Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Art Museum Drunkfest...

So, we here in Milwaukee hire a world famous architect to build a beautiful addition to our art museum, and what do we do? We use it to hold a drunken puke-fest.

"Hindsight is 20-20 . . . it was probably too cheap," Kerry Wolfe, a local programming director for Clear Channel, said of the event's premise - unlimited martinis for $30.

OK, so what did you think was going to happen? This is Wisconsin. Binge drinking is pretty much a way of life here. Any amount of money for unlimited booze is pretty much a bad idea. It isn't that you charged too little, it is the "unlimited" part where you screwed up...

At the event, several vendors ran out of food, drink mix and vodka early on. Some who ran out of mix started pouring straight shots of vodka, according to several accounts.

OK, rant time. Drink mix? I thought this was a Martini-Fest. Wouldn't the "drink mix" just be vermouth? Of course, they probably had all those gay flavored martinis that appear to be popular these days. And vodka? Real martinis are made with gin, damn-it.
Clear Channel plans to stage another Martinifest in 2007 - in a larger location, Wolfe said.
Yeah. After all, this one worked out to be such a smashing success...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Driver's Ed...

Well, our daughter, Ashley, has her temps now, and we have started teaching her how to drive. It has been 22 years since I learned to drive, and I have forgotten how much of what I now take for granted is not just automatic knowledge.

The first day, we went out to an area where it is all new construction, and we practiced going around the block, and doing things like driving in a straight line, turning corners, starting, stopping (without putting us through the windshield), and all that fun stuff.

She's doing OK, just a little nervous. OTOH, she is not over confident, like someone closely related to her (who shall remain un-named) was when he was her age, 22 years ago...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cool Person's Test

Here is one of the more accurate tests I have taken in a while...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Taking a Play From Our Playbook

At least some people are taking this whole cartoon row in good humor...

Hunger Strike...

Does anyone actually care that Saddam Hussein is on a hunger strike? Especially when there are other important things to expatiate about, such as hunting accidents and whatnot.

Besides, there isn't much to talk about. The most logical response to Saddam going on a hunger strike is "so what?". After all, what is the logical outcome? Death. Problem solved.

Some people are celebrated as martyrs after doing something like this. I doubt we will have to worry about Saddam's hunger strike being anywhere near as effective (assuming he has the balls to take it to its logical conclusion).

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Visits

Yesterday, some people from church and I visited a some of the shut-ins that belong to our church. We brought them plates of cookies, and stayed and visited with them for a while. We have been planning a lot of activities for the shut-in members since Bob's mom had to stay in a nursing home for a while, and it hit Bob just how few visitors some of the residents had and just how lonely many of them are. Thankfully, Bob is a retired teacher and has a lot of time to plan these sorts of things.

The first lady we visited turned 101 years old back in November. Quite a sharp 101 year old she is, too. She doesn't get around very well, but mentally she was as sharp as could be. It was a very interesting visit, with a lot of interesting stories about life over the last century. It is particularly interesting to think that when she was my age (37, soon to be 38), we were still in the middle of World War II.

The second house we went to was two sisters who live together in a local retirement community. They were a bit younger (in their 80's), and have lived in Watertown all of their lives. The sister who could walk better gave us a tour of their condo. In the garage was a nice Harley-Davidson motorcycle that belonged to her son in law. I said "you gave up your cars, but I see you kept your motorcycle". Their house was absolutely immaculate. They must just clean it all day.

If you are looking for a good service project for a church group, or if you are just looking for something constructive to do, I highly suggest something like this. It is very rewarding for you, and you will make someone's day. A lot of these people get very few visitors.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Milwaukee Made the NYT...

Hey, look, Milwaukee is featured in a New York Times story. Unfortunately, it is not for a very flattering reason. Sadly, the NYT story has done a lot better job reporting on this problem than our local media has. For example:

The police say the suspects and the victims tend to be black, young - midteens to mid-20's - and have previous criminal records. They tend to know each other. Several cities said that domestic violence had also risen. And the murders tend to be limited to particular neighborhoods. Downtown Milwaukee has not had a homicide in about five years, but in largely black neighborhoods on the north side, murders rose from 57 in 2004 to 94 last year.

This is something that everyone in this part of the state knows (at least the ones who know Milwaukee well enough to pick out roughly which neighborhoods the shooting are in when we hear about them on the news). If you just listened to our local media, you would think the whole damn city had gone nuts. Folks, Milwaukee is not that dangerous. Go downtown, go out to the bars and restaurants, go see a game at the Bradley Center or The Cell, its a great town with a lot to offer. Have fun...


Towards the start of the week, User Friendly started a series of strips making fun of people who are all worried about Google "taking over", and poking a little fun at Google in the process. As a person who uses Google almost exclusively for his searches, blogs on a Google owned site, has is primary personal e-mail set up on GMail (Google's e-mail service), and has his browser home page set to the Google Personalized Home, I find all of the flap over Google, some of it reaching the level of paranoia, to be kind of humorous.

Now, don't get me wrong. Google does collect a lot of information, and I don't think that anyone should just blindly trust anyone with that. However, to date, Google has only used that information to do stuff that is useful to me (better targeting of advertisements, for example). Thus far, they have also done a good job telling our government where to get off when they come snooping around for information, too. Thus far, they have done nothing to violate that trust.

Plus, their tools just plain work. Take Gmail, for example. You get a ton of space, and it is trivial to archive things so you never have to delete messages, the labeling works far better than traditional folders, the spam filtering just plain work. In short, it is simply online e-mail done the way online e-mail should be done.

I am not sure why it is, but it seems like as soon as any company becomes even remotely successful, there is a group of people out there just ready to demonize them. I guess they just hate success...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

We are having a bible study at church about the truth and lies in The Da Vinci Code, so I finally read the book. Dan Brown was a genius to that "this is the truth" page, rather than something more accurate, like a "the views expressed in this book are based on highly questionable research" page. Had he done that, I doubt this book would have sold all that well. After all, it is not really all that good. The characters are barely developed and highly stereotypical, the plot line thin and is very predictable, and the writing style is not exactly eloquent.

Luckily, I decided to follow that one up with A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Alex's little soliloquies may not compare to that of Hamlet's or anything, but the story is far more compelling and the writing far more colorful. By far a more enjoyable read (and it doesn't hurt any that Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of this book is one of my all time favorite movies).

Not At All Biased, Yeah, Right...

Bias in the news sources can usually be most clearly seen in what a news source chooses to print, and which aspects of the news they choose to deem news worthy. The exact same story from two different sources. First from Aljazeera.

London preacher jailed for terrorism
A British Muslim preacher has been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of 11 terrorism charges, including soliciting murder and threatening behaviour.

Then from the BBC (this one being the most neutral I could find)

Abu Hamza jailed for seven years
Controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has been jailed for seven years after he was found guilty of inciting murder and race hate.

Just based on the headlines, the Aljazeera article makes it sound like the British authorities are running around arresting innocent Muslim preachers. Both articles point to Hamza's terrorist links. However, where the BBC article give this a fair shake, the Aljazeera article seems to attempt to downplay them as much as possible. The tone of the article almost makes it sound like the guy is being persecuted under overly draconian laws designed to limit free thought and speech. Of course, we all now how much the Muslims value free speech.

At least, it seems, a fair number of British Muslims know what this guy is all about.

Just Blame the Toons

Iran Leader Denounces Prophet Cartoons

TEHRAN, Iran -— Iran's supreme leader on Tuesday accused Western
newspapers of an Israeli conspiracy for publishing caricatures of the
Prophet Muhammad.

Yeah, sure, just denounce the cartoons. Crybaby. Get some balls, and learn to live with a little criticism, for God's sake. At least no one put your savior in a cup and pissed on him. When the "Piss Christ" went on display, I recall some protests and whatnot. What I don't recall is mass violence and people getting killed.

I also recall that some Christians were ridiculed for daring to suggest that perhaps we ought not give NEA funding to some guy just for taking a leak on Jesus. And, I recall some people saying that we all just needed to chill, its just art, man...

Now it seems we are bending over backwards to placate a bunch of true religious extremists, while blaming the cartoonists for expressing an opinion (one that has been proven again and again to be a rather valid opinion at that). Yeah, some of the cartoons were offensive, some may have even been off-base and ignorant. Some, however, were right on, and many of the high profile reactions within the Muslim world are just working to prove it.

What I would really like to see is a few more top Muslim leaders denouncing the idiots who are perpetrating violence over this.

Racist RSS Reader...

When I loaded my RSS reader this morning, under the "blogs" folder was an article by James Manning titled "Are Blacks Folks Just Dumber?" immediately followed by an article by Teacher Tori titled "yes yes yes yes yes".

Now, I am not saying I agree with my RSS reader, but I did think that was pretty funny...

Anyhow, James' article is worth the read. You should check it out if you have a chance.