It Takes A Lot To Hurt That Image

Labor strife could hurt America’s Center image:

There were chains and padlocks on most of the doors of the America’s Center Monday, and security guards at the one that was still open. There was the prospect of pickets under the marquee on Washington Avenue and of a work stoppage by all union labor at the convention center.

This, it would seem, is not the image of St. Louis that anyone wants visiting conventioneers to take away when they come to the Gateway City.

I don’t know how that really degrades an image of a big concrete venue surrounded by mostly empty buildings, panhandlers, and little convenient eating or shopping. But if the Post-Dispatch thinks so, the city can surely increase its descent into total bankruptcy installing some ill-conceived fixes.

Not Just A Man

Headline on St. Louis Post-Dispatch story: Festus man killed in Iraq.

However, he was not just a man:

Habsieger, 22, of Festus, was one of four soldiers who were killed in the blast, according to the Department of Defense.

None of the stories identify his branch; to journalists fresh out of J-school, they all look alike, no doubt.

Does it matter? Well, it mattered to Habsieger, didn’t it?

Book Report: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1996)

Wow, this book has something for everyone. Girls making connections in period costume for the women, and the 36-year-old man ends up with a firebrand 19-year-old hottie (played in the movie, apparently, by Kate Winslet) for the 36-year-old men.

This book is Jane Austen circa 1811, the language is more elaborate than one gets into with modern books, so it takes a bit of patience to read compared to pulp fiction. However, it’s not a hard, inscrutable language; just something that requires attention.

The book outlines a period in the late teens (marrying and matchmaking age, natch) for two lower upper class sisters: Elinor, the older, who is very sense-oriented, that is, she is proper and full of etiquette and the stoicism required of a lady, and Marianne, who is sensible–that is, captive of the senses. Or maybe I’ve got that backwards. However, they move in their circles and fall into and out of what passes for love in that class-conscious society.

The ending sort of bothered me; a bit contrived, and even the villains live happily ever after. I’d prefer a bit of comeuppance to them, maybe not a truly Dickensian bad ending, but at least some psychic misery. Austen is too polite even for that.

Books mentioned in this review:

Jamie Lee Curtis: Formerly Healthy

So Jamie Lee Curtis is on the cover of AARP magazine sometime soon, and in reading an article about it, I uncovered this terrifying bit:

Curtis, who is married to Christopher Guest and the mother of two children, says she reached a turning point two years ago when a tabloid published a photo of her and gave her weight as 161 pounds.

“I was like, `How dare you — I’m not 161 pounds!’ I was indignant. I got home and I went on a scale and I was 161 pounds. I was in denial about it,” she says.

“So I started a really healthy way of eating, just avoiding things that I had been shoving in my mouth. Over the course of a year, I dropped about 20 pounds,” Curtis says.

161 pounds on a tall woman is not what you’d call unattractive. It’s sort of what you’d call, you know, healthy.

Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing sexier to me than a woman who can help me move the furniture, dammit, and someone whom I won’t accidentally break.

Bonus note: If Jamie Lee Curtis shilling for the senior citizens’ magazine isn’t enough to make you feel acutely old, how about the fact that the movie Halloween: H20 is available in 10th anniversary edition DVDs?

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg Vows Sting Operations of Other Cities’ Inspectors

Inspector arrested in NYC crane collapse:

A city inspector has been charged with lying about checking on a construction crane that collapsed 11 days later, killing seven people in a dense Manhattan neighborhood.

Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned and released without bail Thursday on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.

“We will not tolerate this kind of behavior at the Department of Buildings,” buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said at a news conference. “I do not and will not tolerate any misconduct in my department.”

The mayor points out that the entrenched city officials in his jurisdiction are too tough to root out; instead, he’s going to look to impose his will on inspectors and building contractors in places like West Virginia because they don’t have sympathetic ears in the New York media.

United States Leader Speaks

Durbin says U.S. needs new leadership.

Hear, hear, Senator! How about turning over some legislators? No, wait, that’s not what you’re talking about, is it?

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told a Springfield crowd Thursday that it will take new leadership in the White House – even if it is another Republican – for the U.S. to ever regain its image abroad.

I got good news for you, Senator: There will be new leadership, it’s written right into the Constitution. However, your phony baloney job remains safe, as your predecessors in Congress and the states only did that to the executive branch. How about leveling the playing field and limiting senators to two terms, too? That’s still an extra four years of damage you guys would have over presidents.

Another Camel Nose in the Tent

Government officials can enter your property without permission if they have reasonable suspicion of bees or mosquitoes in Florida:

A Florida County has declared war on killer bees.

Commissioners in Martin County have unanimously passed an ordinance allowing county employees to go onto private property without permission to kill Africanized bees and treat areas where mosquitoes are breeding.

Of course, if you have a threatening dog on your property, they can now shoot it before applying insecticide, and you wouldn’t mind if they took a look around while they’re there, would you? What do you have to hide?

Book Report: First Blood by David Morrell (1972)

I bought this book recently because I already had Rambo: First Blood Part II, the novelization of the movie, and thought I should read them in order. Also, it was cheap. I knew the book differed from the film (mostly in that Rambo lives for a sequel in the movie). So I picked it up as an intermission from a longer piece of classical literature that I’m only half way through.

At the onset, I loved the book. Morrell creates the situation and makes both Rambo and Teasle, the police chief who runs him out of town a couple times without true rancor and with only a dash of Respect My Authoritah! Ergo, the confrontation takes on the dimensions of a natural disaster, albeit one at which one simultaneously wants Rambo to get away (even though he snapped and killed a cop) and wants Teasle to capture him.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the book stalls. Suddenly, Rambo turns back to slaughter more of the cops. Then the injuries start to accumulate, and both Teasle and Rambo get 18/00 constitutions and great feats of holding their poor bodies to keep in the novel. Yes, I know you cannot get 18/00 constitutions (or you couldn’t in Second Edition rules, which is when I quit shelling out money for D&D), but Morrell invents it for the book. The climax carries on for 50 pages or so, dabbles in mysticism and the hunter and the hunted, whichever the order is, and then ends poorly.

I’ll have to take another look at the film to see which I prefer; however, although I leaned toward the book at the beginning, I’ll probably end up preferring the movie.

Books mentioned in this review:

First Task: Rename It Mother Gaia University

When you take a religious educational institution and put a layman in charge, you end up with a secular institution. Next case in point: Cardinal Stritch University:

Cardinal Stritch University has chosen Helen C. Sobehart, associate provost and associate vice president at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, to succeed Sister Mary Lea Schneider as its president, Stritch officials announced Tuesday.

Schneider, who announced her retirement last spring, will step down in June after leading the Franciscan university for 17 years. Sobehart, 60, will be Stritch’s first lay president since it was established in 1937.

Think I’m kidding? Check out the money quote:

“Reverencing creation,” she said, “is just another way to say sustainability and being green. And isn’t that the hot topic these days?”

Leaving aside an adminocrat who makes a word reverencing because it’s longer than revering, we’ve got someone who’s going to skip over the secularism and take this formerly Catholic university into the service of the Earth Mother.

Public-Private Gasbag Leaks

When a downtown restaurant owner closes his business after 40 years so his location can become part of a parking garage for lofts, we get this blather:

But Jim Cloar, president and CEO of the Downtown St. Louis Partnership, said Dooley’s demise says less about the area than about how tough it is to be in the restaurant business.

Oh, spare us. St. Louis, like most municipalities these days, is eager to implement Central Planning and 10 Year Programs to dictate the local landscape and businessscape and doesn’t care that it has to steamroll individual, independent business owners who have organically grown the sort of businesses and location that the Urban Planners want to beam down from the planet Urtopia.

St. Charles Judges Want To Dare Courthouse Shooters

St. Charles judges wonder if police should be armed in court:

Two St. Charles County judges have questioned the safety and fairness of police officers’ bringing their weapons with them to court.

Court security officers and bailiffs are armed, but other officers — some in uniform, and some in plainclothes — routinely enter the courthouse in St. Charles to testify, file paperwork or participate in their own personal cases. If they show their credentials, they are allowed to enter the courthouse armed. At a judges meeting earlier this month, Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham asked whether the policy should be changed.

Twits on the bench alert.

This Just In: Centralized, Computerized Data Sometimes Accessed Inappropriately

UCLA workers snooped in Spears’ medical records:

UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to fire at least 13 employees and has suspended at least six others for snooping in the confidential medical records of pop star Britney Spears during her recent hospitalization in its psychiatric unit, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

In addition, six physicians face discipline for peeking at her computerized records, the person said.

Questioned about the breaches, officials acknowledged that it was not the first time UCLA had disciplined workers for looking at Spears’ records. Several were caught prying into records after Spears gave birth to her first son, Sean Preston, in September 2005 at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, officials said. Some were fired.

Forget the anti-totalitarianist spin of central data repositories for a moment, and reflect on the common basics of nosy human nature. When you build these databases, you make it possible for common people who have some access to it for real purposes to access a bunch of it for their own prurient interest.

It’s an unforeseen consequence, no doubt, of actions our legislators and leaders take. The consequences, like most, are only unseen by the actual people tasked with Doing Something! but are quite obvious to those of us who know the nature of the human animal.

Lead Supports the Main Idea

The first paragraph of a story in the San Francisco Chronicle (linked on the site’s home page as THE FORGOTTEN WAR, as though the Iraq War has slipped anyone’s mind), sort of supports one of the reasons for going to war:

The war in Iraq has gone on for five years now, but there is almost no sign of it in the Bay Area, a region where 7 million people live.

Well, that was sort of the point of the flypaper strategy, wasn’t it?

The rest of the piece is a creative writing assignment about how nobody’s protesting or the nation isn’t rising up or something. It does, however, feature this wonderful simile:

Yet the war is a presence in the Bay Area, like an underground river, like a storm just off the coast, like a deadly illness that will not go away.

But deadly illnesses don’t go away until, I dunno, you die.

Sounds like staff writer Carl Nolte is really saying Death to America, ainna?

I guess you could defend him by saying he’s a bad writer.

P.S. I did include your name, Mr. Nolte, so you’d catch this mockery next time you google yourself. Consider yourself mocked!