Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do I Smell Roses Again?

I won't be in on Friday, so that means I have to make my Bold Badger Predictions today!

Week 1--vs Northern Iowa.  I'm trying not to get too worried about this one.  But Montee Ball (how did we all of a sudden find out we've been saying his name wrong--Montay, noth Montee--Ball for his first three years in Madison?  Did he never hear the the PA Announcer: Monnnnteeeeeee Balllllllllllllllll!!!) is coming off a concussion in the campus fight, and the Badgers are starting a new quarterback (again) and there are some new guys on the offensive line.  But the superior size and talent level should prevail in the second half and the Badgers win over the Panthers 48-17.

Week 2--at Oregon State.  This is a rare road, non-conference game against a team from a power conference for Bucky.  But the Beavers aren't particularly good--especially against the run--and the Badgers pound out a 38-23 win.

Week 3--vs Utah State.  Yes, Utah State is a Football Bowl Subdivision team--but the Aggies have no chance in Camp Randall and get rolled 51-10.

Week 4--vs UTEP.  The Miners open their season this week against Oklahoma.  In their preview of the game, Fox Sports Network is saying the "Powerful Sooners take on a 'spirited' UTEP on the road".  "Spirited" being a "nice" word for "they suck".  Badgers roll in this one 48-14.

Week 5--at Nebraska.  Remember the total BEATDOWN the Badgers delivered to the Cornhuskers in Madison on national TV last year?  I'm sure the 'Shuckers are thinking revenge--but they still don't have a quarterback that can throw the ball--and their defense in the secondary still stinks.  Wisconsin wins again 38-28.

Week 6--vs Illinois.  The Illini aren't as bad as they've been the last few seasons--but they still aren't good enough to beat the Badgers.  37-27, Big Red.

Week 7--at Purdue.  The Boilers are bad again this year.  Wisconsin 45-20.

Week 8--vs Minnesota.  There is no team that Bret Bielema takes greater pleasure in not just beating--but in running up the score than the Golden Gophers.  He goes for 2 everytime this year and Bucky keeps Paul Bunyon's axe for a NINTH CONSECUTIVE SEASON (Man, does it feel GREAT to say that!!)--88-to ZERO.

Week 9--vs Michigan State.  For some reason, Michigan State just has the Badgers number.  And take away the roughing the punter penalty in the Big Ten Championship Game last year--and Bucky would have been 0-2 against Sparty last year.  Plus, this is usually the time Wisconsin gets into the Top Five in the rankings and immediately blows it.  So I'll go 41-40 Michigan State in this one.

Week 10--at Indiana.  Wisconsin has laid some real eggs in Bloomington over the years--and they will be coming off a disappointing home loss the week before--but I think the Badgers sleepwalk through a 27-16 win in this one.

Week 11--vs Ohio State.  New Buckeyes' Head Coach Urben Meyer likes to think that he is a real genius--and that he'll be able to bring in all of his lunkhead SEC-type guys and dominate the Big Ten.  But I foresee his fourth quarter fake-field goal, triple reverse throwback to the kicker play getting picked off and returned for six and the Badgers pulling out a 48-41 victory at the Camp.

Week 12--at Penn State.  Honestly, I will feel no sympathy for the Nittany Lions as they get pounded by everybody but Minnesota this year.  In fact, I will enjoy Bret Bielema trying to boost Montee Ball's Heisman candidacy by getting him 300-yards rushing in a 56-9 drubbing in Not-So-Happy Valley.

With a 7-1 conference record, the Badgers will advance out of the Lame Name Division to the Big Ten Championship Game for a second year in a row to face the Other Lame Name Division winners--Michigan.  The Badgers struggle against the spread offense, they struggle against running quarterbacks, and they usually struggle against Michigan.  I've got a bad feeling about this, as Denard Robinson out-performs Montee Ball in a battle of Heisman candidates and leads Michigan to a wild 68-60 win over the Badgers in triple overtime.

Missing out on a third consecutive Rose Bowl, the Badgers will still land in the BCS--getting a bid to play LSU in the Orange Bowl.  In an ugly, defensive battle, Bucky prevails on five field goals--15-12.

So, you can book it--a 12-2 record and a first-ever Orange Bowl win for the Badgers.  Still better than the Don Morton Era.  ON WISCONSIN!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

But It's Not Certified!!

There is a scene in the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer where the young chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin (played brilliantly by Max Pomeranc) gets upset that his chess teacher (played brilliantly by Ben Kingsley) won't certify him as a GrandMaster--and begins to play poorly and to lose tournament matches intentionally.  After a contentious meeting, the teacher reaches into his attache and hands Josh a GrandMaster certificate--and then he pulls out another, and another, and another, and another--before spilling out a whole bag full of hundreds of GrandMaster certificates onto the table and the floor--before walking out of the room.  Even though it isn't said--the message to Josh is delivered loud and clear: "You don't need a certificate to prove your are a great chess player."

I thought about that scene last night while watching the Oshkosh Common Council spend an hour and 15-minutes debating whether or not to pay for LEED Certification for the new City Garage.  For those of you not familiar, LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  It was developed by the self-appointed US Green Building Council and consists of dozens of arbitrary standards for what constitutes a "green" building.  Even though city planners have already designed the Garage to meet the more expensive standards of LEED "silver" certification, the city's Sustainability Board (and the far left members of the Council) believe that tens of thousands of more dollars need to be spent to get the building "certified".  (LEED certification is not free--a shocker I know.)

After all the debate, the Council ultimately decided to save the taxpayers money by just building the Garage to the LEED standards--but not getting the certification.  And you know what?  The electrical system won't run any less effeciently, and neither will the HVAC system, or the water system or the stormwater collection system.  Plus, taxpayers won't be on the hook for millions of dollars to replace systems that are functioning perfectly--but don't meet the arbitrary LEED standards after the USGBC changes them in the future.  All that decision will mean is that the Sustainability Board members, when they go to their Sustainability conferences won't be able to brag to their Sustainability counterparts from other cities about how their garage is "LEED Silver Certified".

And that really is a big deal to the "Green Team" members.  It's not good enough just to practice eco-friendliness and energy-efficiency--you have to make sure that everyone knows that you are eco-friendly and energy-efficient.

Why do you think the people that bring their own bags to the grocery store always use the bright green ones with the big recycling logo on the side?  If the goal is to 'reduce, reuse, recycle", why not just use the Nike gym bags you already have in the basement--instead of buying specific sacks for carrying groceries to the car?

And why do you think they love wind farms so much?  It's pretty hard to miss a couple dozen 100-foot tall turbines along the highway making "green energy".  While anaerobic digesters have to be hidden in industrial-looking buildings and geo-thermal systems all lie underground.

It's why milions of gallons of non-toxic, soy-based ink and millions of tons of 100% recycled-content paper are used to print labels on packages of 100% recycled-content paper that use non-toxic, soy-based ink.

And it is most definitely why hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles have badges on all four sides letting other drivers know that this is a hybrid or flex-fuel vehicle.  I will admit that for hybrids, the badges do serve a safety purpose--as they warn firemen responding to the scene of a crash that they risk electrocution if they try to use the "Jaws of Life" to cut into the car.  But as for flex-fuel--doesnt't that only need to be on the gas cap or the tank door, just to remind the driver what they can put in it?  My Jeep doesn't have "Unleaded Fuel System" badges all over it.

I guess that if the Sustainability Board needs to have its self-esteem boosted again, we could have City Manager Mark Rohloff download the LEED Silver Certificate from the internet and print off copies (using non-toxic, soy-based ink and 100% recycled-content paper, of course) to hand out to each member at their next meeting.  Although, I would rather see him print off about 500-copies and dump the box-full of papers on the board table.  Then as he walks out of the room, Rohloff could look over his shoulder and say "There, now you're certified."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

At Least They Can Admit They Were Wrong

I have to give credit to the Department of Transportation, they have made their first admission that building a roundabout at a busy intersection was a mistake.  Unfortunately, the drivers will have to continue to live with that mistake for many more years to come.

In case you missed it last week, the DOT was forced to change the traffic patterns at the roundabout at the intersection of Broadway in De Pere and the Claude Allouez Bridge.  Apparently, the "old way" of driving through the roundabout was leading to so many accidents that one of the three lanes had to be shut down to at least limit the opportunities for people to collide with each other.

Having lived in Green Bay for years--and because there are a couple of really good restaurants in that area--I've had to drive through that intersection many, many times.  When it was controlled by a stop light, things seemed to be okay.  At shift change time at the paper mill it got a little backed up--but at least people weren't getting confused and slamming into each other.  You waited for the light to change--you drove through the intersection--and went on your way.

However, that wasn't good enough for the "progressive" traffic engineers at the DOT.  They had to build a 2 and half lane roundabout at the bridge--and reconstruct the approaches--so that one of the roads requires you to navigate an S-curve before entering the intersection just so two of the entry points aren't so close together.

Now, those same engineers are having to admit that the traffic at the roundabout is heavier than they expected it would be--and that the design can't move that many cars through it safely.  (The ironic thing is that to make the roundabout "safer" they have to close one of the lanes, reducing the capacity.  Hmmmm....).  The other--perhaps more shocking--admission is that people just couldn't figure out what to do once they got into the roundabout--even after three years of driving through it.  I could have told them that just having to drive through the Witzel Avenue roundabouts multiple times a day--nobody ever seems to learn.

Unfortunately for drivers, the DOT can't go back to the good old-fashioned traffic light controls at the De Pere intersection.  At least without spending several million dollars AGAIN to undo what was done with millions of dollars of taxpayer money.  So the only solution is to put police officers on almost full-time patrol of the roundabout to deal with the crashes and to stop people who perform illegal movements in it--in the hope that at some time in the future, it will make sense to have it there.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Ultimate American Hero

I am deeply saddened by the death this weekend of Neil Armstrong.  There were three things that keep running through my mind as I watched all of the old NASA and moon landing footage Saturday and Sunday.

First, I'm disappointed that I will never get to meet him.  I've met and interviewed Frank Borman and Gene Cernan--but for space nuts like me, Neil Armstrong is the "Holy Grail" of Apollo astronauts--as much for his lack of public appearances over the years (more on that later) as for the fact that he is "The First"--and therefore ranks Number One in the echelon of heroes.

Secondly, Armstrong passes away without the accolades he deserves.  There were reasons Deke Slayton choose Neil to command Apollo 11 and why he was tabbed to be first to step off the LEM:  He wasn't active military at the time--and he wasn't going to be a media hog afterwards.  He did the tickertape parades and the White House visits and the TV shows that were required after returning to Earth--and then he went home.  There was a reporter on one of the TV networks Saturday afternoon saying that he went to talk to Armstrong on the 30th anniversary date of the moon landing and found him out sealcoating his driveway.  Meanwhile, Buzz Aldrin is in every History Channel and Nat Geo show about "NASA's Unreported UFO Encounters" and "Moon Landing Hoax".

Still, I don't understand why every school district in America doesn't have a Neil Armstrong Elementary School.  I realize Webster Stanley, Carl Traeger and Perry Tipler did some nice things for Oshkosh--but c'mon, how many of them WALKED ON THE MOON???  And what could inspire a child to learn more than walking past a picture of Neil and Buzz saluting the flag on the lunar surface every day?

And finally, Neil Armstrong's death come as America has not gone any farther in manned space exploration than he did 43-years ago.  In fact, we have greatly regressed from that point--not even having a vehicle to take men into ow-Earth orbit.  NASA is now completely dependent on Russia to get anybody to the International Space Station.  One of the few public comments from Armstrong in recent years was his letter of disapproval with President Obama eliminating funding for the Aries program--that was going to take man back to the Moon as preparation for manned exploration of Mars.

Yes, we sent probes out of the solar system, telescopes in space and rovers on Mars since July 20th, 1969--but there is something about manned exploration that captures humanity's natural curiosity and desire to know more about our surroundings than sending machines to do the work for us.  Do you remember where you were on September 14th, 1959?  That's the date that the Russian probe Luna 2 hit the Moon's surface.  Not so special was it?

I know liberals hate the idea of American Exceptionalism--but there is a reason that only Americans have ever set foot on the moon.  Because we are the only country prosperous enough, strong enough, bold enough and dedicated enough to have done it.  And Armstrong's death sheds new light on how we have moved away from that greatness.  We are now a society that considers putting as many people in Government programs as possible as a mark of great achievement.  I'd hate to think that this generation's most historic moment will be free birth control for everyone (That's one small pill for a woman.....)

So farewell to a brave and humble man--Neil Armstrong.  The Ultimate American Hero.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Torpedoes!! Coming in from the Right!!

There's nothing like inane comments from members of the Religious Right to derail a Republican campaign.  For a few fleeting days after the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney's campaign appeared to be gaining momentum with voters--as it became clear the focus of the campaign was going to be on real economic recovery and long-term debt reduction.  But then, along comes Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri with his anti-abortion, "legitimate rape" statements--and his refusal to not only admit that he is an idiot, but also his refusal to get out of the race so that someone with proper priorities can get on the ballot--to turn the focus to something no one cares about.

Poll after poll after poll shows that voters are concerned about the economy, job security and creation, the federal deficit, and health care.  President Obama and every other Democrat have nothing to run on when it comes to any of those issues (unless you like double dip recessions, permanent un- and under-employment, a deficit greater than our gross domestic product and major steps toward nationalization of the health care system).  But comments like those of Congressman Akin give Democrats plenty of talking points in painting fiscal conservatives as being tied to the religious extremists who tend to alienate average voters.

Let me put it this way, banning abortion is not going to fix Medicare and Social Security.  Prohibiting gay marriage will not create a single job.  Allowing prayer in public schools will not reduce the deficit.  And banning Sharia law is not going to lower the cost of medical care.  And if you think it is sooooooo important that those issues be injected into the "national discussion" you will find out in November that not only are you not going to get the "social change" you want--but you aren't going to get the economic and fiscal policy change either.  And with that, we ALL lose.

So please, I am begging of those who believe government should be guided by the Bible to please sit down and keep your opinions to yourself, so that those of us who believe in the Constitution can have a chance to win.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Civil Disobedience--Conservative Style

As we wait to find out if one of President Obama's supporters will be charged after spitting in the face of a Mitt Romney supporter last week, I hear conservatives say things like "Well, you would never see one of 'our people' doing something like that!"  While that is certainly not true--I'm sure a search of the internet would find a conservative spitting on a liberal somewhere at some time. (Didn't Nancy Pelosi claim that happened as Democrats marched en masse into the Capitol to vote on the [Not So] Affordable Care Act a few years ago?)  It probably happened outside an abortion clinic as well.

Civil disobedience is difficult for most conservatives.  We were raised to believe that police officers and soldiers were to be respected--not attacked.  And that even if you don't agree with a law--you still obey it, because a nation of laws that ignores its laws is just anarchy.  Plus, many of us have jobs that don't allow us to use fake sick notes to miss work in order to attend mass rallies and protests.  In fact, in our circles that would lead to immediate termination--no grievance hearing, no appeal, no lawsuits, no mediation hearings, no collecting a severance package, no collecting unemployment for two years.  And our employers tend to look upon lengthy arrest records and missing work for jail sentences as anything but a source of pride.

So those of us on the right have to be sneaky.  For instance, I have stocked up on incandescent light bulbs.  I hope to continue to use them for as long as possible--even after they are legislated out of existence.  The promise of CFLs lasting longer has proven wrong (we replace ours at least once a year--just like the regular bulbs)--and I enjoy sitting in a well-lighted room without getting a headache.  I also try to fill up my low-miles-per-gallon SUV at stations that sell ethanol-free gas.  I'd rather eat my corn than drive it, thank you.  In addition, I get 3-5% better mileage with the 100% gas.  And if I ever go to New York City again, I'll be sure to order two of the largest sodas possible at McDonalds just to circumvent Mayor Bloomberg's ban on drinks that are "too big for our own good".

But the biggest way that I seek to undermine the liberal agenda being foisted upon us recently is in the area of personal finance and responsibility.  I contribute the maximum amount allowed by the law to my Health Savings Account.  That way, President Obama won't be able to come to Oshkosh and point to me and say "Jonathan Krause here, he had to choose between paying his mortgage or getting reconstructive surgery after blowing out his knee playing basketball because the evil health insurance company didn't want to pay for the procedure--and that ain't fair."

I also contribute 15% of my gross income to my Roth IRA and 401(k).  That way, AARP can't scare me with its "Paul Ryan seeks to end Social Security and Medicare--putting American seniors at risk" TV ads.  (I'm SHOCKED that the "pushing Granny's wheelchair over a cliff" ad hasn't been playing every other break since Ryan was selected as VP.  They must be waiting for closer to election day.) 

Are these acts of civil disobedience going to get me on the national news?  Probably not.  But it's the least I can do to save America.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Call Their Bluff

Apparently, the Sawdust Days Executive Board believes that it can dictate to the Oshkosh Common Council how it does business.  In a letter to Council members and City Manager Mark Rohloff dated August 17th and obtained by WOSH News, The board sets a September 18th deadline to receive a FIVE YEAR exemption from the city's special events fee it claims it was promised by the Council in 2010 and 2011--or it will disband the festival effective immediately.

In doing a database search of our stories in 2010 and 2011, I cannot find any reference to the Oshkosh Common Council approving a five-year waiver of the special events fee for Sawdust Days.  Did one Councillor during debate say that the city should grant a waiver?  Perhaps he did--but as anyone who has ever dealt with government or lawyers knows: if it ain't in writing, it doesn't exist.

And issuing the ultimatum barely two months after being warned that this is the last year the fee would be waived shows the Sawdust Days board did not take a serious look at ways to generate revenue to pay for that expense going forward.  We hear from the Sawdust Days apologists all the time about how they have the "best Cajun music festival in the Midwest" and that "people come from all across the area to hear these bands".  Well if someone is willing to travel that far to listen, they probably will be more than willing to pay a few bucks to get in the tent.  I've attended dozens of music festivals throughout the Midwest and they all have one thing in common--they charge admission.  And if it's such a cherished event, it should have no problem continuing at the Leach Amphitheater--where the infrastructure is already in place for live performances.  The same goes for Sabor y Mexico as well.  But it's obvious, that option was not considered.

The same goes for charging the vendors more to peddle their junk at Sawdust Days as well.  Councillor Deb Allison-Aasby pointed out in the last debate over the fee waiver that the fee charged to set up on the grounds is much lower than similar events around the state.  Did the Sawdust Days board have a serious discussion about bringing that fee up to modern levels?  I doubt they did.

So here's how I think the Council should handle this ultimatum from the Sawdust Days folks:  Don't even wait for September 18th to settle this.  At the next meeting--August 28th--pass a resolution directing City Manager Mark Rohloff and Parks Director Ray Maurer to begin planning for a ONE DAY 4th of July Fireworks display event in Menominee Park.

City Manager Rohloff can continue to budget the $12,500 the city has paid for its half of the fireworks display (which has been "credited" to Sawdust Days the past few years in lieu of paying the special events fee even though it does not contribute dollar one to the fireworks) and he can call Rick VanderLoop over at Festival to confirm that that wonderful community partner will continue to pick up the rest of the cost.

Parks director Maurer can start work next Wednesday contacting service groups to operate one food stand on the north end of the park on the 4th another stand on the south end of the park--with service to begin at 4:00 on the 4th.  He can also contact the Kettle Corn guy and the Roasted Almonds guy to set up their stands as well.

No midway rides, no Cajun Music, no Buckskinners Camp, no beer tents, no Mexicana stage, no guy selling counterfeit Apple products, no t-shirt stands, no cowboy hat vendors.  Just a few things to eat and drink and the same fireworks display that has been drawing thousands for decades--and just like they have in Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Fond du Lac and hundreds of other cities around Wisconsin.  And, since Sawdust Days was contributing nothing toward the public services provided to its event, shortening the demand for those services from five days (plus set up and clean up) to just one day--the City comes out net ahead on the expenses. 

So please Oshkosh Common Council call the Sawdust Days Board bluff and tell them that the taxpayers will not grant them a one-year--much less a five year waiver--from being accountable for its expenses.  And if they decide to take their football and go home--then we will survive.  We are "Event City" after all--and there are plenty of other things to do around here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chains, My Government's Got Me Locked Up In Chains

IF Vice President Joe Biden didn't mean to imply that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan wanted to return black people to slavery when he told a predominantly African-American audience in Virginia this week that "They want to put ya'll back in chains"--then he must have meant a time when all of us had our freedoms infringed upon.

Maybe Joe meant an era when the Federal Government had to get a warrant to execute a wire tap on citizens' phone conversations.  Or did he mean a time when people getting on an airplane didn't have to have their privates touched or exposed on a video screen?

Was the Vice President referring the years when adults could choose not to purchase health insurance from their employers?  Or companies that couldn't afford that benefit didn't have to buy it?  Did he mean that period when the Catholic Church wasn't required to pay for contraceptives and abortions?  Or was he talking about that time when insurance companies didn't have to consider a 26-year old, non-disabled person as a dependent?

You know, Uncle Joe must have meant those dark days when electric utilities could use the cheapest, most efficient ways to produce energy.  Or the era when you could buy whatever kind of bulbs were necessary to properly light a space.  Maybe he was referring to the times when you could purchase gasoline without small-engine-destroying ethanol in it.

Perhaps Mr. Biden was thinking of the days when people in New York could purchase any size of soda.  Or San Fancisco residents could buy Happy Meals with toys in them for their kids.  And Chicagoans could indulge in some Foie Gras while dining at Charlie Trotter's restaurant.

Was the Vice President going "old school" and referring to those times when an 18-year old (who can vote, join the Military and buy a house) could enjoy an ice cold beer after work?  Or was he referring to the decades where people could drive without their seatbelts on?

So, IF Vice President Joe Biden wasn't making racial assertions about slavery, I have to wonder what he was talking about--since it seems the "chains" we wear today are a lot heavier than those of the past.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sometimes the Truth Sneaks Out

Election days tend to be a bit boring in the newsroom.  Not a lot is scheduled during the day, the Oshkosh City Council had to move their meeting to today and everyone just sits in anticipation for that night's results.  That's why I had time to dial into a conference call hosted by a Wisconsin seniors group discussing the 77th anniversary of Social Security and how Paul Ryan is going to ruin it.

One of the presenters on the call was Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore--whom state Democrats have apparently annointed as their Paul Ryan attack dog (and who--in the absence of anything controversial coming from the Oshkosh School Board recently--has become my new Muse).  Congresswoman Moore wanted to talk about the bill that she will be introducing when the House reconvenes this fall that she says will not only extend the solvency of Social Security (wait, I thought the President said he already did that)--but even expand the benefits the program provides!

Congresswoman Moore says the keys to her "Anti-Paul Ryan Plan" are doing away with the cap on income subject to Social Security withholdings (another tax on the rich) and a "tiiiiiinyyyyyy little increase on the payroll taxes for the Middle Class".  As you can imagine, this piqued my interest--as Democrats are spending every waking minute now claiming the Ryan Budget Plan will "balance the budget on the backs of the Middle Class".  Yet the solution they come up with actually does raise middle class taxes.

Once the call opened up for questions from the press, I asked Congresswoman Moore how tiny is a "tiny little increase" in the withholding taxes?  She wouldn't give an exact number (RED FLAG!!!!)--but she said that a "tiny increase on the Middle Class would generate so much more revenue" and "it's better than not having a Social Security benefit at all!!"

And in that moment, Congresswoman Moore conceded the reality of the math that I talked about in yesterday's Two Cents.  We can have all the discussions we want from here until Election Day about the "rich paying their fair share" and "closing corporate tax loopholes".  It won't change the basic fact that there are not enough rich people or loopholes to close to pay for all the retirement benefits, the health care, the prescription drugs, the child care, the renewable energy subsidies, the food stamps and the income supplements that have been promised over the past 25-years, without the Middle Class bearing the lion's share of the cost.

And maybe those running for office this year owe it to those of us who will be footing that bill to be honest about what we are going to pay--instead of forcing us to "read between the lines" when the truth sometimes sneaks out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Liberals Hate Paul Ryan So Much

I love mathematics.  Always have since I was a little kid.  There's a certain sense of security in math--knowing that what you learned as a 3 year old: that 5+4=9 is as true today as it was back then--and that it will be true for as long as man exists.

Math is the second most important element in the development of mankind--behind only language.  Math allowed us to establish trade and commerce and to explore our world.  Math allowed us to construct bigger buildings, to develop drinking water and sanitation systems, to build roads, invent computers and establish representative democracy.  Math is how we know that the average temperature of the planet has been rising for the last 12,000 years.  Math allowed us to put men on the moon and bring them back to Earth,  Math allows us to plot the course of any object in the universe.  And math (thanks to Einstein) allowed us discover how everything was created--and how all objects relate to one another (except at the center of a black hole).

Math is wonderfully consistent and non-discriminatory.  For the rich and the poor, for the black and the white, 5+4 always equals 9.

But over the next few months, math is going to come under attack.  There will be some that claim 5+4 doesn't equal 9.  That it's "unfair" that 5+4 always equals 9.  That it is "too important" for 5+4 not to equal 10, or 100 or 1,000,000 or 1,000,000,000,000.  And those same people will try to scare others by claiming that 5+4 will actually equal 0.  We will be told that 5+4 can equal whatever we want to be--so long as we "feel good" about the sum we choose.

And those that try to defend math will be vilified.  They will be painted as "cold" and "heartless".  They will be told that they live in a "fantasy world" where numbers hold actual meaning.  And that holding on to the principals of mathematics will just "take us back to the failures of the past".

Yes, it will be a rough time for those of us who love math.  But we won't let the attacks get us down.  Because once all of the yelling and the arguing and the debating are over, the numbers will still be there.  All of the words won't change the math, won't change the basis for everything that we have built and learned over the last 4,000 years.  Because in the end, 5+4 will still equal 9--no matter how much some wish it didn't.

That's my 145,284,658 divided by 72,642,329 cents.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Not That Big a Deal

If you tuned in today to hear me celebrating the selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate you are going to be disappointed.  To me, Ryan's selection is no big deal--and may, in fact, hurt the effort to bring sanity back to the Federal budgeting process.

Presidential nominees don't select their Vice Presidential nominees to be policy consultants.  They are chosen to shore up holes in the top-of-the-ticket resume.  John Kennedy selected Lyndon Johnson because he needed to win Texas.  Jimmy Carter tabbed Walter Mondale because he was even more dour and boring than him.  Ronald Reagan picked George Bush because he needed to win Texas and other southern states.  George Bush tabbed Dan Quayle because he was the only person more milquetoast in Washington.  Bill Clinton chose Al Gore to satisfy the far-left wing of the Democratic Party. George W Bush selected Dick Cheney to satisfy the far-right wing of the Republican Party.  Barack Obama picked Joe Biden because he was a long-time Democratic Party insider who had been in Washington forever.

Mitt Romney didn't select Paul Ryan because he actually wants to balance the budget, create sustainable entitlement programs and end price-inflating subsidy programs.  He picked Paul Ryan in the hopes that it would make Republicans forget about Romneycare, increased entitlement spending in Massachussetts and his stance on abortion.  (He also wants to appeal to those of us who can do simple math as well--but more about that tomorrow).

And when was the last time you said "Wow, the Vice President is really leading the way on getting this law passed--or why isn't the Vice President doing more to fix this problem?"  You've never said that--because being Number Two in Washington may as well be dead last.  It's a dead end position that no longer serves as a springboard to the Oval Office.

And that is why Democrats should be jumping for joy in Paul Ryan's selection as VP.  That means he will no longer chair the House Budget Committee--where he actually would have been able to influence spending and taxing decisions.  He will no longer be the darling of the Sunday morning talk shows--laying out the numbers that show the Obama Adminstration policies violate the laws of basic mathematics and economics so badly that it's often embarrassing.  However, a Mitt Romney loss in November makes Ryan the automatic front-runner for 2016 as the only nationally-known candidate with the guts to fix the even bigger mess that will be left after another four years like the past four years.  Maybe that is what Dems are so afraid of.

Anyway, no celebrating here today, as the leader of the fiscal conservative revolution chooses a path that could put him in a corner for a long time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm Going Hungry

It's a good thing that I'm not a a public school student today--because I would probably starve to death.  I say that after watching the workshop session the Oshkosh School Board held this week on the changes to Federal regulations dealing with the school lunch program.

Let me start by saying that for the first 6 and a half years of my schooling, I attended a small Catholic school in rural Manitowoc County that served hot lunch only one day a week--on Wednesdays.  (And that day was the highlight of the week--as I got a break from peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese sandwhiches.  To this day, I refuse to eat PBJ or any cold sandwiches because I got my fill as a child).  So when my family moved and I attended a school that served hot lunch every day--I appreciated it more than kids who had grown up with it.

And I have always been a big eater--so seconds (and sometime even thirds, if it was something I really liked) were the norm, rather than the exception.  But I had to eat a lot because in high school there was always a practice after classes or a game or a bike ride or pickup basketball in the driveway with friends or a backyard football game.  And to make it to dinner with just one hamburger, or slice of pizza or chicken patty just wasn't going to cut it.

But under the requirements and regulations spelled out in Wednesday night's School Board workshop, my calorie and carbo-loading lunch routine is no longer allowed.  The dietary experts in Washington have decided that children who eat hot lunch must have a calorie limit placed upon them.  That means the 6'-3", 245lb Senior boy who plays offensive line on the football team is allowed the same amount of food as the 4'-9" 85lb Freshman girl sitting two tables over.

The control doesn't stop there.  Each child at all grade levels will be required to take minimum amounts of fruits and vegetables on their tray as well.  Do they actually have to eat them?  No--we don't have the Food Police given permission to force-feed a six year old broccoli--but I'm sure that's the next step.  And for elementary school kids, they will be greeted in the lunch room with a diagram showing them where each food item must go on their tray, so the lunch ladies know they are meeting the Federally-required mandates.

On the good side, kids won't have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like I had to.  Those are basically banned because they contain too much sodium.  The same goes for pickles--too much salt to put on a burger or serve as a side.

And the ultimate kick in the shorts for parents is that as schools feed their children less--they will have to pay more for it.  The new Federal guidelines required increased school lunch prices--ostensibly to make up for the increased Free and Reduced Lunch Program participation brought on by the Obama Economy.  Of course, that strategy is being undermined--according to Food Services Director Peggy West--by fewer kids from families that can pay cash for lunch opting out of the program and instead bringing their own meals or taking advantage of open campuses to go to Taco Johns.

I understand that some of the changes in the new requirements are meant to get kids eating healthier foods (something that is more than likely being undermined by cupboards and refrigerators full of junk food at home)--but to place one-size-fits all dietary requirements on kids of so many different sizes is just foolish and short-sighted.

But then again, "what's good for one is good for all" is the main tenet of the Collectivism beliefs of our current Federal Government.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

He's Not Going to Make It

Jack Nicklaus was in the Fox Valley yesterday as part of the US Venture Open fundraising golf tournament.  As he is pretty much anywhere he goes nowadays, Jack was asked if he thought Tiger Woods will still catch him for the all-time record for career majors victories.  Right now, Jack is four ahead--18 to 14 (although Jack always likes to claim 20 majors--including his two US Amateur titles--but that would give Tiger 17 majors--since he won the Am three times in a row before turning pro).

Two things I noticed in Jack's answer: 1--He appears to have grown tired of this question about six years ago.  And 2--I don't think he believes Tiger is going to do it anymore.

As recently as a couple of years ago, Jack's standard answer was that he fully expected Tiger to break the record.  He even thought Tiger would push it out to 20 or 25.  But now, I get the feeling that Jack is getting more confident that his record will stand--likely forever.

Jack remains diplomatic, pointing out that Tiger won 14 in in the space of 10 years--so four more over the rest of his career should be "no problem".  But the Tiger that won those 14 majors (usually in dominating or dramatic fashion) is not the Tiger playing the PGA Tour anymore.  His knees will likely give him trouble for the rest of his career.  He doesn't hit it 20-yards past everyone.  He no longer can go an entire four rounds of never missing a green in regulation.  His short game isn't as sharp as it once was--saving him from errant shots with miracle recoveries.  And probably most importantly, he no longer makes every must-make putt.

And the guys that Tiger plays against now aren't as scared of him as some of the older guys were in the past.  Most weeks, Tiger had 99% of the field beat just by showing up and teeing it up on the first hole--because they thought (and he knew that they thought) they had no chance to beat him.  But all these 20-somthings on Tour now grew up playing (and beating) Tiger in his video game.  And they don't see him hitting the ball way past them--so the intimidation factor is all but gone.

Like Jack, I once thought that Tiger winning at least 20 majors was a foregone conclusion.  But then came Y.E. Yang breaking the air of invincibility by coming from behind to win at the 2009 PGA Championship.  And then came that Thanksgiving night with the fight and the SUV crash.  And then came the umpteenth swing change that always seems to be a "work in progress".  And now, like Jack, I don't think its going to happen.

To put this in perspective, Tiger will have to win more majors after the age of 38 as Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els have won in their entire Hall of Fame careers to break Jack's record.  And the number of guys who have won multiple majors after the age of 40 can be counted on one hand.  So as the number of majors in Tiger's career begin to dwindle, it looks more and more like The Golden Bear will remain the greatest of all time.

And you can tell he will be very happy with that.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


President Ronald Reagan famously touted his "11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Speak Badly of a Fellow Republican".  That is getting a lot of people worried about the GOP Senate race here in Wisconsin, as the front-runners try to tear each other to shreds in an effort to portray themselves as the "Most Conservative" guy in the race.  But I'm not that concerned about it.  Plus, Republicans are so good at attack politics!

Let's be honest here, nobody in the Senate race has said anything that isn't true.  Tommy supported ObamaCare, Hovde supported TARP and the stimulus and Mark Neumann is not a career politician only because he keeps losing elections.  Besides, how are Democrats going to use that stuff against the eventual nominee anyway?

(Angry Voiced Announcer Woman) "Tommy Thompson supported the flawed ObamaCare plan that will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars"  (Gentle Voiced Announcer Woman) "Tammy Baldwin has been a long-time supporter of a Single Payer Health Care System so that the 50-percent of people who actually pay Federal taxes will pick up the cost of everyone's health care every year!"


Angry Voiced Announcer Guy) "Eric Hovde is flip-flopping on stimulus funding--supporting the President's first stimulus--but now calling a second stimulus a 'waste of taxpayer money'"  (Gentle Voiced Announcer Guy) "Tammy Baldwin supported the first stimulus plan and will work with President Obama to continue spending as much money we don't have as possible to create no additional jobs!"

I prefer to see this campaign as nothing more than the proper vetting of a candidate.  It's something that Decmocrats aren't nearly as good at.  You don't think Hillary Clinton doesn't regret bringing up President Obama's total lack of understanding of how the private sector works, his ties to big money socialists and his belief that the only way to get out of debt is to keep spending more while they were engaged in the 2008 primary campaign?  Instead, she treated him with kid gloves, thinking she could just play up the "I lived in the White House for eight years so I know what's going on and he doesn't" angle.

So just sit back and enjoy the final week of Republican on Republican violence--for as it says in Proverbs: "Steel sharpens steel".

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When America Fails

Whenever there is an incident like the one that took place Sunday in Oak Creek that targets a specific group of immigrants, I always feel like America let those people down.  In the case of the Sikhs, they came to the US to escape political and religious persecution--or the Caste System in India where the lower classes really have no chance of moving up in society.  But in one senseless act, the ability to live free is taken away.

The son of the Sikh temple President Satwant Singh Kaleka spoke with a Milwaukee television station yesterday.  He told the story of how his father came to America in 1982 after a crackdown on Sikhs in his home region of India.  His dad had 30-dollars in his pocket, limited English skills and few other Sikhs to provide him any help.  Kaleka worked 18-hours a day at two gas stations--saving his money until he was able to buy a station of his own.  That was followed by the purchase of another and another until he operated a chain of convenience stores in the Milwaukee area.

Here was a man who came to the US--legally I might add--with almost nothing and became a millionaire--a One Percenter, if you will--through nothing but hard work and financial discipline.  Those on the left like to say the "American Dream" is dead, or is out of reach for people nowadays--but maybe we've just become too complacent with the opportunities presented to us--and it takes someone coming from a situtation that isn't so positive to appreciate what America's free market system can provide.

And what did Mr Kaleka do with the millions he made from his gas stations?  He didn't buy a McMansion in a gated community.  He didn't buy three luxury SUVs and a cigarette boat and a summer house in Door County.  He used his money to build a temple in Oak Creek so that his fellow Sikhs had a proper place to practice their First Amendment right to freedom of religion.  And it would be in that temple that he would die--fighting with a neo-Nazi, white supremecist who was jealous of the success that Kaleka and his fellow immigrants enjoyed.

And while I'm on the topic, can those who are trying to "explain" the Oak Creek shooting please stop saying the gunman "must have thought the Sikhs are Muslims".  If the victims had been Muslims would that have made it "easier to understand"?  Please.  Like most white supremecists, this gunman was a failure--and was looking for someone else to blame for his lot in life.  It's as simple as that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let's Keep Things In Perspective

Can someone under the age of 40 promise me that once my generation--the last to remember sports coverage in the Pre-NBC, Pre-NFL Network, Pre-35-Channels-Dedicated-To-The-Olympics era--dies off that you won't forget about everything that happened more than 24-hours ago?  I ask this following the designation of Michael Phelps as THE GREATEST OLYMPIAN IN HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!

There is no doubt that Phelps is the greatest winner in the history of the The Games.  The numbers clearly bear that out--22 medals overall, 18 of those gold.  But numbers don't automatically make you "The Greatest"--that's why baseball historians would never pick Barrry Bonds or Pete Rose as the greatest players of all time--even though they have the most home runs and hits in the game's history.  And not many football fans would start the discussion of all-time greatest with Emmitt Smith or Brett Favre--despite their all-time yardage records.  Besides, today's Olympics are nothing like those of other contenders for "GOAT" (Greatest of All Time) like Eric Heiden, Al Oerter, Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis.

First, let's start with the medal count.  Swimming lends itself to a ton of medals every Olympics.  Four different "strokes", multiple distances and relays just provide more chances to win.  How many medals do you think Carl Lewis could have won if they had the 100-meter backward dash--or the shuffle-step 4x200 relay?  And Lewis won his golds in both sprint events and long jump--two disciplines that swimmers can't match.  Eric Heiden won gold medals in distances ranging from 500 to 10-thousand meters.  That would be akin to Usain Bolt winning the 100-meters and the marathon on the track.

Secondly, Phelps has benefited from greatly relaxed eligibility requirements for Olympians.  Al Oerter won the gold in discus in four consecutive Olympics--and nearly qualified for the US team in 1980--at the age of 43!  But Oerter had to work a "real job" for the four years between Olympiads.  He didn't get to do Subway commercials, or model watches or get boucoup bucks for wearing a certain pair of shorts or shoes.  Eric Heiden probably would have dominated ice skating for several Olympics following Lake Placid in 1980--but he too had to go to work--as a doctor in Madison (which he finds far more fulfilling than skating around in circles, by the way).

Lastly, the "pressure" on Michael Phelps to win all of those medals is as much media hype as it was internal.  NBC based its entire Beijing games coverage around the "Drive for Eight".  But is that pressure equal to what Jesse Owens competed under at the Berlin Games?  Did Michael Phelps swim with the hopes of an entire race of people on his back?  Jesse took all of the Aryan supremacy junk that Hitler was promoting and threw it right back in his face.  Will we look back 70-years from today and say "Michael Phelps really showed the world that dorky-looking tall guys were really the equal of their shorter, more handsome counterparts?"

So let's let Michael Phelps accomplishments over the last 12-years sit on the shelf for a few years--or an entire generation--before we start bestowing the "Greatest of All Time" label to what he has accomplished.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Gotta Fight...For Your Right...To Eat Chicken!!!!

Like their forefathers before them, millions of Americans took up arms on Wednesday to protect their freedoms.  Okay, they actually bought breaded chicken sandwiches--and nobody was shooting at them--but still, a pretty strong statement was made.

Of course, I'm talking about Chick-Fil-A Support Day, which saw long lines at the fast food restaurant locations across the country.  While I'm sure some of those who lined up yesterday wanted their feelings on gay marriage known, I'm hoping the majority were there to say "I believe the First Amendment guarantees the most important rights that I have."

Personally, I don't understand the controversy over Chick-Fil-A's President denouncing gay marriage.  The restaurants aren't open on Sundays--so where exactly did you expect him to fall on the topic?  Someone might want to ask the family that runs Hobby Lobby the same question.  I'm guessing we may be looking at glitter boycott after that article is published.

I've been to Chick-Fil-A once in my life, and I don't remember a sign on the door saying "No Gays Allowed".  I wasn't asked if I was heterosexual before placing my order.  And no one is accusing the company of refusing to hire gay people.  The guy who runs the place exercised his First Amendment right to explain his stance on the issue to a religious newspaper published under First Amendment protections.  And since his explanation was Biblical in nature--and didn't take place as a government official on government-owned property--it was also protected under the First Amendment right to freedom of religious practice.

Until the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, I would have told those upset with Chick-Fil-A to exercise their freedom to no longer buy their food there--but I guess now the government can require you to eat at Chick-Fil-A--so long as they impose a (ahem) "tax" on those who refuse to do it--you will have to find another protest route.  I guess the choice GLAAD is promoting is to have same-sex couples go to Chick-Fil-A on Friday and make out in front of all the customers.  That should make all of the evangelicals change their minds!

By the way, do you find it odd that no other restaurant chain is jumping on this controversy to increase its market share?  KFC is saying NOTHING about this (despite social media efforts to make it the "alternative" chicken restaurant)--and McDonalds is not running ads during the Olympics featuring good-looking gay couples ordering Crispy Chicken Sandwiches.  Believe me, if any of those corporations thought there was a chance to make an extra ten cents--they would be pandering to anyone who even thinks they might "play for the other team".

In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the only chicken I can tolerate--Blazin Hot Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maybe They Do Hate Moms

Remember a few months ago we had the "Liberal War On Moms" mini-flap after an Obama Campaign staffer dissed Ann Romney for being a stay-at-home mom who "wouldn't understand the struggles of a working mother".  Conservative ripped the comment and tried to say that feminists hate mothers and want the government to run families, blah, blah, blah.  And most of us just laughed it off saying "Liberals don't really hate mothers.  In fact, some of them have two!"

But a new article from columnist Mary Beth Williams in the left-leaning webmag has me reconsidering that belief:

In the article, Williams assails NBC coverage and commentators for mentioning over and over again that some of the female athletes competing in London are mothers.  She also is fed up with all of the "mom in the crowd" reaction shots and the Proctor and Gamble ads featuring athletes thanking their moms for all the support leading up to the Games.  This leads me to wonder, what did moms ever do to Mary Beth Williams?

Her bio doesn't mention if Williams herself is a mother--but I'm guessing she isn't.  Otherwise, she would probably appreciate the notoriety given to mothers in the television coverage.

Let's start with the biological fact of what pregnancy does to the female body.  Most of the Olympic sports require a level of fitness and training that none of us watching could ever hope to reach.  Now give up nine-months of that training time to allow another creature to grow inside of you.  And many of these mother/athletes will describe how their bodies changed after their pregnancies--and how that affected their abilities to perform in their respective sports.

As far as the mothers of the athletes are concerned, I'm guessing Ms. Williams didn't spend hours a day, every day in a gymnastics center, or an acquatic center or in the bleachers at basketball games.  And she probably didn't give up new clothes, new furniture and new shoes in order to pay for coaches, sports equipment, tournament entry fees and travel expenses so a top level young athlete could compete all around the country.  Because if she did, Williams would understand the investment that those moms--and dads--have put into their child's Olympic Dream.

And Ms. Williams must not be familiar with the emotional pull of motherhood that such athletes have to deal with.  The next male athlete to leave his sport at the top of his game to "spend more time being a Dad" will be the first male athlete to do so.  (Besides, guys like Shawn Kemp and Antonio Cromartie have to keep playing to pay the support for the 12 kids they have by eight different women all around the country.)  Yet, you have Hall of Fame female athletes like Annika Sorenstam, Mia Hamm and Lorena Ochoa who walked away from the game while they were on top because they felt being a mother was more fulfilling than winning championships.

So ignore the naysayers Olympic Moms, the rest of us do appreciate the sacrifices you are making to bring home the gold.