Friday, August 30, 2013

Bold Predictions On a New Era

It's time again for Bold Predictions on the upcoming Wisconsin Badger Football season!  For the first time since Barry Alvarez first stepped onto the Madison campus, there is real uncertainty about what kind of team the Badgers will field.  Will Gary Andersen give us the Ground and Pound team that we have all come to know and love--and that has produced six Big Ten Championships?  Or will Wisconsin become another of those teams running the Spread-Read-Option that is ruining football?  And how will the switch to the 3-4 Defense work?

Week 1, vs. UMass--I had a dream a couple of weeks ago that the Badgers actually lost this game 10-5 and the folks at Camp Randall were not too happy.  Hopefully my powers of premonition aren't that great and the Badgers get by the Minutemen Saturday 38-13.

Week 2 vs Tennessee Tech--I can't wait for the NCAA's ban on these matchups against Football Championship Subdivision games goes into effect.  Wisconsin rolls 44-13 over the Golden Eagles (just like whipping up on Marquette in hoops!).

Week 3 at Arizona State--I like these late night non-conference games.  Nothing like an extra ten hours of "prep time" to really get you in the mood for a game.  Plus, Bucky always seems to be involved in exciting nailbiters out west--so I'll go with a UW win over the Sun Devils 23-21 on a last second field goal.

Week 4 vs Purdue--Alright, now the real games start.  The Boilermakers always stink on the road, so I'll go Badgers 36-24.

Week 5 at Ohio State--I'm hoping by this point in the season that Coach Andersen realizes that he needs to be giving the ball to Melvin Gordon about 30-times a game and the Badgers grind out a tough road win over the Buckeyes--but that probably isn't going to happen.  Urban Meyer has fun running it up on the three-time defending conference champs 48-17.

Week 6 vs Northwestern--Games with the Wildcats are always crazy shootouts, so I'll take the Badgers to bounce back from their first loss of the season with a 71-64 double overtime win--forcing the band to perform a rare 7th Quarter Show.

Week 7 at Illinois--The Illini will be the most improved team in the conference this year--and Wisconsin will be coming down from the crazy win the week before.  This will be Bucky's "head scratcher" loss for this season 31-24.

Week 8 at Iowa--I have a theory that Bret Bielema threw games against his alma mater.  Gary Andersen went to Utah and doesn't care about the Hawkeyes.  Wisconsin wins 35-20.

Week 9 vs BYU--This game is personal for me.  My brother-in-law went to BYU and has been talking junk ever since this game was announced.  I'll save all my talking for after the 53-28 whipping Bucky is going to put on the Cougars.

Week 10 vs Indiana--Indiana will likely have one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country--to go along with one of the worst defenses.  Bucky gets a workout doing his pushups in a 52-45 win over the Hoosiers.

Week 11 at Minnesota--One of the best things about the Bret Bielema era in Madison is that he never lost to the Golden Gophers--and he took great relish in running up the score in all of those victories.  Paul Bunyon's Axe stays in Madison for the TENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR 77-10 Wisconsin.

Week 12 vs Penn State--With nothing to play for except a better 2nd tier New Year's Day Bowl, the Badgers pull out a sluggish win over the Nittany Lions 23-20 to finish the regular season 10-2, 6-2 in the Big Ten and in second place in the Whatever We Are Calling It Until We Go To Logical Geography-Based Divisions Next Year Division.

January 1st vs Mississippi State in the Capital One Bowl--After three years in Pasadena, the Badgers wrap up this season in their second favorite spot--Orlando.  Unfortunately, the results are about the same as several other trips to Disney--as the Bulldogs run all over Wisconsin 34-17.

All of this goes out the window of course if Andersen can't decide on a starting quarterback the entire season--and fails to realize that Melvin Gordon is a horse and needs to run the ball on just about every play.  Hopefully it's fun again this year.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nope, Nothing To Cut Here

Whenever the conversation turns to reductions (in the increase in spending) in government programs, the tried and true response from Democrats is "Now is not the time to cut, because demand is too great!"  If a recent rash of Food Stamps fraud cases in Green Bay is any indication, the demand is coming from all the wrong people.

This week, police busted the owner and an employee of Billy Goats Pub for accepting payment for booze in the form of Quest cards from customers. The owner and the employee would then use the cards to buy food that they sold or gave away in the bar. Now before you anoint those two "criminal masterminds", I should point out that they got the idea after their customers suggested it to them.  It was the "struggling" FoodShares recipients who wanted to sell their cards--and the folks at Billy Goats were willing to take them up on that offer.

The Billy Goats incident comes after another Green Bay business specializing in the sale of booze got busted for the same scam last year.  The owners of Beach Road Liquors were accused of accepting Quest cards as payment on alcohol and cigarettes and then turning around to make their own purchases with the taxpayer money.  It appears their going rate was the same as in the Billy Goats scheme--fifty-cents on the dollar--which the "struggling" FoodShares recipients were more than happy to take.

And let's not forget the "kindhearted" operator of a Green Bay homeless shelter who was making the men staying there turn over their Quest cards to him--so that he could buy groceries for everyone staying there--whether they were eligible for FoodShares or not.  He recently reached a plea deal with prosecutors where he will avoid jail time and instead will pay a fine.  The other two cases are still pending in the courts.

What I find interesting is that we hear plenty about the business owners who take the Food Stamps--but we never hear about the people selling them off.  They are never named in the criminal complaints, and charges never seem to be filed against them--even though they are just as complicit in the crime as those giving them the cash.  It doesn't send much of a "message to others" if only those who are getting the illegal benefits are the one's getting punished.  Add to that, the policy of "no questions asked" replacement of "lost" Quest cards--and you can see why the sellers fear no repercussions.  (Plus, efforts to end the practice of easy card replacement by Republicans are attacked as being "racist" and as attempts to "shame the poor")

And don't tell me about how these are "isolated incidents".  If you don't think the same kind of selling of Quest cards isn't taking place in Oshkosh and Manitowoc and Wausau and most certainly in Milwaukee--then you are a fool.  It just so happens that Green Bay police are trying to do something about it.

Anyways, when your friendly neighborhood liberal goes on his next diatribe about how "cutting" into the billions of dollars in increases in Food Stamps will leave people going hungry, just reassure them that the money Republicans want to take out will come from those who obviously didn't need it in the first place.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Man, I Feel Like a Woman

And just when you think life couldn't get any stranger, along comes a notice from the Associated Press that we reporters are to "Use Private Chelsea E. Manning and female pronouns for the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, per her wishes to live as a woman."

In case you missed it last week, Manning announced after his conviction and sentence for espionage that he wants a sex change operation and hormone therapy while he is locked up in the brig.  I--and a number of others--find the timing of this declaration to be a bit dubious.  Had Manning made this declaration prior to his arrest for leaking documents to Wikileaks, he would have been discharged--as that is the Army's policy on transgender issues.  Now that he is a military prisoner, he cannot be discharged.  Secondly, now that Manning is a "ward of the state" if you will, the medical expenses for the sex-change procedure would have to be covered by we the taxpayers.  We may not have to worry about that, since military policy does not provide for sex change procedures or hormone-therapy to prisoners--but expect plenty of "outrage" from the left and calls to overturn that provision.  And finally, Manning decides it's time to live as a woman right after he is ordered to spend 35-years hard time in a men's prison--which by all accounts, can be pretty darn nasty for those seen as being weak by certain segments of the population.

Now for those of us in the journalistic field, the AP decision raises some very difficult questions.  Is gender now to be considered what a person thinks they are, or what genitalia nature gave them?  Often times, we in the press are provided only basic information on people in the early stages of many breaking news events.  Releases and statements on car crashes, house fires and criminal arrests usually include just gender, age and hometown.  So how are we to accurately process the gender information given to us by less "politically sensitive" law enforcement officials?  Let me give you an example

One person is killed and two others are injured in a Winnebago County crash.  The sheriff's department says a car driven by a person with male sexual organs--but an unknown gender declaration--ran a stop sign along County Road X and collided with a vehicle operated by a person with a believed female gender identity around 6:00 last night.  The driver believed to be a man was declared dead at the scene.  The person with female genitalia was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries.  Her passenger, a three year with male sexual organs but who is too young to have established a gender identity, was treated for minor injuries.

And then we in the press wonder how we come in below politicians in the "Most Admired Careers" polls every year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You Are Getting Played

Apparently, an "entertainer" did something that a bunch of people found offensive this week.  I didn't witness the act myself, but there sure was a lot of talk about it yesterday on Twitter, blogs, the TV morning shows and radio talk shows.  Everywhere you turned, you had parents, family advocates and even other "entertainers" expressing their disgust and outrage that the "children of America had to be exposed to that smut."  Those comments were accompanied by calls for public apologies from both the "entertainer" and the network that aired the show.

But while everyone, everywhere is up in arms about this, said "entertainer" and that network couldn't be any happier.  You see, all of those upset folks have fallen into the same trap that has been employed by so many other charlatans--any publicity is good publicity.  As we are seeing now, there is an entire cottage industry built around this type of boorish behavior.

How many people do you think--having missed the original airing--will make sure to tune in for the multitude of replays of the show on that network?  And that viewing drives ratings--which sells advertising--which makes money.  And how many people who missed the original airing--or who just want to "double check" what they did see the first time--went to Youtube to view the "performance" again?  That drives up page views--which sells advertising--which makes money.  And how many closet pedophiles  heard about or saw the peformance and downloaded a song or an album or a video or bought a concert ticket of that "entertainer" hoping for a similar cheap thrill?  That puts money in the pockets of the entertainer, the agent, and the record label.  And how many people will want to know the next move from that entertainer--and will log on to sites like TMZ or Perez Hilton or Entertainment Tonight or will tune into Good Morning America?  You can hear the cash registers ringing left and right.

While it might make you feel better to call a talk show and vent your frustration and concern about "kids and society today", you are just playing into the hands of these people.  You know what would have been an even more powerful response to this "performance"?  Silence.  What if the entire arena had just done nothing when that act ended?  No cheers, no boos--just deafening quiet.  Do you think the "entertainer" would have received a very clear message?  And I can guarantee the calls between agents and promoters would have been in full-blown panic mode if the Monday morning shows spent their entire time talking about Syria gassing its own people and radiation-contaminated water leaking from the Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean--all the while album sales remained stagnant.

Just remember the next time an "entertainer" goes "way over the line": a provocateur who doesn't provoke anyone just looks like a fool.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Baby, You Can Drive My Car......

While I was off last week, National Public Radio aired a story on the "end of America's love affair with the car".  The story focused on the reduce amount of driving most Americans do today--and the growing trend of teens and young adults not buying cars--or even getting drivers licenses.  To me, it was just another sign that we, as a country, continue to give up our personal freedoms, one at a time.

Some of the decline of the American car culture falls upon the government.  Required safety features and fuel economy standards have robbed modern vehicles of the "fun" elements of the past.  Gone are the muscle cars, bench front seats, chrome, glass packs, dual carbs and modified engines.  My wife recently bought a 2011 Chevy Equinox.  Every time I'm out driving in my unmistakable Jeep Wrangler, I see 15 other makes and models that look almost exactly like her vehicle.

"Cash For Clunkers" has also put the squeeze on first-time vehicle buyers as well.  Tens of thousands of cars that were perfectly functional had to be scrapped--by law--instead of making their way to the used lots as "value" vehicles.  (All of course to preserve lucrative UAW pension and medical plans for retirees.)  Now, those that can't afford to spend five-figures on a used car find themselves locked out of the market--when there should have been plenty of supply available.

And let's not forget, kids have it drummed into their heads from day one at school that their very existence--and all of their actions--are detrimental to the "health of the planet".  If you heard every day that driving a car will destroy the environment, would you be excited to get behind the wheel?  Your being a "responsible global citizen" by just Skyping, or texting or Facetiming or SnapChatting with your friends on your smartphone and tablet than you are driving across town to actually see them face to face.

When I was in high school I had a chance to travel to Europe and to talk with kids about my own age over there.  To a person, they were amazed that we as 16 or 17 year olds were not only allowed to drive--but that we owned our own cars.  For them, going anywhere required walking or biking in the rain, standing around waiting for a bus or a subway, or plotting out train and bus schedules to other towns.  It was one of the things that I learned about why the US was the greatest place to live (that and the outrageous sales taxes charged in those countries to fund their universal healthcare.)

To give up on the American Car Culture is to give up more of our personal freedoms.  Last week, my wife and I decided to drive to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan.  Without a car, how could we have done that?  High speed rail isn't going to the UP anytime soon.  Going on a bus would have taken a couple of days--with several transfers--and once we got to Munising, how would we have reached the National Park?

Not all people are decrying this decline in driving (many of them likely NPR listeners).  They prefer the collectivism of Public Transit and the dependence on Government to get where you need to go--when and how the Government decides to get you there.  But for a dwindling few of us, the call of the open road will always be answered with the top down and the music blasting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's All About the Kids

Those who push for the unlimited funding of public schools always like to drag out the tired old mantra "It's all about the kids" when calling for continued tax increases.  But a couple of recent stories warrant monitoring to see just how committed liberals are to that "idea".

The first story we told you about last week here on WOSH--that without major changes to the "Premium Level" heath care plans provided to employees, the Oshkosh School District will face penalties approaching TWO MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR under the Affordable Care Act by the end of the decade.  It will be interesting to see if the teachers agree to higher deductibles and co-pays (like those of us out here in the private sector have had for years now) or if they demand that all of that tax revenue earmarked for education instead go to the Federal Government (where it will fund vouchers for Nancy Pelosi's constituents who had jobs with health insurance--but quit to become artists or musicians--and to the illegal immigrants that President Obama now expects to not apply for Government Assistance based on the "honor system" once they are granted amnesty).

As a side note, isn't it sweet when liberals are hoist with their own petards like this?  I'm sure that more than a few WEAC members were out there "fighting" for ObamaCare the last five years, spouting the party line of "you will get to keep your health insurance plan!  You will get to keep you doctor!"  Now it turns out that their beloved President Obama has sold them up the river--and they will not get to keep their insurance plan.  And they will not get to keep their doctor.  (Of course, what does the President care, he's not running for office ever again.)

The second issue likely to make the education lobby's heads explode is the Mukwonago School Board's decision not to change its "Indians" mascot, despite an order by the state Department of Public Instruction.  Under the law giving the DPI the power to strong-arm districts into changing any mascot or name that one person finds offensive, the penalty for failure to comply is a $1000 a day fine.  I'm sure that when Democrats crafted this legislation behind closed doors in their caucus, they never expected a district would fail to kowtow to the DPI and actually risk being fined.

Now State Superintendent Tony Evers has to decide what price he is going to put on political correctness.  The same man who called a quarter billion dollar increase in public education funding a "cut", could take away up to $365-thousand a year away from a district to "teach it a lesson"--which will likely result in the loss of a couple of teaching jobs every year.

Given liberals penchant for just choosing not to enforce laws and rules that might hurt their constituency (e.g.: immigration laws, the employer mandate to provide health insurance and now, federal drug trafficking laws) I'm guessing Mr Evers will just choose to let the whole thing slide and hope that other districts--like Berlin and Shiocton--don't get the same idea.  Remember, education is all about the kids.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What Ryan Braun Should Say

Suspended Brewers star Ryan Braun is apparently ready to issue an apology for using performance enhancing drugs and his subsequent suspension.  It would seem to me that an apology could have been made the day after Braun agreed to a 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball last month--but apologies today need to be perfectly crafted by public relations specialists and reviewed by attorneys before they can be publicly aired.  Anyway, here is what Ryan Braun's apology should say:

I'm Ryan Braun, and I am a cheater and a liar.

I cheated baseball, its fans and my teammates by taking performance enhancing drugs all the way back when I was a student-athlete at the University of Miami.  I cheated by taking a shortcut, rather than putting in the hard work that many others did--some of whom never made it as far as I have in the game.

I lied to the fans, my teammates and my friends about my use of performance enhancing drugs in order to protect my reputation and my marketability as a high-profile athlete.  I even made up lies about those who eventually exposed my cheating in an attempt to discredit them.

I first want to apologize to the fans of the Milwaukee Brewers and to fans of baseball everywhere for the fraud that I perpetrated on them.  You came to treat me as a superstar and your children looked up to me as a hero--and now I must tell you that I did not earn or deserve all of that adulation and respect.  I'm sorry that parents have had to have a very difficult discussion with their kids about my cheating and why I cannot play in games that they are attending or watching on TV this season.

I also want to apologize to Dino Laurenzi, Junior for the lies I told about his involvement in my failed drug test during the 2011 playoffs.  Mr Laurenzi did nothing to cause me to fail that test--as I was using performing enhancing drugs at the time--and the positive was not due to the handling, tainting or storage of my sample--as I alleged Mr Laurenzi may have done in statements to the public and to the MLB appeals committee.  I further apologize for telling my fellow players that Mr Laurenzi spiked my sample because he is an anti-Semite and a Cubs fan.  I pulled the oldest trick in the Liberal playbook by trying to discredit those who caught me engaged in wrongdoing by throwing out accusations of anti-Semitism, racism, sexism or homophobia.  

I am also apologizing to my teammates for causing them to lie on my behalf--because of the lies I told them--and for costing them my services for the remainder of this season.  I want to apologize to all of the other players in Major Baseball as well--since my performance on the field was tainted by the use of PED's--and it may have cost them honestly-won victories, playoff titles or post-season awards.

I am using the time afforded to me by my deserved suspension to consider my place in the game.  Because of my cheating, I have enjoyed ill-gotten gains--including a sizeable guaranteed contract from the Brewers.  Because that contract is based on a fallacy of a career to this point, I am asking that the deal be renegotiated so that I make only the league minimum for a player with my tenure for the next two seasons.  If the Players Union blocks my attempt to renegotiate what is a fair deal for the Brewers, then I will donate the difference between what I am being forced to make and what I would be making with a minimum salary to Milwaukee area charities, public schools and police programs.  In addition, I will share my story (free of charge) with any public service campaign or group aiming to keep young athletes off steroids and hormones.  And in every appearance I will use the word "Cheater" to describe what I am.

From this day forward, I promise to stay clean and to earn whatever rewards or accolades come my way with hard work--and not the shortcuts that I have chosen to this point in my career.

I think you would agree, that apology might go a long way toward winning back the fans.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't Let a Little Thing Like a Shooting Slow You Down

Regular listeners will know that I have no fondness for Walmart.  I dislike their business model, I resent their efforts to boost China's economy while tearing down our own and I find it embarrassing that they are the largest employer of BadgerCare enrollees.  So it should come as no surprise that I am appalled by what happened in the aftermath of yesterday's shooting at the Walmart in Neenah.

Employees, most of whom knew not only the victim of yesterday's shooting--but who were witnesses to the shooting--had to go right back to work moments after the incident.  That's right, the store opened up immediately after police determined that they had arrested the shooter--and that she had acted alone. 

I'm sure the managers would tell me that the liquor department (which is separate from the rest of the Super Center and was the scene of the shooting) remains closed today--and that it's not like shoppers have to walk past giant pools of blood or pick around merchandise with bullet holes in it. If you didn't need to buy a 30-pack of Busch Light, you would probably have had no idea that a person was almost killed in the store earlier in the day.  Banks that get robbed usually shut down for the day--as much to allow police to do their work as to give traumatized employees a chance to recover.  The same goes for other businesses that have seen horrific workplace violence.  A Walmart spokesperson we talked to says they will have counselors on hand today--and that anyone who didn't feel able to work was allowed to go home (without pay).

But apparently, Walmart was just providing what the people wanted.  Our reporter Emily Roberts was actually in the parking lot in the moments after the shooting and saw the employees and customers fleeing the building screaming that someone had been shot--and that there was a gunperson in the store.  However, that wave of traumatized customers was soon replaced by those wondering why the store was closed--and who were upset that they couldn't pick up their prescriptions.  And then when the store re-opened, the steady stream of customers returned to get their cigarettes, their junk food and the new issue of People magazine--either unaware of what had happened earlier in the day, or really not that concerned about it--because their shopping is far more important than someone almost getting killed, and the impact that might have on the people who witnessed it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Separating the Rich From Their Money

Today, 750 upper and middle class people will have nearly two-million dollars taken from them and "redistributed" to the poor.  There will be no complaints from these people--in fact, many of them have actually been looking forward to this day all summer.  They will hand over the money with smiles on their faces and good feelings in their hearts.  Kind of a different picture than what you get from those on The Left, who tell us time and again about how the 1% or 2% or 10% or the 51% are greedy and want to keep people poor.

In case you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about the US Venture Open golf event--going on today at five courses in Northeast Wisconsin.  This is the largest, single-day fundraising event in the area--with all proceeds going to the basic needs programs of the Oshkosh, Fox Cities and Green Bay Area Community Foundations.  So why are this group of people--so often villainized and targeted for increased taxes so willing to turn over the money to the same people in need today--as opposed to their feelings on April 15th (or every payday)?

Well for starters, they actually get something back today.  I can tell you that the worst day on the golf course is still better than the best day at work (unless you are a tour pro and golf is your work).  Plus there is lunch and dinner--along with cool auction items and perhaps a chance to dance with Donald Driver.  Not to mention that 24% or 28% or 34% of what is paid today can be deducted from what has to be paid on April 15th. (Although, the money give today should also reduce the need to pay more on April 15th as well.)

Secondly, they get to see how exactly that money is being used.  US Venture and the Community Foundation folks provide info and spreadsheets on the programs supported by today's proceeds.  You can see the clothes, the food and the job training programs that are purchased.  And those who give today, can be reasonably sure that they won't be hearing about schemes that bilked millions from the Community Foundations by pretending to be poor--or to be serving the poor.

Let's not forget about the free will aspect today as well.  People not playing in the US Venture Open today do not face arrest, imprisonment, wage garnishment or seizure of assets.  And while there is a minimum to play, nobody is telling you that you must purchase auction items or face a fine--I mean a tax, for constitutionality purposes.

Finally--and perhaps most importantly--someone is going to say "Thank you" today.  After writing out that check, a donor isn't going to hear President Obama tell them "That isn't nearly enough."  Senator Tammy Baldwin isn't going to address the dinner tonight telling everybody how they aren't paying "Their fair share".  And the roads to the golf courses won't be lined with protesters yelling "SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!"  As the old adage goes, you catch a lot more flies with honey, than with vinegar.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Stupidest Thing In Sports

I must say I was surprised by the press release from the Green Bay Packers yesterday that Ryan Longwell had signed a one-day contract with the team so he could "retire a Packer".  Quite honestly, I thought Ryan Longwell retired a couple of years ago.  I also couldn't believe that Ted Thompson would take part in such nostalgic bull hockey.

We can blame Roger Craig and the San Francisco 49ers for what is truly the Stupidest Thing In Sports--the one-day retirement contract.  Craig was a running back during the glory days of the Niners who couldn't accept that his talents had diminished and played out the string as an ineffective back for the Raiders and the Vikings before finally deciding to hang it up.  He said that he wanted to "retire a 49er 'for the fans'".  Yes, I'm sure Niners fans couldn't sleep for the couple of years Craig was playing elsewhere, fearing that he would "retire a Raider" or "Retire a Viking".  It must have been a similar sentiment among Packers Nation as well "I sure hope Ryan Longwell doesn't retire a Viking, I'll be heartbroken!"

St Vince Lombardi certainly wouldn't have done this.  He allowed Paul Horning--his all-time favorite player and a Hall of Famer--to be taken by New Orleans in the expansion draft--and later traded fellow HOF'er Jim Taylor to the Saints.  Horning retired during training camp because of a neck injury and Taylor played a year in the Big Easy.  Do you consider them to be any less of a "Packers Legend" because they didn't have a press conference at Lambeau Field?  Bart Starr "retired a Packer" as did Donald Driver--because they never left for any other place.  (Although by the logic of the one day contract, Driver could be considered to have retired a "punt coverage guy".)

And is Ryan Longwell really that special of a player to even consider for "such an honor"?  Sure he's the franchise's all-time leading scorer--but I wouldn't consider him one of the best kickers of his generation.  Who would you put below Longwell in this list of contemporaries: Adam Vinatieri, Jason Elam, Jason Hanson, Morten Anderson, and Mike VanderJagt?  I'd take any of those guys over Longwell for a long game-winning kick in the clutch.

But don't let my cynicism ruin your celebration of Ryan Longwell's retirement "as a Packer", Green Bay fans.  I just hope Rock Garden Supper Club will still be around to accept my application in 15-years so I can "retire a dishwasher".

Monday, August 12, 2013

We Just Aren't Getting It

The pictures above are from an afternoon last week at the roundabout at Washburn Street and Highway 21.  It was one of the few occasions when I had my cell phone handy to shoot quick photos of the idiocy that I see in the west side roundabouts on a nearly daily basis.

If you can't tell, the driver of the white car has entered the roundabout by making an immediate left-hand turn--going against the flow of traffic--and then is stuck waiting for traffic to clear in front of them--while blocking the vehicles trying to go in the correct direction from flowing around the roundabout.  Eventually, the driver did get out of that roundabout--and managed to drive straight through the two other ones along eastbound Oshkosh Avenue and into the city.

If I had a dashcam that activated automatically every time I approached the roundabouts, I could fill an entire half-hour tv show--ala America's Funniest Videos--every week for several years.  We would start with the "Early Stoppers".  Those are the drivers that come to a complete stop a good fifty feet before the roundabout because they are totally unsure which lane to be in and then what movement to make once they are in the roundabout.  I've noticed these vehicles tend to have Michigan or Minnesota plates on them quite often.

Our next segment will be the thrilling "Gunners" segment.  Those are the folks who get tired of waiting for continuous traffic from the left and decide they are going no matter how close the next vehicle is.  In my vidoes, this footage will be accompanied by the extended blast of my horn until the offending driver has cleared the roundabout and is no longer a danger to public safety.  We could even do a "teaser" heading into break with a freeze frame of a horrified driver through the windshield and ask "Crash or no crash?  We'll find out....after the break!"

The commercial set would be filled with ads for collision repair places and personal injury lawyers--along with the PSA's from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism insinuating that none of what you've been watching would be a problem if we would all "just slow down" in the roundabouts.

After the commercials, we would have another lighthearted segment showing the people who stop in the roundabout and allow traffic to enter from the sides.  The humor comes from the other drivers--who know that once you are in the roundabout you don't stop--trying to avoid rear-ending the stopper.  Then we would hit the viewers with some really scary stuff--the wrong-lane turners.  Usually this involves the right-lane, left hand turn in front of the inside lane vehicles type of crashes and near-misses--but during EAA week I got to enjoy the very rare right-turn from the left lane maneuver, courtesy of a visitor from Minnesota.  If we were to use the video from that one, my wife's profane outburst would need to be bleeped out.  (An added bonus for the viewers would have been that vehicle and ours ending up at the same restaurant and the driver almost running away from me as I tried to explain that the moronic movement he had just attempted was completely illegal.

After another set of collision repair, we-get-you-the-maximum-settlement-attorney ads and the roundabout PSA's we finish up with the wrong way drivers and the sheer hilarity of people swerving to avoid them--and a special segment on close calls for bikers and pedestrians who are harder to spot at the crosswalks offset from the roundabouts.

Since we can't all have dashcams to get this footage, might I suggest police install roundabout cameras to catch all of this bad behavior--just like the cameras they put on stoplights to catch red light runners.  I think our viewers would feel good knowing that those who either refuse to comply with the rules of the road, or who are too dumb to figure them out are at least being punished for their transgressions.

Friday, August 9, 2013


It appears the NFL may finally do something about the biggest ripoff in the world of sports.  Commissioner Roger Goodell says he wants to make the pre-season more "fan friendly" and stop the practice of charging regular season prices for exhibition games.  To me, this has long been the biggest symbol of the arrogance of the NFL--believing that its product is so superior that fans should be willing to pay the same price, regardless of whether the game actually counts or not.

Major League Baseball spring training tickets run about half the cost of regular season games (more for high demand teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox).  NBA pre-season games are also a fraction of regular season contests--and often serve as fundraisers for charities in smaller non-league cities.  But the NFL demands its fans pay the same price to watch future grocery store stockers and Arena Leaguers commit holding penalties on three consecutive plays, drop wide open passes and miss chip shot field goals.  An even bigger joke is that they would play overtime in these games because "fans deserve to see a winner".

To add  financial injury to insult, many of those team include the exhibition contests in their season ticket packages.  Adding another couple hundred dollars to the cost--and leaving those customers with tickets they couldn't resell for a quarter of the price, because who is going to give up a beautiful summer's evening to watch bad football, drink overpriced warm beer and listen to the Two Fisted Slobber scream at the top of his lungs the entire second half about how "They need to put Rodgers back in!!"

Speaking of the Average Packers Fan, expect plenty of angst over the next few hours as it appears more likely that tonight's exhibition game against Arizona will not appear on the TV's of Time Warner Cable customers.  TWC and Journal Broadcast Group remain deadlocked over how much we the customer should be charged for programming on the last place network on TV.  If it wasn't for these pre-season games, would you have even noticed that NBC wasn't on the air?

This would be a good time for us "old timers" to tell our stories about how pre-season games were never on TV "when I was your age".  Ironically enough, they couldn't be broadcast because they were never sold out--which is why the NFL decided season ticket holders should be made to buy those games too (at regular season prices).  The good new is that everybody can put their high school Spanish classes to good use tonight by watching the game on Telemundo!  Although all you really need to know is PĂ©rdida de tiempo (a waste of time).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Even Have Laws Then?

While we were away at EAA, a legislative committee held a public hearing on a bill that would stiffen the penalties for drunk driving in Wisconsin.  One measure would make first offense drunk driving a misdemeanor crime--like it is in nearly every other state.  Another measure would make third offense OWI a felony--instead of the current threshold of four.

The bill is getting the expected opposition from the Wisconsin Tavern League--which apparently believes that without customers who abuse alcohol, every bar in the state will go broke--and from the bleeding hearts who believe that society can't expect people to control their behavior and that no one should go to jail or prison for breaking the laws.  But a member of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office also showed up to voice opposition, because too many people will have to be prosecuted.

Now one would expect that somebody charged with ensuring the safety of the public would applaud efforts to take dangerous criminals off the street--and to send the message that life-threatening actions will be taken seriously.  Instead, that prosecutor (and his boss I'm sure) think that is just too much work.  It raises the question: if enough people choose to ignore a law--or willingly violate it--should it be a law any more?

We can look to the Federal Government as a case study on this.  For decades, it chose not to enforce the immigration laws of this country.  How did that work out?  Now for the second time in the past 35-years we are looking at granting amnesty to the lawbreakers--and promising to "get tough on the issue from here on out!"  Yeah, right.

Conversely, drug laws have been enforced rather rigidly--and the result has been an explosion in the prison population.  Some claim that entire generations of African-Americans have been "lost" by mandatory minimum sentences for possession or distribution.  This has also led to efforts to legalize marijuana use in several states--for "medicinal" purposes and even for just "gettin' high" as well.

While I may harp on too much government spending on a fairly regular basis, I do believe that there are two areas where we almost can't spend enough: Making sure that we maintain a defense against all (external) enemies seeking to take away our freedoms, and keeping people who do bad things away from those who abide by the rules.  To me, the excuse of "too many people will be arrested" doesn't fly.  How many thefts are "too many" before we get rid of shoplifting laws?  How many child molesters are "too many"? Or tax evaders? Or gang bangers shooting at other people?

And maybe that Milwaukee County prosecutor should ask the family members of the next person killed by a repeat drunk driver in his jurisdiction if they think the laws are "too harsh" to be enforced.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Doesn't Play Well With Others

I like to point out all the time the benefits of sports in teaching life lessons.  The values of hard work and honesty, realizing that there are always going to be winners and losers, and learning how to be a good teammate and to contribute toward common success are just a few examples.  Unfortunately, not everybody seems to learn those lessons--no matter how long they play the game.

Take for example former UW Oshkosh Baseball Head Coach Tom Lechnir.  For those of us who interact with UWO Athletics on a regular basis, yesterday's appeal hearing of his termination as coach revealed nothing that we hadn't heard from athletes and other coaches for years.  Unhappy that his ball diamond wasn't included in the first phase of improvements to the Oshkosh Sports Complex, Lechnir executed a power play and just solicited funds for his own project--making sure that all contributions were to be kept completely separate from OSC funds.  He held his bosses within the Athletic Department in contempt--even using the media to call them "criminals" and "pawns".  Lechnir acted like he was untouchable, refusing to change his behavior despite repeated requests and warning from his superiors--and even bragged about how "confrontational" he is.

I wonder how Coach Lechnir would feel about such behavior if it was one of his players who was acting like this.  Let's say "Player Tom" always ran through stop signs at third base--and then justified that behavior by saying that his scoring a run anyways should be celebrated.  What if "Player Tom" refused to participate in the work out program with his teammates?  Or how about if "Player Tom" did media interviews and derided his coaches and teammates--calling them "talentless" and "useless"?

I guessing that Coach Lechnir would kick that player off his team--because someone like that is a cancer on the program.  But what if "Player Tom" then appealed his dismissal--and demanded an open hearing in front of non-Athletic Department personnel--to claim that the Coach was "being unfair" to him--and to demand that he be put back on the team?  Would Coach Lechnir make arguments to how detrimental re-instatement would be?  And how rewarding such behavior would make it nearly impossible to coach other players--or to maintain a positive team-first atmosphere in the locker room?

I don't know the backgrounds of the faculty committee members that conducted the appeal hearing on Tuesday--but hopefully they played some team sports in the past--and remembered the lessons they learned.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Where Are You Now, Bruce?

On my way home the other night, I heard our Oldies sister station play Bruce Springsteen's hit My Hometown.  And one of the lyrics got me thinking:

They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back to
Your hometown, your hometown, your hometown, your hometown

The song was seen as a statement on the decline of America's workforce and the blue collar jobs that had built many a city and created the Middle Class because of--in Bruce's view--three years of "Reaganomics".  So I looked up the unemployment rate for Bruce's home state of New Jersey for 1983 (when this song was written and recorded) and found it was 6.8%  That was actually a huge improvement from the year before--when unemployment in New Jersey was just over 9%.  Keep in mind that '83 was also the first year that the Reagan Tax Cuts were in effect, and the nation was finally moving out of the funk created during the Carter Adminstration--so optimism was in the air.

I did a little more checking and found that by the end of Ronald Reagan's second term in 1988 unemployment in New Jersey had dropped to just 3.5%!  I guess the boss proved to be anything but a prophet when he said those jobs weren't coming back.

Now fast-forward to 2013.  After five years of the Obama Administration, the unemployment rate in New Jersey is 8.7% --nearly two percent higher than during the "bleak" days of Reaganomics and My Hometown.  Furthermore, that rate has not been below 8% since President Obama took office! 

So where are Bruce Springsteen and the voices of the new generation of artist to question and criticize the President for the lack of economic growth and recovery?  They seem to be strangely silent for the past five years or so.  In fact, The Boss campaigned on behalf of the Obama re-election effort in 2012.  In reviewing his appearance in Madison that year, I find that Bruce talked a lot about "justice" and "fairness"--but not a whole lot about unemployment and lack of manufacturing growth.  Not that Bruce would actuallly want a textile mill opening in his state--too much electricity use and too large a "carbon footprint".

I'd love to see Springsteen make that same "powerful statement" today by putting on a free show for the people in Detroit and dedicating My Hometown to President Obama and the other Democrats who led that city to ruin over a 60-year period in power.  There's another lyric in that song that would really fit the situation:

Now main streets whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Airventure Ever!

"I can say with certainty that this was the best Airventure ever!"

That is a phrase we got on an annual basis from former EAA President Tom Poborezny and, for one year, his successor--Rod Hightower.  It would usually garner some eye rolls or chuckles in the Media Tent because we all knew it was coming.  And it would usually follow a week or more visitors, more planes, more corporate tents, more attractions and more entertainment than any other Airventure before.  And it was usually followed by a promise to be even "bigger and better" next year. While the subsequent Airventure was always "bigger" it was never really "better". 

That is, until this year's Airventure--which, as we will likely find out later this week, was not bigger--but was certainly better.  For someone who has been coming to the Fly-In since the late 1970's, this year's event had something of a throwback feel to it.  There was no "superstar" plane that everybody had to see and tour.  There were few celebrities, no Ferris wheels or car shows, the corporate promotions and overall presence were toned down slightly and you could definitely tell that there were fewer people there all week.

And with that came a number of bonuses.  Shorter lines for food and drinks, no backups to Highway 41 while trying to get into the parking lots, easier access to port-a-johns, more room to maneuver along the flightline and more time to talk to pilots, exhibitors and volunteers.  Mother nature even cooperated this year by not turning Wittman Field into a blast furnace or a quagmire.  We also avoided having any major incidents on the grounds in terms of flight safety.

Would it have been nice to have the military jet flyovers we've had in the past?  Sure.  Nothing gets people running to see what's going on than an F-14 or F-16 making an afterburner pass.  And we certainly missed some of the people from the Federal agencies with whom we have shared a building the last decade.  But that will all likely be back next year (unless trying to pay for everybody's every need continues to be a top priority of this administration).

When it was all done on Sunday my wife asked me if I thought it was "boring" this week.  I told her "no"--because we don't need to be over-stimulated, ultra-entertained and running ourselves ragged to see everything every year. Besides, this year, the emphasis was more on the "EAA" part--and less on the "Airventure" part of the name. 

New EAA Chairman Jack Pelton didn't drop the "Best Airventure Ever!" cliche in his wrap up press conference on Sunday--though he certainly should have.