Sullivaning Forth

As you can see, I have redone my blog blue, blue, and more blue. All the more to emulate Andrew Sullivan.

As an added bonus to the new colors, we have server-side processing problems, which leads to things like throwing a posting under yesterday’s dateline and occasionally throwing in a server-side tag. I’ll get around to getting around those things one of these nights.

Whitney Sings Norquist’s Praises

Whitney Gould, the architectural critic of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, lauds the accomplishments of John Norquist, the soon-to-be-former mayor of Milwaukee.

In particular, she discusses the impact of Norquist’s New Urbanist policies on the aesthetic value of the city of Milwaukee, and she identifies some of the mayoral influence on the building and architecture.

New Urbanism, or at least Norquism, have made Milwaukee look more fresh and vibrant than when he came into office. This New Urbanism seems to be a positive counterpart or corrolary of the Broken Window Theory of law enforcement. If any area looks inviting, active, and vibrant in its architecture and maintenance, people will want to come, work, and live there.

Public Service Announcement Regarding Beer

As some of you know, my esteemed spouse has become something of a fitness/nutrition, er, expert (I was going to say “nut” but Heather has educated me that nuts contain a lot of fat, and she does not, so “expert” it is).

Since she’s gotten into this “way of life” (insanity), we’ve started visiting the local Whole Foods Market, which sells wheat and fiber; wheat, tofu and fiber; wheat and soy; wheat, fiber and soy; wheat, fiber, tofu and soy; soy, fiber, tofu and soy; soy, wheat, soy, soy, fiber and soy; soy, tofu, soy, soy, soy, fiber, soy, tomato and soy; soy, soy, soy, wheat and soy; soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, baked beans, soy, soy, soy and soy.

When we hit the antique food aisle (you know, expensive, authentic junk food), I found King Lager, a product of Australia, and certainly something of which our Australian friends cannot be too proud. Of course, I did not know that then, so I bought a six pack of it. I figured, of course, since it was in a health food store, it must be good for me.

I should have known you cannot brew granola.

Now, I have been known to enjoy some darker, heavier beers (Guinness Draught, London Porter, and some others), but this King Lager is like drinking wheat soup.

Sorry, guys, I have not slipped into the home brewing hell, so when the texture varies between sips, I have to wonder about the sanitary conditions of the brewery. Do the organic and natural designation cut-off point come before or after Louis Pasteur? Is that prime Australian hopps, or could it be wallaby tail?

On the bright side, my bones are stonger and I have a nice, shiny coat on my head (what remains).

Regardless, I am sticking to Guinness Draught. There are no snakes in Ireland!

Quotes for the Day

As one of the finishing touches of preparing my home office, I am replacing the little scrips of paper and index cards with inspirational quotes upon them to their rightful positions around my desk. For lack of a better topic this afternoon, I shall publish the quotes here, so you can be inspired, too, perhaps even to “ride a century,” which contrary to what it sounds, is not sitting in the passenger seat of a Buick on a beer run.

    “Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare current.” (Those who cross an ocean change their sky, but not their soul.)
    Horace

    “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbled, or where a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and who comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. The man who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who never knew victory or defeat.”
    Teddy Roosevelt (thanks to dropbears.com for the cut-and-paste opportunity

    “Fortune knows
    We scorn her most when most she offers blows

    William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra Act III, Scene XI

    Power is only Pain–
    Stranded, thro’ Discipline

    Emily Dickinson, “252

    “love to wyde y-blowe
    Yelt bittre fruyt, though swete seed be sowe.” (Love too widely blown yields bitter fruit, though sweet seed was sown)

    Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde (384-385)

    “An error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith.”
    Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

    “Unlucky the hero born
    In this province of the stuck record”

    Syliva Plath, “The Times Are Tidy”

My goodness, I feel inspired and motivated to get up out of this chair and go get another beer!

Now, For the Irony of Flood Plain Development

The formerly blue-haired guy links to a story about how our illustrious leaders in the varied municipalities in the St. Louis area are rushing to build megavelopments on areas that were under ten feet of water ten years ago this month.

I’ve shopped at the Sam’s Club out in Atlantis Valley myself, so I cannot claim too much superiority.

However, the farmers out there have every right to sell to stoopid developers who would buy that land, and I cannot blame those farmers. After all, if they didn’t sell, the municipality of Atlantis Valley would eminent domain the land anyway, since St. Louis area municipalities think that it’s perfectly acceptable to strip a person of his or her property rights if the municipality could get buckets of sales tax from the eventual beneficiaries of the confiscation. Buit that’s another of my stock rants.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that Atlantis Valley will probably spend its newly-minted tax revenues on amenities for its remaining residents (both of the families whose houses were not in the way of Progress).

Amenities like water parks.

Poor Form, Peter

Slate today featured a round-up of previous stories about Strom Thurmond, who died last night.

The link that led to this index page off of the Slate home page read Good Riddance to Strom:

Poor form, fellows. I would say “I hope the writers of your obituary show greater respect whether they agree with your principles and politics.” I would say that, but I am not that high-minded. I hope someone urinates on your grave, or worse, that no one notices you’re not around anymore.

Making the Personal Songs Political

On Tuesday, over on Politiblog, Jared M. enumerated the ways Fred “Wimp Biscuit” Durst (whose personal site is not ihatefreddurst.com as you might expect) and Johnny “Boy Named Goo” Rzeznik schnucked up the Pink Floyd classic “Wish You Were Here” (scroll down–I linked to the lyrics for the whole album Wish You Were Here so you could get the feel for the whole album) for a tribute concert of some sort.

Here’s what I said in the comments for the post on Politblog:

The easiest way to wreck a good Pink Floyd song, or any song, is to make the personal political.

The best Pink Floyd songs conveyed personal experience. Think Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here (which, of course, contains “Wish You Were Here”, and The Wall.

Other, more self-consciously Save-The-World-By-Espousing-My-Whack-Job-Ideology work, notably The Final Cut, didn’t resonate because those works preached.

You can follow the trend in Roger Waters’ own work, where The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking tells a personal story of love loss and redemption, but Radio KAOS is some unlistenable parable and Amused to Death explains why the West, particularly America and Great Britain, are militaristic punks (don’t get me started on the contradictions in its messages).

David Gilmour, on the other hand, has his moments of protest, but his solo work and his Momentary Lapse of Reason and beyond Pink Floyd show that he knows that people connect best to personal messages within the music, not politics and preaching, and especially not hectoring.

So Durst and Goo have shown their tone-deafness to the reason “Wish You Were Here” resonated with listeners in the first place: it was a song from a narrator to a friend, not a manifesto.

Their update pays homage to a recognized and revered old song, but they’ve entirely missed why it’s recognized and reverered. They’ve tried to ride the coattails of the song, and the song just shrugged the jacket off, leaving them standing there with neither recognition nor reverence.

I just wanted to repost it here because:

  1. It’s a long post, almost an essay.
  2. I am too lazy to write essays on my own site tonight.
  3. I figured some of my fans (one or two of the three or four) might have listened to Pink Floyd once or twice.

Consider it a manifesto to songwriters and poets everywhere. Get your message across by singing individual experiences to individuals, not by thumping your bleedin-heart-containin’ chest.

New Streams of Revenue

The New York Daily News rounds up the ways that New York’s finest are enforcing all the laws on the books and citing everything to make up for the city’s revenue shortfall through fines.

My favorite: The driver who got into a car accident and then got a ticket for having a broken headlight three days in a row. The law in question states:

The law says it is illegal to operate, drive or park a vehicle not equipped with headlamps that are in good working conditions.

You cannot drive it. You cannot park it. The only answer is to destroy the car immediately when a headlight goes out. I would expect that sort of law in Detroit, not New York.

Sharpen your outrage, friends. I know this is confined to New York now, but rest assured your municipal officials are watching and learning. Soon, you’ll be paying for the upkeep of water parks and other flotsam from rich revenues with fines for grass that’s too tall for your particular suburb.

Now They’ve Gone Too Far

Editorial in today’s Washington Post shows exactly how bad things have gotten in Pakistan:

Over the past few years, extremist Islamic groups in Pakistan have mounted a unilateral terror campaign. But Americans and Christians have not been the only victims. Women, secular advocates and even Muslims — Ahmadis, dissenting Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims — have also come under attack. [Emphasis mine.]

Oh, my. So it’s not just Americans and Christians dying, which is okay; now it’s other minority groups, which is somehow worse than just Americans and Christians.

Now that protected groups are getting it, perhaps we should start protecting them. Am I reading this op-ed piece right?

Buy the Guy a Beer

A survivor of the Bali terrorist bombing recently expressed the sentiments we all share when the admitted terrorist shouted “Allah Ackbar!” in the courtroom.

Jake Ryan, a survivor of the bombing who had bone shrapnel of other victims removed from his body, arose and loudly explained:

“You’re a f . . king dog, mate, you are going to die, you f . . k.”

Tim Blair has started a fund to buy Mr. Ryan some beer to toast his eloquence. I have contributed. You should, too.

Il Dick

So Representative Gephardt, in his Look at me! campaign for the Democrat nomination for president, briefly made his voice heard above the dim din of the other candidates by saying:

“When I’m president, we’ll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day,” Gephardt said.

Rachel Lucas was the first to go off on him, followed later by Professor Volokh, Andrew Sullivan, Professor Reynolds, and even ScrappleFace, leading to the normal blogomockratic firestorm.

Okay, so Il Dick would knock out at least one competing branch of government if he were elected president. I have good news, though, he won’t! He’s such a longshot candidate that he’s firing all of his guns at once and imploding in his space, or something along those lines.

Unlike Ms. Lucas, Prof. Volokh, Mr. Sullivan, Prof. Reynolds, and Mr. Face, I have had the privilege of voting against Dick Gephardt. When I lived in Attempted Casinoport, Missouri, that unincorporated area known colloquially as “Lemay,” I was in his district. Every two years, I got to vote for whatever Don QuiGOP candidate tilted at the Speaker of the House. The best protest votes I ever cast.

But I digress. When prompted to explain the statement by ABC’s The Note, Gephardt’s office said:

We asked the Gephardt campaign for a response.

“The fact that this question comes from libertarian law professors should speak for itself,” spokesman Erik Smith wrote in an e-mail. “Dick Gephardt knows the law. The president can not overturn a Supreme Court decision. That’s not what he said. He was simply expressing his commitment to diversity and his willingness to use the tools of his office to promote affirmative action programs to the fullest extent possible. It’s important to remember that Harry Truman used an executive order to integrate the military.” [Emphasis mine]

So the response is that libertarians are whack jobs! Ad homenim! Of course, they’d hate to practice the politics of personal destruction, but since some people have begun taking the representative at his word, there will be hell to pay!

Fortunately, Dick Gephardt will return to citizen life soon, and by “citizen life” I mean “highly paid lobbyist life.”

Okay, Hijinks Now A Felony

Back in May, I wrote about a young man here in Missouri who got caught videotaping the girls locker room. Lucky thing for him, he didn’t do it in New York, where Gov Pattycakes just signed a law making video voyeurism a felony.

Not only that, but if you record a someone unclothed in a bedroom against her (let’s be honest, it’s always gonna be a her) will, you get added to the state’s registry of sex offenders as though you were a serial molester of Webelos.

Ask me sometime and I will go on at length about the legislative insanity that assigns felony to minor offenses that cause no physical harm or threat. It’s easy to do something! about a perceived problem by getting tough, but it’s another thing entirely to continue to warehouse non-violent offenders for years on end.

Five Out of Five Cats Agree

Researchers once again provide a handy rationalization for me: napping is good for you.

My crack feline team, particularly Dominique and Aurora, has often acted as an experiment group by sleeping upon my lap as I spend an hour in the afternoon reclined and, er, working on my astral projection abilities. Typically, I close my eyes and project myself an hour into the future, refreshed and ready for a night of chores or blogging.

Now that napping, too, has proven good for me, I am proud to add it to my daily regimen of healthy vices. Two cups of coffee, two drinks of alcohol, and a nap, and I will live forever.

How Many Can You Name?

According to a recent survey (alluded to by Fark), two thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court Justice.

I could, off the top of my head (and without using the Internet) could name 6: Rehnquist, O’Connor, Ginsberg, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas. Smarter-than-thou colleague Adam could name seven, but he missed Stevens and Kennedy. Neener neener neener!

Which reminded me of a set of questions with which I would strike out at coworkers and associates back when I was a young man. The one that particularly flummoxed fellow English majors who attended the same Jesuit university I did was Name six morals.. Crikey, the biblical book of Exodus quite famously contains ten. I wasn’t even asking for moral to which the answerer adhered. Just give me six. Many could not.

The other great fun one was “When was the Civil War fought?” Ikes, the years I received as an answer. 1910 was the best (worse) answer I got. Seven years before World War I. Of course, the respondent wouldn’t have known that, either.

Undoubtedly you, gentle blog reader, are better steeped in civics than printers (those who run printing presses), so I expect you could name at least six Supreme Court Justices (because this very entry names seven). However, feel free to challenge your pub mates, and to name their senators and congressional representative, as well as governor, state assembly rep, state senator, mayor, and alderman.

Perhaps if we can shame them through pub bets it will increase their civics knowledge. Or at least get us free delicious Guinness Draughts when we win the bet.

Norquist Bows Out of Milwaukee

He might have been a Democrat. He worked a little too closely with a female member of his staff. But Mayor John Norquist did wonders for the city of Milwaukee, singlehandedly revitalizing the downtown with his New Urbanist zeal. His time in office is ending.

I remember Milwaukee being pretty dead downtown when I started college in 1990, about two years into his first term as mayor. Now, when I go back, people live downtown, and not just the homeless. The city’s nightlife has spread southward from the East Side so that nightclubs are open in the heart of downtown. Condos are going up by the lake. Apartment complexes have sprouted on Wisconsin Avenue. And there are people.

Kind of a shame that St. Louis, a city whose metropolitan area boasts a larger population than Milwaukee, continues its corrupt morass and stunted revitalization efforts. If Norquist wanted to come down and run for mayor of St. Louis, I’d vote for him.

What, you say, but Brian J., you live in Casinoport. How can you vote for the mayor of St. Louis?

Well, being a living, breathing resident of St. Louis is not exactly required to vote in St. Louis.