Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday 12-31

Today everybody is making their resolutions for the New Year--so I may as well make a few here as well.

I hereby resolve to not do any stories about Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan or Paris Hilton. Nobody over the age of 13 really cares what these idiots do with their lives. I just wish the major TV networks would make this same resolution.

I resolve to tune out all of the attack ads coming our way this year. If there are more than three candidates still in the running before the Wisconsin Presidential primary--you may want to keep the TV off for the entire month of February--because it won't be pretty.

I resolve to continue to publicly bash the idiots running the Big Ten Network for taking away Badger basketball from the fans just so the schools can keep the revenue for themselves rather than share it with standard cable networks and the athletic departments.

I resolve not to be disappointed when the New England Patriots crush the Dallas Cowboys again in the Super Bowl. Nobody is slowing down that juggernaut.

I resolve to do a better job of keeping the house neat. I promised my wife I'd get that one in there.

I resolve to knock eight strokes off my gold handicap this summer. There is no reason that I should be a 15--considering I spent more than a thousand dollars on new equipment this year--and played more than any year since I was in high school.

I resolve to get Senator Herb Kohl to actually do an interview this year. He's been in office for almost 20-years and he has never been on any of our radio shows. Does anyone actually know where he stands on any issues?

Finally, I resolve to continue to bring you the best in local news coverage in the Fox Valley. It's the least you deserve.

Happy New Years everybody.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday 12-28

Don't believe for a second that the reason the NFL is allowing CBS and NBC to show tomorrow night's New England Patriots--New York Giants game is because they don't want fans to miss out on a potential historic moment. This decision is based on nothing more than money.

I can guarantee that some time this week the head of CBS Sports called up Commissioner Roger Goodell and reminded him that the network pays a large chunk of the one-billion dollars the league gets in television rights revenues. The CBS exec likely pointed out that they would have broadcast rights to the game--since the Patriots will be the road team on Saturday--and that there was a very good chance they could have seen huge ratings for a show that would have spilled over into the important prime time hours. And that CBS executive most certainly reminded the Commish that his network may not be so keen on paying a billion dollars to air the NFL in the future. So Goodell capitulated and gave CBS permission to simulcast the game.

It probably didn't take ten minutes for the suits at NBC to find out that CBS was going to show the big game--so their head man was on the phone to Goodell as well. The NBC chief likely reminded Roger that his network also pays a fair chunk of that one-billion dollar rights deal--and that they have exclusive rights to prime-time Sunday night games. NBC also has the right to reschedule start times to get the matchup they think will bring the biggest audience--and they almost certainly would have put Pats-G-men on during the coveted prime time hours. And the NBC officials most certainly told Commissioner Goodell they would not be so keen on paying up to a billion dollars to air the NFL in the future.

So the Commish would find himself in the difficult position of granting another network rights to simulcast a game already on two channels. I can flat out guarantee that none of the men involved in these discussions at any time mentioned the word "fans". "Viewers" and "ratings" were likely tossed around--but "I'm concerned about the fans missing this historic moment" didn't roll off anyone's tongue.

By the way, if this is so historically significant--why isn't CNN or Fox News showing the game as "BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!"

Now, if the NFL really cared about the fans--they would take the clueless Bryant Gumbel off the broadcast and get a play-by-play man who actually knows the players names and which team has the ball.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday 12-27

Do you trust Iowans to decide which candidate would best represent your favorite party on the November ballot? How about the people of New Hampshire? Or South Carolina? Even though Wisconsin moved up its primary date to mid-February from March--there will likely be little drama--or choices--left in the races.

I'm not sure how the tiny states of Iowa and New Hampshire got to be the first to vote (or caucus) on the Presidential campaigns--but I don't think its fair. Based on the fact the campaign started three years ago in those states, every resident has probably had at least two face-to-face meetings with each of the candidates. By the time the campaigns reach Wisconsin in a couple of months, the rallies will all be huge events with tight security and the candidates speaking from their scripts from the stage. Maybe I want Hillary Clinton to hear about my concerns personally. John Deer of Corn Lick, Iowa and Edith Kennedy-Smith-Shepardspie of Gobblers Knob, New Hampshire probably got the chance.

There is a reason these states keep moving their "First in the Nation" contests earlier and earlier to stay ahead of all the other states. If they didn't, nobody would ever consider going there. Do you think Rudy Giuliani really relates to the "great people of the heartland" or that any of the "old-timahs" in New England can understand half of what Mike Huckabee says?

I would rather see a series of national, elimination primaries where total votes knock off the stragglers. The first round could trim the field to four in each party, the quarter-finals would leave us with two candidates and the finals would give us the November tickets. Maybe we could put the candidates in brackets like the NCAA Basketball tournament and we could all have office pools. That might increase interest in politics--the chance to win big bucks.

The key to my plan is that it establishes who would really have the national appeal needed to win in November. It would also neutralize the influence certain sub-groups within the parties would have on selecting nominees. The downside? More endless political ads--and therefore more money influence. But at least you and I here in Wisconsin would have some actual say in who represents our party--instead of letting Iowa and New Hampshire have all of the fun.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday 12-20

Thank you celebrity obsessed national media for creating another embarassing situation for parents to deal with. Jamie Lynn Spears--the sister of you know who--and the star of Nickelodian's "Zoey 101" announced in OK magazine this week that she is pregnant. Normally that would be OK--but Spears is just 16-years old and is not married to the 19-year old father of the child. I'm sure more than a few young fans of the show will have some tough questions for mom and dad about what happened to Zoey.

Can we please do a few stories on young women who are doing something positive with their lives? I can't imagine what its like to be a girl nowadays--being bombarded with "breaking news" about every successful young woman running afoul of the law, getting pregnant out of wedlock, going to rehab and leaving their husband of a whopping two years.

I guess that goes hand in hand with the marketing campaigns of all young females with big, fake breasts, exposed by low-cut outfits and high-rise skirts. Remember a few years ago when we did stories on the problem schools were having with too-revealing clothes on female students? The response from parents was "that's all the stores carry now for teen fashions." I guess I picked the wrong time to go to high school. When I was a teen, it was the late 80's and multiple-layers covered with baggy sweaters were all the rage. The only girls who showed what they had played on the volleyball and basketball teams.

The male population doesn't make it any easier for girls either. Sometimes when I'm reffing a high school game I can't believe the lyrics of songs played over the PA system during warmups and timeouts. And there are the girls singing along with the suggestive and degrading lyrics.

And don't even get me started on the internet. One of my favorite websites features musical playlists posted by users. There is also a feature that allows the poster to put on a picture of themselves and to "chat" with other users. It never fails that the most "provocative" pictures are put on there by 15 and 16-year old girls--who then get dozens of responses from the thirty-something guys inviting them to chat at a different site.

My wife and I are trying to have a baby--but I fear having a girl. I wonder how I'm going to get her to have a positive self-image if she is not a size two and how I'll keep her away from all the dirty old men in cyberspace and real life. It would help a lot if being over-dressed and undersexed would become popular again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday 12-18

Monday's response to the phony bomb threat at Merrill Middle School got me thinking about how we deal with these incidents. I'm not that disappointed in the school--which had cops at the door and bag searches yesterday--but rather with the parents of the 50 or so students who were kept out of classes because of the threat.

It must be tough living in unfounded fear all the time. I say that not from the position of knowing this threat was a fake--but rather from the position that all of the threats written on bathroom walls over the years have turned out to be fakes.

I know there have been a number of highly-publicized incidents of school violence in recent years--but how many of them have been preceded by a note in a bathroom or a call on the school's voice mail system? The shooters in the Columbine attack never left a note warning everyone they were about to attack. Now they did make some disturbing videos showing their preparations for the attacks--but those were kept secret and never shown on Youtube or mailed to a local tv station. The kid who gunned down his principal at Weston High School never issued any threats either.

The Green Bay East High School attack plot was foiled by another student turning in his friends--not by a note left at the school. Ironically, parents should be more afraid of the days when their are no threats at the school than in the days following one. If the threat includes a "hit list", I can see keeping the kids at home--but for a note written on a bathroom stall??? Let's show a little more common sense and courage.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday 12-14

I hope asterisks aren't any more expensive to print than regular numbers and letters--or I won't be able to afford the next edition of the Major League Baseball record book. The Mitchell Report is out and it implies that there was "widespread" abuse of steroids and human growth hormones in the sport from the mid-90's until the recent adoption of mandatory testing.

By using the term "widespread"--but then only putting 77 player names in his report, Mitchell is telling us "We know more people were cheating--these are the only ones somebody ratted out." I was hoping there would be no Brewers on the list--so that fans could claim their long run of futility is due to not enough guys trying to cheat. But alas, Fernando Vina (a former Brewer) and Derrick Turnbow are on the list. Just imagine how many save opportunities Turnbow would have blown if he wasn't on the juice. And the team is apparently going for the "all steriods All Star team"--as new closer Eric Gagne is also named in the report. Gagne's "punishment" for breaking the law and cheating...a one-year ten-million dollar contract from the Crew. That will teach everyone that cheaters never win.

The biggest losers in all of this are not the guys named in the report--or we the fans for being handed a sham and a mockery for nearly a decade--but rather all of those guys who might have made it to the Majors if some of the players in the Mitchell Report hadn't been 'roiding. I had a chance to help Terry Jorgensen with some of his off-season workouts when I lived in Green Bay. Terry is a native of Luxemburg and was a standout here at U-W-O. He used to work himself to near death with fielding drills and quickness drills and hitting off the tee and weightlifting. I'm pretty sure he wasn't shooting up in the locker room after those workouts. But despite all of that hard work, Terry had just a few "cups of coffee" with the Twins and the Marlins. Each time the team went out and got someone with a little better power and a little better arm. Were the guys who beat out Terry just more talented--or juiced?

The biggest winners in the wake of the Report: Not the players who cheated and weren't named--but rather all of the guys who played in the time before the mid-90's. How much better do all of their records look? My favorite player in high school and college was Will Clark--the firstbasemen for the San Francisco Giants. He was a career .300 hitter and finished with about 350-career home runs. Not Hall of Fame numbers compared to all of the brutes who came after him--but we know those were honest numbers. The same goes for guys like George Brett, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs. All HOF'ers we know truly earned their spots in Cooperstown. Heck, even Pete Rose is looking more honorable today.

Major League Baseball had better hope nobody ever fingers Alex Rodriguez for steroids. He could be the "magic eraser" that will rid the record books of the steroid era--as he breaks all of the major records before hanging up the spikes. Until then--all of those numbers mean nothing to me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday 12-12

A few random thoughts:

The Fed has cut interest rates again. The few of us on the "savings" side of life take another hit--while those on the "free spending" side catch another break. How did it come to the point that the national economy is so dependent on people having to continuously borrow and live beyond their means?

I have just as big a problem with the new sub-prime mortgage bailout plan proposed by the President. These were people who were given money who obviously had no business borrowing it. What's the matter with a little "tough love" and forcing them to repay it at the interest rates that are a true reflection of their credit risk? Those who say "I had no idea the interest rates could go up that much" either have poor memories or were just ignoring the realities of their situation. Besides, I don't recall any stories about the rash of homebuyers forced at gunpoint to take out ajustable rate or balloon mortgages in recent years.

As for the companies that made the loans, you reap what you sow. Sub-prime mortgages would not have existed if you stuck to some of the tried and true money-lending practices: require a down payment, keep interest rates fixed, loan money only to those with a real chance of paying it back. Maybe if the Fed would raise interest rates a little bit, you could recoup some of your losses.

And now for something completely different:

Am I the only football fan completely disenchanted with this NFL season? My favorite team--the Dallas Cowboys--have the second best record in the league and the inside track to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But the prospect of that does not thrill me at all. I was watching the New England Patriots totally dismantle the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday thinking "why do we even bother playing the rest of the season?"

New England has already put a beat down on the Cowboys once this season--and I don't see any change the second time they might play in the Super Bowl. So what's the point of rooting for it to happen? I'd be better off pulling for Green Bay or Seattle to knock off the Cowboys in the playoffs--to spare me the embarrassment that would follow two weeks later. So let's go Pack, let's get some different road kill ready for the Patriots juggernaut.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday 11-23

Today is the day that proves how out of control Christmas has become. People who struggle to get out of bed to make it to work at 8:00 were lined up outside of some stores at 4:00 this morning--talking about how they "love" Black Friday and getting their Christmas shopping done "early". Some dumped the family altogether on Thanksgiving day to take advantage of "Super Early Bird" savings.

I made the mistake of gift shopping on this Friday just once in my life. Never have I seen so many rude people doing their best to make everyone else around them miserable. The big doorbuster deal is already sold out? Berating the store clerk should make more of those items appear out of thin air. Complaining to everyone else walking down the aisle will probably lower their price as well.

It baffles me why people get so stressed out about the Holidays. If I don't get little Jimmy that mp3 player he wants this year he will be so disappointed and will likely grow up to hate me the rest of his life. Somewhere along the line, we've replaced spending time with our kids as a sign of a parent's love with buying them all the stuff they want as the ultimate act of love. Which do you think a child will remember more through their life: the years you volunteered to help coach their sports team--or all of the twenty presents they got for Christmas when they were eight. (Alright, I got a basketball hoop).

You can't really blame the stores. They need this day to guarantee a successful holiday season--which has become the be all and end all of retail nowadays. And if people really wanted to tone down the holiday overkill they would reject all of this Black Friday madness and vote with their wallets. Based on the continuous flow of vehicles and people pulling into the evil empire next door to our studios--that isn't happening this year.

So for the umpteenth year I'll encourage everyone to cut back on the crass commercialism this holiday season and remember what's really important in our lives.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday 11-21

On this day before Thanksgiving, I would like to list the things that I am most thankful for. Let's not forget that's actually what tomorrow is all about--not football, food or sale flyers.

I am thankful for a beautiful and understanding wife. She has to put up with a lot being married to me. Early hours, late nights, me hardly being home, my total ineptitude when it comes to using power tools or assembling items. Thank goodness I can cook--or she wouldn't be getting much from my half of the marriage.

I am thankful for the many freedoms we enjoy in this country. The freedom to come here on the radio and tell you what idiots are political leaders are--or how the Cowboys are going to beat down the Packers next Thursday--without fear of retribution from the government or overzealous fans.

I am thankful for the abundance of staples available in our society. We take for granted how easy it is to get food or gasoline here. Not everybody can get in the car--drive two minutes and get those necessities. Plus, America's poor are the richest "poor" in the world.

I am thankful for the cheap beer in this state. I was in Minnesota over the weekend and it reminded me how good we have it here. Plus their beer is that three-point-two junk.

I am thankful for the people serving everywhere to keep me safe and free. There are a lot of troops that won't be spending Thanksgiving with their families--while I will. There will be plenty of police officers and firemen missing dinner with their families as well. Thanks guys and gals.

And finally i would like to thank you the listerners of WOSH. It is your support that keeps me employed--and able to enjoy many of the benefits I mentioned before. Enjoy your Thanksgiving day--and give some thought to what you are thankful for this year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday 11-20

High school basketball tips off tonight. Two time defending state champion Oshkosh West takes on a strong Milwaukee Bay View tonight--in a game you can hear right here on WOSH.

It's a new era at West, as coach Lance Randall is now at Loyola in Chicago after capturing those two titles. The core players from the Wildcats championship teams are also gone--with Tim Jarmusz heading to Madison. So many don't know what to expect this season.

I wish new Coach Brad Clark the best of luck. In sports they always say you never want to be the guy who replaces the legend--you want to be the guy who replaces the guy who replaced the legend. While Lance Randall was in Oshkosh just three seasons--he delivered on the legacy established by his father for many seasons before.

I hope West fans are patient with the new guy. Keep in mind the Wildcats are less talented than they were the last few seasons. And Coach Clark will likely make some changes in playing style to make the program his own. What I wonder is how patient will Wildcat boosters be if the team struggles early? What if an improving Oshkosh North beats them in one of the cross-town matchups?

High school sports isn't supposed to be all about winning. It's supposed to be about competition, learning opportunities and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, some of the parents and other adults attending games seem to lose sight of that and become wrapped up in wins and losses.

Wildcat fans, you have enjoyed some of the best the last few years. If it doesn't continue the next few years stick with the kids and the coach. You owe that to everyone involved.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday 11-14

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will take on the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. The Panthers will start 43-year old Vinny Testaverde at quarterback. To give you some idea as to how old that is in football terms, Testaverde threw his first NFL pass during the Ronald Reagan administration. The fact that Vinny can be starting for an NFL team at his age--and just a few weeks after signing a contract with the team--leads me to wonder: what happened to the quarterback position?

Not to sound like one of those curmudgeons who thinks everything new stinks and that the "good old days will always be better"--but when I was a kid every NFL had a decent quarterback. Even the lowly Saints had Archie Manning or Dan Pastorini. When he was healthy, Lynn Dickey looked like a Hall of Famer compared to some of the bums running offenses today.

If you break down the current NFL QB's, you would be hard pressed to find more than seven or eight guys who would have been starters in the league back in the 1980's. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brett Favre are obviously the cream of the crop and future hall of famers. The second level guys would include Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh, Tony Romo in Dallas, and Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. But after that--is there anyone that impresses you at all with their quarterback play? Guys who used to be pretty good--Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair--are so beaten up they can barely throw the ball anymore.

Look at the Chicago Bears. They've had about 50 different quarterbacks play for them in the 14-years that Brett Favre has started every game for the Packers.

So what has happened to all of the good quarterbacks? I've got two theories on this. The first is over-controlling coaches. From the very first day a kid plays quarterback the coach is calling all of the plays and limiting the qb's ability to audible. That creates mindless robots on the field who go through their progressive reads and don't know what to do if nothing's open right away. It also doesn't help that so many high school programs still run outdated offenses like the wing "T" or the double wing--where the quarterback just hands off the ball or is a running option first.

The second problem is the spread offense--which is becoming more and more popular in the college ranks. While you would think an offense with five wide receivers on every play would make for great quarterbacks, it actually teaches bad habits for the quarterback. In the spread, you never learn the proper five or seven step drop and usually you are making just one read and throwing quick routes to receivers. But more colleges are going to it because its easier to find quick little guys to play receiver than it is to find quick little guys to play defensive back.

I don't see the quarterback situation getting better any time soon. So maybe we'll see Brett Favre running out there yet when he is 43 and can still run an offense better than the last two Heisman Trophy winning QB's. If this keeps up, we may have to go back to the single wing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday 11-12

Today's Two Cents honors all of the veterans in our area. A big heartfelt "thank you" for making the sacrifices necessary to have a free and democratic society in a world where threats come from every direction.

To the World War II veterans, thank you for never losing the will to battle the worst evil we faced in the 20th century. Thanks for free European nations that seem to have forgotten your sacrifices and now turn their back when we ask for their help. Thanks for fighting an enemy driven by religious fervor and a lack of respect for human life that led them to blow themselves up to take as many of their enemies as possible.

To the vets of the "Forgotten War"--Korea--a hearty thank you for your unfortunately anonymous service. You had your hands tied by the United Nations and a President unwilling to use all means necessary to achieve total victory. You endured tortuous weather conditions and outside interference from both the Chinese communists and the White House to achieve a spectacular "tie". Hopefully we can bring our troops home from that conflict sometime this century.

To those who served in Vietnam--a thank you and an apology. We sent you to fight a war for group of people who didn't want you there and for an ideal the natives did not believe in. We sold you out at home, calling your mission a lost cause and even calling you killers of innocents. Has the country really learned its lesson from this war?

To those who served during the cold war--congratulations on a job well done. You acheived a spectacular victory without firing many shots. There are more people living in democracies now than at any time in history. All because you were there "on the wall" projecting America's strength around the world and serving as a beacon of freedom to the world.

And for those serving now in the War on Terror--a big thank you and please hang in there. Ignore the naysayers who say you have lost...ignore the interference from Washington trying to undermine your efforts and hang in there for the long haul. There are a lot more of them than us out there--but we have freedom on our side--and with that we cannot fail.

To everyone who put on the uniform--from those of us who never did--thank you for all of the liberties you have guaranteed for us.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday 11-09

The community discussion about the form of goverment we have here in Oshkosh is apparently over. Later today, the Oshkosh Common Council will vote to do away with the search for an "interim" City Manager and move right into hiring a permanent replacement for Richard Wollangk.

You may recall, the council decided to hire an interim manager to give residents a chance to circulate petitions for a government change--or to at least talk about what format they might want to consider. That came after the council rejected a referendum on government format out of hand--saying there needed to be more "discussion" on the topic.

Now, some on the council believe that discussion has taken place. The only talks I was privy to were my own "Two Cents" features. The first weighed the pros and cons of an elected mayor. The other decried the rejection of the referendum. A show of hands please from everyone else who attended a forum on this topic....that's what I thought. I seem to remember that Mayor Frank Tower saying he also wanted to wait for the next Presidential election to hold the referendum to ensure the best turnout possible. He must figure with Hillary and Rudy guaranteed to drive people away from the polls in droves--turnout may not be as great as expected.

By hiring a permanent manager, the council will be saying "Don't worry Mr New Hire, your position is safe here because we are basically putting the kibosh on any talk about voting your job out of existance."

My other beef with this proposal is that its unfair to those who might have applied for a permanent position--but not an interim one. At least one interim candidate is unsure if he wants to be in the running for a full-time job. If this is going to be a permanent hire--then the position should be re-posted so all of the best candidates have a shot.

Hopefully the council will stick with its original plan--interim first, referendum on the form of government--and the hire of a permanent manager if the position still exists. Otherwise the cities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee will have to continue to fail on their own with their out-dated elected mayor-council forms of governments.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday 11-08

I'm disappointed to hear that the Running of the Goats Pub Crawl has been cancelled. The Goat Pack claims they were going to be on the wrong end of "disciplinary actions" by UW-Oshkosh if they went ahead with plans to visit a dozen downtown Oshkosh bars.

A lot of people will be missing out because this event has been squashed. The downtown bars will miss out on extra money in the till. Apparently supporting downtown businesses is important only if they don't sell alcohol. Some charities will miss out on extra revenue--as proceeds from the crawl were to go to the university--before they made a big deal in the media about how they didn't want that beer-soaked cash. Organizers then planned to help the families of sick kids to pay medical bills--but that is now scratched.

The students lose out as well. They are learning about the hypocrisy of the educational elite who tell kids all the time about how they need to do more to help others--just do what we believe to be socially acceptable to do it. Counseling young mothers to not have abortions--or lecturing kids on abstinence--probably rank just as low as drinking beer to raise money for your school.

My biggest problem is with the university's threat to discipline those who take part in the pub crawl. How can a school punish students for taking part in legal activities off-campus? I'm going on the assumption that all of the Pub Crawlers will be over 21--and none of the bars are on UWO property--so what legal grounds do administrators have to take action against participants? Just another strong-armed tactic from those who always claim to be supporters of freedom of choice and self-determination.

I would encourage those planning to take part in the pub crawl to still hit the taverns this Saturday "un-officially". Tell stories with your friends and create those special college memories that everyone older than you look back upon with such melancholy happiness--knowing our lives will never be that simple again. Just don't drive if you've had too much college spirit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday 11-06

The Hollywood screenwriters on are strike, and there is great concern over what the television networks are going to put on the air if the walkout goes several months. As a public service, I have come up with a few suggestions.

ABC: Simulcast your sister station ESPN. You already confuse everyone using the cross-promotion "you're watching ESPN on ABC". Well, are we watching ABC or ESPN? Plus I'm guessing Tuesday Night Poker will be a ratings giant.

NBC: One hour of "The Biggest Loser" followed by two hours of "Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator." Biggest Loser is the only "reality" show I watch--because it's the only one that encourages contestants to take part in beneficial activities--rather than self-destructive. As for "To Catch a Predator", this is the most un-intentionally funny show on tv. What possesses these pedophiles to sit down and try to explain their being at the house? South Park had a classic episode where Chris Hansen was trying to do some other topic but predators kept showing up on the set.

CBS: Just go off the air. I know you like to call yourself "America's most watched network"--but outside of sports and 60 Minutes--I can't think of a single show I watch on that network. So they may as well go off the air when they don't have football or college hoops to put on the air. On the plus side, Katie Couric's ratings would actually go up.

Fox: 15 hours of "American Idol". I don't suggest this because I actually want nothing but this unwatchable crud on the air. My hope is that people would finally get sick of the show and it would be cancelled. Plus, with no one to write his witty "bon mots", Ryan Seacrest would have nothing to say.

MTV: You could actually play music videos.

Comedy Central: This one hurts, no Daily Show or Colbert Report. We'll just have to soothe the pain with South Park marathons and endless reruns of Chappelle's Show.

My best writers strike suggestion is for viewers: Turn off the boob tube and actually talk to your spouse and your kids.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday 10-29

Beware Packers fans: the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell is looking to take away one of your beloved home games at Lambeau Field. I'm not talking about one of those meaningless pre-season games that you are required to pay regular season prices for--but one of the games that counts in the standings and toward the Brett Favre record book.

This weekend, the NFL played its first regular season game in London--and officials say it was a huge success. The 90-thousand tickets sold out and there was demand for another 200-thousand after that. Several NFL owners--with dollar signs in their eyes--now want these overseas games to be a more regular occurance. Some think every team should take a turn giving up a home game to play an international contest.

The Packers would be a perfect candidate for the next round of games. I've been to Europe and people there have heard of the Packers--most think Vince Lombardi is still the coach--but there is some interest in the franchise. And if Number Four announces its his last season--it would be a huge additional draw. We ended up with Beckham after he was old and washed up--why not give the Euros a past his prime Brett. I'm guessing the French could even find a way to make him a citizen.

The Packers would also be most vulnerable to having the decision thrust upon them. With no money-grubbing owner raising a fuss at league meetings, the Pack would be a bit under-represented. And we know what a company man Bob Harlan is. The green and gold may actually have an unusual ally in Cowboys owner Jerry Jones--who is building a one billion (that's bilion with a "b") stadium outside of Dallas--which will be about half luxury boxes. He has no intentions of giving up a single cent of that revenue--which he does not have to share with other teams.

The ultimate goal of the league is not so much to establish a franchise in Europe or the far east--but rather to have the threat of moving a team there in the future. The league is big on having that "alternate" location available when teams go looking for public funding for new football-only stadiums. Outside of Los Angeles--which would already have a team if it wanted one--and Las Vegas--which the league that posts injury reports to help set point spreads thinks is too tied to gambling--are the only viable sites in the US.

First we exported all of the production work nobody wanted to do for low wage. Now we are exporting the entertainment we have to pay to much to enjoy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday 10-25

Not to sound like an old man, but can we please move up the start times for these World Series games? I almost made it to the third inning last night before having to go to bed. Now I get up at 3:30 in the morning--so I may not be the best example--but I don't know how Major League Baseball expects anyone living east of the Mississippi to stay up on a weeknight to catch the end of these games.

I realize MLB needs to have all of the games in prime time due to the huge contract they have with Fox but I can't believe that many fewer people would tune in if the games started earlier. Even with an 8:30 eastern start time the start time on the west coast is 5:30--not in prime time anyway.

Why doesn't the "next generation" care about baseball? Probably because they haven't seen the end of a dramatic playoff game because they were ushered off to bed by the fourth inning. There was some talk about having at least one day game during the Series starting next year--but that's not a done deal yet.

Adding to the problem, the drag-out pace of play employed by the Red Sox and the Yankees. I won't get into the specifics of "Sabre-metrics" but both teams are loaded with hitters that take a lot of pitches and foul off a lot of good pitches--while their pitchers nibble on the corners and take the full 30-seconds between every pitch. So not only are you struggling to stay awake because the game is running so late--but you are also struggling to keep focused on the 28th pitch of every inning. During the ALCS I was able to watch two plays of a college football game BETWEEN TWO PITCHES in the Indians-Bosox game!

I want sports to become more fan-focused again, instead of kowtowing to almighty TV dollars. Earlier start times for big games, Big Ten football games on over-the-air or "regular" cable, hockey on a cable station people have actually heard of. It's the least they can do for a fan base that YAWN, ZZZZZzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday 10-23

Some random thoughts today:

Why does anyone want to live in California? Earthquakes, wildfires, hardly anyone speaks English anymore, Nancy Pelosi. What is the draw anymore? Is the possibility of having Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan crashing into you that exciting.

When a haunted house advertises "evil clowns", isn't that being redundant?

When everyone stops smoking, where will the state get all of the money it plans to spend from the higher cigarette tax? Even if everyone kicks the habit, we aren't going to get any healthier as a society--since baby boomers are getting into that age group where nothing works right unless you are taking some kind of pill.

If Oshkosh North wins a state title at Division Two, will it be dismissed because they didn't have to beat the biggest schools in the state to take it? Will that D-2 designation spur further attendance area changes to make sure the Spartans play in D-1?

I'd be willing to bet that if the Otter Street Fishing Club wanted to build a lighthouse on the end of its fishing pier, everyone would be jumping for joy. For some reason, lighthouses are beautiful and attract tourists--but docks are ugly and only attract vandals and litterers.

Why are we even playing the NFL regular season? Let's just have New England and Indianapolis play for the Lombardi Trophy and save fans of any NFC teams the embarrassment of seeing their team destroyed in the Super Bowl.

Why is the Appleton School District considering renting out houses it will buy to make way for a sports complex at West High School? School districts exist to educate children--not own and rent housing units. Tear them down or don't buy them until you are ready to start building the new football field.

We have a three month delay in reaching a state budget agreement and we still have a structural deficit of a billion dollars? During the delay, somebody should have sharpened their pencils to make sure we aren't borrowing against our future to pay for programs today.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday 10-19

The WIAA football playoff pairings come out later today. 224 teams make the post-season--and half of them shouldn't be in. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against kids getting to experience the playoffs, its just that so many teams mean too many games to determine state champions.

Because so many teams make the playoffs, the WIAA has to play first round games on a Tuesday night--just five days after the completion of the regular season--with second round games just four days later. And that is where I have a problem. Three games in ten days puts kids at risk for injuries when it really isn't that necessary.

Sports like basketball, soccer, and softball include every school in the playoffs--but those sports aren't nearly as physically demanding as football. There is a reason we play just one game a week at every level of football--the body needs the time to recover properly.

While they won't say so publicly, many coaches have told me off the record they don't like the Tuesday night first round game for many the same reasons. Not enough turnaround time for the kids and not enough time for them to prepare for two opponents in one week.

While including every team in the basketball playoffs gives also-rans hope to catch lightning in a bottle and make a Cinderella run to Madison, the football playoffs hardly ever play out like that. Often times there are reasons that some teams lose only once a season and others barely break .500. When you look at the state champs crowned since the field expanded to include all five-win teams the most losses suffered by a state champion at any level is two.

I certainly hope the driving force behind the ever expanding playoffs isn't money. An extra home game might mean a few more pieces of new equipment for some teams--but that doesn't justify overworking the kids. I would also hope that coaches don't think limping into the playoffs equals job security. Let's trim things back to the top 16-teams in each division--with seven wins being the automatic qualifier--with just one game a week on the road to Madison. I think it will make for better and safer competition.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday 10-18

US Magistrate Judge William Callahan should be hailed as a hero. This week he may have done more to lower gas prices in Wisconsin than any politician will ever be able to do. Judge Callahan ruled that the state's minimum mark up law is unconstitutional. The judge believes that requiring gas stations to increase the price of gas by 9.18 percent from what they pay the wholesaler is an inaccurate estimate of the cost of doing business.

The ruling creates a very difficult position for Governor Jim Doyle. The past few summers, Doyle has held press conferences standing in front of gas station signs showing prices at three dollars a gallong telling us that the evil big oil companies are gouging us and it is time for the federal government to do something about it. Every time he held one of those dog and pony shows I would ask why the gov didn't repeal the minimum markup law--since that would save us as much as nine percent per gallon. The governor's pat answer: "that wouldn't save that much--and don't forget the oil companies are making record profits!!"

Let me whip out the calculator here Governor. Nine percent of three dollars a gallon is 27-cents...times 18-gallons per fillup...that's $4.86 I just saved at the pump...times two fillups a month--that's about ten bucks...times twelve months a year...that's 120-dollars annually. For the Governor, whose investment portfolio includes sizeable stock holdings in evil big oil companies 120-bucks probably isn't that much--but to me thats a few extra date nights with the wife.

I can't wait to see if Doyle orders the Attorney General to appeal this ruling. The state actually wasn't a party to the federal suit--as two gas station owners were fighting over fair pricing. Will the gov be able to make political hay if prices drop by twenty-some cents a gallon when stations decide they won't live in fear of state prosecution and price gas at what they want to. Will we see old-fashioned price wars--with stations competing to build customer base with prices that might (for a short time) actually be a loss leader.

Another thing to keep an eye on: how soon after the state decides to drop the law the backhoe is out in the Wal-Mart parking lot breaking ground for their new self-service pumps. Yes, Wal-Mart does sell gas--in states where minimum markup laws do not exist. To some gas station owners that might sound like the death toll--we all know how Wal-Mart destroys all local retailers--but I don't think that will happen. I've been filling up at stations with prices five cents a gallon less than the station across the street and seen the same number of people at the more expensive pumps.

So let's plan the parade for US Magistrate Judge William Callahan--the man who may have brought sanity back to gasoline pricing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday 10-17

The state Public Service Commission holds a hearing in Oshkosh today on plans to add a new area code to the Fox Valley. The PSC says we will "run out" of phone numbers to use in this area by the end of the decade--and they need to open up more numbers by using the new area code.

It's amazing what a sensative issue this is for people. I lived in the Twin Cities when they had to split into different area codes. You would have thought they were annexing St. Paul into Canada the way some people reacted. And remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine changed her phone number and ended up with a new area code--so no one wanted to call her anymore?

First of all, we are not "running out" of numbers. Just do the math. With seven digits in every phone number (minus prefixes you can't use like 911 or anything starting with zero or one) you still have more than SEVEN MILLION permutations. That is at least three numbers for each and every person and business in the area.

The real problem is cell phone and internet providers--who have tied up hundreds of thousands of numbers they hope to someday assigne to customers. Force those companies to give up their numbers and we would have several more years worth of numbers.

Anyway, I doubt the PSC would do that so let's look at the alternatives. The first is breaking up the current 920 area code. This is my preferred option. Businesses will complain the most--as their business cards, letterhead and receipts all become obsolete. And I think it should be the eastern half of the current area code that should have to change. Let Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago counties keep their area code--everybody else...tough beans. This is where the majority of people in the area code live and that's the way democracy works.

The other (less attractive) option is the area code overlay. In this scenario, the new area code is used for new numbers within the old area code. While it may sound attractive--everyone keeps their current number--it creates dialing nightmares for the rest of time. Imaging the person living down the street having a different area code than you. Every time you call somewhere--even right here in town--you have to remember if they are 920 or 363? The only person who wins in this option is the woman who records the "you must first dial a one and an area code before making this call" message.

I encourage you to attend tonight's hearing at City Hall and let them know what you prefer in person. Odds are you won't be able to figure out the area code to call the PSC in the future.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday 10-10

We're going to find out what members of the Oshkosh School Board are made of this month. The board starts debate tonight on its controversial attendance area plan--which will shift kids from the Lakeside elementary area (on the far south end of the district) to Merrill Middle School and North High School--in order to balance enrollments in the future.

We already know that parents of Lakeside students are very upset with the plan. They have printed up buttons with "Merrill" and "North" crossed out by a big red "X" and they will be out in force the next few Wednesdays as the school board considers the plan. I can guarantee there will be tears shed, angry diatribes and some threats made. Some parents may even exploit their kids by propping them up to read statements before the board saying how their lives will be shattered by having to ride the bus two more minutes to attend a northside school.

And that is where we will find out who has "onions" on the school board. In the past, some members have caved to such limited public pressure--acting as though hurting even three people's feelings makes them a bad politician. Or perhaps they think they are being shrewd politicians. "If I don't make these people happy they are going to work against me in the next election and I will lose and I don't want to lose because then how am I going to impose my will on the community?"

The current plan was put together by the board itself during a daylong retreat with a consensus of members supporting it. But will that support remain strong now that the board is out of its protected cocoon and are under the bright lights of a more open meeting format. If they believe this is the best solution for the district, the kids and the taxpayers then they need to stick to their guns. Don't bow to what is really limited pressure and put the plan in place.

Will all of the boardmembers really stick with it. I doubt it. In fact, I'm waiting for the John Kerry moment during the next school board election cycle. You know--"I voted for the attendance area plan before I voted against it."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wednesday 10-03

I hope you were listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday--because he was in world-class form. If you haven't heard, the US Senate drafted a resolution this week condemning Rush for using the term "phony soldiers" to describe some of those criticizing the war in Iraq. The website posted Rush's comments last week--and Democrats have decided to jump on it, making it sound like Rush was denegrating the troops.

Nevermind that Media Matters--which Rush is quick to point out was founded by Hillary Clinton--took the quote out of context. Rush was referring to a Washington man who claimed to have taken part in atrocities while serving in Iraq. The only problem--the guy had never been in Iraq--and is now facing federal charges. But Rush had both guns blazing yesterday--ripping any Democrat (and a few Republicans)--who either supported the resolution or haven't supported the war.

My question is: "Is talk radio the only thing Congress has to worry about right now?" A resolution discrediting a talk-show host is the biggest issue the Senate needed to take up on Monday? And it is not just the Rush Resolution. Congress is also holding hearings on a bill dubbed the "Fairness Doctrine"--which would require talk radio to present "equal time" for all political views.

Democrats seem to think there is too much conservative talk on the radio--and that there supporters should be getting more air time. Well there is a reason most talk shows are conservative--conservatives listen to talk radio. Conservatives tend to watch more 24-hour news channels--hence the ratings of Fox News compared to CNN and MSNBC. Conservatives like to know what's going on in a format more trustworthy than blogs on the internet.

So under the "Fairness Doctrine" we here at WOSH would be required to run three hours of liberal talk after the Rush hours from 11 to two weekdays here on News-Talk 1490. A show of hands please from those who would tune in to hear three hours of say Rosie O'Donnell flapping her gums--or Jesse Jackson.

As with any reactionary law, we would also have to deal with the law of unintended consequences. Once the conservatives and the liberals got their three hours--the libertarians would be at the door demanding their three hours--followed by the environmentalists, the white supremecists, the religious right and the militant Islamists.

The "Fairness Doctrine" would be the death of talk radio--and maybe that is the goal of the Democrats.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday 10-1

The Oshkosh School Board will spend its day trying to come up with a new attendance area plan. All I can say is "Good luck." A body with a track record of backing away from any change that upsets more than three parents will take it upon themselves to craft a map that will spread the pain to as many people as possible.

We'll hear this morning on our newscasts how everyone is going in with an open mind and how they are willing to compromise in order to reach consensus on one plan. That would be a refreshing change in politics--as compromise has become a lost art.

I have a new idea for them to consider: Change the name of Oshkosh North to Oshkosh East. Then draw a diagonal line from the northwest corner of the district to the Southeast corner and divide all attendance areas as close to that line as possible. How can people living along the lake complain about having to attend East High School--they live on the eastside of town. Sure, you'd have to change a lot of logos and sports jerseys--but that's a small price to pay for applying a little logic to the problem.

I doubt my plan will get any discussion today. It doesn't address socio-economic problems--the highest priority for at least three members of the board--and it may not save the absolute most money possible--the main point for several others. But to me it makes the most sense geographically.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday 9-28

I've been watching Ken Burns' new documentary "The War" on P-B-S this week--and I want to say "thank you" to everyone who contributed to winning World War II--whether it be the soldier who fought in Europe or the Pacific--or those who sacrificed back home for the war effort. If you think paying three-bucks a gallon for gas is a "hardship" imagine not be able to buy any gas...or meat...or sugar...for four years.

Watching the old black and white newsreel footage got me to thinking, what if we fought World War II in our current 24-hour news culture? I'm guessing that in 1939 Fox News would have talking heads on demanding President Roosevelt declare war on Germany for invading Poland and parts of Czechoslovakia. CNN would update the European situation with their special "March to War" vidoe effect. Hitler would also be invited to speak in New York City. Historians would blame Woodrow Wilson for not invading Germany when he had a chance in World War I.

On December 7th 1941, Americans would watch in horror repeated video clips showing the explosion that sank the Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Congress would form several sub-committees and hold hundreds of meetings to determine who was to blame for Twelve-Seven and why the CIA and the FBI didn't prevent it. Moments after the attack, internet rumors would be spreading that Roosevelt knew about the bombing raid and allowed it to happen so that he could start a world war. Others would claim that it was US warplanes disguised as Japanese Zeroes that attacked the harbor. Professors would tour the country saying the US deserved to be attacked given our support for European domination of Asia.

As US troops arrived in North Africa to start fighting the Nazis in 1942, Senator Russ Feingold would introduce a measure to re-assign them to the Pacific--since it was the Japanese--not the Germans--who attacked us on 12-7.

Following the loss of the Phillipines, the Democratic candidates for President in 1944 would be demanding to know when Roosevelt planned to end this war.

In 1943, the New York Times would leak classified documents exposing the Manhattan Project--setting back development of the atomic bomb and creating further distrust with the Russians. General Eisenhower would be called before Congress to explain why we haven't won the war yet.

In 1944, Anderson Cooper and his camera crew would be on the beach greeting Allied forces as they came ashore in Normandy. The tv helicopters would also draw extra Nazi forces to the beaches. The New York Times would run out of ink trying to publish the names of all the soldiers killed on D-Day. Keith Olberman would be mocking Roosevelt wondering how many more lives would be lost. Mothers who lost four sons in the war would be protesting outside the home of Roosevelt's mistress in Warm Springs, Georgia demanding the troops be brought home immediately.

In 1945, Christian Ammanpour would be doing a series of reports on how the war has destroyed the happy lives of German citizens. Protesters would fill the streets of Washington demanding to know why so many were killed in the firebombing of Dresden. The New York Times would leak classified documents detailing the atomic attack on Japan. Candidates for the 1948 Presidential election claim they would never use the bomb against the Japanese. Keith Olbermann would mock those celebrating V-E day. Protesters would call for President Truman's impeachment after dropping the bomb. Keith Olberman would mock those celebrating V-J day.

In 1946, Congress would hold hearings to determine how long US troops would remain in Germany and Japan. Fox News contributing editor George Patton would be calling for the US to declare war on the Russians for control of Eastern Europe. Americans would get back to normalcy by worrying about what Mae West wore to a Hollywood nightclub and who is Clark Gable dating this month.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday 9-27

It was another "Fire Ned Yost Night" at Miller Park Wednesday. The Brewers' manager--in a must-win game after the Cubs lost to Florida earlier in the evening chose to prove how "tough" he is rather than focus on getting a "W".

Early in the game, Prince Fielder was hit by a high and inside pitch. It may have been in retaliation for pitch thrown up and in to the Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols during a blowout the night before. Both benches were warned about retaliation and the game went on. In the seventh inning--with one out and nobody on base--Yost brought in young reliever Scott McClung for one hit Pujols with a pitch. McClung did as he was told--nailing Pujols with his first pitch. Both McClung and Yost were ejected immediately.

That started in motion another Brewer bullpen meltdown--with Derrick Turnbow loading the bases and walking in a run and Brian Shouse allowing three more runs to score--putting the game out of reach.

My question is: why is Ned Yost even thinking about "sending a message" in a game with so much riding on it? Does he even want to make the playoffs? You're already down a run in a must-win game and you're wasting a reliever (and taking yourself out of the game) to nail a guy with a pitch. Is that the top priority for a team fighting to make the playoffs? I think the Cardinals were more than happy to just play out the game--if we win great, if we lose no big deal. Instead, Ned nails their superstar and gets them fired up instead of just playing out the string.

Of course, Ned talked about having to protect his stars after the game, citing baseball's "unwritten rules". How about following one of the written rules: "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAMES!!!" Although, Ned has been ejected from three of the last four games--so maybe that is his strategy: get out of the dugout and give the team a chance to win. Just think if the Brewers kept the deficit at one then scratched out a win. How tight do you think the collars would be on the Cubs' jerseys tonight if their lead was just one game instead of two?

I had to laugh when I saw Brewers owner Mark Attanasio tell the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Ned's job is safe. His exact quote: "Ned is fine." That is why the Brewers haven't had a winning season in 14 years--a "Commitment to Fineness." Maybe the team should put that on a banner inside the stadium. That should get the fans fired up. And probably let an overmatched manager keep his job.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday 9-26

Just some random thoughts this morning:

Can we pass a law that requires people who have trees in their yards to be responsible for the leaves that fall from the tree into other people's yards? I don't have a single tree in my yard--yet the lawn is covered with leaves!! Too make matters worse, we have a fenced in back yard--which means the leaves can't just blow away. I think its time those who own the trees take responsibility for the leaves as well.

You know why we are getting roundabouts at every intersection in the future? I saw three people run a red light at Sixth and Oregon last night. The third car--driven by a young lady and filled with young passengers sped up to drive through the intersection a full three seconds after the light changed red. It's idiots like that make roundabouts safer than stop lights.

Can Prince Fielder please smooth things over with his father. Last night, Prince and Cecil became the first father-son combo to hit fifty home runs in a season in their careers. Prince used the occassion to again rip his dad for being a no-good deadbeat who never supported his wife and kids and now is trying to ride his coat-tails. Young man, it's time to let go of that anger because it will only destroy you in the end.

Which would be sweeter, Brett Favre setting the all time touchdown record by throwing to a receiver covered by Darren Sharper of the Vikings...or Sharper getting two interceptions against Favre to tie that record and returning the second one for a game-winning touchdown.

If the Brewers and Cubs finish tied for first and have a one-game playoff the Crew should start Chris Capuano at Wrigley Field. He hasn't pitched in a game the Brewers ended up winning since early May--but the Cubs cannot beat left-handed starters. It would be like the immovable object versus the irresistable force.

Am I the only one frightened by the cell phone commercial featuring the kids and the grandma speaking in "text language". This is the future of our language--abbreviations, incomplete sentences and partial words. My wife was watching the Emmy pre-show a few weeks ago and I heard words like "delish" "fab" and "the diff". That's how lazy we have become, we can't even say full words any more. OMG.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday 9-25

Who represents you on the Oshkosh Common Council? The council will discuss options for a potential advisory referendum on the form of government next spring--and one of the options is going to aldermanic districts with a full time Mayor.

One of my beefs with the current "at large" election of all the Councillors is that not every part of town is equally represented. Who on the council experiences what I put up with in my neighborhood. Which one drives the streets in my neighborhood everyday? Who deals with the same nuisances? If I had an issue with the city I would have no idea which Councillor would be most familiar with the situation.

While opponents of aldermanic government claim it would lead to "turf wars" it would also ensure balance among all parts of the city. Would the representative of the southside neighborhood with the terrible streets be so gung ho about spending city money on cobblestone crosswalks and concrete planters downtown when the people living his his district have to replace their tires and shocks every other year due to the condition of their streets? And Appleton, Neenah and Menasha seem to be able to function quite well with aldermen.

What we currently have is representation by ideology. People take their concerns to the councillor who most closely matches their view of the city. Meaning there is the "cobblestoner" councillor, the "green" councillor and the "chamber" councillor.

I wish the Oshkosh School District had to represent specific districts as well. I'm guessing the persons representing the attendance shift areas would be raising holy hell and making sure everyone in the district shared the burden of balancing enrollment across the city. And the township portions of the district would probably get better representation as well.

So c'mon City Council, don't fear change and give us a chance to decide our own form of government next spring.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday 9-24

Can we get rid of the United Nations? Or at least pass it off on another country so we don't have to put up with it here. Hordes of armed guards had to travel around with the "President" of Iran when he arrived in New York Sunday. Now, he gets to stand at podiums around the city and insult the U.S.--all at taxpayers expense. Plus, he wants to pay a visit to Ground Zero to "pay his respects". If he is allowed to go, can someone ask him if he is pleased with the results of the attack carried out by the same religious fanatics that look to him as a hero?

The majority of countries in the UN don't pay their dues--meaning the U.S. picks up the tab. In addition, the delegates sent to New York enjoy diplomatic immunity--meaning they can go about breaking minor laws without impunity--all the while bashing the U.S. for protecting its interest around the world. When was the last time you invited guests over to your house just so they can tell you what a dump it is? Why can't some other country take this flaming bag of dog doo off of our front porch?

It's not like the U.N. actually works. Can you name one war the United Nations has prevented? Instead, the U.N. specializes in getting bogged down in wars--limiting member nations to "peace keeping missions" or "police actions". And don't forget the main body of those fighting forces come from the U.S. Has the Security Council made the world any safer? How can it with Russia and China on board?

The time has come to trade the U.N. to another country. the French always portray themselves as peacemakers--let them take it. And why can't the always-neutral Swiss take a few decades hosting the U.N.? I think America has spent more than enough time being the world's policeman.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday 9-21

I covered the sentencing hearing for Neil Shanak yesterday. Shanak was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing Michael Wautlet in a drunk driving crash last April. I never met Michael Wautlet in person. The only time I had seen him before his death was in commercials for the Community Blood Center where he talked about making time to donate blood--despite his busy schedule.

And what a schedule that was. Wautlet was a volunteer track coach for St. Mary's Central High School and youth football coach as well. He volunteered for Blood Center and his church. He even played Santa Claus at events where less fortunate kids would get gifts. The court got dozens of victim impact statements talking about the role Wautlet played in their lives. Both the prosecutor and the judge called Wautlet a "giant in the community".

The question now is who will fill those shoes? Who will take the time to touch the lives of so many kids? How about we do it?

For years I have considered joining a certain volunteer program but for some reason I always find an excuse. I'm too busy or too tired or what if I don't like it. But this time I'm pushing those excuses aside. And I'm asking you to do the same. Consider giving just a little bit more of your time to help someone else. There are a number of programs and groups looking for volunteers and there has to be one that can fit your schedule. Or you can just give blood to help save lives. Or you can stop by out Coats for Kids Kickoff Cookout this afternoon at Town and Country Electric in Appleton. You can't imagine what a difference having a warm coat will make for a needy child this winter.

It doesn't matter what you do, just try to do one thing to help someone else in our community. Together we might just be able to fill the shoes of a giant lost too soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday 9-20

Is there anything better than pennant chase baseball? I've gone through a set of AAA batteries this week just flipping channels between the Brewers games and the Cubs games. My wife may have left me sometime this week. I seem to remember her complaints about keeping the TV on just one channel for more than a minute fading away back on Tuesday.

The everyday nature of baseball makes having a team in the race so great. If your favorite college or NFL team is having a great year you have to wait an entire week for that next big game. Basketball and hockey are played three times a week at most. But baseball is there every night--building the tension and bringing the joy or despair.

We had the best situation last night as the action in the Cubs-Reds game on ESPN and the Brewers-Astros on FSN was perfectly staggered to allow channel-flippers to catch almost every pitch and play without missing anything in the other game. I'll never understand why women don't understand the beauty of that.

For Brewers fans, this is extra sweet--given the fact the team hasn't had a sniff of first place this late in the season since the early 1990's. For Cubs fans this is just another opportunity to be hoist upon their own petards in front of the nation--suffering their usual fall breakdown. LONG LIVE STEVE BARTMAN!!!

The only thing that would make this situation better--if WGN Superstation would actually show the Cubs. Why is it they are on every night in seasons when they are out of the race by the all-star break--but when they are in the chase you can't find the Cubs on their flagship station. Oh well, there is a perverse pleasure in hearing Ron Santo groan and cry when Carlos Zambrano gives up another RBI double--in the second inning.

The ultimate outcome here would be for the Brewers and Cubs to finish in the tie atop the NL Central--neccessitating a one-game play off the Monday after the season. A game you would be able hear right here on WOSH courtesy of ESPN radio.

Now let's just get the Brewers a reliever that can throw strikes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Can someone explain to me the US financial strategy? We hear all of the time that Americans don't save enough money and are too far in debt. So why then does the Federal Reserve Board drop the prime interest rate another half-percent? This is like telling an obese person they can have twice as much soda because its "diet".

The Fed cites concerns over increasing numbers of foreclosures and how those fears are dragging down the stock market and are how they are threatening the entire borrowing industry. Do we honestly think that Citigroup or Capital One are going under anytime soon?

Whatever happened to the free market deciding financial success? If a company makes a bunch of bad loans to unqualified borrowers whose fault is that? Certainly not those of us who waited until we had some cash and the proper income to buy a house.

If anything, the current situation exposes the house of cards that has been the US economy the last decade. Too many companies are dependent upon Americans spending beyond their means. That may actually be a credit to the folks in marketing--who have persuaded consumers that cell phones that play music and games and access the internet are somehow necessities. The same for the third vehicle, the boat, the plasma tv and so on.

The irony is that the interest reduction will not benefit most of those currently in debt. Credit card companies are notoriously slow in passing along interest rate cuts--if they do it at all. The same for adjustable rate mortgages.

Meanwhile, those of us who are trying to save will take an almost immediate cut in interest income. That should create of rush of people heading to the bank to make deposits.

So c'mon Fed--let's starting exerting some tough love on the economy. Force Americans to settle some of their current debts rather than encourage more unneccessary spending.

Monday, September 17, 2007

So what to make about the Packers 2 and oh start to the season. Even the most die-hard fan has to be pleasently surprised by the wins over Philadelphia and New York. To be honest, I thought the Pack was looking at an oh and eight start to the season--but I apparently forgot the NFC stinks. The Giants may turn out to be one of the worst teams in the league before the end of the season. How pathetic was the tackling display the G-men put on in the second half yesterday. Anyone who can make Deshawn Wynn look like an All-Pro should start scouting for that number one overall draft pick.

As for the Packers themselves--they may be the Milwaukee Brewers of the NFL. You know, a bunch of young guys stuck in a crummy division with a puncher's chance of winning the whole thing. The Bears haven't looked like world beaters so far--and hello--they still have Rex Grossman at quarterback. Detroit is 2 and oh as well--but c'mon this is Detroit. And Minnesota will fold like a cheap suit in the second half of the season again. So the division is wide open and an 8 and 8 wild card team isn't that unlikely in the NFC so just a 5 and 9 record for the Packers from here will keep them in the running.

If the Pack has one thing going for it it is defense. They say that wins championships--and given the lack of a potent offense in the NFC they could be the dominating force in the conference. So enjoy the run Packer fans and raise a brat to rest of the NFC--because you may be the cream of the crap.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday 9-14

President Bush seemed awfully optimistic last night about success in Iraq. I wish I could share that optimism. I think Iraqis are not up to the challenge of keeping militant Islam from dragging their country back into the stone age.

I kept waiting for the President to use the term "Iraqi-ization" to describe the future strategy in the war. Everyone older than me probably remembers how well "Vietnam-ization" worked back in the 1970's. And that is where I see the one parallel between this war and that one--the people we are fighting for really couldn't care less what form of government they have. The fight for democracy is always honorable--but to waste that sacrifice on people who don't want it (and aren't willing to fight for it themselves) is a shame. There was no real call for a democratic government in Iraq before the war--and I don't see huge rallies in the street from people calling upon their elected government to get something done. Of course we don't see that very often here in the US either--like when state lawmakers disregard their budget deadline and then don't even meet to fix it--but i digress.

I doubt Iraqis would make the cultural changes necessary to make democracy work. Will they guarantee women the same rights as men? Will they allow free speech in all forms--even if it offends their Muslim beliefs? Will they really fight to keep extremists from taking over the government. The Middle East has a very poor record on these points. Ask a Saudi woman if she is an equal to her husband, try reading the "satanic verses" in tehran, and explain to me how Hamas is elected to run the Palestinian authority. Why are Iraqis so much more enlightened than the rest of the Muslim world when it come to running a free and open government?

I hope that my gut feeling on this is wrong on this. Where the loss of vietnam to the communists turned out to be relatively inconsequential--as socialism was about to enter its death throes anyway--the loss of Iraq to extremism will just fuel further expansion of terrorism throughout the world. So go ahead Iraqis--prove me wrong.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday 9-13