Bizarro World, Redux

St. Charles County cuts spending:

Less-than-expected sales tax receipts spurred County Executive Steve Ehlmann today to order county agencies to reduce spending by 8 percent and to eliminate discretionary travel.

Whoa. Must be a stop gap measure until they can figure out how to raise taxes, but still. It’s the sound of fiscal responsibility, if not the practice (but possibly the beginning of the practice).

Cruising bill hits a brick wall:

“I am all too aware of the problems facing the areas targeted by cruising. The cruisers, many of whom are not from St. Louis, are terrorizing our neighborhoods,” Reed said in a statement. “Something needs to be done, but pushing through flawed legislation, which in this bill only continues to erode civil liberties, is not the answer.”

Not passing a poor law just because they can? What sanity-flavored Kool Aid are those alderman drinking? I’d think $4 a gallon gas will curb cruising better than making it illegal, but I’m just thinking back to my young cruising days and shuddering at the thought of putting the whole week’s pay into the gas tank on Friday and Saturday nights, before the Kalt’s burgers and Jolt Cola.

Maybe there is room for some slight optimism in the country and its governance today.

By today, I mean “this morning.” Give me a couple hours and I’ll work myself out of it.

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The Miniature Dachshund Threat

Well, now that many municipalities have eliminated the pit bull and rottweiler threats, perhaps they need to turn their attention to another nemesis of mankind, the miniature dachshund:

A dog chewed off an Alton woman’s big toe while she napped earlier this week.

How many innocent toes have to die before we remove the scourge of this dog breed from our cities? If it saves one toe, it’s worth any cost.

They were bred to bite toes and feet; look at them! They serve no other purpose. City fathers, I demand you round them up and gas them.

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A License In Time Saves Nine

Some people think the power of licensing can prevent the deaths of children or tragedies of all sorts. What sort of license could have prevented this?

Adin was already dead, beaten by the defendant at a Motel 6 near the airport because he had wet his pants and was crying, Gabler admitted the next day to police and in court Wednesday.

Gabler wrapped the body in sheets, stuffed the corpse into a suitcase, and drove to Clyde Hamrick Elementary School, just west of Highway 21, near House Springs, where Gabler grew up.

Adin was the son of Min Choi of Maryland Heights. She was visiting relatives in New York and left Adin in Gabler’s care. The couple had been going together for about two years.

Larner said Gabler went on a heroin binge that week and took the drug both before and after Adin’s death.

  • A license before dating a heroin user.
  • A license before traveling to New York without your children.
  • A license for dumping bodies.

Add your own tasteless comments if you need to. Point is, though, that people lie at the heart of many tragedies, whether accidental or willful, and any license regime will not prevent them.

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July 9 Celebration

Let’s look at today’s calendar:

The Calendar
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Is today a national holiday or something?

It's Wyland's birthday!
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It is! It’s Wyland’s birthday! Happy birthday to that great, erm, American, I assume. Who is Wyland, you ask?

Wyland's signature
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Why, it’s the artist behind the calendar. If you’ve been living under a rock or, well, anywhere where you’ve got a life, you probably don’t know that Wyland is one of the more popular artists in America now and the official artist of the US Olympic team. To be honest, I had no idea until I googled him and reached his corporation’s site.

But the company puts his birthday on its calendars, and I’ll be honest, I have to respect that. If my company made calendars, I’d do something similar, except that I’d have them mark my wife and kids’ birthdays and my anniversary. Just so I’d be unable to forget to put them on the calendar.

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My Kind Of Hardware Store

I just got my first Ace Rewards gift card, which means I’ve spent too much enough at Ace Hardware to warrant them giving me five dollars in merchandise because they know I’ll buy thirty dollars worth of stuff when I come in.

The restrictions on the back make me wonder if I’m going to the wrong Ace, though.

My Ace doesn't stock liquor, tobacco, or firearms.

Prohibiting me from using this towards alcohol, tobacco, or firearms at Ace would seem to indicate that somewhere there’s an Ace Hardware that stocks these things. I’d like to know which one(s) because I’d like to shop there instead of my boring old hardware store.

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Doing It Wrong In The 21st Century

It’s not often you see redevelopment plans like this in the 21st century:

The Stevens family, owners of Sterling Pen Company based in Webster Groves, plan a major renovation to the 1936 “Quonset hut” building that has been unoccupied for more than 15 years. The building would be turned into office space.

The exterior of the former brick warehouse, 8193 Big Bend, was modernized by the Stevens in the early 1990s, but the interior was never completed. The two-story building also has a basement.

The development proposal does not call for any new construction, but would create parking for the newly-renovated building by demolishing the building currently occupied by Earth Designs. That property is also owned by the Stevens family, as is the building and property leased by the adjoining Roger’s Produce, 625 E. Lockwood.

Jeff De Pew, owner of Earth Designs, said he has been working with the Stevens family who has “made sure I have a viable and comfortable option” for relocation of his business.

De Pew said he will move Earth Designs into a residential property at 624 Fair Oaks Ave., located directly behind his current location. The house is owned by the Stevens family, who plan a major renovation to the structure for use as a business. The home’s backyard will be converted into additional parking. All access to the new development will be off of Big Bend, and not the residential neighborhood to the north.

What, the development company owns all the properties itself and doesn’t need tax money to do the work?

Kudos to the Stevens family and Sterling Pen. I hope the city of Webster Groves doesn’t veto the plan simply because it doesn’t call for the government to exert undue influence.

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How To Barbecue Your Tofurkey

Clayton company says it has built a better grill:

A Clayton entrepreneur is offering a solution for cooks who love to barbecue but find charcoal grills physically or environmentally distasteful.

Bryce Rutter, founder and chief executive of Metaphase Design Group Inc., set up a company to produce a novel grill — one that takes up less space and uses up to 75 percent fewer charcoal briquettes than traditional models.

Then Rutter went an environmental step further last month by acquiring the exclusive North American rights to import an all-natural charcoal made in the Philippines from coconut shells.

Guys, there’s this thing called knowing your target audience, and the people who worry about charcoal grills being environmentally distasteful don’t, you know, eat meat much less cook it over a flame. Their total food preparation experience involves leaving their lofts to go for sushi or Thai or Indian food.

But know that you’ve designed it, you’ll discover the flawed business premise.

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A Secret Shakespearean Fantasy

Back when I was a shipping/receiving clerk for a local art supply store, I always wanted to recite the Porter scene from MacBeth whenever a delivery driver rang the bell on the loading dock:

    Macbeth, Act II, Scene III

      Knocking within. Enter a Porter  
    Porter: Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of hell-gate, he should have old turning the key. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer, that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty: come in time; have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for’t. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th’other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven: O, come in, equivocator. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there? Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither, for stealing out of a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock; never at quiet! What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further: I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. [Knocking within.] Anon, anon! I pray you, remember the porter. [Opens the gate.]

Of course, by the time I would have gotten that out, the truck driver would have come in the front door looking for me and swearing. Also, it would have weirded out a commercial sales guy if he was in the warehouse pulling and order or prepping it for the courier, but that would have been a bonus.

Unfortunately, those were busy days. It wasn’t until I was a printer, operating a two color offset printing press for hours on end, that I got the chance to spend days memorizing pieces, like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“. My recitation of which (or the appreciation of my recitation of which by an English teacher mother-in-law-to-be) and a timely hard drive replacement secured me permission to marry my beautiful wife. The porter scene might have worked in that situation, too, but I’m glad I didn’t take the chance.

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If You Want To Be Catholic

Some big news here in St. Louis this weekend: Archbishop Burke, the recent and short-term leader of the Catholic church in St. Louis, was told to take a new position in Rome. The paper and pseudo-Catholics in the region rejoiced, calmly, and the paper helpfully illustrated the things it ran full color spreads on during Burke’s tenure in the story Burke’s tenure here was never dull:

  • Archbishop Burke excommunicated a couple of women who started calling themselves Catholic priests and offering mass in a synagogue where they could get space. The paper runs their picture with the story about Burke to give a human face to his totalitarian enforcement of actual, you know, Catholic teaching and doctrine.
  • Archbishop Burke reallocated assets of the church, including a Polish parish named for St. Stanislaus. The lay board of the church said no thanks and brought in a rogue priest to run the church. The lay board was shocked to then discover that a priest who would defy the archbishop would also start doing other non-Catholic things, such as recognizing women priests.
  • Burke took actions in support of Catholic anti-abortion, anti-embryonic stem cell research teachings, shocking the “enlightened” society of St. Louis.

In other words, he followed the theological mandates of his church and its hierarchy.

However, some “Catholics” and the anti-churching amongst the journalistic set like to run pieces on the authoritarianism and the non-do-your-own-thing vibe of the Catholic church. They want to pick their beliefs and their attitudes from the salad bar of modern day life and still call themselves members of the group, no matter how few characteristics they share with the group. Or, I suppose, they want to tear down something greater than themselves to prove their own power.

You want the mass without the international heirarchy? Become a Lutheran. You want to control your own church and its funds? Join or start a storefront Baptist church. You want women ministers? Become a Unitarian or a Methodist or any of the other sects that have them. You want to worship by having sex with a priestess of Mother Gaia on Tuesday afternoons? Become governor of New York (or some other political office holder) and pay full price same as in town. But do not think that your inclinations are just as Catholic as John Paul II.

I’m not even Catholic, and the media stories offend me.

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Another Country Blonde

All right, all right, GAC and CMT: Julianne Hough is attractive:

You’re only playing her once an hour, so I get the point.

She’s also a young one, like Taylor Swift. What the heck is going on with country music turning into pop music with its focus on young stars? I wrote back in 2003 about how the charts were skewing younger, which meant that as I grew older, I couldn’t connect with the music since I was no longer 20 and in love for the first time.

Fortunately, country and western hasn’t gone that far yet. For every Hough and Swift, we still get some Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, or oldsters like LeeAnn Rimes.

Hopefully, though, success will allow Hough to buy something to eat. She’s got blue eyes, blonde hair, pretty skin, and functional bones, but it looks like her man will have to do a lot of gratuitous lifting in their relationship.

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The Movie So Bad The Critics Forgot It

In a review of Hancock, St. Louis Post-Dispatch cinema critic Calvin Wilson tosses in this aside critical not of the movie, but of plebes who go to films for their own pleasure and not for edification through serious cinema:

That probably won’t bother the film’s core audience, which is happy to see Smith in just about anything except “Ali.”

Dude, they didn’t exactly clamor for The Legend of Bagger Vance either, ainna?

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No Accident Unpunished

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch performs its simple hard-hitting journalism in sounding an unnecessary klaxon calling for more government oversight and regulation. This time, again, a tragic accidental death of a child should lead (in a perfect Post-Dispatch world) to more government regulation and intrusion. The accident:

A year ago last Thursday the Blechas’ second son, Nathan, died at age 4 months in a portable crib in Lutz’s home, after being placed on his abdomen for a nap. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the cause of death “re-breath,” the breathing in of carbon dioxide exhaled by the baby, who was too young to turn his head away from a wrinkle in the mattress.

The next day, Lutz shut the day care for good.

Here’s what we glean from the bits:

  • The death was an accident.
  • The caregiver, riven by guilt, left the profession the next day.
  • The paper is not reporting on an accident; instead, one year later, it’s reporting on the parents of the dead child and their crusade to Make Sure Their Child’s Death Was Not In Vain.

The call to government control:

According to state records, Lutz had obtained a license to cut hair and one to practice massage, but when it came to child care, she never applied to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Child Care Regulation section. That’s the unit that inspects day cares and issues licenses for people routinely caring for more than four unrelated children.

Nathan’s parents say they have been waiting “for the system to kick in.” But nothing has happened: no criminal charges, no fines, no outrage and no reform of a child-care oversight system that the Blechas feel did little to prevent or recognize Nathan’s death.

Steve Blecha said he called the Jefferson County sheriff’s office early this year and was told the death had been ruled accidental.

He also learned that the most Lutz could be fined for operating without a license was $200 — a fine so small that Blecha said it didn’t matter that prosecutors didn’t pursue it.

Of course, the article goes into detail about how the government can only fine unlicensed day care facilities and cannot bring down the wrath of the gods upon them. I suppose the “journalists” and certainly the tragically affected parents would like MURDER ONE charges or something to make the people who’ve thought twice THINK TWICE about having accidents, but jeez.

A license probably won’t prevent every accident. It will, however, raise the cost of doing business as a baby sitter/day care, which in turn will drive out conscientious people who won’t pay the money. Then, when the people who cannot afford au pairs need to drop their kids off while they work, they will turn to less conscientious family members, and further accidents will occur.

I hate it when children die, but I also hate it when their deaths lead to knee-jerk statist action that will have unintended consequences worse than the initial accident precipitating the knee-jerk reaction.

But the papers? Man, they love standing up for the outlier since the little guys have already been accommodated.

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Party Hardy

…it is only those who half know a thing that write about it. Those who know it thoroughly don’t take the trouble.

           Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes

It does, however, keep the blogosphere humming along.

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