homework is the worst. It's the time you play catchup for the past fourteen weeks of slacking off.

Spending far more time on iTunes than I should, I noticed that the actress Scarlett Johansson has a CD coming out. What?!? Yes, the actress. I guess I didn't know she was a singer, too. Best discovery of the week for sure because her entire CD is Tom Waits covers. So far all I've been able to listen to is "Falling Down" which I didn't think I could love an ounce more than I already do, but her version is awesome. She has a rusty, deep quality to her voice that I like. From the reviews I have read, I must be the only one. Everybody says she can't sing, so there's your warning. What do I know? I listen to nearly everything.

While I was already browsing iTunes, I also noticed that in the celebrity playlist section they only have one baseball player. One baseball player in nearly five years of this feature. It's about time they kick it in gear over there. I mean with the new Nationals Park having iPod docking station in each of the players' lockers, might as well own up to the fact that baseball players need their tunes. And really, Barry Zito? That's the best ya'll could come up with? Yikes.

One of the nights this week while I wasn't sleeping (really any night this week), I was flipping through the channels and stopped on that Made in America show. I don't even know what network that is on. But I was pleasantly surprised to learning something new and was completely fascinated by the episode. Featured in this episode was the Old Louisiana State Capitol building. I mean the really, really old one, not the one where Huey Long was shot. Turns out the old state capitol has quite a history, too. The "Old Castle" was used as a prison and a garrison. Its fascinating history is matched by its fascinating architecture. If you aren't familiar with the Old Louisiana State Capitol, as I wasn't, check out the National Park Service website for the entire history as well as a few pictures. Looks like I'm going to need to visit Baton Rouge someday.

Monday when I signed into my ISU email account there were no messages in my inbox or anywhere else for that matter. Poof! They were gone. I've been in constant contact with ISU's help desk and they tell me they are pulling my email archive off the server for before this happened, but so far I have no results to show for that. The point in me saying this is because if anyone has sent an email to my ISU account in the last week and haven't heard back from me, I may be without your original email. Send it again.

Unfortunately, my email account is the least of my frustrations where ISU is concerned at the moment.

On this day in 1912, the first home run at Fenway Park was hit. Hugh Bradley of the Boston Red Sox broke in the park and the Red Sox would go on to win the pennant and then the World Series against the New York Giants. The Sox would repeat the 1912 series, ending with a World Series win, again in 1915, 1916, and 1918. Then the drought came. Given the history of the Red Sox at Fenway, maybe the Nationals should be happy that the first homer hit in their new park wasn't hit my a member of their team. Then again, the Pope's been there in the park's inaugural season. That's gotta help, right?

Just a reminder, tomorrow is the Community Environmental Fair in Pocatello at Tydeman Optimist Park on 8th Avenue and Sherman Street. The fair will run from 11am-3pm and should be fun for the entire family!

Oh! And I can't forget, the ISU women's softball team is playing in town this weekend (a rarity for a team that begins their season in February). If I am remembering correctly, it is a double-header at Rainy Park beginning around noon. Check out the ISU softball team's page for more information.

Last, but not least, is a story I spotted in the Washington Post about the New Mexico Republican Pete Domenici. Having never been the poster boy for ethical conduct, Domenici isn't really expected to turn up as the good guy in the news. This time he's in the news for issuing a non-apology. Is a non-apology like a non-resignation? Maybe he and Senator Craig have been conversing. Long story short, Domenici said he was sorry for a questionable phone call he placed (unethical for sure), but didn't admit to having overstepped his authority as a sitting United States Senator. Sound familiar?

Friday, April 25, 2008

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Yes, it is Child Abuse Prevention Month in this country. However, the polygamists in Texas and parents from nearly every other state don't seem to be paying any attention:
  • AL- Woman in Gadsden charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse
  • AZ- Only "suspected" of abuse after striking child with broom handle
  • CA- Three month old dies of ongoing abuse not to be blamed on mother
  • CO- Teen handcuffed and beaten
  • ID/WA- Band leader charged with sexual abuse of minor in northern Idaho
  • MI- Felony murder and first degree child abuse conviction
  • NC- Couple charged after facial bruising discovered on their two year old
  • NE- Boyfriend in jail for girlfriend's "hemorrhaging" son
  • OH- Father guilty of 25 counts of child abuse
  • PA- Reports of child abuse rising at an alarming rate in the keystone state
  • TX- Fifteen counts of child abuse
  • UT- Another police tip implicating FLDS polygamists
The media says that child abuse cases are down across the nation (cited as much as 36% lower than previously in Idaho). What the media doesn't cite is the budget cuts the organizations that investigate child abuse have taken and whether those budget cuts result in a decrease in the number of cases brought to public attention.

Why Morley Nelson Matters

This week the United States House of Representatives passed legislation, sponsored by Idaho's Mike Simpson, to rename the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area after Morley Nelson.

In this week's Bill Sali Roundup over at the MountainGoat Report, Sali is cited as having supported Simpson's legislation, despite his overwhelming opposition to nearly every piece of legislation he is asked to vote on. Sali's support of this legislation signaled, at least to me, that the effort being made to rename the conservation area was both a win-win for Idaho and a sincere attempt of honoring a man who advocated the creation and expansion of the Snake River Birds of Prey area.

Beyond the obvious implication that the attachment of Morley Nelson's name to this important Idaho refuge is one of few instances of a united cause among Idaho's congressional delegation, a delegation that hasn't appeared to be united on much since Sali's congressional entrance and Larry Craig's demise, the legislation attaching Nelson's name appears to show Idaho's sincere respect and gratitude for a man who has influenced this state exponentially.

Nelson began his advocacy for birds of prey in Idaho in the 1950s. His first success in taking his cause to the Idaho Legislature came in 1958 when the legislature first passed legislation to protect raptors throughout the state. Nelson would continue to work with the state legislature and other interests in protecting Idaho's raptors. In 1980, Nelson resurfaced in Idaho as the loudest voice of support for the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and would stick around to see the creation of the World Center for Bird of Prey outside of Boise.

In Idaho's political environment, there are few issues that both the Republicans and the Democrats while holding office have committed equal time to and Morley Nelson's cause is one of them. Something common to each of the past twenty-five years of Idaho political history is an appreciation and concern for the state's birds of prey. At Idaho State University in the papers of former Idaho Congressman Richard Stallings, the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (now cross-listed and indexed as the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conversation Area) is a prominent topic. In the papers of former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco, housed at Boise State University, this topic is featured prominently.

It is refreshing to see an Idaho member of Congress addressing an issue that has been on the forefront of Idaho politics for many years with complete disregard for political persuasion or agenda. It is refreshing to see an issue appreciated and observed equally by both parties. Morley Nelson does not only matter in the realm of conservation and protection, his legacy and his example matter to a state that has been disconnected politically for far too many years.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Repeat

Monday, April 21, 2008

When Art Collides

When I first read Dubliners, I was not immediately comfortable with the prose of James Joyce. I was intimidated by a literary name and not entirely open to the idea of connecting with any of his characters. At the time I had an English teacher who worshiped the ground Joyce walked on; I was afraid of liking Joyce at the mere suggestion of his brilliance.

Then, like it happens from time to time in literature, the connection between me and a well-written character became undeniable. The short-story, Eveline, contained in Joyce's Dubliners, is about responsibility and choices. She is offered the choice to leave the responsibilities she feels are rightly hers, however heavy and guilt-ridden. She is offered an escape at sea. James Joyce wrote a beautiful story of Eveline's struggle with this decision, a struggle that mirrors many decisions we make in our own lives. Eveline reaches the reader in a way James Joyce isn't able to reach the reader in his traditional novels.

This afternoon I was at work listening to an online country radio station when a twangy, Nickel Creek single came on that I hadn't heard before. From their 2005 release Why Should the Fire Die? comes "Eveline," a single based on Joyce's character:
eveline grips the railing,
as her lover calls her to the sea,
won't you sail with me,
she can't hear,
being just a step away from,
happiness and sanity blurs,
and drives her crazier,
eveline take care of your father,
i cared for you,
words her dying mother spoke,
kill her too,
eveline stays
It is amazing to me when different forms of media collide. Whether they be a piece of artwork that inspires a novel or a novella that inspires modern song, it is refreshing to find modern-day artists who can appreciate the writing and art that has come before them. Nickel Creek, a self-proclaimed "progressive acoustic" trio that more accurately could be categorized as bluegrass, is a surprising group of three twenty-something musicians who understand this unique collision of art. The song itself is a little too pitchy and twangy for my taste, but that is another story. Kudos to Nickel Creek for "getting it."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Big Hurt

Over the past three years my frustration with Major League Baseball has grown and I don't mean exponentially as the steroid scandal has. My frustration is in the lack of roster spots for veteran legends of the game.

This morning it was announced that Frank Thomas, "The Big Hurt," has been released by the Toronto Blue Jays. In an interview with ESPN this evening, Thomas says he still wants to play. And with 516 home runs under his belt, a position as a designated hitter with any American League team should be a given. However, as was said by a commentator on Sunday Night Baseball, "if Barry Bonds can't find a DL spot, how will Thomas?"

The news of Thomas being released came on the heels of a story about Thomas "reacting angrily" to the Blue Jays' decision to reduce his playing time. Thomas refused to shake his teammates' hands after Saturday's game.

Now, my initial reaction to Thomas' behavior is that he needs to grow up. There are plenty of guys who would like a roster spot regardless of how often they get to play. Look at Kenny Lofton and Julio Franco. What about all the guys in the minor leagues that would give anything for a second-string spot? Thomas has had nineteen seasons, good seasons, in the major leagues. What the tantrum?

Then I listened to Frank Thomas on ESPN this evening and realized that Frank Thomas still loves the game. He still wants to play the game. The Blue Jays obviously reacted to his batting slump with little regard for the 26 homers and 95 runs-batted-in last season as the DH for the Jays. I grew up watching the Big Hurt while he was playing for the White Sox. He has a charm that few baseball players possess, excluding the late Kirby Puckett, and he's a pleasure to watch. His hitting is fluid, his stance solid. What do you do with a guy like Thomas when his numbers aren't what you need? Maybe you bench him. Maybe you give him a little more batting practice. You don't send a veteran like Thomas back to the minors and you certainly don't release him. Who can the Jays replace him with? They can't wait around for Scott Rolen to get healthy and Shannon Stewart isn't going to bring the power.

Thomas has somewhere in the neighborhood of a $12.5 million contract for 2008. I think the Jays will have to eat this.

The entire situation with Thomas reminds me of my disappointment in the National League (both the Braves and the Mets) for not picking up Julio Franco. Two years ago to this day Franco became the oldest player to hit a home run. Not any home run, they called him in to pinch hit and he knocked a two-run homer against San Diego to give the Mets the win. What is Franco doing now? Well, the oldest player to hit a home run and steal a base, Franco is playing in the Mexican leagues.

In a game where players are lying about their age to appear younger for the scouts and to sign better contracts, Julio Franco has been completely honest and willingly went to the Mexican leagues instead of retiring. Unless a team picks him up once the season gets moving, Franco will retire before reaching his goal of playing in the big leagues until his 50th birthday (August 23rd).

Nowadays the players over 40 are the ones who are looking at their careers with concern. Tom Glavine signed a contract this spring with the Braves to finish his career there--he's now on the disabled list at the age of 42. Jamie Moyer, 45, has not escaped the news, being older than Shea Stadium.

In addition to Moyer and Glavine, Clemens' career appears to be over, Curt Schilling is getting up there, Kelvim Escobar could be done, and Orlando Hernandez (depending on what age you believe) could be approaching his final seasons. These guys are watching their careers closely, some of them closer to the end than others.

What does this say of Thomas who hasn't reached 40 yet?

Guys like Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Ruben Sierra, Barry Bonds, and now Frank Thomas, are part of the history of baseball, some bright spots, some not so much, but baseball's history nonetheless. It all makes me wonder if Mike Cameron will keep a roster spot if he gets hurt or suspended again this season. It all makes me wonder what has happened to the loyalty, the awe that used to exist for veteran players who in their rookie years rubbed shoulders with the likes of Carlton Fisk, Sandy Alomar, Pete Rose, Gary Matthews, and Phil Niekro.

The big hurt here isn't Thomas himself, it's the lack of roster spots for the veteran legends of the game who want to play for the love of the game, not the contract.

(*Cross-posted at ArmchairGM)

Smorgasbord Corrections

Yesterday's post indicated that I did not know exactly what the Pope would be celebrating at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. The exact term is election--he was celebrating the 3rd anniversary of his election to head the Catholic Church. The fact that the Pope (der Papst, in this case) is elected seemed to fly right over my head. I know, I know, the white smoke represented the selection of a new Pope and black smoke signifies no papal selection. Got it.

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI has been, at least for me and I'm assuming other Americans not particularly versed in the goings-on of the Catholic faith, fascinating. I have watched closely as he as met with various dignitaries and faiths here in the States and I am impressed with his reverence. I suppose it would be beneath the Pope's sacred position to inform President Bush that he is a moron, but in watching him you can't help but wonder if the German in Pope Benedict would like to call President Bush an Idiotkriegpräsident. Roughly, an idiotic warmonger. Perhaps that is exactly what the Pope said when he addressed the issue of the war in Iraq while visiting both President Bush and the United Nations.

One other correction to make: Yesterday, I said that today the Atlanta Braves would be playing the L.A. Dodger in the second game of this series. If in fact the Braves are playing the Dodgers in Atlanta, it will be the third game of the series and is slated to begin at 1pm (EST) on TBS. Yahoo! Sports has Atlanta scheduled to play the Washington Nationals today. I am guessing that we will in fact see a Braves/Dodgers matchup, concluding the return of Andruw Jones to Atlanta, and that Yahoo! is a day behind.

The only thing I got relatively right yesterday in regard to the baseball schedule is that the Mets and Phillies will be concluding their three-game series in Philadelphia tonight on ESPN beginning at 8:05 pm (EST). I was only five minutes off with that one...

In addition to today's MLB broadcast schedule, the Rockies and the Astros will be playing at 2:05 pm (EST) on Fox Rocky Mountain Sports. Don't ask me why they've listed it in Eastern time when they are playing at Minute Maid Park in Houston. It is no wonder I'm confused about the schedule 99% of the time!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

Earlier in the week, Debbie Holmes, candidate for Congress in Idaho's second district, posted an explanation of her profession and how it relates to politics. Holmes, a real estate agent in the Boise area, has seen first hand the home mortgage crisis that continues to rage in this country as we approach an economic recession. Holmes' wrote, quite bravely, that she would be approaching Congressman Mike Simpson on the behalf of a client who will lose his home in foreclosure if the government does not intervene. Something that I found quite interesting about her post and the process she has explained for those of us unaware of the specifics, is how similar the scenario is to the farm foreclosures and the farm debt crisis of the 1980s.

The similarities are quite obvious and I would encourage Ms. Holmes and other Democrats running for office across the state to take a closer look at the farm debt crisis and how the Democratic party of the 1980s was able to address it and create a better system of oversight in foreclosure cases.

It is a great weekend for fans of the National League East. Fox sports in my area will be airing the Dodgers/Braves matchup, the first since 10-time gold glove winner Andruw Jones left Atlanta for L.A., on Saturday. On Sunday, TBS will be airing the next game in the Dodgers/Braves series. I won't go into how irritating I find the new TBS baseball schedule, but you can be sure I'm not a fan of TBS no longer being the home of Braves baseball. Also on Sunday, ESPN will be airing the Phillies/Mets matchup at 8pm EST. Probably the Nationals and Marlins are playing somewhere, but the Braves, Mets, and Phillies are the teams to watch for this season in the National League East.

As much as I would like it to be a beautiful spring weekend, it wouldn't break my heart if the weather was nasty for a couple of days. It would make being cooped up in my house writing papers a little more bearable.

Chris at the Unequivocal Notion has been keeping tabs on the Nampa public library mess. His reporting of the controversy over whether or not the titles The Joy of Gay Sex and the New Joy of Sex should remain in the library director's office is the best and most up to date in the state. As IdaBlue has said, Chris is owning the story and I recommend you all head over to his site to get the latest.

Somebody told me recently that a person can live eleven days without sleep. If this is in fact true, I've decided that I should have eleven hours of music on iTunes. For those of you familiar with iTunes, it keeps track of how much space your library is taking up and how many hours of music you have (in my case in days). At the moment I have 3,783 songs, that if played consecutively would last for 10.4 days. Math isn't my strong suit, but that's something like 250 hours. A few more and I will have eleven whole days worth of music. This is my version of disaster preparedness!

I don't generally care what the Pope is up to, but today he will be celebrating the three year anniversary of him becoming Pope (surely there is a better way to say this, but it is lost on me) at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. There are few places in the world that I love more than St. Patrick's Cathedral, so today I'm going to care where the Pope is.

Big news in first quarter fundraising for Idaho Democrats. Walt Minnick, Democratic candidate for the 1st CD, has been added to the DCCC's Red to Blue list. And, Larry LaRocco is holding his own. Who says Democrats can't raise money?

Thanks for enduring the flood of music video posts of late. My posting schedule is going to slow down a bit for awhile until the semester ends on May 9th, but I will try to balance the music video posts out with actual political content.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

"Thinking about the things that happened, I don't know any other ball player who could have done what he did. To be able to hit with everybody yelling at him. He had to block all that out, block out everything but this ball that is coming in at a hundred miles an hour. To do what he did has got to be the most tremendous thing I've ever seen in sports." --Lifelong Dodger, Pee Wee Reese, on Jackie Robinson

20 Questions

A reader sent me a very interesting email tonight in response to my rant about the Idaho State Journal online. It's not very often that I get an email from a reader that is as fed up as I am on any particular issue, but this guy apparently has been holding his tongue for awhile now in regard to the ISJ:
First of all if it doesn't have to do with AMI, roads, or development, the Journal won't run the story. Secondly, the Journal plays favorites with the locals. Ever seen a 20 questions featuring somebody who hasn't run for office or given a sermon at a pulpit? Cripes, the print edition isn't worth paying for, why would anybody fork over the dough for a crummy online edition that doesn't even tell me who has been arrested? I mean really why aren't they asking people like us to answer their 20 questions?
I found this funny as hell. Of course, I have mentioned the 20 Questions segment here on a couple of occasions (both when Denton Darrington appeared in it and when my friend, Marjanna Hulet did) and my brother is the king of 20 questions so I watch that pretty closely. I'd never thought about the fact that politicians and pastors are featured frequently. So, to lighten the mood around here with all this negativity flowing toward the Journal, I thought I'd answer a set of 20 Questions sent to me by this reader and then encourage you all to do the same. Maybe that'll make all of us a little more happy...

Here goes (and the questions are pulled directly from sets previously appearing in the Journal):

1. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Happiness is a decision.
2. What was the last great book you read? All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki
3. Who inspires you the most? My grandmother.
4. Any regrets? Of course. The biggest probably being that I haven't stayed in touch with some of the people that got me to where I am today.
5. What is your guilty pleasure? Award shows. Who needs stimulants when I can watch people wear ridiculously expensive (and beautiful) attire and award each other for being masters of the universe?
6. What is your greatest fear? Being in a position where I can't save someone I love.
7. If you could have dinner with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be? Adlai Stevenson (yes, I said someone other than a Kennedy)
8. What is your biggest pet peeve? When people use the word 'retarded' or 'retard' to belittle someone else without grasping the real meaning of the word and how hurtful it can be.
9. When was the last time you cried? Saturday night while I was talking to my good friend Teresa via MSN
10. What is your favorite movie? Gone With the Wind
11. What has been the best day of your life? August 21, 1992--the day I met my little brother.
12. Who are your top three dream dinner partners? Bob Sims (an Idaho historian I deeply admire); Bethine Church; or, my brother any day of the week.
13. If you could return to any age, what would it be and why? I don't think I've found the perfect age yet. Maybe it'll be twenty-three...it sure hasn't been twenty-two.
14. Where would you most like to live? Somewhere not too hot in the summer and with less snow than Idaho in the winter; Ideally, next door to my kid brother.
15. What is your favorite food? Pad Thai
16. If you could choose a new career, what would it be? I don't exactly have a career as of now, but I can't imagine being in any other field than I am now. Idaho history and archival history is perfect for me.
17. Who is your mentor? Oh, I have lots. A former congressman, my academic advisor at ISU, my former English teacher, a retired librarian who has become one of my dearest friends, and others.
18. What was the worst day of your life? The day my great-grandmother died. Throughout my childhood she was my rock.
19. What can't you do that you wish you could? The obvious answer would be that that I can't sleep through the night. The less obvious answer is that I can't sew. Nothing at all. Can't even sew on a damn button.
20. What's your motto? I stole it from a baseball great, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

So there it is, 20 questions. That's more personal information than you'll get out of me in a lifetime of asking.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just When I Thought It Couldn't Get Worse

Nearly two years ago the Idaho State Journal introduced blogs to their website. Not blogs in the typical sense of people signing up and then being the master of their own space, but blogs where the powers that be at the Journal would post recent opinion or community pieces and then open the opinions for comments. My guess is they felt that those then commenting on these pieces were in fact bloggers. Chris at unequivocal notion points out the fallacy in this, much more effectively than I ever could, so I will leave this particular point to him. I will add that in my morning discovery of what a mess the Idaho State Journal now is online, they have added a section called the JHub for "blogging" and social networking. Now instead of only posting what the Journal decides worth of "blog post" status, everyday southeastern Idahoans can post whatever they want.

Okay, it has always been a bit of a mess without permanent links and all sorts of organizational issues. The Journal would include an excerpt of an opinion piece in the print edition and would direct the reader to the ISJ blogs, but the directions never told you which blog category (ISU, Community, 116th, Ian Fennel (the editor), or any of the others), so unless you knew exactly which category the piece fit in, you had to hunt. Plus, if you were writing an opinion piece, you could never be certain if it would appear in print or in the blogs. Additionally, there was always a strange search system for obituaries. Maybe it is just me, but when I go looking at the obituaries it isn't because I'm looking for a specific person it is because I want to know who has died. Searching for people I don't even know causes a bit of a hang up!

Today the Idaho State Journal online is nothing like it was a few weeks ago. My first reaction was, okay, maybe they're improving the system. Then I noticed the top stories: "Huge crowd expected for Pope," "Abuse case goes to court," "Obama questions Clinton," "Blanchett gives birth to son," and "Carter visits Israel." The only one of these stories that carries any local interest, albeit minimal, is the FLDS abuse case in Texas. Then I looked to the other top stories hoping it was just the photo montage of the top five stories that wasn't focused on Pocatello or Idaho. Nope, the other stories Kenya gang protests, Spears in a minor accident, and a handful of statewide news pieces (the celebration of Gooding turning 100 and the jury pool for the Duncan trial). The front page isn't so helpful, there has to be hope somewhere, right?

No. The rest of the Journal online is hit or miss. Some Sports information, next to nothing on local sports. Some community links and the ever present 24/7 webcam perched atop the Journal headquarters in Old Town Pocatello, obscured by the rundown, boarded up Kwikee Mart sign.

Back when the revamped the ISJ homepage and added the blog section, they matched the site with the new color scheme of the print edition. It was a nice connection, something the current website lacks (among a list of other things). The website was never perfect and I doubt anybody at the paper would claim it was, but it was so much more helpful than the current site.

Now, for those of you interested you can subscribe to the e-Journal. The options for subscription include a subscription to the print and online edition, print edition only, online edition only, you're in the military and would like a free subscription to the online addition (valid military email address required), if you're an annual EZpay customer they'll give you your log in information immediately, or you can pay by the day ($1 a day or 7 days for $3). The idea of paying by the day to look at the online edition is ridiculous. And why aren't their options for other groups that might want or need the benefit the military receives?

Access to the online edition of the Washington Post is free to anybody who registers. Why can't a local paper do this? If people already have a print subscription to the Journal they aren't going to be looking for it online. If people don't have a print subscription, there is probably a good reason, and they can't justify getting an online subscription to a paper they didn't want in print in the first place. In terms of revenue, I doubt a free online service is going to make or break the paper. If they are worried about revenue, they might think about investing in some staff writers and actual news coverage. Just a thought...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

What a Saturday! The weather is wonderful in Pocatello today. The neighbors are doing yard work, lots of kids out on their bicycles, and tee-ball. There were actually kids at the park playing tee-ball. That is a sure sign of spring. Unfortunately, I hear the beautiful weather isn't going to last.

It has been a relatively productive Saturday around here. I've been grocery shopping, I've done laundry, my kitchen floor is the cleanest in the county, went for a bike ride, I scrubbed my bathtub and the bathroom floor, been to the post office, and my parents came for a surprise visit. Like I said, what a Saturday! I am exhausted. What else is new?

A smorgasbord of news:

For those of you who are fans of the USA series Monk, Stanley Kamel (Dr. Kroger on the show) passed away this week. MSNBC has the scoop.

Jeff Francoeur may have just had the best game of his young career. Driving in seven, count them seven, Francoeur led the Braves to a win over the Nationals 10-2. Love the guy! Love him even more when he is on my fantasy roster. Wonder if it bothers the Nationals when they are referred to as Nats... It would sure bother me. Nats? Not Gnats? All the same if you ask me, both are a baseball disaster.

The Library of Congress has recreated the library of Thomas Jefferson, that is the books that survived the 1851 fire. Very interesting article and slide show available from the Washington Post.

Friday, April 11, 2008

danken Sie Gott, den es Freitag ist

As a few of you noticed last night, I've been a little out of it over here. I know the difference between the word tote and the word tout. When I typed it, the connection never formed in my brain. I never even noticed it.

If it hadn't been for press releases, the cut-and-paste kind that somebody is kind enough to write up and distribute for the IDP and the LaRocco campaign, there wouldn't have been much on my end but song lyrics this week. Original, I am not.

And it isn't for lack of options. This past week two Idahoans died in Iraq. The second, a graduate of Borah High School, hit me harder than the first. Twenty-three years old. I'll be twenty-three next month and to think that my peers are fighting and dying in this unjust war eats me alive. This past week there was a bit of a shake up in the first congressional district. I'm still not sure what to think of that. Nothing against Minnick, but I had been a Grant supporter.

I know from time to time I get carried away with non-political hobbies here. I know I've been extra excited for baseball season. I know I've been heavy on the music and youTube posts lately. None of these things are news to me. I deal with politics day in and day out in the Stallings Collection. It's taxing. As much as I love it, some days I am tired of the politics. And the final days of wrapping up the collection cannot come soon enough.

I'm finishing up what has been the worst academic year I've had since junior high. It has been awful and to be honest with you, I'm just trying to pass. Biology isn't my strong suit. And, as much as I love German, it wears me out. I'm ready to move on to other things. I'm ready to write my Master's thesis. I'm ready to find my focus. If I can just get through the next month.

All of this isn't helped at all by the fact that I can't sleep at night. Not sleeping is one of the most aggravating feelings a person can experience. As much as you want to, you can't. As much as you need to, your body (or brain) won't let you. It's awful. And to think I began this blog nearly four years ago to battle the chronic insomnia or at least to give me something else to do with my time...

Despite the accomplishments, for once in my life I completely understand the phrase "Thank God it's Friday!" Yes, indeed. Danken Sie Gott, den es Freitag ist.

Dallek Coming to the Colonial

I just learned this morning that my favorite historian and best-selling author Robert Dallek will be in Idaho Falls on the 22nd of May to give a lecture sponsored by the Idaho Humanities Council.

Tickets are on sale now at the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls. To purchase tickets you can call(208) 522-0471. General admission tickets for the lecture only will be $15. Benefactor tickets--which include admission to a catered reception with Robert Dallek in a private home prior to the lecture as well as preferred seating in the Colonial Theater will be $50. The IHC and the staff of the Colonial Theater are recommending early ticket reservation.

I have been a huge fan of Dallek's for as long as I have known his work. His biography of President Kennedy is perhaps the greatest to be published in the last forty years (best overall second only to Ted Sorenson's 1965 biography, Kennedy). Dallek has spent his career writing about the American presidency, specifically the administrations of FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan.

His most recent work, Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, was released last fall and is a superb telling of the power struggle between two of 20th century American history's most influential men.

For more information on this event, please visit the Idaho Humanities Council website.

LaRocco at Magic Valley High School

MEDIA ADVISORY: Larry LaRocco Encourages Student Activism at Magic Valley High School

Friday, April 11, 2008

Boise, Idaho - Former Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Larry LaRocco will speak to American government students today at Magic Valley High School in Twin Falls about his previous experiences representing Idaho's values in Washington, DC and in his current U.S. Senate race. LaRocco is passionate about inspiring youth participation in government and politics everyday, supporting programs that motivate youth to become active and involved.

"We need youth who are energetic about affecting the policies that will ultimately shape their future," LaRocco said. "Real change can only happen through the exploration of new ideas. I am elated to listen to Magic Valley High students' visions for Idaho's future. I plan to fight for Idaho's youth when I am elected to the U.S. Senate in November."

"Idaho's youth are it's future. We need to ensure that the longevity of our investment in our children is very calculated. Ad hoc, band-aid style programs do not work and will not cut it any longer. We need to secure Idaho's future by investing in its education system," said LaRocco.

Yesterday, April 10, LaRocco attended a mock Democratic convention at Caldwell High School where 550 students eagerly engaged one another. "The energy Caldwell students brought to the room was unbelievable. It was a genuine joy to see enthusiastic students taking an active role and staking claim on their future," LaRocco said. "Promoting programs such as this are important to Idaho's future, and our nation's future."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Roark Thanks Grant, Touts Minnick

A statement from the chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, R. Keith Roark, on Larry Grant's service to the party and Idaho via this evening's press release:
BOISE, Idaho – Idaho State Democratic Party Chairman Keith Roark thanked former 1st Congressional District Candidate Larry Grant today for his clear devotion to the party and his efforts restore some sense and sensibility to Idaho’s 1st Congressional District.

“I spoke with Larry today and am more impressed than ever with his integrity and commitment to providing the people of Idaho’s First Congressional District with the kind of representation they deserve. He believes that, by leaving the race at this point, he can best serve the cause of putting Bill Sali where he belongs: as far away from the U.S. House of Representatives as possible.

Grant announced on Thursday that he would quit the race for the 1st Congressional District nomination and endorsed fellow Democrat Walt Minnick.

"Idaho Democrats now stand united in support of Walt Minnick," Roark said. "The State that once proudly sent leaders like Frank Church, Richard Stallings, James McClure and Len Jordan to the United States Congress has had more than enough of the humiliation Bill Sali and Larry Craig have brought to Idaho and its people. We need leaders we can be proud of and Walt Minnick is that kind of person."

LaRocco's Vision for Idaho

As the prospects of a Democratic primary in Idaho's 1st Congressional District come to an end with Larry Grant dropping out of the race today, former U.S Congressman Larry LaRocco, still very much in the race for the United States Senate has released his "Vision for Idaho and America's Health Care Solutions."

Below is the news release from the LaRocco campaign:

MEDIA ADVISORY: Larry LaRocco Releases Vision for Idaho and America's Health Care Solutions

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boise, Idaho - Former Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Larry LaRocco will release his vision for health care in Idaho and America tomorrow, in Twin Falls. LaRocco offers a refreshing vision for Idaho that is founded on the principle of change, real change.

"All Idahoans and all Americans should have access to affordable quality health care. But right now, nearly 47 million Americans - more than 15% of the population - are without health insurance. Nearly eight out of 10 of these uninsured people come from working families. A 2001 study by Boise State University found that nearly 20% of Idahoans were without health insurance and more than 40% of these families came from rural areas. We must commit ourselves to provide quality affordable health care to all families in Idaho. There are two main parts to this important job: fixing the health insurance system, and increasing the quality and availability of health care itself. There are some very practical ways to tackle these problems, and I am determined to push ahead on both fronts."

"We can fix this problem by setting up a national health insurance market where people are guaranteed of having the choice of buying standardized insurance products from both public and private providers. Both public and private providers would offer a menu of similar health insurance "products." These products, or policies, would range from coverage limited to major, catastrophic illnesses on the one hand, on through to full, prepaid coverage on the other. Prescription drug coverage will be affordable and available. The choice between standardized private and public health insurance options will encourage competition, which will help control prices."

LaRocco believes these 6 values are important to fixing Idaho's health care system:

  • All individuals, regardless of employment, age, race, gender, geography or pre-existing conditions should have access to affordable and portable health insurance. The insurer should no longer be able to charge variable premiums based on age, gender, geography or pre-existing conditions.
  • Individuals should always have the option of keeping their current insurance.
  • Like large corporations and unions, small businesses should be able to pool insurance across state lines in order to reduce costs.
  • Insurance companies and the federal government should provide a menu of health insurance options and products for all Americans with a guaranteed set of quality benefits.
  • Individuals should be responsible for paying a fair portion of their health care costs on a sliding scale based on income.
  • Americans should have access to health insurance equal to that given Members of Congress, which includes prescription drug coverage.
For more information on LaRocco's positions on health care, please visit his website.

Today On Repeat

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Middle of the Week Mélange

I've been fighting the urge to just post song lyrics lately. I'm on a political hiatus. Okay, not really, no such thing for me, but I'm more interested in music this week. Today's song on repeat is from the Wallflowers' fifth release, Rebel, Sweetheart, and has a whopper of a name: "Here He Comes (Confessions of a Drunken Marionette)." A snippet:

What you give is what you get
I get so worried bout your debts
Who carries evil out evil will come
Who will defend you when I'm gone?
He says who will defend you when I'm gone?

In other music news, Gavin DeGraw has a new CD coming out on the 6th of May. Gavin's freshman release came in 2003 and I've been anxiously awaiting a full release from him for years. From what I've heard on iTunes, it is a worthy sophomore release and something to look forward to. It's about damn time!

Thing is, I can't buy another CD until May 6th. I've been on a CD buying spree...like one a week...for over a month and I have to save my bubble gum pennies until May 6th.

My newsletter from JFK Lancer Publications arrived in my inbox this morning. There is a great article by Dean O'Brokta about the space race, aptly titled, "The Race for Space." I haven't spotted it on their website yet, but if you have a second go take a look at this great resource. Everything promoted and/or published at JFK Lancer comes with oodles of citations and references, my favorite part of their setup.

I am anticipating JFK Lancer will have some sort of commemoration of the RFK assassination in June, no word yet on what that will be. And, this November is the 45th anniversary of the JFK assassination so the November in Dallas conference should be worth attending.

An interesting story out of Boise via the Idaho Statesman has had my attention for a few days. A disc jockey at KISS FM 103.3 has been staying awake--not just staying awake, staying on air for several days now to draw attention to child abuse in the valley. KeKe Luv, not his real name, is taking Child Abuse Awareness month seriously and is shooting for 175 hours awake and on air. As of last night he was still awake and still raising awareness not just in the Boise area, but across the globe as message poured in thanking him for what he is doing.

Update (6:32 p.m.): KeKe Luv made it 175 hours, as promised, and after a precautionary ride in the ambulance the the hospital, is alive to tell about it. Seven days of sleeplessness all for a good cause--read the latest here.

As I mentioned in my last post there are quite a few good concerts taking place in Pocatello this week. Beginning tonight with Raining Jane, you can catch nationally recognized and fairly popular bands right here on the campus of Idaho State University. Check out the previous post for dates and times.

This middle of the week post turns out to be easier for me to get to than my Saturday smorgasbords. Hopefully I will get back to the regular schedule since Wednesday's posts seem to be my way of cleaning out the inbox. Eventually I'll get back to Saturdays. Until then, happy reading!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday, Monday (Concert Edition)

Big week of concerts in the Gate City:

Love You Long Time
(Opening for Eve 6 at Holt Arena)
Eve 6
(April 10th, 6pm, Holt Arena)
Raining Jane
(April 8th, 7pm following ISU Idol, Chick & Diane Bilyeu Theater)
Paramore
(Opening for Jimmy Eat World at Holt Arena)
Jimmy Eat World
(April 12th, 7pm, Holt Arena)

Some good Jimmy Eat World for your listening pleasure (youTube didn't have either of my favorite Eve 6 songs):

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring Style 2008

Week one of the Major League Baseball season brings with it some adjustments for fans of the game. Adjusting to the sight of new uniforms that is.

The first adjustment worth noting, and one I am neither pleased or displeased with, is the blue version of their traditional monochromatic red uniforms. The biggest adjustment for true fans of the game won't be the color, but the corporate logo the Sox will be sporting on their arms.

Don't ask me why the computer generated guy sporting the new Red Sox colors is the spitting image of a clean cut Johnny Damon...

The front office in Toronto has either lost their minds or have a truly genuis plan to bring back former fans of the game--they're throwing back. The old school light blue uniforms don't do much for me, but there have certainly been less attractive uniforms over the years. The major problem I have with this throwback is that I keep expecting Dave Winfield to trot across the field!

Another throwback in 2008 is what the Phillies have decided to use an older style uniform as an alternate uniform. They really can't go wrong with this choice and unlike the light blue of the Blue Jays (and the Royals), the solid white is easy on the eye and not nearly as distracting for players on the field. And J-Ro and Cole Hamels don't look too bad.

Last season the Atlanta Braves picked up their sexy red alternate uniforms that they wore for afternoon home games at Turner Field. I was very happy with the solid red uniforms and am even happier this season as they have picked up a solid navy blue uniform as an alternate with a very simple navy blue cap with the white trademark A.

Over the weekend I came to the ultimate conclusion that there are neither women or gay men in the main offices teams deciding on new uniforms. What? Yes, somebody dropped the ball. I realize that the Padres are wanting to show their support for our troops. I understand that they are pushing the envelope, but camo? Geez. You've got to be kidding. Did the Padres forget that their colors have traditionally been blue and orange, trending toward blue and gold of late? Last year they used a darker green and only on a limited basis. This year? Lighter camo as an alternate (at least once a week). No wonder the great Trevor Hoffman is off to a slow start...

Equally scary is the choice made by the Kansas City Royals front office--they've thrown a Toronto-esque blue alternate uniform into the mix. Something about "royal" blue seems to have escaped them.

The Devil Rays are no longer known as such, just the Rays for those of you keeping score. Their uniforms are looking better with the shortened name. The A's picked up the black uniform they've experimented with in the past as an alternate this season. The Yankees remain the same, I think it is an ego thing. And the Indians have a rotation of four uniforms this season, one of which is probably in Cooperstown and is much better than the Blue Jays throwback. The more attractive newbies in the world of MLB uniforms follow.



Saturday, April 5, 2008

Moses...

...is dead.

Friday, April 4, 2008

21st Century Campaign Conundrum

Over the last several months there has been a call for Senator Hillary Clinton to release her taxes to the public and today she and former President Clinton released their 2000 through 2006 returns as requested.

It is puzzling to me why candidates, regardless of who they are, are forced to divulge this information.

Yes, it is important to know that politicians are not robbing the IRS blind. Yes, it is important to know where politicians are getting their money (especially that it isn't coming from questionable sources). And yes, it is important to know that fairness be across the board in terms of what each American pays in taxes.

However, I am skeptical as to why opponents of Senator Clinton insist on having this information. Does it level the playing field to have this information out there? Does it strategically benefit one candidate over another if they know how much cash on hand they can personally loan to their own campaign?

It is one thing to have campaign finance reporting. It is a different animal to require that every candidate make their tax information available to the American public, an American public that may be insulted by said information.

Why do we need to know that over the past seven years the Clintons have collectively made $109 million? I don't need to know that. I don't want to know. The only amount of money that the Clintons have made over the past seven years that is relevant in my eyes is the pension President Clinton received as a former commander-in-chief and the salary Hillary Clinton receives as a public servant in the United States Senate. As a taxpayer, that information is important to me. I don't need to know whether or not they have claimed Chelsea as a dependent. I do not need to know who prepared their taxes. And I certainly do not need to know which deductions they cited and how many charitable donations they made.

First of all, don't other Americans feel insulted, as I do, by having someone else's income paraded in front of them? I suppose I've always felt that taxes were private, a silent agreement between the taxpayer and their government. I don't need a priest to confess to God when I screw up and I don't need the media to advertise my income that I have privately reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

Sure, as public servants the Clintons have agreed to live their lives in the public eye. It is intrusive enough to have the prying media on your doorstep wanting to know every detail of your personal lives. It is intrusive enough to have the prying media speculating on your sex life. It is intrusive enough to have reporters following your every move as you campaign for the highest office in the land. Is there no line drawn for what is too intrusive? Evidently, it is a line in the sand.

Welcome to the 21st century, the Clinton's tax returns are now available for all to see (American or not) in pdf format on the world wide web. Is nothing private anymore?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Empty Spaces

This has to be one of the greater film scenes I have seen in years:



"Some people don't feel like they deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces, trying to close the gaps of the past."

(Quote attributed to Christopher McCandless, his story is the basis for the film Into the Wild, an adaptation of the book by Jon Krakauer.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Middle of the Week Mélange

Interesting, albeit not entirely surprising, piece of news from the AP regarding NASA today. With the space shuttle program ending in 2010, NASA has announced they will be laying off 8,000 contractors.

NASA has stated they will not be laying off the contractors until the shuttle program ends, but they haven't said how the 8,000 loss will impact the upstart of the Constellation program that won't begin until 2015. It appears the 8,000 are private contractors or so NASA claims.

The battle (not to be confused with the temper tantrum the traditional media calls it) between the Idaho legislature and Governor Butch Otter continues. Now that Governor Otter has reached a "compromise" with the legislature on substance abuse treatment funding, the question remains, why? Neither Nathanial Hoffman at the Boise Weekly or the Mountain Goat Report seem to pinpoint what this business of going in circles is all about. For the $1.8 million that Governor Otter supposedly "saved" the state's taxpayers in drug treatment funding, it will now cost Idaho taxpayers an estimated $17 million in prison costs when the state ultimately locks up these offenders in the future.

Makes tons of sense to start a floor fight about saving the taxpayers money today that will cost them even more money tomorrow.

Adam Graham has posted an idiotic tirade about the irresponsible parents of obese children who have "become chronically ill and put a strain on British taxpayers." Adam goes on to quote former Governor Mike Huckabee's assertion that the number of children diagnosed with insulin-resistant Diabetes (type II mellitus) will face future health setbacks: "A child developing diabetes at that young age is sure to have vision problems in his twenties, a heart attack before he is thirty, renal failure and full kidney dialysis by the time he is forty, and will be dead before he is fifty." Adam turns the essential argument that obesity among teens and pre-teens causes "adult onset Diabetes" (it hasn't been called adult onset in quite sometime) and neglects to recognize that the cases of type II Diabetes being caused by juvenile obesity remain in the minority. There are cases of type II Diabetes in adolescents that are not caused by obesity.

Adam turns his tirade into a lesson in government and responsibility. I'm not going to claim to follow the logic (or lack thereof) because I believe a government's responsibility includes ensuring the lasting health of its citizens. More often than not, cases of Diabetes in teens and pre-teens can be reversed if met immediately by an effective treatment plan. A diet isn't going to solve every single kid's glucose control struggle. Running every day for two years isn't going to get a roller coaster of fasting plasma glucose readings in an acceptable range. In these cases it isn't about irresponsibility, it is about the way a human body can attack itself or it could be about genetics. It wouldn't surprise me if a large number of those adolescents struggling with type II Diabetes weren't at one point what they call pre-Diabetic and they didn't have the right care, maybe not even health insurance, and weren't able to take care of it while there was still a chance of gaining control of it.

Let us not forget that those kids grow up to be taxpaying members of society--often paying double what they do in taxes to combat what has resulted from unchecked type II Diabetes in childhood, Diabetes that had they had adequate healthcare wouldn't be a problem for them today. Calling them a strain on the system and on taxpayers is ludicrous. The same principle applies here as it does in the drug treatment argument. Why not pay a dollar today for the children's health care instead of paying hundreds down the road in emergency room costs for the uninsured?