Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Strib Letter: Go Ahead, Pay More

Again, we are asked to pay more, more, more. By who?

Do you really need to ask?
Willing to pay for a better Minnesota...

Lieutenant Governor Molnau: For the record I would be willing to pay a bridge safety tax of 35 cents for every gallon of gas I purchase. Don't underestimate the willingness of Minnesotans to invest in what really matters.


Glad to hear you've volunteered, Larry. Go ahead... start paying more willingly. Just don't expect to impose your desires on everyone else.

On a related note:
An Aug. 7 letter writer asks, "Why is our money being spent on things that aren't absolutely necessary?"

Given the redundancy of modifying "necessary" with "absolutely," we can deduce that the writer is pretty serious about putting a stop to all these frivolous purchases like theaters, museums, park, sports venues and light rail. All that is "necessary" (absolutely) is food, water and probably, in Minnesota, shelter.

The writer should understand that the other amenities are what attract businesses to a city, augmented by a reputation for excellent medical care and good schools. People with good salaries create a solid tax base. Investment generates revenue. Professionals want to take the kids to Twins game, or spend an afternoon at a special exhibition or see a live theater production or even an opera. If we don't provide that type of environment, they can always go somewhere that does aspire to be world class.

But wait! I have a better idea! The world, and even the United States, has plenty of grim and joyless cities, deprived of investment, destined to mediocrity. Instead of sucking all the life, beauty and livability out of the Twin Cities, why doesn't the writer just move to one of those cities? Everybody wins.


Here's a better idea, Anntoinette: instead of making taxpayers front for unnecessary items that you consider investments in sparks of joy, why not start investing yourself. Pool your resources. Wrangle up funding. Collect donations of money and volunteer work. Why should the taxpayers cough it up?

You folks want to spread the pain of paying for everything to all of us. You want us to pay for your joy.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Laughing at the Dead

Growing up in my day you couldn’t help but know Merv Griffin. At least, you knew him as much as anyone you saw on television. Gene Rayburn, Bob Barker, Johnny Carson, Mr. Rogers, Lucy, and Merv Griffin.

My memory doesn’t capture anything specific about Merv, but I remember he was a television personality easy to like. In those days, you couldn’t be David Letterman or Howard Stern, much less Robert Downy, Jr. Even folks like Jackie Mason and Don Rickles were reserved for special venues… and you certainly wouldn’t have Rickles host a game show or interview guests. (I think "Mr. Warmth" guest hosted for Johnny a couple of times, but that must have been in the mid- to late 80s.)

Like Carson, Merv represents an era of entertainment that might not come back. I hope it will, but we’re not removed from our television shows or the personalities. Television was a window to another part of the country. We not only looked in on California and New York we looked in on national celebrities (in the true sense of the word). Now we see them at all hours of the day… and most of them are watered down celebrities.

According to Pat Sajak, Merv’s attitude was genuine.
…He was a dear friend to me and my family, and there was no better friend to have. First of all, Merv knew everyone. When you were with him, you rubbed shoulders with the most exciting and famous people on the planet. We vacationed together in some of the most glamorous spots in the world, and we stayed up very late laughing as long and hard as I’ve ever laughed in my life. No one ever told a story better, and no one ever had better stories to tell. And he was a great audience. That much-imitated laugh of his was completely genuine, and it breaks my heart that I will never hear it from him again.

…Whether on a TV show or in a living room, no one could make you feel more alive than Merv Griffin. His life was a celebration, and those of us who participated in it can’t help but feel blessed.

Merv would be very upset that his friends should be as sad as they are. He didn’t believe in sadness. He was upbeat, forward-looking and optimistic to the end…

I know, I know… Sajak? Look, say what you want about the guy, he’s got something.

A few members of my family passed away over the last few years. My Grandma Sue, my cousin Shell, and my Great Aunt Pat (Auntie Pat)… they were a riot. Sometimes a little abrasive, but I always remember them laughing. In fact, even at their funerals I wasn’t down. Knowing these folks you really couldn’t. They were real characters with big personalities.

Other family members and friends make me feel the same way. When they go I’m inclined to remember the joy they brought me and many other folks.

Can there be a better tribute to someone’s life than laughter and joy?

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Thursday, August 09, 2007


I'm stunned. Someone at the Strib printed this letter:
No, forgo the frills

If I hear one more person whine about the need to raise taxes for bridges, I will pull out what little hair I have left.

Any politician who voted to give a single dime to any arts project, zoo, sports team or (insert nonessential boondoggle here) should be hiding his/her head. It is long past time that every government body -- be it city, county, state or federal -- get back to the fundamentals it is mandated to provide: basic infrastructure and the protection of the citizenry.

Until you get your act together, both Reps and Dems, a pox on both your houses. This bridge didn't collapse due to a lack of funding. It collapsed because politicians of both stripes got sidetracked from the necessities by the niceties, and the people asked them to ignore the difference between needs and wants. We all should recognize the difference.


Thank you Jay. I guess I should thank the Strib, too.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Strib-Letter: You Are Cheap Killers

From today's Netlets a man who blames himself, but points his finger at anyone who opposses reckless government spending.
The only real apology

I have been unable to sleep recently. Not because I can't imagine living without my wife who drove over the 35W bridge hours before the bridge collapse and survived, but because I feel responsible for the disaster itself.

In fact, we all need to own up to the "culture of cheap" in our government that we have either supported or didn't fight hard enough against for the past couple of decades. We have wasted the amazing infrastructure our parents and grandparents have given us by not maintaining it -- and we have paid dearly for that approach. I urge all of Minnesota to come together and support a new vision for our state and nation that puts real people ahead of "no new tax slogans," corporate tax giveaways, special interest groups and ill-conceived wars.

The only real apology we can offer now is to start supporting a government that is about more than a "culture of cheap." It's the least we can do for the victims of this disaster.


First he uses "it was me", then he swoops in with the "you, you, you".

Who, Mr. Russell Peterson of St. Michael, supported a so-called culture of cheap? Upon who are you painting blood?

You wouldn't by any chance be misstating your opposition's arguement and stance on taxes, would you? You wouldn't want to run a campaign for elected office with that tactic, would you?

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Only 35 Actors at the BBC

Something I haven't thought about in a few years... and James Lileks brought it to my attention today in The Bleat.

Lileks commented on a movie with Jack Webb called "The D.I."...
God bless Jack: Virginia Gregg has a role in the film. She played every single female on the Dragnet radio show and 57% of the women on the TV show. I swear: the more you listen to old time radio, the more you become convinced that the entire medium employed 14 actors, tops.

For years a friend of mine held a similar theory regarding the BBC. The Vid Master (a handle he used in the production of a newsletter) half-jokingly claimed that at any given time the BBC only employs 35 actors... and the evidence for this is watching any number of series from the BBC. Perhaps we should more accurately lsay that British Televison only employs 35 actors, since there is Channel Four, ITV, and who knows what else.

Just take a peek at the degrees of separation between "The Prisoner" and "Doctor Who"... I don't think there is a one-link connection, but Hell you can connect both with "Good Neighbors" (or, as the Brits call it, "The Good Life"). Leo McKern and Peter Boyles and Pennelope Keith alone connect a number of series and actors together. The guest appearances on "The Avengers" and "Good Neighbors" connect so many dots, and the sheer longevity of "Doctor Who" link more than a handful of shows with the legion of stalwarts who have popped into that series.

Of course, there's "Blake's Seven" and "Yes, Minister" and even "Jeeves and Wooster" (especially when coupled with "Black Adder").

In fact, I think I can link Kenneth Branagh to "Doctor Who".
He appeared in "Thompson" with his one-time-wife Emma Thompson. She appeared as a guest on "The Young Ones" with Hugh Laurie (star of "House M.D.") and Stephen Fry (among others). Hugh and Fry easily link to "Black Adder" starring Rowan Atkinson. Atkinson starred in a spoof of "Doctor Who" as the Doctor. (You might not have thought Atkinson would be suitable as the Doctor, even in a parody... however, he was letter perfect, staying on the right side of cliche.)

However, if you include film, Branagh get's to "Doctor Who" even easier... via Sir Derek Jacobi.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Burka Beach Babes

Boy, do they look like they are having fun.
(I suspect, no one else will.)

Apparently, Hooters of America might just open up a restaurant in Dubai. I guess the company migth also get into Israel, too.

Who knows, maybe this could be the spearhead to peace... or additional Islamo-fascist terrorist war. All from the power of boobs.

C'mon... you know they hold great power. They are like the Ark of the Covenant.

Speaking of women in Islamic/Arab dress, I saw a few young ladies at the Original Pancake House yesterday... all of them that I could see were Indian or Iranian (or something just as hot). One had a scarf on her head, but the others didn't. Remarkable eyes on them.

Hmmm... tickets to Dubai?


Monday, August 06, 2007

"What the Hell was that?"

The wife came home yesterday... wee! The boy was overjoyed. Breakfast at the Original Pancake House (whoo-hoo) and then a nap... then a trip to our friends' house for their son's first birthday (whoo-hoo).

The little goofball wanted to watch Superman later in the evening. Fine. I show him saving Lois Lane and the Daily Planet helicopter (still a great scene after almost 30 years), catching a jewelry thief climbing a building, stopping the bank robbers, and saving Air Force One. (Yeah, and the cat stuck up in a tree.) He wants more, so I show him a similar hero montage from the first Spider-Man film.

While the boy enjoyed it he loves watching Doc Ock and Spidey duke it out on top of an elevated train in Spider-Man II. He loves Spider-Man and he loves trains... what more could a kid want?

Now he's using a new phrase.

Not long after Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus begin fighting on top of the el-train, we get an interior shot of passengers surprised by the dents in the ceiling. Under the sound of the music score and the sound effects of the train one guy says, "What the Hell was that?!?!?!"

Apparently, he heard it and understood it.

Right between the B&D and me, our son earnestly starts asking questions:
"What the Hell was that? What the Hell happened to Spider-Man? What the Hell is happening to the train? What the Hell is going on?"

Uh, son... ah, you're going to... well, you know that the word you used, um... Momma? Where are you going?

She covered her mouth and claimed to need to finish cooking diner. (I thought I heard the sound of snickering as she climbed the steps.)

How in the Hell did I keep from laughing?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Strib-Letter: Appreciation

I enjoy looking through Letters to the Editor (and Netlets) at the Star-Tribune. They often show the kind of thinking (left-leaning at best and moonbattery at worst) not just from the legion of hand-wringing readers, but from the reporters and editors inside the Red Star.

Ocassionally, they print a contrary opinion. Maybe they print them to show how "weird" those few and rare Minnesota conservatives think and live. However, sometimes they manage to understand the tone and the atmosphere of the subject at hand and they print the right letters.

This is where I give credit where credit is due.

Netlets for Thursday August 2

In the aftermath of Wednesday's bridge tragedy, Minnesotans can take pride in the bravery and professionalism of our emergency workers, and in reports of survivors who helped evacuate a school bus full of children before rushing on to safety.
We can honor their courage, and the memory of the lost, by broadening the definition of "homeland security" to include a sustained commitment to intelligently strengthen our country's aging infrastructure.

The only point I disagree with is in his last comment. Working on infrastructure such as roads and bridges is a role of government, one that shouldn't require special action.


And also in prayer

Let's thank God for the number of many hands that made lighter the work during the tragedy Wednesday. Let's remember that it will take many hands to do the same in the months and years to come.

A word to our elected officials: Put your finger-pointing hand to good use. Cover your mouth and think before speaking, and use your cell and keyboard to call upon creative, competent men and women to see that this doesn't happen again.

Finally, put both of your hands together and pray for wisdom and understanding. We'll be doing the same and keeping an eye on you.

Mr. Walker, you should send a special letter to the Star-Tribune's own Nick Coleman. Who knows, perhaps the Strib printed his letter as a small counter to Coleman's rediculous column.

Letters to the Editor for Friday, August 3

We stood tall ...

The collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge was truly a horrific event, and our sympathies should first and foremost be with the victims of this accident.

As I watched CNN and others unfold the grim details I realized a sense of pride in the way Minnesota was handling this disaster. The level of professionalism and preparedness shown by the responders and their leadership was unique in the face of this dire event. Those interviewed by the media, whether they were police, fire, medical or others, spoke with compassion, concern and competency not always apparent in other areas. Even our often-maligned elected officials stood tall.

There will be much dialogue regarding the cause of such a failure. Repercussions may result, but in the face of an extreme situation on Aug. 1, 2007, Minnesotans did very, very well.

Everyone but Don Shelby looked pretty good. Shelby, apparently, acted like a damn fool.

Someone else mentioned another lame element to the television news.

Thumbs down to TV

The collapse of the I-35W bridge Wednesday evening has undoubtedly affected all of us who call the Twin Cities our home. I commend the efforts of firefighters, medical teams, and all other invaluable individuals and organizations who worked throughout the night to rescue victims and reunite families. However, I found the local TV media coverage of this catastrophe very insensitive to the victims and, for the most part, devoid of news value.

KARE-TV, Ch. 11, showed an injured woman being lifted into an ambulance while a man was standing between the woman and the camera man, telling the camera team to back off and give the injured woman and health care providers some space and privacy. The camera team responded merely by airing more footage. Just moments later, two young men were interviewed at the wreckage site. It soon became apparent that neither of them could provide any information as to why the bridge collapsed, and only offered descriptions of "bodies flailing" in the river.

One would hope that a local news team would show more consideration and respect for their neighbors with whom they share the community.

Regarding the finger pointing folks are talking about...

Bridges are crying for help

I drove over the Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge three times on Aug. 1. The shock of this bridge collapsing rocked me like 9/11. I wanted to cry, and did. So many thoughts went through my head. I went home and turned on the TV.

I have worked with the highway construction companies. They have been begging for increased funding for years.

Based on my clients' objective analysis, I believe there are many bridges around the state, and country that need help. This is a warning to do something.

The title is a little melodramatic, but that was not likely something Mr. Gubrud wrote. That's the work of the paper. In any case, that's hardly something to get too worked up over. The letter is perfectly fine.


Grieving from afar

Please know that any worker who has ever been involved in bridge construction or rehabilitation grieves with your city today. We ache at the thought of this happening to a bridge we may have worked on. Each one of us is asking ourselves, "Did I do something that may have contributed to this tragic event?"

I can't speak for all construction workers, but I know a great many are sending their prayers to Minnesota right now.


Of course, after all of that we have a series of finger-pointing letters with snark and jackassary.

Perhaps I'll cover them later.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Damn Stupid Time to Go on Hiatus

Thank God one of my good friends stopped taking that bridge about two weeks ago. To my knowledge, none of my friends nor my family were anywhere near the thing. I don't even work in that neck of the woods these days. I might need to call some folks I worked with a few years back, though.

In any case, the boy and I said a prayer for those who got caught and the families of those who are missing or dead. Actually, he said I should say the prayer, but he capped it off with an Amen.

From the troops...

Anti-Strib: My Take on Bridge Collapse by The Admiral

Comment section includes...
Jake: Now this ought to get the blood going. Why rebuild it? There have to be better ways to route that traffic across the river than there. This may be an opportunity for Minneapolis to steer congestion away from the city center.

Anti-Strib: Absolutely Freaking Unbelievable by Kermit

Comment section includes...
Jake: Fact is that our entire highway and bridge infrastructure is rotting across the country.

Why? Because we're not paying for maintanance and improvements. Why? Because taxes are BAD, and why should I give my money to the government anyhow, and I don't need no stinkin' government anyways, and people should look out for themselves and not rely on GOVERNMENT to babysit them, yadayadaya...

Fact is that anyone who has spouted this sort of CRAP over the past decade is in his or her own small way responsible for this and future bridge collapses.

Pray all you want. That isn't going to fix ANYTHING.
Followed closely by...
Jake: ...the knee jerk reaction has been on the part of the "no new taxes" folks. Those three words have been used endlessly by countless Republican politicans and operatives, as if the mantra makes sense in any context, for any reason, at any time.
Okay. Thank you for your contribution.